Today is the first day we visit with the deaf community of Leveque. What an amazing experience. Oh the mighty things God is doing for the folks living in this community. It’s like night and day compared to the community of LaPiste.
First let me explain the road trip to Leveque. It’s a short ride from our guesthouse in Cabaret, but there’s a creek you must cross, and the bridge is out. Has been for months, probably will be for many more months. It was a running joke the entire week that things in Haiti run on “Haitian Time.” Which basically means there is no rush to do anything. These people lead such relaxed lives, nothing like what we are doing in America. We are in such a hurry all the time that we don’t really take time to enjoy anything. Haitians make sure to pull every ounce of enjoyment out of every experience. We could learn a lot from this wonderful group of people. Anyway, so for the creek…it’s full of rocks. The poor bus would scrape and scream out in pain at the fact it was rolling over rocks that were never intended to be driven across. Madison and I also didn’t realize until the 3rd or 4th day that the seat we were in on the bus was the only broken seat. So while the bumps were felt by everyone on the bus, we were bouncing around like crazy because of our crazy broken seat. We chose to switch places with others after realizing that it was broken.
This is the creek. The picture does not do it justice!
The first thing we did when we arrived in Leveque was take a tour of the community. Each homeowner has a beautiful home(that’s right…HOMES! Not temporary! These homes have a concrete foundation, 4 strong walls, and 3 rooms!!) and a small plot of land, large enough for a family garden. The homeowner got to pick the home’s color, so the community is a beautiful, colorful place to live.
During our tour, we got to see the newest feature in this community, the water filtration system. This was opened just a few months ago (so yes, there were people living out here in Leveque with no clean drinking water…so desperate to get out of LaPiste and Port Au Prince, they didn’t care). They showed us how it worked, and explained that it costs about $.25 for a 5 gallon bucket of water. There is a local “Water Leadership Board” that consists of members of the Leveque community. They are responsible for maintenance, collection of fees, and basic management of the water supply. This is one of the things I love about 410 Bridge. They want the community to be responsible and take ownership of things such as drinking water. But they also take the time to teach them how to manage the money, so that when something breaks, they can fix it.
The children in Leveque were very different than those in LaPiste. They did not beg. They just wanted to play. While we were there, Madison and I were responsible for child entertainment. We did this with a few others from our group. We had what we called a “Bag of Tricks” and depending on how many kids showed up, we’d just pull something out of the bag and start playing. We played with musical instruments, beach balls, and jump ropes. Carlin also brought his radio, so we danced too! It was such a fun day!
While we entertained the kids, their parents participated in Sign Language Classes. I guess I should mention that there are about 150 deaf people in this community. All adults. The kids are not deaf. But they have never had formal deaf training, so they don’t know sign language. Annie and Lindsey spent most of their days in Haiti teaching sign language. They are both wonderful teachers and even managed to teach this girl some signs.
There was also some discipleship training going on in one of the homes in Leveque. See the guy in the “NY” shirt? That’s Pastor William. He’s the pastor the the deaf community, and he’s also deaf. We all had the opportunity to hear his personal story. I have a great deal of respect for him. What a wonderful man of God!
Just as before, I’m going to include the blog of the day from Lindsey.
Jul 14, 2012
“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The mouth of the Lord has indeed spoken in Leveque. The leaders in Leveque are listening to the Lord’s calling: to create a path and a way to Him in the shattered chaos we saw yesterday. And here is a highway to our God in Leveque! The deaf are living in permanently established homes with rooms for privacy while down a slope is where the hearing live, slightly apart from the deaf people. Thankfully, God promises that “every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Even God’s heart desires equality, and current prayers are needed for the hearing community to be raised up and be level with the deaf community. A bridge is slowly forming for the hearing and the deaf to merge and communicate.
And here we are, as a team participating in a beautiful story in the making from God. In the afternoon, we split up into three groups: one frolicked with the kids, while another shared biblical stories and how to gain eternal life through visual aids. The third group sat with a group of deaf folks, of all ages and finger spelled English vocabulary from pictures. Joyful energy emanated from deaf Haitians as they eagerly fed their desire to learn. The core message of the gospel is entirely relational, which was evident in today’s interactions. Robert cradled a sleeping baby (he was anointed with a “sign name” by two deaf girls on the team, as “Mama Robert!”), a child stopped to tie Carly’s shoe lace, and Berthide immediately embraced me when I greeted her for the first time. [A side note just to brag on her. Berthide has a regal quality about her and there’s a reason: she’s the most powerful deaf woman in the community and quite the driven entrepreneur as she has a jewelry business and recently started a coffee business. More power to women!]
The day was only the beginning. The glory of the Lord is being revealed in Leveque and there’s hope that all will come to see it.