Monday, August 2, 2010

Because We Love Haiti

The past couple of days have been packed with activity for us in Haiti. If big-moments are those that you take a photograph of with your mind and hope that you’ll recollect it often in the days ahead, then we definitely had a big-moment-weekend. We left early for Bighouse on Saturday to finish painting the classrooms and to give the six July-only team members one last morning to play with the kids and say goodbye. I can vouch for them and for this next team that will do the same this coming Thursday…knowing that when you leave there are not as many people to hold them when they fall, knowing that when you leave there will not be as many activities taking place or older “siblings” to play with or heads of hair to run their hands through, knowing that when you leave they will remember your name as much as you remember theirs and you will both be waiting until the time when you will see each other in Haiti again….saying goodbye is a terribly difficult thing to do at Bighouse orphanage. It is near impossible to get back into the bed of the pickup, and not be able to say “Demen” (tomorrow!), without planning your next trip down. I’ve said it once, and I hold to it completely…this place is contagious.

We loaded up and headed back to the guesthouse for a quick lunch and a change of clothes, then got back into the vehicles for the drive to Port Salut beach. Of course, we listened to the wrong person who listened to the wrong person who said that the car we were renting was the one sitting across the street. So I led, ya know, ten people into climbing into the back of some stranger’s pickup and we just sat there waiting on our driver who just stood there wondering why in the world there were ten white people packed like sardines in the back of his pickup with their swimsuits on. Luckily, our guesthouse leader (who had rented us the other vehicle…that hadn’t arrived yet) caught us in time and yelled, “Whose car is that???!” And I yelled, “Um….well if you don’t know, then I’m sure I don’t know….(whispered) Hey guys, I think we should get out of the car…get out of the car.” Then our correct vehicle pulled up, we apologized to the driver who thought he was going to luck out on an American tip for the afternoon, and headed for the mountains.

The drive to Port Salut is indescribable in the most sincere since of the term. On the days when the sun is not masked by rain clouds, the Island lights up as we dip low and then climb back high across an hour’s drive to the southern coast. It is breathtaking. You can see the teal Caribbean sea when it makes a surprise appearance every now and then around a corner, right before it’s hidden again by another set of mountains beyond mountains beyond mountains that are covered with random crops and tiny huts that leave you wondering how in the world anyone got over there. The roads get better the closer you get to Port Salut, as many UN people live out that way, and the smell of sea water announces our arrival.

We went and put our orders in at the beach-side restaurant for dinner…some got chicken or fish…some got grilled conk or lobster (which just happens to be the same price as chicken, conveniently, and is one of the best meals I’ve had). Then we went and played in the water that is best described as cloudy, walked the beach and found shells and muscles, and played Frisbee with some locals. We finished out the evening eating our meals on wooden tables in the sand, singing to the guitar as the sun set, and driving through dark mountain roads back to the guesthouse.

We had our last devotion/debriefing time on the roof as thunder clouds demanded our attention and surrounded the house, eventually accompanied by lightning so bright and loud it would light up the entire outside and then have us jumping high and screaming. We moved our closing under the roof veranda and spoke over the storm as we cried and laughed and said our goodbyes to the July-only team. Then we played in the rain as we were still in our swimsuits.

Sarah, Michael, and I woke up at 5 the next morning with the July group, had breakfast with them, then climbed into the charter bus to take them on the 4 hour drive back to the airport. Saw them through security, gave hugs, and crossed our fingers hoping that Port au Prince airport would allow us to sit inside for the next 4hours as we waiting on the next team of 7 to arrive. They said no. They said no and asked us to leave. So we did. And we sat outside on the curb and ate our PB&J sandwiches in the heat and wondered what we were going to do on that curb for 3.5 more hours as we took the last sips of our water.

So. We called a driver named Daniel who I’ve ridden with before and trust and asked him to take us to the Global Orphan Project’s Orphan Transition Village, 20minutes north, where I led a group to and stayed the past two times I was in Haiti. And he did, and it was such an exciting and unexpected surprise. We sat in their main office with Tate, a GO Project staff, and his wife, shared their fruit cups, filled up our water bottles, talked about Bighouse and Darivaje (the two orphan villages that we sponsor through them), used the bathroom, hugged the children, then left to pick up the team.

Jackson, the one armed bag guy, helped us get the team’s luggage on top of our charter bus, and we made the trek back out to Cayes. As we arrived 4hours later at the guesthouse, we got word that the July team had made it home safely in Shreveport, gave the August team the rundown for the week, ate a late supper, took late showers, had a few late conversations, then got some much needed rest.

Woke up for another full day of painting (this time the church) and playing at Bighouse today. The older boys greeted Missy with bracelets they had made her with her name on it. Maegan finally found Merothide who had definitely grown since the last time she held her. Justin Ansley, who tries to act big and bad, melted when he immediately was covered with 4 kids hanging everywhere possible, tugging at his piercings. The minute we arrived, Nic Sorensen was weighted down with both Tony twins. And Jason (my little brother, mwen ti frer), Cassie, and Tim were welcomed without hesitation into the Bighouse family as kids wrapped their arms around their necks and asked their names.

All day long we’ve answered the questions of, “Kikote Nicole? Kikote Zahk… Eleezabith… Dehna? Kikote Gront… Mehree Lahenn?” And we told them they were in the United States, and that they love them and will pray for them, and that they will be back.

As we all will. Because they will be waiting. Because they won’t forget. Because we keep this thing going like an actual relationship… ever growing, ever added to. Because we love Haiti.

Going to get a coke and play cards and relive the day with the group,


Oh. Ps. Tim rode a donkey today. Livin' the dream.

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