I saw you in the picture. Running. Holding hands with your brother. I pray you are back home now, and that you and your brother can go to school together this week. Still holding hands, but not running or feeling so scared. I hope you are busy with little boy things like flying kites, herding goats, and playing soccer in streets full of just normal life, not the silent, eerie streets of this last month with only a few gangsters standing guard. I hope your mama taught you to pray when the scary things you've seen want to come into your thoughts and dreams. I hope you can believe that Jesus loves you.
I saw you in the video. You were loading your clothes into a moving van. You said that most of your neighbors had lost at least 1 family member in the fighting. You said the gang leader of Chen Mechan was like a father to you. I feel bad that you have to choose your favorite gang - that even though you lived in a dangerous area before, you still see that old life as so much better than now, with this evil man named Pere Lebrun burning houses and shooting your neighbors. I hope you and your children are safe somewhere, and that you have enough to eat.
I saw you on my street corner. I've seen you many times. Sometimes you're cleaning in the streets and you ask my husband for money. One day, I was coming home from the market, slogging through ankle deep mud, and you bought a bag of water and helped me wash my sandals. I was afraid because I didn't have money to give you. I'm always afraid of you, but I feel sorry for you too. You are so young, and last Sunday night you all gripped your guns with such intensity. I wish you could forget about all this gangster business, go home to your mama, and let her cut off your tangled dreadlocks, make a fuss over you, and just cook you a good meal. I don't know how you ended up where you are, but it is a hopeless life full of fear and danger. I pity you so much.
I see all of you.
I'm not your government, that has betrayed you. I'm not one of the rich people in the country, the "boujwa", who is thinking only of making more money. I'm not the director of some huge charity organization, who has left Haiti behind because things are just too dangerous right now.
There's nothing I can do. But I do see you. And many times a day, I pray.
Port au Prince seems to be having a calmer week. Our congregation of Blanchard are mostly back in their homes, except for a few families who have chosen to take an extended visit with family or friends out in the countryside.
The problems are far from solved. We don't know what will happen in the coming weeks. In some ways, the more intense fights these last two weeks have affected only a small area in Port au Prince, but in other ways they affect the whole country.
My friend in the mountains (Oriani) said that they had a child in Mennonite school that fainted from hunger the other morning. The teachers poured cold water on him and gave him crackers to revive him. There are crops ready to harvest, but the trucks that take the produce down the mountain to Port au Prince have been shot at so much that they are afraid to run. Some of the crops will likely rot in the fields.
Even people in the country do depend on the capital for lots of reasons, and many of the roads into the city have been very dangerous for months. At this point, the only real safe direction to go is straight north. Lots of families also have children staying in Port au Prince for the school year, so even socially it's really hard to not be able to travel safely.
I am having a hard time grasping life in the USA. Two things that amaze me so much are how easy it is to get food and how safe it is to walk and drive around. I've been taking walks in the evening and it feels so unnatural to be out after dark. It's especially strange to drive anywhere alone, or go to someone's house for supper and stay until 10:00 PM. Since those missionaries from CAM were kidnapped, I have been mainly staying at my house and going out only for church and a few hasty market trips where I'm constantly on alert, so it's quite a switch.
Last night I made Haitian spaghetti for my brothers. It's such a simple meal, but I could add 5 hot dogs instead or 1 or 2, and boil a whole lot of eggs and put a big bunch of bananas on the table for toppings. It took me about 30 minutes to make supper, and it all just seemed so weird. Zeze said USA was not really even a country, just some sort of paradise or heaven - and I feel the same even though I grew up here.
It's hard not to feel like I just forsook all my people. When I talk to my husband, or my dad-in-law calls from their little house in Blanchard that they had to run away from just last week, I feel like that is my life. That world is more real than this one.
We feel so helpless, but prayer is powerful. It is our only weapon, because this problem is too big for any person to solve. I teach English to two sisters who live in Frere, the area where our tap-tap was stolen. That area is controlled by a different gang, but the leader is Lamo san Jou's (leader of 400 Mawozo) cousin. Yesterday they canceled class because their whole neighborhood was in shock. A neighbor had just been kidnapped and there was a lot of shooting and fear everywhere.
My husband also talked to an acquaintance yesterday that had been personally kidnapped for a whole month and only turned loose during this war. The gangsters were out of money and let him go for a smaller ransom than they originally asked for.
When we hear those stories, we wonder how long it will be until one of our own family members or church brothers will be the victim. It can happen to anyone, and it would be a lot different than when they kidnapped the CAM missionaries. The gang members are quite cruel to their own Haitian people. I'm not sure if the church is prepared and ready to handle a situation like that! How do you prepare for something that terrible?
We need to continue in faith, and everyone in Haiti appreciates your continued prayers for direction. May God show us what to do to stay safe, and may he give everyone enough so that their children are not hungry.
I don't enjoy writing all this bad news, but I do have something positive to end with. I was able to go to the doctor last week, and we found out our baby is a little girl. She is very healthy and so am I. We praise God for this!