This August, I will have lived in Haiti for four years, and what a roller-coaster adventure it has been. However, my current season in Haiti is coming to an end and I’ll be moving home as my four-year anniversary rolls around. This has to be one the hardest – if not the hardest - decisions I’ve ever made in my life. People think moving here was a hard decision. They look at me like I’m crazy, with their mouths wide open, as they learn how long I’ve been here, that I live alone in a village and I speak the language. On the contrary, moving to Haiti was the easiest decision to make. A new adventure, living in the Caribbean? Where do I sign up! Leaving this island I’ve called “home” for the past four years, and leaving people who have become my family and saving grace is literally going to rip my heart out. Just writing this now, my eyes are struggling to stay dry.
I decided a little over a month ago that I was ready to move back “home” to the states. Home is a strange concept I’m currently having trouble wrapping my brain around. New Mexico, Texas & Haiti are all “home” to me. How can I feel so deeply connected yet so detached from three different places at the same time? I’m sorry to burst your “happily-ever-after” ending expectations, but this move is not because of some great job opportunity calling me back home or the result of some major event here sending me home. It’s just time. These past four years have taught me some of the hardest lessons and also given me some of the most amazing memories of my life. Just as radically juxtaposed as Haiti is, so has my time been here. An island filled with breathtakingly beautiful beaches, mountains and scenery and yet just a couple miles away stench filled neighborhoods covered in trash and filth. Outstanding ingenuity, artistic ability and resourcefulness, making masterpieces and miracles out of nothing and then complete lack of basic common sense like putting your car in neutral and pushing it out of traffic when you break down. (Oh Lord!!! Don’t get me started!) There are extravagant displays of wealth in the city and the beaches, and then just around the corner, heart-shattering poverty. A people whose generosity and hospitality is comparable to none and on the other hand manipulation, theft, entitlement and hands-open constantly begging for money. How can one country be so ridiculously opposite from one moment to the next, from one neighborhood to the next? And how can I be so in love, yet so jaded and sometimes even hate this same country?
I haven’t been able to actually announce it for quite a few reasons. It feel as if I cannot quiet the battle going on between my head and heart long enough to gather my thoughts and organize them into an eloquent blog post to officially announce the news. There is rarely a full 24-hour period that goes by that I am 100% certain I’m ready to move back. It’s more like short moments of certainty followed by uncertainty. So forgive me if even in this post you find my thoughts bouncing around. Announcing it publicly makes it so final and that’s what scares me. Leaving Haiti is not as easy as moving around the US. I cannot just rent a U-Haul and move home because, if I change my mind six months later, I cannot just pack up and move back. I moved to Haiti one suitcase at a time over the past four years and now, I have to move my life back to America one suitcase at a time in 2 short months. I just sent three suitcases home with friends this past month and I wept alone in my car after handing them off… why?? I am the one making this decision to go home. Nobody is forcing me against my will. But you see, I finally have a vehicle in Haiti and a house with my own appliances and furniture. I don’t know if you have any idea what it took to buy and move those appliances and furniture without a vehicle and what it took to get that vehicle down here. AND I’m almost fluent in the language! Well fluent enough to understand and make belly-laugh-inducing jokes, flirt my way out of a ticket, negotiate prices in the market and fully enjoy a rap or kompa concert singing Creole lyrics at the top of my lungs. Heck! Even my dog is bilingual! I don’t know where else I’m going to use this language so I’m praying the Lord place lots of Haitians in my path once I move home! OH! And I love, love, LOVE my job working with Haitian artisans through ViBella & Three Cords. I finally have a paid job where I don’t have to beg for donations to live here. Have I mentioned these employees are kicking butt and making amazing products? I really don’t want to leave my job and I’m sure I’ll still be buying and bragging about the products to all my friends in the states. These are the moments I feel crazy for wanting to leave. So much has been accomplished and acquired with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
