Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Chicken in the Kitchen

“I’m not sure if I want to eat this,” I say, examining the bread closely. It’s only three days old, but the bread here has a very short lifespan and it looks like it's starting to get little dots of mold on the bottom. Sometimes, if that is all the bread we have, we simply cut off the bottom and eat it anyway, but today, I know we have some fresh bread, so I’m a little indecisive and reluctant about eating the moldy stuff. “I’ll just stick it on the counter for now, and decide later”, I say to Jason. “I’m going to go check up on Jayden now, he’s been playing outside for awhile.” “I’m going to talk to Todd”, Jason says, and we both head out the door.
Well, ten minutes later when I come back inside, who is sitting on the counter feasting on the bread? A chicken! “Shoo, shoo, get out,” I yell, startling my fine feathered friend and with one mighty flap, it flies right on top of our cleanly washed dishes. “No, No, get out”, I yell again. It loses its balance on the precariously mounted glassware and with a loud squawk tumbles clumsily through the air. Then it lands with a smack on the slippery cement floor. A split second later it’s out the door, squawking all the way.

Well, if I wasn’t sure about what to do with the bread before, I am sure now. “I`ll just feed it to the chickens”, I mumble, secretly a little relieved. I`m okay with the chickens eating some leftovers, as long as they don`t come and help themselves, so I collect whatever bread is left and go throw it outside. Little do I realize that two little eyes are watching me from behind the bushes. When I return minutes later, to see how the chickens are enjoying their treat, I’m surprised to see a little boy shooing the chickens away, frantically picking up as many pieces of bread as he can find and filling his pockets. When Ken sees me, he looks embarrassed and quickly runs away. “Se oke, (It’s okay) I say. “Ou kapab gen li” you can have it. He smiles shyly at me and then picks up the rest. “Yon Poul tap manje na kozijn na” I said, (A chicken was eating it in the kitchen) he laughs, but continues picking it up.

What do I do now? I feel bad that he’s grabbing the chicken bread, but he hasn’t come to me and said he was hungry. On the one hand, I could offer him some fresh bread, but I know he’ll still take the chicken bread either way, so I decide just to leave it. Instead, I ask if he wants something to drink with his bread. “Silvouple”, he says, and I head off into the kitchen and get him a drink.
The next day I’m still thinking about what happened, and wondering why he didn’t just tell me he was hungry when I see him come running towards me. Out of breath, he greets me and then says “Mina, eske ou jette pen jodia?" (Mina, are you throwing any bread today?)

Puzzled, I can’t help but laugh. Then realization dawns. He’s not particularly hungry at the moment, and he knows I don’t like him just asking for things, so instead he’s found away around the dilemma by asking if I’m throwing out any bread! Marveling at his quick wit, I tell him I’m not throwing out any bread today, but I do have some fresh bread he can have. “Eske ou gen sache?” (Do you have a bag?) I nod, and then get him a bag so he can save it for later. Smiling at his own cleverness, he thanks me profusely and then skips off home.

He Provides

When we first arrived at the camp in Pignon we were bombarded with kids constantly begging from us. They wanted our shoes, candies, paper, pencils, everything they could possibly think of asking for. This was difficult at first, because although we had brought some things with us to give away, we could hardly step outside without getting mobbed, and how could we decide who to give what? We also didn’t want to reinforce the idea that begging was okay. “Se Pabon pou ou mande pou tout bagay toujou,”(It’s not good for you to beg for everything all the time”) I said. “Mwen va bay moun nan ki pa mande”. (I will give to the person who doesn’t beg). This surprised the children at first, but they soon caught on and we were able to hand things out without them begging for it, in a much more discerning, orderly way.

Although we didn’t want them to ask for “things” all the time, we did want them to let us know when they were hungry. We really felt strongly about giving to those who were hungry and we felt as long as we had some food we would give it.

I remember way back, when I was a little girl and if I didn’t want to eat my dinner my Mom would say to me: “A little hungry boy or girl in Africa would love to eat that”. Since there were no hungry boys or girl outside waiting to eat my dinner, the lessons I needed to learn were that I must be thankful for what I have and not waste it. However, I always did wonder about those little hungry boys and girls. Who took care of them?

