I don’t really have much to say about Week Three of camp. I felt like I was just really doing a good job on Monday and Tuesday, like I had finally come into my own at this whole teaching thing. So it was nice that I had those two days because Wednesday I got hit by a very nasty stomach bug. I had a fever constantly spiking, body aches, head aches, and what can politely be called stomach issues. It was so bad that I really couldn’t teach. I sat through some of it just so the kids didn’t act up for the team leader following my curriculum but I was just the emblem of illness. But the three days went well and everyone survived. It is just really lousy luck that I missed out on my last real days of teaching.
But an experience I haven’t really shared about yet is church. I deeply loved my church in Provence but I was hesitant that I could feel at home at the church here. It’s an explosion of unfamiliar culture in all aspects. I wanted to just slip into my “cultural analyst” role and only be observant but being here for so long forced me to actually become involved, a part of the community.
Our church on campus, in the classic Nehemiah blue color, is a big wide room lined with wooden benches and some windows. It’s simple and humble; I’ve now become convinced that churches shouldn’t be anything more. I’m already preparing myself for the culture shock of coming back to Midwest mega-churches.
Today was a really great Sunday. I sat next to my lovely friend, Kayla, a nursing intern. When we walk in we look for familiar faces, and it just seemed like we knew so, so many today. Just walking to our seats, I had hands grab me and “Maggie!” exclaimed happily by several students. I got to see Darline, the lovely woman whose house we visit in the village, and her perfect children. I smiled to my friend Eliane, who some of us interns have gotten to know extremely well, and chatted with her after church. It was Widbelline’s birthday today (my adorable “little” from the village) so she had her hair all pretty and wore her shiny red shoes. I even got to see Timac, a little boy who used to hang around campus while his mom worked. I hadn’t seen him in a while so I was ecstatic when he came up to me with his signature mega-watt smile and even let me wrestle in a kiss on his cheek.
We sang our now-familiar worship music in French, Kreyol, and English. Babies were rocked on laps, kids were being prodded awake, everyone was in their Sunday best. Pastor Pierre gave his signature expressive, lively, and all-over-the-place sermon (this month’s has been on the role of the church and how it needs to be a light in the darkness). He called up any teams serving at the time and had them introduce themselves and sing an English worship song for the church, a funny insistence he has. The Haitian band always jumps in and livens it up and it ends up being a real party.
As we left church today, I said my good-byes to my friends and “A demain!” (See you tomorrow!) to my students and kind of got choked up realizing that this was my second-to-last Sunday here. This week, despite getting sick, I’ve been experiencing a very overwhelming yet satisfying feeling that I’ve really been able to accomplish what I first feared I wouldn’t: teaching a class to students who speak a language I don’t know, becoming conversational in that language, developing friendships with adults in Chambrun, loving on kids despite the fact that I am the exact opposite of them. At the core of it all, I’ve found bits and pieces of myself that feel so at home here, at church, in this community, with my kiddos.
As everything winds down this next week, especially when graduation is over, I’ll have to confront myself with the reality that I am indeed leaving Haiti, maybe for forever. But gosh, have I loved it so.