Poems and Flipping Out

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me. I write poetry. Well… write is a loose term. I used to write poetry a lot (creative writing major, you know) and every now and again I get the itch to write some more. The great thing about poetry is that it’s personal, but that’s also the bad thing about it.

When I was a Junior in college, I was asked to be a part of a poetry reading that the English Department was putting on that year. Only 3 people were asked, so I was of course, giddy and honored. Also, I wanted to scream and cry with fear. Public speaking is the furthest thing in the world from my comfort zone. Like… past root canals and having no money and breaking my ankle. Way past those. I mean, I can’t even tell a long story to several friends at once without becoming shivery and nervous. Seriously that happens to me. But I agreed to the reading (after much MUCH shaking and stomach twistiness,) and I’m so glad I did. I was really proud of myself after that, and still am proud of that whole thing. Proud that I was asked out of so many students, proud that I did it through the fear, and proud that I didn’t pass out at the front of the room.

Sunday I went to a reunion meeting for the Haiti team. While we were there, I was asked to read a “journal page” of sorts in front of our church in a few weeks about the trip to Haiti. So, of course, I said, “no way! thank you.” But after a tiny bit of thinking I remembered the poetry reading and how cool that ended up being despite the paralizing fear. So I agreed to think about it. Mind you, there are approximately 3,000 members at my church. YEAH! I KNOW! So, I go back and forth and back and forth and back and back and back and forth. Which leaves me about 2 steps back right now. I’m still thinking about it. And still getting nervous about the idea.

So, to break me a tiny bit out of my closed up box of fear, I am posting a poem at the end of this. It’s very short, and it’s one of the “flash poems” I’ve been doing lately. Basically flash poetry (as I’ve decided to name it) is when I open up a blank document on the computer, write, save, close. I come back to it later and try not to edit anything at all. If something’s really glaringly bad, I might, but normally I leave it. Here ya go:

Of Light and Truth and Hope

I have learned a little bit
about lofty things and reality
as opposite as they are
and what I have learned is that
there are only a few things to count
on and a few things to wish for
and they are always the same things.

Haiti – Days 7 and 8

Leaving Haiti was difficult. I think if you’ve been reading along the past week, you’ll understand why. The last two days were spent packing, visiting a local tourist area called the Baptist Mission, and saying our goodbyes. I got to go down to the Cretch and visit the children again and spend some time reflecting and getting closer with the whole team.

I am missing the bright colors everywhere, the kids and the people we met, I am missing being surrounded in the joy that the people of Haiti have, the smiles that break through the language barrier, and the purpose I felt while we were there. I just want to say thank you so much to all of you who helped us go with financial support, prayer, encouragement, and good wishes. We appreciate each of you more than we can express fully. Thank you for being a part of something that changed our lives and the lives of others. We couldn’t have had this experience without you. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Mesi, Mwen renmen ou.

Haiti – Day 6

This is Canez. It is hands-down the most simultaneously beautiful and desolate place I’ve ever seen. As we drove through the desert over the hill and saw this view, cameras all through the bus popped out of the windows so people could capture this beauty. The lake in the picture is a salt lake, and the people of Canez fish in the lake to get money for their village. All of Canez is thorns.

The people have no shade, no fresh water, no possessions, but all the hope and joy in the world. While some of the group went to build a structure to offer shade, others were a part of a medical tent. I was included in the medical group. I’d say half of the village showed up to the medical tent.

This family was one of the many reasons I will always remember Canez. This mother brought us her baby boy because he had been sick, but during our chat with her, we found out that her 3 other children are all deaf. She asked if we could find out if her baby was deaf, too. Time stood still for me a bit at that point. I panicked, I think. I was so afraid for her in that moment. We asked one of the guys in the group to come make loud noises behind the baby to see what he responded to. As the noises started, the other kids in the village began laughing at the silliness and trying to mimic the noises. The women’s deaf children sat watching us. As the baby began turning his head to the left or right to follow the noise, I started crying. I was elated that that little boy could hear. I wanted to scoop him up and kiss his little head. to shake the mom’s hand, and to hug everyone standing around. I celebrated on the inside.

The people of Canez are so beautiful, so joyful, so hopeful, and so loving. I can’t wait to go back to them someday.

Haiti – Days 4 and 5

Going into the blogging about Haiti, I knew days 4 and 5 would be hard to sum up. I knew that it would be hard to make it accurate to my experiences without being overly emotional and dramatic. I knew a lot of things about blogging days 4 and 5… none of which helped me figure out HOW to do it. So, let’s just start with pictures.This is Judson. He lives at the Cretch, which is the orphanage for infants through children around 8 years old. Judson is the exact description of precious. He’s tiny and cuddly and smiley. He’s got a great snorty laugh, and he babbles in his sleep. He’s 6 months old and weighs 10-11 pounds. He has a problem eating which will need to be fixed with surgery, and he changed my life. That sounds like an exaggeration, but I can’t explain to you how much it is not.


During the week, several of us were paired with babies who were sick. We each got our partner and made sure they got their medicine, were fed at the same time every day, and got extra love and care. Judson was my partner. His favorite place while we were together was laying on my chest, like the picture above. If I tried to put him on my lap, or on my arms, he would wiggle and kick and scrunch his nose up until he was back on my chest.

