Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Women's Dinner

It is the day for the women's dinner! Behbehghull (Mom) and I are running around trying to get everyone invited and things prepared. We have a lot to do and we still have to go and help Rose and her sister Chelsey set up for tonight. Mom and I haul a couple chairs and groceries up the hill and onto the trail to the house. We are laughing so hard we are almost crying. We look like idiots and everyone is laughing at the two blan (white) chicks on a motorcycle hauling a bunch of stuff. We drop the stuff off at the house and drive over to Quinntans to help Rose.

We set up tables and chairs and then realize that everyone will be sitting in the sun. Behbehghull remembers we have a huge white tent so we drive back to the house to get it. How is this going to work? I am basically sitting on the gas tank and mom sits behind me with her skinny little arms stretched out behind her clinging desperately to this huge box full of tent and metal framing. I try to take it slow so her little arms don’t snap off over the bumps and we laugh like idiots the whole way. The "road" from our house to Quinntans is horrible. Picture the worst trail you know of and multiply it. Now picture my mom's skinny arms clinging to a huge box as I drive sitting on the gas tank, both of us laughing like fools. I have to leave Behbehghull and Rose and Chelsey to set up the tent because I have to pick up a bunch of people from town to bring them up to the dinner.

Trip after trip, driving to all areas of town to find my friends and try to guide them and a million taxis up the mountain. Everyone looks beautiful and classy. I’m so proud of my friends. They’re so cool and wild and beautiful. They’re all so excited to be here. Who doesn’t love an excuse to dress up for a girls day? After two hours of shuttling, everyone is here and we are all so excited.

Rose has made gift bags for everyone. Beautiful gift bags full of
wonderful lady supplies. They all have bookmarks to color and they get bracelets. Rose talks about who she was when she was young and the women are moved and appreciate her honesty. So do I. We make sure everyone gets one of everything. My friends tell me how happy they are that they could come. They say they love the party. It is really beautiful. The decorations and the punch. The tables are all so beautiful. Rose really went all out with this and I am just so grateful I get to be a small part of it. There are almost 80 women here! This is not something most of them would ever get to do, go somewhere and get so many wonderful gifts and food. It's like a beautiful bridal shower or a baby shower but for every single woman! I have to take mom to preach at a church so I have to leave for a little bit.

Mom and I put our dresses and heels on. Am I seriously going to drive my motorcycle in heels? Yup. Mom and I laugh the whole way to church thinking about how corny we look driving like this.

Upon arriving we are informed that she was supposed to preach last night… fail. Back to the party we go just in time to help the ladies home. Each woman received a huge bag of rice and beans. What a blessing! Today was exhausting, but a total success. Everyone is so happy as they walk away in their dresses and heels with bags of rice on their heads.

Thank you Rose for being so real and kind. Thank you for loving people and taking care of them as well as you do. Thank you for seeing the people of Haiti as people and not as a mission. You are a joy to be around and you are much more fearless than you give yourself credit for. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate you. Love you!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


We (the team) are hiking to one of our outstation churches in Setri today. Everyone is bustling around getting prepared for the hike. It’s only five miles from the house and I’m excited to get to hike. I have Bakatol and I am always driving people and things around so today is a special day for me to get to walk. I have all my medical supplies in a backpack because who knows if I’ll need them on the way. The sky is grey and cloudy and it looks like rain. I remember this hike from when we had a youth group team here almost nine years ago. This same trail is where I learned how to say grass, tree, rock, dirt and sky in Kreyol. 

The team is hiking along and loving it. Louie and Sarah take motos to the trail head and the rest of us walk. Arriving at where the church used to stand, we get in a circle and pray. Our team and the locals stand on a cement floor. No walls. Nonexistent roof. The wind picks up and it feels like rain is going to fall. 

The girls change behind the church into clothes more appropriate than short shorts and boots and tennies. The church members have made a makeshift building next to the old church that we can go inside to have a service. I stand for a minute on this cement floor and stare out over the mountains. So many trees are down and just lay wasted over the ground. I feel the wind through my hair and breathe it into my lungs. Fresh mountain air. I love going to the mountain churches because everyone wears what they want and they are free to sing and dance in whatever way they feel. 

