It's been a month and a half since my last trip to Haiti, and with the long wait in between the quake and the April trip that seemed to last forever and a day, this shorter turn around leaves me feeling a little caught off guard. Or maybe it's getting to be more routine. I can't tell. Either way (or maybe this happens every time), being back didn't sink in again until the concrete and the slums peeked through the dreary clouds in our landing. Maybe it feels like just another long-weekend trip. Or maybe it's starting to feel like a more familiar face. There's an anxiety in me that thinks one day the stories will run out. But then there's a confidence in me that knows God and life and the unpredictability of both better. I'm thankful to have not arrived yet. The journey's too much fun.
I left Shreveport Regional this morning at 6:15, heading through DFW to Miami to meet my team of 22, all from different corners of the states and Canada. Many of them had seen the Global Orphan Project's special on 60minutes a couple of months ago about their efforts in Haiti and had signed up to go on a trip down to the Orphan Transition Village. And since GO Project trips have more than tripled in members willing to go over the past few months, a few volunteers were asked to lead teams down for them. Hence, why I am in Haiti again:)
However, I forgot that my team had no idea what anyone else looked like, nor did I wear a shirt that was easily identifiable. So I spent my first 30 minutes in Miami making a tiny sign with a tiny black pen that said, "Hi I'm Britney!" And then walking around with it. Because, clearly, I'm that cool. But, finally we found each other and were off to conquer getting 40 duffle bags through the Port au Prince airport without having to pay an arm and a leg for "assistance."
"Amer-ee-can guhl, I weel help you, just ten dollah!" ..."No, mesi."...."ok, five"..."No, mesi."
The team charged through like champs and piled into the GO projects newest mode of transportation...a really nice, proooobably 15 passenger bus. Good thing we had 25 people. I sat backwards on the console. Saves from having to watch all the cars we're playing chicken with, I suppose.
The Orphan Transition Village radiates hope just as much as it did in April. And fewer things pierce as deeply, feel as raw, as when the kids' faces light up because they know you. And they remember you. And they realize that you meant it when you said you'd be back.
Like the most glorious family reunion you've ever been to, where no words are spoken because of the language barrier, so everyone just hugs real tight. There's something mysteriously right that happens when the child you met and took pictures of, then told stories about, becomes alive and in your arms again. Making jokes about something you did last time and pointing at the shoes he painted. I want to emulate the part of Jesus that sticks around.
We played and unloaded, then prayed and ate rice, beans, red sauce, piclis, and fried plantains. Then we made our way up to the roof for nighttime devotion/debriefing. I'm with so many people whose eyes are wide in expectation, whose eagerness to dive into these next few days fully is apparent and throbbing...and I don't even know all of their names. But I know they'll, once again, let me see Haiti through a new lens. And in effect, let me see God through a new lens.
Rojelin is still here. The legal tape has not been sorted through for him to join his sister in the states. But he is the best host the GO Project could ask for. And he's safe. Renice (the 13 year old)'s baby Kimberly has grown soo much. And she's healthy. And Renice laughed and laughed in excitement that she got to show her baby off to me one more time. Ellison greeted us with a dance that only the greats know how to pull off. I swear he's an old soul. An old goofy soul.
And we sat on top of the roof waiting to meet. And I heard the kids clanking their dishes as they put them away down below us, and I thought about the richness of life. And I saw the sheet lightning shoot without pauses up above us, and I thought about the jealous God that watches over his own, who's alive and winding through the halls of the OTV.
When we're aware, without fail, we'll see.
So here's to toilet paper in the trashcans, slow june bugs that work my nerves, the kids who never forget names, and awareness that seeks consistency. Here and there.