I would sit for hours each day like that. Just holding him close to me and letting him sleep or feeding him or letting him chew on his shirt or my shirt or a bib or anything else he could reach. Being the person to care for Judson that week was absolutely the most purposeful my life has ever felt. I was needed, I was loved unconditionally, and it felt like our hearts were made to be together for those few days. I believe that his being sick at that moment and my broken ankle were planned long ago so that we would have a few days together under the banana trees at the Cretch in Haiti. That Judson specifically was put in my arms out of all the other sick babies, that our nurse Pam thought to pair people from our team with sick babies from the orphanage, and that he was as content a baby as can be. That every small detail of this trip, and his life, and my life had been orchestrated by a God who knows exactly what Judson and I need every day of our lives. That week, we needed each other.

On day 5, we were told that it would be our last day in the Cretch, and that we’d be going to a village for the next days – to say our goodbyes. I cannot remember a time in my life where saying goodbye was more difficult. I couldn’t look at his face without crying. I couldn’t hold his hand without imagining my life without him in it. I couldn’t say goodbye. It hurt on every possible level.


Judson taught me that family doesn’t have to be organic. Children within my reach need mothers. I’ve got enough love in my heart to share with kids who need love. He taught me that adoption is not only a great option for some people, but that it’s a great option for Dave and I. Because of the love I felt for Judson, I would be able at some point in my life to have a child by adoption and know that we could love each other well. Because of the love Judson showed to me, I could confidently say that I’ll never be able to turn my back to the adoption needs in the world.

I found out a few days after the trip that Judson has a home in Wisconsin. He’s got a family that loves him dearly that’s working right now on getting him home on a medical visa. You can read about him and his family here.

Haiti – Day 3

The third day in Haiti was Monday, and the team split up early that morning to go to their designated work areas. Because of my ankle, I was in a chair making labels for an hour or so. I could hear the children in the orphanage playing and laughing in the rooms around me. I was a bit discouraged by that, but I knew my time would come to meet the kids. I wanted to be in there playing and laughing along with them.

A few hours into the morning, Nashmie was brought to me. All those discouraged feelings shot out of the window like they’d never been there in the first place. We played and sang and babbled at each other. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to figure out Creole. Baby language is all the same. Is she not precious? She was happy and smart and loved to grab at things. Like noses.

She broke me. My heart was shattered and overfull at the same time. I wanted to laugh with her and cry with her. She initiated the cracks that overcame my heart and left me with a very weary soul after a few days. But with that sadness was also hope for her future and for my future, love that will never disappear, and good life-changing questions that have still got me churning 2 weeks later. We made a good team. As terribly scripted as it may sound, I’ll always have a place in my heart for Nashmie.

Haiti – Days 1 and 2

As the plane lowered to Port au Prince, I could see kites flying above the city and bright colors on buildngs and blue rooftops. Though I thought I knew otherwise, Haiti looked like a happy place. As we lowered even closer, I realized that the blue rooftops I was seeing were actually tents. Tent cities were covering so much area. Much more than I had expected. We hadn’t even landed the plane and I could feel Haiti already making its way into my heart.

The Port au Prince airport was affected by the earthquake, so baggage claim, customs, and everything else we experienced the first minutes in Haiti was held in this hanger. It was hot and crowded, but I was stuck in a wheel chair the whole time. There was a Haitian man working at the airport who wheeled me off the plane, through customs, down the street to our ride, and even found my luggage for me. Best customer service of all time. He was awesome.

As we rode from the airport to Bethel Guest House, where we were staying, we got our first real views of the destruction. There was so much to take in, as someone who had never been to a place like this before, every tiny thing was a new experience. I wanted to be able to walk around in the city and meet the people and smell the market and learn whatever else Haiti had to teach.

Driving through the city, one of the trip leaders brought to our attention that most of the collapsed buildings probably still had bodies in them. They have neither the equipment or the people to get in and get the people out who were trapped in January. I couldn’t stop thinking of that every time we drove past a building like this one below.
Sunday morning we went to church. Easter Sunday in Haiti was really cool. Even though I couldn’t speak Creole or understand much of it, (I could understand bits and pieces thanks to my years in French class) it was moving. Watching the kids playing in the aisles was hilarious. They were so interested in my boot and my crutches, which was a great way for me to get to meet some of them. A few of them were actually afraid of me because of the crutches… which was hard for me to deal with. I wanted to explain to them what had happened.
One boy I met at Bethel Guest House had been dropped off at the orphanage after the earthquake, and he was especially nervous about the boot. I’m not sure he came within 20 feet of me the whole time I was there. He would look at it and make a wide loop around me. His name is Junior.
Sunday after church we ate lunch and then headed to the orphanage for older kids. They’re ages 8-21. We met a girl named Carmen who is 14. Her favorite color is pink and she likes romantic movies. We met a girl named Stephanie who was 19. She wants to move to Lousiville, KY to go to school for public relations or broadcasting. This is where she sleeps every night.
At the end of the day Sunday, my foot was swollen and sore and physically I was just completely worn out. But I was excited. I was excited to meet the babies the next day, to engulf myself in Haitian culture, and to be used in any way I could in the next week.

Unpacking

There is a lot of emotional unpacking that needs to be done in the wake of my trip to Haiti. I’ve never experienced anything like this trip and I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around it quite yet. Because I’m somewhat at a loss for words, I’ll just put up a few picutres with quick captions. I promise that in the next few days I will post much MUCH more.

This is baby Nashmie who initiated the cracking in my heart. First baby I held at the orphanage.
These 3 boys needed lots of love, and we had much to give.

In this picture you can see a small portion of the earthquake destruction. This is Port au Prince.

One of the thousands of tent cities.