March 10, 2012
I had to wait in the airport in Cincinnati for 6 hours because that was the only time I could get a ride to the airport. I wouldn’t have minded except that the anticipation was killing me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to until the KCU students got there just an hour or so before the flight. They were pretty friendly although it was a little awkward at first. The KCU students that I'm travelling with are pretty cool! Two of them are missions majors. Everything that could go wrong yesterday did. The airline I thought I was going on doesn't exist anymore. Imagine my surprise when I got to the airport at Cincinnati and there was no airline to match my itinerary! I had to throw away my water bottle packed in my carryon, and it cost me ten bucks to get a snack and water at the airport. Our flight was delayed, and we had to wait an hour and a half in the Newark cold for our hotel shuttle. I wore flip flops. The Cincinnati airport didn't have any food, so I didn't get to eat all day until 8 pm! Then we went to Ruby Tuesdays. I enjoyed getting to know the KCU students better. However, sometimes I didn’t really appreciate the way they were acting towards people that we met while we were travelling or their attitudes (like complaining). That begs the question: when does the mission trip start? The mentality for short termers is usually that the trip starts as soon as we get to our ministry destination. We need to remember that we are missionaries, ambassadors for Christ, at all times and in all situations. Taking trips is a good thing, but we need to live missionary lives.
March 11 – Flying to Haiti
We had to get up super early in the morning, and the time change really didn’t help things. I was glad that I didn’t have to navigate the airport by myself, even though I certainly could have handled it. Did I mention that I lost the back of my phone in the airport? Dumb. It’s hard to be upset about these things when you know the conditions that other people live in every day. The plane right to Haiti was great! I sat next to a Haitian man named William. He helped me with my Kreyol a little bit, and he shared his gum with me. He was going back to visit family, but he lives in New Jersey. I also sat next to a girl named Emily Chant. She was on her second or third trip to Haiti, and she was flying by herself! We really hit it off though. She’s the only Christian in her family, and she’s a youth minister now. She was working to figure out how to partner her youth ministry with some organizations in Haiti. She was really cool! She also said she felt like she had known me her whole life! We were pretty excited for each other, and it was a great way to start everything off. The airport in Port-au-Prince was a little confusing, mostly because no one spoke Angle. I would not have liked being there on my own, so I was really glad to be with the group from KCU. It was so hot in Haiti! I was really glad, but my body was kind of shocked. Newark was like 15 degrees, and Haiti was like 90. My body really did not know what was going on. At least when we were on the bus it was breezy. That’s kind of what it is like everywhere in Haiti. There is no air conditioning, but everything is really open. The windows are just holes in the wall that allow the wind to cool you off. And a lot of things are just sheltered (with no walls). The bus ride was crazy. Imagine the worst roads you’ve ever been on in America. That’s what the first three hours is like. The second three hours is a lesson in what a school bus is capable of. We were driving through streams and standing water and huge bumps that through me up into the air. It’s not easy to throw me two feet in the air, so you can imagine. That poor bus was very capable. I didn’t mind the six hour bus ride – probably because I was so glad to be in Haiti. But some people cried. Some people had a really rough time with it. My emotions were immediately confused driving through Haiti and seeing everything. I was so happy to be there. I had waited so long and dreamed of it so much. And yet, is it inhumane to look upon such poverty and smile? We drove by the tent cities in PAP. Imagine living in a tent. For years. Maybe for your whole life. Imagine that. Now stop. What kind of tent did you picture? Was it the really nice kind with rooms and dividers and screened windows that you took when your girl scout troop camped in the backyard? Because they don’t even that. It’s just a raggedy old tarp propped by sticks or pipes or whatever you might find. And that is where they live. But I loved every person I saw so much, that I couldn’t help but be happy to drive by and wave through the window and smile big. And all you hear is “BLANC BLANC BLANC BLANC BLANC!!!!!” That means “white.” And that is your first identity as an American in Haiti. Now, just a sidenote, this crazy bus ride was so bumpy that my water bottle came open in my backpack. It broke my ipod, destroyed my journal, and water damaged my bible. Whoops! It’s hard to explain everything to you guys. Haiti is not like anything that you have ever seen. And hearing about it and seeing pictures will not really help you understand. So I hope you guys can come with me sometime!
