Sunday in Blanchard
Updated: Jan 11
I've been wanting to write a bit about a Sunday over here. We had really good church last Sunday and lo and behold it's Wednesday and I've been too busy to write! Plus I hesitate a little bit to do it because church is so different here in a way, and I don't want to describe it in a way that seems like I'm making fun of these people or think the way I grew up is better. So please don't take anything I say that way. I'm just telling you about a Sunday. That's all.
I was thinking on the road there that it may be one of my last moto rides for awhile. I just love going cruising along on the back of moto... You can swerve around trucks and weave between traffic and all the sudden we're cruising into this tiny alleyway where my knees alll-moossst scrape the sides. And everywhere my husband is waving at people he knows, and then we swerve around a goat and a pile of trash, go past a cow contentedly chewing her cud, and slug thru some huge mud puddles that get our church shoes muddy. We pass endless water pumps, with people gathering around pumping and pumping... Any time of the day there is someone there... and I'm thankful for my well and that I'm able to use as much water as I want and take long cool showers. And if I need a couple carrots or an eggplant for lunch we just keep our eyes peeled for a lady on the side of the road with some nice looking veggies.
There is a long straight road on the way to Blanchard. You turn by a huge lush park and go past so many gardens... Banana fields... People hoeing little patches of who knows what. Everywhere there are cows and goats dragging ropes or just laying in the shade. You can look across the banana plants out over the mountains, and along the roads there are people selling plants and I want to buy them all. I told Zeze it was my favorite road and he said, "You don't know anything. It's the most dangerous road around. That's where the bandits hide is among those trees or in the park. And I thought how typical of Haiti. True beauty all mixed up with so much messed up hardship and unfairness and suffering.
Church is kind of a long narrow building with outhouses in back, sometimes a few goats milling about, and the kids Sunday school rooms on the side. We park our moto under the tree, and my word Haitians are so polite at church. We say hi to everyone and ask how they are and how their week and shake hands before we go in to wait. The floor is cement with a strip of shiny tile down the middle and Zèzè wants to sit in front always so feels like you're walking the red carpet or else getting married again! Windows line the side walls with sheer curtains lazily flapping in the breeze (if we're lucky and there IS a breeze.) The benches are wooden with backs, and the rostrum is tile too. The ministers sit on chairs and there are little pots of fake flowers on the pulpit and more hanging on the wall behind. Beside the big speaker box is a long power strip and as people arrive they solemnly march to the front and plug their phones in to charge. When enough people arrive, maybe about 9:15, the generator cranks up and the song leader gets up to start. People dig in their briefcases and bags for the songbooks they brought along, and the songleader starts with the usual, "Lapè Bon Dye avèk nou,"(the peace of God be with you) and we all respond with "Amen!" One time last Sunday he didn't think the amen was strong enough so he made us do it over kind of like a teacher saying good morning to the class lol. I love when they sing out of the old French songbook that you can get in any market here. There are no notes and I don't understand the words alot but French is so beautiful and they know them all by memory and it just sounds soulful is the only way I can describe it.
Since coronavirus we all stay in our seats for Sunday school except the children go out to their class. The superintendent gets up, reads the introduction, and picks someone to read the text. Then he goes to the questions in the back and reads them, and if you have a thought you raise your hand. We the discussion lags, he asks if everyone is OK with the answers we were given, and we all say "Amen." At the end we all say the memory verse together a couple of times with Quiara stumbling around, and the kids come in and sing a song in their best Sunday French lol. And a lot of hairbows and shiny black shoes and floofy skirts and bright colored skirts. Side note: I noticed that the ministers last Sunday were probably the best dressed there. The younger one had on a coral shirt with a handkerchief to match and the other one was wearing bright turquoise. They truly have style here!
