Thursday, April 14, 2011



Last Friday as I was in my home at Borel, Haiti preparing to get ready to fly home on Sunday morning for a few weeks of rest, meetings and speaking engagements I had a visitor knock at my door. This is a typical everyday occurrence that goes with my director's job and it always intensifies as my departure date approaches. Loveline our Haitian daughter came to notify me I had someone who wanted to talk to me, this usually means one thing someone is there to ask me for help with something. Much to my surprise though this person had come to bring me a gift or actually gifts.

My Haitian visitor who was a rather short, thirty something diver was from a beach area on the N.E. side of St. Marc. This is where we sometimes take our teams to swim on Sunday afternoons. Haitians are innovative and resourceful and he made his living by diving off shore for live conch
( lambi), lobster and occasionally octopus. The conch our doubly valuable because he can sell the shells as well as the meat that is inside to those who come to swim at the beach area. He called himself a diver and a chef. He wanted to inform me that he had traveled from St. Marc to prepare us Project Help missionaries a meal out of lambi and octopus.

It is not unusual for Haitians to bring or give you edible gifts, even live ones. I was once given a live goat for something I had done to help out a relative of an employee. Immediately after the goat was butchered I was informed my cook was preparing me a goat brain sandwich. I often order lambi at Haitian restaurants where it is part of a delicious Creole sauce. Once in a while I buy it raw from street vendors who preserve it in a spicy pickling sauce and put it in an old rum bottle from which they dispense it. I had never eaten octopus put I'm not squeamish about food nor how it is prepared and seeing how I was on my own for lunch that day it was a much welcomed gift. The other missionaries were in St. Marc buying groceries and were going to eat at a restaurant above the Deli Mart.

As I watched him prepare my ocean treat I learned the details that had brought him 30 miles inland to cook me a meal. The Sunday before our team and some of the missionaries had gone to the beach where he makes his living. Now normally we can drive to the beach but that day a truck had broken down on a very steep section of the beach road making it difficult to get pass that vehicle. So the transport truck was parked and the group walked to the beach as we had often done before the road was improved. One of the team members was wearing flip flops
(not good for hiking in Haiti) and as often happens the flip flop fell apart. It seems our visiting diver happened along and offered his foot ware to the barefoot team member and out of gratitude some money was exchanged. The diver wanted to give a little extra in return for the money he had received and as I said earlier Haitians are very resourceful people. So he also didn't miss the chance to give me a short sales pitch of how he could do this as a service for our teams. I wouldn't be surprised if you come and spend a week with us you might be eating some conch and octopus appetizers. SJM

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