The night before departing for Haiti I sat in my apartment packing and attempting to predict what the experience would be like for a first-timer. Despite the impossible task I couldn’t seem to quiet my brain. Having arrived and gone through a day and a half here, I find that my expectations were both right and wrong. Yesterday, our day of arrival, I sat in the backseat of the van as we drove around Port-au-Prince feeling as if I was watching a movie through the van windows, I honestly couldn't believe what I saw - rubble on the streets, dust in the air, endless tent communities, and tons of people on the streets. Today, as we continued our tour of the city, I started to believe it, imagining how I would feel, what I would think, what I would do if it were me. In that moment I knew what it meant to reflect on the question “How am I living my life?” At that moment, something changed in me, God popped a "bubble" in my life perspective. I felt overwhelmingly humbled, becoming aware that I couldn't bring myself to the level of understanding required to fully empathize with the people of Haiti. A teammate of mine, who is here for the second time, mentioned that there is not a lot of counseling or discussion opportunities available to process their situation, and as a result they show up at the doctor's with physical pain, trouble sleeping, etc, due entirely to fear so strong and so continuous that it causes physical ailments. Riding in the van, I asked God where His hope was among the challenges and hardship in Haiti.
His answer came later that afternoon, when we visited the orphanage next to the hospital (where we will begin working tomorrow) and played with the kids. After 20 minutes and a small bag of candy to break the ice, the kids were sitting in our laps, playing basketball with the guys, letting us do their hair, taking pictures and videos, and even dancing with us to Jason Delurio and Justin Bieber! In their faces I saw joy and innocence, and in their actions I saw acceptance of our love and care. They too are in a tough situation, many without family or a place to call home, yet the childhood love for life remained, and there I saw the hope I was desperate to find.
That experience, combined with our visit to the local church's Sunday morning service, the hospitality and generosity of our inspirational hosts (who are the co-directors of the hospital, and in my eyes some of the heroes of Haiti), the improvements and progress in the city pointed out by our driver, and the hearts, spirits and skills of the amazing team I have the privilege to work with, I have a new outlook about what drives me here. When I thought I would be mostly overwhelmed by sadness and helplessness, I am instead spurred by great humility and faithful hope. Please pray that this continues and grows for my team as we begin our work in the hospital tomorrow!
Sophia (Medical Team)