Deye Mon Gen Mon
Updated: Jan 11
I spent Thanksgiving day at school... Teaching 123s and Abcs as usual and then trying to help little unartistic boys do self portraits with charcoal pencils. My conscience is free because it was the abeka art book's idea, not mine. I was very glad to have my amazing helper there to string paper flowers and cut up straws into necklaces with the girls. I argued with myself about making Thanksgiving food all day, and tradition won over... So I fought traffic to go buy cornmeal, and I am turning into a incredibly Haitian driver lol. I was turning left up at the next intersection where everyone else was going right so I drove down the middle of the road, like made my own lane, and then I did get snarled up with the other traffic at which point I saw some avocados. So I bargained thru the window for one and must have been taking up a bit of the road cuz the policeman came and banged on my hood in an effort to get me out of the way. I left with one avacodo purchased for a total of $10 HD. I cooked till 8:30 and we were running out of power... Walking around the house with flashlights... So I served up fried chicken legs, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, and pumpkin dessert with what Zèzè told my mom was ice cream but it was really a half frozen dream whip and pudding mixture. We sat on our beach chairs on the porch because we have prettiest solar lights ever and ate off of China plates, and the beverage of choice from one tired cook was good old Coca-Cola.
Yesterday I did have off, and it was so amazing to lay in bed with complete quiet around me... And even better to have lunch ready for my husband when he got home from work. And then drive away... Leaving the city behind... The ocean came into sight, and we wound around thru little towns, catching glimpses of it here and there until we got to the public beach just next door to where we had our honeymoon. No perfect landscaping there... The horses are in charge of the mowing. But the water is just as pretty, the sunset looks the same, and a lady cooked us up some great fish served up in Styrofoam cartons with fins hanging out the sides. It was the best of days.
Today threatened to be stressful. We have to attend a graduation tomorrow and graduations mean cakes. When I confessed to my husband that I dreaded making cakes in Haiti, he told me he thought all white girls loved making cakes because every place they went that's what they always brought. If they are like me, the spirit is willing but the flesh is very weak. Haitians like fancy cakes with nice piped frosting decorated with their names and flowers. I have never been interested in cake decorating and I also have a hard time shelling out large amounts of money for microscopic bags of powdered sugar. Add that to the fact that you can count on the cake being out in the heat for several hours and it's just plain nightmare material. Solution? Make a cake without fancy frosting... Maybe... But whatever you do the voices in your head tell you that it's not good enough, that you're really trashy wife material, and blah blah blah blah. Maybe other white girls enjoy that; I don't know. Or maybe they have better control over the voices in their head... Probably. But today my luck was good. Zèzè stopped by the graduate's house and she had friends there making a proper Haitian cake. And God blessed me with beautiful bread dough from yeast that was long expired. I made beirochs... A few have broken tops where the hamburger is peeking thru but hey... my husband has already been in the kitchen and put his arm around me and said it smelled delicious. I made iced cappuccinos for the guys and they made puns about my "white" coffee, which always gives me a warm fuzzy because it means they're inching towards being relaxed around me. And a bit later I'm gonna make some cheap, boring, delicious beef and macoroni soup and send it home for Zeze's family.
