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Do You Degaje w?

DEGAJE – A Kreyol Lesson and More

There are several words in Kreyol that automatically bring a smile to my face. BAGAY, for example, means “thing”. In and of itself, there’s really not anything humorous about this word. Right? But, BAGAY is soooooooo overused that it’s like it becomes a comedy show all by itself. Much of Kreyol is less precise than English or French. Sometimes in conversations we find ourselves saying such outrageous things as “Well, just go BAGAY the BAGAY.” And most of the time, we understand each other perfectly. BAGAY qualifies as one of my favorite Kreyol words. Most Americans say it like “Bug Eye,” which adds to the humor, too. [“Go bug eye the bug eye!”]

DEGAJE is not a favorite, because I find it humorous, but rather because it feels so much more descriptive than any English word I can think of to replace it. A big part of living in Haiti and surviving is dependent on your ability to DEGAJE.

I sometimes use Google Translate to help me out between French, Kreyol, and English. I typed in “DEGAJE” and it responded with “release.” I thought that was an odd translation. I then typed in “DEGAJE W” (“w” meaning “you”) and the translation it gave was “survive.” Now THAT I found interesting. I’ve always translated DEGAJE as “to make effort.”

Here are some situations we might run into in Haiti (you may run into them where you live, too) where the word DEGAJE might be appropriate to use:

  • The pot handle is loose and we don’t have a screwdriver that fits the screw to tighten it. We use a butter knife.

  • We didn’t buy enough meat on market day Wednesday. The next market day is Saturday. Today is Friday. We substitute dumplings or avocado for the meat.

  • The gas gauge needle is on “E.” We walk.

  • The one king-size bottom sheet we have is torn. (Perhaps no one thought to mention it to us so we could replace it.) We take two twin flat sheets to cover the king-size mattress.

  • The generator breaks down in the middle of the night. We sweat.

  • There’s no electricity and it’s soooooooo hot. We take a cold shower.

  • There’s no water in the shower, because there was no electricity to use the water pump to fill the water tanks. We use a bucket on a rope and draw water from the well. We take a “bucket bath” using a large cup with the bucket of water.

These are all situations where we would say “degaje w.” Here’s the (fill-in-the-blank) problem – here’s the solution (works on ANY problem!): DEGAJE W!

Would you say that means we make an effort? Survive? I suppose they could be considered interchangeable terms after all. But how in the world does “release” fit into this at all? If you don’t release the situation – if you can’t get past your own will and how you intended for the situation to play out – how will you survive? Release must be the first part of DEGAJE.

MISSION UPDATES – The Real Reason You’re Still Reading

Tonight I am DEGAJE-ing with this blog post. Each time I tried to upload a picture (and it was more than a few dozen times!) I got an error message, suggesting that I try again later. I know, from experience, that sometimes waiting for “later” becomes “too late,” and I miss my posting deadline. So, today, I am DEGAJE-ing with a different format, working offline and praying it can be uploaded later. If this post has a different look to it, it’s because I had to DEGAJE M (“m” meaning “me”).

December in Haïti

Christmas Cheer in Thozin

This year we are in the “holiday spirit” a little earlier than usual. Our friends were so excited to see we brought Christmas lights for the school/church yard in Thozin. There was no complaining about all the work involved in putting them up. Each time exam time approaches, many students come to our yard in the evenings to study, because we have a nice big light at the entrance. Now they are enjoying all the pretty colors, too. I think there may be MORE students than usual.

Preparing for the Children’s Christmas Party

It looks like there’s dancing going on! Lots of kids are preparing for the children’s Christmas party, just ten days from now. Amy Long and Maestro Odenet wrote a song together and Amy has been busy teaching it to several classes. Our childen’s workers have been planning this party for a while now, and it’s sure to be the best thing around. Lots of music, balloons, glow in the dark decorations…did I mention music? Rest assured it will be LOUD, too. Christmas is a very special time for us all.

Pwa Kongo – aka pigeon peas

December is also the month that the pwa kongo (pigeon peas) become available in the open market. These will be harvested over the next two months and then not again until next December (late November). This is by far the favorite bean in Haiti – and we eat a lot of beans here. None compare to the pwa kongo, though.

Gwo Djak Garden

A lot of planting happens in December, as well. This is one of the MOHI gardens. As you can see, Jeff has planted many bananas and some fruit trees. Beans and some “American” veggies are on the way, as well. One of the biggest challenges gardens in Haïti face are wandering animals. After working full time for months to plant a large garden, a few loose goats can destroy much of the work. Jeff is working hard to keep the goats at bay.


Paul mopping the school floors.

Eight hundred students, two school campuses, and a missionary compound where we receive the many guests coming to work at MOHI, equals a LOT of maintenance! While our goals are much loftier (education, discipleship, job creation, healthcare, community development, caring for children as risk, and more), maintenance tasks (painting, landscaping, plumbing, electricity, building repairs, excavating to avoid the neighbor’s water that was diverted to us!, roof repairs, sweeping, mopping, cooking, cleaning, and much more) need to be kept up to date – even as we embark on new projects (sports complex, playground, and workshops for vocational training, to name a few).

Everyone likes to be a part of a new project, but certainly we can’t let the completed phases slip as we progress. Right? It is because we have great facilities, furnishings, supplies, tools, and staff, that we are in a position to prepare this generation for the future.

Junior cleans the solar panels, so they get full sun exposure.

As such, I would like to thank the many people who make regular monthly donations to keep our staff paid, our students fed, our communities healthier. Plain and simple: this mission would not be functioning without you. You are living out the Christmas message all year long with us. THANK YOU!!!!

I also want to recognize our maintenance staff – the ones who do the less seemly jobs that are most necessary to support all the activities here at the mission. The cooks, the bathroom monitors, those that clean, caretakers and security guards – chapo ba (hats off) to you!!!

A Few More Pictures

“Christmas is a time to stop thinking about yourself and what you want. It’s the season of giving!”

That’s baby Melissa, who was born under the MOHI welcome sign in Thozin. Have you ever seen such chubby cheeks?

Dr. Emmanuel examining a patient from another school.

Would you say she’s happy to be in school?

Sometimes it’s the only meal for the day

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