God ghost in Haitian schools

In The Aftermath Of Haiti Earthquake

It’s been two months since Haiti was rocked by a catastrophic earthquake, and the American attention span for this humanitarian crisis is clearly waning. That’s why it’s good we have media outlets constantly reminding us that Haiti’s problems are still ever present.

I heard one of these reports on NPR’s “Morning Edition” yesterday — an exchange of letters and love from kids in Northridge, Calif., who were too young to remember that devastating quake to children in Haiti. Mandalit Del Barco tells a touching story, but it’s also one with one massive religion ghost. We’re talking Stay Puft Marshmallow Man:

Ms. STEFICA JEAN PIERRE (Student): I thank your school for the money sent to my country. I am very happy for the poem. I dont know anything about poems, but I can sing for you.

(Singing) Im so glad youre here in my life. Im so glad you came to save us. You came from heaven to earth to show the way…

DEL BARCO: I brought Steficas song and their letters back to the fifth-graders in California. They seemed impressed with the music, their stories, and the toy car.

Unidentified Child #5: Wow.

Unidentified Woman: Oh, that’s nice.

Um … NPR’s reporter might have missed something there. Stefica was singing “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.” Maybe the Petra version; who knows. But there are few possibilities here. Let’s explore:

It’s possible that Stefica feels American aid and these letters from kids in Northridge were a gift from God that saved Haitians physically and emotionally. It’s also possible that Stefica was just grateful for the California love and the first song that popped into Stefica’s head was one with the line “I’m so glad you’re in my life.” It’s also possible that Stefica was actually just expressing an appreciation for God’s grace in the midst of this tragedy.

What I love is how the recording (listen here) cuts away right as Stefica starts to go into “from the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.” The story’s transition straight from that back to Northridge leaves us with no answers about why Stefica chose this song. It’s not like Stefica picked “Empire State of Mind,” so I’m guessing there was a reason other than wanting to sing a Billboard-charting tune.

The song’s appearance reminds me of a scene from “Seinfeld” when George wants to tell his girlfriend he loves here. Jerry asks about the likelihood that George’s girlfriend will respond with an “I love you too.” Fifty-fifty.

Cause if you don’t get that return, that’s a pretty big matzoh ball hanging out there.

Ditto.

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  • http://www.mikehickerson.com Mike Hickerson

    Brad,
    This story was one of those famous NPR “driveway moments” for me, but I thought this was s big “ghost” when I heard the story, too. At the very least, the song should have been identified. I agree that the way the song was framed, someone who was not familiar with it might have easily thought that the song was about the Americans. Also, aren’t most Haitians Catholic? This is a song common in evangelical churches, so is this young woman an evangelical Christian? Was her school run by evangelicals? How common is it in Haiti to meet a 16-year-old who can speak and sing so well in English? This moment raised lots of unanswered questions for me.


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