Sunday, March 11, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

Sitting in the airport now getting ready to leave Haiti, all I can think about is how blessed I have been to have this wonderful opportunity.  The past few days have been powerful and hard but we have also created many beautiful and precious memories.  Yesterday, we traveled to one of the sister ministries of the Saint Joseph, Trinity family, called Wings of Hope.  I had grown up hearing about the Wings of Hope Ministry from my church but what I experienced exceeded all of my expectations.  Wings of Hope is a community and home for children and young adults with special needs.  Some of the kids spoke some English, some Creole, and some couldn’t speak at all, but it was the first time it felt like the language barrier didn’t matter.  We were just there to laugh, smile, and fellowship with some wonderful kids.

We were tired from a long hot hour bus ride through winding mountain roads.  When we finally arrived at Wings of Hope the gates opened and some of the children ran up to us screaming and laughing.  Their energy and enthusiasm instantly gave life to our group and we were soon running around and laughing with them.  One of my favorite moments was when we were passing out donations.  A young girl who could speak English and was showing us around, Josephine, eyes instantly lit up when we gave her a pair of fashion sunglasses and a stuffed animal.  She was so excited about the gifts and she wanted to help us pass them out to the other children as well.  As we wheeled her around it was so beautiful to see the kids interactions with each other as they shared their gifts and helped make sure no one was left out.  I felt like I was experiencing the meaning of true community.

At Duke, an English professor told me that a “poem's power and  beauty comes from unfulfilled expectations.”  I think the same can be said of life.  Life’s most beautiful moments come from when we expect a certain rhythm or beat but instead a new note sounds out instead.  To me this “dissonance” is where life’s true beauty shines through.  I never expected what I felt at Wings of Hope and I think others also felt the same.  For a very marginalized community in Haiti, many people across the world would not treat these kids as a part of a normal community.  Because of the volunteers these children are loved and valued and the children share this love with all who come.  Their joy of life was simply infectious and taught me that despite any pitfalls in life by living through whatever “dissonant” chords are played, our lives could turned in beautiful new directions.  Things happen in life, good things and bad things, and sometimes we fall hard; but if we can maintain a “joie de vivre,” joy of life, there is no telling where our “unfulfilled expectations” can take us.

Our journey was perfectly imperfect, but personally, I think that’s beautiful.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Beautiful Haiti

I am trying to remember now my first impression of Haiti.  I guess the first thing I felt was how awfully hot is was.  Not thinking, I put on an extra pair of pants to stay warm on the plane (which wasn't even cold) and once I stepped off the plane in Haiti I was overwhelmed by the heat.  I guess my next impression was that the roads were less than desirable for traveling on but that the food was fantastic!  You've never had a banana or a mango until you've been to Haiti.  I've never tasted pineapple juice before either that was sweet without artificial flavoring.

At Blanchard in Port-au-Prince, we had a wonderful time playing with the children who go to school there, visiting the Mother Theresa Home for the Destitute and Dying, and traveling to the artisan district called Croix-des-Bouquets.  At Croix-des-Bouquets I was amazed by the art.  Beautiful metalwork lined the streets often propped up in the dirt in front of small huts and shops.  Croix-des-Bouquets was the first place I had been to in Haiti were I actually felt like the people could make a sustainable living.  The metal they used from their artwork was from massive oil drums and squatting in the dirt you would see men pounding on the metal.  It amazed me that from an oil drum they could create such intricate delicate pieces of metalwork.  The beauty of the artwork astounded me.

Today was a little bit harder.  Our accommodations and food have been sparse but we did get the chance to journey to the orphanage at Fondwa.  It took about 40 minutes walking downhill a trecherous path, and over an hour to get back.  However, there was something beautiful about today besides the breath taking scenery.  We had been talking this week about how frustrated we are by all the the walls around us, well today those walls came down.  I've said before how I believe beauty comes from unfulfilled expectations being met in new "beautiful" ways.  I still find that to be true, especially for me in Haiti.  All my expectations came crashing down and instead I found a beautiful inside and out Haiti.  We saw dog fights, massive "tap-taps" zooming around curves, wild cows and bulls, lots and lots of children, a suitcase rolling down the side of a mountain, people saying "bonswa!" everywhere you go, no breakfast or dinner, an hour long walk UP a mountain, valleys like I've never seen before, sick friends, doors that won't close, smell of trash burning, cold colas, thin beds, and a donkey neighing.  Today was nothing like I expected, but today I saw a beautiful Haiti.