One by one people get up to sing. Their voices are beautiful and clear. A little boy sits next to me with bright pink foam sandals on. He takes them off when the music starts so he can freely move around. I see and hear the rain from far away as it comes across the mountain ranges and reaches our makeshift church. The water rushes over the tarp roof. People move in their seats according to where the leaks are and scooch away from the walls so water doesn’t rush down their backs. 

Behbehghull (Mom) and Poppyseed (Dad) are going to preach. I translate from English to Kreyol for Mom and from Kreyol to English for Dad. It's so cool to be doing that for them because I used to dream of being able to speak Kreyol when I was a kid, especially when Poppyseed and Behbehghull would speak Kreyol to each other so we (my brothers and I) couldn't understand. I wished more than ever I could snoop in on the conversation. 

Poppyseed preaches with his heart and I can feel it as I translate. It almost makes me cry. The rain falls on the little boys foam sandals and washes away the mud. Rain. I’ve loved rain my whole life. It is one of the few times I feel totally at peace. I love the way it feels. I love the way it makes the trunks of trees dark and their branches so green. I love the way it forces people to gather together under the nearest shelter. I look out the open doorway and men riding donkeys pass by in the pouring rain. They look at me and wave and smile. The team prays over person after person and the prayers are loud and powerful. I do minimal medical work and as the service comes to end the rain has slowed to a slow sprinkle. 

We head out back down the mountain and no sooner have we started down the hill does the rain start. It’s pouring harder than it was before. We are completely soaked in a matter of seconds and I am thankful for my boots. Everett and his crocs don’t seem to be faring too well so he hikes barefoot. Mom joins in, in the barefoot parade. The ground is red clayish dirt and slippery. Beck is having a blast down the hill. Sis and Louie are way ahead of us. Tori and Sarah close behind. Poppyseed, Mom, Everett and I walk together and laugh so hard at this wonderful adventure. 

I am freezing and nothing sounds better than a hot shower. That would require starting the charcoal and boiling water all the while freezing to death. So, I’ll cowgirl up and take a cold shower and snuggle up in a sheet afterwards. The water rushes through the trail and over the tops of my boots. I walk with a plantain leaf wrapped over my head and an old woman teases me from the comfort of her home. She yells “You have a Kreyol umbrella!” It’s much funnier in Kreyol, but basically saying I’m ghetto and doing things in a makeshift way. She watches me from her home with a toothless grin. I laugh and keep walking with my plantain headscarf/umbrella. There isn’t a single dry area on my whole self and I’m ready to be cozy. Almost back to the house. What a wonderful day. By the way...Happy birthday Chris Douglas! I definitely wish you were here on this hike today.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"The Lord Rejoices to See the Work Begin."

There is so much that happens in a day here. I haven’t been able to write due to the fact that I have been extremely busy. Wadson and I have decided to work together to build public toilets for the people of Sainte-Hélène. I meet with the committee for the area and we will be starting our project as soon as possible.

The children in this ghetto go to the bathroom right outside their homes and in the trash piles. Three children have died of cholera in this area and many get sick. Something has to change. We will start with public bathrooms. 

I meet with the committee of the area and Wadson says it will cost a lot because people have to be hired to do so many things. I say that if people want to use these bathrooms then they need to chip in. They can haul rocks and dig a hole. If they’re not financially able to support then they can support by manual labor. The committee likes this idea and the bathrooms will begin tomorrow. I’m so excited. 

Wadson and I walk over to where they will go. Walk with me through this narrow pathway between small cement homes. It feels like a maze. We walk past women cooking over open fires and children squatting in the dust. Loud music playing on huge boomboxes. Bright white smiles and half braided heads. Walking to the hillside. 

This whole hillside is covered in garbage and feces. Pigs lay in every area of shade when they’re not digging through the trash looking for food. Children run barefoot through the trash with ragged clothes screaming and giggling. 

