1/12/14 – One week after returning to the States.
So, for those of you who are unaware, I went to Haiti for a week over New Years Eve. I feel INSANELY blessed that I was able to go – I decided to join the trip super late in the game (only 3 weeks before our departure date), and had several obstacles to overcome before I could leave, such as finances, vaccinations, work time off, etc. Luckily, it quickly became evident that God wanted me on this trip, as I was fully funded in less than 48 hours (CANNOT say thank you enough to my incredibly gracious/generous friends and family!!!!), was able to get into the doctor for shots right away, and got the last seat on the same flight as the rest of the team. Everything fell into place without a moment to lose, and the trip ended up being one of the most incredible weeks of my entire life. Below, you’ll find the daily journal I kept throughout the trip. I literally just typed it in the “Notes” app on my phone, so I’m sure there is an abundance of grammatical errors waiting to be found (just a warning).
Before going on to my stream of consciousness (reader beware), I should give you a bit of background on our team and the trip itself. The missions trip was organized by Matt Negaard – a med student at University of Iowa, and good friend of mine since middle school – and consisted of five Iowa med students, two physicians assistants, several RN’s, and me. If you know me at all, you know that needles make me cringe and/or scream, gross sights make me pass out, and the only medicine of which I feel fairly confident in my pronunciation is Tylenol (sorry, Grandpa). Long story short – I am not a medical person. Hahahaha. I was extremely nervous about that aspect of the trip coming into Haiti, but as you’ll see below, I think it actually worked out just fine. :)
We stayed at a place called Tytoo Gardens in a village called Simonette, Haiti. Tytoo is an American-run, Christian non-profit that is half orphanage, half medical clinic. It’s right on the waterfront, with a ten-foot high cement/barbed wire fence going around the entire perimeter of the premises. On the inside of the gate, there are several buildings, such as the clinic, a praise and worship area, boys’ and girls’ dorms, a couple apartments for the Tytoo staff, etc. – all of which are really nice by Haitian standards! For example, Tytoo has running water, internet (sometimes, anyway!), electricity, and a cook to make meals throughout the day. Staying at Tytoo was an incredible experience, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun than when I was playing soccer with the kids every morning. I can only hope and pray that it’s in God’s plan for me to return to Haiti and to Tytoo someday – preferably soon. :)
Day 1: Sunday, December 29th. 9:27 PM.
I’m not sure how I feel about this international missions trip situation. It isn’t that I specifically DIS-like it, but I’m pretty confident in saying that I don’t think I like it… What does it say to the people of this nation that the white people are always swooping in with their “superior” methods and medicines and toys and tools? And what does it say to these children that we white people care enough to come into their home, teach and show them OUR ways, and then leave a week later? Their lives are a constant stream of new white people filing in and out of the mission. How does that effect their psyche? How could a child grow up in an environment and not feel inferior to these white “saviors?” I hate it. What if one week trips do more harm than good? Because REALLY — how much change/good can truly be accomplished in a week? Any “good” that happens seems to be a bandaid over a bullet wound anyway. We aren’t doing anything to fix the systems… We’re just helping people live one more day a little better by shoving new crayons or Tylenol in their faces. Realistically, how does that TRULY help? Ugh. This is my inner city work talking. I see my kids at Learning Lab, and I know how long it took them to trust me — to believe that I wasn’t going to up and leave them like all of the other flake volunteers. Why? Because they see me as just another white lady trying to make myself feel better about my life by doing something “worthwhile” for an hour, and then leaving. But with my LL kids it’s different. I DO care, and I HAVE been around them, week in and week out, for over a year and a half, building relationships and trying to genuinely help them better their lives long term. How in the WORLD can I do that in this situation?? How is it HELPING a child to essentially pretend to care about them for a week — one measly, stupid week — and then leave their lives and literally never see them again…..? That is HURTING them long term, isn’t it? And that’s not what I want… How can I keep any sort of clear conscious if I allow myself to get close to any of these kids? It’s crap. And I can’t feel good about it. This just doesn’t feel like helping…
Day 2: Monday, December 30th. 8:06 PM.
