Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Way of the Father

Yesterday was quite the day in La Colline, Haiti. It started off quiet enough. I woke up around six o’clock and by six thirty was serving my parents (who are visiting!) French toast and my husband- eggs (he’s not fond of French toast.). At 7:30 Melen came and said she needed to go to Fondeneg.
Amos and I spent an hour at the hospital, then left for Fondeneg with a truckload of people. Sara, Melen’s 2 year old daughter, was sleeping when we got there so we sent my parents off through the market with Melen and Amos and I stayed with the truck and the baby. She woke up promptly enough so we decided to go out wandering with her. We bought some little lime muffins, a container of dry milk (we were running low) and a package of chicken bullion cubes (a staple in the Haitian diet). Amos told me at one point that Sara could probably walk if I didn’t want to carry her but I told him that it had been so long since I’d just carried a little kid around… He just smiled at me and told me I was cute.
We were getting thirsty so we decided to try one of the bagged juices (they sell water and juice in little sealed plastic bags here) that we assumed was like Kool-Aid. It was more like syrup. And the orange tasted suspiciously like banana. So, being the kind people we are… we gave it to Sara and went in search of a nice normal not-so-sugary Sprite.
Not too long after that, everyone made it back from the market, Mom with a big smile and a, “Wow, there’s a lot of people.” And Papa with a shake of his head and a, “Well, there’s no shortage of food in this part of the country for sure.”
It was around noon when we arrived back at the mission. We took a nice quiet couple of hours to get lunch on (rice and beans and spicy meat sauce). I finished reading “God’s Smuggler” to everyone. Afterwards we decided to go work at Anna’s house. She is a widow who has six children, whose house burned a while ago. The mission built her a new house but she’s been having trouble with rats coming in- so we are putting up screen to keep the rats out.
The men went down first and Mom and I followed a little later (she had to practice violin and I hadn’t finished my Bible study for that day yet.). It’s a pretty walk to her house anyway. We were there probably an hour when Selina showed up. I greeted him and he greeted me back, but he didn’t smile. In fact, he seemed agitated.
“Kote Amos?” (Where’s Amos?) He asked. I told him that Amos was there, just on the other side of the house. We started around when he suddenly turned to me and in broken chopped sentences that were half Creole and half English (I think I would have understood a lot faster if he had just stuck to Creole) he told me that there were tons of people at our house and someone had Amos’s cell phone.
Oh! Did I tell you that a couple weeks ago Amos’s cell phone was stolen? Well, regardless, it was. It was frustrating mostly because we have a lot of numbers on it that we needed and also because Amos has bad hearing and the borrowed phone we have now is much quieter.
I turned to tell Mom what was up and Selina went on to talk to Amos. By the time I made it over there- Selina and run through his Creole/English explanation and Amos looked as confused as I had been at the beginning. Finally I broke in and told him to go back to the house because someone was there with his cell phone. They left and Mom and I stood there with the tools. After a bit we decided that I would walk up and see what was going on and would come back it a few minutes to let her know.
On my way up I passed a couple ladies. I had to laugh when they began talking about me. They said,
“There is the white girl.”
“She walks very fast.”
“Talk to her.”
“She doesn’t understand Creole.”
At which point, I spun around and smile at them and said, “I understand a little Creole!” They laughed and laughed.
I came around the corner of the hospital and could hear a lot of talking. There was a group on young guys standing by the gate, looking up toward our house. As I came up behind them, one of them spun around- seeming surprised to see me. He rattled off something in Creole and everyone stopped talking. All I caught from his rapid speech was “understands Creole”. (obviously that was a little exaggeration.)
I went through the crowd and up to the other crowd that was inside the compound. There, in the middle was Amos, looking at his cell phone. He handed it to someone else and went inside to get the box to compare the UPS code. I walked with him and he informed me that it was definitely our phone but they had changed the S.I.M. card and filled it with trashy pictures.
He went back out with the box and I stood there for a second and prayed.
When I came back out everyone was down by the gate. Later I found out what had happened. Antipa, the kid that was helping Amos prove the phone was his (although I’m pretty sure that his is the only phone like that in the La Colline valley) was comparing the number from the paper to the number scratched into the gate (never did figure out how that all conspired) and when he said, “Yes, this is Amos’s phone.” And went to hand it to Amos- several of the guys from the other side of the gate reached over and forced the phone away.
Amos, bewildered at this response, back away. The guys went after Antipa, who was still holding the battery (you have to take the battery out to get to the codes on the inside of the phone). He back away from them and then dropped the battery in Amos’s hands as he went by.
A guy came through the gate and demanded the battery from Amos. Now, Amos didn’t know what exactly had taken place- everyone was speaking so fast and all at once- but he did know that whoever had the phone wasn’t using it for anything good. So, he made a decision right then that he wouldn’t give them the battery. He said later that if it was just a case of someone wanting a classier cell phone- then, well, whatever. Let them have it. But if they’re using our phone to take pictures like the ones he caught a glimpse of, then, no, he wouldn’t give them the battery. (in Haiti, it almost impossible to get a replacement battery)
Well, I was standing right there and Amos handed me the box that was in his hands. The guy demanded the battery, again, and Amos said, again, “No.” So the guy went after it. Immediately, three or four hands closed over his. His friends, who were helping him. The guy tried desperately to pry the hands apart but Amos said that he couldn’t have let go if he wanted to- the others were holding his hand closed. He pulled everyone over to a tree where he could get leverage, then he twisted his arm up and out of the group. He walked away from the crowd, up to the house and then turned the battery over to someone else. He told him, “I can’t understand enough to figure out what’s happening. You hold on to this.” Then he went back out.

Right about then Melen came over and said she was calling the police. We were a little flabbergasted. But as soon as word got out that she was on the phone with the police (actually, the police weren’t there- she was just talking to Frisno, the hospital administrator) all the young guys dispersed.

Then it happened. Amos was sitting there talking to the guys who had helped him (who were now arguing with each other because they both thought it was the other’s fault that the phone got away) and one of them was holding a glass bottle- which he smashed. I’m pretty sure that if Amos had said, okay, they would have gone after the phone and fought until blood-shed. But he turned to each of them and said, “Okay, listen to me.” Then, carefully, in halting Creole, he said, “Do you know what I’m here? I’m here because Jesus loves me and Jesus loves you and Jesus loves everyone. I want my phone. I don’t want it used for the bad things it was used for. But it has no eternal value. People have eternal value.” Then he asked for the jagged edged bottle. The boy nodded and surrendered it.
Then, over and over- person after person- he got to say the same thing… “Jesus loves people. He died for us so that we can have eternal life.”
One man came up (news travels fast) and told Amos, “You are my friend. All the time you drive by my house and you smile and wave. You have joy. I know it is because of Jesus.” As far as we know- we’d never met him before. I remember seeing him but never meeting him.
One guy said, “I know that you do not give give give like we ask you to. But if someone needs then you give. You are our friend.”

Over and over. Person after person. “You are my friend, Amos.” And Amos saying, “Do you know why I’m here? I’m here because of Jesus….”

As we lay in bed last night, Amos turned to me and said, “Tasha, do you realize that since we got here I have tried and tried to tell people what I said today and they haven’t ever stopped to listen. There were a dozen times when I would have gladly given $200 American dollars (the cost of the phone) just to tell them about Jesus without forcing them to listen.”

And I thought, “Isn’t that just the way of the Father?”

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