Saturday, February 22, 2014

"You Call Me Out Upon the Waters...."

"How do you prepare for an experience you know will change you?"
Journal entry- 12/21/13

I left for Haiti the Saturday after Christmas... the day of my 31st birthday, December 28th.  I was exhausted before I stepped foot on the plane- but the best kind of exhausted, the running 100 miles an hour and feeling very productive kind. I was as prepared as I could be- in fact, more prepared and packed than I'd ever been for any trip in my entire life. Yet, I knew there were some things you just can't prepare yourself for. So in ways, I felt the most prepared and the least prepared as I'd ever been. 

Christmas had been great but very short and I'd spent the week before traveling back and forth between Evansville, Bowling Green, and now Nashville.  I love seeing my family for Christmas.

I was worried though- my sister was pregnant with her second child and was sick.  My dad had taken her to the emergency room Christmas morning but they had a hard time getting in to see a doctor.  She was progressively getting worse as the week went on, and I found myself nervous about being in another country with limited cell phone service and not being able to check on her.  The day before I left, I panicked, thinking I might, too, have the flu- my sister and I had both gotten flu shots but this strand somehow still got her sick. I worried that I might be "carrying" the flu to a third world country where healthcare is scarce, and I scrambled to get a prescription to Tamiflu.

On Friday, December 27th, my dad met me at work.  My backpack and my carry on bag were both packed in my car, and we loaded up into his car and headed for Nashville.  I hated that the rest of my family was sick or taking care of the sick and couldn't join in the festivities.  We ran around and made copies of a crown craft I was bringing to Haiti and then (quickly) checked out the Christmas lights at Opryland Hotel, then ate there as well.  I opened my birthday presents in the hotel then we stayed up late- my dad running last minute errands and I was working on getting my donations together.  Tonight's project consisted of emptying out vitamin bottles and putting all the vitamins into a ziplock baggie to save room. I was so fortunate to receive so many donations! From items to monetary support, I was seriously overwhelmed with the help my friends and family were giving me.

I stayed up a little late and wrote in my journal.  With all the preparation, the lack of sleep, and the sheer amount of work involved, I briefly thought about the contrast of what I typically would be doing on a Friday night- in bed relatively early, catching up on sleep from my brutal work schedule, looking forward to a weekend of rest and unwinding.  But as I faced this daunting, unknown task before me, I realized that I was just going to have to close my eyes and take a gut-wrenching leap.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery in oceans deep
My faith will stand

I Carry You in Me

"I am on a plane, across a distant sea... but I carry you in me."

It's been almost 7 weeks since I returned from Haiti.  I've been putting off blogging about my experience, mainly because it's taken me a long time to process everything, and partly because I have this nagging feeling that I need to "step back" and focus on other things in my life for a while.  But that doesn't happen.  I'm too involved now.  Each time I think to myself that I will take a "Haiti break," I'm pulled back in by this project or that, each one as important as the other.  I'm so intertwined now by the projects I started when I got back. And the truth is, I don't want to stop.  There's so much that can be done to help, and I'm only one person... but when I know there's *something* I can do, no matter how small, I want to do it.

I had no idea the hardest part of going to Haiti would be the "coming back" part.  My teammates and I have stayed in touch, and we've all experienced varying degrees of "Haiti hangovers." From almost reverse culture shock, to having a hard time of explaining what we experienced in Haiti, to trying to reconcile our 'old lives' with our new, changed selves... it's been, at times, a difficult experience.

How do you put into words an experience this life changing?