The bathroom will have 6 toilets. Its not enough for this community but its a start. Little by little. If we want to change the world all at once nothing will ever get done. However, little by little, we can change the world. Like the story Demi sent me about the sea stars. One by one. "It mattered to that one.” These toilets won’t matter to everyone but, as I look out over this sea of small grinning faces, I know they will matter to them. Small beginnings. “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” —Zechariah 4:10

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Wild One

Day at the beach with the orphans. What a wonderful experience. I always dread it if I’m actually being honest. I don’t really like the ocean. I love to see it and be near it but I don’t love to swim in it. Its sticky. I don’t like the sand because it gets everywhere. I love kids but something in me is aways distant when it comes to spending time with them. Maybe it's because I don’t want to break their hearts by loving them for a day, or maybe it's because I don’t want to break mine. 

We get picked up by the classic brightly painted Haitian bus. Benches are crooked and dirty. Rusty. Creaky. Open windows. Picking up the orphans. They are excited and ready. There is one little girl and she isn’t allowed to go with us because she was bad. I sneak around and talk to Darlen and convince her to let me take her. I don’t know her name but she’s stuck with me for the day. We all get on the bus. 35 sweet little buzzards. 

Most of the members of the team are covered in kids. I sit with Mackenzia and my little wild girl and all the kids start singing. Loud and beautiful. Their sweet little lips sticking way out as they over emphasize every word. My little girl is distant as she sits next to me saying nothing. I’ll leave her be until she’s ready to warm up to me. We are about halfway there and the kids are still singing at the top of their lungs. I feel a little hand slide behind my back. I look down and my little gal is snuggling her way over to me. She nestles her head on my chest and now she can’t get any closer. I like this little girl. I like that she’s a little wild and a little bit bad. I’m glad she’s with me. 

All the little kids strip down into their undies as soon as we park the bus and go screaming down the hill as rain sprinkles down on them. I don’t know if I can hold any more kids as I walk down the hill. Little hands grabbing onto my arms and waist and hands. They are covered in goosebumps. The ocean is cold but they don’t care. They jump in and roll in the sand and scream and splash in the ocean. I jump in with them, trying to hold them up as they get tossed about by the ocean. The sun comes out thank goodness. We all have little clingers hanging on us and each one wants to go farther and farther. They can’t swim and yet they are so brave and trusting. 

We play all sorts of games. Aunt Beck, Tori, Everett and Poppyseed are holding kids in the ocean. Sarah plays soccer with a group of boys. Sis holds a cold little girl. Mom builds sandcastles with a little group. After a couple hours I can tell the kids are getting tired. They all try to convince me they’re not but I know it's not the case. 

We load onto the bus and the kids are so quiet and tired. They are so precious. My little wild one snuggles on my lap and I hold her as tight as I can. Rain is pouring down. The kids start to sing with all their little tired hearts, loud and strained. 

My wild one starts dozing off. What is it about a kid falling asleep in your arms that is so wonderful? I feel it's wonderful because they are giving you all of them. They are totally placing their safety and lives in your hands. Unconsciously of course but it still gives us a feeling of being the protector, of holding something so precious and keeping it warm and happy and asleep. 

Her wild little short haired head laying against my chest. I wrap her up in mom's shawl and keep her as warm as possible. I wish I could make her feel this safe and loved every day. I wish that she could wake up in the morning to me making her eggs and toast. I wish I could give her a warm shower, wash all the sticky salt off, and cozy her up in a big quilt. I wish I could be more than just a fun blan at the beach. I wish I could love her like she needs to be loved. I wish I could love them all. Won't it be wonderful when we are all in heaven together and they are all dressed in the most beautiful clothes? When everyone feels the love of a family. The love of a Father. I can feel my throat closing up and my eyes get blurry. The bus stops outside the orphanage and I carry my little wild one into a 12x14 room that she shares with over 30 other little girls. I lay her down in her damp room on a piece of plywood covered with a sheet. My throat closes again and I wave goodbye to everyone to get back on the bus to go home. Someday little ones, someday you will feel a love deeper than you could ever fathom. I will wait for that day with you. I’m sorry I can’t do anything more for your precious selves. Goodbye my little wild one.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Team Arrives

The team from the States are on their way. Sis and Louie from North Dakota, Beck and Sarah from Michigan, Tori from Indiana and Everett from New York. Mom and I have been working nonstop for the past five days to get the house ready for the team.

