Surprise: Happy Birthday, Mr. Marc!

Monday, April 20, I had one of my favorite Haiti mornings. Sunday, April 19, was Mr. Marc’s Birthday. Mr. Marc is our Haitian Executive Director (AKA: total boss) & Monday morning we had a surprise party for him in the office! Marana, Mr. Marc’s lovely assistant, had been planning it all weekend & getting everything ready. I got to the office Monday morning & everyone was buzzing around in hushed tones so Mr. Marc wouldn’t know what was going on. I walked into the cafeteria to find tons of “Happy Birthday” balloons & beautiful pastries & cakes on the table. We were ready for this party! Marana then told me that I was given the task of tricking Mr. Marc to come into the cafeteria “because there was a problem & I needed his help.” Mr. Wantously ran up to me full of laughter & high-fives & like an excited kid said, “YOU have the job of getting him into the cafeteria!”

I felt the pressure. “Don’t mess this up, Durban,” I thought to myself.

I lightly knocked on Mr. Marc’s door, while everyone else (except 2 “decoy” employees) ran to the cafeteria to hide.

“Good morning Mr. Marc,” I said as I walked in.
Mr. Marc greeted me, “Oh, good morning Rachelle (read, “Rah-shell”). Thank you so much for calling me yesterday & telling me Happy Birthday.”
“You are welcome, Mr. Marc! I know I usually call you when there is a problem, so I was prepared for you to think that something was wrong when I called you yesterday.”
Mr. Marc laughed & we chatted a little bit more.

It was time to get this man to his party, so I said, “Mr. Marc, you know how over the weekend, a lot of the problems sleep? No one wants to create problems over the weekend. Well, as you know, it is Monday & all of the problems are back & I really need your help. Do you mind coming outside with me?”
Mr. Marc jumped up & said, “There are a lot of problems outside?”
And here, my friends, I lied. I lied to that sweet man. I said, “Yes. There are a lot of problems & people outside & I really need your help.”

So, like the total boss he is, he jumped up & began to speed-walk outside. We were right outside the cafeteria & he started to leave the building & I said, “Actually, can you come in here before you go outside?” That was my brilliant response to him trying to exit the building…”uhhh, come to the cafeteria.” Ha! But it worked. Thankfully Mr. Marc walked into the cafeteria & he saw the entire office crammed into that little space, & he just started laughing! He then told them all about how I told him there were a lot of people & problems outside, & then to go into the cafeteria.

After the laughter died down, Mr. Marc thanked everyone & spoke about how honored he was to be celebrating his 73rd Birthday & that it is a blessing to live that many years & to be able to work hard.

Then, Mr. Lookens, Mr. Wantously, & Mr. Peniel gave speeches & they asked if anyone else had anything to say. There was a lot of Creole & I kept hearing “Rachelle” & then it was silent with everyone looking at me. Mr. Lookens said, “Rachelle, I think you have something to say.” I warned them that I would cry, even though that is not a very common response in Haiti & they gave me a napkin & said “no problem!” I spoke about how much I respect Mr. Marc & how much I have learned about leadership from Him & the deep love he has for the Lord & for the people of Haiti. Austin (another North American staff member) spoke about how Mr. Marc is like a father to so many people in Haiti, & how he is an incredible leader. The mark of a leader is the ability to duplicate oneself, & Mr. Marc has done a wonderful job leading up others & teaching them. Pastor Kenol prayed, & then it was time for cake!

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It had all the ingredients of a perfect Haitian party: Speeches were given, laughs were had, tears were shed, songs were sang, cake was eaten, & prayers were prayed.

I am thankful to call these people family. I am thankful for Mr. Marc & his leadership. He is a role model in his love for the Lord & his love for the people of Haiti. Happy Birthday Mr. Marc! Here’s to many, many more!

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