Written on July 7, 2018
I’m in the common area drinking my coffee. My mug is chipped around the entire rim. If this cup were mine back home, I’d have thrown it away by now; but here in Haiti, a functioning cup is a functional cup. It’s still doing its job. No need to create more waste.
We were told to be ready to leave by 8 this morning, although our flight isn’t until 2 this afternoon. There are some concerns about the rumored gas price protests and supposed barricades. I finished packing before anyone else woke up. It’s about 7am right now. I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave or if I’ve simply grown restless in this atmosphere.
Adam enters the building a few minutes until 8am, and sits with us at a table. “Hello friends”, he says in an ominous tone. We wait in silence for whatever message he brings. “Well, the good news is that we’re going to open up our washers for you guys to use.” Oh Lord. We’re stuck here. He tells us of the protests and how the roads are blocked and due to all of that: the airports are shut down. Some airlines have started to reschedule flights starting on Tuesday, but it’s unlikely we’ll get to leave before then. We’re all stunned.
We disperse. I disappear to FaceTime Ethan. He’s shocked and frozen in his reaction. He doesn’t say much, just that he misses me and wants me home.
I appreciate the idea of these extra buffer days to give me more time to write and process before I’m back in The States, but I have to admit: I was ready to be home. I’m exhausted and I’m hot and I’m tired of being exhausted and hot.
There are several things to be thankful for in my situation, I guess. I’m not working this summer; therefore, I’m not missing days at a job right now. We do have plenty of food and water. I brought extra toiletries. We’re able to wash our clothes. We are in a place with flushing toilets and running water. Overall, we are totally safe; we’re going to be ok. Logic isn’t doing much good to comfort me right now. My personality needs a break from all the people I’ve been around for 8 days. This introverted girl needs her space. Even with the time I’ve been allocated to retreat some days, it’s just not near the amount that I require. My head hurts with fullness of thought.
Some of us start loads of laundry, remake our beds, and unpack the necessities. Martha and I create a makeshift couch against one of the beds with a cot and some pillows in front of the big fan. I can’t say that it’s any cooler near the fan, but psychologically it feels good to be closer to it. We chat and read for a couple hours. The power shuts off at 2pm. It immediately becomes a sauna in the bunkhouse.
We decide to take a sleeping bag to the floor of the church again. On our way there, we stop in the restrooms, where we realize it’s significantly cooler than anywhere else on campus. We look at each other and come up with an evil plan at the same time. We situate our sleeping bag on the floor in the back corner near the showers. We’re proud of ourselves for finding a cool, sneaky hiding spot to read.
I decide to voice some of the thoughts that are giving me a headache in an attempt to let them escape. I try to elaborate the reasonings for my breakdown yesterday. I tell Martha about the guilt I have for our privilege. I tell her I don’t understand why we were born where we were born. I tell her I don’t understand why all of the people we’ve met this week were born in Haiti. I can’t grasp how we are all God’s children living in such opposite worlds from each other on the same planet.
She mulls over what I’ve said; I can tell she doesn’t have the answers, not that I was expecting her to, but maybe part of her thinks I was. “You have to understand that God didn’t create Haiti to be like this. The corrupted government and natural disasters are what has made Haiti look the way it does. Sin is wrapped up in the way things are some places, and we don’t always get to understand that. But we have to remember that God didn’t create sin.” I can’t comprehend how God chooses certain people to live with greater effects of those sins than other people, people like us. I ask her how it could possibly be “just”, since our God is just, after all, that the beautiful people in this land have to live in the conditions that they do. I also ask how it is “just” that we are asked to come here for a week and expect that to make any sort of difference to this country. She has an answer on the tip of her tongue, “These people aren’t broken, and we aren’t here to fix them. We are to come here and love on them while sharing the gospel. That is what we are called to do: love and share the gospel. We’re not here to fix anything, that pressure isn’t on us.”
“So, for one week out of the year, we do the number one thing Jesus gave us instruction to do as He went back to heaven? And the rest of the year we do…what exactly?” I respond, giving in to my instinct to question everything.
“You have to utilize the ability to share the gospel back home. That’s part of the world too. Love on your children in the preschool and love on the outreach kids at church. In that, you’re doing what God’s called you to do. God put everyone in their specific rolls in life for a reason; nothing was on accident. He’s not dumb, ya know.”
I’m glad I have the ability to write her words down. Hopefully, I can read over them at a later time and digest them better than I am in this moment.
After dinner, the interns invite us to the roof to sing some worship songs and have a devotional. I roll my eyes at the thought of leaving the dorm area, and am content laying on my cot-couch, writing alone. I’m not even trying to hide my social discomfort from the group at this point. I’m over it and everyone knows.
I thought my anxiety would be cured or I would learn how to manage it down here. I thought, perhaps, God brought me to Haiti to teach me something about serving the masses instead of being disturbed by people constantly and putting my need to process before the need to form relationships. Unfortunately, all that’s happened is that I’m strung out to my wits end with feeling trapped in our circumstances. Sometimes, when you’re taken out of your comfort zone and brought to your limits, all that happens is panic and fear and a shut down. Maybe God brought me down here to show me that I need to be on a medication or need to go back to therapy.
Ugh. Why are we still here, God. I don’t feel like I’m gaining anything from this experience anymore. I want to go home.
Liv – Authentically