We don’t want everyone to have to stay in a hotel especially if the house is so close to being finished. We have bought beds and tables and chairs and painted and scrubbed and cleaned. They are 20 minutes away and the house is almost finished. I jump on Batakol and drive so fast to meet them to get the sheets so we can make the beds before they arrive. Today is the first day I’ve been able to drive since the accident. I can bend my knee enough now. The sheets will be the final touch. I meet the group's bus on the road and run onto the bus to give everyone a quick hug. A huge bag of sheets is strapped to the back of Batakol and I’m flying through the streets. I love driving fast on my shiny gold Batakol. I run inside and start making beds with Behbehghull. The bus is pulling up already! We still need about 10 minutes but oh well, we did our best. Poppyseed bought beautiful traditional wicker chairs in Port and they look perfect in here. The group looks exhausted but happy to be here. I think this will be a good group. Behbehghull and I worked so hard this week, but it has definitely paid off. 

I am relieved. I am going to stay here with the group this week I think. It’ll be easier that way. Everyone is wiped out and goes to sleep after eating. My mind is still racing but after a while I fall asleep as well. This bed is comfy and there aren’t any mosquitos here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Crash

I have to drive to Bonmon today because Manman’s uncle died and she has to attend the funeral. Mackenzy came over last night and told me not to go today. I ignored him. I wake up late and literally have to head right out the door, but I can’t find my key. Where did I put my key?! We search everywhere and upon finally finding it the three of us head out. We are on nice paved roads for a while. Up a hill and around a corner. As we round the corner there is a big oil spill and my back tire slides out and we are sliding on the pavement. Claemie! I jump up and look for Claemie. She is behind me, up and fine. Manman is fine. They don’t have a scratch on them. How is that possible? I look over each of them to make sure they are actually fine. Not a single scratch. I feel shaky and dizzy. I’m surrounded by people. Everyone is worried and coming over to check on me. I feel fine but I look down and blood is running down my arm and leg. I am wearing shorts because I woke up late. Too late to look for my jeans. Knowing Claemie and Manman are ok makes me feel fine so we start driving. I’ve been driving for maybe ten minutes and I start to see stars. An hour and a half left of driving to Bonbon and then I’ll have to return. Can I do it? I start driving really slowly as my eyes are giving out on me. I need to pull over. I’m going to make our Manman late for this funeral. Manman asks me why I’m driving so slowly and I tell her it’s because I can barely see. I pull over when I start to black out. I call Zee and Judelin and they are on their way. Judelin is going to take Manman to the funeral and Zee is going to take me home. Judelin arrives first and gets worried when he sees me so he decides to take me home. We are driving and meet Zee on the road. I have Claeme go with Zee and Judelin drives me all the way up to the house. I know I have to clean these wounds. They are full of gravel and oil and dust. What am I going to do if these get infected? Zee comes and tries to help me clean them. I dance around after we clean a few of them and it seems to help with the pain. I’d like to swear and punch someone but everyone has been so helpful. I’m officially useless now. I have to climb down the hill and bandage Dada. I can’t let her wounds get infected. The man down the hill still needs his wounds cleaned as well. I can’t bathe the mountain kids. My mind is blurry and a mess. What am I doing? I have so much to do! I’m laying on my bed with a towel underneath my wounds which are still bleeding.

