I left the clinic on Friday morning. Zach, the mission director, drove me into town and we stopped at the junkyard. I have never been in a junkyard in the United States, but I can't imagine it would really look like this junkyard did. The place was a zoo, full of busted refridgerators and bicycles and cars and batteries and unidentifiable rusty objects. We brought in a huge barrel of soda cans and got $30US for it.
I picked BethAnn, Kendall, and Christine up from the airport, took them to their guesthouse and helped them get settled. While we waited for my driver to come get me, we all went swimming in the guesthouse pool. I actually felt like a tourist on vacation. Very strange.
When I arrived at the pension in the mid-afternoon, the children were just finishing a seminar about AIDS that was presented by some international public health group (I forget which one). The focus of the talk was abstinence which I think the kids understood much better than the whole spiel about CD4 counts and viral loads and anti-retrovirals. The guest speakers also brought croissants and Tampico juices for the kids. As soon as I walked in the door, several of the girls grabbed me and said that they had saved a croissant and 2 Tampicos for me. I'm not sure, but I think it was Merline Guillaume who sacrificed hers and just shared with Jephycca and Mikerlange. I love it when the kids do something like that for me - here is someone who brought them a special treat and all they want to do is give it away. Amazing.
In the late afternoon, Dr Bernard came to the orphanage to have the monthly meeting with the staff and the children. He discussed things like getting your homework done before you go to soccer, turning off lights when you're not in the room, annual bonuses, and only bathing with a half bucket of water. Bryn and I were mortified - all this time, we've been bathing with less than 1/4 of a bucket of water because we've been told to conserve water! Now we know, we can splurge.
Jacques and I had a Q & A session that night. I don't remember all of it, but he said that the best thing about the pension was just always having someone around to talk to and to play with. He also said that he is eating labouille (porridge) now. The children have labouille every night for dinner and he almost never used to eat it when I was living here. He says that he is hungrier now - apparently, he isn't as busy now as he was then and when he isn't busy, he gets hungry. Then he asked me why I thought God allowed sicknesses like AIDS to happen. C'mon! I thought we were asking questions that could actually be answered. We had a long talk about sickness, sin, God's love, and science until Dr Bernard called Jacques away to talk with him.