Sunday, September 19, 2010


I slept at my apartment for the very first time last night. It was an uneventful night. I was in bed by 9:30pm and awake by 5:30am. I didn't know there were two 5:30s in one day until I moved here! (It gets dark by 6pm and the sun comes up around 5:30am--along with all the dogs and roosters.)I'll share more about the apartment later.

Today was a good day. I helped Willem serve breakfast at 36 (another guesthouse the Charles family runs), went to church, ate two wonderful meals with the Charles family, and walked to my house from 36. Actually I walked to 36 this morning as well. It's a quick walk, maybe 3 or 4 blocks by American standards. There aren't really blocks here though. Maybe I'll draw a picture sometime of my neighborhood.

The frustrating part of the day (and really in being here) has been communicating with others. I can say very few things in Creole. I'm limited to greetings, saying excuse me, and items found in a kitchen. I am picking up on the language--I've learned lots of new words in the last week. The problem is that the vast majority of the time I have no idea what people are saying to me.

After understanding absolutely nothing during church, I was greeted by almost everyone after the service. Mostly they said hello and shook my hand. I just smiled and said "Bonjou." It was quite nice to meet so many people. But a little old lady whispered something to me, but I have no idea what she said. Then, after leaving the sanctuary I saw my kids from Laboule. I was excited to see people that knew my name. I was able to say hello to them, but couldn't talk to them beyond that. I hope my smiles and pats on the shoulder were enough to say, "I like you guys."

At church I'm not completely on my own. There are at least 4 other people who speak English fluently (the Charles family) and some others who know enough to communicate simple things. If I really want to know what's going on, I just have to ask. The hard part comes when I'm on my own. Tonight when I got back to my apartment I successfully called Pierre Louie (officially "the yard man") to let me in the gate and even thanked him. I was all proud of myself for walking home and talking to Pierre Louie. I even said "Bonswa" to the neighbors who were sitting outside. A little while later when I was working in my apartment, Pierre Louie came to my door with this five gallon bucket. He said something to me, but I don't know what. I asked if the bucket was for me by saying "Mwen?" and pointing to myself. He indicated that it was and said something that sounded like lavatory. I said in English that I had no idea what he was saying. I must have looked confused because he pointed toward my kitchen and said something else. I just took the bucket from him, put it near the kitchen, and said "Merci." He didn't look satisfied, but he left the bucket with me.

I feel so incompetent. I'm like a little kid that needs constant supervision. In fact the only two things I've done on my own since I arrived have been walking three blocks to and from 36 today and teaching English at Laboule for a couple of hours. It's very frustrating not being able to communicate with the people around me. I definitely have a renewed compassion for people in the States who are learning English.

Now that I'm done throwing myself a little pity party, I'm going to get back to organizing my apartment.


  1. Timmy: It must be hard for you to not be able to know what other people are saying to you and hard for you to not be able to communicate that well.

    Ellie: I'm very curious what that bucket was for!

  2. Timmy, it is very frustrating, but I have been praying about it a lot. God is helping me to learn new words everyday. Yesterday after I was so frustrated, I went to the orphanage. After I taught the kids some English words, they taught me some Creole words. They are very helpful because they speak slowly for me and help me with pronouncing words correctly.

    Ellie, I found out the bucket is for water. We don't have electricity all the time here. He wanted me to fill the bucket with water in case the electricity goes out, and I can't get water from the sink. I learned all that from Johane, who lives in the top part of my house.

  3. You're doing great! Keep up the good work Britney!