We're back! We went from Port-au-Prince to Miami to Boston over the course of 11 hours on Saturday. I'm exhausted. The traveling was tiring enough but the experience of "re-entering" from a third world country to the United States takes the meaning of exhaustion to another level. Going from what American citizens experience as chaos and unsanitary conditions back to a level of order and sanitation became sliiiiightly preoccupying.
I was not day dreaming about a Whopper or Tall Cappuchino or sleeping in my own bed or getting back into the swing of things, which tends to be my train of thought when returning from a week away. What was running through my mind this time was the undeniable and vast differences between cultures that exist at every turn between Haiti and the United States. Feelings of sadness and guilt became prominent as I am now aware of the stark contrast between the two cultures. For example, sadness in that the sanitary conditions of Port-au-Prince are way beyond that of telling everyone to get a bag and pick up the trash on the side of the road. Living amongst the refuse and debris is "normal". That saddens me.
Guilt in that many of the things that I am afforded, or want, or do are indulgent comparatively. For example, on no effort or cost of our own, a few of us on the team were assigned first class seats on the way home from Haiti. The power adjusting seats which had a control panel that would move my chair into 20 different positions and did everything except pour my drink.....was just indulgent. So you bet I felt poorly after leaving 30 children who live under "less than ideal" circumstances (my understatement of the year) at night. And that was simply the beginning of my trip back to Boston.
It is hard to know where to start explaining why things are the-way-they-are in Haiti. The issues of poverty, sanitation, organization, education, gender differences, corruption, infrastructure and etc ..... are all wrapped together in a more confused fashion than the string inside a baseball.
So I'd rather end my blog by pointing out what was THE strongest impression of the trip. It was pointed out in a team meeting on our last night in Haiti, that while we experienced difficult issues on this trip, that it would be an injustice to overlook the strength, beauty and joy of the people we saw, met and served while there. The love, generosity and sheer "life" of the hosts, orphanage children and the people of Haiti truly took center stage on this visit as God was shared through us and to us. What joy and hope still exists!
May my adventure as a follower of Christ continue,
"To infinity and beyond!" -B.L.
Tom Newell ;-)