It was wonderful to spend time with people from our church. I loved getting to know new friends. I loved having a full house, laughing into the evening and sharing experiences with people new to Haiti. I loved having girl time with friends, something I have not had since moving here. I loved sharing people and things I've grown to love here in Haiti.
Our main responsibility while they were here was to feed and house them, and keep this joint running. The team split their time between Good Neighbor Orphanage and a community about two and a half hours south of Port-au-Prince in the mountains of Lespinasse.
While at GNO, the extra hands were able to help with some improvement projects such as prepping an area for a garden, fixing holes in the sides of the dorms, painting the front gate, and cleaning up a pit of nasty, so disgusting, that the men involved had a stench that permeated their skin so that they still stunk after bathing. How do I know? One of them was my husband.
Our Pastor has been establishing a relationship with the community of Lespinasse for three years, and committed to help them rebuild their church. They were able to finish the electrical work, painting and building of pews. The whole group drove up on Sunday for the church dedication. On the treacherous drive up, we discovered the hard way that our littlest Crazy gets car sick. I'll spare you the mental picture, but it involved copious amounts of audible dry heaving from her mother. She spent the rest of the day in a diaper. Also, it was a seven hour church service ya'll.
Johny took the group up to see GNO's new property in Archaiae, a more rural area north of Port-au-Prince along the inner coast. It is cooler, less populated, cleaner, with a view of the ocean. The land is more than three times the size of their current set up, with room for soccer, separate dormitories, indoor washrooms, school, and cafeteria. We are in the very early stages of fundraising for this enormous project.
We rounded out the trip by sharing the beauty of Haiti, at the beach. The water is so beautiful, it looks like the fake background they use in touristy pictures. It is stunning. The kids were able to find live sea urchins, starfish, sea sponges, colorful tropical fish, and a plethora of shells. There was snorkling, eating, and a recovery mission to find our Pastor's lost wedding ring in the ocean. Miraculously, it was found.
I think that people visiting Haiti for the first time got an accurate look at the real Haiti. From the littered and chaotic streets of Port-au-Prince, to the remote villages in the foggy mountains, to the turquoise beauty of the Caribbean beaches. There are needs everywhere here, but there is also hope.
And then, seemingly out of no where, came the tears as I said goodbye. I didn't know I would be this sad when they left. Hosting our church, at this particular point in our transition, has brought up some strange feelings. For the last five months, we've been pushing through the discomfort to settle in here. The busy-ness of our days leave little room to really think about our feelings, or how we're really doing. So when this flood of familiar came, and then subsequently left, I think I finally started thinking about what the last five months have been like for us, and the truth is, it has been really really hard. Not the kind of hard where you should feel sorry for us, just hard like being refined and shaped and bent. Maybe like a baby bird being tossed from its nest by the mama bird who knows what the baby bird is capable of, and that it can help the baby bird if it gets to be too much, but there's going to be a whole lot of terrifying flapping before it actually catches some air.
When you're living in that place of holy crap I don't know what the heck I'm doing (self censoring: did you see what I did there?), the only thing you can do is rely on God, and trust that He's going to come through. Being self-reliant is a quality that is celebrated and encouraged in our home culture. It is also not the way God wants us to live, and a really hard habit to break. Learning to live both for God, and in His strength, while also being in a foreign culture away from what feels comfortable is totally kicking my butt. I am praying that I will become a stronger, wiser, more loving version of myself, and that my actions will speak louder than my words.