Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memorizing Important Creole Phrases

Countdown: 2 days until I leave for Leogane, Haiti, where I will spend eight days helping my church rebuild an orphanage. During the day this week, I try to work and get things done, but it’s pretty hard: Haiti is on my mind.

In the past few days, I’m finishing up the final details before I depart with my team to Haiti. I am limited to a carry-on suitcase and backpack. I also will be checking-in a bag filled either with equipment for the mission or clothes for the children.

A carry-on, by definition of the airlines, must fit in the overhead storage compartments. I’m looking at the list of things that my church, Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California, told me to bring, and I need a bigger suitcase. Checking in a second bag involves cash, which I don’t have to donate to American Airlines.

Mind you, these items aren’t tourist stuff; they are things I need to work on the construction project. My suitcase will have a pair of swim trunks, but only because the ocean is nearby and just in case. The hotel we are staying in does not have a spa to be soaking in at night when we’re done working. The hotel doesn’t have a Web site to tell us about their amenities, but we’re told that not all rooms have air conditioning. I may or may not need mosquito netting. This is Haiti.

So I’ll be taking work boots, long pants, despite the 95-degree and 95 percent-humidity conditions, work gloves, safety glasses, a hat to shield my head from the burning sun, wool socks I purchased just for Haiti, and shirts that absorb the sweat better. I will have to tuck my shirt in, because that’s how those nasty mosquitoes reach your chest and back. We were told the mosquitoes are big enough to ride in some cases. If I’m lucky, the ones who pick me will be in training. Just in case, I have pocket Deet, 18 for the mosquitoes in training and 40 for larger fellows.

Then there are the things I’ll need for the redeye flight to Miami, the layover, and the final leg to Port-au-Prince. I’ll need a sleeping pill for the flight, water for the flight, a few snacks, and reading materials. I’m dressing in shorts for when I land in Haiti and the 95-95. I want to be cool when I land. Is it possible to stuff a cheeseburger into an already crammed backpack?

And then there is the list of Creole phrases given to us. I have yet to memorize any of the terms. A few of them are easy, because there is a similarity to French. “Bonjou” is “good morning,” “Bonswa” is “good afternoon” or “good evening.” “Wi” is “yes” and “non” is “no.”

Then there are the important terms. “Manje” means “to eat.” Maybe I should learn “Be careful of what you eat.” Naturally, I will remember “kwit-manje” because it means “to cook.” “Bwe” is “to drink.” “Mwengendjare,” means “I have diarrhea.” “Mwen anvi vonmi” means “I feel nauseated.” “Quick, where’s the nearest toilet” is not listed on the sheet. “Souple, ban mwen Kaopectate” means “Give me Kaopectate.” “Prese prese!” (“Hurry.”)

I looked, but I don’t see the phrase, “Jesus loves you.” I must find that out.

Now that I’m thinking about it, that’s my prayer request. Pray that I’ll never have to say “souple, ban mwen Kaopectate” while I’m in Haiti. If I never use that term, I’ll be happy.

At our team meeting last week, someone suggested playing Charades, because we may be playing a form of charades when we get down there and try to communicate with Haitians, who speak French and Creole. Do you think Haitians know what the pee-pee dance means? If I’m holding my stomach, and writhing in pain, do you think they’ll figure out what’s going on? I think I can work agony on my face.

I think I’ll keep my list of Creole phrases in my back pocket.

For more photos from Rose Duncan in Haiti, go to this link:

1 comment:

  1. I was going to suggest you bring Deet, but I see it's already on your list! You might want to bring a little flashlight, too, as electricity is spotty at best in Haiti, and there are no street lights (you'll get the most gorgeous view of the stars when you take an evening stroll). Be prepared for a nice -- er -- COOL shower, even in the hotel. It will be refreshing!

    Another good word to remember -- Merci (thank you).

    You'll have a wonderful time!