Today was a long day. Blah. How is it only 8:30? I literally got into bed just now expecting it to be close to midnight… I guess that’s what happens when your wake up call was at 6:15 am. Haha. Anyway. Today I spent my morning hanging out with the kids — mostly the little little ones. Babies through maybe age 4 or 5. These two little boys, Chris and Steve, basically competed for my attention all day. I’d guess they’re both about two, and both are absolute dolls. It’s crazy how much these kids just crave attention. They run up to you, without even knowing who you are, and immediately hug you, put a hand on your shoulder, hold your hand… Whatever. It’s clear that they absolutely crave physical touch. And can you blame them? Ha. I was talking to some of the staff here at Tytoo, and it sounds like most of these kids aren’t orphans in the sense of their parents dying… Most have been straight up abandoned. Parents either drop the kids off at the gate of Tytoo in the middle of the night, or beg the orphanage to take their kids. At first glance, it’s appalling. What kind of parent just peaces out on their flesh and blood? But then you look at Tytoo and compare it to the rest of Haiti… Kids here consistently get three meals a day, they have a roof over their heads that will never leak when it rains, they are enrolled in school to learn French and English, they have toys and access to any supplies they need… It’s heartbreaking, yes, but not impossible to comprehend why a parent would rather leave their child here. I mean, let’s be real for a second, either way these kids are hung out to dry. Where are these people going to go in life?? Even those who do get jobs in the city or at resorts are still just living day to day, hoping to make ends meet. Whether these kids grow up in an orphanage or in a crappy “house” (ha yeah right, more like a tin shack) with a single parent, either way, life is gonna suck. Their futures are dim. It’s crap. They deserve love and hope and an actual life where they are told day in and day out that they are loved and can do anything they want with their lives. It seems like that should be a basic right of all children, but clearly it’s just not.
I’m told that the adoption process out of Haiti isn’t necessarily “impossible,” but it’s insanely difficult and ridiculously expensive. What a joke. Your country creates a crap life for people, and then you don’t do any/everything in your power to make it easier for your citizens to have a better life, even if that means they’re leaving? K. Cool.
But then it’s like if you DO adopt, you’re literally snatching a child away from his/her culture, family, way of life, etc., and thrusting them jnto a world of materialistic commercialism, which at this point is enough to make me puke, and probably make that poor child’s brain explode. Like, what do you mean your biggest concern (read: my biggest concern, the day before I left for Haiti) is that your new Blu Ray player didn’t come with an HDMI cord, and now you have to make an additional trip to Best Buy? You just got a brand new tv and have an incredible home with hot water and laundry and a full fridge and a closet full of a million pieces of clothing. Can you even imaging taking one of these kids back to America and trying to help them process all that they see. It’s ludicrous… Obviously adoption gives them a “better” future long term, but then again, is it really better to spend your free time constantly refreshing Twitter and wondering why the boy you have a crush on hasn’t texted you back? I don’t know. Probably, yes. But who knows. Our cultures all have our flaws, that’s for sure. Except Sweden. I miss Sweden. That’s a side note. And it realistically probably has flaws anyway. Haha.
Also, before I go, when we were driving from the airport yesterday, I saw a dude in this white, almost puffy armor type stuff and a rifle, and my first actual thought was, “Crap a Peacekeeper!” ….. I’ve been watching/reading too much Hunger Games.
Also also, I just realized I ranted for a while, and then never finished talking about my day. In the afternoon, we took a boat (like literally a row boat that this old dude fishes out of) to this island across the bay, to an abandoned resort from the 1950’s. We took the kids swimming on the beach, and even though there was a decent amount of trash/garbage laying on the ground, the sand itself was pretty clean, and the water was the stereotypical Caribbean clear-turquoise. At one point, I just sat in the water and couldn’t help but think how ironic it is that just a month ago I was on the OTHER side of this huge body of water, living a life of luxury at a Cancún all-inclusive resort. Then today, I was literally sitting on a beach filled with garbage with about 20 orphan kids having the time of their lives. HA. It really is almost funny if you don’t think about it for too long.