By the way, there is hardly ever water and only sometimes electricity. We ran out of beds, so I volunteered to sleep on the floor. I wasn’t nervous about sleeping on the floor, and I was pretty proud of myself. But after a few nights, I found out about the rat problem. Apparently it used to be really bad, but now it’s mostly taken care of. However, I saw a huge rat in the rafters of our ceiling one night, and it freaked Tina out a lot! (Tina was like my mother for the duration of the trip. She was so sweet, and she always wanted to take care of me! She was so proud of me for coming by myself, and she invited me to come to her house any time! Sweet sweet.) Anyway, one morning I was on the floor, and there was an animal on me. And I was just like, “Dear God, please let this be Lola (the mission’s little pug), because if this is a big rat, I might cry.” Thankfully, it was just Lola, and I smacked her across the room. That ridiculous dog! Waking me up in the morning and scaring me half to death!
March 12 – First whole day in Haiti!
First, they gave us a tour of the mission compound! It’s legit, and it’s pretty big. They have about six programs running from there including: nutrition, birthing center, medical clinic, baby orphanage, gran moun, aquaponics, Miriam center, and… I think that’s it. That’s seven because aquaponics isn’t really a program yet, I guess. It’s complicated. Anyway, they gave us a tour of everything, explaining some of their ministries. We went to the gran moun, which is where the old people are! It’s kind of like a retirement home. Basically, they have no one to take care of them, so NWHCM takes care of them. We went down there and greeted them, and they just want to shake and kiss your hand! They are so cute! I went down there to visit them a couple of times, but it’s harder for me to reach out to older people. They don’t speak any English, and some of them are blind or handicapped in other ways. They liked getting their pictures taken though! They were super cute! We walked past the baby orphanage, but I didn’t get to see any of them. We walked past the Miriam center and said hello to the kids. The kids there are all mentally or physically handicapped. Most orphanages don’t take handicapped, so it’s really a beautiful thing. I know it costs a lot to take care of those little ones though. They are so fun! They are always happy, and they love music. They love to play and walk around holding hands. Adorable. So, after seeing everything, I wasn’t sure exactly what I should do. So, I was going to go to the baby orphanage. I went back to our dorms to get my camera and everything, but then I found out that KCU was going to the brothel. So I wanted to come, so I ran back to my room again to get money for the bracelet bandits. When I came back out, they had already gone. Now, you’re not supposed to go out of the mission gates by yourself, and there is a guard there. He let me out, and I assumed that the group would be right outside the gate. However, I got out there and I didn’t see any blancs anywhere. I knew that I should have gone back, but I really didn’t want to miss out on the brothel. So I stood there, looking very dumb, I’m sure. I don’t know how long it was, but it felt like forever. Then, some kid pointed me in one direction, and I decided to trust her. Luckily, I did find the group in that direction. There were all these teenage boys who knew a lot of English (well, relatively a lot). I thought they just wanted to talk to us because I guess that was not what I was expecting from the bracelet bandits. But it was them! Basically, they want to be your friend so that you will buy bracelets from them. They are pretty darn clever. They will ask if you want a bracelet that says “zanmi mwen” because you are their friend! It melts most people’s hearts, I’ve got to say. I kind of wanted one that said that, but I restrained myself! I got one that said Haiti from my friend Fabrice. He asked if I got it because I love Haiti. I told him yes, so he asked if I love Jesus. And I said yes. So then he tried to convince me to get a JEZI bracelet. Hahaha, those are smart boys. I was impressed. I didn’t get one that said that, but I thought his tactics were pretty strong! Then we went to the brothel. Most of the women there were wearing pants, reassuring me about the necessity of skirt-wearing. The main room where the women hang out is just a little, dirty room. It’s hard to explain. Everything is