Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gifts Given, Gifts Received (Part 1)

We returned to Charlotte on June 24th, and re-entry has not been easy (possibly another story). But we've had some time to think about what we accomplished in our 10 months in Batey Lechería and, maybe more importantly, what we received.

We arrived as wide-eyed, excited Americans not knowing what to expect of life in an unfamiliar culture on a Caribbean island. We found a people easy to smile, thankful for what blessings they have, and willing to share whatever they have with these 2 American "missionarios". Despite our difficulty with the language, we found communication was not such an obstacle as we anticipated. Animated faces, vocal inflections, constantly moving hands, and the desire to be understood communicated just as much as verbs and nouns.

As difficult as daily living is for these people, they take comfort in family, friends, celebration, music and dance. They love their country and like to point out the highlights to visitors. We were often asked how we liked the land, the people, the food, the weather.

Lechería has its own special challenges. The Haitians and Dominico-hatians find many obstacles to acquiring schooling, jobs, and government recognition. Theirs is a life of desperate, daily struggle to keep their families fed, clothed, and, if at all possible, healthy. Yet, even under these conditions, we always found hope, laughter, life. Living for the moment is the order of the day. They can not worry about tomorrow, nor regret the past. Today is enough. What a challenge for us who come from culture where we plan everything from our careers and families to our vacations and retirement. But it is a lesson we bring back with us and hope to incorporate in some small way into our lives.