Anyway. Matty and I played catch with the kids and threw them into the water. It was fun, but definitely exhausting. Like I said, I thought it was almost midnight right now, and it’s only 9:00. Haha. On the way back from the island, I was trying to get out of the boat, and I literally ATE IT. Just tripped over a board and slammed onto my leg out of nowhere. I have a huge scrape on it now, and am probably going to catch a flesh eating bacteria/virus like that one girl who had to have her legs amputated or whatever. Honestly, it probably looked hilarious, but Matty was in the other group so there wasn’t anyone there to laugh at me besides the kids.
Also, Matt just randomly shoved a camera in my face and asked what the highlight of our first full day was, and I (like an idiot) said, “I dunno? Swimming and hopefully getting tan?” FACE TO PALM. Whatever. My brain was submerged in the rant above, and my response to his question was shallow word vomit flying out of my mouth. Typical. Hope you’re reading this, Matty, so you know I’m not a total bimbo after all! :)
Ok. I’m dead. I’m going to sleep. Bye.
Day 3: Tuesday, December 31st — NEW YEARS EVE!
It’s New Years Eve today, and we threw a party for the kids. It’s crazy what kids will just go absolutely nuts for… We made cupcakes and handed out glow sticks and candy, and even did a balloon drop by stringing up several dozen balloons in a mosquito net… It was actually hilarious — we started counting down for the balloon drop/New Year, but then the kids randomly switched and started counting up to ten. Hahaha. If nothing else, it marks this New Years as special, to say the least.
Earlier in the day, I spent the day toting Steve around (he’s literally too perfect and cute to ignore or put down), and playing catch with some of the older boys. One boy, Davidson, is 10 and I’m basically obsessed with him. I almost starting crying earlier today after we got done playing catch… It’s crap that this gorgeous/hilarious/naturally athletic (not that that matters, but hey. I’m a former athlete. I notice when a kid can throw and catch a ball! Haha) kid doesn’t have a mom to tuck him in at night or kiss his owies, or a dad to teach him how to play baseball. It’s infuriating, to be honest. I can sort of, kind of, at least BEGIN to understand why the parents of these children feel that they can’t provide for their families and give up their babies… What I don’t understand is why/how God allows people to be born into situations like this. Or more importantly, how was it determined that I would be born into a relatively “perfect” family, and these children would be born into an HIV-stricken, impoverished land? Like. What??? I don’t do well with injustice (as if we didn’t know that already HAHAHAHAHA. #sarcasm).
Anyway. After we played catch and some soccer, we baked and decorated the cupcakes. A few of the girls helped mix and bake, and a couple boys helped us frost them. At one point, Steve wandered into the kitchen (I like to think he was looking for me. Haha), and after I grabbed him, I dipped the tip of a spoon into the frosting and tried to get him to taste some. At first, he pushed it away and looked alarmed/grossed out, but I had him watch me try some, and finally he stuck his tongue out and very lightly touched it to the spoon……….. He then went bug eyed, got the BIGGEST grin on his face, and shoved the whole spoon in his mouth. Hahahahaha. It was legitimately one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
That’s one thing that’s been kind of funny for me. Earlier today, Matt said that being around these kids is a great form of birth control, but I sort of feel the exact opposite (um what?). When you’re playing with these kids, it feels like your sole purpose in life is to get them to smile, and when they do, it’s seriously the best feeling in the world. You can’t help but grin back… It’s weird and adult-ish and creepy, but I can’t wait to see my own kids smile like that someday. Not for a long time. But someday.