Now, although the lessons I want to teach Jayden are the same as the lessons my Mom taught me, in the village where we live the situation is a little different. Now, when Jayden is eating his meals, there are hungry little boys and girls waiting outside.

Almost every morning, Jayden has peanut butter on little cubes of bread for breakfast. The bread here is flat, about 3 inches thick and can be broken into 1 inch cubes. When Jayden is done, we take whatever cubes are left and divide them up for the kids playing outside. Just like I needed to learn to be thankful for what I have, and not waste it, so does Jayden. In this situation, rather then making him eat all his food when he feels full, I can teach him the value of food by sharing it with other kids who have less and value it highly.

Although Jayden is still young (only 20 months old), he’s a bright little boy and catches on pretty quick. Now, he tries to make sure there are always some bread cubes left on his plate, so he can share. I’ve had to start making a little extra in the morning, just so he doesn’t lose weight!

Besides sharing Jayden`s breakfast, we also give food to whatever child comes and says they are hungry. At first, I didn’t think we would possibly have enough food to give to every hungry child that would come, but the amazing thing is that the entire time we were in the village, we always had something to give, not once did we run out. We didn’t start a soup kitchen, or buy loads of extra food at the market, but somehow we never ran out of food. Looking back now, I can see that it wasn’t us, but rather God who was providing for the needs of these children. Now I know who is looking out for them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I’ll protect you Mommy

Thump, thump, thump, it’s 6:30 a.m. and someone is chopping wood outside. It’s already light and I hear Jayden calling so I decide to get up. I pull on some clothes, get Jayden dressed and then fry some bread in a skillet so we can have peanut butter toast for breakfast. As soon as we’re done, Jayden grabs his crocks and we head out the door. It’s once again a beautiful morning. Birds greet us in the surrounding trees, the breeze plays with our hair and the sun warms our skin. Since the incident with the bull and the turkey the other day, I’m not sure if I want to walk the trail again, but Jayden has other ideas. He searches around for a little while until he finds the largest stick he can see. It’s three times his height! With all his strength he pulls it along and then heads for the trail.

The trail is so beautiful; I don’t need much persuading to join him. “Let me carry that stick, Jayden,” I say to him, but he holds on even tighter. I help him lift it up in front of him and he walks along proudly. In Tarantula forest, I find a smaller stick and offer to trade with him, but he refuses. Determinedly he walks up front, brandishing his large “sword”.

Mr. Grump, the turkey sees us coming, but when he sees Jayden’s large stick he backs off. A minute later we meet our next obstacle. Moonbeam, the bull calf, nicknamed that way because of the moon shape on his head, is waiting on the trail for us.

“Go, go, shoo, shoo” Jayden shouts brandishing his stick. At first, Moonbeam doesn’t move, but as we come closer and he spots the large stick, he ambles off in the opposite direction as well. Relieved, I walk on. Mixed emotions swirl through me. This is one of our last mornings in Pignon. Tuesday, February 17, we hope to return to Port-au-Prince and set up our home there. Although, we’ve faced a variety of challenges here, I’ve really grown to love the village and I know I will miss it. As we walk the trail, I vainly try to memorize every detail of our early morning walks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moonbeam and Mr. Grump

