Thursday was the “off-day” for the team. It was a free day and we discussed the night before what we would like to do. The options were presented and we chose to visit the Musee de Pantheon National Haitian in Port-au-Prince so we could learn more of the history of the country we were visiting.
The city was in the middle of celebrating Carnival days so the drive from Bon Sam was full of things to see. Lots of traffic, lots of sidewalk vendors and lots of trash from the festival goers. Again, I was grateful that I was not the one having to drive!!! Driving in Haiti is not like driving in the US. I know the Haitians understand how it works but I would be in multiple accidents in just one hour’s time if I had to drive. I was in amazement at how the traffic works and that the vehicles were not full of dents and fender benders!!! We could still see some of the devastation from the 2010 earthquake; they haven’t been able to fix all the buildings. This was very evident in the Cathedral of our Lady of the Assumption. It was destroyed but part of it was left standing. There are talks of reconstructing it but nothing has been finalized.
The Museum only took about one hour to go through but it was very informative. Of course, I love history and love learning about other countries so some people may not have found it as fun 🙂 We walked to one of the areas that had been one of the tent cities where people lived in after the earthquake. It was eerily quiet even though it was in the middle of the city. At one time it was a very nice park in front of the presidential palace. There were several monuments but there’s a wall around it and not many people are allowed in there. Delta, our security man, was able to argue his way and allow us to gain access and walk around the grounds.
We left there and headed back to Ti-Marche so we could check on the lady who had suffered the stroke on Tuesday. We were also going back to the house where we had left Bruno. I had already determined that they may have chosen to use Bruno as food and was prepared for that reality. I was SO excited when we turned the corner and I could see Bruno under the tree munching on some grass. The lady came out and greeted us with a beautiful smile and she came to me and took me back to see Bruno. I can’t even describe the joy I felt that shewas happy to see us and remembered me and wanted me to see Bruno. We were saddened to hear that the lady whom had suffered the stroke did not make it – she was only 52 years old. Grim facts that the average woman dies at age 65 and the average man dies at age 60. Strokes are the #1 killer.
We left there and went to a fishing village on a beautiful lake. I do not know the name of the village. Our drivers could only go so far on the dirt road and then we had to walk. It took us about 30 minutes and was downhill as it took us to the water’s edge. Lake Azuei (or Etang Sumatre) is the name of the lake and it is simply breathtaking. As we made our way towards the lake, we attracted village children, teens and animals. Most of them could not speak English but that didn’t keep them from trying to communicate. They all knew what a phone was and all knew how to pose for pics. They loved seeing the pics of themselves after we would take their picture. Their smiles were beautiful and it reached into their eyes – they may not have much but they are happy. Their was one young man – about 17 years old – who knew English so he walked with me and chatted for a while. His name was Francois. He wanted to know where I was from, what we were doing, etc. We caught up to my friend, Dena, and he wanted to know her name and asked her if she was a grandmother. She replied that she was. He then turned me and asked if I was a grandmother. I replied, no, I’m not…I don’t have any children. He was astonished and quickly asked, “What’s wrong with you???” I laughed and laughed – I’ve never had anyone ask that directly of me…although, I’m sure people have wondered. I told him that I wasn’t married and really didn’t want to have children without a husband. That question was the highlight of the night as I shared it with the team at our evening devotion time.
There was a old wooden boat pulled up to the shoreline. We gathered around it and the wind was coming off the lake and the waves were choppy and we could hear the waves coming up to the shoreline. We could hear the laughter of the children – the bleating of the goats – and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the sun was just radiant. Ashley asked if we could have some prayer time, so the team stood in a circle and one by one we just openly prayed what was on our mind at that moment. It was the most peaceful, serene moment I have ever experienced. It was almost as if we were experiencing what Jesus may have experienced on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We just stood there for a few moments taking in the scene, the mood, the peace. I wish I could truly share with you all what it felt like.
The sun was beginning to go down so we needed to make our way back to the vans. It was uphill all the way and we all had several children holding our hands and wanting to help us up the hills. I had a little boy on each side of me and another little guy tried to come up and hold my hand and the other two would not let him. It was as if they were my personal bodyguards and were taking it upon themselves to make sure I safely got to the top and didn’t stumble on any rocks. When we got to the vans, we shared all the cookies and snacks we had and then we began our way back into the city. We knew that we were going to stop at Vol cafe and have pizzas (it’s a cool little cafe that serves various food…including pizza AND they had an espresso machine so Dena and I were able to get a much-needed latte!!!) but what we didn’t know was that the kids from Bon Sam were going to meet us there. After not seeing them all day, it was so much fun to have them surprise us and then we were able to see them enjoy the playground and eat pizza. It truly was a full day and one filled with so many blessings.
As I was trying to find the name of the village we stopped at, I came upon this website – click on the link and go read about Dr. Abe who is helping to bring sustainability back to the fishing families who live in these fishing villages.