Wednesday, December 10, 2008
There are no words for that...
English always has been my favorite subject. I love to read and I love to write…. Basically I just love written words. But there are some things and some circumstances in life, where there just are no words to describe. Looking back at some of my journaling from the week we spent in Haiti, there seems to one phrase written over and over, “there are no words for that.” So as I try to somehow describe what we saw and experienced in Haiti, please remember the reoccurring phrase / theme throughout my journal was “THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THAT!”
Coming back this time, it was the first time I returned to Haiti since adopting Jimso. Before any group goes there, they are warned not to give hand outs to beggars you encounter on the streets because you will not ever have enough and if you do you might be swarmed by needy people. On my first trip, one of the most difficult things to do was to say “no” to the beggars we encountered. But this trip saying “no” had a new and unexpected dimension to it. We were barely off the plane and had just found our seats on the bus that would take us to the orphanage, when I was approached by a little boy who stood outside my window asking for food and clutching his stomach. I tried not to look directly at him because I knew I had been told not to give anyone anything but for one brief second our eyes met and it took my breathe away because it was as if I was looking into the eyes of MY OWN SON whom I had left at home just several hours earlier. It was haunting to looking into the eyes of a little boy so similar in so many ways to my own son. It was gut wrenching to shake my head no and look away. My thoughts then went to the “What if’s” of Jimso’s life. What if God had not brought Jimso into our lives, what if he had not brought him to GVCM, what if he was still living on the streets alone? The “what if’s” have a way of consuming your thoughts if you let them.
There are no words to describe how much I love the people of Haiti. They are just completely beautiful to me. I have read in the book of Ruth where she proclaims to her mother in law Naomi, “Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. YOUR PEOPLE WILL BE MY PEOPLE and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." I do not understand the how’s or why’s of it… but I know that I feel a divine connection and love for the people of Haiti. Maybe it has something to do with the adoption but I know God has placed a devotion in my heart to this nation and its people that will connect my heart with theirs forever.
Although we had many work “projects” throughout the week, the time we spent with the precious 57 orphans is what made the trip worth all the hard work it took to get us there. You see… We’re all born with a Love Bank that resides with our hearts. Our life experiences and everyday contact with others will either make deposits into our account or withdrawals from our heart. Throughout our childhood, most of us have the privilege of having loving parents and caring families who are continuously making deposits into the love bank that resides with our hearts. But the precious children we spent the week with had not been given some of that opportunity and if you could look inside their hearts, you would a love bank account that had been negative and in the red for years (work with me here, remember “there are no words”). These children were desperate for love and attention. Throughout the week, we learned to pick our seats wisely because within seconds of sitting down, we would find ourselves with at least 4 or 5 children planted in our laps just wanting to cuddle. In fact, they would even push and fight their way to find a coveted spot on your lap. My lap, although big, could not accommodate all the children reaching their arms up for me to hold them. There was no such thing as personal space or alone time, and I loved every minute of it (even as the introvert I am)! The first few days, the communication and language barrier was felt. But the more time we spent there, the more that barrier disappeared until I didn’t even notice the fact we spoke different languages. English wasn’t spoken in our play, Creole wasn’t spoken either. Love was spoken.
Another highlight of our week for me was spending time with Jimso’s biological brother Jedone’. For those who do not know, Jedone’ is Jimso’s 12 year brother. If only we had known about him before we adopted Jimso, he might be living with us now. But having the opportunity to spend the week with him was priceless. He is such a beautiful boy, with lighter skin and eyelashes so long that curl up. He looks a lot like Jimso… but they are polar opposites in their personalities. Jedone’ is shy and soft spoken and extremely sweet. He is the leader of the pack with the older boys and is such an amazing helper. I watched to parent some of the younger boys all week and wondered if he did that with Jimso when they were together. He loved the pictures I brought of Jimso. He proudly wore a button of Jimso’s soccer picture all week. And wanted to show all his friends the pictures of his "petite fray" (little brother). We also had the privilege of meeting with Jimso’s biological mother one morning. I tired to express our gratitude and what a blessing Jimso is to our family but once again “there are no words for that” and I felt completely inadequate. Haitian women are not emotional so I tried with every fiber in my being not to overwhelm her with emotion. She expressed how pleased she was with adoption and absolutely loved looking at the photo album we brought her. We brought her some gifts but honestly nothing we gave her would have felt adequate. She said she knew God had a plan for Jimso’s life and GVCM taking him in when she could not care for him, and us adopting him was all part of that plan. I can not wait until Jimso is old enough is accompany us on a mission trip there. I want so badly for him to feel connected to his culture and for him to understand where he came from and for him to share our love for these precious people.
In my lifetime, I have celebrated 30 Thanksgivings, but none of them will ever be as memorable as the one I spent in Haiti. For the life of me, I can not even remember what I did last thanksgiving but I will NEVER forget what I did 11/28/08. We treated 97 gravely ill people in an impromptu medical clinic. People who were willing to wait all day to be seen by us. Some of them had never been seen by a medical professional in their entire life. My thoughts and prayers are still consumed by them but especially by a few in particular… the women who had a terrible infection resulting from an abortion she had a few days earlier; the young mom who was so septic she could hardly walk, let alone care for her baby; an elderly man with heart disease and blood pressure so critically high he could have had a stroke at any moment; the two young children with malaria; the young man withering away from what seemed to be AIDS; patients who had critically high fevers like 104 or 105 yet continued to work all day as if they were fine; a young mother who was so blind she could not see the medication syringe well enough to administer the necessary antibiotic it to her young children that we had to teach the 4 year old daughter how to give it to herself and her younger siblings. There are no words to describe those kinds of health care needs. And once again, I felt inadequate. Most of what we saw was all so preventable and treatable yet it could be fatal in circumstances like these. I can’t wrap my mind around it. Nor can I look into their faces and pretend anything about their circumstances is just, fair, or right. I hate the starling fact that in our world, your place of birth drastically determines your quality of life (it determines your access to health care, access to education, access to clean water, ability to feed yourself and your family). We ended our Thanksgiving with homemade pizza for dinner with the orphans. They weren’t sure what to think of it but in the end, I think they liked it and it was the most memorable Thanksgiving of my life.
The day after Thanksgiving is usually a day full of shopping for me and millions of other Americans but instead we got to meet our friend Bob (the 8 year old boy we sponsor through Compassion International). He has incredibly sweet and meeting him face to face and seeing the difference just $30 a month can make was incredible! I am completely amazed at that organization’s kingdom work! Seeing this kind of extreme poverty everyday… it would be so easy to just get overwhelmed by the vast needs that exist, yet they are truly making a global difference.
The day we left the orphanage was the hardest day of the entire week. OShellie cried as she said goodbye to Chelsey… which opened a floodgate of tears for us all. And as we tried to say good-bye, express to them our love, and promise them that this goodbye was not forever… the language and communication barrier seemed to reemerge.
Adjusting to life at home has been difficult. Once again, I left a huge hunk of my heart in Haiti and trying to adjust to life without that part of my heart has been hard. This week I found some little friends, named scabies, have taken up residency under my skin. Someone asked me “Now that you got scabies, do you regret cuddling so much with those orphans?” To which I honestly replied “No way… I regret not cuddling more. I wish I would have taken shorter showers, spent less time eating, and made more time for what mattered most... loving on those little kids.” My lap is empty, my heat is hurting, but there are no words to describe how much that week meant to me!”
“Once our eyes are opened, we can not pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act!”