I don't know about you, but I just love dogs! They are cuddly, energetic, loveable furballs of happiness; always staying in the present, and keeping us safe. For some dogs are not so loving or loved. In Haitian culture they are deathly afraid of dogs. The only reason they have them is for protection. The fear has been passed down from generation to generation, much like Americans pass down a favorite recipe or clothing. The fear comes from when Christopher Columbus came to this island and aided the spanish in wiping out the natives. The people were tortured, mutilated and fed to the dogs. During the late 18th century, when slaves out numbered their masters 10 to 1, dogs were used as a scare tactic. We learned this and many more facts as we toured the Haitian Pantheon Museum (MUPANAH).
Haitian history is rich in agriculture and strength. Their rich crop of sugar cane and coffee were more desireable than the Americas were. Their fight for independence and freedom in 1804 is the largest revolt for their freedom against slavery with almost a million slaves (local and African born). As we walked around I was reminded that every person has a name and every name has a story. There were art exhibits that had descriptions written in french so Amanda and Eryka walked the hall brushing up on their reading, while Nancy and I saw an interactive exhibit that bore a taste of home on a post it reading, "Tom Brady-GOAT!".
As the gentleman giving the tour described the brutal past of the living conditions he stated how today Haitians use words like "blanc meaning white", and "neg meaning black" not as racial pain, but merely for what it is, measures of descriptive format. He also gently reminded us that, "We put too much emphasis on the differences between races. Don't we all come from one family from Noah? When the Lord our God flooded the earth?". Although the museum is small in comparison to many in the U.S., it is packed full of knowledge, cultural evidence, life, and talented art. There were many stares from the locals as the "blancs" walked around.
Next stop was to deliver some love to a recent addition to the Healing Haiti family, Lalu Orphanage. The partnership has been able to provide beds for the kids, monthly water delivery, weekly food delivery for essentials like rice and beans, and the opportunity for a future water filtration system for clean drinking water.
The kids were absolutely wonderful. This young man (about 12 years old) named "Jr." stole the hearts of many as he guided us through a group interactive dance. With his electric smile and lively tone, he called out commands from the middle of the human circle that surrounded him. Afterwards, him and Zach bonded over the "Coo Coo Dance". We absolutely loved it. We also colored, drew pictures, jumped rope, tried double dutch, and once again played soccer. They knew games like tic tac toe, rock paper scissors, and many more.
We had to pick up some groceries so we stopped by a local Giant Grocery. There were two stories; Downstairs the groceries, while upstairs had the toiletries and household items. Due to security, we used the buddy system as we freely walked around the store. Every morning at the compound we are given this spicy peanut butter which we fell in love with. Many of us were on a mission at the store to find THAT peanut butter. I found mine and said to myself, "Mission Accomplished!". Throughout our time you would here us holler to our leaders that we were "headed upstairs". Finally we lined the counter with our items and spicy peanut butter. As the store got busy and the lack of comprehension of gouds currency the cashiers patience wore thin. As I left I heard the cashier and the man bagging our groceries talking and the only word I heard them say was "blancs". I understood their frustration and, without them knowing who we were, the only way to describe us was with the obvious difference.
After dinner we convened to the roof for reflection. We all reminisced about our time at the orphanage and the desire to be able to sponsor a child in order for them to have uniforms, and help them with provisions. Then as we discussed our "Word for the Day" we also discussed the tension some of us were feeling the past couple of days. Eryka said it perfectly that, "That's how I feel every day living in Maine". When I go to the store, or out with friends.". We shared how important it is to make all feel loved regardless of the color of their skin or even how "they make us feel", because the absolute ONLY thing that matters is they know Jesus' love. Jesus loved everyone regardless of where they came from or the color of their skin.
We talked The Samaritans and Jews rival in the old testament and Melissa brought it back to scripture in Proverbs 22:2 "Rich and poor have this in common: The is the Maker of them all." It is important to remember that the color of our blood is the same and that we are all sinners and need Jesus.
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend"
-Martin Luther King Jr-
What do you think?
Below are our Words of the Day
Zach - Coo Coo
Rebecca - Compasion
Steve - Commonality
Amanda - Reminder
Sam - Name
Melanie - Energy
Becca - Beauty
Laurie - Patience
Melissa - Questions
Nancy - Fellowship
Eryka - Connections
Tara - Amazed
Michael - Fullfilling
Kate - Balanced