"But pacifism is so impractical!" As if Christian ethics were utilitarian, as if there were a calculus for shalom! -Kim Fabricius
Our long-time Haiti missionary friend John, who runs a rural clinic outside PAP, has been very gracious in letting us accompany him on various adventures around Haiti. This weekend we headed downtown, much nearer to the epicenter of the 7.0 quake. Just after the quake, most of the international reporters were in that area, so some of these images may be familiar. I can tell you, however, that no TV report can ever quite capture the magnitude, the sounds, or, especially in this case, the smells.
The National Cathedral.
Used to be something beautiful. Now, graffiti, broken.
John antagonizes begging ladies:) I say this with all love and respect- John has been in this country 25 years, and I will take his advice on how to do things here, include what to do when people ask "give me one dolla" 24/7. He is the second person I've met in Haiti (the other has been in the country 17 years) who think the best way to respond to begging is to communicate with the beggar, and, if possible, make a joke. For example, when kids beg my other friend, he tries to strike up a conversation. Where do you live? he'll say. He's trying to be relational. John makes jokes. If a kid comes up and says "Blan (meaning "white person"), give me one dollar", John will say "I'm not white, I'm pink!" in Kreyol. John has a lady come up with a newborn and say she had no food for the baby. He, as a nurse who does an extensive amount of prenatal care, responded in Kreyol, "yes you do, right there- breastfeed your baby!" She laughed and walked away.
I'm undecided. For now I mostly just get awkward. Some missionaries here carry little baggies of rice to give, which they feel more comfortable with than money. Maybe I'll get organized enough to do that.
National Cathedral damage
Markets totally fill the streets downtown as you get within a few blocks of the Caribbean Sea (the blue in the background is the ocean).
Little shacks line the streets in downtown Port-au-Prince.
The bells of this destroyed church read "John Taylor & Co, Founders, Loughborough, England".
Next we left downtown, drove straight through the valley that is Port-au-Prince, and went straight up the mountain.
There's a place, high above Haiti, where the cell phone towers crowd together like a little digital forest. It's called Boutillea (misspelling likely), and John calls it his favorite place in Port-au-Prince. He took us up there to end our day-long trip.