After nearly 2 years of living in Haiti, we are taking a moment to do just that. If you include the prep that it took to move internationally we have had a pretty CRAZY last 3 years! It was exactly 3 years ago this month that we committed ourselves to working there full time. That has actually flown by in many ways and yet been packed FULL of all kinds of experiences ranging from devastating to astoundingly beautiful along the way.
It feels like our plans to adjust to the new organization over the summer went very well. We are still struggling with Kreyol - mainly understanding native speakers, but committed to that goal. The foundation is being laid for our own projects there now and at the moment we are just in -between transition & a world of new and consuming responsibility.
Seems like a good time to take a little break. Ted has spent nearly ALL of his time in Port Au Prince the past few years, while I have popped back & forth from time to time for nursing contracts to keep my skills up & also help keep us afloat. I am in one of those chapters right now again. After coming to the US to see Ana & Oliver in August, I started an 8wk contract in Southern CA. Not exactly a vacation, but it still seems to have been refreshing. There have been enough days off to decompress...to SLEEP without mosquitoes, inverter alarms, dogs barking and the stifling heat of late summer in the Caribbean.
Ted, Tynan & Emma have been battling it out and it has taken a toll. After having to deal with a broken generator, a broken water pump, our beloved cat’s sudden death, and some type of food poisoning requiring a hospital visit and IV therapy (all n the last TWO weeks) they are beyond TIRED and ready for some rest. Thankfully they are on their way to join me here in CA even as I write.
While it makes sense to take some time off and get refreshed before diving into more work than we ever dreamed of in Haiti...after living there it almost feels like an unwarranted “guilty pleasure”. EVERYTHING in our lives is so much more complex in light of our experiences. So it is hard to think about taking a “break” from a place that is the only life that a majority of Haitians will know. Granted, they are more used to the culture and flow of things, not to mention the heat.
I don’t think that I can put into words the mixed thoughts that I have regarding the amazing and the horrible things about life in Haiti OR the bountiful and the petty that we find here in the US. I’ll admit that being back here for nearly 2 months now, Haiti seems far away & I can almost taste the temptation to slip back into a “normal” American lifestyle...it is comfortable, peaceful even with the pressure to “compete” washed away by the realities of a BIGGER world view. I think sometimes that I’ve had a strong enough dose of reality that I would live differently here, but I know that truthfully... it could just as easily creep back in.
I am grateful for the rest and realize that it is just a part of the way that we must live in Haiti. I give myself a little grace over not being able to live like some of the Haitians I know and still be productive...which is why we are there. I recall that Jesus stole himself away from the crowds rather than healing everyone in sight while he could. There is a bigger picture that we have been asked to be a part of and that time away to rest ourselves - body, soul & spirit - is necessary for us to continue on.
Tomorrow is the start of Ted’s 50th year of life...Tynan turns 21 shortly after. Time is marching on, but we need a moment to “just breathe” right now and get ready for all that comes next. Knowing our life in Haiti, there will be plenty of interesting, constant glimpses at the amazing, and along with it a lifestyle of chronic stress. Why shouldn’t we be stressed though? Why should we seek a life of ease while others are scraping by and looking for hope? The answer for us? We can’t, we won’t. It happens to be something that we can do, and so we will.
None of us will ever know the long term results, but what matters for now is that there are mom’s & dad’s able to care for their children. Women will survive childbirth and adults grow old nurturing & raising the next generation of Haiti with hope. Grown up street kids, orphans & restaveks are working for an honest living wage. The cycle of poverty, tragedy, neglect and abuse is being broken...who knows what will happen next?
Left: Vesline holding a photo of her mother who died of cholera.
Below: Now she is a mother herself...!
I can't imagine trying to be a mom without having mine to fall back on. Even being an orphaned adult she faces so many additional challenges on her own. Family & community is all that you have in Haiti at times.
We have a limited number of breaths in our time on this planet...so today we will breathe deeply and get ready to use the rest of ours to provide longer, meaningful lives for other’s!