I’m a bit overwhelmed as I sit down to write this entry. It’s been over a month since I last wrote, and I’m starting to feel like I’ve lived here forever and experienced a million different things. My thoughts and stories might be a bit choppy, so I apologize in advance. : ) But i’m beginning to know the carpet of this place, as my Dad says, and that familiarity is a really phenomenal thing. Strange bugs and no electricity have become the norm. 10 pm is considered staying up late and 6 am is sleeping in. By now I know most of the kids at church and the orphanage by name. I’ve gotten blisters from hand-washing my clothes, and I’ve watched the night’s dinner get bought and slaughtered in the yard. I’m still getting used to the heat. Some nights are so hot in my room, that I drag my mat out to the roof and sleep under the stars. I’ve never slept completely out in the open before coming to Haiti, and I’ve never seen stars they way they look here.
I’ve started running here, which is the greatest thing EVER. I leave at 5:00 or 5:30 each morning, and head to the hilly pasture near the clinic, greeting the group of people already gathered outside waiting for our doctors who come at 8. By 6:00, all the children in the village start passing me on their way to school, and in the last week or so they’ve begun to run with me, laughing and racing me down the dirt path. Eventually more kids joined and now there’s usually a procession of them running alongside me for 15 or more minutes every day.
I’ve also been playing a lot of soccer when we go to the beach each week. It was super intimidating at first, because it’s me- a little, white, American girl... playing with a bunch of big Haitian, crazy-good soccer players. My pride has definitely taken a beating, but i’ve never had so much fun being completely humbled. : )
We’ve had three teams here since I got back: a small dental team, a youth group from Georgia, and last week a medical team from South Jersey, along with a nurse practitioner from Oregon. All these different groups of people come and go, and each time I learn a little more about what it means to live a godly life. I’ve been so lucky to get to know such awesome and inspirational people.
I spent my 22nd birthday here last week. I woke up early for a run, and when we got back Willio showed me a baby cat that had wandered into our clinic during the night. We named her Mina and she has become the little clinic pet and the best one we could wish for. She’s really playful and cuddly. When I’m stretching after a run or reading or writing in my journal, she’ll come and sit on my hand and stare up at me. I’m not usually a cat person, but I LOVE this little guy so much. :)
So that was a great start to the day, and then at breakfast they sang to me and gave me a birthday card that everyone had signed, along with a package Frank brought from my parents, and my first pair of scrubs from Charmika, the NP from Oregon. Then I got to spend the day in the clinic, seeing patients, which absolutely RULED! With this last team that came, getting to work with them in the clinic every day, i’m realizing more and more how incredibly excited I am to be a nurse. I wish i could start right now... It’s like I finally know without a doubt that this is what i want to do with my life.
We had already finished for the day, when a 12 year old boy came in with a soccer injury. The story was that he had fallen onto a jagged tree stump and split his face open from above his eyebrow to below his lip, although in all honesty, the perfect slice down his face looks more like a knife wound than anything. We brought him into an exam room and Dr. Doug, who is head of an emergency center in a hospital in Jersey, got him ready to be stitched up. The lighting wasn’t very good, so I got to hold the flashlight on the area being worked on and blotted the continuous blood flow with gauze. I got to stand inches away from the kid’s face as Dr. Doug put in 28 stitches and explained to me the process. It was SO LEGIT and the kid was very brave. We only had enough anesthesia for his cheek and lip area, so he wasn’t even numb when the Doctor stitched his eyebrow and lid.
Later that night the cooks surprised me with a birthday cake and afterwards we went for a walk, bringing a new soccer ball to a group of kids who always play in the field near us, and then we stopped by a fruit stand, buying out their entire stock of mangoes. Such a memorable birthday. :)
We ran out of water one of the days we were here. Our well dried up completely. And apparently the same day this area of the country ran out of gas. We couldn’t get any to put in our generator, so we had no fans, lights, internet, showers, or flushing toilets. You learn to do with less , that’s for sure. But the Hope Alive staff takes such good care of us. By the end of the second day, Renaud, Francois, Willio, Libertin, Carlos, and a few other guys made quite a few trips back and forth to the well down the road, carrying back these ten gallon jugs, racing each other up the steps to fill the tank and then heading back to get more, all the while laughing and joking around with each other. It may not sound like a big deal, but when you’ve gone two days without a shower or water to wash your hands and face, those guys could have been angels to me. Its crazy because I came down here wanting to help them, but they do immeasurably more for us.
Another thing Leslee and I were talking about is how we come down here expecting to be missionaries, whatever that means, but they truly put my faith to shame. I keep asking people here about how they survived, not during, but after the earthquake. Like, how did they possibly cope with the pain and trauma that came with all of the deaths. Literally everyone who survived lost people they knew and really cared about. Instantaneously. Lost their homes and everything they owned. Their moms who cared for them. Their dads who provided food and safety. Their precious children. We can think about that kind of pain in our heads and sympathize with it, but we can’t possibly feel that level of complete anguish in our hearts. We have bad things happen to us in our lives, and a lot of times I think we blame God for them, or question His goodness. But with everyone here I’ve spoken to about it, I’ve asked how they not only didn’t fall apart, but emerged-not bitter- but strong. And each person I’ve talked to has brought it back to God. They’ve relied on Him for everything, and they’ve really pulled through for each other too. When the youth group team from Georgia was here, we were talking one night about how easy it is to come to Haiti and help the people here, but its much harder to show that same selfless love to people at home- at school or work or in our family. We asked my friend here what it was that made him care so deeply, not only for us but for his own people too. He talked about how when you are a Christian, that is what you do, you help them. And when you help someone, but do not tell them about Jesus, you’ve made a mistake, because the blood of Jesus is precious. He said, “The first day I met Jesus, He made a way for me.” That is how they survived the earthquake and the many hardships they’ve faced. And that’s what God does for each of us when we give Him our lives. He makes a way for us. I thought that was the coolest way of putting it, and that phrase has really stuck with me since then.
I waited too long to update this, and I know I crammed a million different details in. I promise I’ll be quicker with the next update. Still appreciate your prayers and hearing from you all SO much!
|With Nanu, one of the orphans, at church on Sunday|
|our pet Mina!|
|A quality stitching job|
|On my birthday, with all the mangoes we bought at the fruit stand. I'm practically Haitian!|