The temperature is just too perfect to get out of bed so early. But, the smell of coffee is my motivation. My roomie is showering and I know she probably hates the warmer room. I know Jon would have complained all through the night, but it’s perfect for me. Sunday is for being lazy, I am going to hold on to this cozy feeling because I don’t feel an ounce of motivation or desire to move. Never mind, I smell fresh coffee waiting…
Sunday is for gatherings
I’m set myself into motion and I force my expectations aside as we set off in the Tap Tap. “Just roll with it, Stacy.” The ride to church takes us outside Port au Prince to nearby Menelas. This place is near the ocean. Years ago Dominican Republic forced out a large population of Haitians into Menelas. Although beautiful, you can tell it’s soil is void of nutrients for any farming. It was not a gesture of kindness. But the cycle seems to have stopped because we are greeted inside the walls of this church and school with open arms and curious little faces.
Sunday is for music
I enjoy a loud church. People are loud and music is incredibly powerful and moving. If you’re going to celebrate and rejoice, it should be loud and proud. This church is loud. This church is proud. The men and women lift their arms as they sing. The smaller kids look to their parents for guidance. Everyone sways with the music as they sing. It’s contagious because I find myself in the same sway even though I don’t know the words, music has always been in my bones. I like their rhythm.The service is long in Haiti. It’s even longer if you don’t know the language, but I manage to sit relatively still. This is what I was anxious about. I find that it’s basically impossible for me to stay in this moment. I am fidgeting and squirming and itching to walk around. I give up and let my mind wander because my feet are required to be planted in this pew but my mind is off to the races. I’m not the only one. A young lady two rows in front of me is plucking the grey hairs of her young girlfriend’s hair to entertain herself. It makes me laugh and when she finally gets a hair, we make a connection and we both share a giggle. Laughter is a universal language.
The afternoon takes us to Papillion. This is exciting because this family started something impactful. They managed to help alleviate the orphan problem in Haiti by starting a business to employ parents. In Haiti, some parents will abandon their children to orphanages because they will have better living conditions and meals provided. It is a tragedy that perpetuates a cycle of more of the same. I am not going to get into that now. I encourage you to learn more about their enterprise to see how awesome it is to partner with countries and communities in need as opposed to dumping free stuff and aid in their laps.After buying some cool stuff, we head back to the hotel where I easily manage a quick nap and wake up just in time for dinner.
Sunday is for hoping
I’m ready to start this upcoming week. We are incredibly prepared and oddly very disorganized. I am not pushing my luck here. I have completely let go of any anxiety with regards to lessons with the kindergarten class. I know it’s going to come together in a way that needs to work for these kids and the teachers. Or maybe, we just need to look like asshats so the teachers realize that Americans really have no clue what they’re doing.Being the only white faces among thousands of impoverished black ones accentuates my sense of being privileged and white. When we drive through the city, the kids run around street corners to see us and wave. I would feel like a celebrity but I am embarrassed by this privilege. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful, but I am acutely aware that I happened upon a lucky card in the universal deck of being born – and something about that feels shitty.During the devotion last night they asked what is my hope for the week. My hope is that when I leave this week, these children and teachers see me as an equal. Nobody belongs on a pedi stool because of their skin color, nationally, religion, gender, etc.Being an equal requires more than showing up. It’s getting eye-to-eye. Even if it means squatting to see these kids at their level. It’s also showing that you’re flawed. I have been uncharacteristically nonchalant and ready to “just wing it” in these classes. Deep down, I have known this was my hope for this trip the whole time. Upward mobility is complex. Solving poverty is incredibly complex. What I do know is that nobody will manage accomplishments if they do not feel hope. And a small piece of that puzzle is feeling like you are worthy and good enough to even pursue something better. If these kids want more for themselves, I want them to know that I see them as worthy to have it all.
Sunday everyday is for equality.