After we made the cupcakes, we took a sort of field trip to another village to drop off two of the kids. I guess their mom had them stay at Tytoo temporality while she figured some stuff out, and now she was “ready” to have them back. I’m not sure how long they were here… But when we dropped them off at their “house,” it was literally some tall boards nailed together, with tarp pulled tight around the four walls, and a second piece of tarp as the roof. There’s no way it was bigger than ten or twelve feet square… Pretty much the entire space was taken up by one queen mattress. The mom lives there with her four kids. What? I literally can’t… I don’t understand how it’s even possible to live past childhood in a society like this. Like. By American standards, these people should literally be starving to death, and just die out as a nation. But they don’t, obviously. And I don’t really understand how. It definitely makes any problems we have in the States dim in comparison, though. Like, who cares if my energy bill was higher than normal this month? I can still pay it. I HAVE electricity. There is NOTHING worth complaining about in our cush American lives… Everyone has pain, and I’m not refusing to acknowledge that. There are things that hurt us in America, and we definitely have problems… But I know I’ll be thinking twice before complaining about most things ever again.
I’m exhausted. We just watched Despicable Me 2 with the kids (in French, with English subtitles haha), and it’s nowhere close to midnight (10:30), but I’m just dead. Goodnight, and Happy New Year, world! Last year, I was wishing you well while standing on a frozen inlet of the Baltic Sea (GREAT celebration in Luleå), and this year I’m sweating up a storm and caked in dirt in 95 degree Haiti. I’m too blessed to even begin to think about, and if you’re reading this, you probably are too. Goodnight, world.
Day 4: Wednesday, January 1
It’s actually Thursday morning at like 6:30 am. I woke up and realized I forgot to journal last night… Oops. I was just so tired. Kids wear you out in general, and when you mix that with the blazing hot sun… Whoa. Dead. Haha.
Anyway, yesterday wasn’t anything too special. I hung out with the kids again all day for the most part… I realized during the afternoon that I hadn’t really taken any pictures, so I brought my phone down to use the camera. Of course the kids went crazy. First, a couple of them wanted to know if I had any games on my phone, but since i don’t have service here, obviously they don’t work. However, I did show them how to play music on my phone, and they were ecstatic about that. It quickly became clear that the only songs they didn’t skip over in the first five seconds were the ones that had an exceptionally catchy intro. This basically limited it to EDM songs and, once, Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl.” Hahaha. They loved it though, and it was so cute to see them dance. They actually took turns with my phone really well! The adults in our group kept saying, “oh you’re brave, letting those kids use your phone!” I don’t feel brave at all, I just feel like it was giving them a fun experience, so of course I would do it? Plus, like I said, they were super respectful.
After the music, I took a few pictures, and learned that Steve thinks it’s funny to act like he’s afraid of cameras. He’ll turn his head to the other side, and keep doing it when you move the camera to face him, and then cracks up in your face when you can’t get a picture of/with him. Rude. I fixed the problem by just taking a video instead. Muah ha ha haaaaaa. Two can play at that game, Steve. Anyway, the older boys realized you could take videos on my phone, and it was all over from there. They took videos of us playing soccer, swinging, doing flips, etc. It was only by dumb luck, that one of the boys accidentally switched the camera mode over to slow motion — it happened when he was videoing some of the boys doing flips. When they gathered around to re-watch it, they realized it was in slow motion, and I’ve never heard so much laughter in my life. Hahahaha. I have to admit, it was pretty funny, especially since it was unintentional and unexpected. I laughed just as hard as they did. Needless to say, every video was in slow motion after that.
