Monday, December 8, 2008

A Day at the Market

Smoke from nearby cooking fires swirl upward as I gingerly make my way through the crowded market. I dodge a woman carrying a large basket on her head and feel a warm arm nudge me on my right. I move aside to let a boy pass and look down just in time to side step a rather flattened dead rat. “En dollar, dis dollar, sache? sache?” Voices swirl around me all demanding my attention, but I hurry on searching for Pam and Jennifer. I soon find them, since although the market is crowded their pale skin is hard to miss in the sea of dark bodies. People carry chickens under their arms, baskets of rice on their heads, and herd their bleating goats to the “meat department”. Little sheets, garbage bags or blankets are laid out everywhere and woman, children, and the occasional tied up duck, sit on them proudly displaying their wares. Onions, potatoes, rice, tomatoes, garlic, and plantains are some of the more common goods people sell. We stop and barter for some potatoes and then go on to buy rice, onions and eggs. As we stop to examine some bananas I suddenly let out a small shriek. Something sharp just stepped on my toe. I quickly pull my foot away and look down just in time to see a rooster on a short string held by his master straining to eat some kernels of corn between my feet. A lady sits close by with a large bowl of corn on her lap, ready to scoop up to sell and when the rooster spots this it makes a dive for the bowl. She shoos him away and then says some choice words to the owner. He shrugs picks up his rooster and is soon on his way. We continue to squish and squeeze our way through the throngs of people and animals to buy the last things on our list. Towards the end we pass through the meat department and I shudder. Since there is no refrigeration, meat is killed every Saturday morning at the market to make it as fresh as possible. I watch as a woman puts her hands elbow deep into a large pot of yellowish brown soggy meat. I try to hide my horror as I smile at her and she smiles sweetly back. A few steps later two men wrestle with the carcass of a pig. What bothers me even more is the line up of cute little goats, bleating in horror as they await their slaughter. My stomach turns and I focus only on peoples faces, so I don’t have to look. Finally we’re back at the vegetable section and I let out the breath I didn’t even know I was holding. Relieved I look around and then go in search for some pineapple. Just then two large tap taps (taxis) come barreling through the crowd. Jennifer pulls me to the side and I watch as women frantically pull their goods out of the path of the large dump truck like vehicles. As soon as they pass, the wares are placed back out, and we make our way back to Pam’s truck. Ahh.. done with the market till next week.
As we drive back from the market, Pam realizes she still needs oranges. Seeing some sold at the side of the road, we stop to buy some. One of the two policemen in Pignon happens to be standing close by and as we stop he walks up to the truck. License and registration he demands gruffly, in Kreyol. Pam fishes in the glove box for her paperwork and hands it over. We soon draw a crowd and people surround us. Pam groans. “You don’t have the proper licence plates on your truck,” the police officer says. Pam fishes for her phone to try to call Matt, her husband, but there is no answer. “You better come to the police station,” the officer says, as he climbs onto the only motorcycle the police force in Pignon own. We follow him, and as we drive, Pam explains how they had spent a lot of money trying to get the new license plates, but to no avail. Since they were still working on their Haitian residency papers, they have not been given them. Knowing some of the struggles Pam and Matt had gone through in their two years here in Pignon, I feel like crying. When we arrive at the police station Pam goes in and Jennifer and I stay with our food in the truck. A few minutes later, I decide to join Pam. Although I speak only a little Creole I figure she could use some moral support. “We are going to confiscate your truck” the police officer says. Pam pales even more and grabs for her cell phone once again. She really needs to get a hold of her husband, but he’s not answering. In the meantime I study the police officers. Pignon only has two officers on duty at one time and I take my time examining them. The one who “arrested us” is wearing dark blue pants, a cream shirt, worn black boots, a gun holster with a gun and a flashlight holder minus the flashlight. The other officer is only wearing plaid shorts, sandles and a white polo shirt. The police station is a tiny concrete structure. It has some kind of desk but it is bare. There doesn’t even seem to be a light in the place. The only other thing in the small room is two empty cells with padlocks. Taking up the whole yard is a giant school bus painted blue and white. I guess that’s their police cruiser! I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Pam explains about the paperwork and licence plates but to no avail. They want her truck. She then explains that she has a baby back home that needs to be fed and if she can come back later with the truck. They shake their heads stubbornly and tell her she can walk, but the truck stays here. At this point we are both trying to hide our anger at their injustice and are near tears. Jus then Pam’s phone rings and she walks off to answer it. When she leaves, the police officer wearing the shorts, points out to his friend wearing the worn out boots that they shouldn’t let this opportunity slip out of their hands. They both really could use a new pair of boots. I stare at them unbelievingly, but they ignore me completely. Feeling helpless, since I speak so little Creole, and not knowing what to say, even if I did, I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath. There is one thing I can do, I think to myself. I could pray to God who promises in His word that He is a very present help in time of trouble. I pray that God will touch these men’s hearts to return the truck. I pray for Pam and Matt that this new set back won’t discourage them even more from the mission work they are doing here and that some how this can all get resolved. Then I look up and wait. Pam continues to try to reason with them, but they continue to shake their head. No, No, they say. You can go, but we will keep your truck. Discouraged, I looked around. “There’s Pastor Memish”, someone in the crowd surrounding the police department says. I look up to see an older, Haitian man making his way through the crowd. Was this who God has sent? I look up hopefully. He greets us all and then softly begins to speak to the police officers. He is so calm, that it is amazing to watch him. He speaks to the police officers for about 10 minutes and then turns his gentle eyes on us. “You’re free to go,” he says in broken English. Our mouths drop open in amazement. He hands us the keys and walks us to the truck. As I slide back into the passenger seat I silently thank God, an ever present help in time of trouble.


  1. Thanks for sharing this amazing evidence that God indeed promises to hear and answer prayer to those who come to Him in need. He has said: "Open wide thy mouth....and I will fill it". Our thoughts and prayers go with you each day. May the Lord who has helped to this time in your life continue to direct all your ways. I just "talked" to Jason from a much colder part of the world.

  2. You tell your story very well! What a wonderful ending. What a gracious God we have, and now you know that He hears and answers prayers. It is so easy to doubt when we get into difficult circumstances but we must believe what He promises in His Word that He knows what is good for us and He will take care of us. Praise be to God in the highest!

  3. You are never alone...

    When the walls that surround you are silent,
    and solitude weights like a stone,
    as you search for a shoulder to lean on,
    remember you are never alone.

    When loneliness lowers its shadows,
    and the voice that you hear is your own,
    though nobody seems to be listening,
    remember you're never alone.

    When each face in the street is a stranger,
    and the path that you tread is unknown,
    be guided by faith and conviction,
    remember you're never alone.

    Whatever the doubts that assail you,
    however your dreams may be blown,
    make courage you constant companion,
    remember, you're never alone.

    'For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.' Hebr 13:5-6

  4. Hi Will,
    I printed your comment for Opa & Oma. I posted it for Oma when she was here yesterday. They'll love to hear from you!! You can reply in English if that's much easier for you. I don't mind the translating... I'll translate the new newsletter for them too. Thanks for that, by the way!!
    Love, Mary

  5. Oh Will and Jay;
    What a miracle you witnessed that day! How encouraging for you to experience God's help in such a powerful way. Praise God for His intervention! We pray all will be well for you and your friends.
    Love Henry and Jenny

  6. Dear Wil and Jay, we were so amazed with this story, Jenny shared it at our prayer meeting tonight and we praised God for giving you such wonderful evidence "that you are never alone". What a blessed encouragement for you! Your updates are a delight to read, we enjoy them so much, thanks for that,
    love Aunt Judy