I had coffee with a little boy. That’s all it took to reveal to me what I love about Haiti. I knew there was something but impossible to tease that out of the heat, the dirt, the desperation. But there was something. I knew it. It’s why I keep going back. And then he sat down.
His father was across the room and kept a smiling eye on him while he ordered breakfast. Maybe because Peter is often friendly with strangers. He pulled up a chair to sit with this tired, language challenged blan like we had a date. Maybe we did. His smiling eyes didn’t ask for a thing. They just took a big look at me and the charm rolled out of him. He knows how cute he is. He sees me melting…his father knows and nods and laughs. Could he be any cuter? But it wasn’t just that. It was the beautiful spirit in this kid. In so many in Haiti. He possessed the self confidence and the friendliness to approach me, engage me and offer me his smile. What a boy.
And his father…absolutely no concern that his beautiful boy was dining with a stranger. And I didn’t worry. I knew I could share my food with him without a panicked apology of “oh so sorry he’s bothering you” coming along to interrupt this connection. Oh the freedom.
We’ve lost that in my home country. Fear paralyzes us and ties our hands in our life. We’re so afraid of “bothering” someone. Whether with our presence, our need, our politics, our religion…keep it to yourself, don’t be a bother. But.We’re.Missing.So.Much. To watch the Haitian people debate politics is a joy. It’s the freedom to debate knowing that we will love each other in the end. The freedom to disagree. The freedom to share our children and the raising of them with family and friends. And Jesus…we can speak of Him and be free of anger, accusations or guilt for mentioning his name. At least in the 10 years I’ve been visiting, it’s agreed that He was good. Period.
Is it the desperation here that feeds this freedom? A divided Haiti would seem to destroy the social fabric that feeds, clothes, educates so many. It’s community there. I’m certain there are huge social challenges in this as well. I’ll never know since I’m not fluent in their language. But there always are challenges, especially in religion and politics and family relationships. But for me, the blan, the outsider looking in, it was just so nice to look into those beautiful brown eyes, share a smile and some coffee before I left.