I’ve just returned back to Haiti after a two-week trip back to Iowa. I got to watch my baby brother graduate from high school, see my best friends, visit with family and indulge on all my favorite American treats. But, I have also been reflecting a lot on the past year of my life.
One entire year of being a full-time missionary, mom, manager and minority in a country full of chocolate colored people, poverty and challenges has already passed.
One of the hardest questions I am always asked is “How long do you plan on staying in Haiti?” This question usually comes from a stranger or someone who doesn’t know I’m in love with a Haitian and am raising two children. While I was home, I was interviewed for a news story done on Vi Bella. The lady who covered the story asked me this exact question. I blushed as I told her I was dating a Haitian and may end up spending the rest of my life here, I quickly told her to not put that part on the news though!
Truth is, I don’t know how long I will end up being here. Truth is, I also have no idea about anything anymore. I use to have such a defined perspective of the world we live in. Truth is, my perspective on things has changed in the past year.
As many of you have followed my journey this past year, you’ve read about many of the challenges I have faced and the hard issues I have addressed. I was so sure of what I was doing a year ago, but now I find myself in a whirlwind not knowing how I will ever be able to help all the people who need the help.
This past Thursday, I was sitting at my gate in Chicago after just receiving news that our flight had been delayed 3 hours and as a result I was going to miss my connecting flight to Port-au-Prince, which would mean I would be spending the night by myself in a hotel instead of with my boys. I was bummed, but not as crabby as some of the other travelers. I have yet to understand why some people have to act like such idiots in situations where the weather and mechanical issues are nothing we can control or change.
But, then there was a small girl, probably 2-years-old, who was being held by her mom. She pointed out the window over her mom’s shoulders and asked her, “What’s that big tower for? Is that a castle?”
The mom responded, “No, that’s where the good guys work, they are going to find us a new plane since our plane isn’t working.”
And, she believed it. That response was good enough and she was content to sit at Gate K18 until the good guys found us a new plane.
I wished in that moment that I could have the capability to have the contentment of a child. I wish my mom could point out the “towers” and show me where the good guys are in this world.
My perspective of the world has drastically changed over the past year. At the age of 23, I have learned there aren’t any magical towers with “good guys” and magical wishes. I have learned that if we want to live in a better world, it takes a lot of hard work. I have learned that the people I want to help the most are even willing to take advantage of me in the process. I have learned that more people are capable of making the world a better place but they are so blinded by our materialistic, cosmetic and fake society they don’t know any better.
The perspective I have on the world has become harsh and ragged. I travel home to designer name brands and luxury items. I travel back to a place that most people in the world will never experience, let alone imagine. I travel back with a pit in my stomach as I try to digest our society in America all over again. I just don’t get why we get to have so much and they only get so little.
My favorite restaurant to go to is Granite City and my favorite people to go with are my two best friends from high school. The night before I traveled back to Haiti, I found myself eating my favorite waffle fries with Granite City dip and laughing with my two friends. I thought to myself how I only wished I could have a girls’ night like that at least once a month, just a night to relax.
But as I paid my $16.00 bill, I thought of the boy who needed new tennis shoes to go to school and the mom who was struggling to feed to her baby. Their faces and names are real to me; they’re not just another number or statistic. They’re not another face in the crowd to me and they could have used that $16.00 more than I needed those French fries.
My two friends paid their bills, too, without a glance and I realized how I will never be “normal” again. These faces flash through my mind and my perspective of the world changes again.
If only we could take our blindfolds off. If only we could hear the truth in poverty and not continue to just read the headlines of “Haiti, poorest country in the western hemisphere.” Haiti is so much more than that statement, but that is what we have belittled it to be.
My perspective of the world has changed. My dreams aren’t full of “me” anymore, but full of ways for how to make the world just a little better. My desire is for those of you privileged enough to read this – I say privileged not because I’m a good writer and you should feel so because you’re reading my work, but because I consider you privileged by the smart phone you are holding in your hand, or the lab top that is comfortably positioned on your lap or the nice leather desk chair you find yourself seated on with the desktop in front of you. You’re privileged because you have access to clean water, quality education, dependable hospitals, fast speed Internet, comfortable chairs, French fries, etc, etc, etc, etc….. Consider yourself privileged if you can afford to spend $16.00 on meal without thinking twice.
I think that if we were able, for even one minute, to remove the blindfolds our society has blinded us with, the perspectives of our worlds would drastically change. If we could only begin to see the ones who are truly struggling and be willing to listen to the oppressed, we could see a change in our world. If our priorities switched from who has the biggest house on the block to helping those living on dirt floors, we could see a change in our world. If we skipped eating out one meal a month to sponsor a child in school, we could see a change in our world.
Some days I wish I could still see the world the way I did when I was 19-years-old, before I was ever exposed to true poverty. I sometimes wish I wasn’t bold enough to fight for the people who I do, but then I realize that that would be pretty selfish of me.
And, I think it is pretty selfish of our society to not allow our blindfolds to be taken off. I dare you to take yours off, it may be scary and I can almost guarantee you that you won’t like what you truly see, but there’s potential in the difference you could make in this world. Allow your perspective to change; you owe it to the world.
P.S. the person who has made the biggest impact on my life is my son Loveson, we celebrated his “birthday” (we won’t ever know his real birth date, so we celebrated his “got ya!” date) this past weekend. Look at what one year can do to a person!
God is good, even in the midst of hurt and turmoil.
Love from Haiti.