I am absolutely useless. Thank you so much to Jude and Zee for taking care of me and taking Manman to Bonmon. “Sleeping” is a nightmare. I don’t sleep at all. At one point in the night my towel moved and now my blankets and sheets are covered in puss and blood. My leg is swollen and hot. I can’t wait for morning. But why? What is going to change when the sun rises? Nothing. I’ll still be laying here. Useless. The roosters are crowing and my visitors start coming in bright and early. I get all sorts of strange oils rubbed on my skin and wounds and people come in and touch and pray over me an hug me. Boiled papaya leaves cover my leg. I get trauma tea. My room is full of people from morning until night. It’s exhausting. The church services are loud. I hate laying here. My leg feels worse today than it did yesterday. The hours drag on. My leg is covered in puss and its yellow and green. I am miserable. Night comes and my last visitor leaves at 10:30. Another sleepless night. At 2 in the morning I get out of bed because I am tired of feeling liquid from my wounds running down my leg and I want to bandage my wounds.

When morning comes on this third day I am beyond miserable. I want to bawl my eyes out. What am I doing here just wasting my time? People need me! What will all my patients do if I’m not there to take care of them? My wounds look terrible this morning. My knee is bright white and bloody. What is that white stuff on there?

Scrubbing my knee is painful. I can barely walk today. My knee is now double the size of my other. I am supposed to pick mom up at the airport tomorrow. What am I going to do? How am I going to get there? I already bought my bus ticket. By nighttime I can barely move my leg and have to tell Papa that I can’t go. He looks and me with a look saying “Duh. Of course you can’t go.” When I wake up this morning I look down at my knee. It has a purple outer ring followed by a red ring and it is so hot. The soft scabs are white and green. If I stay here with all these people touching me and my leg all the time I will never get clean and my leg will get more infected. I have to get to Port. Poppyseed messages me and says theres a flight out that I can get on from Jeremie to Port for free today at 3:00. Miracle! Yes. I’ll do it. Everyone thinks I’m an idiot for leaving. I have to pick mom up and I have to take a clean shower. I have to get clean. Hiking down this mountain is painful. Step by step. Zee is waiting for me at the bottom of the hill. Please don’t fall. Please don’t fall. The motorcycle ride is even more painful. It takes us 45 minutes and every bump is awful. The sun dries and cracks the puss on my leg. Into the little puddle jumper plane I go. My knee is somewhat bent inside and this 45 minute plane ride feels like the longest of my whole life. To the airport I go to meet behbehghull (moms nickname) and I sit inside until she comes out. It is so awesome to see her. We talk and laugh and go to the hotel. The hotel is expensive and so we will leave either tomorrow or the day after. I take a hot bath and soak all my wounds and clean them. It feels amazing. I actually feel clean. Sidenote: During the riots about Guy Phillipe a soldier, originally from Haiti and stationed overseas for the American military, was reading the news and read about a crazy white girl who joined the riots in Haiti. He wrote me thanking me for what I did and we talked about our dreams and goals for Haiti. Well, he emailed the hotel mom and I were staying at and paid for the entire rest of the week so that I would be forced to recover. So, thank you Solda for that. Thank you for being such a blessing. I appreciate it, so so much. Zee checks on Dada and says she is doing fine. Her leg looks good. I needed to crash my bike. I needed to be cooped up for days. I needed to be wounded. I needed all these things to happen to realize that with or without me, God will continue to take care of his people. I had begun to think I was too important and what would people do if I wasn’t there to take care of them. I am not invincible. I am not a hero. I am not unstoppable. I was at one of the lowest lows I’ve ever felt. I was absolutely useless. Humbling. This accident has humbled me and made me remember who is actually in control. I’m just a tool to be used whenever and wherever possible. So, thank you God for slowing me down and thank you Solda for paying for our week. Mom and I are bored out of our minds at this hotel but we are still having a blast laughing and watching tv shows and eating peanut m&ms. By the way… thank you so much Danielle Gilbert for the reeses and bags of m&ms. Love you! Sorry I haven’t been blogging Dana, I’ve been super busy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Take My Heart Lord

Washing dishes. Zee and Manman making sure we are doing it right. Marcy and I laughing so hard for no reason while squatting over these dishes. As soon as we are finished we hike up the mountain to find sweet little Betsayina. Definitely the wrong spelling but we’re going to have to roll with it. Immediately we are surrounded by kids from all over the mountainside. Some hanging off our arms and some wrapped around our waists. Yelling and giggling.

