Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter in Haiti- The Ressurection of Hope

It's Easter Sunday and I'm sitting at an orphanage wearing a skirt in the northern jungles of Haiti. Everyone got up at 5am this morning and headed out to the courtyard for an EARLY morning sunrise service. Kids and families from the village all came into the compound to attend the big service. I made a cup of coffee, wandered up to the roof, and had my own little talk with God as I watched the sun creep up from behind teh mountains casting bright yellow rays of light to the ground and ocean below. What a great sight. I then went downstairs and joined in on the morning serivce. I went and got Josh who had just been washed and dressed. They put him in a pair of khaki pantst and a bright blue colllared polo shirt. He looked more adorable than I've ever seen him. He actually hada shirt on that fit him! Once he saw me and realized that we were still there by his side, he got that big smile upon his face and started to reach for my hands. I sat by the little guy's side for the rest of the service.

We keep checking in on Joshua throughout the day. We are all trying to make our visits further between and for shorter lengths of time, so that he can start getting use to the other children and his new routine, so that when we don't show back up after tomorrow it won't be quite as painful for him... and ourselves. He seems to be doing pretty good. I've seen him already get at least 3 baths, several changes of clothes, the ladies here are already starting to try and get him used to using a toilet, and he looks fairly content. I know Carmen had a problem when she tried to leave after sitting with him a little this morning. Joshua started to cry and wouldn't let her go. This is going to be hard for him.

After the kids had a little easter egg hunt and got little bags of easter candy, I came upstairs for some breakfast and worked on some more journaling. Suddenly, I found myself unbelievably tired. I went to lay down and fell asleep for a 2 hour nap. It was great! Funny thing is that I dreamt that we discovered a secret part Haiti that had everything modern like McDonalds, a semi truck of Dr. Pepper, Pizza hut, and tons of stores that were open and functioning like normal. In my dream I couldn't stop taking pictures of the "golden arches" (and I'm really not much of a fan of McDonalds, it's just so symbolic of America to me... sadly). This woman then comes over and tells me that I was never supposed to find this place and that she was going to have to kill me because others already saw I was here. She led me off into the woods and then told me to run, that she would spare me, but not to ever tell anyone I was here and to never come back. I woke up covered in sweat, thinking "what in the hell did that just mean?" I still have no idea and I try not to overanalyze too many of my dreams. It probably just means I miss home and the comforts of a modern country.

It's so strange for me to be here today because the last 2-plus months have been filled with not a moment's rest. It's been working away, organizing, caretaking, scrambling, surviving, etc. What a perfect way to spend Easter Sunday, just having nothing to do but relax! It's almost uncomfortable not having something to distract myself with and be busy with. However, after my nap, I'm really starting to appreciate it. We got a fuller tour of the campus. There is an eye clinic, a nutritional program, a school, an OR, an ER, a pharmacy, a maternity ward, the equivalent of a nursing home called "Grand Moun". The home for the elderly has a big row of rocking chairs along the front. It looks just like a Cracker Barrel restaurant and somebody has the logo painted above the framing of the building. The old people here are so sweet. Every one of them came up to us and wanted to hug us, kiss us, or shake our hands. Their smiles broke into a thousand pieces and it's nice to know that these folks have someone to take care of them. Just down the way there's also a place called the "Rat Hole". When they cleared part of the property, a bunch of rats were un-nested. They found a new home in a giant tire and the rats are apparently the size of cats! We didn't see any, but I can only imagine.

We went for a hike up the mountains today. The view was gorgeous, and the company of the many local children that followed us along the way was even better. It's so sweet how these children just run up to you and are perfectly content holding your hand and walking to wherever you are headed. They'll look up at you with a big smile on their face and just keep following. One kid came over, grabbed my hand, asked me my name, asked me if I loved God, and then asked me if I was his friend. How precious that those would be the first 3 important things he would want to know with his limited English. We stopped at one of the scenic overlooks and a few of us got together with the kids for a big group picture. I had this sudden stark realization that I am in the midst of doing exactly what I was always supposed to do. I settled into that very moment and nearly wanted to cry at how blessed I feel. Bed bugs, dirt, and skirts aside, I'm more at home out here with these people in these foreign lands than I am anywhere else. When your doing the work you know God has planned for you, it feels good. It's like being a top that's spinning on a perfect axis, when you start to stray from that purpose, you start to wobble until you eventually fall. The energy to keep spinning comes from the love that surrounds me and the love from above.

