Creole: (n) a person born in Louisiana but of usually French ancestry.
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of leaps into quicksand, with the excitement coming from each escape from foolishness.
Would any of us truly have a reason for being if we weren’t finding creative ways to correct our mistakes?
For a very brief time in my life, I thought that because I possessed faith, it was my responsibility to infuse it into others. This misconception led me to make a brief missionary trip to the country of Haiti. Never has one small nation been so inundated with religious propaganda and promises of eternal life with so little prospect for earthly sustenance. Yet I decided to add my own drivel to the propagated myth. I arrived in Haiti convinced that if I preached the Gospel, I could save souls. It didn’t occur to me that there were actually people linked to those souls.
People who got hungry.
People who needed love.
People who valued romance.
People who just thought, felt and dreamed about “people things.”
I was in the middle of my third little sermon in an adobe building, in front of a packed house—eager faces who had obviously been told by their leadership that the arrival of white people from America always offered the possibility of financial relief.
The language was Creole.
I did not take the time to learn the tongue, but over the several days that I had been there, I picked up a word here and there—maybe even a phrase.
I suddenly noticed that my translator, who had a grin foretelling of sin, was not exactly sharing what I was saying to the congregation.
So after I finished my teaching, I cornered him and asked him what he was doing. Never dropping his smile, he looked me right in the eyes and said, “You come from a country where your biggest concern is getting too fat. You are visiting a country where our biggest concern is staying alive. Sometimes you say dumb things that would be offensive, and I just find happier ways to translate them.”
A chill went down my spine. Even though I believed myself to be a plain-spoken individual who always wanted to hear the truth, I kind of wished he’d lied to me.
But I’m glad he didn’t—because he made it clear that my preaching could not be eaten and my Bible verses didn’t provide warmth; that even though I might have good intentions, my efforts were worthless to the needy.
That day I started trying to learn some of the Creole language.
It was literally the least I could do.