Moving away from friends has been one of the hardest things in this journey, but I’m blessed to have really good friends, four of them who blessed me by coming and standing up for me in my wedding.
I have known Molly since grade school. We grew up doing sleepovers, sports, proms and everything in between together. I call her one of my best friends, she’s a pretty great one to have at my side. This was Molly’s first time traveling out of the country and visiting me oceanside. Here she is as my first guest writer and sharing her experiences.
Day 1 “And we’re off!”
On Tuesday, December 31, I embarked on a journey to the country of Haiti where I would be witnessing one of my best friends in the entire world (literally!) get married. Our plane left Minneapolis early that morning, which then connected to Chicago, to Miami, and arrived in Haiti around 4 o’clock. We had been warned to stay very close to each other in the Haitian airport and to come off very confident, which was hard for me to do, because anyone who knows me knows how awful I am at traveling! We were approached by several people who wanted to help us with our bags, in hopes of earning an extra dollar or two. As soon as we left the airport, we saw Kayla and her fiancé, Webert waving their arms and we quickly greeted them with huge hugs! We hurried to the truck and gave the men who helped us with our bags a few dollars, and when they told us they wanted more, Kayla told them in Creole to “Shut their mouths” and we got in the truck and left Port Au Prince with our trusty driver, Fan Fan! The streets were very overwhelming and we weren’t quite sure what was going on. When my friend Danielle asked, “What are the rules of the road?” Kayla simply replied, “there aren’t any”…it was then that I realized that my father, the drivers-ed instructor and grade-A worry wart, would never ever be traveling to this country!
We finally arrived to Kayla’s house, about an hour away from Port au Prince. We got to play with 3 of the most joy-filled kids I have ever met. They sang, danced, wrestled, and wore us all out! So much, in fact, that we didn’t even make it until midnight to ring in the new year, and slept right through the firework celebration that was going on in the village.
Day 2 “One of those days that I’ll never ever forget”
I realized that Day 2 of Haiti meant day 2 of no cell phone–something that is rarely seen out of my hands when I am back home; however, I was surprisingly not missing it one bit. It was nice to know that I still have a pulse without continuously refreshing my facebook, twittter, and instagram feeds!
I woke up Wednesday and kayaked that morning with Danielle, who informed me I am very slow at kayaking. The ocean was so still and beautiful that morning. I am so envious Kayla gets to view the ocean from her porch every day!
Next, we went on a tour of the school where Webert works and where the children go to school everyday and also received a tour of Tytoo Gardens Orphange. I had heard Kayla tell so many stories of the kids at Tytoo in her blog posts, so I was excited to put faces to all the names! The children at the orphanage were so full of life! One of the best parts of the orphanage was meeting all the great people who work there and dedicate their lives to helping out all of the kids.
Later that afternoon, we gathered in the Canter and traveled up to the top of a windy road that lead up the mountain, in search of a group of people to deliver some toiletries and clothes that had been donated. We saw a group of about 9 people and decided to give each of them a shirt and a pair of shorts…within minutes, there were dozens of people who had gathered around the canter, chanting “You! you! you!” trying to get our attention to give them something. There were so many people, and we began frantically handing out items, trying to make sure everyone got something. This part was what hurt my heart the most, it seemed no matter how much we had, it wouldn’t be enough. This was the moment I realized why my friend Kayla does what she does.
As we made our way down the mountain, we stopped at Joelle’s orphanage to deliver 17 backpacks that had been donated for the children. We greeted the kids with tootsie pops, and they each shook our hands and greeted us individually by saying “Bonswa!” (Good Afternoon).
The children then gathered and sat on benches patiently. Webert serenaded us with his guitar skills! I had no idea Kayla was marrying a rock star! My heart immediately melted when they performed a mini-concert for us and sang “This little light of mine” in Creole and in English. These children, who had so little, didn’t let that stop them from spreading all the joy that filled their hearts. After singing, we passed out the backpacks full of goodies and toys for the kids. It sinks in, especially after Christmas, when we see how selfish we can be with everything we think we ‘need’, and then to see how happy a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste made a little boy. Oofta!
I will be the first to admit that I had my doubts about this trip, stories of those who had gotten sick, the crime that happens, voo doo (ok, that one is from my coworkers, they know how to get under my skin). But going to bed with those happy faces in my head, feeling like I may have made someone’s day is so gratifying. As I was lying in bed, I once again realized why Kayla lives here, and why she does what she does.
