I just returned from another Haiti trip. Abnormality abounds.
The Good: It was the perfect 9-day sabbatical. It consisted of hot yoga, being serenaded during a moonlight swim, and afterwards lounging in the water while listening to the birds sing. OK, maybe trying one sadistic body knot, listening to some teenagers practice their worship music while wondering how to empty an entire pool with 5-gallon buckets, and then replacing valve seats in a shower while the birds fought outside. But, it was all in the Caribbean. So there. Where were you last week?
The Bad: My goal was to get the 1998 Isuzu Trooper resurrected yet again. It came back to life on day two – a record. After shouting IT LIVES for the community to hear, I took it out for a drive. I was so excited I didn’t consider whether after starting once, it would start again – nor did I think about the brakes sitting for 5 humid rust-growing months. Rather than think, I grabbed Andres – a Haitian friend – and drove to the closest gas station, which is on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in Port-au-Prince, to fill it up with diesel.
You need to understand, there are no lights, no signs, no rules at this major intersection. Everyone just pushes their way through, motorcycles weaving through, big trucks, cars, everyone within inches of each other. It’s a dance really, only when feet get stepped on there is a lot of shouting.
Of course, after filling the Trooper up, it wouldn’t start. No one around would help us jump start it. Andres got into the drivers seat’ and we pushed it backwards through the crowd of people and into the intersection dance, popping the clutch to try and get it started.
Now we were in the edge of the intersection making everyone squeeze around us. And there was this scrawny spaghetti armed white guy trying to push the Trooper backwards – and now forwards. We had to go way down the street to get into another driveway – into a little store called DeliMart. It seemed like an eternal distance away. I squeezed behind the Trooper and the car inches from our bumper with it’s horn blaring, and shoved with all the might my straw-like legs could muster.
Unbeknownst to me, when I left in a euphoria of IT LIVES excitement, 3 of the 4 brake calipers were stuck. As in 3 of the 4 brakes were mostly on. It’s a diesel, it moves with brakes on or off. I’m not a diesel, not a van diesel, not a dan diesel. Haitians on the street kept yelling “5 DOLLARS” in Haitian to help push – but Andres was too proud to take their help. Easy for him – he was steering.
By now we had a few hundred cars backed up into the intersection, and most of Port-au-Prince was at a stand-still. So, two frustrated kind guys watching came and helped me push. 20 minutes and two shaking and eternally sore legs later, we made it into DeliMart, where I paid the guys $5 each for helping.
At DeliMart we found someone who would help jump us, and life was good.
Meanwhile, at the compound, others were helping the community with education and planning and food and a clear presentation of the gospel. More importantly, a few miles away, Andres and I got diesel in to the Trooper.
The Ugly: Haiti has a bit of ugly. Being with the missionary when she stopped to help a lady whose child seemed close to death due to dehydration, seeing a child’s body left on the highway waiting for family to come and take it away, the lack of education, structure, employment, and hope for a proud people who only want to make it on their own. It’s smelly and dirty and yet…
There is hope.
When you see the kids learning at English Camp, you can since the hope and power that comes from Christ making a difference. With the gospel at Maranatha comes food for the body and education for the mind, and you come back to the States and feel like you have somehow wimped out by not remaining in PaP.