Well I would never have guessed the events of this week, but who ever knows these things? We had to make a sudden trip to Florida for a few days. Leslee had been feeling sick, and on Monday she had a severe allergic reaction, which left her feeling weak and which was very frightening because she had no idea what caused it. After much prayer, we decided it was best to go to the States, where she could rest, see a doctor and find out what was wrong. It was definitely not something we anticipated, and I know it was very difficult for both of us to leave Haiti, especially because she did not know if she would be able to return. I’ve realized in the past few days, that this is where trusting God begins. When you don’t know what to expect, or what you want, except that you want God to work everything out. It’s hard. So this unexpected week... I need to trust God and make the best of it. And count my blessings. I have so much to thank God for. Thank You that I am healthy. That I am able to spend a week with my grandparents. That it is so easy to get back to Haiti from Florida. Thank You for Your strength, love, and protection. For giving me this opportunity. For being able to be around people like Leslee and Renaud and Polly and the rest of the team that was here this week, to learn from their wisdom and godly lives. That we can trust You with EVERYTHING. Thank you that when all seems to go wrong, You are still in control. The shadows prove the sunshine.
So after a few days here, Leslee is doing much better and has found out that her allergies are treatable and unrelated to Haiti... which means that we can both return in a few days! Needless to say, I am so excited to get back. But this week I’m resting, taking advantage of the Wi-Fi to fill out some nursing school applications, spending time with my grandparents, and running and biking a LOT. In Haiti, people don’t run. Isn’t that crazy? No one does, except for little boys who have too much energy, Haitians playing soccer, or somebody running from danger. There’s no such thing as gyms or treadmills either. The concept of exercising to stay in shape or to keep a good figure doesn’t really exist, because the daily grind of life in Haiti is so physically strenuous that any added physical activity is only performed for its enjoyment. So they play soccer.
Anyway, other stuff happened in the past week that doesn’t involve sickness or fleeing the country, so let me try to recap some of the those events.
The first team came and went, a group of fifteen from Pennsylvania. They were amazing. They took care of the painting, plumbing, and electricity for our new guest house, along with the kitchen and two new bathrooms. There were also four teachers and a children’s pastor who held a youth rally at the clinic and taught English at the orphanage everyday, and two photographers who documented the trip for a missions conference. During the youth rally, we saw a Haitian mother who is always at our clinic asking for formula and diapers. She had her three youngest children with her, all with yellow hair (a sign of malnourishment), and when we saw the baby, it was shocking how tiny he was. After pulling the mother (Bridgette) aside, we found out she is deaf, has nine children, and has been feeding her two month old mashed up bananas because she cannot produce milk. The two month old, Jhany, looked like he would not survive two more days unless he quickly got help. Martine, the young pharmacist at our clinic grabbed the baby and started feeding him a bottle of formula. As she fed him, Leslee leaned over to Martine and said, “Why don’t you adopt him?” Martine looked shocked and actually laughed, looking at Leslee like she was crazy. But she thought about it and I think she realized the baby might not survive unless someone took care of him, so she prayed about it and talked to the baby’s mother. Hope Alive agreed to sponsor the baby and Martine decided to take care of him. Just like that. It’s amazing to me that in a few hours someone can agree to change their life so drastically. To make a decision like that, one that will change her life in many ways and that will give the baby a chance of survival. Those are the kind of people I always seem to encounter in Haiti. People of strong and selfless character.
While the PA team was here, we went to World Harvest twice. World Harvest is a mission that consists of an orphanage, a school, and a church, run by Pastor Elli and his wife. On Sundays, the church service goes on for probably two hours, but you don’t really notice because there is so much singing and laughing and everyone is genuinely happy to be there. After church and then again on Tuesday, we got to talk and play with the orphans, who are honestly the most loving people you will ever meet. I’ll probably bring a few back with me when I leave Haiti in May. : ] I’m posting a bunch of photos to facebook soon.
I’ve been practicing my French and Creole, and getting to know some of the staff at Hope Alive better as a result. Breaching the communication barrier with someone has to be one of the most relationally rewarding experiences... the people I’ve met here are so much fun ,and even from the few conversations we’ve been able to have, I know already that they are so full of wisdom and good stories. It has allowed me to learn more about Haiti too, to ask questions about religion and cultural differences, that I wouldn’t learn from just being here for a week or two. Some differences are obvious though. It seems in America, poverty is often linked with misery. It’s not that way here. Maybe its because they’ve never known anything else, or because they seem to rely on God for everything, but people here are so full of life. They laugh and joke around ALL the time, it’s so refreshing. And the music. People here love to dance. In church, at the beach, in the street, to reggae, techno-American pop songs, and pounding rap. I have a refreshed love for Bob Marley.
The last two nights before we all left, Leslee and I stayed at the hotel, La Lambi, with the rest of the team. Lambi is down the street from the clinic, right on the ocean and totally authentic. The first night, we swam under the stars, as a Haitian man in a rowboat tried to sell us fresh Conch he was cooking right there in the middle of the sea. The second (and last) night, we arrived back to find notes on our doors, inviting us to a party they were throwing for us. We followed the pounding music down through the beaded curtains to the open-air bar and restaurant, looking out over the water, and lit only with twinkling lights strung around the dance floor. Everyone danced all night, our team and the Haitians, and when the Americans got too tired, the locals performed for us, incredible Latin and Salsa and belly dancers. I quickly learned, the Haitians know how to PARTY, and I’m way jealous of their ability to dance. Even though the party was hosted for us, it continued on long after we left and I fell asleep to the sound of music pounding through the walls of my room.
On the flight to Ft. Lauderdale, I met a Haitian woman named Angie who lives in Miami, but returns to Haiti every three months to do missions work. She is a nurse and travels throughout the villages, walking to the areas inaccessible to cars. Her stories were incredible, especially because I’ve been thinking recently about how much I’d love to travel around the country at some point. She said she would be glad to come help us out at the clinic at some point, so we exchanged information to stay in touch.
We’ll be back in Haiti in a few more days, arriving with the next team... a small group of three dentists and two carpenters. I’ll write another update after we return. I’d love it if you would pray Colossians 1:9-12 for me... Thank You All !!!