I wanted to let you all know that I have received several checks that are not counted in the chip in button on the sidebar.
In addition to the $1,438.00 through paypal, we have gotten another $1,253.00 in the mail.
That brings our total up to $2,691.00!
God is providing and our needs are being met!
I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and supported this project. None of this would be happening without your help!
There's something about the airport in Port Au Prince that feels totally removed from Haiti. Oftentimes the air-conditioning is cranked so high that I need a sweater. There are usually more while people than brown, and they serve cheeseburgers…. Part of me feels like passing through the security line is much more like leaving Haiti that the moment that the plane leave the ground.
Right now I am sitting "in Haiti” with my computer plugged into the wall beside me. No worries about generators, inverters or EDH giving me power. I am still in Haiti but I am already missing it desperately.
There are awful guilty, selfish, wimpy and relieved feelings that overtake my heart every single time I go though these motions. Yesterday I felt so ready to be back in the US that I literally paced away the hours, now I’m not so sure.
Every time I pack my bags to come back to Haiti I am thrilled beyond belief, but then I get here and I realize how much I miss what I left behind.
Some days I hate Haiti so much that I wish I had never come here. I get so frustrated by the discomforts and the unfairness that I beg God to just let me turn my back and walk away. I get sick of not being able to walk into a grocery store without passing hungry people sitting outside. I get sick of looking into the eyes of a kid who wont look back, because he has been so crushed in his short life that eye contact paralyzes him with fear. I get sick of every single person I talk to needing something from me. I get sick of saying yes, and I get sick of saying no. Sometimes I am so sick, that I disgust myself. How is it that I can claim to love it when so many days I despise it so much? Why do I get the luxury of feeling guilty for buying bread, instead of the pangs of hunger of my neighbors? Why can I look at the world around me and still complain because the temperature of my shower isn’t just how I would like it?
The last month has been surprisingly, one of the most difficult of my life. Only a week and a half after I got back Leogane experienced an earthquake, at 4am. It’s wasn’t a big one, but it was big enough. We spent the night outside. Since that night I haven’t slept. Feelings that I had dealt with and thought healed came rushing back. I lie in bed every night with my muscles tense, feeling every single truck that drives by. I lie with my eyes wide open staring into the darkness, darkness I swear I can feel. When I finally do fall asleep I wake up every single hour, At 4 I wake up and stare at the clock, my heart pounding and my mind racing.
I know it’s ridiculous. I know that I absolutely can not let fear run my life, but it still creeps in. When I enter a building I take note of the quickest way out. When I am surrounded by children that I love, I sickly wonder which one I would snatch up and carry outside if we started shaking. These are feelings that I experienced last year and it has surprised me that I am doing this again. This recent, small tremor was so insignificant compared to last year’s events, but if anything I feel even more fearful now.
For the last 4 days I slept alone in my new house. Betty left and it was just me. Those nights I begged and pleaded to be giving an out, to be able to pass this job onto someone else. I pleaded to go back to where I didn’t have to worry about raising an impossible amount of money, or ignoring the begging cries of a hungry human being. A life where I don’t have to be scared to fall asleep.
However, even through in the midst of the begging I know what the answer is. God tells us what to do, because He knows best. Right now I think I know what I want and need, but I have no idea what is to come. One day I will look back on this time and smile over how far I have come. One day the house He has given me will feel like home. On that day I am sure I will still be angry over injustice. I’m sure I will still feel guilty for turning away from someone who truly needs me. I’m sure I will still be torn, between there and here, between one life and another but I pray that I will remain faithful, even on the days when fear threatens to overtake.
God has given me the blessing of wanting to love more than I am capable of, because of that I part of me is always missing. When I am here, a bit of me is there, and when I am there, I leave some of my heart behind. It isn’t something that there is an answer or solution to, it just is. It comes with the life and don’t think for a second that I am strong or special because I do it. I am not good, I am captured, by two different worlds and a God who created me for both.
Tonight we celebrated a big birthday for one of the girls at a local orphanage. She turned 15 and while we sang to her, in the dim light of her birthday candles, she began to cry. As the song ended everyone looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to make her wish. Silently we waited. Finally she began to shake her head as sobs racked her body.
I knew why she was crying and it broke my heart. Turning 15 makes her the oldest child in the house. The oldest and still waiting for a forever family. She knows that she needs to be adopted before she turns 16. This milestone birthday, instead of being happy and carefree, is just a sick reminder that time is running out.
While the other kids enjoyed birthday cake I brought her aside to talk to her. Along with one of their sweetest nannies, I tried to ease her pain.
We told her that with God she always has a family and honestly, she rolled her eyes at me. Under her breath she muttered, God is not a mom and dad.
