a strawberry milkshake

by Kayla Raymond

It’s not that my day is anymore important than yours, or that it’s any more glamorous or that it is even worthy of a blog, but I’m going to make it into one.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 to the cries of my baby girl. Do not for a moment think this is sweet. This child of mine is an awful sleeper. She will go a week sleeping beautifully through the night and then go back to acting like she is a newborn infant, who has to wake up two times a night. For a while, she was putting herself back to sleep, but this past week, not so much. I will get her out of bed, give her some milk and think I have her rocked back to sleep, but the second her head hits the pillow, she’s back to crying. So, I give in, because I am a sucker for sleep and don’t want to fight her. I let her get her way as she falls asleep between Webert and I.

This morning, though, we weren’t just up at 5:30, we were up and we were throwing up our milk everywhere. Not a great way to start the day. I also discovered, as the boys got ready for school an hour later, that they had discovered a small red craft scissors and decided to cut the seams on some of their underwear. Talk about a major chew out session. There will be no movie tonight!

But, we made it to work and to school on time, which in itself requires many miracles to occur in order for that to happen.

I think I took my first real deep breath as I sat down to pray at ViBella. Then, we did some deep cleaning, as we are preparing for the Spring 2015 production to begin. I sat down for a bit to check out a necklace that was being made by two of the artists and somehow the topic of babies was brought up – after this morning, NO babies in the near future! The ViBella ladies nag me as they have wished for me to have a baby since last January, when I was married.

Anyways, I am just so grateful for my family at ViBella. I just feel so at home in that place working with them all.

But, the noon hour arrived and it was time for me to take the hike up the mountain to the school.

I love walking through the village. I love being a part of the rhythm and everyday activities. I meet a man on the way, who is singing a praise song, stops to say “good morning” to me in the most joyful tone ever, and continues walking on by singing his song. I passed an elderly woman, who spends her days laying out on her yard on a piece of cardboard. Whenever I stop by to ask her how she is, she responds with, “I am good by the grace of Jesus.” I pass by a lady who is serving rice and beans to a group of people and I see madam Israel, an elderly lady who always calls me sweetheart. She is sitting on a rock, in a nightgown, eating a pate – a deep fat fried piece of dough stuffed with onions and meat, a Haitian guilty pleasure of mine.

It’s hard to explain how a crippled woman, who lies on a piece of cardboard all day or a man caroling worship songs down the village’s way can bring such a deep sense of joy to this heart of mine. But, it does, people. It really does.

And, so, my day has gone from mass chaos of vomit and shredded clothes, to prayer and joy followed by, well, more mass chaos.

I’m hiking my way up the hill, as a teenage boy catches up to me. He wants a phone. No, I don’t have money for a phone. He wants new pants because his birthday is on Saturday. Um, no, again. Literally, these people know how to suck the joy right out of me, too. Because I am the white lady in the village, people find it acceptable to ask me for ridiculous things like this. This kid is dressed in another school’s uniform and I don’t even know his name. Seriously, I don’t even buy my own kids new pants on their birthdays.

Out of breath now, because I have just climbed an entire hillside.

I enter the kitchen and greet all of the cooks and the fourth grade class, who has just sat down to eat. Heart is filled with joy again and I have by now caught my breath.

I take my 25 goudes, aka 50 cents, to the vendors who sit by the school selling drinks and candy to the students. I buy myself an ice cold Coke. Nothing beats an ice cold Coke in Haiti’s heat. Welp, next to the vendors is a dad who wants money because his son is sick. And, behind him, is another lady looking for money to start selling stuff at market. I tell them to wait for Webert (it’s my go-to line!)

On my way back to the kitchen, I am stopped by another mom, and this mom, I really have a soft spot for her. She’s the lady I wrote about who comes to my porch every once in a while, because she has a hard time feeding her kids. We have been able to give her a job at the school working in the kitchen. And, although, she’s getting a fair wage now, she lives in a four-year-old tent with her three kids. The tent has begun tearing and when it rains they all get wet. She’s asking if I have any extra tarp to cover the holes. Uhh, heart is now shattered. I love this woman. She glows with strength and courage. She doesn’t deserve to be living in a mud puddle.

Lord, Lord, why does it have to be this way?

I eat my plate of rice and beans that my mother-in-law has so graciously given me and wash it down with my now not-so-ice-cold Coke.

Webert and I end up giving around $50 US to the dad with the sick son and turn the other woman away. We talk about Clievianne and wanting to give her not just a new roof, but a new house. Lord, make a way.

Then, I hop in the truck and head to Cabaret. I go to the Western Union to get money that was sent to buy medicine for the clinic. School kids point and laugh because I am a blan white person. I will be honest, it gets really old after awhile being the minority, the one who always sticks out! I am questioned and scanned by the security guard just to get inside. Yes, security guards sit at every door at every business in Haiti, it’s a bizarre thing, but you eventually get used to it. I get the money and make my way to Rosie’s.

I take my second deep breath of the day. And, help myself to a strawberry milkshake. Sometimes this broken heart just needs a milkshake to get through the day.

I guess I am not writing out my day in detail like this to get a pat on the back from you all. I didn’t solve any big world problems today, in fact, I feel like more have been laid out before me. Really, besides organizing a bunch of beads and listening to people’s problems, I feel like I haven’t done much. So, now it’s kind of like what do we do? You and I, together. I’m not sure.

And, just so you know, I am now making you somewhat responsible for these problems of mine, because you are now aware of them.

And that’s it, right there: the awareness of this all. I could go on ignoring them and acting like there are not elderly women on pieces of cardboard or families being drenched in the rain because there is literally no roof over their heads. I could, but I won’t. I feel so responsible to make a change and bring hope to these sweet, sweet people (minus the boy who only wants pants for his b-day, forget him!) Whether it is through a new roof or a new home, a paid medical bill or a loan to start selling goods at market, a meal to get a hungry child through the day or an entire education, a trip to the dentist’s office or just a trip to their home to pray over them, I want to bring the hope that lies in all of that.

And, you could go on ignoring this all, too. Actually, it is so much easier for you to do that because you are physically so much further away from me, them, us. The only thing connecting us is this silly world wide web at the moment. Close your browser, act like you never read this, I won’t know the difference.

Or keep it open, allow the reality of this world to sink in. Maybe God is speaking to you now, embrace that. Soak it in. Then, close your browser and do something about it. Send money my way so I can build a new house for Clievianne or pay more medical bills or whatever it is the Lord puts before me down here (except buy new pants for a random teenagers birthday, I will never do that) OR take your money, your resources, your knowledge, your time and use them for whatever the Lord has put on your heart. Turn those thoughts and dreams, into a reality.

Make some type of difference, it doesn’t matter how big or small.

We need you. The world needs you.

And, when you can’t figure it out or you’re completely worn out or have no idea how you can make a difference, treat yourself to a milkshake. You can’t ever go wrong with a milkshake.

Love from Haiti.