Monday, September 14, 2009

A Day in the Life

Some of you probably wonder about our daily routine.  So far, there’s no such thing.  Our classes are still being scheduled and so we have been instructed to “acclimate.”  This principally involves reading edifying texts (on Haitian culture, history, and agriculture), learning Creole, and meeting people in the village.  Right now, the only constant from one day to the next is waking to the church bell between 5-7 AM.  Even this has varied wildly.  Sunday Mass is scheduled for 8 AM.  During the week it’s scheduled for 6 AM.  Yesterday (Sunday) it began at 7:45 AM.  Today it began at 8 AM.

So here’s a description of last Friday. That day we were expecting the delivery of a container shipped from Florida containing computers, supplies, our furniture, etc.

1.    7 AM – Breakfast at rectory after Mass
    A.    We eat spaghetti containing:
        a.    tomato sauce (thick)
        b.    noodles
        c.    meat? (maybe just bones)
        d.    hard boiled eggs (garnish?)
        e.    Side note: this, while unusual to American tastes, is preferable to the cow heart Andrea mistakenly put on her plate and ate for breakfast this morning

2.    Unable to work on Fr. Medenel’s computers before 10 AM so that the “battery can charge.” Battery does not charge.

3.    Study Creole in stairwell—ten degrees cooler than the rest of the house
    A.    Andrea despairs over conjugation & word order of verb “to give”
    B.    Discover that wife of Wally Turnball—author of “Creole Made Easy”—published an accompanying and FAR superior text.
    C.    Mock “Creole Made Easy”

4.    Andrea prays on balcony, ignoring cries of “blanc!”

5.    “Fix computers.” Internet disabled because of “too much downloading.”

6.    Lunch with deacon and seminarians
    A.    The deacon (“Diak”) asks many baffling questions about some song
    B.    WHAT SONG????
    C.    Only Diak knows.
    D.    “Ti moun” (child) enters scene and plays percussion with the silverware
    E.    Conversation ceases
    F.    Side note: Diak loves to talk and seems unconcerned at our total lack of comprehension. This morning at daily Mass for the elementary school children, he delivered a thundering half-hour homily  
    G.    Drank Coke

7.    Return to house high on caffeine

8.    Begin writing blog entry, amid giggles and hilarity

9.    Diak interrupts—waits awkwardly outside

10.     Diak again attempts communication.
    A.    We understand only “container” and “150,000 Gouds”
        (Gouds = Haitian currency)
    B.    WHAT?!
    C.    Diak confused and seemingly afraid
    D.    We ask if we can speak to Fr. Medenel
    E.    Diak does not understand

11.    Call Fr. Medenel
    A.   Discover that we need 150,000 Gouds as a “deposit” to release the container from customs in Cap Haitian
    B.   The paperwork taken by hand from Port au Prince to Cap Haitian to Fort Liberte to Cap Haitian proves useless- expired
    C.    The bishop, monsignor, and various priests unable to prove that the container is for a Catholic organization

12.    Return to rectory to contact HBHH

13.    Accompanied by Diak
    A.    Inexplicably, Diak explains that someone named “OOG” has been to a grandfather’s funeral
    B.    Confusion ensues

14.    “OOG” found slumped on dining room table.

15.    Awakens, Diak performs introductions

16.    Charming conversation with Fr. Hugh, Haitian priest studying in Rome.

17.    Return to computers
    A.    Solar panels unable to function despite Sahara-like conditions
    B.    No power
    C.    Celine Dion on radio AGAIN (it seems her heart will, in fact, go on)

18.    Impulsive playing of Canon in D and Heart and Soul turns into pencil-guided assault on low clef—entire rectory participates

19.    Jack prays

20.    Andrea finishes “Gardening in Fiji” and begins “Two Ears of Corn”

21.    HOT ANPIL (ridiculously hot)

22.    Read and study Creole until nightfall

23.    Ti moun heralds arrival of Frederick (Haitian head of the HBHH agriculture projects)

24.    Return to rectory
    A.    Greeted by Frederick and his assistant, Marius in utter dark
    B.    Fail to recognize both, but respond with cheerful “Bon soir”
    C.    This followed by awkward “Mwen regret”
    D.    Taciturn Frederick, taciturn

25.    Meanwhile, Fr. Medenel returns with 20 foot plank tied to truck; propane tank and diesel container attached

26.    Attempt description of our future garden w/ Fr. Medenel & Frederick
    A.    Cucumbers insurmountable concept
    B.    French Dictionary no help
    C.    Frederick concludes we mean squash or carrots
    D.    Fr. Medenel fascinated by word “trellis”

27.    Dinner

28.    Again attempt to contact HBHH via computer. Gmail loads after fifteen minutes

29.     Urgent cries, splashing water, and repeated calls for “Jakline” draw us to backyard

30.    Generator on fire—located directly beneath missionary apartment

31.    Andrea returns to computer and describes container problem to Mom, Exec. Director of HBHH

32.    Mother calls:
    A.    Bishop
    B.    Haitian ambassador

33.    Return home (not to apartment)
    A.    Bat in house
    B.    Search for water leads to 4” cockroach
    C.    Andrea slaughters it with shoe
    D.    No water- Fr. Medenel verifies and brings “keke bukeet”
    E.    Second cockroach—Kenneth Cole no match for Keen’s cockroach-hunting abilities
    F.    Bucket showers all around

More adventures to come,

Jack & Andrea


  1. I am completely dying of laughter! You guys are AWESOME!!

  2. Little did we know that all of Jack's time in darkened basements making computers out of chewing gum and tinkertoys would serve God's larger purpose.

  3. Wow.. this is so funny to hear. Jack you have a gift for telling stories. We are thinking of the both of you! Beckie & Steven

  4. Hey guys!! I love your stories as well :)
    Im taking your car in today for an oil change...and to get the trunk fixed (haven't done that yet, oops) But don't worry I'm taking good care of it!!

    I miss both of you and am praying for you every day! :) Good luck with the electricity, water, internet, getting your stuff, creole, and everything else!