I am here. I am alive. (this is Jay speaking). I feel conflict, unrest, peace, hope, poverty, and justice. I feel like I am fully living today. Everyday. Right where I am supposed to be. But it is not always easy, and life has been easier than this before. Still, I would not trade it for anything... though there are some things I would love to trade a goat for, including a warm shower, a working knowledge of Creole, and a county edict to remove all roosters from a 15 mile radius of my bedroom.
I feel like I am adjusting to life in Haiti though. I am seeing how comfort-spoiled I have been, and God has given grace daily to allow those comforts to die painlessly. I often feel like I have fully acclimated to life here already, and then I experience something that would seem routine to me, but is actually very far from it.
For example, getting a new tire for our truck. Not expected to be a big deal. You just go to the local Tire Kingdom to purchase a new tire. Until you pull up and the local tire shop and see things are done a little differently. The tire shop has no tire inventory, with the exception of the 4 used bike tires strewn across the yard. Haitians are incredibly resourceful though and I stood amazed as the Haitian tire-fixer confounded me with his brilliance. Here is what he had to work with to get our bad tire inflated:
Thin slices of rubber (think party balloons)
Broken scissors (handles broken. blades functional)
Half of a philips head screwdriver (no handle)
A piece of a truck crankshaft (used for hitting stuff with force)
A used lawnmower blade (when leverage is needed)
Oily Sweatpants (to clean?)
Used motor oil (in a clorox bottle)
Flattened cardboard (still unsure why it is needed, but it functions like a denist chair, allowing the tire to rest while being repaired)
5 palm fronds (for shade)
A compressor that lacked a belt and a pull cord. (To put air in the tire, he had to find some rubber and rope to get it started). (I would have bet a donkey that he would not be able to get it started) (And he did) (So I kind of owe him a donkey)
Basically the finishing touches come when the thin rubber slices get shoved into the tire slit, oiled liberally, and then -- from what I can gather -- we are told to go drive to melt the rubber slices (balloons). I am amazed. And the tire is still working. A new truck tire here costs over $200 for a light duty truck. 4 times more than it would in America -- in this country where the average native makes less than $2 per day. So that means 3 things: 1) I wonder to myself why tires cost so much 2) of course Haitians are going to repair tires and find ways to do so effectively, and 3) We need to start importing tires to make some profit to fund the orphanage. (still praying about #3 :)
Please keep praying for us. We are learning the language, and every day feeling like we make a little more progress. It is both encouraging to see great improvements, and discouraging to still understand so little. But it is amazing getting to be a part of what God is doing here. The orphans still stop me in my tracks seeing their smiling faces, sharing joy with them, and hearing them laugh. We are making so many friends with the people in the church here. And hope to continue to be able to communicate with everyone more and more. We feel encourgaged. We feel joyful. And we feel hopeful that God will continue to be our everything.
Since we got to Haiti, every Haitian that we have asked has insisted it is safe here now. Even the white foreigners say that Haiti is safe now, that the gangs have been dispersed, and that Haiti has peace. For now. We are however (and forever will be) very careful here. We never travel anywhere without Haitians with us (partly because we can not function or communicate, but also for safety purposes). I have noticed, though, how peaceful the country seems politically.
Life feels a little less peaceful when entering the market. We went to the local market (with 5 Haitians of course) on Thursday. When I say market, I really just mean utter Mayhem. Chaos. Havoc. Everyone is running around. Carrying anything and everything. Its muddy from rain. The smells all combine to form a nostril-cleansing pasty haze. The meat selections come covered in flies, and of course cow esophagus and donkey hooves are both options for the taking. Live chickens cost more than the pre-slaughtered variety. Noises everywhere, buckets carried mostly on heads, and yet most of the people give us huge smiles, loving the fact that we are experiencing their lives, living with them. And they may not know that we love being here even more than they could realize. I feel alive here.
One of the guys who walked us to the market is a guy named Andeson. He is a member of the church here in our village and he is so incredibly gentle, yet has a laugh that can ignite uproarious joy. He is 24 and speaks perfect creole (as expected, but i am still jealous). He was at church today and hanging out with some of the church staff this afternoon. I met him years ago, and every time I see him, I think I really want to be his friend. For real. I know that much just by his demeanor, his smile, his handshake, and his laugh. But there is this gaping language barrier between me and about 98 percent of all Haitians. Andeson included. But today we attempted yet another broken creole/broken english conversation. I was so blessed. He asked me if I love Haiti. I explained I did because the people here are so special (but I dont know how to say even that sentence in creole). So, all I got out was that the people in this village love me. And I love them. He said that is because Jesus is in his heart. And Jesus is in my heart. And so "we love us" is how the creole phrase translated (meaning, the Haitian and the American believers love each other).
My new friend and I realized we both want to learn each other's language. We both need a teacher. And thus we are starting English/Creole class tomorrow. He is the Creole "pwofese", and the Americans are the English "teachers". And we get to hang out every day and grow as friends. I can tell him about my culture, and he can teach me about his, and we get to share life with each other. Daily. Learning from each other. And growing together as friends.
So God continues to give us friends. We feel blessed. The Haitians love us really well, and we love getting to live this life together with them.
P.S. Jay wrote this blog -- just clarifying for anyone worried about Diana spending one-on-one time with Haitian men. That is not happening. Nor vice versa.