concrete there. It’s almost like hanging out in a musty garage, and the brothel is right on the beach. There isn’t really an “inside” in Haiti. Everywhere is outside! There are huge openings in the walls, like windows, but they’re not glass. They are either open to the air or barred. Okay, it’s kind of like bathrooms at the beach that you don’t really want to use them if you can possibly wait until you get home. Get it? That is the best comparison I can make. We didn’t go to the back, but Ashley the intern told us that the place where they work is basically a barn stall… and that’s where they live too, with their kids, if they’re allowed to live there. Some of the women don’t get to stay there. One lady told us that she had to go out on the street looking for work every night, so that she would have somewhere to sleep that night. A lot of the women are not from St Louis. They left their homes because they were too embarrassed to work at a brothel in their hometown. We asked them all about their kids. Most of them had a regular amount – like 2 to 4. One lady had 14 kids. They all had a similar story. A lot of them were from a town that got particularly wrecked by a recent hurricane. Many of their houses were destroyed and/or their husbands died. I think every single one of them (we talked to like ten-ish) had fatherless children. They don’t have a lot of options for how to support their children. You know, you hear that women only work at places like that to support their kids, and you’re just like “whatever.” At least, I was. It seems like a flaky excuse until you meet women like this, and hear it from their own mouths. They just want their kids to be fed. They just want to find a way to get out, but they feel worthless, and they don’t know anywhere to go to live a different kind of life. We sang Amazing Grace for them, and one of the women sang a song for us. We asked for prayer requests, and they all just wanted us to pray for their children. Then we fathered them into the middle of the room and circled around them to pray. We had our hands on them, so when I started to cry during the prayer, I was concerned that people would see me when we all opened our eyes. I was definitely surprised when we opened our eyes and the whole room was in tears, including the women. One of the women was wailing. Tina was sitting next to her, crying and holding her and talking to her. I got down on my knees and held her hand. I just wanted her to know that she was worthy, and I didn’t know what to do. And I guess I felt like God was saying that I needed to kiss her hand. I thought of a million things at once – “God I could get sick or something… she’s dirty… the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair… the elderly who kissed my dirty hand… Jesus touching lepers… Jesus cleaning his disciples’ feet.” I was actually pretty overwhelmed. But I did it. I kissed the hand of a prostitute, and I prayed for her. And I love her.
Here’s one of the things I thought about that day – the least of these verses in the Bible.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Okay, so if you’re like me, you feel like you’re fulfilling this passage every time you feed someone hungry, or clothe someone, or visit someone in prison or anything like that. (This passage becomes a lot more real when you do everything on the list in one week.)
But I have to ask myself, and ask YOU this: what if Jesus was hungry every day? Are we off the hook if we feed someone once a week, once a month, once a year? How much is enough? The least of these are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison every day. What does that mean for us? If Jesus was in prison every day, would you visit him every day? I could say a lot about this, but I think it’d be better if you just think about it on your own for now.
I met another one of the bracelet bandits – Fenji. He also makes kites and paintings because he wants to stand out from the rest of them. He is so funny. He climbed up a tree to sell Coty a kite. He literally flew the kite to Coty, and Coty stuck the money in a pipe and leaned off the building to get the money to Fenji. Hahahahahaha.
I spent a couple hours looking at the stars that night. It was so beautiful. There were so many stars it almost made me dizzy. It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real. I wanted to sleep outside, but it rains every night. I didn’t want to run inside in the middle of the night all wet.
