By Saundie Weiss,
So the first couple days here have been an experience. It’s a very simple world to describe everything we are digesting. Everything is different. I expected it to all be different and in some ways I can anticipate and prepare for it, but what I cannot prepare for is the emotions that come, or in some cases don’t come.
Haiti is a beautiful country. It’s an island with mountains, green trees, and colorful plants, like hibiscus and other red flowering trees. But the town (Pignon) and people here are living in poverty. There is always the struggle to get money or make money. In the town, there are shops and a busy, loud market. There is commerce here. I don’t know exactly what the economy is like in Haiti, but it’s not very good. There are many more imports than exports, which means that they are not very self-sustaining.
The pace of life here is different, too, which I didn’t think about before we came. There isn’t really a schedule. It’s just “let’s go now” or “later, we can go there.” I’m having to adjust to this. Pastor Francois is good at understanding how we are adjusting. He keeps saying, “We are in Haiti!” with a big grin. Ha, it’s true.
People call Pastor and come to him all the time for money or food or a place to stay. His phone rings almost every hour. His heart is huge, and he told us this morning that what he is doing will never stop. There are so many to care for, and usually the word spreads around town and more people will come. This morning, eleven widows came to wait for Pastor. They were asking for food, but we did not have enough to give away, so we gave them money this time. Next weekend we will prepare and have rice and beans for them. They were so incredibly grateful. They gave us big hugs, cheek kisses, and blessings, “God bless!” They needed more, but 100 goude is all we could give them each. This was sobering for me. Jesus says to feed the widows and look after the poor and needy. This is what he meant. Give when the need is there. I guess I expected some deep satisfaction or great emotion to come, but it didn’t. They needed and we gave. Afterwards, a lot of thoughts have come to me since then.
What are they doing right now? Will they all come next weekend? Are they eating their first, maybe only meal for the week? Or are they feeding their children? Are they safe now? How far did they walk to get here? Many of them are old but some are younger than my own mother. What if my mother or my grandmother was one of these, who would feed them? Who would look in their eyes or kiss their cheek when they say good-bye? I don’t really understand these thoughts and they may not make sense, but each of them is someone’s daughter, perhaps someone’s mother or sister.
We also went to market today, which was an adventure. There were 7 of us so we took 7 children (I haven’t really begun to tell you about the children. But they are precious, so precious! More to come later…) It was hard to pick which children could come with us, but we will take more for other trips. I asked Felices to come with me, but Edneslon ended up with me most of the time. Thank goodness for him! He’s young, maybe 6 or 7. He grabbed my hand and led me all around the market. It was crowded and busy, and of course we stood out just a little. Ha, we “blan” definitely don’t go unnoticed. Thankfully—by God’s beautiful grace—we met Taiana yesterday in Hinche. She is Madam’s cousin (Pastors’ wife). We picked her up there and she is staying with us through the end of the trip! She’s Haitian but has been in Florida since 1999. She’s a first and second grade school teacher, so she is very good with the kids and an excellent translator! Praise God. She helped us talk with the vendors and buy the kids new sandals and a new dress for one of the girls. Another girl in the market snuck into our group and tricked us into buying a pair of sandals and some lotion for her. She lied to us; I just hope that she needed those sandals. It’s okay, really.
There are all sorts of things we have planned for the children—VBS, birthday party, games, plenty of toys and then there’s always just sitting with them. I love to love these kids.
One last thing for now. This one caught me off guard. Last night after dinner, we walked down to Pastor’s church for the evening service. We walked in after the service had started. There was a young woman singing in the front. Her voice was strong and clear and joyful. I squeezed into the pew and sat near one of the children. As I was listening to the girl singing, tears quickly came to my eyes. It was beautiful. I have never cried for something because of its beauty, but I did this time. I don’t know what she was singing since it was in Creole, but it was absolutely beautiful. I cried more than I expected. Well, I didn’t expect any of it. Thank you, God, for the beauty here.