Day 3 “Night with the Haitian friends”
The third Day was a ‘down’ day. We plopped a patio chair in the sand and soaked up the Haitian sun for a few hours while Kayla went to ViBella jewlery to do some work. Most of the group left for Wahoo Bay this day, but the bridesmaids stayed back to enjoy a ‘mini’ bachelorette party. Later that evening, 3 motos arrived to Kayla’s house to pick us up to take us to Guapa Pol (probably spelling that wrong!), a chicken restaraunt. There, we met up with some ladies who worked at Tytoo Gardens. (a.k.a. the Haitian friends!) We were seated on some patio furniture at the top of a building. Our dinner served that night was chicken legs, beans, picklees, a Haitian style coleslaw (favorite!) and plantains, a fried banana (not so much a favorite). Next, we left the restaurant and headed back to Kayla for some fun games and several laughs. P.S. Haitian friends, I think American friends won, just to set the record straight
Day 4 “Let the wedding festivities begin”
The bridal party packed up their things and we were off to Wahoo bay! On our way, we made several stops to pick up the groomsmen who would be standing up for Webert and Kayla, and also made a stop at a marketplace to get some food for the weekend. There was some excitement in the marketplace where we learned a tourist lesson on minding our own business! Danielle was angrily approached by a man because she had taken his picture, while Hannah had pieces of bread thrown at her face for…well we’re still not really sure why Hannah got bread thrown at her face, but it made for several laughs!
We finally arrived to Wahoo Bay and took advantage of their Wi-Fi connection. I logged onto Facebook only to reassure my mother that I was safe and was yet to be kidnapped, and also to rub in our gorgeous view to my friends wearing hats and mittens back home in the Midwest. We had a few hours to check out the resort before the wedding rehearsal. The supper at the resort that evening was amazing! (Mainly because they had more of that Haitian coleslaw that I couldn’t seem to get enough of!) We hung out for a few more hours and were sure to catch some Z’s before the big day that was approaching us!
Day 5 “The Day”
When we first woke up that morning, we thought we lost the bride! Luckily, she just couldn’t sleep in and woke up around 6 to start making sure everything was set for perfection, and the day was nothing short of that.
We helped set up a few things in the reception hall so that we could get the right “vision.” That Renae, Kayla’s mom, and decorating extraordinaire, had planned it all out in her head. The coral and tan colors fit so perfectly in the reception hall! Picture your dream wedding that you have saved in your pinterest board, then picture it on a warm island over looking the beach…yeah..it was that perfect.
Everyone then began getting ready, and then the waterworks began to pour out as I saw my best friend wearing white. She was such a beautiful bride, and I’m almost positive that her dress was made for her. Everything about the day turned out perfect. I am so honored that she asked me to be apart of her special day. After the ceremony, we enjoyed a FEAST of food and made many toasts to the new bride and groom! We danced the night away and probably stayed out a little later than we should have. I’m sure the locals enjoyed us as their entertainment!
Day 6 and 7 “The Final Days”
The final days were spent recovering from the wedding and soaking up the sun before heading back to the rumors of the negative 50-degree temperatures! Monday evening, we ventured back to the orphanage to witness one of the cutest things I have ever seen! Webert got dressed up all fancy, Kayla got back in her beautiful dress, and they held a ‘mock ceremony’ for the kids who were not able to attend the ceremony. Dell walked Kayla back down the few pews in their worship center, full of cheering children. One of the women from the orphanage, Hillary, stepped up as the minister, and once again pronounced Webert and Kayla husband and wife! When Webert got the go-ahead to kiss the bride, the kids jumped from their seats and the crowd erupted with cheers and laughs! We were once again treated to an amazing meal of chicken, picklees (YES!), rice, and beans, that everyone at the orphanage prepared for us. With full bellies, we traveled back to Kayla’s house and got some sleep as we prepared for another big day of traveling.
The next morning we prepared for departure. We gave our hugs and said our goodbyes, knowing I might not see Kayla again for a few months. Leaving her is always the hardest, but leaving her knowing all the work she has been doing, what she sees everyday, and the certain struggles she goes through was even harder. We loaded into the canter as Fan Fan, our trusty driver, brought us back to the airport in Port Au Prince.
She is so detailed with all of her blog posts, but they really don’t do it justice. I had no idea what to expect when I left. As cliché as it sounds, we really don’t know how good we have it in America. The whole time I was in Haiti, I couldn’t help but compare as to how things would be if it were in America: the laws, safety and health standards, it really does blow one’s mind. It is, however, reassuring knowing that there are people like Kayla, her friends at the orphanage, and several other missionaries who are giving it their all to spread hope throughout Haiti.
Four years ago, if you would have asked if my friend Kayla would end up finding the man of her dreams in Haiti, I would have laughed right in your face. Now, I really can’t picture her life any differently. Congratulations to Kayla and Webert, I can’t wait to see where this crazy journey takes you next!
*Webert has no guitar skills, Molly was lying. *The restaurant we ate at was Gwo Papa Poul (Big daddy chicken) but loved your attempt at spelling! *I also have no explanation why Hannah had bread thrown at her! *My friends made my wedding day perfect by being there to stand up for me. *The “second” wedding at Tytoo was hilarious and so precious! *Thanks so much Molly for being my first guest writer and sharing your experience!