Waa…waa… It’s early morning and I hear Jayden’s cry. The last few days we’ve been busy traveling to different place so he’s still trying to adjust to his normal routine. I have no idea what time it is, but it’s starting to get light outside so I roll out of bed, pull on some clothes, and go take him out of bed. “Ba? Nana? Nana?” He says as soon as he sees me. He’s hungry and wants a drink. I quickly make us some breakfast and then put on his coat and boots, time to go exploring! We hike down to the river as the clouds swirl through the sky. The wind is blowing strong and the sky changes by the second. Soaking in the beauty we slowly walk on unaware of what’s awaiting us. The first thing we meet down the path is the male turkey, which we nicknamed Mr. Grump. As soon as it sees us his stance changes to attack mode. I lift Jayden into my arms and then search frantically for some rocks or a stick. Finally I find some. This turkey is mean. It’s already attacked several other people by charging at them and sinking its sharp talons right into their legs or arms. I wasn’t about to let that happen to us. I pull myself to my tallest height, brandish my stick like a sword in front of us, and hold the rocks tightly in my fist. I’m not letting that thing get us! Finally it backs off and we go on. Minutes later, we are met by Moonbeam, the calf. It was born at the camp soon after we arrived, but in the last three months it has grown very strong. I notice that his rope is dangling behind him. He’s obviously gotten lose. He ambles over to us and I carefully pet him. He nudges my knee so I let Jayden pet him as well. After several minutes I pick Jayden back up and we walk on. Moonbeam however, has other ideas. He follows us and nudges me harder and harder and it starts to hurt. I can feel a bruise forming on my knee cap. At one point he nudges me so hard I lose my footing and almost roll down the side of the hill. That’s when I know I’m in trouble. I look around wildly for anything that I can use to protect us but the only thing I see is a field of sugar can to my right. The stems just aren’t sturdy enough to do any good. Running now I see a tree in front of me and make a beeline straight for it. The tree is thinner then me, but at least if I keep it between me and the calf I can keep it from head butting us. He keeps trying to come around so we circle faster and faster until I feel like I’m on a merry go round. Finally I make a break for it. It’s a little hard to run carrying a 25 pound baby on my hip, but it’s either fight or flight, and there’s not much fighting I can do while holding Jayden, so I run. Moonbeam comes charging after us but I run faster. There is no way I’m going to let that silly bull run us over. My bruised knee starts to ache but I don’t slow down until I arrive back at the camp. The camp workers fall into hysterics when they see us. “Li mechan” (he is mean) they say “Wi” (yes) I reply. “Mwen Kouri” (I run). They fall into laughing fits again and then go find something they can chase Moonbeam back into the meadow with. One worker finds a plank to push him back with, but she’s no match for the strength of Moonbeam and he easily wins the pushing contest that ensues. Now it’s my turn to laugh! Finally they grab a tree branch and chase him away. What a funny morning. I know I’ll think twice before taking Jayden on that trail again.

Mouse Trap!

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, crunch, crunch, crunch. I slowly open my eyes. The room is pitch black. What was that? Jason sits up beside me and turns on his flashlight. He points it in the general direction of the noise, straight into the eyes of a startled mouse. “Great”, I groan, “just what we need”. In the past months many insects and critters have visited our camp building, but besides spiders and mosquitoes, they’ve all stayed out of our bedroom. I know there is a rat living in our bathroom cupboard, a mouse in our kitchen, a bat up in our rafters and many a gecko on our ceiling, but until now the rat and mouse had at least left our bedroom in peace. Not any more. Although we hear the mouse scrounge around some more we decide to wait until the next morning to deal with it.
Hours later we wake up, crawl out of bed and start getting dressed. Jason opens his suitcase only to have the mouse jump right out at him. “That’s it” I said. “Let’s chase him out of here”. Since mice are so cute and small, I don’t have the heart to kill it, so we proceed to chase it outside. Well, easier said then done. As soon as it sees us the mouse dives under the bed. It then crawls up the inside of our mosquito net and falls down on top of our bed. In panic it hides under our covers. “Nice, now we have a mouse in our bed, just great!” I mutter. We shake out the covers and much to my relief the mouse makes a beeline for the door. Seconds later it’s outside. Ha, disaster averted, I think to myself.
The next night we hear it again. Rustle, rustle, chomp, chomp. “Okay, so maybe the whole chase it outside idea was not a very good one”, I groan. “We’re going to have to get the mouse trap out”, Jason says. “Do you have to do it now?” I complain. I really don’t relish the thought of waiting to hear the trap go off while trying to go back to sleep. “It’s now or never” Jason says. He stumbles to the kitchen with his flashlight and gets the trap ready. Just when we are falling back asleep, we hear a bang and a squeal. Sure enough, we’ve caught the mouse. Unfortunately the trap didn’t kill it instantly like it’s supposed to and I plug my ears to the squeals. “Jason, you have to get it out of here”, I say. I know I’m not touching that thing. After Jason’s cleaned it up we lay awake for awhile, but then comfort each other with the thought that we’ve gotten ridden of the only mouse in the building, and we won’t have to do that again.