March 13 – My first day without KCU
I had to decide if I would go stay at an orphanage for a few days with KCU or stay on campus by myself. Going to the orphanage would have meant a three hour bus ride, no water at all, and spaghetti for every meal. Staying would mean having to strike out on my own and figure things out for myself. I decided that the latter would actually be more out of my comfort zone. So I waved KCU goodbye, afraid that I might be missing out on all the fun. NOPE! I was certain after about two minutes that I had made the correct choice. I walked down to the courtyard by the nutrition program, where kids usually hang out. I immediately was surrounded by children. I might expound on this later, but let’s just say that is was wonderful to have the experience of being the only blanc around and being surrounded by Haitians. We sang and played and practiced my Kreyol. I spent the whole morning there. After lunch, I went down to Aquaponics! Okay, let me tell you what it is really quickly. Farming fish and growing produce in water both have their issues (there is a lot of waste for the former and it’s hard to fertilize the latter). However, when you put them together they solve each other’s problems! Basically, you use fish poo to fertilize the plants, and it’s a great system! It’s awesome! Anyway, it isn’t all the way set up yet, but I got to help get the electricity running and help Ed with the solar panels. I was pretty nervous that we were going to blow up the whole mission, but we didn’t! There was a moment when I was on the roof and he was like four stories distance below me at the aquaponics greenhouse thing. He had told me that I would either have to switch one switch off or the other switch on. I was so afraid of forgetting it because I don’t have half a brain lately. Even if I put all my energy into remembering one such little fact like that, all it takes is a bird to fly by or a stray thought, and it’s gone! It’s rather frustrating at times. Anyway, I was trying super hard to remember, but I almost forgot! I was yelling down to him “it’s this one, right?!?!” And he just laughed at me and nodded. And it worked! Ed was so happy! He’s been working on the project for like nine months. At Devo’s every night we share about the day, and Ed went first to say, “A lot of people have helped me with this project, but it took one little girl from Asbury College to get it done.” Hahaha, and I wasn’t sure he liked me! I spent the evening hanging out with the team from Bermuda! They were great! So funny. They were aged 40-82. The 40 year old guy drove me nuts. He insisted on speaking at Devo’s every night, and he would say the most obvious things that everyone already knew! Jenny was born in London, but she moved to Bermuda in her 20’s. She was so funny. She was grossed out that we were only allowed to flush if we went number two (to conserve water). Anyway, they were all great, and they even let me into their team picture! It’s on facebook if you want to see it.
I also went to the prison in PdP, the brothel again, played with the babies a lot, and went to a children’s home called the house of hope. The adventure of travelling back home was quite an ordeal, and one of my best moments was when I was on a tap tap, and I hear “wavin’ flag.” LOVE! If you want to hear about these, maybe I can tell you next week. I’ve already spent like two hours writing this, and it’s kind of hard for me!
So, let me tell you about this past week. I got back to Asbury at 2 AM on Monday, and it’s been horrible ever since. It’s hard to explain what it’s like being back. I still don’t know what God’s calling is for my life, but I do know that I was I were there right now instead of here. The second I got back, I dug through my checked bag looking for my camera because I just needed to see it RIGHT THAT SECOND! And wait, I don’t see it. I don’t see it… Then I start to get worried. I spent a few hours in denial, thinking that my camera would turn up. That’s when I realized that my iPod was also missing… Boo! The main thing is that I just really wish I had my pictures, and I don’t. It hurts a lot. It is bad enough that I don’t have a little orphan in my arms right now, but I can’t even look at a picture of me with them! I had so many great pictures. So many… And videos, priceless videos. One video of Tatiana, I would literally pay $200-300 to get that video back. You don’t even understand. So that’s hard, but then this week has just been yuck. I have a million projects and assignments and tests, and I can’t take it! I have to do my missions portfolio, my internship contract, my course request form, my schedule for next year, my study questions, my take home test for western classics, a research paper, a huge reading paper, another big test, nutrition analysis, intro to comm stuff, write journals for class, AGH! Meanwhile, I’m still processing everything that happened last week. Also, I’m working on raising $3500. What am I going to do if I don’t raise it all? I don’t know! It’s not that I don’t trust God with it, but logistically I don’t know enough people who are willing to open up their wallets for a thing like this. [Speaking of which, if any of you guys want to help out… lol. But really, consider it. Sara gave me $20, and it really meant a lot! Any amount helps! Also, I’m sure a lot of your parents would think that this is a really worthwhile thing, so you could ask them if they are interested in supporting this! It’s not like you’re just asking them for money. You’re giving them an opportunity to help a really good cause. Come on, you can at least ask! Just saying.]
Anyway, trying to send out support letters is really hard, and I just don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to get my hands on this money! This is going to be a really tough month, then finals, then I’ll be in Haiti, assuming that I come up with enough money! Then I’ll have like three days before my senior year starts, with another new roommate.
