Haiti Experiences: The Old Lady With the ‘Got Wine?’ Hat

On the second or third day of our trip, our small team joined the District Superintendent (D.S.) in attending at bible study that he was leading at the “flagship” church in Cap Haitian.  Our senior pastor, Charlie, had earlier displayed his piano playing skills, which directly led to an invitation to lead those at the bible study in a song time.  He was so thrilled.  The crowd was sparse, which is usually the case a midst the threat of a hurricane.  The storm had actually passed, but since the local weather reports don’t hit every home people often feel the need to stay put until they’re assured it’s all over (school in Don Don was actually closed 3 days after the hurricane had passed).  The numbers didn’t matter…we sang with gusto as Charlie played along.  During the service an old, decrepit lady entered, wearing a baseball cap with the words ‘Got Wine?’ on the front.  She sat on the far side of the sanctuary, but was called over by a couple on our team who had recognized her from an earlier trip.  She was pleasant in nature…just sort of happy to be there.

At some point the D.S. called over Bill, the one who had been sitting next to the old woman.  Privately, he explained that this woman had been going to the church for many years, and that her “house” was “very, very bad.”  With her consent we made arrangements to visit her home a few days later.

Haitian cities are very densely populated, but some areas of cities more dense than others.  We parked at the base of a hill that was packed with concrete building just as much as the city center.  The road that we walked up was steep, and it narrowed the more we climbed.  None of us felt sorry for ourselves, because behind us was a young man attempting to push a large, wooden trailer-type thing that looked more suited to be hitched to the back of a truck than to be pushed.  Of course, he didn’t seem to feel sorry for himself either, which indicated that this was “just another day” for him.  The higher we climbed up the hill the bigger the crowd we drew.  This was not helped by our team member Jim, who had candy to pass out wherever he went.  Side note: After Jim left, we had to disappoint hundreds of Haitians daily because we just could not supply their hunger for Tootsie Rolls like he could.  One young lady raced out with a set of twins in her arms.  He explained to me in Creole that her babies were “ugly” because they were hungry.  I insisted they were not ugly and that I didn’t have money for her (I generally steer clear of handing out money, and it especially seemed wise with the size of the crowd closing in).

We reached the old woman’s house…if you were to call it that.  It looked more like a corner room of a house that had lost its two outer walls.  The absent out walls were replaced with sheet metal.  The floor was dirt…her front door was a curtain.  If the D.S. hadn’t pointed out the condition of the home, I would have chalked it up as the same as so many in Haiti…which is mostly true.  But the need was real, and the D.S. instructed that it would take around $2000 to make improvements.  I have no idea how they would use that money and what improvements they would make.  Anything would be better.  I’m not sure what our team will do from here, but I’m thankful for the experience.  It will surely be imprinted in the minds of those who climbed that hill and met that kind, old, decrepit woman.  And it will certainly help to shape our worldview and our sense of mission.

More experiences to come…

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