Monday was surreal. I am still unsure if I have fully processed the days events. Our airport, (MSP) was the usual drill, check-in, security, get to gate and hit the bou. We were off, settled into our seats on an immaculately maintained plane. Some of us slept, while some chatted. Others played scrabble and talked about expectations.
I had broken sleep for the better part of 2 weeks, and i am still surprised i didn't crash the minute i sat in my seat. I hadn't traveled outside the U.S. since 2002 shortly after 9-11, and that was to Paris and London. Not quite third world countries.
I wasn't even in Haiti before the scenery changed. The airplane that took us from Mimi to Port Au Prince was a far cry from the pristine one we had just left. Out dated video screens encased in yellowed plastic replaced the drop-down L.E.D. monitors aboard the last flight. The seat just to my right had a defective tray that did not stay in the up-right position as is required during take-off.
I had to ask myself if the airfare from Miami to Haiti is that much less than it is Minneapolis to Miami, that the lesser maintained planes are used for such flights?
I had been "bracing" myself, preparing my heart for the worst imaginable sights and conditions i had known. I knew I would be in a 3rd world country for a week, had been prepared to "act as the hands and feet of Christ", and all that I thought that would encompass. I don't think it is actually possible to even grasp what it was like when we walked into baggage claim, if it could be called that. The Haitian airport still wears the scars from the earthquake in 2010, shattered glass is still in window frames facing the jet way, and the large pole barn that serves as both customs and baggage claim has no working baggage carousels.
Maybe once they had actually turned like ours do, the conveyor belts moving luggage from a window dispersing bags in an orderly way, but not anymore. I am sure everyone else has gone into detail, so I won't. Needless to say, we had to fight tooth and nail for our bags, our carts, and walk through hundreds of men who grabbed at, laughed at and blocked our path in order that we get to our waiting truck.
That was Monday, today is Wednesday. The day was filled with hundreds of little faces, faces that have experienced and know pain no child ever should. We are given a single directive... to love them. pick them up, feed them, change them, hold them, comfort them, play with them. It does not matter, the gift of human touch is gift enough to these little ones.
Leaving our first stop today broke me. I do not like to cry openly, it's hard for me to do. There have been times that I have needed the release, but I can usually stifle it until i am alone, but not today.
The sobs came without shame. I wept as one of my sisters here held me as if I were a child. My tears were not the only ones, They were joined by my dear friends as our hearts broke together, the pieces shattering in unison.
I am emotionally spent today. I feel like between the heat and the tears I am being purified in a big way. My inability to stay present at our second stop showed itself forcefully. My instinct was to run, but with nowhere to go... i was forced me to look at myself today. I wanted to come here because i knew that God would use this experience to rid me of some character flaws I can not see.
There is no amount or kind of mental preparation i could have done to convey to myself that Haiti would actually leave a mark. That I wasn't going to experience Haiti from a safe little bubble, observing the sights of the slums without knowing the smell or feeling the heat. Nor would there be any way to describe what it feels like when a child who has never seen you before is lit up at your presence. There are few times I have walked down a street and have been greeted by each person I encounter.
Well, I am off for now, tomorrow we see the Haiti few know and I get to swim in the ocean I have never seen.
much love, until tomorrow.
Healing Haiti Team Member