Guesthouse Sonata - By B. Denise Hawkins, M.A.
My final day at the FLM guesthouse is approaching. I am leaving Haiti, but nothing about my pace that morning indicates I am set to go. Birds call and roosters squawk, as Haiti begins to stir. I am awakened by voices that I have happily grown accustomed to during a week that was much too short. I never see the singers whose hymns of praise rise softly, usually ahead of the sun. They are greeting God and a new day. Just outside my window, from the church around the corner, their music is my alarm clock and my joy. It washes over me.
Before breakfast—a feast of mangoes, oatmeal with spice, and more—I relax on the patio in the rising sun. I find peace with the picture-perfect day that is unfolding. It does not take long to find comfort at the guesthouse—a lovely space surrounded by rolling mountains and vistas that says God lives here, too. The house is filled with hearty spirits—some intrepid, some curious, some long-timers but all fellow travelers who came to give, share, and dare to hope, in Haiti.
Before coming to volunteer with FLM, I wrote about missionaries and mission work as a religion reporter, but until now, had never experienced it for myself. But here I am, ready to step outside of the guesthouse gates to find stories of Haiti—some bubbling up from the steamy frenetic streets of Port-au-Prince and in the winding back roads of Thomassin; some are in the watchful eyes of dusty children whose smiles outshine their blight. The stories ride in on the whiffs of things burning in heaps somewhere. But, before I go, the first stories resonate in the camaraderie and melody of the guesthouse. They are found in the voices of prayer-filled volunteers, and in the believers outside my bedroom window, singing softly their morning hymns. And, as I stand on the patio, in the sweeping view of God’s creation, my heart beats a joyous rhythm. I have to depart, but the magic that is the guesthouse is a song of Haiti I’ll carry with me always.
By B. Denise Hawkins, M.A.