Normally I wait till at least a week has gone by to post, but there are two missionary moments that I've had this week that I couldn't wait to share. Read on zanmi mwen (my friends)!
Living here in Haiti you meet the most interesting variety of people: those that live here and then those who make short trips to visit. On Monday evening I had the pleasure of meeting another one of the visiting groups. It consisted of five people from the Episcopal church, three of which were Episcopal priests. Now being a complete Episco-nerd, I was really excited to chat with my fellow Episcopalians. Through our conversations an interesting question was posed to me, "How do you feel about the term missionary, do you like being called a missionary?" I responded, "I have no problem with it because that's what I am." The others in the group responded with saying they like to shy away from this term because it's too often associated with converting people. They stated how what they really were there to do on missions was to be among the people and be present with them. Of course with my awesome training from Mission Personnel, I piped up saying, "Yes absolutely, the ministry of presence!" (Thanks David!) I continued by telling them that that's part of the reason I like being called a missionary, I enjoy trying to help redefine this term.
And really that's what this is all about, helping to show Christ's love through our presence here among the people. When we allow for those opportunities to let God step in and be present among our work, you never know what beautiful moments may occur. This leads me to what happened during my teaching at the primary school on Tuesday.
When I arrived at Holy Trinity that day, I was sent to go work with my group of flute students. I had no idea where our flute books were, so I made an impromptu lesson by using half of a chalk board I had found tucked away in a room. My students were having a great time learning the first five notes of the B-flat major scale. Then to spice things up, I decided to test them individually on those notes. The first two students were all-stars and played beautifully. Now it was down to the last two and we were trying to decide who should go next. I jokingly said, "Rock, paper, scissors!" To which I got some strange looks, seeing as that was English and my little friends speak Creole. But I was now committed to finding a way to teach them how to play rock, paper, scissors. On the fly I found a piece of paper, which they translated to papaye. I could motion scissors for them to understand that, but rock was still not translating. So I looked at my students and said, "Tann (wait)!" and ran outside to get a rock. I quickly learned that this was a wòch and proceeded to teach them how to play. By the end of the class my flute students now knew their first five notes of the scale and how to play rock, paper, scissors.
It was in those moments of teaching them to play such a simple game that we connected in a new way. I wasn't just the American who comes in to teach them flute a few times a week, I was now a friend with whom they could play games and laugh. I watched them run away giggling and knew that God was with us. It was a great day to be a teacher, and an even better day to be a missionary!