The clear rippling water transforms into a deep navy blanket as the sun sets on the horizon. The surface glitters a reflection of a million bright crystals. The waves reach the pebbled shore with a soothing melody.
In my mind I can smell the campfire frying fresh pickerel. I can hear the chatter and laughter of friends and family around the circle of picnic chairs. I can see the line of cars parked along the side of Mohawk Pt. Road.
This waterfront view I am witnessing is the same one I saw summer after summer growing up at my family's cottage, and yet as I look at the surroundings I am in today, it's so very different. To my left there is a field of plantain trees. Just beyond the trees I can hear a man showering under a hose singing a song in Creole (loudly - gotta love it). To my right there is a cement breakwall, which the gardener uses as a support beam for shelter with his tent. On the sides of the horizon, mountainous landforms are faintly visible over the saltwater mist.
Looking back at the sunset over the water, if I let myself, I am sitting around that campfire in the Northern town where I grew up, but in the same moment I am breathing in a reality of life on a Caribbean island.
It's amazing how my memories of life in Canada have overlapped to where I am today in Haiti. The sights and sounds engrained in my mind from childhood and teenage years often show up in the most surprising places in Haiti. Today I need to share how the Lord has surprised me in my day to day life, and the beautiful way my Canadian upbringing meshes into my life in Haiti today. Here's how:
Saviour, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
I had to catch myself for a minute this morning in church... Listening to the crowds of Haitian people, arms outstretched high, singing to the same melody I heard years ago, except in a different language.
I remember the first time I heard that song. Riding down the highway in the back of my friend's Grand Am GT. I remember the weeks following that first listen - reading the lyrics on the song sheet before Tuesday Night Live worship practice, and trying to move my fingers properly on the guitar strings to play it in my bedroom. Today, I was standing with a totally different kind of congregation and sing that same song again. What a wonderful sound it was.
A bright yellow Roxy polo.
I chose it as my one new shirt for starting grade 10 - mostly because of the blue embroidered symbol next to the buttons. 'Roxy' was known at my high school as one of the popular clothing brands, and my parents agreed to buy it for me as my back to school shirt. It was by far my favourite item of clothing for many months. But of course, we know that time passes and styles change, and it slowly but surely it made it's way farther and father back in the closet. In my trips to Haiti, my mom has found her way far back in the shelves of my wardrobe and sent bags of Broc and I's clothes for me to give away. The Roxy shirt was one of them. I found it in one of the bags and smiled to myself. This shirt deserved to go to someone special.
Now I see it at church being worn by Senson, the 8-year old boy who lives with his family in the mountains. He knows nothing about the over-priced tag that once hung from the hanger nor about the significance of that shirt in the hallways of my high school, but he wears it proudly just the same. The shirt may have been designed for girls, and it may be faded from dust and sunlight, but I think it looks better on him than it ever did on me.
A velvet couch.
I have mentioned this couch in previous posts. This is because it's earned a good reputation. It was purchased my my newlywed parents over 25 years ago. It's the couch that I would sprawl out on during the sick days of my school years while watching 'The Price is Right'. It's the couch that Broc and I would argue on about crossing the invisible line we created which allowed us to have our own space. It's the couch I would sit on while waiting for the school bus to come in the morning. It's the couch that my family members congregated on to watch the Survivor finale. It's the couch that my friends and I would whisper and giggle on into the early hours of the morning.
3 years ago, my parents helped me truck it to the van der Marks garage where it was then loaded onto a container and shipped to the landing port in Haiti. It was the first piece of furniture to enter my empty apartment. Now, it's the centerpiece to my living room. Indeed, the crushed red velvet cushions may not be ideal for a Caribbean island... The thick material and colour tends to absorb more heat than anything, however it still manages to attract a large amount of people who come to rest their feet. It's been the landing mark for many after a hot day, and the viewing platform for a variety of great movies and shows after dark. The velvet couch holds more memories than I can recount, and it's still going strong.
I could go on.
I think if I was more deliberate about it, I could write about another reminiscent I find at least once a week. I guess it goes to show that no matter where I am, a part of where I've been will always stay with me. These familiar pieces in the back of my mind pop up time and time again and I pause in wonder at how my life has unraveled and how the same strands stay woven into who I am. It makes me think about how these memories will continue to appear in the years to come. How someday I may be in a different place, and the memories of glass Cocacola bottles or rain pouring on a tin roof will time-travel me back Haiti in my mind.
Most of all, these moments cause me to look back on the road I've journeyed. I stand in awe at the sequence of events that took me from small-town Wainfleet to a dot on the island of Haiti. It gives me hope to believe that whatever twists and turns await as I travel this path, the Lord is guiding me step by step. It's His provision that supplies me with faith to press on, and it's His faithfulness which remains when all else fails. It's His goodness that allows me to be reminded of the ways He has walked with me in the past, and it's His love that spurs me on to all this is to come, wherever I may go.