Today has been a rough day for me personally. I need some time to fully digest what transpired, so this post may be short. Yesterday, I mentioned in my post that many of the children loved my tattoos (especially Jesus). Well, it turns out that in Haitian culture, tattoos are related to voodoo rituals. I only found this out after I vented about a few awkward exchanges at the Orphanage.
The first was with a preacher who came in to lead worship for the Nannies. I somehow offended him at the water cooler. I still have no idea what I did wrong, but it was bad enough that he muttered something in Creole, moved to make eye contact, and shook his head in dissaproval. I did my best to let it go, but even though I didn’t understand the actual words, I felt the sentiment. It wasn’t good.
I went about my business and later found myself on the front porch of the house with him, our translator, and two friends or family members of the preacher. I had wheeled a boy with cerebral palsy outside because he loves to watch the vehicles on the street. I walked around with him and then eventually parked the wheelchair in the boy’s favorite spot.
At that time the preacher said something to our translator and the translator told him no. There were more words exchanged and I knew it was about me and my tattoo as the translator said no again, pointed to his inner arm and said, “It’s Jezi.” More words were exchanged and the preacher and his associates all looked at me and laughed. I could tell by the translator’s body language that he was growing uncomfortable. I felt the tension and asked him what was said.
He just said, “Don’t worry about it man..” Then, the woman with the preacher pointed to my arm and said something else in Creole. I again looked at the translator, but he would not look at me. I looked at the group, raised my arm, and said, “It’s Jesus….What?!” They fired back some more Creole and I just turned my back to them and played with the child.
Later, after they left, I asked the translator to tell me what was said. He would not. I told Rhiana about the exchange and she asked the translator. He wouldn’t tell her either. It so reminded me of the leaders of the Church back in States from when I was a kid. The judgement. The ridicule. The shaming… Everything that made so many people run from it.
I found out later that it was not just them that had an issue with my tattoos. Rhiana had a little girl who asked her if she was married to the man with the tattoos. She told the girl that she was in fact married to the man with the tattoos. The girl said, “Those tattoos are for Satan.” Rhiana evidently in a kind, almost child like exchange kept saying, “No, those are for Jesus.”
Talk about feeling like an outcast…
This is humbling. I am learning to thicken my skin and let actions speak louder than words or tattoos. As much as it may hurt my feelings, I understand that their culture only knows tattoos as evil.
There are plenty of Christians back home that will spit scripture from Leviticus at me and other Bible verses backing up their disapproval of my body art. I can’t deny the validity of their claims. We can’t pick and choose what parts of the Bible we accept and what we do not. If you believe one word, you must believe all the words.
I would however, offer the book of Revelations where it is written that when Jesus returns, he will have, “Lord of Lords, King of Kings” inscribed on his thigh. Food for thought…..