This is one of my most favorite places in all of the world. Isn't it gorgeous? I love when the water is all different shades of blue like this. Seriously, here is another view looking out . . .
Ahhhh. It's amazing. Any guess where it is? Hawaii? No. Barbados? Try again. Nevis? Nope. It is Haiti. I know not really the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Haiti, huh? More than likely it is images of poverty and suffering - which is completely accurate by the way. But here is a different side of Haiti a beautiful slice of paradise called Cormier Plage.
When I was in nursing school and for several years afterwards I made regular trips about every 3 months to Haiti to volunteer in an orphanage and medical clinic out reach. I can not even being to explain the impact that my time in Haiti has had on my life. When I first glanced down out of a window of an airplane and tried to absorb the destruction I saw where I was about to land (seriously, I thought that there must have been a recent storm that knocked down all of the buildings - turns out that was just the way it was) I had now idea what a special place Haiti would become to me.
I really wasn't planning on going into all the details about my experiences in Haiti but I seem to have started wondering down that road. Without making this the longest blog post in history filled with story after story I can just tell you that this is the place where I learned what the word "poverty" means. Not the American definition. The definition that all of those other people in the world have to deal with. It is basically living on the brink of death each day. Not knowing where each meal will come from or how long your babies will live. I learned what poverty like that looks like, feels like, smells like and even what it tastes like. I learned what it was like to hold a dying baby in my arms and wonder if each breath was going to be her last. I learned what it meant to truly love people of another color. I learned that I can't pull out my American passport and boss people around to get them to change their ways. I redefined my idea of retirement when I met an 80 year old woman running an orphanage for 100 kids. I met God as a God of the nations not as a God of just the USA.
You can see why this place is so special to me. It has really played a large part in defining who I am and has really shaped my faith and understanding of God. All of my pictures of my days in Haiti were way before digital cameras so they are tucked away nicely in photo albums. Maybe one day I'll scan some in to share. I have so many of the children, the patients and the people I met along the way. Some of the pictures are startling as you glimpse into that poverty I mentioned earlier. That's why I like these pictures. It's just the beauty and none of heartache and pain. Sometimes you just need to step back and be refreshed in the midst of all of that suffering. That's exactly what we would do on off days in Haiti. We would load up a truck or a tap-tap and take the very bumpy ride over the mountain to this lovely paradise. We would often take a bunch of the kids form the orphanage (sometimes ALL of the kids) and have a fun day at the beach. Nothing can compare to seeing a little child who has nothing and no one in the world playing in the sand in a beautiful beach resort that they could only otherwise dream of! We would just relax and walk up and down the beach and eat a delicious lunch. It was great and I have such wonderful memories there. I actually suggested it for our honeymoon but Rhett said no.
Haiti has been on my mind lately because our "plan" has always been to adopt from Haiti "one day". We found out a few years ago that we had to be 30 years old and married for 5 years in order to qualify to adopt from Haiti. Well a few weeks ago we attained both of those things and we both were a little sad that we weren't starting our adoption journey. Right now everything is just so up in the air. How do we tell an adoption agency that we'd like to adopt a child from one 3rd world country and take them to another? Oh and we won't have any income. But we've got lots of love : ) Unfortunately that doesn't quite cut it. So for now our plans are on hold but I've been thinking about it so much recently. I pray that God continues to take us down this path to our child one day.
One of the orphanage websites that I check frequently has a video section that Claire has become quite fond of. There is one video that lasts about 17 seconds of a bunch of kids in the orphanage swinging on the swing set singing a song. She has watched it approximately 100 times. Today we were filling out a "get to know you" questionaire for Claire's first day of preschool and one of the questions was "I can't wait to go to _______". I asked her where she couldn't wait to go and she quickly replied "Haiti". That's my girl!