Friday was an optional day of fun and games for students at Maranatha. Our Maranatha students had told us that they were not going to go, but when I went up on the roof to hang my laundry, there was Stephanie Q, all dolled up to go out somewhere. She said she was on her way to Maranatha because she was going to be singing as part of the day's festivities. Of course, I wanted to go too, so I headed up to Maranatha.
It turned out to be a typical morning in Haiti: lots of waiting. Virtually no one was at the school when we arrived at 7:30 and by 9:00, Stephanie's singing partner was still not there, so I decided to go back to HFC for a little while. I had not had any breakfast because I'd been rushed to get ready immediately to go up to the seminary with Steph. After some breakfast and a little hang out with our school kids during recess, I went back to Maranatha. Still nothing happening. So I walked back down the hill to the boys' house to see if Alex wanted to join us at Maranatha. I found him studiously playing playstation with coach Manno.He said that he wanted to come; he just had to finish the game. As soon as he was done, he walked up the road to Maranatha with me. I used to get lots of one-on-one time with Alex because he, Steph and Argentine were getting private tutoring from me and Jean Claude last year. Recently though, I haven't seen too much of him, so I was excited to have a whole morning devoted to him and the 2 girls.
We left him at the school with Manno around lunch time and went back to HFC to get a drink and to let the girls rest. When we came back up, the Maranatha basketball team was on the court! Alex is not on the team, but they were short several players and since Manno is their coach too, he called Alex out of the crowd to come and play for them.
He seemed so tiny compared to the rest of the boys, some of whom are probably 19, 20, even 21 years old. Alex is 15 and he must be about 5 ft 7 inches.
But he played well, holding his own against the giants on the other team and being included by the guys on his team. He was very focused and serious while he was playing, but any time the game stopped, you could see the big smile on his face. He was so thrilled to be playing with a real team in a real game!
After the game, I bought him a sandwich and soda at the refreshment stand. It almost felt like being at a 4th of July or Memorial Day fair in the United States.
In the mid-afternoon, I met up with Evens at the seminary. When I got there, Bryn, Christine and Kylene had not come yet, so we sat down to wait in the shade near one of the seminary houses. When the three girls did come, they went to our usual meeting spot just in front of the library. Evens stood up to hail them, but I stopped him. "Let's sneak up on them!" We kicked off our sandals and crept down the hill, along the road, over the wall, and behind the tree where the girls were sitting. "One, two, three!" and we leaped on top of them. They screamed! It was perfect.
Evens had brought supplies for a picnic for us, so we went to one of the quiet look-out spots in the seminary and enjoyed a big lunch of pate, marinade, eggs and bread, soda, spicy Haitian peanut butter camparet, French fries, fried plantain, oranges, and sugar cane. It was delicious!
Evens also got to eat his first ever Slim Jim. He wasn't crazy about it.
In the late afternoon, Jean Claude held a meeting with all the kids to discuss treating each other like brothers and sisters. He thoroughly embarrassed several of the boys and girls by publicly announcing how well-behaved and exemplary they are.
When the meeting with over, Merline G, Kattia, and Martine pulled me aside. "Remember when my sister came to visit," Martine asked me. "And she had that cool thing holding up her hair? You said it wouldn't work well in your type of hair, but we tried it and it did." "Yes, I remember." "Well, you should wear it again." "I don't have one, Martine." "Yes, you do." "What?!" Then I realized that Kattia had her hands behind her back. She slowly brought them out and opened them. It was the same style of hair piece that Martine's sister had been sporting. "I told you that you had one," Martine giggled.
I never know what to say in moments like that. Here are 3 orphan girls who I have come to Haiti to love and to bless, but they are loving me and blessing me far more than I could ever do for them. How do they find the money or the way to buy a gift for me? And why, if they do have money, would they chose to spend it on me instead of on food or treats for themselves? When I was living in Haiti, the girls were constantly giving me gifts: candy, bread, perfume, a Haitian kerchief, a medical book, and even a skirt. Merline G was always involved and usually the most humble about it too. I always give them huge hugs and huge kisses and lots of "Thank you's" and "I love you's", but somehow that doesn't seem to be enough. It's like the woman who gave her very last coins in the offering - every little gift they offer me has meaning far beyond larger gifts that I have received in the United States. These kids know what giving is all about.