Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pa Gen Lè…

JanelTime.  It is a value I hold dear, yet a value that is fairly non-existent in other parts of the world.  Haiti is much more event/people/relationship oriented, rather than time oriented.  In conversation here in Haiti, we typical add “ish” to our time frames.  For example, a US Team Member asks, “What time will the church service start?”  My answer…  6:30ish.  The reality is it will start when people show up.  Critical mass is required.

This morning, Janel. a young man maybe 18 years old, was coming to our house to work.  We are helping him.  He has nothing, no support structure, no family, no means… and so for a few days this week we are offering him some small jobs around our house for a little money.  He doesn’t come asking for handouts like so many others do.  He comes asking for work.  I appreciate his desire to work. 

He asked yesterday what time he should come today.  I told him 9:30.  He showed up at 8:35.  Upon his arrival, I stated in a somewhat annoyed tone, you are too early!  He responded, “Pa gen le”.  He doesn’t have a watch.  He doesn’t have a clock.  The reality is, he has no concept of what time it was.  I wonder why he asked me yesterday what time to come?

There is a part of me that respects this time devaluation.  Yet, there is a part of my that can’t stand it.  When it comes to production and development, time as well as so many other “order values” are required (priority, lists, time, organization, efficiency, systems, etc).  The American value system is built upon production values.  It’s the bedrock of our society that has allowed us to excel economically (at least historically!)  The Haitian value system is built upon people and relationships.  Which is better?  What are we trying to accomplish?  Economic development and production, or relationships?  What does Scripture have to say about this?  Clearly as followers of Christ, our endgame is bringing all people into right relationship with God.  But I believe the love of money/comfort/prosperity has derailed us.  It has derailed me.  I am a chief sinner.  There must be a better balance between the values of production and people, that neither America nor Haiti has yet found.

Seriously, do you spend more time chasing after money/comfort/prosperity, or more time chasing after souls?  I for one am convicted…


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