Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Story Time

There are many times in a month when we hear stories that cause us to wonder. We usually need to just play along, hear the story through to completion, then get away and psst psst psst about it. There are times when we're dying to say "WHAT!?!!?" a donkey changed into a man and back into a donkey??? But the stories are told with such a certainty and we don't want to be disrespectful, so we listen quietly.

A lot of times it is just the cultural things that we'll never get -- or, as Tipap says, "Haitian system." Other times there are things that are profoundly sad - things that help us to better understand some of what goes on in the lives of our neighbors.

This morning we were chatting with Jeronne. We've grown to love her and are so impressed with and blessed by her work ethic and her sweet, loving spirit. We want to try to find ways to impact her life far beyond the time that we're here. We're praying about what that might look like.

As we chatted we asked her if she had any interest in learning the Rosetta Stone English program, that if she wanted we would teach her how to use the computer and get started. We have told her we want our kids to improve their Creole from talking with her, and if she is interested she could learn some basic English to communicate with them that way as well.

Her face was serious and she told us this story ...

When Jeronne was little, about 3rd grade, her book bag was taken. Whoever took it brought it up to Desarmes, a mountain village many hours from LaDigue. When the book bag returned it had money in it. Her Grandma made her throw the money away along with her school books and bag because her Grandma said a curse had been put on that money. Jeronne went on to tell us that she could never learn after that. She said that she quit going to school after fourth grade and never again could she learn, due to the curse. She said she does not think she is smart or able to learn. This story was stated as fact.

The stories of the damage that superstition can cause are heartbreaking. Jeronne is 36 years old and she has believed she cannot learn for the majority of her life. There is no truth to it. The woman is capable. She is smart. She is hardworking. If she sees me do something once, the next day she has done it before I can get there to do it. She has the ability to learn.

Troy told her that maybe - like her Grandma said - there was something bad about the money placed in her bag (trying not to dismiss the story) but that he believed in her and knows she CAN learn and that we would help her if she wanted to try.

This is the stuff that breaks our hearts. People walking around believing total nonsense about themselves due to superstition. If it is the last thing we do, we will convince Jeronne that she is capable and smart and CAN learn.