Back onto the topic of Easter and it's significance for the people of Haiti. I can't help but feeling so much hope for the country today. Paralleling with the Easter celebration, Christ was crucified, died, and rose from the dead three days later. Now, three months later from a major disaster and this country is too starting to be resurrected from heartache, devestation, and destruction. The spirit of Easter is alive and well here in Haiti today. It is a time for new beginnings, a time to erase the country's tainted slate and start anew. I believe that this country is on the verge of a major rebirth and a significant renewal of spirits. Conditions may be slow to change, but these people's faith and belief is ever-expanding. Spring is right around the corner, a time of new birth, new life, fresh flowers and fresh starts. The last few months have been dark ones for Haitians. Now they can look forward to the coming spring with hopeful hearts and brighter expectations. Instead of continuing to mourn the dead they can continue to joyously celebrate life, the survivors, and the ability to feel alive.

Tonight, we ate some dinner, played some cards, and then had to go and say our formal goodbyes to Joshua. We went in pairs with a translator and explained to Joshua what was happening. I was able to tell him about the school he will be attending, about his new brothers and sisters, and about what would be happening to us. We had to tell him that we would be leaving, but that we would try to return one day. We told him we were proud of him, that we love him, that this is going to be a safe place for him to start his new life, and that we will always be in his heart and his memories. It was really hard to do, Carmen and I were both crying and he just didn't want to let us go. Justine and Beth came in next and said their goodbyes and once we were all out of the room, the wailing began. He knew. We could hear him screaming and crying from upstairs in the lounge. It was heartbreaking, but this being difficult for him was inevitable.

This morning I woke up early enough to attend part of the morning devotion. It was actually pretty cool. It compared our lives to the geyser "Old Faithful." The woman talked about how valuable it is to be able to stick with a committment. She talked about sticking to your task even when you want out, even when the world's against you, and compared it to Easter.. even when they nail you to a cross. She went on to say, "However small your assigment, however tired you may feel, however unappreciated you are, stay faithful." Make sure that at the end of the day, the man upstairs can say, "I can count on her. I can count on him." It was a nice practical thing to focus on today.

Then, just as I sat down to a cup of coffee, the director of the mission came over and said, "We gotta leave in 15 minutes." None of us were packed, dressed, etc. We ran to the room, got ready, said our final quick goodbye to Joshua and were shortly in the back of the pickup on our way to the airport. It had been a nice couple of days here at this special place where we finally leave our little boy. Oh, it is hard letting go sometimes, isn't it?

We got to the airport and had to wait a bit for the plane to arrive. There was this great old man playing a handmade guitar. He was using wires for strings and whittled wooden pegs to anchor the strings. The thing was really a piece of junk, but so incredibly resourceful and beautiful that it was probly priceless. The man sits there in his best suit, smoking a cigarette, playing the same song over and over, something about "mama, oh, mama." He was fun to watch and listen to. Then, I realized that I had a harmonica in my bag from my kids groups. I don't know how to play the thing, but I took it out, sat by the guy, and played away with him and his music. It was hilarious. Then, I got him to stand up and we marched through the airport, him and his guitar and me with the harmonica. He wanted to dance then with me as we played our instruments. I couldn't stop laughing.

Finally, the airplane arrived, we unloaded a bunch of new medical supplies for the mission and we hopped aboard. I got to be in the co-pilots seat for this flight and I loved it. As we went down the old gravel runway, I realized that the runway was the same road that went right into the middle of town. If we had not gotten air, we would have been in the middle of downtown. Amazing, along the runway walk donkeys, people, goats, and more. I hooked up my Ipod and listened to all of my favorite tunes. My favorite song to fly with, especially in rickety old planes is U2's "It's a Beautiful Day!" I like to time the song so that right as I'm lifting off the ground the chorus breaks in singing, "It's a Beautiful Day, Don't let it get away!" It certainly is a beautiful day. We were fortunate enough to fly right through and in between some great fluffy clouds, the kind that really make you feel like your in a dream. I must have been smiling the entire time. I kept wishing I had a parachute to go skydiving over the beautiful terrain below. What a great jump that would be! Perhaps next time...


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