One thing that is hard about being away, especially for so long, is that when we’re out of sight it’s easy for us to be out of mind. Staying connected with friends can be a challenge and we’ve both found that over the years our group of friends has dwindled, BUT the ones that remain are the best kind.
This last week we had some time to reconnect with some of those friends, and to connect with some new ones. On Friday night we got together with my old care group from before I moved to Haiti. The fun thing was that looking around the room we had all moved to a new phase. When we were a care group there was really 5 of us that were core and eventually it turned from care group to a social time each week. In the last 5 years the three of us that weren’t married (there was one couple) have gotten married, and we now have three kids amongst us all under the age of 3. On visits home we had seen each other, but it was the first time to sit down, enjoy a meal together and just visit. Previously it had been weddings, or Chris wasn’t there, or my friends new husband wasn’t there. To have all 4 couples/families in the same room was such a sweet, sweet thing and we were reminded that there are some friends where you can go without that time for years, but when you do have it it just all comes together and it feels like just last week that you saw each other.
The other really sweet thing in the past week was getting to know some new friends. These new friends were fun because she is Canadian and he is African, from Guinea Bissau. They have done missions work in Guinea, and are now in Canada for a while. It was so refreshing to spend time with people who understand living cross culturally and what it’s like to live in a place like Haiti.
For those of you who don’t know much about Haiti’s history, many of Haiti’s original slaves were from Guinea Bissau. In fact, there is a Haitian proverb that says, “Things haven’t been right since Guinea.” When those slaves were brought over they were actually sold by their own country men. The proverb hits on the fact that they were stabbed in the back by their own people, and that since then most Haitians haven’t been able to trust anyone.
It was so interesting to sit with our friends and share experiences and to understand more of why some things are the way they are in Haiti. I always find it fascinating to learn about where things root from, but even more so is that you can take people out of their own cultural setting and hundreds of years later there are things that are still so deeply ingrained in how people think and do things. Even language is interesting. In Guinea there is one word for he/she/it – si. In Creole there is one word for he/she/it – li. In French the masculine is le and the feminine is la. We have learned that Creole became a language as slaves and slave owners found ways to communicate, often by mixing the two and finding words that everyone understood. That’s a perfect example of taking the native language of slaves and mixing it with French to come up with a pronoun.
We are enjoying the people that we are spending time with, and I’m loving how God is putting people in our path that “get” us. People that don’t cringe when we talk about our neighbors lighting our vehicles on fire or corruption or things taking forever rather than just trying to find a solution for our problems without any understanding. It’s a sweet, sweet gift.