I've actually been back in Haiti for three weeks now, but we haven't had internet for most of that time. It was really good to have time at home with my family for a bit, and now it is good to be back here with the kids. I was really missing them while I was home. They can be really difficult and frustrating sometimes, and other times they are really wonderful. But I shouldn't be too surprised; they're teenagers.
I want to share one story along those lines. One of the boys spends a lot of time hanging out with me. He's a really great kid, and I think I've gotten to know him pretty well. He's a pretty smart kid, he likes making movies, and he's really outgoing. But his interests are a little different from the rest of the boys. To begin with, he doesn't like soccer. Which, for a Haitian, is really strange. Haitian boys will turn anything into a soccer ball, whether it resembles a soccer ball or not. I think my favorite might be a dead AA battery that one of our boys was kicking around one day. Really. Anything can become a soccer ball.
Anyway, this one boy spends a lot of time with me. He talks a lot and doesn't really mind interrupting whatever I'm doing. Sometimes its great; he's helped me a lot with learning Creole and explaining cultural things to me. But sometimes, he's just annoying. And it gets frustrating when he does something that he knows is annoying, and keeps doing it. Or when he asks every five minutes when the library is going to be open and we tell him every time that the library won't be open for another four hours. Well, one evening I was sitting on my bed writing in my journal. I just finished writing how frustrated I was with him (it was particularly bad that day) when guess who jumped through the door! Yep. But it wasn't with the typical "como estas are you." He was very serious. And in fact, he had something very serious to talk about. It really surprised me. He was genuinely concerned, observant, and quite mature about his complaint.
My first thought was, "Wow! That's a miracle." Which it was. And with that, I realized that people can change. I know that sounds like a very basic observation, and something I should have learned a long time ago. But people can change instantly. One moment they are annoying and frustrating, then the next, the considerate, concerned part of them is brought to the fore, coaxed out by some miracle. And that gives me hope. Hope that no matter how difficult or whatever a person is, there is hope that there is something inside is different. Hope that there is some goodness in there that just needs to come out. And I don't take credit for that, but its really a miracle.
I want to tell you about one other event from the past few weeks that was fun. Every month the kids have one big celebration for every kid that has a birthday in that month. We had the October celebration a few weeks ago. There's cake for everyone, and the birthday kids get an extra large piece. But there are two really cool things about this celebration. First, they don't give each other presents. They don't have much to money to give each other anyway, but they don't even try to make cards from stuff we have in the library. Instead, they perform for each other. Each birthday boy or girl will ask a specific person to sing for them. And there is often some complaining, but they do it. Of course, they made me sing. The other thing I like about it is that it isn't a strictly secular affair. Unlike most birthday celebrations I've been to, they began with prayer. Then most of the songs were religious songs. Then there was cake. It was just the right amount of God in it all. It was still about celebrating their birthdays, but God was still present in that celebration.
And one last quick thing. There is a hurricane/tropical storm headed this was, expected to make landfall late Friday night/early Saturday morning. I tell you this not to worry you, because all of the kids and I will be perfectly safe. Our buildings are in very little danger from a hurricane. They're solid concrete. They're not going to get blown away. I tell you this instead to ask for your prayers for safety for the rest of Haiti. There are so many people still living in tents and other flimsy buildings. And there are thousands of people who still have their homes who are also in danger of losing their metal roofs. There are dangers of mudslides with heavy rain. So I ask for your prayers for the people of this country who are still deathly afraid of natural disasters. Pray for safety, peace, and comfort.