Updated: Oct 26
What is power exactly? Is it wealth or education? When you think of power, what comes to your mind? Throughout history, power has always been something everyone is fighting for. Some want power and some want to stay away from it. For example, David and Saul: Saul was winning at everything in life, and things got even better for him when he became the first king of Israel. Before he came to power, Saul was humble, nice and respected the Lord. Then Saul changed after he got a taste of real power. Then came David. Again, humble, a shepherd, who adored the Lord and served Saul faithfully. We all thought David was going to learn from Saul’s mistakes, but power consumed him. There’s just something about being the strongest and the fastest at anything. At times people who feel that way think they own the whole world and should be able to do whatever they please with it. So, what does power look like in a third world country? Does it even exist?
We were supposed to be hosting a team in Haiti on July 7th, but it was canceled due to riots. I was in Haiti three days prior to the team’s arrival, to get things ready, and I was very excited about the team. It was a big one! Next thing I heard was that American Airline had canceled their flights to Haiti. I was shocked, because I did not know it was that serious. I usually don’t like to listen to the news on the radio, but I had to find out what was going on. I heard from the radio that the government had raised the gas prices by 38%. That means a liter of diesel would now cost $4, and a liter of regular gas would cost nearly $5.The reason for the price increase was because the government had agreed to reduce subsidies for fuel in February, as part of an assistance package with the International Monetary Fund. They did it to divert funds to social services and to improve tax collection, in an effort to modernize the economy. Well, most of the government officials did not like the idea, and they told the president not to increase the gas prices. From what I’ve heard from other Haitians, the president said, “I am the president of Haiti, and the people elected me, so I can increase the gas if I want to.” The thing is, that was the president’s second strike. You need to know that they don’t play baseball in Haiti, so there’s no such thing as a third strike. They get you when they feel like the time is right. The president’s first strike was when he destroyed a bunch of houses that were built next to his new home in Pelerin. Pelerin is outside of Petion-ville and it is a nice area. So whenever someone gets a little bit of money, they are most likely to move there. Anyway, he was not happy that the people were building next to him, so he destroyed their homes. The people were not happy, but when the gas prices increased, and they heard what he said, they went crazy! Fun fact for you: Brazil lost that day in the World Cup, and about 70% of Haitians are big fans of Brazil. Footból (soccer) is like a religion in Haiti. So you do the math. Destroy houses, plus Brazil being eliminated, and gas increase on the same day. That equals CHAOS, my friends!!
The president of Haiti uses his power one way, but are the people going to be different? Well, they were different. Pastor Etienne and I were out getting groceries for the upcoming team, and we just got back into the village when we heard what was going on in the country. The moment the gas increased, the people took to the streets. They blocked all the major roads in the country.
Pastor Etienne grabbed his radio and started listening to the news. We were shocked to hear what was going on in the country. I mean, we were just out there in town about an hour ago. But now, we couldn’t even get into the closest streets next the village. I was very calm because I thought things would be fine the next day. Come to find out, it was about to get worse. So, we all stayed in the village for two days, and no one went anywhere.
Things started to change for me because I was getting nervous. We had a missionary in Haiti for a month, to build our second team house in Dèyè Món. Now, we had to find a way to get him and me out of the country. Pastor Etienne, his sister-in-law and I got into the car from Gressier to go get Cliff, the missionary. We left on Monday, the 9th of July. It was on the road to the mountain village that I experienced what power the people have. We drove for about 45 minutes, and everything was okay. Then, all of a sudden, we were in the middle of chaos! We got stopped by a group of guys who had blocked the street with trees, rocks, and other cars they had parked horizontally in the street. They asked us for money; otherwise, they would not let us pass through. So, we gave them some money and they let us through. We did not even get half a mile away from them, when another crew stopped us. We also gave them money to let us pass. Then we drove for another 20 minutes and got stopped again!
So we passed that obstacle. Then we had a flat tire. I know what you’re thinking: perfect timing to get a flat tire! We stopped to change the tire ourselves. While changing the tire, I kept seeing a bunch of motorcycle guys around. They kept on riding back and forth. Little did we know, they had been watching us. We put the tire on and got stopped again, not even one fourth of a mile from where we had stopped to fix the tire. Oh boy, I was getting so stinking frustrated! I said a few things that were not very nice, and my face showed it all.