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Communiqué #052


to the PEOPLE of HAITI

August 9, 2008

After living in a place for some time, one stops seeing the things that were once shocking or unfamiliar. I have been thinking about some of the unusual sights, sounds and smells in Haiti!

Here are some things you may never see, hear or smell in the U.S.A.

           • A ten year old boy “mowing” the grass with a machete

           • An eight old girl carrying two cords of wood in a huge stainless bowl on her head

           • A women bathing in the local river, after hand washing her family’s clothes there

           • Customers standing in line for 4 hours at the local bank

           • A four year old girl bringing her 1 year old sister to church

           • Thirty people standing in the back of a pickup truck for a 120 mile ride to work

           • A boy wearing tennis shoes held together with duct tape and wire

           • A fifteen year old in the 1st grade

           • The smell of urine at the foundation of most buildings – churches, schools, airports, restaurants

           • The smack of a leather strap across the hands of a disobedient school child

           • The buzzing, fluttering sound of a home-made kite soaring overhead

           • The scraping, whining sound of metal re-rods as they are pulled through the streets by someone on a bicycle on his way to a construction site

           • Two or three children balanced somewhere on the bicycle of adult taking them to school

           • The smell in your yard of decaying food waste and the snort of the hogs eating it

           • The chorus of barking dogs at 5AM when their night time guard dog chores are over

           • Bare-bottomed babies, as diapers are a luxury and hand washing soiled clothes is an endless job

           •          Fresh butchered goat delivered right to your door, a machete used for the portion you want

           •      The plink of a stone being thrown at a goat trying to eat your sister’s bowl of rice

           • Sitting under the only street light to study your school lessons, as you have no electricity at home

           •   Children playing, in the front yard of their home, on the crypt of a loved one

• Late at night, using the one latrine that is shared by ten neighborhood families

           • Shopping at the local market, on a hot & humid day, where the butcher shop has no refrigeration and more than its share of flies and urine

                       runs freely in the trenches at your feet

           • No dent-free automobiles

           • Toy trucks made from plastic juice bottles and other discarded items

Home made toys!

           • Fresh mangos sold by the open sewer in front of your home

           •        Walking and bicycles as the main modes of getting from here to there

• Prized cock fight roosters being carried under the arm of a man, a sock covering the head of the valuable bird

           • A church full of men, women and children singing praises to God at the top of their lungs, while dancing with joy

           • A family of six sharing one bowl of rice

My list could go on and on. I am grateful to first time visitors to Haiti whose “wow!” observations remind me that my eyes need to remain open to the needs here. I ponder … “Why I was born in the U.S.A. and not in a country like Haiti?” or “What things do I need to attempt to change?” or “What things are best left alone as they may actually be better than what I see or have in the U.S.A.?”

I pray that God will soften my heart to the things that I have become callused to and the times I judge the people who come to me for help! I pray for discernment and patience and compassion. I pray for encouragement in an often times discouraging line of work.

I thank God for people like you who faithfully pray for me and all other workers on the mission field! You sustain us in our work. Thank you!

Nora Léon

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….

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