I’ve sat down to write this post no less than ten times. I kept getting distracted and decided it wasn’t time to write it. Now – a day later, I will try and recount Day 7 to the best of my ability.
It was one of those days where so much happened that those 24 hours felt like a week. I got to work first thing on finishing the storage room shelves. These shelves will be used to store the food that we, along with hundreds of other people packed months ago for the 30 Abes event in Nashville. Unfortunately, the food has been stuck in customs for several months and the Orphanage has been running into problem after problem trying to retrieve it. I heard yesterday that it has costed $15k more than anticipated to get the food to Haiti and out of customs. Who knows what that number will reach by the time it actually exits the port. Evidently, there is a Port Czar that dictates what can make it through on any given day. From what I am told there is no set of guidelines that is followed as to what gets through and when… It is just whatever the Czar feels like that day. I am only relaying what I have heard since I have had no direct dealings with any of this. I know that Pierre has gone down to the office and waited entire days, on multiple days for the Czar and he never shows up to work. Some say that if a woman brings him cookies and asks nicely that he is more willing to let the items out of customs. The culture here is very different here and involved Americans have to accept that and work through the issues with a positive mind. Easier said than done.
Clover needed some Daddy time so I enlisted here to assist me with completing the shelves. A few of the orphans came along to help as well. I have one boy that is my main helper. He is truly a very gifted young man. I will ask Rhiana to join me on a post to discuss him further. She experienced the same exceptional talents in the classroom as I did in labor setting. Once the shelves were complete, I went down to check on the larger group that was in town for Spring Break.
The group had been asked to paint the main hallway near the entrance of the Orphanage. They did a great job and it was great to see kids and their parents bonding on such an activity. It is not something I ever experienced in my childhood. I needed the ladder that they were using for my next project so I decided to go check in on some of the babies. After getting in some good play time with them, it was time to get back to work. I cleaned up the group’s painting mess as they had abandoned it in the hallway. Luckily, I caught it before the children because if I had not then we would have 69 children covered in yellow paint. Word travels fast among the kids there and they love getting into things. You see — when I cleaned up there mess, I didn’t lock it away which lead to me finding 5 older boys a couple hours later covered in yellow paint. Bad Gary….
Rhiana came and retrieved me for lunch which was being served on the front porch today. Everyone was out there including my hecklers, the Preacher and the woman that I later learned is the local demon catcher. I got my food after receiving some ridicule from the pair. I turned my back to face my family and ate lunch. Evidently, Mrs. Pierre went over and sat next to them and said something about the behavior or me or maybe both. I did not know that happened at the time, but was later told it after I questioned the following exchange.
I left the lunch area and headed back to work and the Preacher stopped me just inside the door. He said, “You are a musician?” I said, “Yes”. I have to admit that I felt my body bowing up, not knowing what was coming. It’s a defensive thing that happens naturally when I am uncomfortable or feel threatened. The Preacher, followed with some Creole that I couldn’t understand, but he was using his hands to emulate playing the piano. I told him that I played guitar mostly, but could play the piano. I think my southern drawl was too much for the man as he looked confused. He brought over another man who was much older. This man extended his hand to me and introduced himself in English. He then said, “He wants to know if you can get him a new keyboard for his church….” I looked at the Preacher and and pounded my hand on my chest saying “Me?? — With This?!” as I touched my tattoos. He immediately looked down at the floor. Something washed over me and I instantly went calm which is not like me in those situations. I heard “Grace” in my head and said, “I will do my best for your church.” I told them that I have an old keyboard that I was going to sell, but would be willing to give it to his church when I return. The Preacher looked me in the eye and took my hand. He shook it as if we just met and said, “Thank you”.
Wow! Did that really just happen? I am at peace with our past. I hope he is too.
Later, I was invited to join the large group from Texas to tour a boys home just outside of the city. This home is specifically for street kids and is one of the most unique places I have been. The boys have to follow the rules both inside and outside of the home in order to keep their spot. They raise animals for food on the property and each boy has their own business to make money. Some make art to sell, some perform, and the list goes on and on. They are one huge family – 76 members to be exact. They were well mannered and made us all feel welcome in their home. It was a pretty amazing place and I definitely think some similar programs in the States could learn a thing or two from this organization.