We were so wrong! The next morning, we notice more mouse droppings in the kitchen. “I’m going to have to set that trap again,” Jason says. “It’s probably just from the same mouse”, I say hopefully. “I guess we will find out,” he answers. Boy, did we ever! 12 hours later we had caught a total of 8 mice. As soon as one was caught in the trap, Jason would take it out, stick another piece of bread in and ten minutes later, Bang! It happened so quick, Jason was even able to catch it on video. I refuse to watch that kind of stuff, and stay as far away as possible, but something had to be done! I’ve made a deal with Jason now. Since he doesn’t like tarantulas, I told him I would catch those if they came in our room, if he empties the mouse trap. I really hope 8 is it though. Please mice, stay out of here!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Slip and Slide

I brace myself for the next bump, but just a second too late. My head crashes against the side window and I groan. Although Todd is driving at a snails pace, the ruts in the road are so deep that when the wheels go down into one of them I can hardly see the top of the road. The car thuds, bounces, rattles and squeaks as we hang on tightly. At one point my brain feels like it’s going to come loose in my head, so for awhile I squint hard to keep it in place. I’m still not sure if the rain in the past few days has made the roads better or worse. Now instead of a “shake and bake” the road has become a “slip and slide”. The temperature is fairly cool today so at least it’s not hot in the car and the dust is gone as well, but now the roads are one big muddy mess. Every now and then we wonder how we can possibly get through the next section of road but the car we are using has four-wheel drive and it just plows right on. Not only has the rain made the road disappear in a sea of mud, the rivers we have to cross have risen as well. Most of the rivers don’t have bridges so we have to drive right through them. At each crossing we peer down anxiously to make sure our car can make it. Three hours later we finally arrive at our destination. The total distance we traveled was a mere 40 kilometers, but it took us more then 4 hours. Driving these roads has given us a better understanding regarding the necessity of MAF’s work in Haiti. What took us 4 hours to drive, MAF can fly in 20 minutes. In an emergency that makes a big difference. What we also didn’t realize was that in a few months when the rainy season begins there is no way anyone can use these roads. Being able to utilize airplanes has been a great blessing for the people here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Gray Morning

I slowly open my eyes and then let them fall shut again, my body still heavy with sleep. I lay still for a moment and then concentrate on slowly opening one eye again. The room is gray and a cold breeze blows through the slats. No windows here, just a screen nailed on to a frame and some slats that open and close. I pull our one thin blanket up to my nose and then move a little closer to Jason for extra warmth. He is still fast asleep. I imagine it’s about six-thirty but the weather is unusually cold and gray. Memories from last night flood back and I remember hearing the pounding rain dancing on our tin roof. The land here has just been begging for water and I am thankful that the rain has finally come. When we arrived here in Pignon the grass was green, but when it didn’t rain for weeks and weeks the grass became dry and brittle. Just yesterday I noticed how starved the poor goats in the pasture looked. There was just nothing green left for them to eat. The rain will be good for this thirsty land, I think to myself. I let my eye lids fall shut again and mull over the events of the last few weeks. Our time here in Pignon has gone by so fast. I still can’t believe we already finished our Language study book. That book was thick! Ever since we finished with it we’ve been visiting different places to experience Haiti’s culture. We’ve heard the Witch Doctor’s testimony about how God changed his life, discovered a voodoo altar while spelunking in caves, built dams and bridges across the Gwap river, observed a feeding clinic at the Campbell’s orphanage, and learned how to fish and crab with our bare hands. Pictures flash through my mind and I work to put them in some semblance of order, but to no avail. So instead I turn my thoughts to the week ahead. We hope to drive four hours to Cap Haitian, the second largest city in Haiti, and then take horses and donkeys up to the Citadel, we hope to visit World Vision’s office, drive 2 hours to Hinche and visit a school, eye and medical clinic. I spend several minutes imagining what that will be like, and then slowly drift off again. With that kind of busy schedule, I’m going to need all the sleep I can get, is my last thought before sleep overcomes me once again.