Four weeks ago tonight, I was mad as a hornet and crying tears of frustration because my husband wasn’t able to come home to tell me goodbye before I left for Haiti due to a very unintelligent human shooting a gun off illegally and threatening the lives of other humans. :angryJo: That’s probably another story for another time, and probably one best told by Kyle, but I promise you its a good one.
The next morning, I flew to Haiti with a team of twelve other people. One of them was my mom, the other my friend Kelsey. The rest were nearly strangers to me. And nine of them were deaf. I got to brush off long since forgotten ASL and learn again how to communicate in sign language! Looking at our week ahead, I had no idea what it held, or how I would react to my first experience in a developing nation. You can hear all about what to expect, how different things will be, cultural nuances, etc., but none of that will prepare you for actually stepping foot into Haiti.
As the island of Hispaniola finally came into view in my tiny square of a window, my heart tightened with….excitement? joy? I’m not sure how to describe my feelings as I looked down at the varied topography and saw the city of Port au Prince come into view. I marveled at God’s beauty and majesty as I saw the mountains met by turquoise waters. We landed and I was nervous with anticipation to finally set foot on Haitian land. This country that had been in my heart for five years, but only in pictures and video…I was about to actually see it with my own eyes and touch it with my own hands!
We went through passport control, and gathered our many suitcases. As we walked out of the airport, the sultry, humid air along with the light scent of diesel/campfire/burning trash enveloped me. I tried to take it all in – sights, sounds, and smells as we made our way to our transportation – the organization’s tap tap.
Our cheerful translator, Emmanuel, and our very capable and happy driver, Brune’, took us to the Healing Haiti guest house, which wasn’t far from the airport – right in the heart of the capitol city of Port au Prince. There we were greeted by the staff, and settled into our rooms for the week. My mom and I shared a room – one of the many things we shared over our time in Haiti.
Our team – most of them still not well known to me yet – prayed together and shared our “word of the day” with each other before we hit the sack, exhausted and travel weary. I went to sleep in a new country, a strange bed, wondering what tomorrow held and how my heart might break when I saw kids the same age as my own children living in the poorest slum of the western hemisphere. I had no idea.