So as per requests from the masses (actually it was only 2 people, thanks Kathy and Renee) I, Gary will make my first and most likely last attempt at being a blogger. Since part of my problem with writing is not being able to come up with something to write about, let alone something good to write about, I will keep the topic simple. Running. Specifically, the run I went on yesterday evening. Just to clarify before I proceed any further I should categorize my version of running as jogging.
First, I am currently not in running shape right now, and secondly running on the roads around our neighborhood is a guaranteed 4-5 broken ankles per mile. I am sure some folks who are reading this are thinking running, jogging, call in whatever you want Gary, “why in the world are you running in Haiti in the first place?” My answer to that question would be, attempting to maintain my physical fitness is one of the components for me to be a more holistic Christian. Before some readers start backing the bus up thinking that since moving to Haiti Gary is losing his mind throwing some hippie, new age nonsense out there, I will briefly explain. As Michaela and I spent many months preparing to make the move to Haiti I really felt God challenging me to become more well rounded as a person, most importantly as a Christian. I started to realize that if I wasn’t striving everyday to grow spiritually, working toward mental toughness, being emotionally well and physically strong, “holistic” if you will, I may miss out on some of the opportunities God has planned for my life. (Note to self, idea for next blog post: “Keys to Holistic Christian Living”).
Alright moving on, so my run started off a little differently than normal yesterday evening. I walked with Noah to our neighbor’s house, which is on my regular running route, so he could hang out with his friends Jeff and David while I ran. After getting Noah dropped off I began to run. The first mile felt good and had the typical atmosphere during every run I have been on since we moved into the neighborhood. Typical meaning, constant stares of disbelief and curiosity, talking, yelling, and whispering in Creole with the word “blanc” (white) mentioned frequently, as well as laughing, joking, and giggling as I pass by. The kids along the way are generally sweet with big smiles and waves of hello. I will even pick up a running partner for a couple hundred yards from time to time. Commonly at the end of mile one my brain starts wandering with boredom since I choose not run with music here. Both reasons for running without headphones are safety, first to better hear the crazy driving cars and motos, and second I don’t want my iPod to make me a target that changes my purpose from just running to running for my life. Although, running for my life could add quite an element of intensity in my run. (Second note to self: if missionary work does not pan out, great idea for infomercial fitness program, “Run For Your Life”). Despite the boredom, the first half of mile two is my favorite part of the run. A quiet neighborhood on one side of the road and a beautiful, well maintained fruit tree grove that extends for about a third of a mile on the other side. On this particular run I immediately notice a larger more eclectic group of animals than usual. There were cows, sheep with bad haircuts, several neurotic goats, a couple donkeys, chickens, dogs, and even a cat. I must admit I was slightly disappointed that on this day I did not make a spotting of the legendary black and white flying duck that inhabits the Santo area. It is kind of like our version of Sasquach, only a selected few have caught a glimpse of the elusive waterfowl. About the time I am leaving the grove, I suddenly realize that subconsciously I am about three animals into singing Old McDonald in my head, so I spent the next half mile trying to unburn the farm song from my brain. As I am coming to the end of mile two and plan to turn around to start the two mile return run home I realize I am in unfamiliar territory since I began the run approximately a quarter mile farther down the road starting at my neighbor’s house. I looked up briefly from concentrating on the rough terrain to see four or five somewhat ominous looking guys starring at me. For some reason I felt like Buddy the Elf walking into the mailroom, “Why does it smell like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me?” Thankfully the run continued without incident. I am learning more and more that starring in Haiti does not necessarily mean you are about to receive a beat down or there is food in your teeth, it is just cultural. Glancing down at my GPS watch and preparing to turn around I discover, to my chagrin, I have gone from familiar, to unfamiliar and back to familiar. I am less than a block from the Good Neighbor Orphanage! My thinking, since I haven’t talked to Johny (orphanage director) since to the birth of his new baby boy Michael on Friday, I should stop by. Once I got to the orphanage and spoke with Sophie (Johny’s sister) I found out Johny wasn’t around, so I started my way back. I still think Sophie is trying to figure out how I showed up at the orphanage sweaty, slightly winded, and with no vehicle. The trek back home was breezing along as I approached some teenagers who had started up a soccer game in the road since I had passed through earlier on the way out. I made sure to run out and around them as not to disturb play. Just as I had almost passed the game, a soccer ball with the velocity of a cannon ball went screaming closely behind me. It didn’t take long to figure out from the hysterical laughing that the ball was not an erred shot or pass to get the blanc involved in the game, but a near miss of the imaginary target they had painted on my back. Since I was thankful that they did not own a second soccer ball to reload with and the velocity generated first ball carried it what seemed to be distance of a quarter mile, no foul, no harm, right?!?
Well thankfully to say, I made it back to the neighbor’s house without further incident to pick Noah up. I think that pretty much concludes my first blog post, now Kathy I will be kicking back waiting for the dough to roll in. (wink, wink)