Haiti Mission Team
First we met as a group of ten. At this meeting David and the outreach committee provided an outline of everything you would need on the trip: the costs and monetary investments, vaccinations, passport, proper clothing and the correct amount of clothes, insect repellent, water bottles, hats and more. There was timetable provided. All of this was very helpful.
Dutifully, I went about getting everything. I got my shots for typhoid, hepatitis and tetanus, got my malaria medication, secured my passport (whole different story here), bought clothes, toiletries and needed accessories.
We met again. Created a list of last minute items still needed. Allotted computers to the team to carry with us to Haiti as gifts from the people of St. Anthony. We were getting ready and the time was coming soon.
I then packed. Clothes – check. Medications – check. Water bottle – check. Hammer, screw drivers, pliers, wrench – check, check, check and check. Computer (personal and donated) – check, check. Multiple shoes – check. Hat and do-rag (I rock the do-rag by the way) – check & check. Passport – Check. Tickets and boarding pass – check and final check.
Ok, let’s go…I’m ready!!!!!
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I wasn’t ready for the visceral reaction to the scenes I saw. The heart breaking scenes coming from the airport. The constant smell of acrid smoke. Trash strewn everywhere. Buildings in disarray. Crowded streets, crowded markets. You’ve seen the pictures but being the in the midst of all of this is quite different. I wasn’t ready for the feelings this evoked.
I wasn’t ready for the smiles, the joy, the pride, the zeal and zest of life and the generosity of the people of Haiti. I love them. They walk with their heads firmly held high and rightfully so. They greet you with boundless smiles that invite you to learn as much as you can about them. I wasn’t prepared for their joy.
I wasn’t ready for the chaos that really wasn’t chaotic. The streets are filled with people, cars, trucks, motorcycles, color, animals; and it is in constant motion like a tide sweeping smoothly in and out, ebbing along to its own pulse. There is a constant noise of machines and horns but not a harsh or jarring cacophony. It wasn’t melodious but rather a background hum that ran sunrise to sunset. Despite all of this, it all works – smoothly. No accidents, no screaming just constant movement flowing to a purpose they all shared. I wasn’t ready to see calm in the midst of this disjointed commotion.
I wasn’t ready for the beauty of the nation. Once you look about you, there is color and spectacles everywhere to behold. A gorgeous tall tree willed with radiantly orange flowers majestically protecting the entrance of a cemetery, next to a mass grave of no-named souls who perished in the earthquake. wasn’t ready to the juxtaposition of these realities. The mountains, the flora, the sea, the smiles…there was beauty everywhere. I wasn’t prepared to accept this as I do now.
The people I worked with on this journey were amazing individuals. Working endlessly, sweating continuously and smiling, laughing our way through our tiring assigned efforts. I knew or knew of them but I didn’t really know them. Still don’t, but I want to. I have incredible respect and admiration for them all, for their individual gifts, for their boundless energy, for their special laughs and the unique glimmer in their respective eyes. I wasn’t ready to love this group as much as I do now – and so grateful for this reality.
As it turns out, I wasn’t ready to leave, either. (Ask David about my passport misadventure.) Well, actually I was ready to go home and be with my family. I missed them a lot. I wanted to enjoy a real shower. I really, really looked forward to a “real” shower. Turns out it was only a stream of water; not special and not as great as I thought I was missing while in Haiti. I wasn’t prepared for that reality, either.
I hope that I return again to Haiti. Maybe I’ll be better prepared next time, but I doubt it.