It’s just a lot. And meanwhile I’m just tired. I’m probably going to be up most of the night tonight. Last night, I actually had an opportunity to sleep six hours, but I couldn’t fall asleep, even though I was thoroughly exhausted! So I guess it doesn’t matter that I’ll probably be napping from like 6-9 (if I’m lucky) then rollin’ on over to chapel and class and lunch and class and class and the library for a research paper that’s due Tuesday and a meeting and work and staying up all night tomorrow to finish that paper. Meanwhile, I really ought to get the rest of my letters sent out in the next couple of days. I guess I just feel inadequate. So I felt really insecure and stressed this week – two emotions that I haven’t had in about a year, at least. I don’t know why I was so insecure this week. It was awful. Part of it is that I was depressed, and I guess one of my insecurities is that people only like me when I’m happy. So I felt all week like my friends were looking at me with disdain, annoyed that I would have the nerve to be so upset. I know that’s probably not true, but it is how I felt. I spent a lot of time in my room because I knew that being around people would either make them mad at me or me mad at them. So I spent like all day yesterday alone, and I thought in the evening I would be ready to see friends again. So I invited Kristen, Jessica, and Monica to go to Orange Leaf and Wal-Mart with me. First of all, my car had a flat. That delayed our leaving for an hour and a half. It would have been fine on a normal day, but I have been so emotional all week. Crying all the time! So I just broke down again, and I was having trouble holding it together while these boys came and helped with the car. Then we took Kristen’s car to Orange Leaf, and we just took our froyo back to the car, which defeated MY purpose which was to spend time together. Then we went to Wal-Mart, and Jessica and Kristen started to go off in one direction. I wanted to follow them, but they wanted to get out of there quickly (also defeating my purpose of spending time together) so they sent me off to get what I needed. I was like “doesn’t anyone want to come with me?” Jessica and Kristen told Monica to come with me, and Monica said the rudest thing I have ever heard come out of her mouth. “Why do I always get stuck with Shelby?” Well, that killed any happiness that I was regaining from the friend outing. I had been planning on going to the rave with them (There was a rave to celebrate the end of the Legacy Games. It’s kind of like the Hunger Games, only no one dies. Asbury is the dorkiest campus ever. We competed by class because there is a lot of class identity at Asbury. Illuminated didn’t win because all of the involved kids are in the musical, which had practices during the events. There were all sorts of tournaments every night that you got points for winning. There were also some points hidden around campus that you could turn in. It was really cool, but I worked during all of the events, so I couldn’t participate. Also, Brodie was at the rave, so I wanted to go to hang out with him), but Monica killed it for me. I cried the whole car ride home, and no one noticed. I was upset the whole evening… it was awful.
So I guess I just feel like everything is against me. I’m getting B’s on everything where I should be getting A’s. I don’t have enough time to sleep or do everything that is expected of me. But we sang a song at church today, a song that I have always liked, but it gained new meaning for me this morning. “Oh my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always. I will not fear. His promise is true. My God will come through always.” It really reminded me that God is enough, and it doesn’t matter what else is going on in my life. The first verse is like “my foes are many. They rise against me, but I will hold my ground. I will not fear the war. I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way.” So that is true for me tonight, as I write this to you. It’s going to be a rough month, but God will be there with me. My foes are many – loneliness, missing Haiti, tiredness, homework, stress – it’s all rising against me at once. And yet, God is still here, and I can’t lose Him, so everything will be good.
I’m sorry this is so long, and I still didn’t get to tell you half the things about Haiti. However, it is almost midnight your time (past midnight my time). Please ask questions about specific things you want to know about anything! Comments much appreciated. Let’s see how many of you survived reading this whole darn thing!
LOVE YOU SO MUCH!
Text me any time… I miss you guys, and I feel left out because you see each other all the time!
And really, ask your parents if they want to support a good cause…. No really. It’s not hard…
<3 <3 <3
Since no one has pestered me about this, I assume no one is staying up to read it....lol