Sweet girl, she’s right. I can tell her that God is her father while I picture the broad shoulders and bald head of the man who taught me what that word means. How do I explain the concept when all she knows of a daddy is the one who left her.
Sitting there and sharing in her brokenness, I cried with this teenager who is still very much a little girl, longing for a mommy to hold her. While Claudia prayed for her I offered my own silent prayers. Nothing I could think of felt like the right thing to say, everything on my lips sounded empty in the light of her longing and sorrow. I said what I could, all the while knowing that tonight she will cry herself to sleep, alone.
There isn’t anything I can say to make this better. I know that God has big plans for her precious life, plans in which He promises not to leave her as an orphan, plans that will last forever. But right now those plans are so far away. Right now she waits, losing precious moments every day. Someone is missing out on making memories with this little girl. She will never be able to sit and talk about her childhood with someone who was there. There will be no one to tell her about the day she took her first steps, or what she looked like when she was 6 years old. It’s really, really not fair.
Orphanages in Haiti are filled with children, none of which deserved to be there more than another, but oh, the ones that know, the ones who see others rescued and long for their turn, those darling ones are heavy on my heart tonight.
On Monday I moved into the new house. The owners have been kind enough to let me stay for the next week and move my things in before I go back to the States to finish the fundraising for the rest of the rent money.
They have also done an incredible job getting everything ready here. When I negotiated the price with them they were willing to give me a deal if I agreed to do some work myself, and of course, by “myself” I mean some wonderful work teams that I hope to have visit ;) I was pleasantly surprised to find when I came back, that they had done some things that I had no idea they were going to do!
The bathroom looked like this when I first saw the house…
Now it looks like this…
They will add the toilet, sink and faucets while I am gone.
The kitchen counters have been tiled…
And, my personal favorite, they have added real glass to most of the windows! I love them!
It’s been a little strange to be in such a quiet, empty house. I long for the day when it is filled with children to love on, the day this house really becomes a home.
The other day I had the opportunity to visit a small community up in the mountains above Leogane.
What I found were some of the most beautiful children I have ever seen.
A cheerfully painted house.
And mothers who were proudly providing for their babies.
It was painful to see the orange brittle hair and swollen bellies that malnutrition cause, but it was beautiful to be invited into their lives on such an intimate level. I came to talk to them. To visit for a while, to listen to their stories and to pray. I did not come to solve their problems, that is surely more than I can take on. I did not come to take away their children or tell them how to do things “better”. I came just see and hear, something I don’t do often enough. I am consumed with wanting to help everyone and while I work hard to keep my urgency alive, there are sometimes when I need to do exactly what I did on that day. I will forever remember my visit, up the mountain.
During canaval I had the honor of meeting and spending a few minutes in conversation with Martelly, one of the Haitian presidential candidates and Wyclef Jean, a Haitian-American singer.
I was, of course excited to meet 2 well known “celebrities” and I’m sure I made a bit of a fool of myself with whatever it was that came out of my mouth. Thankfully, they humored me.
Not much later I visited with a woman who introduced me to her 2 year old little girl. She told me how she walked up and down the mountain every day to sell fruit. With the few gourdes she makes, she buys rice to feed her baby. She showed me where she goes to collect water by the bucket-full and where they use the toilet. She smiled and laughed as her daughter hid her face when I caught her eye. She eluded grace, joy and confidence. She shined. She was a star.
Many of you who will read this know who Wyclef Jean is. Not many of you know the name Meyann Mitchel. She is not a celebrity, she is not famous in this world but when her baby girl looks at her, her face lights up, when her mama walks by she jumps with excitement. She is a hero, to her daughter and to me.
On Sunday I was invited to drive with some friends to Jacmel for their canaval celebration. Having heard all about how amazing it is I jumped at the opportunity, even though it meant a long, winding drive.
The road was incredible, and not in a good way! I get carsick very easily and although I managed not to get sick, by the time we arrived I was very shaky. My muscles hurt from gripping the seat, window or armrest the entire way, I thought for sure we would just drop off the side of the mountain a few times.
Once we arrived in town I saw that the ride was totally worth it! We parked on the beach and hired motorcycles to take us on a tour of the city.
I loved the old architecture of the buildings and the amazing coastline that seemed to be around every corner we turned!
Returning to the truck, we decided to walk downtown to watch the parade. It was amazing. No exaggeration, the hype was all true. Beautiful colors, amazing creativity, sometimes a bit scary but awe inspiring. The photos that I am sharing with you are all of people in costume, some of them are a bit graphic but I want you to see what I saw. Again, these are all costumes, none of these people are suffering from any type of awful injury. :)
And, my personal favorite “Haiti Kolera Man” complete with paper-mache vomit.
Sunday was definitely a highlight of my life in Haiti so far!