Our older minister has been sick a lot lately and so everyone was glad to hear him preach again. They talk pretty straight here sometimes, and we've heard the last two Sundays now how the church attendance is not good on Sunday evenings and Wednesday. He said I know you are not afraid of Coronavirus because there is only one person in this congregation wearing a mask. Squirm. Lol. He read Psalms 100 and talked about being happy, thankful Christians and coming to God's house with peace and joy in our hearts. He said if you are sick, or hungry, and are mad with your situation, who are you really mad with? God. So true. And also we need to lay anything at home that's stressing us out or making us angry down to come to church, otherwise we will not hear God's blessing. The "Amen" when he sat down was very enthusiastic.
The songleader had us all stand to sing How Great Thou Art. He cried thru most of the song... Said he was just so thankful to be at church this morning and for all of God's protection of His church during the pandemic.
Then our younger minister got up and told us the story of how he had been robbed Saturday. He was on the road I was describing earlier, with his family and another brother, when some people pulled guns on them. He said he just looked at the guy for a long time, described his tattoos and the clothes he was wearing to us, and he wasn't afraid. He ended up giving them his bag with his phone and he didn't say what all else. He has a good job/life, and this is the fifth time he's been robbed since he was a youth boy. And he just said he didn't want to be mad with the situation because that would mean being mad with God. At this point I was remembering how Zèzè wanted to leave our phones at home and take a different road to church. And ya, I was just very thankful for God's protection here so far.
There's three brothers here that are really good singers, and Zèzè had missed the men's choir practice Saturday so we practiced a song they just translated for awhile after church. They're all so good at singing notes I'm just ashamed of myself because hello I took music in school for eight years plus I knew the song in English.
And... We came home for rice and bean sauce and legume. My mom in law gave us a bunch of cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers, and green beans so I was really enthused about that. We had people around most of the afternoon... And yes, we did go to church in the evening. They usually have just one of the lay brothers preach and he talked about Elishas persistence in getting the double portion from Elijah.
Today I made pizza and chocolate cookies cuz Ben came for lunch. Again, I ate a normal human amount and those guys cleaned up a Sam's pan of pizza my word. And the other day I made caramel popcorn and shared with the neighbor who had given me three huge avacados. Tonight I'm making fry bread cuz we've been having way too many hot dogs and Coke Zèzè and I. He wants to quit Coke... He says to hate it like he hates alcohol. And I don't love Coke in USA but it's so GOOD to have a sweet drink here. It's made with real sugar. The other unhealthy habit we've started is iced coffees or Brazilian lemonade in the afternoons. All with way too much sugar. Sometimes I put in a normal human amount of sugar and just let him add to his. Lol. The other thing I made was company vegatable casserole... Well kind of. Look at the real recipe you'll see mine was far from it. So I put cooked green beans in a pie tin and mixed mayo with some onions, bell peppers, salami, and a triangle laughing cow cheese to spread on top. I mixed a couple pieces of crushed dry bread with a tbsp of margarine mixed with oil to put on top and added chile powder, salt and pepper and it was seriously so American and good. Talking of American, I also made hamburgers the other night. I thawed out five meatballs lol... So the patties had I won't say how much bread crumbs and eggs added, and we bought five cents a piece bread from the corner store. And he kept talking about the good hamburgers at Stop and Go with so much meat on them, and I didn't have tomatoes or mustard, or charcoal to grill so I kept trying to lower his expectations. And when it was all said and done he said they were amazing, he just wanted two instead of one, and Quiara was like wow mèsi Jezi I didn't marry a picky man.
So biggest news for last... I'm starting a teaching job next Wednesday! It's at the mission where my mom in law works, Blue Ridge. They are another type of Mennonite and use Abeka curriculum, and the students are in 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades. There are four with a kindergartener and first grader coming part time. Seems to be structured very much like what I'm used to, and I'm excited but seems scary to learn to drive. And also a bit overwhelming to wife and teach at the same time. But we're thankful to God for this opportunity! I know how tired you are the first weeks of school, and I have less energy than home but I found out today the school has a legit air conditioner so that maybe will boost the energy... Until I get home and sweat thru housework.
So there's another bit of my life... Pray for us as we're starting out here and for our future together. Right now just seems like it's all roses but life doesn't stay that way in Haiti lol. The most important thing is to know you are where God wants you, and then he'll work out the details.