Let me backtrack a small bit though to the flight down. I was graced with a new friendship while waiting for the Port au Prince (PaP) connection. It was a “God thing” as I like to call these situations which can’t just be coincidence. A gentleman who I conversed briefly with at the gate was seated next to me amongst this huge plane of passengers. We made our introductions and learned a little about each other. He is a retired Haitian airline mechanic who now has a general aviation business with 3 small planes. He transport missionaries and others needing private air travel. This gentleman was incredible. He taught me about the island and some of its history as we traveled. He even invited me to come for a visit to “enjoy” the beauty of the island when possible. He explained how he saw time and again how the doctors would fly in and fly out and never take time to unwind and enjoy the country. How right he is!! We enjoyed getting to know about each others families and lives and parted at the baggage carousel. This is a friendship gifted to me and I intend to nourish this gift in the near future.
When I arrived, blessedly I breezed through immigration and customs. An air of confidence and bravado works very well down here when going through customs and baggage. Especially for a white women (blanc) traveling alone. As I type this however I realize though I really as a principle don’t like false bravado but in this one scenario it is necessary.
So as I roll my almost 200lbs of luggage and carry-ons out of the door. I scan the throng of men who forcefully valet your luggage (whether you want it or not) for Wilbur who was there to greet us last visit.
No Wilbur and I was making too much eye contact. A gentleman convincingly tells me he is supposed to take me to Wilbur.
That was just enough time for him to whisk away with the cart and luggage with me in tow. We get to the outer gate and he begins to ask me who I was meeting. Who is picking me up? He suggests I call them. ARGH! I don’t have any phone that works here in Haiti. So here I am feeling like a target is now on my back. One gentleman offers me a taxi. Um…no thanks. I will give the valet credit. He stayed with me though clearly wanting to go back for another customer. He even (at the insistence of another valet) called the only number I had for our missionaries. No answer. My “oh crap” level was rising rapidly.
And then, I see Chris Keylon, another of the incredible people I have been blessed to work with, walking across the parking area. I believe in hindsight that I may have actually ran to him. (Negative cool points for that one I guess. ;) ) After a warm greeting he motioned for me to go around the truck and there she was….
WHAT?!? In that instance, the rubber band around all my purported peace and faithfulness snapped, smacking me squarely in the face. I attempted to regain the racing thoughts in my brain. There were two physicians who were down to do the screening for the heart surgery team. They arrived on the same flight I did and everyone was making introductions as gear was being loaded into the trucks amongst the dust, heat, noise and general pandemonium which is PaP airport.
Michelle asks if I would accompany her out to Thomazeau to the orphanage to pickup Isaac who is her son which she is adopting. Sure, I enjoy going to Thomazeau. I was numb and at least thankful to be able to unload the largest part of my luggage which was the uniforms for the Children of Hope Orphanage school which just opened. We inch through the worst traffic I’ve been in yet getting through PaP. We bounce along to Thomazeau at dusk with my mind racing. Usually when I am riding around Haiti I pay close attention to my surroundings to take in every bit of the culture. This ride was just a blur of the usual sites I linger over on previous trips. My mind kept thinking:
But no, she has to have her passport. The plan is to go to Santiago so she can be made well. What am I supposed to do know? What mission does this visit serve? No, no, no…this isn’t how it was supposed to happen. So consumed by my overwhelming sense that the trip to Santiago was God’s will, I even rationalized that the passport would magically appear Monday by God’s grace and we’d be back on track.
We arrived at CHOH after sunset. The children greeted us in their usual loving way where they cling to anyone just to feel that human touch of love. It is something I think a lot of children take for granted. A simple bear hug and kiss is better than candy treats to these kids. They definitely have my heart. I was then quickly greeted by Lourdie who is the Mom of the orphanage. This woman is truly an angel here on Earth. She is one of the blessings I have received here in Haiti and it is my honor to call her friend. As Michelle collected Isaac, the kids “helped” me unpack my bags and get the uniforms out. This was quickly followed by the abduction of my camera with which they took some good pictures I’ll add to this site. These are some INCREDIBLE children. Well mannered, respectful and supportive of each other. Truly it is a wonderful home for them to grow and learn. After hugs and love from Mama T (Bobby the director’s mother), we needed to rush to get back to PaP before the night became any darker. I ran around snapping pictures of the kids to send to their adoptive families and piled back in the truck to bounce back home.
On the way back to PaP and the guesthouse, the weight of the day overtook me. Cold sweat beaded on my forehead and waves of nausea had me digging in my bags for nausea meds. I knew if I could just hang on to the guesthouse I'd be able to regroup. Hold on....Hold on...Hold on...