Normal or Not
The team from Covenant Day School arrived at MOHI in Haiti last night and shared with our church in Thozin this morning. We are excited about getting going again on the aquaponics project in Thozin in the morning. Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook to see photos of their time with us this coming week!
How wonderful for me to be back home in Haiti!!! The weather has been lovely. Our students, staff, and friends seem to be happy to see me. I'm certainly happy to see them! I've been working from an office in the library and that has been so much fun.
Friday was my first day back to the school and it was "color day." The preschoolers were all in the Gathering Place having their normal Friday physical activities time. Dancing, clapping, singing, laughing - I could have spent my day there watching.
Later in the day they all came into the library with their teachers. I'm not sure what THEY had planned, but I just HAD to read to them. That is what grandmas do. Right? I think one of my purposes in life may be to make sure kids love books. My time in the States this year has been focused on that, as well!
Yes... that was my grandma moment. →
Back to Haiti now...
The interaction was just so enjoyable - for me! I must say, I am so impressed with the work our preschool teachers are doing. It's still the beginning of the school year and I heard no crying (except for one of the teachers who was telling a story) and the children were all happy and obeying right away. It was incredible to watch.
Soooooo - I grabbed a book... "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. Now, I was never educated as a teacher, so I know very little about all the tricks of the trade. I was a student once though. I actually remember a teacher in elementary school talking to us about how much you can learn about the contents of a book just by looking at the cover. So, that's where we started.
Now, if you look at this book cover and I ask you what's on it, you're likely to say a mouse, cookies, a crayon, a piece of paper. That's not what the preschoolers said, though. They all responded - a "ti komik!" - that is what they call animated figures - or a cartoon character. So I asked what is the cartoon of? The answer? Even though I'd read the title many times (AND translated it into Kreyol each time) some thought it was a dog and most thought it was a cat. We probably spent 5 minutes coming to the conclusion that this was a mouse. THEN I needed to convince them that it was okay to LIKE this mouse, even though NO ONE likes mice, because they eat our food and our important papers and our plastic container and...
I decided at this point that I needed to back peddle a little and I started explaining the difference between real things and imaginary things. This book was about an imaginary mouse.
The premise of the story is that if you offer a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask you for something else - a glass of milk, followed by a straw, followed by a napkin...all the way to the end of the book where the mouse is thirsty from all the work he ended up doing and he asks for a glass of milk again. Of course, he needs a cookie to go with the milk, though. Right? Really cute.
This book happens to be written by a woman, so I told the girls that some of them, when they grow up, may write books, too. I could tell by their reactions that most of the girls were shocked to think they might be able to do that one day.
I had a grand time hijacking their library time. What a joy! I also learned a lot myself.
So many things that I might assume as common knowledge really can't be assumed when I'm in a foreign culture. Most parents don't read stories to their children here. Most don't even have access to story books. The children don't understand that not all things written are real or true.
When we first came to Grand-Goave, I can't even tell you how many times I was asked if people REALLY walked on the moon or if it was just a story from a movie. Think about it! How would one know the difference if they never read story books?
Haitian Kreyol is not a detailed, descriptive language like English or even French, so answers often lack adequate detail. Most school lessons are learned by rote memorization. I found that when I would ask leading questions - like, "And here is a blue crayon, right?" the children would automatically respond in agreement. The crayon was actually red. They know the color red, but they weren't listening attentively and processing what I was saying. They were giving the response they thought I was expecting to hear. This is common even in adult culture here.
I am not interested in bringing American culture to Haiti, but I am interested in bringing Kingdom of God culture to wherever I am! Some cultural things really do need to change. Not because American is better or Haitian is better, but because sometimes they are just in direct opposition to the Word of God!
I had the pleasure of addressing the church's women's ministry this morning in Thozin and this was one of the things we talked about. We were able to identify some specific cultural beliefs that, as Christians, we need to reject in our lives. For example, in Haiti we tend to admire strength and power. We show great respect to people who are powerful or who are perceived to be strong (intellectually, spiritually, or physically). It may even be common to look down at people who we perceive to be weak.
This is not a Christ-like perception, action, nor attitude to hold onto. It may work culturally, but remember God is the foundation of our faith, not any person or people group. We don't turn from Jesus because of someone in the church or because our spouse didn't want to do or wouldn't allow us to do that right thing. We turn from Jesus when we decide what someone else thinks of us is what's most important to us. We turn from Him to be like everyone else.
If we let society see us as weak, they won't respect us. Right? Possibly. But if we acknowledge our weaknesses to Jesus and to one another, what can we expect the result to be? Look in the middle of 2 Corinthians 12:9, "...for My power is made perfect in weakness..." (NIV) " or "...My power works best in weakness..." (NLT) Isn't it when we finally admit that we can't that we actually see evidence God's power? Pride keeps us from admitting our weakness. I want to drop the pride away and witness God's power in and through me! How about you?
Are there cultural beliefs where you live that you've always adhered to because that's what's normal? If you search, I think you will find there are. Some are very subtle. Let's not undermine our faith and our desire to follow Jesus by accepting and acting out the "norm." We are in Christ and Christ is in us. I pray the Lord will use us both to glorify Himself and to demonstrate His power for others to see and believe.
Please remember our Annual Peanut Butter Drive is going on right now! Please contact us to find a drop off point near you or for shipping instructions. Thank you!