The first time I went to Haiti had nothing to do with the adoption of our children. My two kids weren't even on my mind, or in our life plan. We had two kids, and although I was hopeful there would be more, they weren't in our plans.
The first time I went to Haiti I was terrified. I had envisioned Haiti as an awful place where men walked around with machete's and were out to kill all white women in the middle of the night. To this day I have no idea where this visual came from, or why it consumed me, but Satan surely used it to put so much fear in me. I lost so much sleep that week because of fear.
The first time I went to Haiti I was moved beyond belief at what I saw. I had never seen the images I was seeing, and God was moving in my heart and life for a country that would forever be a part of my life. I never saw men walking around with machete's looking to kill someone, instead I saw men working for their families. I saw children hungry for food and hungry for love. I saw mothers stare at me with a look in their eyes, that only another mother can interpret. I saw hope. I saw misery. I saw pain. I saw life. It was the first time I was surrounded by such complexities of emotions.
The first time I went to Haiti we evangelized in a village and I have never felt dirtier or more filthy with shame in my life. We walked around the village to tell people about Jesus. Sounds innocent enough, right? We had our interpreter, and a few of us would cram ourselves into their homes. We would probably all stare in disbelief and then begin to share the love of Jesus with them. After we would tell them about Jesus if they would pray and accept him, then we would give them a few dollars. I seriously get the taste of throw up in my mouth when I retell this event. What a sick use of the gospel of Jesus.
The first time I went to Haiti I was changed forever. God moved my heart towards a country and he did this because he knew that I would be back here and it would be to get my children. Little did I know, that my son, Amos, was alive on my first trip to Haiti. He was 1.5 old and already living at Real Hope for Haiti. I had no idea.
I have visited Haiti a handful of times since then, and most of my trips were laced with joy and sadness. In fact, I have never once been to Haiti and not experienced sadness and hurt. That first trip left me feeling sick and gross over our manipulative ways of sharing the gospel. I left feeling dirty and used. Each trip after that involved me leaving my children. On trips to visit our kids, we yearned to get to them quickly and love them, but that was always overshadowed by the hollow feeling in our stomach that at the end of our five days we would leave them again. Abandon their hearts again. There might not be a worse feeling I've felt in my lifetime other than those departures. I have not one time had a trip where I wasn't left feeling worse off then when I arrived.
To say that I have a bad taste in my mouth about going to Haiti is an understatement. I have been so hurt by those trips. It's almost like when you get sick right after you eat at a certain restaurant and so forever you associate sickness with that restaurant, even though in reality that restaurant didn't hurt you. That's my feeling with Haiti. I've been hurt by her in my mind. I've been disappointed by her. I've been let down by her. I'm absolutely scared to go back to her.
There's a few days on my calendar in May that say “Go to Haiti”. I look at those dates often and wonder if I really will go to Haiti. Do I have the strength to go back to the place that I only associate with sadness, hurt and despair. The last time I walked down that airplane on to Haitian soil was when I went to get Story over 3 years ago. I wonder if I'll get off that plane in May and allow God to mend places in my heart that are still so hurt from my trips there.
First time I went to Kenya, I fell asleep every single night crying and woke up with the call to prayer echoing against the walls. I would feel like the heaviest weight centered itself on my chest. I didn’t want to return to the slum. I hated the slum. I felt dirty in the slum.
But every single day, when the sun would dip toward magic hour and every thing would be painted golden, I would look around at the aluminum and tin roofs and the kids running around barefoot and the slosh of a creek running mid-hill and I never wanted to leave.
It’s a strange dichotomy when it’s a COUNTRY that causes you pain. I get this. Even though I feel Kibera took a piece of my heart a few years ago, I don’t know if I want it back. I don’t know if I’d be able to visit again.
I’m so glad you wrote this, Jamie. Thank you.
this is a good post jamie. I often think of haiti and it scares me and i’ve never been. other third world countries don’t scare me, but haiti does. normally when I see people post about haiti I don’t even want to read it. it makes me think that god has something in store for me there down the road. I know why people don’t want to go on short term mission or to third world countries: mostly b/c of fear. and although I am not fearful of most places I get the opportunity to go – I am fearful of haiti. god is working on my heart and it sounds like he’s working on yours too. i pray he gives you boldness and bravery in his name to go. and that one day i’ll get to go too.
I hope you do. I believe it can be mended. And I believe that any parts left unmended by God are purposeful. I get this. I still struggle to express my time in Ukraine after first becoming a Christian- similar to your first time in Haiti, and for the same reasons- it makes me ill to remember. I was so clueless then. But I’m not now. And neither are you. I believe this heartache exists so you can pursue healing in it, which could leave you with a love for Haiti your kids will need you to have. Maybe- I don’t know. I’m just writing what I feel God telling me right now. But, that’s what I believe.
Jamie, I appreciate your candor and have similar feelings! I have often regretted that on my visits to Haiti, I didn’t feel that I ever experienced the truly beautiful side of the culture and people that I’ve often read about in other blogs. You’ve described it well, there was just so much sadness associated with leaving our kids and lack of control over their destiny (a faith issue, to be sure, but still real.) I have promised to take our children back one day and I really believe we will, but I feel nervous when I think of it. I will be praying and watching hopefully to see how God uses your trip this year!
You have a beautiful heart because you could see that what you were doing was not the path God wanted you to follow. Not everyone can see that (obviously not the people who organized the mission and who truly thought they were doing best).
When we went to East Africa, 2 out of the 3 countries we stayed in for the year were Muslim, and we were not allowed to share our faith. All we could do was to “be” Jesus for these people. Man, God was incredible the way he worked, and how he changed our hearts too. I’ve been publishing my memoire – my coming-to-faith story on my blog each week, and I have been reliving everything. It is both plunging me in sadness at times, and also shaking the dull wool I have over my head from being a mom – remembering that there was a time God did incredible things, and how silly to think that time is behind me.
I think – go to Haiti, of course. Weep, laugh and be healed.