At the end of January I went with the Silverton group to Haiti. (It's been a busy term -- but I just finished my thesis!! -- hence why I am so delayed with this update). I have always wanted to go and with a full-time job ahead, I decided this might be the best time to go -- for a while anyway. Our team left on a red-eye Thursday night to Atlanta, and then met up with a few others from Indiana and Magdalena before our flight Friday morning to Port-au-Prince.
Riding in the bus through Port-au-Prince was hard. The city streets and trash and tin roofs and fruit vendors were all exactly like the six weeks I spent living in Nicaragua this past summer, and it brought back mixed emotions, especially to be seeing these sights surrounded by a group of other Americans. I have gotten so used to traveling alone and living in third world conditions that it was oddly uncomfortable to see others' first reactions to the conditions I've come to know. We had a five hour drive to Les Cayes where we arrived at the guest house and basically just crashed. That night, I had a once-familiar cold shower and fell sound asleep on a bunk with a fan whirring. Brought back so many memories.
Saturday was a wonderful day putting church benches together and helping the guys put tin roofing on a school in Dorlette. That afternoon Haiti gave us a misty rain, humid but just barely, the surroundings green and lush. The kids in Dorlette were excited to see us and spent many hours clustered around watching us work and kicking a soccer ball around. After dinner, the girls headed to our cots in the Pastor's house across the way -- we had a tiny room with about 8 cots wall-to-wall and three of us on the front "porch". For those of us outside, there was a tarp creating a bit of an overhang to sleep under, but we were praying for no rain. Still, it was lovely to hear the insects outside and sleep right out in the middle of God's creation. (Though I will admit, the next morning it was a little less lovely as babies, chickens, radios, and all manner of other noises started from at least 4 AM).
On Monday we had a lively breakfast of unnamed items in a soup and then a two hour drive to Bonne Fin, where we got a tour of the hospital and the homey campus. It was so cool to see all the work ACWR has done and to feel what a community they have here in Haiti. On top of the jeeps once more, we rode another hour and half to a tiny village nestled in between two hills. Palm trees dotted the open area between the church and school buildings, and blue purple hills framed the horizon in one direction, flat brown farmland for a while in the other. The community was so happy to see us, all the children came out to welcome us with a song and a prayer, dressed in little indigo and gray uniforms. Then the whole village helped unload the construction truck, the area suddenly awash with little arms carrying plywood boards as big as they were. The guys started on the school roof and us girls on school benches and around us, the preschool and kindergarten classes dragged their chairs outside to watch. After lunch, the men decided they could also reroof an old rusted tin roof on a building beside the church, and the women, when they heard the news, started cheering and dancing and singing. It made my heart happy to hear their joy. And it made me wonder -- when do we get that happy over anything? When do we thank God that much for the blessings he gives?! After the day of work, we had a great ride back to the compound in the setting sun, with talks of missionary life and travel and everything else. After showers, Adrienne and I took blankets and pillows up to the roof for some stargazing and wonderful heart to hearts. It was great to talk about Haiti and our impressions with another person with similar experiences! The day was just beautiful in every way. This country's landscape is actually beautiful too and to see the love and prevalence of Jesus in lives here is humbling.
Wednesday night church at the MEBSH compound was interesting but good, hearing that in Haiti we realize that God is the ONLY 'almighty'. In the states, it's easy to put faith in other things but in Haiti, our inability to control life is glaringly evident. The rest of the trip was full of many other great memories and soul-searching talks and lots of laughter and I could just tell that so many pieces of this trip were fitting perfectly into my life. It felt like things were coming full circle but I don't have the part where it all connects yet. So blessed to have this moment and to know our awesome God.
We left Les Cayes at 3 AM on Friday to avoid coming unrest in Port-au-Prince. It was a rough wake-up as we groggily packed up and loaded into the bus to start the many hour drive to the airport. It was a tired group of travelers that made it to Port-au-Prince, Atlanta (goodbyes to the Lehmans), Minneapolis, and the next morning finally to Portland. On our last flight home as I reflected on the week, I just kept thinking how good it was to refocus on serving God and to remember that the body of Christ is really global. At every church and village we went to, Haitians said they look forward to seeing us in heaven, if not on this earth. What a good perspective.
On other life updates, I found out my first rotation with Unilever will be in Trumbull, CT, rather than New Jersey, which is much closer to church! I still don't have a start date yet or many plans beyond, but that should come soon. Until then, I am trying to be especially purposeful with my time - what feels like a season of "lasts" before I move and start a real job. God has been good and I am excited for whatever the future holds.
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.