Adjusting to Haitian Life

I’ve been in Haiti for a few days now, and the adjustment has and hasn’t been easy for me. There are a lot of things I’m still wondering about, but there will be a separate post dedicated to initial questions, primarily about, “Do they do this here?”-type stuff.

The biggest hurdle I’m still trying to jump over is by far the language barrier. There are only a few Haitians I’ve met who speak English, and most of them know enough for me to be able to have a conversation with. And there is also one American (a Hoosier, no less!) I’ve met, Rose, who everyone thinks is my sister because we’re the only moun blan (white people) here. šŸ˜€ Rose doesn’t live with me though, so I’m struggling to be social–which if you know me even a little bit, isn’t like me at all. Part of me wants to try to talk with the Haitians, but I don’t want to annoy them or be thought of as that stupid American who came down here with no language experience. I know some French from way back in middle school, and I’m picking up some Haitian Creole, thanks in part to an online program I’ve signed up for. I am able to pick out a few words and kind of get the gist from that, so that’s helpful around the house. Just the hardest part, for me, is most definitely the interior struggle between wanting to be social and not knowing the language to be able to be social.

I went to Mass yesterday with Phaimie (a Haitian co-director here at Matthew 25) and Memen (the cook), which is where I met Rose. She and I hit it off I think pretty well, thanks in part to the fact that we are the only moun blan here, but also since she is friends with Michelle (the girl who had this position before me and who is a friend of mine from back home). Mass was pretty similar to the ones we have back home at OLMC, except obviously it was said in Haitian Creole. Minor differences included touching the backs of people next to us for a blessing (I think?), crossing arms when going to Communion, the Body of Christ was dipped into the Blood of Christ then received on the tongue, and according to Rose, the first Sunday of every month, Adoration of the  Blessed Sacrament is held immediately after Mass. And I, as the newest person at the Church, was invited to stand up and go to the front of the Church at the very end…that wasn’t awkward at all…I’m just glad they weren’t talking to me because I would’ve only understood a handful of words!

The food is bomb. I totally plan on doing a post about the food later–I’m writing down every single thing we have for every meal for every day. Expect lots of pictures and potential drooling over how good it is.

Other than that, life is essentially the same as it was back home. Everyone is friendly, coffee in the mornings, Mass on Sundays, doggies (and goats!), cute guys (sorry mom…I promise they’re just eye candy), adorable kids everywhere, and there’s a pretty typical routine (in this case, breakfast is at like 6, lunch at like 2 or 2:30, and dinner at 6:30ish, with work and relaxation in between). One of my favorite things, though, is that they greet with kisses on cheeks–YES! I love it so much! The first cheek kiss I received was from a little boy (maybe four or five) after Mass yesterday. So precious!

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