I finally put my phone away when we decided it was hot and we wanted to get in the water (Tytoo is literally ON the waterfront. Like. You open this big door, and the water is there. If it ever rises even like a couple feet, Tytoo would probably flood.). Tanya brought out this sprinkler system that had like ten smaller nozzles, and flung around the water in the air. The water pressure wasn’t really enough to make it work well, but the kids had a bunch of empty bottles (“water toys” haha), and it essentially just turned into one giant water fight. It was an absolute blast, but I was fully clothed, so I just looked soaked and hilarious, I’m sure. It was really fun though, and obviously I retaliated and dumped bottles full of water back on the kids too. :) After the water fight, some of the kids jumped into the gulf (ocean? Sea? Not really sure?)… I was going to, but the water near this shore is pretty muddy, so unlike the rest of the Caribbean (or even unlike how it is if you go just a little ways out), you can’t see the bottom or ANYTHING. It’s just murky. I didn’t get in, because I was alarmed that snakes would be lurking in the weeds in the water… I later realized that was a completely unrealistic fear, as the water was salt water Hahahaha, but by then the kids were done swimming anyway.
That’s pretty much it. Yesterday was a fun, but overall pretty chill day. As usual, I’m exhausted. And I don’t really know if I’m doing any good here. I feel like all I’m doing is encouraging attachment issues from these kids. Ugh. Anyway. Time to start today! Byeeee.
Day 5: Thursday, January 2nd
I did a bad job of journaling last night too, so this is technically being written the next morning again. Whatever, it’s fine. I have a bug bite the size of Rhode Island on my right arm, near my elbow. Like literally I asked some of the nurses if it was ringworm or something because it’s so big. That has nothing to do with anything, it’s just where my head is at right now since I’m putting my phone down every ten seconds to claw at this thing. Haha
Yesterday we spent all day organizing the clinic and some of the storage facilities here at Tytoo. Loree (a nurse) and I were in the clinic literally from like 9 am until 4 pm, organizing primarily medicines into an order that made sense. Of course, for me, I know nothing about medicine, so a way that “makes sense” to me would be organizing by which colors or shapes are the coolest. Hahaha. Needless to say, I’m not sure how big of a help I was. Loree had to do most of the actual organizing and thinking, while I helped with label making, sorting pills, etc. To be honest, the entire time, I really just wanted to go play with the kids. They kept coming to the clinic asking me to come out and play, and to make more videos, so finally after lunch, I just gave them my phone before I went back to the clinic and said, “Don’t break it.” They made videos on my phone for literally hours. Hahaha.
Being in the clinic definitely gave me a ton of respect for doctors and nurses everywhere. There are SO many little details of knowledge that they need to draw from and know at any given moment. Lives are literally in their hands. Of course, I’ve been exposed to this kind of detailed knowledge my whole life with my grandpa, but I gained a new sense of respect with all of those medicines. First of all, they are literally like reading a different language — one that strongly utilizes the letters x, y, and z. Secondly, they all have so many uses and side effects, and the doses are specific to the age/weight/etc. of the patient. It’s so many things to keep straight, I have no idea how anybody can do it. Props to you, medical professionals. I couldn’t do it. I also don’t know if I would want to… For now, I’ll stick to planning events, watching sports, and drinking beer. Wow. My job sounds insanely shallow right now. Hahaha
After the organizing was done, I was finally able to spend some time with the kiddos. Davidson asked if we could use my phone to play music (the boys like flipping through the songs… Usually they only stay on one particular song for like 5-10 seconds, tops. Haha), and we ended up plugging it into some portable speakers so everyone could hear. Needless to say, the kids apparently love Michael Jackson, and it turned into a full blown dance party. It was awesome. There is one 8 y/o girl (Annalisa) who has some sort of bone disease or something (I’m not sure), but her arms and legs are curved and bent in different directions, so she’s in a wheelchair. Originally, she was our DJ, but I could tell that she was getting sad that she didn’t get to dance. I went up to her and asked if she wanted to, and her eyes lit up, her face went into a huge grin, and she whipped her arms up to me as I picked her up. We danced for a few songs, and I’m pretty sure it meant a lot to her. Of course, it was fun for me too. :)
I’ve decided I’m obsessed with Steve, and I feel like if I was married already, I would beg my husband to try and adopt him. But. I’m not, and Haiti doesn’t allow single people (especially those who are only 24) to adopt. It’s such a bummer. My heart swells with love for that little boy more and more every day. All day yesterday, it seemed like if something went wrong and he started crying (bumped his head, didn’t get a toy, typical kid end-of-the-world scenarios), I was the one he looked for and ran to. It broke my heart. That’s what mom’s are for, and he will never get that. I wish so badly that I could be that person for this perfect little boy.
