I’ve just started my two weeks of language immersion. By the time your’ reading this, I’ll be fluent in Creole. Ha. Ha. I wish. But ideally I will be much further along.
I’m staying in Picot with a Pastor’s Family. Its one of our sister Churches. Its actually the first church I visited with a team. The idea is, with two weeks of only Creole, I’ll be “forced” into learning the language. Its not because I’m not already working on it- many of the missionaries in Cite Limiere go through this- and its just my time.
The Pastor is actually in school in Cayes so he is only here on the weekends (and Wednesday night, so he tells me) One of his daughters, Racamoline, age 22, was here also during the weekend but she is also in school in Cayes. During the week, its just his wife, his brother’s daughter and a little girl they have recently taken in. She was abandoned on the streets somewhere and was running around without clothes, food, shoes, or a place to stay. They guess she is about 7 but don’t know for sure.
So far, its been fun. I’ve been sick since I arrived but they are taking good care of me. I feel bad because I’ve been mostly sleeping but its been a rough grip (greep- or cold) and I’ve just felt completely drained. But Madam Paste (Past) has been so sweet and keeps bringing me juice to drink b/c she knows its good for colds b/c it has Vitamin C. True story.
Its customary for visitors such as my self to greet the church. When we travel with teams, each team member does it and often so do the RMI staff. Sunday morning in Picot was no different. Since the beginning I have been intentional about giving my greeting in Creole- the first several visits I would write out my greeting in English and have someone (usually my language teacher) help me translate it. I would then read it to the church. Since late summer I’ve been trying to do it on my own without writing it out first. I’ve managed but have always had the security of a translators standing beside me. This Sunday though I was translator-less. In fact, there was no one there who could really speak much English at all.
I was sitting towards the back of the building with Racamoline and when I heard the Pastor start his introduction of me, I shyly approached the pulpit to give my greeting. I got several Amen's- a customary response to any matter of agreement in the Haitian Church- so I felt like they at least understood what I was saying. I closed with the traditional ke Bondye Beni Ou (kay Bon-dyay benny eew), or God Bless You. And I went and sat back down, relieved. I laughed and asked Racamoline if she understood me. She laughed and said, “wi, tout moun te konprann ou.” “Yes. Everyone understood you”.
One of the hard things about learning Creole is that the Haitians speak it so fast. Its hard to distinguish one word from the next. Pastor Calixte told me that he was going to speak a little more slowly so that I could understand. He also told everyone in the congregation. Nice.
I did actually understand a good bit of what he preached. I may not have understood every word but I was able to get the sense of what he was saying. Sunday night I understood even more.
So far….so good. 1 day down. 13 to go.