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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A glimpse into Haiti Part 4

Today is day three. Breakfast was squash and vegetable soup with coffee. We added tortillas and peanut butter to the menu for protein. We're off to church this morning, and it's just around the corner. Made of cement, it's new and has no paint. There are very few people in here and they're sitting on hard, homemade benches. One of our group leaned back on the edge of the pew behind us and broke the back. Oops! The church is decorated with balloons and hats and ribbons all left over from their dedication service last week. Above the altar is a carved sign quoting Psalm 119:105.

My French is too poor to completely understand the service. A few dogs have wandered in, a female, followed by a male. A very well-dressed lady led them out. We had decided beforehand we would give $100 US for an offering, taken from our fundraising money. Wes told us to give modestly, $5-$10 each, so as not to appear ostentatious. We put it into a hastily made envelope before putting it in the plate. Several men were checking off the ladies' cards and Wes says it's like that in his church. They take attendance and check to see if you have read your Bible each day and they have cards to check off. hat certainly explains a reference I heard once on the Big Bang Theory, which talks about east Texas churches taking attendance. It's all quite alien to us.

Junior has slipped in and brought Wes and me up to greet everyone. Off-the-cuff, Wes did better. The church was very conscious of the fact they had English-speaking visitors. The nicely dressed lady who let the dogs away sang a lovely song, and by the way, the dog has returned and I suspect it's her dog, and heard her voice. All of the children up front are well behaved, though two are listening to an iPod sharing the earbuds. I'm not tired, but my ankles are swelling because we're not moving. I should be like the man across the way, who is really getting into the singing with wild gyrations. Overall of this, I can hear a goat braying loudly.

As we were leaving the church, a woman was walking by with a large steel bowl on her head and huge barracuda like fish called a Tchara draped over its edges. I realize now why the women have such wonderful posture. They carry everything on their heads. We followed this woman to our compound. I know what our supper will be! Perhaps not today, but tomorrow. Lunch today was rice with bean gravy and spicy vegetables.

We went to a market behind the church after lunch, but there were only three vendors. I purchased a small stone statue, but saw nothing for my son and my son-in-law. Oddly, the men selling their wares change the prices, upward, and I don't know if it's just because they don't understand English, or they're actually trying to pull the wool over our eyes. When we returned to the compound, Faucher gave Joan and me a glass of coconut water. It was lovely and cold. He told us that when he was looking around for his hens and their eggs, for the chickens run free through the compound, he found the eggs on one of the bunks Allan and Bob had used the first night. We got ready for the beach and as we approached the beach, we noticed some UN soldiers having a picnic there. They're from Sri Lanka and we talked to two officers. Allan gave one of them a UN ball cap he got from his time in Eritrea. Several of our group ordered barbecued lobster. I purchased the painting that was on sale there, and again, the vendor was changing his prices, no, not going down, but actually going up! That's two for two!

The water was lovely and warm, though the beach wasn't the best that I had been on, it did have some fabulous conch shells.

The lobster came served with what they call picklies, a type of coleslaw made with shredded hot peppers added. Naturally, the dogs were all hanging around. They are incredibly skinny, shorthaired and even mangy. Rhonda warned us not to give fish bones to the dogs. Then one of the Haitians said no and dropped the entire fish skeleton to one dog with mange. So much for careful feeding, but you can't help but feel sorry for them. 
All around are mango and almond trees. I was bit by some tiny crawling insect that made my leg swell up.

The ride home was very relaxing, with Faucher stopping to talk to everyone and getting some ripe mangoes for us. Supper was sweet porridge and bread, flavored with cinnamon. We went onto the roof, and I gave the devotional about the beauty of our work. Even though the house we will be building will not be aesthetically pleasing, it's going to be beautiful because we are God's hands and feet in this project. We're all looking forward to completing it.

We taught our Texan friends a couple of card games, but I was absolutely exhausted. So tired that I brushed my teeth with anti-itch cream. 
Note to self: Read the labels because all white tubes look the same without glasses.


Debbie Kaufman said...

It was explained to me, the last time we were there, that these are "Haitian dogs," not wimpy American ones. Bones, etc. were routinely passed off to them and I never saw the first one choke.

Barbara Phinney said...

Debbie, thank you for that.
Many people don't give any bones to their dogs or cats, but leave a cat outdoors for a day, and chances are it's eaten at least one bird. And wouldn't birds be part of a dog's natural diet? I think of the coyotes around here.
Does anyone know any dog that has died from eating bones?

Barbara Phinney said...

BTW, Debbie, when were you in Haiti? Did you do a mission trip?