Day 6: Friday, January 3rd
So I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of journaling in the mornings about the day before now. Oops. Oh well.
Yesterday was a pretty boring day. I woke up and the bug bite I wrote about yesterday had swollen up basically my entire forearm. It was HUGE and bright red and hot and hard to the touch… We thought it might be infected, but decided to try some Benadryl first. Obviously that knocked me out for two or three hours, so my entire morning was lost. It kind of sucked because that was my last day with the kids. During the afternoon, the nurses wanted me to take MORE Benadryl, but I wanted to hang out with the kids, so I skipped the dose. Even in the afternoon though, we didn’t really do anything. The kids were quiet and kind of boring all day.
During the evening, we all showered and got a little dressed up (and by that, I mean that I actually brushed my hair and wore it down instead of piled on top of my head), and went to a Haitian “restaurant.” It was funny that they called it a restaurant, because really it was just a covered porch on someone’s hut in the middle of a village. The food was actually pretty good, and it was interesting to go out into the community and see/meet some of the people there… There was also a dog that would wander in and out of the house, which alarmed me because I told the doctor at the travel clinic before I left that I wouldn’t be around any animals, so she didn’t give me the rabies shot. I kept shooing the dog away and probably looked like an idiot. Hahaha.
When we got back from dinner, someone set up the projector and a sheet, and we watched Home Alone 3. I was never allowed to watch those movies as a kid, so it was fun to watch and see the kids’ reactions. Whenever the bad guys got hit with something, or slipped and fell down, the kids would just scream and laugh so hard. It was hilarious (not the actual movie — just watching the kids’ reactions). I couldn’t help but crack up the entire time.
That was pretty much it for yesterday… Not a ton to report. I’m getting apprehensive about coming back home. Part of me is ready to be back in my apartment and at work (I haven’t been home to MN in like two and a half weeks basically, because of Christmas), but part of me wants to just stay here. Life is easier and the kids are so fun. They need more people to love on them — continually, not just for a week. I am pretty excited to see MY middle schoolers on Monday too though. I hope they all had great Christmas breaks. That was a random side note.
I definitely want to try and come back. I want to convince my family to have a summer vacation week on a Caribbean cruise, and then on the Haiti day, skip the excursions and come back here to see the kids. It isn’t much, but it’s something? Idk. Whatever. I’ll figure out a way.
Last Day — Saturday, January 4th.
Well, I’m sitting in the Haiti airport reflecting on my last day. Yesterday, we spent the majority of the day at the beach as our “reward day” for our week of hard work. It was nice to relax, but a big part of me just wanted to be back at Tytoo with the kids. The resort was $20 to get in, and $20 for lunch, and I didn’t think much about the price until we talked to NeNe, our translator, about it. He told us he was happy he was able to come, and was having a great time with us, but at the same time, $40 could have reloaded his cell phone for a month. To be honest, it didn’t feel right to be in a place of such luxury, when right outside the gates there were people living in shacks. I didn’t like it, in that sense, but I still had a great time with my fellow Iowans.
After we left the beach, we tried to go to Mission Of Hope to buy some tshirts, but they were closed and wouldn’t open the shop for us. It was weird and a LITTLE annoying, because we hiked to the top of a huge foothill to get there. Oh well. As a side note, I’m happy that we went to a smaller organization like Tytoo, instead of a huge place like MOH. People were saying that MOH has teams of 300+ that come in almost every week. Meanwhile, our team of 13 was the biggest group Tytoo has ever had. It made for a much more intimate and seemingly “real” experience. Also, it allowed us to form personal relationships with the kids.
