Three Months earlier…
Although you could see the poverty of the country from the air, a
sense of excitement filled Trudy as she felt the wheels of the plane touch the runway.
As she left the plane and entered the terminal, her eyes caught a rather small man
dressed in a priest’s robe. As she tentatively approached, Father Ben greeted her with
“bonswa” the Creole equivalent of “good afternoon”.
On the way to the feeding center, Father Ben thanked her for giving
a part of her summer, between high school graduation and college, to help the poor
people of Haiti. As they passed through the mud lanes that passed for streets, Father
Ben explained how the needs of the people were so great but he did the best he could
with what he had. On arrival at the feeding center which also served as the chapel as
well as the home of Father Ben, Trudy felt her jaw drop. This was not what she had
imagined. The building was a simple mud/brick structure with a covered patio in the
front. On the patio were some plastic tables and chairs that looked as if they had been
purchased on a KMART blue light special. On one post of the canopy, was a simple cross
that looked so lonely.
As they turned to enter, Trudy was introduced to a dark rather
large woman and her jaw dropped once again as Father Ben introduced her as his wife,
Bridget. She quickly tried to hide her surprise as Bridget’s beefy arms surrounded her
with a hug. There was not a lot of time for small talk as the crowd of hungry people had
already started to gather. Bridget took her by the hand and led her through the building
and out the back to the “kitchen” as Father Ben gathered her bags.
Trudy’s mind was in a whirlwind as she tied on the apron and
Bridget stirred the rice mixture. She could hear the soft spoken voice of Father Ben
leading prayer as the people lined up and the lucky ones got a seat at one of the
tables. The next two hours were a blur as Trudy served the food to the crowd. Tears
filled her eyes as her last trip from the kitchen was with empty hands yet there was
still a crowd holding out the empty wooden bowls. With a few words in Creole from Father
Ben, the remaining people stacked their bowls on the table and left without even
complaining. They would simply slump their shoulders and trudge away through the
The sun was setting as Trudy was shown to the tiny little guest
house/room in the back. She lit a candle and sat on the cot as the thought “what are you
doing here?” ran through her mind. After a shortened version of her bedtime prayers, she
blew out the candle and settled into bed.
It seemed as if she had only rested for minutes when there was a
knocking on the door. She could hardly believe her ears as Bridget told her it was time
to rise. The next five days were what seemed like one very long day. The pattern was
very simple and consisted of prepare the rice mixture, serve the meal until it ran out,
clean the kitchen, and repeat. It seemed like there was occasionally a few minutes of
having her eyes closed thrown in but, for the most part, it felt like swimming through a
sea of faces.
The next day was different in that there was no knocking on the
door early in the morning. Although she did not realize it, it was Sunday a day of rest.
The sun was well up in the sky when she heard a faint voice ask her if she was ready for
church. She could hear singing as she made her way out to the patio. Although she could
not understand a word, she could still feel the joy as the people sang in worship. After
a few songs, it became quiet and Father Ben read from the worn copy of the Holy Bible.
He read from the Book of John chapter six. He read the words about Jesus feeding the
five thousand and instantly translated them and spoke them in Creole. He explained to
the people how they came on the other six days and were given the rice mixture, but
today, they could receive the Bread of Life. The service ended with the communion
emblems being passed out and shared.
After the service, Trudy wandered the neighborhood and prayed for
the people. As she tromped through the mud, a little girl approached saying “manje
souple”. As she bent down to explain to the little girl that she didn’t understand, the
diamond cross that she was wearing dangled in the face of the little girl. The girl
reached out and clutched the cross and an amazed stare and smile came over her face. At
the same time, Trudy began to feel an uneasy twinge in her stomach. The scene was
finally interrupted by the girl’s mother calling “Fabienne vini!” The encounter
continued to play in Trudy’s mind as she returned to the feeding center.
The evening was spent talking with Father Ben and Bridget. Trudy
asked them what the little girl as well as her mom had been saying. Bridget skipped over
the little girl’s words and explained that Fabienne was the girl’s name and her mother
was telling her to come. After an awkward pause, Trudy asked what the little girl had
said before that. Finally, Bridget explained that Fabienne had said “to eat, please” in
Creole. The conversation then turned to Trudy’s future plans and her acceptance to law
school. Trudy explained that she was not really that smart but that her father who was a
lawyer had connections and had made a serious contribution to the school. As the
conversation ended, it hit Trudy that she was actually leaving in the morning to go
Trudy tossed and turned as the vision of Fabienne asking for food
played in her mind. She awoke early not out of excitement at departing for home but
because of the sharp pain in her stomach. She masked the pain very well as she said
goodbye to Bridget and left with Father Ben for the airport. As they said their final
goodbyes before she boarded the plane, she noticed a single tear fall from the corner of
No matter what Trudy tried over the next two months, nothing
stopped the pain in her stomach. The endless trips to the doctors were for nothing and
it seemed like everyone started to look at her as if she were nuts. For that reason, she
never mentioned the fact that she slept very little and always had the same dream. No
matter how much she asked God for the dreams to end, each night Fabienne paid her a
visit. The result was always the same with Trudy waking in tears and clutching the
diamond cross around her neck.
This day was much the same but with a slight twist. Although she
hated to admit it, Trudy didn’t know her Bible as well as she should but she finally
found the verse that she was looking for. She had awoke with “Matthew 6:19” on her mind
and was almost in a panic to find it and see what it said. As she read about storing up
treasures in heaven instead of here on earth, she realized that God had answered her
prayers but not in the way she expected. She clutched the diamond cross in her hand as
she remembered the day that her mother had given it to her. She remembered how her
mother had explained that it had been passed down through the women of the family
starting with her great great grandmother and now was Trudy’s as a present celebrating
her confirmation in the faith. She remembered the look of pride on her mother’s face as
she explained that it was priceless and could never be replaced.
As Trudy left the pawn shop, it hit her that she was going to have
a tough time explaining giving up the family heirloom. She counted again the stack of
one hundred dollar bills that she had received as she made her way home. She paused
outside and took a deep breath before opening the door. She could see the concern build
on her parent’s faces as she told them that they needed to talk. It seemed like no time
before the conversation turned into yelling and screaming. The yelling ended with the
words “you are not our daughter anymore” and Trudy running for the door.