This recovering journalist turned mission co-worker moved to Haiti to live and serve on May 25, 2013. To mark this extraordinary five year anniversary, here are some stories of the highlights and lowlights. To be sure, I am grateful beyond measure to all those who have made this journey possible. I only hope that Haiti, the people of Haiti and the rich joining of hands of sisters and brothers from both my lands make your lives a bit richer as well.
(This is an occasional series)
Home is a charged word to me since I came to live in Haiti. That was almost five years ago. Still hard to believe. So much has changed. I have changed so much. As the anniversary approaches, I find myself examining this journey, understanding the commonality of all our lives and lifestyles. We are sent as mission co-workers into poor lands, but it is not the poverty that connects us, but the spirit of generosity.
I owe the joy and lessons of my life to tremendous generosity of many people in my life, both Haitian and North American.
My story in Haiti begins the afternoon of May 25, 2013.
So before making the trip here, loaded down with two bulging suitcases, a backpack and a carry-on, I listened to every word of “Home” by Phillip Phillips:
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble — it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
With due apologies to the songwriter Phillips, to me, it was if God himself was talking me through what would be this huge change in my life. And whether to the credit of Phillips or God or both, it worked.
Five years ago on May 25, I arrived in Port-au-Prince, found my taxi driver and settled into Trinity Lodge, a guesthouse that, too, has become one of my homes here.
By next morning, I was stepping up into a huge truck to go to church with a group also staying at Trinity Lodge.
And by early Monday morning, I was making the first of many (many!) mistakes. Like many foreigners I was unclear on the difference between the U.S. do dollar and the “Haitian dollar.” The “Haitian dollar” doesn’t exist. It’s a term used to mean 5 times five gourdes. Or 25 gourdes. Which at that time was about .50 cents, U.S. So when I approached the woman selling ice cold water by the bottle, I asked her how much. She said in Creole, “senk dola.” Five dollars. (I blame this next part on being tired and hot and obnoxiously overconfident) “Five dollars?” I exclaimed, outraged but thirsty. She nodded. “U.S.?” Again, she nodded. (I mean, what would you do, with a red-faced, obnoxiously overconfident foreigner standing in front of you?) I pulled out a five-dollar bill, took the water, shook my head in disgust and walked up the dusty street slurping cold water.
(This story still embarrasses me, but it is a good reminder of what I would quickly realize would be my new life: I am often wrong.)
(Next up: Cindy goes to Cherident!)
One thought on “Searching for home in Haiti”
Oh, Cindy! I’m sitting on my sofa in outright guffaw, picturing you not even haggling for that bottle of cold water. (Sort of: been there, done that.) I look forward with relish to the future installments of this series, and give thanks to God for you and your commitment to Life and Love and the PCUSA and the people of Haiti.