Friday, November 28, 2008

Even more to be thankful for

Two miracles happened today.

1. I drove through the chaos and terror of Bolosse, something I had sworn I would never ever do. Well, I did it, without killing anyone either!
2. Our rusty dusty overheating cranky old car actually made it across town and all the way to the top of the seminary hill! I have proof, a photo of my car parked at the seminary.

You guessed it - I got to visit HFC today!

I came with apples for all the kids, so while they were still in school, I placed an apple and a little piece of candy on each child's bed. It's such a simple treat, but they enjoyed it immensely!

Wislandy and Cindy were the first kids out of school and the first to get all excited that I was there. No one knew I was coming, so everyone, including the staff, was surprised when I walked in. The kids understand that I am in Haiti and working elsewhere, but the adults persist in believing that I am coming to and from the States every time I visit.

I was only there for about 4 hours, but it was great nonetheless. I got to chat with the girls and catch up on how things have been since I saw them a month ago. I told and retold the story of Dorothy's hospitalization and the baby passing away and my house-sitting arrangement.

In the late afternoon, just before I left, I stumbled upon most of the 11th graders, in their classroom, doing math problems all together. It was one of the coolest things I've seen between the boys and the girls since they had that silly hullaballoo last year. One would write a problem on the board and everyone would help him or her finish it. There was no teacher present, no adult who had organized the homework party, but they stayed on task, doing nothing but math all afternoon.

Duck attacked a very long and complicated equation. As I sat watching him sweat through the steps, I couldn't help but think how much these kids have grown up in the 2 and a half years that I have known them. There was a time when I could do their math without thinking, a time when I was as tall as most of them. But looking at that tall, muscular boy standing at the board, working out a problem that I don't know how to do, I had to admit that they are growing up. So sad.

Alex got home from Maranatha later than the other kids. He saw me and got a big goofy grin on his face. "I'm sweaty," he warned me. "I don't care, silly! I'm too happy to see you to be bothered by a little sweat!"

Ernso's adoptive mom brought a badmitten set for the boys. They are hopelessly bad at it, but it's a change from their usual mini-soccer games in the courtyard. Samelo and Job were the official score-keepers as Reginald and Stev played a championship round.

Stev, as always, ran and hid when I first arrived. But later, he asked me how long I was staying. "Just today," I answered sadly. "What?!" he yelled. "Well, fine then." And he waved a hand dismissively at me and stormed off to his bedroom. Ah hah! So you do care that I came!

I had lunch with the younger girls. It was wheat and meat sauce with bits of carrot and, good grief, was it ever delicious! I didn't realize until that moment how little Haitian food I have been eating since moving to Dorothy's. I eat labouille most mornings when they make it for the kids, but I really hate the nutritionally enhanced rice that we give the kids at lunch, so I don't eat it. It tastes like sawdust and the sauce just does not add much to it. Eating lunch with the girls today reminded me how good Haitian food can be. Dorothy is planning on getting a new cook soon, so maybe things are looking up.

Bernadin was precious. He walked me up to my car when it was time for me to leave. We talked for a little while and then hugged good-bye. Sometimes the kids are punks and give me a hard time about leaving or about only visiting for a short period of time. Not Bernadin, not today. He kissed me on the cheek and simply said, "Thank you so much for coming."

My dear Drisk was also precious. Apples are one of his favorite things and I gave him the extras that were left after each child received one. He was munching on apple all afternoon and just kept walking by and flashing me his craziest, Drisk-iest smiles. He makes me laugh every time I see him. Oh, I love that boy!

Jessica and Nounoun were darlings again today. We're 3 for 3 on our last few trips, friends! Amazing. Nounoun didn't pass the November exams; she was one of 22 HFC kids who did not pass. We've had poor passing rates in recent years, but 22 kids is abnormally high. Nounoun and Lovely explained to me how the exams were different this year: instead of having 2 exams per day, they had exams during their regular class periods. For example, if Lovely's class has French, history, English, math, and experimental science on Monday, she would have all 5 exams on Monday as well. Some of the exams lasted several days, and others simply got taken away from them if it became time to switch to another course exam. There is no excuse for 22 children failing, however, I do sympathize and I am confident that more will pass as they grow accustomed to the new system.

I am the luckiest girl alive. I get to do work that I love and I get to spend my days with the greatest kids around. I have so very much to be thankful for!

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