Last Friday at school was stressful. I was in full white-girl-you're-the-boss-go-change-the-world mode of course. All the bad grades and the fact that there wasn't enough time in the day for classes was my fault and I was not standing for this. I would run this school like a professional if it killed me. Wait... Is that even a professional attitude?? I finally got the kids out of there, and called my husband. He was supposed to be there at 3 with some of the men's choir to go to Oriani for the ordination. Well, they were broke down. I looked for the remote to our car so I could just go home and wait there, and it was NOWHERE. Finally close to a mental breakdown, I did schoolwork until I couldn't concentrate and then just gave up and laid in the seat of the car. At 5 o'clock, my husband pulled in, honking madly. Inside the car, all was peaceful. We had a guy sitting backwards on the console, one had to leave his wife home because there wasn't room to take her, but everyone was calm. They started singing and millimeter by millimeter, my jaw relaxed... Somebody had a jump drive with gospel English songs, so we played that as we left Fonds Parisien behind and climbed up and up thru the dark. The windows were down, and it started getting cold, so I cuddled up in a sweater. I watched the lights of Dominican Rupublic... A different world from ours. We arrived at Savan Mouton close to 11 o'clock. The poor lady of the house had made supper for us hours ago, and I hope we did justice to her sos pwa and legume and pancakes... Although that late at night and after that bumpy of a drive, the appetites weren't great. The morning special moment was after I got my freezing self ready to go and went upstairs to the loft. The guys... About 18 of them ranging from two ministers around 40 down to several youth guys.... We huddled in thick socks, stocking caps, and blankets on the floor where they had stepped in one long line. The older ones were remembering how they started this group and their vision for it, and I just thought wow. All my friends scattered around North America... I'm thankful for all of them and the experiences that led me to meet them. But I wonder if I'm as grounded and settled as my husband, who is still surrounded by the people he went to school with. No one moves away or gets tired of each other, and at 35 years old they still can pack in a vehicle and travel up the mountain for a weekend together. I love Foray market. It's huge and noisy but still fairly safe and I could shop in peace. I got food for half price with no issues except for a petutious lady selling eggplants. She had no change so I was obliged to march back and forth buying things until I came up with the exact money to pay her. Jay took me to church where Briana was helping make epis. There were big tubs of chicken breasts everywhere and more garlic and green onions than you can imagine. I peeled a lot of garlic and then we went home and made cupcakes... All different kinds until we hit somewhere around the 300 mark. The ordination was a beautiful service. It seems like the Oriani congregation has a special unity and bond, and now they have two ministers and a deacon to add even more strength to their congregation. There was lots of singing, and I felt about sorry for Lacey and the new deacons wife sitting on the rostrum for 3 hours with children on their lap, but they were surprisingly good. Then lunch was served and gone in a flash as usual, and we cranked up the English music and headed down. No excitement except that my husband laid on the horn and charged toward a funeral procession that was completely blocking the road. Embarrassing for me, but they all managed to hike up their skirts and let us past lol. On the way up, someone ask if this was the last peak before we got there. Someone else laughed and said, "Ou konnen dèyè mòn gen mòn." That's a Haitian proverb that says, "Behind mountains there are mountains." That's so many times how I feel over here. The mountains are cultural differences and racism that go back farther than we can trace them. Neither Zèzè and I nor our families nor our congregation built these mountains, but they are very real. They are ours to climb if we want to have true relationships that go beyond a polite greeting at church. Sometimes I think I reach a peak where I think I have a new understanding of this world over here, but soon I'm in the valley again from hearing a story of a Haitian made to feel less than by a missionary, or for my husband pointing out something thoughtless I'm doing that makes me appear stingy or arragont. The highest peaks are when someone makes jokes around me, when Zèzès friends come and hang out in my kitchen or put their arm on my shoulder and say "Madanm Zèzè" like I'm one of the crowd. I live for those moments and they give me courage to climb to the next mountain. Sometimes my mind holds thoughts like a valley holds a cloud of fog. Looking down from the mountain road, you see only a cloud of swirling white vapor. I hold bad quiz grades, next week's art project, guilt about not having more company often, and next week's menu plans. Then far out money making plans seep in thru the cracks, and thoughts of social situations where I may have acted like an ignorant white girl (which in fact happens to be what I AM not just how I act sometimes). It's crazy. But when the fog clears, sometimes the view is a little dangerous looking. The valley is beautiful, but the drop off is steep... And the bottom is a long way down. It's like that with this crazy life God has chosen for Zèzè and I. We have incredibly different life stories; there is so many things about his people that I probably will never completely understand; and which newly wed girl is full of energy enough to drive 30 minutes thru city traffic to teach a whole school by herself, meanwhile holding fast to Proverbs 31 at home. But I am convinced all those things are small and unimportant to God. He wants every bit of my imperfect self. Not the fancy cakes I can't make, or the art projects I mess up. Not my should be cleaner house or my should be brighter smile when I walk into church late again. And I want to give that to him because he is the only one who has a chance of making something beautiful out of my life.