Quote of the week: Miss Lauren, your hair is so pretty, it’s yellow, like your skin.
Things I miss: El Som & getting mail.
So much has happened in the past few days that I’m not sure the best way to sum all of it up in the most readable way. Saturday, we had a birth parent meeting at the orphanage. This is a time when birth mothers, fathers, aunts, siblings, (whoever is around) can come to visit with their child. This was a really hard day for me. I did what I was supposed to do, but inside I was really struggling. These parents, many who simply cannot afford adequate care for their child, come for one day every few months to see how their child is doing. The parents meet with a few staff members and then we bring the children out in groups to visit with their families. Some of the children have 3 siblings come to see them, and some never have a family member come visit. Some of the kids were excited, some didn’t want to be there at all. Some were totally fine after the visit, some were in bad moods for hours after. And as for the kids in the backyard whose parents didn’t come- I brought out string & made bracelets with the ones who wanted to talk. Some wanted to be alone, and some acted like they didn’t care what was going on. I know that these visits are good for the kids- to see that their parents still love them and want the best thing for them, even if that is not being with them. But I also saw the hurt that this whole situation brings. It’s not that the day was bad, but in that day I was able to see so many aspects of the realities of poverty, grace, hurt, help, letting go, closure and love expressed in many different ways. For the birth parents, sometimes love looks like bringing their child to Maison. That’s not every child’s story here, but it’s a lot of them. For the adoptive families, love looks like bringing a child into their family as their own. It’s such a different act of love, and it’s hard to grasp an understanding of it all.
Monday I went with Angie to the hospital with a sick baby. I had never been to a Haitian hospital. It was an eye opening experience for sure. The children’s ward of this hospital was destroyed in the earthquake, so they moved into a group of buildings with concrete floors & a few windows here & there. It was 90 something degrees in there, and the baby we were with had a fever of about 105 degrees. So, trying to cool her down while waiting to be admitted and then waiting on the nurse to see her was a challenge. In the bed next to us was a boy gasping for breath in between his cries. There is 1 tank of oxygen for about every 10 beds. The nurses check on the kids & give the prescription to the parent. You better have another adult there too to stay with the child because you have to go down the street to pick up the meds from the pharmacy and bring them back to the nurse. As a caregiver you will feed, water, change diapers, bring sheets, towels, anything you’ll need for the bed, and hopefully find a chair to sit in beside your kid’s bed. And if your child is there for a long period of time, don’t worry- there’s a hose in the back you can use for water to bathe. If your child needs a blood transfusion, you will leave and round up about 4 people & pay them to donate blood for your child. And if you don’t have the money to start the file in the first place, don’t even bother showing up. That’s just a glimpse of what the healthcare system is like here.
While we were there, Angie actually got to meet a girl she had been in contact with previously, who is working with her own ministry helping street boys through a safe house. Three white women in one hospital section is a lot- everyone was commenting on it. Oh the humor and reality of community, connections and friendship. This sweet girl was there with one of her boys who was really sick. She had traveled about 6 hours to this hospital, probably slept in the same bed next to him, and spent all of her time and money taking care of his needs. She had 1 dress, a pair of pants, and a toothbrush with her. This girl knows true sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom- to her it seemed like no big deal- “it’s not an option to leave here” she said. But to me she was a vision of what compassion really looks like. As we left the hospital and sat in traffic for 2 hours, I soaked in more of reality of poverty of the city and the helplessness that I often feel when I actually stop and think about the people I’m driving past. I went back to my guesthouse that usually has AC for half of the day. I went back to 3 meals a day, and internet that I get mad at when it doesn’t work for a day. But this girl, she’s just living the Gospel, investing in 1 child at a time, 1 day at a time, not concerned about what that looks like or things she might suffer because of it. And to me that’s encouraging. That’s what I remember when the realities of this city hit me hard- live the Gospel and the love of Christ one day at a time, with one person at a time, one moment at a time. It’s going to look different in every situation. But the need is the same- the hope of Christ. Shouldn’t we all be doing the same thing?
Another encouragement this week was a surprise visit from my friend Kerby. Kerby lives and goes to school in PaP and has traveled to La Source with our teams in the past to translate for us. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years, so when the security guard came asking if I knew someone by that name, I was so confused and excited. I ran to the gate as fast as my constricting knee length skirt would let me and did the typical Lauren jump up & down and “eeeekk!!!” when I saw him. He had seen us driving as he was walking home from the university. Kerby hadn’t known I was even in Port-au-Prince, but was brave enough to ask the guard at the gate if it was really me. Then our friend Donald called to say that he was coming by to see me too, so we all had a nice little reunion for the next hour. I met Donald my freshman year of college on a trip to La Source. He translated for us, we stayed at his dad’s hotel, he took me around the city on some random rented motorcycles, and we’ve been friends ever since. After a few weeks of continuing to feel settled here, but missing sweet friends and a strong sense of community, seeing these 2 guys made my day. I am so thankful for them and friendships with Bill & Lisa Adams that brought us all together. Can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for these guys and the crazy white girl that tags along with them.
Peace & Blessings, yall, from PaP