Friday, November 13, 2009

Soda, Pringles, Bagays and other things

So I wanted to share some of the funny or interesting things that have happened over the past few weeks…

This is the Life
This is the life…Its an expression I seem to keep hearing from the seminarians and other Haitians that I have met. The first time I heard it was in response to someone saying a friend’s family member had died. Someone simply said “This is the life”

Since I have been in Haiti I have heard about a lot more deaths in people’s families only to hear the response, “This is the life.” I have been to two funerals so far in Haiti, one for the mother of the Bishop and one for my friend’s step-father. The funeral for my friend’s step-father was a Catholic service and it was actually a funeral for three different people and their families. It was interesting to think about having to share your funeral time with two other families but I guess “This is the life.”

The other night some of the guy seminarians were watching TV and the girls came in to watch their soap. There was some discussion and then the girls changed the channel to the soap. One of the guys looked over to me and said “This is the life” Since then I have heard the expression used for frequently in similar situations.

I just think it’s interesting that the same expression can be used for such different events. I’ll leave it to you to think about why this could be.

King Cola Banana
So maybe my favorite thing to drink here is the King Cola's brand Banana Soda. It’s amazing. I drink about 5 a week. I love it. There is another brand that has Banana Soda, its called Fiesta and it really just is not even close to as good as King’s

So I went to my grocery store earlier this week and they were out of King Cola Banana. I’m pretty sure I bought them out. Now I am trying to settle for Fiesta until they get more but it’s really just not the same.

My Empty King Cola Banana

Walking on the Street
A couple of weeks ago I was running an errand with two of the guy seminarians. We were walking along Rue Capois and the guys were telling me how I needed to walk in the middle of them. I asked why and they were explaining that culturally in Haiti when two guys and a girl walk together the girl has to walk in the middle so the guys can protect her.

So of course they are in the middle of telling me this when a guy on the street grabs my arm and pulls me back, away from my friends. I pulled my arm out of his grip, and caught up with my friends and said “Nice job protecting me”…

(This is a funny story…the area where we were walking was completely safe.)

You should just know that there are a lot of Pringles in the stores here. The have just about any flavor you can think of. It’s crazy.

But two warnings for if you are ever in Haiti…do not buy the generic brand. If you’re going to get them you should just splurge a little for the real thing. Also do not buy the Dill Pickle flavor. I made that mistake my first week here. I thought it looked interesting and wanted to try something new. It was a bad idea.

A couple weeks ago we had a going away party for a missionary who had been working here for the last year. In preparation for this party I had to find a gift for her that would be from the seminary. I figured I would talk to her friend who was an artist and see if he had any ideas for something that would be easy to travel with and that she didn’t have yet. So of course when I told him he asked if he could make it. I said yes and asked what he wanted to make.

I should probably mention at this point that this artist friend only really speaks Creole and some French and most times I can’t understand a word he says.

So the artist friend begins going into some long description about what he wants to make and I have no clue what he was saying. I only noticed that he kept using the word bagay. So I grab on to this word and think to myself if I can just figure out what bagay means than I will have some idea about what he is talking about. So I commit to him making the gift and discuss the price…still not knowing what I am going to get…but knowing it has something to do with the word bagay.

So later that day I talk to one of the seminarians (one who knows English) and tell him all about my conversation with the artist friend and that he wants to make a bagay. And I ask what the word bagay means…Turns out Bagay means Thing…awesome.

Luckily everything worked out in the end.

Air Jordans

Last night the girls that I am living with showed up randomly with like ten pairs of Air Jordans, that I'm guessing were somehow given to the seminary. They were big shoes.

The Old Seminary

Last week Lauren, Jude and I as well as a priest named Pere Ajax, went to this town called Montrouis to check out this resort for a conference that is coming to Haiti in January. We also went to celebrate Lauren's birthday. We drove out there after English class on Wednesday, had dinner at this nice resort and spent the night at the old seminary.

The old seminary is beautiful. While it is a little overgrown at the moment all it needs is a little work and it would be amazing. Theres a good amount of land, lots of trees, oh and its on the water! It was awesome and I found myself wondering how we could get the seminary to move back there just so I could live there.

Anyway that morning before our meeting at the resort we had a nice 6:30 am swim in the ocean. The water felt great. and it was a wonderful short break from life in Port au Prince. Heres a picture from the beach there.

Seriously...its beautiful right.

I'm going to Les Cayes on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it and I'll let you all know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Working at the Seminary

Classes at the Seminary started a couple weeks ago and since that time I have been very busy. I am beginning to get a better understanding of my job and its expectations as I continue to figure out what my role is here.

I have to admit when I found out that I would be doing most of my work at the seminary I was a little disappointed for various reasons. Probably the most significant reason is that I was really unsure if this is the work I am prepared for and meant to be doing.

After my trip to Sudan about five years ago, I knew that I wanted to work with poverty issues. I left behind any lingering thoughts of having a “normal” life and realized that I wanted to dedicate myself to fighting poverty, to finding peace in a world that at times seems plagued with violence, to stop corruption and greed and work to have governments that serve all their people. I wanted to be living in community with the poorest of the poor helping them to earn money and to learn, while at the same time learning from the beauty of their spirit. It was after this trip to Sudan that I decided to study issues of poverty and development in college and in Uganda and hoped to begin to gain an understanding of all these issues, so that when I finished college I would be able to jump into working and do my part to save the world (as corny as that sounds)

So when I decided to join the Young Adult Service Corps, I thought that this would be my opportunity to finally do all those things that my trip to Sudan had inspired in me. And then I found out that I would be teaching seminarians and working to develop the seminary. Talk about a bubble bursting. It seemed to me like another year that I would have to wait before I was able to do the work that I think I am meant to doing. The work that keeps me up at night wondering about what can be done…

But these past 2 weeks working at the seminary have helped me to better understand the work that I am doing here. That this is not a year of waiting but rather that this can be a year of action. That helping the seminarians is helping Haiti. These seminarians are not just future priests but future leaders of the church and they are future leaders of their country. The church plays a significant role in Haiti. For example in the Diocese of Haiti there are 250 schools that are run by the priests. These seminarians have the opportunity to reach out to the most vulnerable in their society, not just by sharing the word of God with them, but showing them the word of God and turning God’s word into action.

For the past couple weeks, in English class, the students have been working on Advent Devotionals. It is through their reflections that you can get a glimpse of Haiti, its strengths and its problems and see the potential these seminarians have to make a difference in their communities.

I am hoping to share the completed devotional with you, so please let me know if you are interested in receiving a copy. The main goal of the devotional is to raise awareness about the work of the seminary, and to allow people back home to learn about Haiti from Haitians. It is also a hope of mine that we may be able to raise some funds to help support the seminary. So please let me know if you are interested.
Just so you know the pictures in this blog were taken at the opening service for the seminary in the Chapel. And in case you can't tell the seminarians are the ones in the robes with the black belts. There are 17 this year...10 first years and 7 who are 3rd or 4th years.