A view from a roof in Port au Prince


No Rest For the Weary

This past week I went to a hear Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Medical Director from Partners in Health speak. She was speaking at Macalaster college in St. Paul. The topic was Haiti, of course, what else could drag me to St. Paul? She talked about the history of Haiti, the sights she saw arriving in Haiti to help just one day post-earthquake, and what her organization PIH was doing now to continue helping. As she spoke about individual Haitians' stories of people losing loved ones, I realized that this is where I couldn't relate. 

Sometimes I see things, hear things, read things, and don't know how to process it all. This is how I felt after the earthquake. When the earthquake first hit, I knew I had to go down there, because I HAD to be able to relate to what they were going through. I wanted to be there to hold my friends, listen to their stories, feel their pain, see the injuries they were seeing, work the long days without rest, feel the aftershocks, go without food, and sleep in the tents ( or rather, lie awake all night while tent city worshiped). It's odd, because going to Haiti just one week after the earthquake, it seemed as if the Haitians were coping quite well, considering it all. I tried so hard to take it all in, but I know I was still seeing things through my American rosy-tinted glasses.The tent cities were up, people were sitting outside playing cards, selling street food, etc. The only thing that looked different was the house and even those were evolving into better structures each day- adding a tv here, a mattress there, a new door, I even saw the pleasant addition of pornography on the outside of one hut. 

Then I remember the sick- to- my -stomach feeling; the insanity driving feeling of not knowing if Rigan was alive after the earthquake hit. The days of complete terror, wondering how life would go on without him in it. That nothing else in life mattered to me anymore, I just needed him to be alive. How every hour of every one of those days of silence I thought about him and wrestled with myself to try to think of something else.  And then I think what would it be like to lose someone SO important to me, in a tragedy such like this- so unexpected. Some Haitians lost 2, 3 or even 4 of the "Rigans" in their life. It doesn't matter if they have a mattress to sleep on or a tin roof over their head, I'm sure any one of those family members would give it all up just to have their loved one still on this earth. Their struggle continues day in and day out, regardless of tents or other improvements to their living conditions. How does one recover from something so tragic as this?

Sometimes I wish I could understand on a deeper level. It's an internal struggle between being thankful for what I have and at times wishing I had nothing at all, so I could finally relate to my Haitian brothers and sisters. Sometimes I wonder, what the Haiti experience would be for me if I didn't know I had a secure "out." I can live next to the Haitians, try to speak like them, eat their food, sleep in the same kind of beds, but will I ever truly understand what it's like to be Haitian? What would it be like if that were my only option for life? If I didn't have family in the USA waiting to bail me out at the first sign of sickness or exhaustion?

There's a song I've been listening to since the earthquake hit. The title is "no rest for the weary" thus the title of this post. "There's no rest for the weary just another day grinding up stones
Till they turn into dust, it's tough, dimes in the rough.." The hip hop beat, the passion in each word can only bring me back to thoughts of my resilient Haitians.  It's not necessarily a pleasant song, and the words aren't the sweetest, so I wouldn't recommend downloading it on itunes unless you know what you're getting! Regardless, I find comfort in this song. Most days I blast it while I shower, before bed, or anytime I'm  feeling like Haiti is just a little too far from me. It's now moved up to #1 on my "25 most played" songs list on itunes.

So maybe this post isn't one of those "make you feel good" kind of things to read, but I had been feeling this a lot lately and thought feel like I owe it to my Haitians to say it all. And despite the somber mood of this posting, there is hope in it all. I am utterly AMAZED at the Haitians,especially those I know on a personal level. The Lord is giving them strength beyond anything they could ever have on their own. And the nursing school and orphanage are receiving blessings and support amidst this disaster and I think that when all is said and done, both will be in a better position than they were before the earthquake. 

When will I go back to Haiti? This question resonates in my mind each day. But the answer remains unknown as I wait on the Lord for his guidance and timing. Graduation is less than 30 days away and beyond these 30 days, I know nothing. Freedom, uncertainty, opportunity, all of these words relate to how I feel right now about the next few months or even years of my life. One thing I take comfort in is that the Lord knows where my heart is and I truly believe that he delights in my heart for Haiti. He will bring me back; he will let me continue to fight for, serve, and love this country. Thank you Lord for giving me this passion.