My 7th Day Adventist Sabbath Experience
We are meticulously cared for except for on Saturdays, by Mother Ivy an eighty something, die hard, 7th Day Adventist. She's the kind of non-compromising traditionalist that causes the eyes of my staunch fellow Southern Baptists in America to glaze over because of her many rules, rituals, regulations and her devotion to our Saturdays as her Sabbath.

Madame Ivy, is founder of our mission work
We eat from her table
Food prepared by her hands
She waits on us hand and foot
On legs that have never tasted pants.
What God does she serve to make her
Such an inspirational and mighty woman?
The other missionaries spit out the words
Seven Day Adventist with raised brow undertones.
Yet the Holy Spirit in me says
If I was good enough to eat her food and sleep in her bed
Then I was good enough to go to church with her.
Oh what I an outing.
I found...
Same Bible
Same God.
Same Jesus
Then something strange happened
The people stood up
Church, I thought was over.
As we exited, some of the adults received a rock.

Mother Ivy took one and gave it to me.
Then took one of her own
I followed her into the next building.
We sat down
Someone prayed in Creole
An usher took my rock
Which I discovered was used as a counting system
Then Mother Ivy got up, walked away, leaving me sitting.
She came back with a white metallic bowl
Like my grandmother used to use to shell and snap beans in
Mother Ivy bent down, slipped off my shoes
And began washing my feet.
My soul leapt inside of me like Peter
“Noooooo I can't have you wash my feet1”
I'm not worthy to have this saint
This Mother Teresa like figure wash my feet.
She continued, so gently anointing me for service
She like Jesus was loving me not as a religion
But as a person.
Mother Ivy, her task complete
Sat down.
Oh Jesus help me
My hands trembled
It was my turn to wash hers.

It's hard
“Mother Ivy, how did the mission get started?”

Mrs. Ivy is my Mother Theresa of Haiti. Her life has been absolutely amazing yet her humbleness, as befitting any saint, makes it difficult to gather all of the details. In addition her folk hero status within the village community often leads to a myriad of embellishments about the life of their living folk hero. What little of the story I have has been pieced together, here and there through the 10 years of my work on the mission field as one of the first African American female missionaries to the impoverished remote mountain village of Ranquitte-Calhoun Spady, Haiti. Mother Ivy, twice a widow, is now way into her eighties becoming arthritic and is extremely hard of hearing. This also makes gleaning her story a challenge because at any moment, with a furrowed brow, she may lean forward and loudly announce, “What? What? I can't hear you. I am getting old!”, abruptly ending ones audience with her by fanning though the air with her well worn saintly hands. One year to my amazement and to the amazement of all of the other missionary's she let me interview her. She told bits of her story. She shared without a translator.

“My first husband disappeared one night many years ago, ‘they' came and got him and killed him. My sister and I escaped to America for a while where I learned my English. I went to nursing school and when it was safe for me I returned home to Haiti. I would sit here on my porch. And I got tired of seeing the tiny coffins of children paraded by my house as baby after baby died in the village. I couldn't just sit idly by and watch. But what could I do?

Mother Ivy searched my face as if I had the answer; then she continued.

“I invited some of the new mothers to my home and taught them a little of what I learned at nursing school America about nutrition. I showed them how to cook beans and rice to keep the babies alive. There were fewer coffins going by, but before long as the babies became toddlers, the young mothers didn't know how to watch and protect them from the open fire. It is hard here. Some times the children would be so hungry that they would reach in the fire for the food and receive severe burns. That's how I was discovered. I had gone into the city to buy guaze and medicine for a child who had been burned badly. Some Americans on holiday in Haiti were told to come meet me. Someone had shared with them about the work I was doing up in the mountains. They took pity on me and my children and went back and told their friends in America and that's how it all got started.”

‘Mother Ivy, what is your greatest accomplishment and your biggest challenge here in Haiti?”

“What? What? Miss Yolantha speak up I am old I can't understand you.”

I raised my voice like I used to when I spoke to my 100 year old grandmother when I was younger. “What's the best thing and the worst thing that has happened to you?” I shouted as respectfully as I could.

“The thing I am most proud of is that I have started a sewing class where the women are learning to make things that they can sell in order to support their families. But we have no electricity so we need foot pedal sewing machines. They are so expensive. They cost any where from 250 to 350 U.S. dollars in the city.” (the monetary exchange varies from 7 to 10 percent higher in Haitian money)

Mother Ivy continues in the same breath, “The lowest point?” Some years ago a little boy came up missing. The parents couldn't find him anywhere. The whole village was out searching for the child. A few weeks passed and the child was found.”

She looked deep into my eyes. “Some people in another village had roasted him and eaten him. It is hard here Miss Yolantha. Very hard.”

Leaving Day
It was leaving day. Oodles of children chased after our truck. We drove away sparking up dust from the parched roads. One by one the little children dropped away except for one ebony bronzed boy, running with the determination of an Olympic champion.

The little boy ran reaching for me shouting, “goodbye teechuh, good bye teechuh! I reached for him as the truck began to increase speed. He jumped up and high fived my hand. “yes Jesus loves me.” he grinned up, running, huffing and puffing. Bobo America, Bobo!!! bobo America, Bobo!!!”

Our engines sped along leaving the little boy with his nakedness as he grew smaller and smaller along the horizon as our truck drove further and further away. I was silent for the 12 mile ride to the airport in Pignon. Upon arrival at the airport, I could still feel the sting of the running boy's hand in mine. When I finally reclaimed my heart I asked one of the translators, “What did the little boy mean when he shouted at me 'bobo, America, bobo!!!'”

The translator leaned in real close to me and said, “the little boy was telling you, “KISS AMERICA, KISS!

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