Sunday, September 25, 2011

#5- Coming To America

Switch to Protestantism

My family and I emigrated from Haiti to the USA permanently in 1988.  Needless to say we had a lot to get used to.  I had to go to school where my superior education was retrofitted based on my age and not my skills.  My English was at a survival rate.  I desperately wanted to fit in the American culture as soon as I could.

My friend from across the street attended a local church and I went to summer Bible school with him.  It was more of a camp really and I barely noticed the indoctrination.  I mention this only because of my mother's lack of reluctance in letting me hang out with my new friend.  She was very protective of me and promoted a strong "us against the world" sentiment because adjustment was harder for her than it was for me.  As a parent today I would let my kids go to a church camp only under my watchful eye.  I want to make sure I know what they are attempting to teach my girls.

For whatever reason my mother started to attend protestant churches.  One church had a pastor who was a great orator and reduced me to tears after giving the audience an incredible guilt trip about sin.  I wept sincerely and I remember my mother being surprised at how I was moved.  She has always had a hard time understanding that I was very clever and understood that which was around me most of the time.

Snobby Haitians of Broward

My mother started to attend a Haitian Baptist church in Broward County.  I remember seeking out peers to do what boys do at church; talk about and trade video games.  I remember being picked up by the church bus to be broght to the campus in what seemed like an affluent neighborhood.  I was smitten by Broward County because the neighborhoods seemed nicer and the Haitians more, well upperty.  

It was there that I noticed the architectural and procedural differences between my experience with the Catholic church in Haiti with my uncle and the buildings of Haitian Missionary Baptist Church.  I was assigned to a Bible study class before the main service and I excelled at it.  I was perturbed by the low level of intellectual engagement the class presented but I was happy to be around fellow Haitian peers to see how much I fit in.  One girl caught my eye but I know it was in poor taste to holla at her at church.  She drew my attention because she was smart, articulate, and was noticeably the teacher's pet.  I undertook to surpass Ms. Smarty Pants and started to pay attention to the readings.  The stories were mundane but I did notice the word "Shittim" in the Bible.

I had been particularly good around those times so I was very excited to learn that they would be giving the holy wafer to the faithful that day.  As the holy wafer and deminutive cups of red stuff came closer to my row I was squrimming with excitement.  I could finally take part in the ritual guilt-free withought worring about the cracker turning into a blade.  As the container of the cracker was about to reach me the usher skipped me and didn't allow me to partake.  I was also passed on the holy drink.  When I inquired for the reason that I got snubbed I was told that "I was not old enough" to partake in the festivities.  Keep in mind that this ritual is suppose to represent eating corpse and drinking blood!!!

My lovely rival received her full compliment of cracker and juice.  I was FUCKING PISSED!!!  I read between the lines and saw through the favoritism that is pervasive in the church institutions.  I was just as good as her in all manners of the word and I was rejected.

The Blood of Jesus
I excused myself from the assembly dejected to make my way to the rest room.  I passed by a door that was slightly ajar.  It was the kitchen of the church and the place where the holy cracker and red stuff was prepared for distribution.  To my great surprised that "red stuff" that I longed for was none other than Tropicana Fruit punch and the cracker resembled something from a convenience store.

I was puzzled at why they made these items to be such high fetishes.  I was still irate at those people for blatantly disrespecting me but at least I new I could enjoy the "blood of Jesus" for a few dollars and cents at my local supermarket.

This is how my mother and I switched to what I later understood to be Protestantism.  I doubt that my mother really knows the difference or cares.  At that point of my life I figured that Jesus was Jesus and that everyone in the world were some version of Christian and that is all that mattered.

It was at that point that I thought I started to hear "the voice of God".  The people of that church where the phoniest I've seen in a long time.  They pretended to be friends but exuded such a foul energy.  I was unable to tell my mom such things because she made herself go to her Happy Place while at church.  I doubt she'd give me the time of day.

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