Wow, so many mixed emotions. "Parting is such sweet sorrow." I know Kelsey is anxious to be home with her family, as are the rest of us. But somehow some of us are just not ready to go. Taylor and I will miss Haiti terribly and look forward to the day when we can return. It will never come soon enough. Kevin is just miserable due to his ear infection and I know he likes it here, but probably just wishes he felt better. Weather that's here or in America where he can get a good antibiotic for his ear! Diane is at home no matter which country she's in and after 11 trips, it probably doesn't seem like such a long way home for her.
We were afraid we would oversleep this morning so we ask Alex to be our alarm clock. Which he said would be no problem as he sounded out the tune of a western... It gives spaghetti western a whole new meaning, hearing our Haitian friends do sound effects. lol We were up before Alex gave the signal below our windows, anxious to hear his voice make the funny noises we knew we'd miss after going home. Listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore line every morning, the sound of the men working in the yard... and it's only 5:00 a.m. Why doesn't this happen at home? I wasn't a morning person before Haiti got ahold of me.
By 5:30 we needed to be heading to the airport. Bags are packed, being loaded into the trucks, saying our good byes is not easy. Bobi brought her mother back to the compound to go home with us. It wasn't easy for Barb to leave her daughter behind yet again. More friendship bracelets were passed around. We've made new friends and family here. How do you let them go? I remember leaving my sister's house every summer as a kid when my granddad took me to Oklahoma for visits. I cried for at least the first 30-40 miles after leaving her house. Somehow it got easier the farther away we drove, but I was miserable at first. It's hard to fight back tears when Alex is standing in the driveway waving and yelling "God Bless You! God Bless Your Families! Give them a big hug for us! Come back and see us soon!" It was a very quiet ride to the airport. Taking in all the scenes that we now understand after our short week visiting the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The hogs atop the trash piles, the broken down buses, the people walking, the smell of charcoal and sulfer. It all feels so familiar now. Not pleasant, but familiar. We want so much for Haiti. And then we pass an older man squatting on the side of the road drinking from a mud puddle where people have walked, cars have driven through, animals have drank from. That's something we won't see at home. Something we can't make other people understand without seeing it and experiencing this country called Haiti.
Roberto could tell we were emotional about leaving and having the heart he does, he begins singing our song again, making us smile and laugh. Then I realize we're at the airport. That long ride that seemed like it would never end when we arrived has come and gone in what seemed like 5 minutes as we're going home. There's chaos everywhere, people wanting to cart your luggage for you, unloading the car in record time as Roberto can't stay parked next to the curb for any extended period of time and had to get to the other side of the airport to pick up the next group traveling in. There are no long good byes here, a strong hug, a quick smile and a God Bless You is all we have time for. We will miss Roberto.
People are butting in line, shoving their luggage past you, we have to go through customs and immigration again, the long lines and the 'dumping' of our luggage to exit the country. When all is said and done, and our wait is over it's time to board the plane to come home I walk slowly going across the pavement to the steps to our plane. Taking in one last look at this country that has stolen my heart. The smells, the sounds.... it will never be forgotten.
Arriving back in the states seems odd. We've been warned about 'reverse culture shock' and transitioning back into our 'normal' lives. Normal doesn't seem so great anymore. We haven't seen a television in over a week, and oddly enough living with three teenagers, it was never once talked about or missed. It seemed strange to see a newscast on the airport television. Even more strange to see commercials for beer or pizza hut or even old navy. I want to yell for everyone to take the time to experience Haiti. To come closer to their Lord, closer to the ones He has created in other parts of the world. It's a long and odd process coming back into the states. But, once we're through immigration and realize we are closer to home the hunger pains begin to get our attention. After all, we didn't eat breakfast and it was past lunch time. Our American heritage takes hold and we head for Chilli's! Everything is done with a new perspective now...I eat a platter of food that would feed 4 children (at least!) and take the time to thank the Lord for the blessings He places before me on a regular basis.
After a very long transition getting back to our homes at 2:30 a.m. I was ready for a hot shower. The only thing I really missed while being away. I'll never complain of a cold shower again when the kids empty the hot water heater. It could be worse. Coming home was something I looked forward to, but at the same time has been so difficult. I broke down and cried at the site of my 5 yr old sleeping peacefully on the couch where he tried to wait up for me in his spiderman jammies. I cried, not because of how much I missed him, but because of how fortunate I am to be his mother and be able to provide him with so much. Somewhere in Haiti I know a little boy his age that sleeps under his mother's bed, in dirt and rocks.... and he's happy. Happy to be with his mother, and happy that he was able to eat today. My oldest son anxious to see us and share all the things we've missed over the last week that are 'routine' in our house. Television shows we never miss that he can't wait to tell us about and watch with us, video games he'd really like to have because he was able to play with friends' this week. How do I explain to him without hurting his feelings that it just doesn't seem as important anymore? He is important to me, but those other things will have to take a back seat.
Kelsey was so happy to see her mother we thought we'd have to hold her back in order to have the car come to a complete stop before she bolts from her passenger door to throw her arms around her mother. A child so greatful to have a mother who can provide so much for her. We all have been changed by our trip, in one way or another. God has touched us in ways that are hard to explain yet we're eager to share about. Someday soon.... I hope it will all make sense to everyone. Why maybe we cry a bit more from time to time, why we feel the need to wear a skirt (when it's not our normal style), why we see people just a bit differently.
If you followed our trip with our blog thank you. Bless you for thinking of us while we were away. We hope we can someday share Haiti with you through all our pictures and videos and stories. Keep following the blog because we'll share updates and visits and photos from sponsored kids. We won't forget Haiti, it's our hope that you won't either.