Spring Break Plans
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
I get the best spring break ever this year... I'm going to Haiti!!! March 1 till March 11. The school board is giving us two extra days of Spring Break, so I get almost 10 days there. It will begin with retreat, maybe include a trip up the mountain to Oriani, and end in my beloved Ganthier, with Sherli's best Sunday dinner, and a bunch of kids that I still claim, even tho they have long gone on without me. And how do I explain retreat.... which will start with a 10 hour drive to Jeremie, the prettiest town in Haiti, along with a bunch of youth from Fonds Parisien including my bestie, Daniela... You can read my version of the one I was at in 2015. But I know Haiti so much better now, and love it all so much more, so this one will be 10 times better I am sure! I'll tell you all about it when I get home. And if you read this description down below and still have no idea why I am so excited about going, I will kindly advise you to get a life! LOL!
Retreat is when about 600-700 Haitian Mennonites come from all over in the backs of semi-trucks and super crowded machins and get together in one little church for about 3 days and sing and preach and look for husbands and wives and eat rice and beans and wear their most fancy clothes. It’s really just a pretty awesome 3 days! Saturday morning Michelle and I were ready to go about 5:30. About 6 Papa said the machin was just leaving Fond Parisian which is about 30 minutes away but anyway, when we finally got all the luggage tied on top and everyone loaded in it was after 7:30. We were about 23 or so in a 15 passenger I think… some of them were kids so it wasn’t too bad. (Ok so I’ve been in Haiti long enough that I’m getting used to it maybe). Fre Jon-Jon and his family from Oriani were there. He’s the director of the school there where Lacey teaches and his wife teaches with Lacey. They are a really cool family and he speaks English better than any other Haitian I’ve met I think. All the Ganthier people were in there, the 4 youth girls and Elder’s family. The rest of the people were from Fond Parisian. The drive there took almost 4 hours. You go past Port and then up into the mountains past Fond Michelle. It’s pretty dry right now, but every now and then you come to a pretty little river, and a few small villages now and then. We stopped a couple of times to get out and buy food from the people around the street. Fre Jon Jon got us all singing. He just belted out the bass and made up repeats where there weren’t any and made up words when he forgot them. At one point they threatened to put him out, and I said I’d stay with him and we could walk the rest of the way. We got to Valare around 11, and hardly anyone was there yet. Silene and Daniela found a place to spend night and so we went over there and stretched out on the floor to take naps. It was great except for the man had about a dozen baby chicks running around the yard and they kept coming in and crawling on my back! Michelle and I decided to stay where April and Lacey were... we were about 15 girls, most of them were from Cazeau and Blanchard. We had a little room and we spread out blankets or whatever we had brought along on the floor, and I think we were packed in there about as tight as 2 people sleeping in a full-sized bed. There was a nice outhouse in the back… but we used up the toilet paper the first night! For showers we had a 50 gallon drum full of water in back of the house with a little board to stand on… and there was usually a couple people out there bathing together. Haitians take a lot of baths! Every night we came back from church and someone lit a candle and put it on a tin can, and people turned on their flashlights and everyone sat around and talked. I couldn’t understand everything they were saying and most of the time I was too sleepy to care. And it’s fun to just listen to them! Some things sound so funny in Kreyol! One time there one of the girls wanted another one to get up because she was leaning against her, and she said she was “composing a fart!” Another time on the way up there Chamaline was getting carsick and she asked me if I wasn’t scared of “vomitation!” Made me laugh! Every evening before bed someone would start singing and they would all sing a few songs together, and then someone would volunteer to pray. I was amazed… they were totally ok with praying this long 5 minute prayer out loud with all their friends. Everyone got up early in the mornings... usually they would be stirring around before it got light, and for sure by 6 someone was singing again and then someone would pray and we could get on with getting ready. Their clothes are very, very important to them, and it takes them forever to get ready. All the shoes and broken pieces of mirrors and combs get shared around and you’re never sure where all your stuff is. Some used my towel for a pillow every night! I ironed with one of their charcoal irons for the first time… tricky business! They all had new dresses… amazing patterns that would never go over in the United States, and loads of shoes! Most of the time I felt pretty frumpy compared to them because I brought along pretty practical clothes, but some of their dresses I just want to rip off the bows and ruffles! They don’t know about simple and classy! Church was teeming with people… men with all their bright colored shirts with black slacks, and the ladies with all their new dresses and then all the kids