Patty picked me up at the Port-au-Prince
airport. Soon we picked up her pastor and a Haitian friend and
started our 6 hour trip to Les Cayes. I was warmly received by
Patty, her Haitian Pastor, and later, the Guesthouse staff. As we
drove through the country it was evident that the needs of the Haitians
are basic and fundamental to living, and are in sharp contrast to the
"needs" that we are accustomed to at home in the USA. The
Hosanna Guesthouse where I spent the next few days resembled a nice
bed-and-breakfast hotel, but was walled in like a fortress. There
was a high concrete wall topped with shards of broken glass surrounding
the Guesthouse. My quarters were nice clean and comfortable but
relatively plush in comparison with what lay outside the wall.
Patty "made" me dress up for church (long pants and a tie) and
we headed for a bay where She, two Haitian friends and I boarded two
dugout canoes complete with rented Haitian horsepower, after an amusing
(only to me) price negotiation. I chuckled at the thought of
dressing up to ride in a log.
We attended a Haitian church service, and our mission was to take a
picture of the congregation. We were introduced to the
congregation, and it seemed we were personally greeted by all of
them. The Haitians sang and listened to a sermon. My new
Haitian friends sat on either side of me and interpreted for me.
Their praying was unique. They all pray aloud, and at the same
time, at the volume level of a crowd yelling at a sports event. Their
enthusiasm gave me a smile.
Later that week we took the 4 wheel drive way up a creek bed to a church
to take pictures of dozens of small children in order to provide
documentation for educational support. The beautiful children were
shy and very compliant. We may have been the first white folks that
some ever saw. Patty did her best to ensure that each child's
picture was a good one. I sensed her love for each and every child.
Through my days there, I got a snapshot of daily life for the locals of
Haiti. American lawnmowers are better sheltered than many residents
Unfortunately Patty had contracted malaria, and was not feeling well most
of the time I was there. Fever would come and go, and her smile
would fade until she rested again. Daily she would push herself to
utter exhaustion to get her assigned tasks done.
During our drive back to Port au Prince to catch my plane home, I even
got to experience my first Haitian manifestation. That's what they call a
demonstration in Haiti. The road (the only road to the airport from which
I was departing) was blocked with large buses that had been turned
sideways blocking the road, and many people loitering waiting for
something to happen. We were still 3 1/2 hrs from the airport and
didn't know when things would break up. Police came and restored order in
time for me to catch my flight. We did make it in plenty of time
and I had a "wonderful" cultural experience too.