Thursday, November 6, 2008

Helen Johnson's Testimony Part 4

School Uniforms

One day we also distributed school uniforms, which had all been sewn at the mission’s Sewing Center. Once again, the people waited outside the gates of the mission. The staff members would call a child’s name (and we heard names like “Smith” and “Johnson”) and they would come forward, with one adult chaperone, and enter the grounds, where they would be seated and later called up in small groups.

We knew we wouldn’t have enough of all the sizes for all the children, but wanted to distribute as many as we could since school had been delayed throughout the country because of the hurricanes. It was really heartbreaking for us when a child would come forward for his/her uniform, and we had run out of their size. They, on the other hand, would just accept it, shrug their shoulders, and move on, as they knew more uniforms would be made and, in due time, every child would be getting their own.

We had brought a lot of candy with us, and we gave each child two pieces while they waited. After they received their uniform, the mission fed the children a bowl of corn mush and beans. We then sent them on their way with a piece of bread (baked at the mission), an orange (from the citrus orchard), and one more piece of candy since we had enough left over!

Sunday Mass

As with all functions at the Mission, the people gathered outside the gates for Sunday morning Mass. When they were allowed in, they walked in quietly, in single file and sat in the “pews”. The music is lively, but respectful, and the cantor has a great voice and, like most Cajuns, loves to use her hands! We also had a special treat that day, a Baptism. The little girl was just beautiful in her special white dress. When receiving Communion, the Haitians generally cross their arms, as they will not touch the Eucharist out of their deep respect and humility.

All in a Day’s Work

Life for the Haitian people, and the workday’s cycle, revolve around the rising and setting of the sun as they don’t have electricity in their homes. There is an underlying current at the mission; one of respect and love for one another, an atmosphere of mutual cooperation – team work. People know what their responsibilities are and fulfill them. Not that there aren’t disagreements or problems, but the people have been taught how to resolve conflicts when they arise. Fr. Glenn has a terrific group of Haitian men in charge, and he lets them run the show for the most part. He provides instruction and gives his opinion(s) to the men, not with an air of domination or superiority, but with an attitude of fatherly guidance, experience, and wisdom.

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