Anyway, when we got back from MOH, we watched a movie with the kids and went to sleep. It was kind of a bummer, because I felt like I didn’t really get to play with them at all, and it was my last day. During the movie, they kept telling me to switch flights with one of the other travelers who wasn’t going home until Wednesday. To be honest, if that was a thing, I would do it. Hah.
After the movie, I gave in and gave Whisney my shoes. I can’t remember if I journaled about it or not, but a few days ago, Whisney (I think he’s like 11) literally asked me for my Chucks, because he thought they were cool. I told him maybe, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn’t say no. I can buy another pair when I get back to the States… I actually felt bad giving a kid a pair of shoes I’ve been wearing for the last 6-8 years. I literally think I’ve had those Chucks since high school. Haha. When I called him over and gave him the shoes, the grin on his face made the whole thing worth it. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid so happy.
This morning, saying goodbye to the kids was seriously the hardest thing. Most of them weren’t really smiling, which is rare for them, and it honestly broke my heart. I gave Davidson my purple Miller Lite sunglasses (that might be a bit inappropriate, but they don’t have ML here and don’t know what it is anyway. So. It’s fine, I think?), and that made him smile a bit. I honestly just wanted to hug all of them for hours and hours… Leaving Steve was definitely the worst. We left really early in the morning, so he wasn’t out and about playing yet. I actually had to go into the nursery and look for him… When I said his name, his little head popped up in his crib, and his eyes lit up with the biggest smile when he saw me. I picked him up and said I had to go back to America, to which he yelled “NO!” at me, and wrapped his arms around my neck. It took everything in me, all my self control, to not start bawling. When I put him down, he started crying, and I did too once I turned away. He deserves a better life than this… Not even that — but he at least deserves a mommy who loves him and makes sure he is her only priority. It breaks my heart that he doesn’t get that. It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m about 90% sure that if the laws in Haiti were different, I would at least try and adopt Steve. He’s perfect, and I miss him already. Unfortunately, Haitian laws say you must be a minimum of 30 and married to adopt… And I am nowhere close to either of those things.
My heart hurts. I already can’t wait to come back here. Hopefully soon
1/12/14 – A week later. Again. The conclusion this time.
Thanks for reading my thoughts about my time in Haiti (more importantly, thanks for making it this far. Whoa). Some of the above was complete nonsense, but some of the thoughts still trouble me today, even a week after returning. I think my biggest question/concern at this point is still the question of what’s worse – to only eat MAYBE once a day, not have clean clothes, and live in a shack, but have a parent(s) who love and adore you? Or to have all of the necessities of life – food, shelter, cleanliness – but not have any form of unconditional, parental love? I honestly don’t know if I could choose between those two options for myself, or for my children someday, and it’s heartbreaking that the people of Haiti are forced to make such a decision at all.
Aside from that, the other natural struggle in returning to America is seeing our abundance of wealth and corresponding waste. As Americans, we have so much, but often times it seems like it’s not enough. We strive to have a better car, a bigger tv, or a new pair of designer jeans (I should probably cut the crap and change that “we” to and “I,” because those three things literally apply to my actions in the last 6 months), and for what? Chances are, we already have a car, tv, and pair of pants that work just fine… But yet we feed into this culture of bigger/better/more.
There’s not a ton we can immediately do about the poverty gap between the USA and a 3rd world country like Haiti… But the LEAST we can do is be appreciative and thankful of what we do have, and be sure to avoid wasting food/items/money that others would literally die to have. And of course, we can love. Because really, what else does the Lord ask of us but to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39)?
It’s late, and I haven’t really slept well since I returned, so I don’t have any sort of powerful conclusions or words of encouragement to end with. Lucky for me, I can’t say anything better than God already did anyway:
“Learn to do right.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless orphan.
Plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17
“And what does the Lord require of you, but to SEEK JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY, and WALK HUMBLY with your God.” – Micah 6:8
Love you all. Thanks SO MUCH again for your prayers and support… I couldn’t have done this without you! :)