Bandaging Dada has become more of a dance party than anything else. We meet and every single day is like it's the first time we’ve seen each other in years. We jump up and down and laugh and everyone talks at once. We dance and dance. Marcy dances and sings and Dada wraps her arms around her. I love these daily dance bandage parties.

Crochet class is a total success. Marcy and I teach a huge group to crochet and it's so much fun. I love it. The boys are such fast learners! It's so cool to watch these teenage boys love to crochet. Im thankful Marcy is here to help me with this.

After crochet we decide to go to Zee's to escape another church service. Shhh don’t tell anyone ;) We are sitting on the peaceful porch when I just feel like I need to sing. I go inside his house because the echo is so good. I start to sing. I don’t know how long I have been singing but I can’t stop. Song after song are coming to me and I haven’t felt the Holy Spirit like this in so long. I am overwhelmed. I end up on my knees. When I finally open my eyes Marcy is singing with me. I had no idea she even came in. We just sit on the floor in silence. Man it feels so wonderful to sing. I feel so open when I sing, like I am giving all of me, everything that I am, my whole heart. Blan is handicapped and even though he was trying so hard in class last night to crochet, it was just taking him longer than the other kids. I asked him to come this morning so I could show him without everyone around. We try over and over. When I see him starting to get it I watch his face. His eyes glow and a huge smile crosses his face. He is so proud and happy. Marcy and I hold back tears. It's a beautiful thing.

Today is my wonderful Bloat Toad's birthday Judelin! Happy birthday Judelin! After bathing Betsayina and bandaging Dada Marcy and I decide to go downtown and buy a cake. I see cakes in Lori's shop every time I’m in there so it’ll be an easy day because after we drop it off we will be free to do whatever for the rest of the day. Through all the aisles. No more cakes. Tomorrow they will have cakes again. Tomorrow isn’t today. We check Kay st Fleur and they are out of cakes as well. If any of you know Marcy, you know she can bake like the wind. If any of you know me, you know I suck at baking. Never succeed. Marcy is organized in her baking and I feel I should be able to do what I want with batter or dough. So, rather than admit defeat, we decide to bake a cake. We buy all the supplies including two eggs and head back to Papa's house. Marcy is on the back of Batakol (my bike) clutching our baking supplies and the thin little plastic bag of eggs.

The hill to the house has never looked more treacherous. Marcy can’t hold on to anything due to the fact that she has handfuls of groceries and can’t break the eggs. Up the hill we go free and clear! We made it. I don’t want to say I’m surprised, but I am. We laugh hysterically as we Haitian style bake a cake. No electricity. No proper baking pans. Homemade frosting out of who knows what. With her actual baking skills and my it’ll be fine mentality we bake a cake. And guess what? IT IS AMAZING. It’s so good.

Now Marcy has to balance the cake down the hill. She does it! If this triple layer cake makes it all the way to Judelin's house on the back of my bike with me and Marcy I’m going to be shocked. Every bump we check it to make sure nothing is falling and…we make it. Judelin loves it. What a fun little thing.

I have seen more horrible creatures during Marcy's visit than I have ever seen here before. This week, a mouse crawled down her back while she was sleeping. A rat fell out of the rafters onto her bed right by her feet. We had an infestation of ants that bit her all over. There were more mosquitoes than ever before. Tons of geckos. Huge moths flapping on our mosquito nets in the night. So many mice. Cockroaches crawling over the walls. A tree frog on my bed. Hugh spiders in the bathroom. I have no idea why but I’m thankful she is an amazing sport. For some reason she couldn’t sleep very well after the mouse ran down her back. Not sure why...

