Hard to Translate, Part 2

I’m out shopping this evening for the upcoming Haiti trip and, during a pit stop at The Bueno, thought I’d opine on another cultural observation. Tonight I thought I’d visit my favorite local discount retailer (I’m holding out for endorsement) and see if I could pick up a few items to take to the kids in Chambellan, the town we’re visiting. So I drove my cart (pushed. Not drove. I’m not one of those people) down each toy aisle, looking for something the Haitian kids would enjoy and that would be, to some limited extent, durable enough to last a few weeks. I passed cool item after cool item, each a buck, but grew increasingly concerned with each step. I wasn’t buying something for an American child or a Texan child but for a child who doesn’t speak English, doesn’t know American customs, nor most major American sports. A Haitian child has no need for slime, play money or magic glasses. Forget need. I doubt if they’d know what to do with those things. Maybe I’m wrong.
I passed by a section with playing cards and brain teasers. Now, at my church, Crossroads, we don’t have a big problem with playing cards, dice or mind benders but some churches and cultures revile such things. I honestly could not say whether or not the baptist church in Haiti had a thing against cards, so I’d better not bring those. Other items passed my glance. Modeling clay, play dough-like product (again, endorsement pending), and other things all met the mental rejection bin.
What would not only appeal to a Haitian child but also be easily understood? I wish there was a French store nearby. French is the official language of Haiti and something the school children would understand. I ended up buying sidewalk chalk among a few other items because chalk was suggested by past mission teams. Funny, there are no sidewalks anywhere near Chambellan. But there are cinderblock walls and I guess the kids like to work on their graffiti.(which, if translated into Creole might mean Great (gras) Work (fi) of Little Ones (ti, or petit). Art!
Preparing for another culture is a real experience. Haiti this month, maybe Scotland next month. Scotland is a little closer to my culture here in Texas but I trust that there will be a learning curve as well. Maybe a big one.
At least they speak English. That should help, eh?

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