Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our tour of Grand Guave, Haiti

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Morning came quickly and Diane and I met on the rooftop for prayer. She wanted to pray for us to accept the fact that we were not going to build James Peter’s house as we thought we were. The news was discouraging and some in our group told us that was the only reason they agreed to come. Our leader, felt like she had let us down and she was concerned about handling the situation in a godly way. Yes, we were disappointed but…God is in control.

Today after breakfast we had a devotional about Rahab, the Harlot. Ruth Ann is a wonderful teacher and I tried to focus on the lesson but it was difficult when the beautiful sky was beckoning me to look up. You could hear the birds singing and the view of the mountains was breathtaking. After the ending prayer the newcomers were going on a little walk.

Gretchen gave us an interesting tour of this little village that time had forgotten. It truly seemed as if we were in Biblical times. There were ditches on either side of the street to catch the rain water. During this visit Haiti was very, very dusty and dry. Rain would have been very welcomed. Although just two months ago, Hurricane Noel caused mud slides and did considerable damage.

As we walked through Grand Guave it was obvious that in spite of their living conditions, they still had a joy that was noticeable. We began our journey to the left of the compound as we meandered through the cemetery. Haitians spend more money on the monuments for the dead than they do for the houses they live in. You can see the influence of the French Catholics in the architecture of the stone burials. The cross that hangs above the monuments are voodoo signs, not signs of Christianity. A very tiny lady walked through the cemetery and stopped to talk to Madame Bob (Gretchen) and posed for a photo. She was so small and old and very dark skinned. I would venture to say she was close to 90 years old, yet in very good health. Several people passed us on the narrow walkway that led to a main road. We could hear the sounds of a beating drum and monotone chanting coming from a Voodoo service, called a Ra-Ra. The drums were beating loudly and rhythmically and the people were getting louder and louder. Gretchen told us not to take pictures and in fact not to even look toward the building; just walk on by it. We walked down the street a ways and then had to turn around which made us walk by the Voodoo service again. I was not scared but Gretchen did remind us that, “greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.” Before going to Haiti, I thought being anywhere close to a Voodoo service would scare me…it didn’t.

As we walked through the village, women would walk by us carrying baskets upon their heads with bandanas around their foreheads. Some women with small children would walk past us and smile. I had my mind on taking pictures of mothers for the Mother’s Day brunch. Gretchen told us it was ok to take pictures. When I noticed a mother sitting on the side of the street with her child on her lap, I didn’t hesitate I raised my camera and snapped the picture. Just as I heard the click I saw her face in the view finder. She had quickly turned the child’s face away from me. My heart sank as I realized she did not want to be a photo in my collection. Within an instant I knew I had invaded her privacy. She was a mother protecting her child. I put my camera away…at least I didn’t take any more pictures unless I asked first. After I downloaded the picture on my computer I just sat and looked at her facial expression. Her eyes were saying to me, “Yes, I am poor and my child may be hungry but we are not your project. We are real people with real feelings.” Her movements were quick and she was shielding her child. I would not want my child or grandchildren to be photographed by a complete stranger either. But there was something more in her eyes. It was the look of desperation, hopelessness, and discouragement. She was like a mother hen protecting her chick.

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