Sunday, July 6, 2008


I’m sitting outside on the front porch/veranda steps of JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier’s home in Bohoc, outside Pignon. The night time air is cool enough and there’s a breeze often enough that, for my easily cold self, the temp is reasonably pleasant. And would be even better if I didn’t have a hot computer on my lap. Lights here are minimal which means the bugs may soon flock to my computer screen and force me inside. We’ll see how long my evening reverie lasts. But also because the lights are minimal, the night sky here is surely full of more stars than the night sky at home. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent as much time as I’d like tipping my head upward, partly because that’s hard to do when you’re brushing your teeth. (That’s when I first noticed the stars. The first night I brushed my teeth outside here. There’s no sink, so you brush and spit outside with a cup of water to rinse.) Perhaps tonight, though, I’ll remember to look up after I spit down.

JeanJean and Kristie are good friends of Karen and Michael’s. They were the Broyles’ first hosts here. Michael and Karen lived in Bohoc at the Mompremiers’ home for their first six weeks in Haiti, their first six weeks of language learning. This is why coming to Pignon and Bohoc is always a bit of a homecoming for them. They have many friends to catch up with here.

Semi-ironically, the Mompremiers are also hosting a twenty or so person mission team from California this weekend. This is ironic because my travels this past year have partly intentionally (and partly because of opportunity) not been with mission teams, intentionally because I don’t like the insulatedness that comes with team travel. If I’m going to be outside America, I want to be outside America and spend time with non-Americans. That’s harder to do when you’ve got relationships to build within your mission team. So it’s been a little frustrating and a little humorous to be surrounded by 20 other Americans in spite of my solo travel plans.

But God works in the midst of these things too. The team has been very kind and welcoming, which has been great. I just wasn’t anticipating spending relational energy on other Americans, besides the ones I came to visit and support. That’s unavoidable, though, when you’re sharing bunk beds with them. Though my schedule has been different from theirs, our meals have been together, and I’ve had a late night conversation or two.

It’s been good to be confronted by my pride even as I feel my frustration with “typical” approaches to missions, with the clichés that tend to emerge as people describe their first experiences outside the US. The “these people must be so poor because their houses are smaller than ours” comments are frustrating to me. See my
devozine blog for more on this frustration with how we define poverty. I’m also frustrated with the “oh, they’re so cute” tourist mentality toward those poor people we petted during our trip to Haiti. Instead of an approach that truly sees people here as equals. It’s a subtle difference of attitude, one of entitlement rather than humility, that is very hard to shake, even by the most supposedly enlightened among us (um, yeah, finger pointing at myself, sardonicly).

Mostly, I just feel like there’s something off in how much of the West thinks of people not from the West, from the places we call “developing.” But I don’t know yet fully how to call it for what it is or what to call for instead or quite how to articulate it all. But something is wrong that needs to be fixed, something is wrong in an injustice type of way.

In the vein of these things, among the cool things of the last few days is that, in addition to slowly getting over the hump of being ready to absorb a new culture, I’ve begun my interviews, which has gotten me outside that group of 20 other Americans. This has been nice. Two of the folks I’ve talked with have been Haitian men who break those stereotypes that all-too-often exist when Westerners think of people in places like Haiti, places the news always reports as being in turmoil. Both men are from Pignon, left to get training and then returned to invest in significant ways in their community. And they’ve done and are doing these things for God’s glory. And they are contributing to change in their community. These are good stories to tell, so I’m excited to write them up, though they’ll be cursory versions of the stories because my time with them was so limited.

Also today I spent time with a missionary couple who first arrived in Haiti with an organization but have stayed on here more recently as independent missionaries because they couldn't find a missions organization that would let them invest in the ways they felt God calling them to care for people. They are doing cool work of training and empowering folks in business, without offering hand-outs. One of the things that stood out to me when I spoke with some of the businessmen is that almost all of them mentioned being excited to and looking for opportunities to pass on the business lessons they were learning to other people in their community. This is how community change happens.

Tomorrow afternoon we will fly back to Port-au-Prince/Petionville. This coming week is likely to be my lightest week travel-wise, which will allow time to write up this weekend’s stories. We’re also planning a beach trip day sometime during the week.

Guess I should wrap up before some mosquito bequeaths a less-than-fun disease my way. :-) (I’m testing out how much natural repellent my skin contains.)

Kaydence cheesing for the camera while we weighed in for our flight to Pignon.

me, Yverta, Kaydence, Natalie, Jacob waiting for our Pignon flight. The luggage to the right was not ours. We only got about 100 lbs of luggage between us.

Thursday evening on a prayer walk with the missions team, distributing rice and beans and praying with people. JeanJean is in the yellow shirt. The man in the white-ish shirt was a former witch doctor who became a Christian while Michael and Karen lived in Bohoc.

Michael and Karen catching up with JeanJean's mother, Madame Tobisco.

Kaydence, the center of attention with the kids at Madame Tobisco's house.

Barb bringing me back to JeanJean and Kristie's on her four-wheeler.

Barb's transportation.

On the road, sitting behind Barb on the four wheeler. This was the good part of the road, where I could afford to let go with one hand long enough to take a picture.

Some of the new people I've met in the past couple days: Caleb Lucien, Jim Howard (Barb's husband), JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier, Lydia and Debbie Lucien.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I had time this evening to catch up with your blog entries. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We are praying for you.


ps. What happened to Michael's hair?