running around dressed up to the max! Haitian kids are so beautiful! There were a bunch of them that I made friends with them the very first night, so I usually had at least a couple of them tagging along with me. I can at least understand and talk to them, and it seems like they all just want someone to talk to them and hug them and be interested in them so bad! So many different people to talk to…. I got to know April and Lacey better so that was cool. Then of course Carson and Donavan were there… they stayed with the Haitian youth guys to so we kept comparing stories! Keith’s and Todd’s and Wes’s and the CSI guys were there from Oriani too. And Greg’s came from Roche Blanche along with Tyson’s, Brendan’s, and Cody’s and Mervin’s from Jeremie were there for part of it. And Isaac and Heather and Frantzy and Sally are fun to hang out with too because they’re such a mixture of Haitian and white. And the youth kids, especially the guys, from Cazeau and Blanchard can usually talk at least a little bit of English. You get into the weirdest conversations with them!!! Some are too weird to write about lol. The topic that without fail comes up is would you marry a Haitian? I don’t know what to say because, yes, I love this country and if there was a Haitian I loved I would marry him, but right now I don’t see much chance of that happening! They all are sure that God can find a Haitian for me to marry tho! The youth all ended calling me “Kiwowo” like the O kids do, because my name is too hard in Kreyol, and then Donavan was “gwo bab” (big beard) and Carson was “zoyon” (onion) because last retreat he got tired of rice and beans so he bought a tomato and an onion in the village and walked around eating them! Speaking of food…. We had Haitian coffee and tea for breakfast with bread two of the mornings. I can’t really handle Haitian coffee… WAY to sweet, so I tried the tea one morning and it was the same story. Frantzy’s gave me peanut butter for my bread one morning cuz it was pretty dry! I was glad the morning they made spaghetti for breakfast! Lunch was rice and beans with just a little bit of beet salad and some sort of meat (usually mostly skin and fat) and juice. It was such mass chaos getting your lunch… So much that Todd even talked about it in his sermon! People just shouting and crowding into line and then tall people trying to reach over the shorter ones heads. Supper was laboui, it’s some sort of grayish sweet pudding. I was acquainted with it from the O and did not partake…. Which was ok because I’m not used to having much supper anyway. Then outside there were folks selling meat and banan peze, pates, cokes, and crackers and candy and what all else. Church was hard to for me to concentrate on! Lol… so much noise everywhere and so hard to find a seat inside. I did get to hear Todd’s sermon tho. He is a deacon and did the object lesson where the rocks symbolize your Christian life, and the sand symbolizes material things. If you put the rocks in the container first, you can fit the sand in too, but if you put the sand in first, the rocks won’t fit. It was a nice simple message. There was also lots of singing. Almost every congregation has a choir and they all got special songs around. Group d’Homme sang a lot. It’s a choir of Haitian men that get together and sing every month. It started a long time ago when they wanted to learn more about music, and they have translated a lot of songs into Kreyol and they have their own songbook. I think it was truly some of the best singing I have heard! They have good bass, but the cool thing is they can sing HIGH! One afternoon we were singing with some of them, and they pitched the songs so high the alto was almost too high for me to get! Haitians are so much fun to sing with… it just ROLLS!!! One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend was one evening after the service there was a huge group gathered in the church and it was dark so we just had flashlights and wow… it was so loud! You could sing as loud as you possibly could and not hear yourself! The last day they had a bunch of Bible trivia questions, and they were handing out suckers for prizes for people who could remember the sermon texts, or one time they had a row of youth guys stand up, and they gave suckers to the ones who had beards! Keith’s boy Chase ended up singing a solo in English. Then Elder gets up with this bag that had his Bible and some other book and said he would give the whole bag to whoever could answer his question. Then when the person came up there to get it, he just took everything out and gave them the bag! Of course everyone thought that was uproariously funny! Monday afternoon there was a soccer game. We went out there with a bunch of Haitian girls to watch. We climbed a little ways back into the sticks and there was a flat spot with two soccer goals set up. They are so fun to watch… they’ve got some moves!!! The girls sit on the sidelines and laugh at everyone and cheer… and try not to get dirty. That’s very important! It was beautiful up there too… kind of on top of a little ridge. Tuesday afternoon we all headed home again. I think I have bruises from where I was sitting. There was metal poking into me in two places and I was very sleepy all the way home. But Fre Jon Jon kept us entertained again, and we made it home eventually! I had the morning off this morning and drank sweet tea, and home feels like a little paradise! There’s food, and toilet paper, and a place to charge my phone!