But then there are the other moments. The moments I know it’s time to go. I’ve had a handful of people who have told me that they really appreciate my vulnerability and honesty in my posts. So here goes…. I should have probably left Haiti about six months ago. I wanted to leave Haiti before I hated her, well unfortunately I’m almost there. Haiti’s hard. It’s not all gorgeous beaches, fresh coconuts, great food and cute “orphan” kids to take selfies with like some posts would lead you to believe. I’ve had people tell me I make missionary work looks so glamorous – they tell me I’m always at the beach or they wish they could live the life I was living. My least favorite and the most popular question is “Are you just LOVING it out there?” Actually, no, I’m not! I feel like Haiti chewed me up and spit me out. I’m exhausted mentally, emotionally & spiritually and experiencing a level of loneliness and isolation I have never experienced in my whole life. I am a single female living alone in a village with my dog. When there’s no power, I drag my generator outside and rev it up. When the water runs out, I have to call a water truck and wait for them to bring me water, sometimes an entire day. Two months ago was rainy season and my ridiculously engineered house flooded every single night when it rained. My house is a black hole and there is no service or internet to contact my family or friends or even call someone in case of emergency. The iPhone I just bought when I was home in January got hot one day, went black and never turned on again, and there’s not exactly an Apple store in Haiti to walk in and do a warranty exchange. My car was in the shop for almost two months because someone who is not a mechanic, who said he was, welded a bolt in place because he’s actually a welder and that’s all he knew to do. This bolt snap, ruined the crank shaft and cost me $2000 worth of repairs and two months of using motor cycles as my main form of transportation and cake deliveries. During this motor cycle season, while waiting for a taxi, I witnessed a taxi driver get robbed for his moto at gun point. This shook me up a little bit because it was broad daylight, in front of witnesses, in front of a mission with armed security guards, and I almost chose him as my driver before he pulled away and got robbed. I can’t make all this up, but I wish I could. I have been hurt numerous times by the very people God sent me here to serve, as well as fellow Christians and Missionaries who have inflicted pain upon me and left some confusing and unexpected scars. The local church is all in Creole and my brain hurts translating it simultaneously into English, which makes it kind of hard to hear from the Lord. My relationship with God has really suffered in Haiti. I am fully aware that is nobody’s fault but my own. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will never leave me, His word says so! However I really spent a lot more time in the past two years talking about God than I did talking to Him. People who serve others cannot pour out of an empty cup and the only filler of our cups is Jesus. Corny – I know right? But I realized my cup was more than empty and that’s why I was so tired, angry, joyless and easily offended. I miss my first love and in this coming season of rest I cannot wait to just focus on me and Him again. Haiti was awesome but it was also so hard. There really aren’t words to ever make someone who hasn’t lived here understand. So, I ask that you just pray for me and anyone else you know living in a developing country. It’s no joke.
So…. Now what??
When am I moving home? I don’t have a set date. I’m shooting for August 1st but that all really depends on how fast I sell my car and other belongings. I also haven’t figured out how I’m getting my Rottweiler Rocky home and that’s pretty high on my priority list. He’s been my little best friend and he’s coming with me! If you have American Airline miles sitting around and you want to get rid of them, send them my way to help me and my luggage get home.
Where am I going? First, I’m headed home to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I want to spend the rest of the year resting, processing, healing and just enjoying my family. I missed my nephew’s whole first year of life and my niece is making her debut in August and I cannot wait to spoil them. I’m also so excited for Fall. I haven’t seen fall in four years and I’ll be first in line for our annual Balloon Fiesta this October! I’ll also be bouncing around the US visiting friends, with Texas on my list as the first stop!
What’s next?? I’m not really sure. I have some ideas. God has been stirring some things up in me but I don’t really know what He’s got for me yet. I DO know that He has not wasted my time here in Haiti. He will not waste the pain, hurt and learning experiences. I know I will be using creole in some capacity, I just don’t know how yet. I know that He has lit a raging fire in me to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. I’m still very passionate about creating dignified jobs and supporting fair business in developing countries, keeping families together and lessening the number of corrupt orphanages and making others aware of the child trafficking going on around the world. He’ll make it all clear soon.
How can you help? Pray for me, a lot! This is going to be a heart-wrenching transition and I’m going to need all the prayers and encouragement I can get. Pray for my family! They’re welcoming home a culturally confused, exhausted, crazy person to live with them (Haha)! But seriously, pray for our relationships as a family that they only get stronger during this transition. Check on me, message me. When I get home I’d love to meet up and catch up. Ask me questions about Haiti and my time here. It warms my heart when people are genuinely interested in what’s going on in this country I love so much.
I’m starting over completely so if you know of a job, a car for sale or a rental that will accept my big dog, please let me know!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for following along on my journey in Haiti! I could not have lasted this long without all your encouraging words, donations, prayers, sweet, thoughtful gifts and letters sent through others traveling through and just your interest in what God did here and is doing here. Thank you!
Exciting things are coming! Stay tuned……