I spent Monday with Marty and Cheryl Trepus and my dear friend Johnbern (JB). I haven't seen JB since July, so I was happy to reunite with him and to see a few familiar faces.
Russ Cole, 5 of the Paraguayans and the 4 of us met about the plans for the next week and the week after when the team arrives. Everything was going well until the Pastor mentioned something the people if the village had said that made us raise an eyebrow. We decided we needed to have a family meeting before making any more decisions.
The Trepus’, Johnbern and I met with the Pastor about five families that have been making the Village a living hell for the Pastor. We all prayed and decided to take some time to think before we met with everyone in the village.
A few hours later we came back and decided tomorrow was moving day. The attitude of these families was toxic and no additional money should be put into the black hole until they were gone.
Johnbern did such an amazing job translating and interrupting. I started the meeting and anger quickly ensued. In all my life, I have never heard so many lies about myself. Surely people have said things that are false, but this was ridiculous. “You forced us to move here”, “You told us you would provide everything”, etc. When the families moved in, we all signed a protocol of sorts to make sure they understood what moving to the village meant. It was a contract that stated that we were providing shelter and would facilitate things when available, but they were completely responsible for their own livelihood, healthcare, transportation and schooling for the children…among other things. The head of each family signed the document and apparently had amnesia about it yesterday. Johnbern had one of the bigger trouble makers stand up and was very direct with her.
“Have you seen this?”
“Did you sign this?”
Johnbern read it line by line to the people. They couldn’t say anything. Then he asked them if they knew what a contract was. “No.”
I’ve never been in such a heated situation. My broken creole was of no help.
One woman was so mad, she just kept screaming and I finally had Johnbern tell her that she needed to look me in the eyes and say what she was saying to ME and not to him as he was just translating. The whole meeting she wouldn’t even look at me… and that’s because she was lying.
It got so ridiculous, that I finally stood up and walked over to the fence. The song in my head was “We are standing, on holy ground…and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. We are standing in his presence on holy ground.”
After I sang, I walked to all the kids who were playing near the well. I just sat down with them and my heart was broken. This place isn’t ideal for everyone, but here these kids have a chance with the school nearby. In a place away from the dangerous camp life they once lived. I will miss them terribly. I sang Franck’s song to them in creole.
“I am a world changer.
I am a nation shaker.
God said it, I believe it and that settles everything.”
The interesting thing about all of this is that there were many people who just sat and observed. Not saying a single word. I even saw people in their homes walking back and forth to the well. It was clear by their actions that they didn’t agree with these few families and that they didn’t want to be a part of the negativity.
I am so grateful that Victory Compassion allowed me to have this day to sort out the plans for the group and to observe this. I’m glad the people could yell at me and not at Marty and Cheryl. They have done so much for Haiti and didn’t need to see this.
After talking in circles for two hours, we left the site while everyone was yelling at each other.
But you know what is so incredible? Joseph’s sister, Nerlande, was there the entire time. Joseph translated for us in October and December. He is such a gentle person with a sweet spirit. She has wanted to move in since December, but we didn’t have any space. After the meeting, I told her I was sorry for the people and understood if they didn’t want to move in.
“No, I need to move here. I need a place to live and I want to live here. When can I move in?”
She is the kind of person I want to work with. The others wanted me to work for them and that is not what I came here to do.
Today was moving day for the five families. I will miss the kids. I will pray for the kids. I will always love those kids. I feel honored and blessed to have been part of their lives for even a short time. I am brokenhearted that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to them.