Monday, February 20, 2006

Troy's Excellent Adventure

On Saturday, I needed to go buy more water. (I wonder how many people reading this can say the same. But I digress, and it's a little early in the post for that.) We have a water filter that we'll be using to ensure our drinking water is safe, but I haven't gotten it set up yet - so, I had to buy more water. We get bottled Culligan water in 5 gallon jugs from a roadside store about 30 bumpy excruciating minutes away.

The pastor of the Lifeline Church, Pastor Rony (pronounced "wonny" - which is not his real name - but that's another story - like the car accident I still need to write about), told me that his wife needed to go to the same town I was heading to. I agreed to give her a ride and we headed off on our way. Isaac and Noah were along for the ride, too. As we made our way down the gravel road, I saw the director of a school that Lifeline supports and stopped to say hello. His name is Osnel. I asked him if he needed a ride anywhere and told him where we were going. He said yes and got in the truck with us, and we had an uneventful drive to the store. That's where it all went crazy.

When I got out of the truck, the Pastor's wife (Madame Rony, we call her) and Osnel got out too. Osnel and I began exchanging the empty water jugs, and the next thing I knew, Madame Rony was gone. I asked Osnel where she was, and he told me she went to the "mache". That is Creole for market, and I hoped that meant like a market across the street or something. But I feared he meant that she went to the actual Market, like where everyone in the region goes to buy everything they need on Wednesdays and Saturdays. While we loaded the water into the truck, a few Haitians gathered around, mainly to watch and stare at Noah. He of course put on a show for them, complete with yelling DADDY DADDY and rocking wildly back and forth in his carseat. White babies are apparently a real oddity here, especially crazy ones like ours.

I got back in the truck, and began questioning my friend Osnel as to the whereabouts of our friend Madame Rony. He speaks no English, and my Creole is still questionable. His Creole, however, is excellent, and he can apparently only speak it extremely quickly. I gathered through hand gestures and repeated phrases that she had, indeed, left and taken public transportation down to THE market. I realized at this point that I had no idea where I was supposed to have taken her, what she was planning on doing wherever that was, and how she was planning on getting home. Keep in mind that Pastor Rony is the sweetest man alive, and I was touched that he trusted me to drive his wife somewhere in the first place. And now I lost her.

Side note: I wondered at some point during all of this what this would be like if it happened in the US. I could only find it analogous in this way...The Pastor of our church at home (New Joy) is also a very sweet man and I consider him a great friend. He also has a wonderful wife who we think highly of, just like Madame Rony. His name is Rich Hubert, and his wife's name is Karen. (If you are from New Joy church or you are Rich and Karen, you already know these people:))
I couldnt' help thinking that even in the US, running errands with your Pastor's wife and then losing her would be a very bad thing.

Having no idea what was expected of me and my chauffer duties, I headed down the road to the market to look for her. There is no way to describe the market accurately with words. I can only say that it is complete sensory overload - there are throngs of people, a myriad of smells, and unbelievable noise. There are untold vehicles and pedestrians and vendors all vying for the same few square blocks. Did I mention the tables full of raw meat and the sweltering heat? It's basically the Minnesota State Fair on steroids with the volume and tempo and temperature cranked up. Needless to say, I was not excited to go down there, especially looking for a Pastor's Wife in a haystack.

Once we fought our way through the crowd and found a "parking spot" (more accurately - landed the truck on the curb between a bus and a telephone pole), the fun really started. Osnel got out and went to look for Madame Rony. That seemed to me like sending someone into the ocean to find a particular wave. I was now sitting with my two sons all by ourselves in the truck in the middle of mayhem. I wasn't nervous for the first fifteen minutes or so. Unfortunately, though, we attracted quite a crowd, what with the white skin and the screaming crazy boys and all. Isaac and Noah were putting on quite a show, and I was trying to keep smiling while the audience pushed in. Many people were reaching in through the windows. The truck was actually getting moved by the people pushing by. A seemingly nice man came and shook my hand and chatted with me about the boys. It was a relief right up until I realized he was drunk, and that he wouldn't let go of my hand. I got to hear about all of his political, religious, and social ideas and plans while he listed back and forth. Then the pitch came in, asking for money. Fortunately he was too drunk to realize that what I handed him was the equivalent of about two cents and he staggered off. I was getting a little anxious at this point. Then I saw Jean-Leon, the School Director from Lifeline. He is a very nice man who speaks some English, and we discussed my dilemma. He agreed it was troubling, and also agreed to help find Madame Rony, I thanked him and offered him a ride home once we were all back together.

Soon after, Osnel returned, but without Madame Rony. I was tempted to just leave at this point, but now I had two people out there waiting for rides home. I laughed to myself when I started thinking... "I started with a Pastor's wife. I added a School Director. I lost the Pastor's wife. Then I lost the School Director. Then I gained a School Director, but not the one I lost" and so forth.

The boys were getting hot and tired and so was I. Osnel left, and Jean-Leon returned once more. Still no Madame Rony. Eventually I had both School Directors there at the same time and made them both stay. Right when we were decided to just leave and trust she had taken public transportation home, the passenger door opened up and she sat down next to me with her bundle of goods like nothing ever happened. I could have kissed her. But I figured I was in enough trouble already, since my 40 minute trip for water had stretched out upwards of two hours.

During the ride home, I learned that Osnel never actually needed to go anywhere, but he thought I was asking him to go because I needed him. We all made it home safely and I decided to chalk it up as another reason to get fluent in the language ASAP. Hopefully I won't lose anyone else in the meantime.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support. It is in times like this that we're able to have peace and confidence, thanks to the knowledge of our mighty God who is by our side.