January 5, 2011
Bonjou from Haiti!
It's always such a swing of emotions when we first arrive in Haiti. Initially the thrill of a warm breeze in January sets the the tone for the extremes of sensations to follow. We were greeted with efficiency in customs, smiling hugs from Willem and our other Haitian friends and all of our suitcases! Then our sense and sensibilities were bombarded as we drove from the airport to Gramothe, seeing the rubbled and broken condition of Port-Au-Prince. What was previously a reassuring site of newly erected tents everywhere is now a discouraging view. The tents are raggedy and the smells of poor sanitation and crowded humans coupled with dust and diesel brought my heart to my throat. Our 52 suitcases were piled high in the dump truck, with Brian perched atop tightening security straps as needed and having a bird's eye view of the city. Traffic was stop and go (mostly stop), giving Brian the opportunity to quietly interact with those who caught his seeking looks. Four guys were washing themselves in the street (naked) and quickly engaged in Brian's gaze recognizing him as a source for something good. Brian quickly and instinctively opened up just the right suitcase and threw them health packs, just as the truck jolted away. With wide grins they waved their thanks.
Brian just read my email and reported that I made a grievous error...
the four showering males were actually little boys!!! So all readers, please change your visual :)
We arrived at the guest house and learned of Willem's mother's death 2 days ago, sinking my heart down to my stomach. Our rooster buddies were on time with their wake up call, as we prepared to accompany Willem, Beth, Stephan and David to the church, praying Willem's mother to Heaven. Brass music, wailing and rejoicing were melded together with family, friends and flowers in the church, the funeral processional and at the grave site.
The emotional pendulum brought us from the honor of participating in the funeral to the disappointment of not having clinic, to the surprising gift of time to prepare for a full day of clinic tomorrow. We have accomplished, in one afternoon, that which always takes us the full week to unpack and organize. We know by now to leave all timing to God, and it will be right!
I ask you to pray for strength and peace for Willem and his family. Willem, a man who has put his grief in his chest pocket in order to keep room in his heart for the compassion he constantly feels for the villagers who are awaiting health care. He choose not to cancel our trip to grieve, but rather embrace our presence and service.
We look forward to working tomorrow!
With praise that the elections have been postponed and that there is a sense of calm,
Sue, Brian, and the Team
January 12, 2011
Back in town :)
Wow! The stark contrasts of Haiti to sweet home, Chicago were startling from the aerial views and the blasts of temperature variations, noticing first the orderly street grid of Chicago land and the pure white snow vs the chaotic topography of the tents and damaged buildings, garbage, diesel and dust of Port-Au-Prince. As we exited the plane and started the reentry process, we were forced to clock watch as time ticked away in lines for security, customs, and trying to make connecting flights. Old habits of impatience and self-absorption were stifled, but could be felt creeping back. This email could easily turn into another book if I dared to express all the swings of emotions we feel as our team returns. Succinctly, we know how blessed we are in our comforts, and we will work to reconcile how uncomfortable we are with our blessings. We plan to keep our hearts in shape, not allowing them to get narrowed or hardened or broken beyond repair. But instead we will strive to keep them soft and malleable, seeking action to hold the torn edges together, so they can be strong and function for good.
Thank you for praying us through and home!
Sue and Team
In case anyone is interested, I will be speaking about our trip and peddling a few books at the Book Stall in Winnetka tomorrow, Saturday 1/15 starting at 2:00 pm
Susan Walsh, MS, CPNP
Founder of Little by Little