Poppyseed is in Jeremie and Dan from Faithwire is flying to Jeremie to come check it out! I am going to pick him up at the airport. This is a hoot. He is broken in the right way on the back of my motorcycle on this terrible pothole central airport road. He’s traveled all over so Haiti is not a shock for him, but it's the little things that are fun just the same. He follows me everywhere just doing what I do. We have a blast.
The container has finally arrived in Jeremie! Poppyseed is so relieved! He has worked so hard trying to get it here. Spent so much time and money. He has been stressed and worried for it. Nothing is ever simple in Haiti so he is so relieved that after his hard work it will finally pay off.

The pastors of the churches are so excited to get the supplies. Thank you everyone for your donations. Now the people in the remote villages will receive their building supplies! And thank you to my folks who kept it up and never gave up even when it was discouraging. Right when I think my day is over its time for another house call. Poppyseed, Dan, Zee and I head down the mountainside to Manel's house.

Manel's uncle has seizures throughout the day and will end up falling down the cliffs. Manel's house is built on the side of a cliff. His home consists of scraps of tin nailed shoddily together. Their floor is dirt and a small oil lamp glows dimly on a makeshift bedside table. A dusty bed is kept off the floor by a bed frame consisting of bricks, wood and odds and ends. The uncle comes and sits on the bed. His whole forehead is scabbed over. His shoulder is infected and his right leg also has cuts and scrapes. I clean his wounds and sing to him when he starts to cry. Poppyseed joins me and I am completely caught in the moment. I often forget the feeling I get when I sing with my family until I sing with one of them again. I am so happy Poppyseed hiked down this mountain with us even though he is tired.

Poppyseed has a beautiful voice and one of my favorite things growing up was when he and mom would sing for us at night. I remember when we lived in Jeremie and they would sing the same song we are singing right now. We would all sit on our bed with a dim oil lamp just like this one and we would listen to this song. “Take my heart of stone away. Put a new one in its place. Let it be more like your own. Take my heart, Lord take my heart.” Now, twenty years later we are singing it together again, in Jeremie, sitting on this family's bed, with a dim oil lamp flickering and casting dancing shadows against the wall. This precious man raises his hands in the air and hums along with us. His eyes are closed and he is worshipping with all his heart. Dan, Poppyseed and Zee pray for him and we say goodnight. We hike back up the hill and Richard's mom is waiting for us on top of the mountain. She wraps her arms around me and I just hug her. I hold her. She doesn’t let go of me. We all stand on top of the mountain in silence looking up at the stars. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for being alive in this very moment.

My throat closes and tears stream down my face. No one knows nor do they need to. I am just accepting this moment. Her head against my chest and my arms wrapped around her. The stars bright and fiery above us. Walking back to Papa’s. Another wounded hand waiting for me to clean. I’ll take it. I’ll take every infection. I’ll take the lack of sleep. Every scabies baby. Every sweaty hike. Every hopeful person. Every bucket shower. Every cockroach. Every cup of overly sweet strong black coffee. Every smile. Every smell. Every ounce of dust covering my feet. Every part of Haiti. The good with the bad. I’ll take it with open arms. Every part.

Dan, Poppyseed and I had a good weekend. It was awesome to have them here. They left this morning. Thank you Dan for taking the time to go where people don’t want to go. For wanting to experience things as they are. For not minding living like the people. For being up for anything. For writing things as they truly are. For taking the time to ask questions and wait for the answer. I’m excited to see what you do with it. Thanks for coming.

This moto. I’m so glad I have it. Flying through the streets late at night is my absolute favorite. I suppose its a lot of things that make it so wonderful to me. No one is in the streets and the people that are can’t see that I’m blan. It's the only time I can fully see Jeremie through the eyes of a Haitian. No one notices me or yells or watches my every move. I can fly through the streets and trails and past shops and homes without a single head turning. Its also the only time I’m ever truly alone. No one knows where I am or what I’m doing. Just me and a road or a trail. There is one specific strip that I can really fly on. I stand up on my bike and kick it into 3rd then 4th. My hair is blowing straight back and smoke from a nearby fire burns my eyes. I feel so free. So so so free. I have a huge smile on my face and I can feel the dust on my teeth. I am thankful for Batakol. I am so thankful to be here. I am so thankful to be free.