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Haiti 2011 – day 5 – battles

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I tried to have a good attitude about moving the cinder blocks. I really did. Unfortunately, this is the first line of my journal from day five:

“I think I would rather move 60,000 water bottles by myself than move another brick”

pile of bricks

We continued the cinder block assembly line again this morning, and after about an hour we had moved every block in the pile. I remember joking that it would be funny if they dropped off another load while we were gone. It wasn’t so funny when we came back that afternoon and there was a bigger pile than when we started.
headed to Minoterieon our way to Minoterie

We spend this day in an area called Minoterie (pronounced like minnow-tree). The first thing we did there was work on painting another house.

This house was smaller than the ones we worked on in Leveque. It had just two rooms in it that were about the same size. Overall, it seemed like Minoterie was a poorer community than the other areas we had visited.

painting with friendspainting messagepainting windows

We struggled again to find the balance between letting the kids help us paint and be involved and helping them keep clean some of the few clothes they own.


Just like the other days, we walked back to our vehicle for lunch. Eating in the truck was probably the best way to deal with the uncomfortable situation of eating in a location where you don’t know the last time the people around you have eaten. The kids followed us out to the truck, and we were very thankful when the driver agreed to drive us down the road a little.

cute kids

We were immediately turned into five year olds when the “spray cheese” came out.

spray cheese silliness

After lunch the plan was to split up into smaller groups, with some of the groups staying in the center of town to play with the kids and some of the groups walking through the area to talk to the families and pray with them.
playing in Minoterie

Although I got harassed for it later, I dominated at my favorite game of “Devon, Deyey”, a simple version of Simon Says. You just jump forward (devon) or backward (deyey).

After a little while, my group left with a translator to talk to some of the families in the area. I already told this story on my diabetes blog because I was just so proud to talk about what Bob Pedersen did. Here is what I wrote (in somewhat brief) –

I was walking down an alley with some girls from my team (and our male translator). Like typical girls, we stopped when we saw an adorable little child. He was wearing a little muscle shirt and nothing else. When we got to him, one of the girls leaned down and asked, “Como ye? (How are you?)” He looked up at her and didn’t answer. She asked him, “Ki laj ou? (How old are you?)” He still didn’t answer. A woman who was walking by … told us his mom was dead. We asked who takes care of him.

“Their sister does.” “How old is their sister?” “15” “How old are they?” (she talks to the older boy) “7 and 5” [I am telling you there is NO WAY the younger boy looked any older than 2 – he was so TINY] “Does she have a job?” “No” “Does she go to school?” “No” “So how does she take care of them?” “Well… I help out sometimes”

When we finished praying and I opened my eyes, I noticed that our interpreter was crying. The stereotypical Haitian man does not show emotion, not to mention cry. We knew that the situation was desperate.

One of the first things they told us during training, that was actually repeated several more times, was that we should not pass out food, clothes, money, gifts, etc… That is why I was so surprised to see our translator put a few gourdes into her hand. It was a sign to us that this was a time to break the rules. That day, I happened to have some of my money with me in my bag. I passed the cash to the translator, he handed it to the young girl, and all too quickly we had to leave for the day.

I know this is a very long post but there is one more story I need to tell from this day. When we got back to the compound that night, I heard a story of what happened with one of my other team members while we were with this very young family. She was in a group with a different translator when they approached this young man and asked if they could pray for him. At first he was very hesitant to have a conversation with them.

After a while they were able to find out it was because he was angry at the local churches. He had stopped going to church a few months earlier, and was saddened to find out that no one asked why. No one from the church visited him or tried to find out why he left. He felt like church had become more of a financial institution. My friend said that as they were listening, they couldn’t help but think about how much this compares to so many American churches today.
Minoterie house
The young man invited the group to join him back at his home so they could meet his wife as well. When they entered the yard, my friend noticed a few men sitting on the front porch. One of these men was dressed all in white including a white cap on his head. There was also a metal container hanging from a tree with the remnant of smoldering ashes. The men on the porch stared down the group with emotionless faces.
empty walls
Entering the house, the group was introduced to the wife and began to listen to their story. Through a variety of circumstances over the past few days, it had become clear to the couple that it was time to return to a relationship with Jesus. They just were not sure how to do it, and were trapped in their current living situation. The couple could not afford the house on their own. The people on the front porch were helping them pay for it.
cactus fences
They were helping them pay for the house in exchange for its use in ritualistic sacrifices. The man in white on the porch was actually the local voodoo priest. The couple and the small group inside spoke in hushed tones inside the home and helped them to develop a plan for finding help to escape their situation. Since we would be leaving the community shortly, it was crucial to get them connected with local support. After praying over the family and the house – loudly in the name of Jesus since the men on the front porch did not understand English – it was unfortunately time for the group to return to the rest of us in the town center.

When I told people I was going to Haiti, a lot of them responded with questions about voodoo. It is one of those things that we are aware of the whole time we are there, but that is not usually so overt. Again, the saying is that Haiti is 80% Catholic and 100% voodoo. Even the people that we worshipped with in church on Sunday have grown up with voodoo so ingrained in their culture; it is hard for them to leave those practices now.

It might not be voodoo, but I think we struggle with the same battles here in America. A great quote describing the battle is found in the book, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle, written by a man who spent several years working in Haiti.

“There’s something about the desperation of life here (in Haiti) that resonates with how desperate life itself really actually, is. On the surface, an American suburb is a place where life is orderly, manicured, manageable. Here, the surface is raw and needy and clawing. There is some reassurance in living where the exterior life, with all its ragged desperation – and glimpses of beauty and faith and spontaneous dancing – resonates more with the interior experience of being human.”

Minoterie beautysmile in MinoterieMinoterie boysmore Minoterie kids


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