Tuesday, December 29, 2009

america vs. haiti: on the road


today someone was talking about how a lot of people park their big fancy cars in the back of the parking lot to stay away from other cars. or take up two spots so no one can get too close. wouldn't want to risk getting a scratch on the car.
it's just one of those things that make me chuckle. and make me wish i could bring them to experience a week in haiti.
in haiti, it really doesn't matter what you do. your car is not safe. you cannot protect it. and you really can't do much about it. example:
when i was at Three Angels and shannon was in haiti, we met up with the livesays for dinner. a guy actually directed me on where and how to park. (they do that a lot. i'm not really sure why.) as we were leaving the restaurant, the guy that "helped" me park the car noticed me and started saying "aksidan! aksidan!" (accident). right before we
had walked out, another vehicle had smashed into our parked car. the guy claimed he had insurance and actually gave us all of his info. nothing ever came of it though. and the thing is- when we walked out and noticed someone hit our car, i really wasn't too shocked or surprised. none of us freaked out. we really just gave more of a shrug and "i can't believe someone just hit
our parked car. TIH."

Tap taps/transportation

in american- typically 5 to 7 people in a vehicle. sit on what was actually installed in the vehicle to be sat on. wear your seat belt. simple as that.

in our beloved country of haiti- why would you only have 5 to 7 people in a vehicle? you can squeeze in so many more! and why limit yourself to the seats that were already in the van? there's plenty of room for a bench in-between rows. and why leave the aisle open? that's wasting good space, too. add in a single stool, people can always climb over it and each other. oh, and with public transportation- there is no such thing as personal space. you do not get your personal space bubble. you get to sit crushed up next to a sweaty man with your shoulder in his arm pit. and i've noticed that generally, haitian people do not like to scoot. i see it in tap taps and at church. if someone is on the end, they do not just slide over to let you sit... they make you crawl over them to get to the empty space.

Road conditions

aren't quite the same either. it's important to literally watch the road in haiti. you have to keep an eye out for pot holes. craters. huge chunks of the road that are missing. crowds of people that decide to cross the road (nobody ever taught them to "look both ways"). crazy people that decide to stand or sit in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. and what can you do? you just do what you gotta do to get where you need to go. drive on the sidewalk. use the on-coming traffic lane for a bit. it's all good. in the states, these are things you'd get a ticket for. and also, please keep in mind, that if you're in america- just because you are able to go fast because the roads are smooth and straight does not mean you should. this will also result in a ticket. which leads me to my next and final point.

I'm getting a ticket for what??

i've been pulled over in both countries. i've gotten tickets in both countries (well, i wouldn't so much call it a "ticket" in haiti... but i'll get to that). i was not happy about it in either country, but i guess that's to be expected. my first traffic ticket in the states was not even a speeding ticket. it was after my freshman year of college. i had been back in Evansville for about a week or two and was driving back to Bowling Green (where my college was) for a funeral. a girl i had known had lost her long battle with ovarian cancer. i was running a little late to meet up with some people to head to the service. and then i did it-- i made a left turn in a no-left turn lane. it wasn't that i was turning onto a one way street. someone just decided left turns were not a good idea right here. and that's fine. i'm sure they had a very good reason for that. but i needed to go left. busted. and yes- even though it was my first time ever being pulled over and i even explained i was heading a funeral-- i got a ticket. cops hate me i tell you. i've since been pulled over, and each time ticketed, 2 or 3 times for speeding (i feel like it's 3, but i can only recall two times). some people say certain responses will help lessen your chances of getting a ticket. i say it doesn't matter what you say or do, they've already decided from the minute they pulled you over if they are giving you a ticket. and now for my story in haiti. i believe it was November of last year. i had been in haiti about 2 months and decided it was time i start driving. i had driven several times with Junior or other Haitians- just to the bank or something like that. but decided it was time i start driving by myself. well, at least without a haitian in the car. a team was in visiting and had headed back to the guest house for the night. a friend from the team stayed behind at the Orphanage with me. she came along with me for my first drive without a haitian over to the guest house to hang out with the team. everything was fine on the way there. on the way back, near a corner gas station, a police officer waved at us to pull over. i pulled over into the station. i was being pulled over because we had a head light out on the van. i wasn't surprised. let me back up. the night before, Junior had been driving the van and got pulled over because the head light was out. they took his license away and we had to pay to get it back from the police station. now, it's not that i just ignored the problem. but even something as simple as a headlight is not that simple in haiti. at least, not when you are dealing with and relying on haitians to tell you what the problem is, what needs done, and how much it will cost. so back to current time, the officer then takes my
license away. and gives me a 'ticket' saying what i owe to get it back. however, he did me a "favor" (quotations because it was really a bigger mess than help) by telling me i could just met him in the some spot tomorrow to pay and get my ticket back. Jimmy took charge of getting my license back. it took a good week or more. but hey, i did actually get it back, so i would say we came out successful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

to be completely honest...

i've been struggling a bit with the thought of- what's my purpose in haiti? do i have one?

this will probably get messy, as it's just a jumble of thoughts. and it's probably a jumble of thoughts i shouldn't make a blog post of (you're not suppose to end a sentence like that, right?) but i am (making a blog post of it and ending my sentence like that).

i'm not gonna lie- leaving Three Angels was hard. i was excited and thrilled to be moving to Heartline. and i knew that i couldn't stay at Three Angels. but it was still a mix of emotions. i had been through a lot at Three Angels. i learned and experienced so much. so many struggles and challenges. and the joys and rewards. and then it was over. but i KNOW this is right. this is the way it should be and needs to be. the Nons and I had our differences, but i know they are what Three Angels needs. they have done so many amazing things there. beyond what i could have done. but i still miss it. and i'm not really sure why. i mean, of course i miss the kids and the staff and the American board and volunteers i worked with, but it was hard. a heck of a lot harder than things have been at Heartline. so i assumed i was doing what Sara Groves describes in her song "painting pictures of egypt". like the Israelites, we often look to the past and wish we could go back. but the picture we paint for ourselves is not usually accurate. when you're in a place where you are questioning things, it's easy to look back and remember it as being awesome. "the place i was wasn't perfect, but i had found a way to live. it wasn't milk or honey, but then neither is this... i've been painting pictures of egypt, leaving out what it lacked.... i was dying for some freedom, but now i hesitate to go. caught between the promise and the things i know." so to remind myself, i looked back over a notebook that i would randomly journal in. this was from the end of October, 2008: "Haiti is hard... It's not easy, it's stressful and frustrating. Sometimes I feel like it's me against the world. I feel like I'm going in circles and not getting anywhere. I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall... It's a never-ending battle. It's a struggle everyday." And from March of this year: "I've said it before, I'll say it again. Haiti is hard. Emotionally. Spiritually. It's hard. And it's hard to explain why. Sometimes I just feel so stretched. I feel broken down. Strained. Exhausted." now, don't get the wrong idea- that's certainly not what most of my journaling looked like. and even those pages didn't end that way. they end with holding a child and remembering why i was there. they end with seeing the beauty in haiti.

i had been at Heartline for just about 2 months before i came back to the states (i am currently in the states for the holidays and to work. i head back to haiti Jan. 10). it was just towards the end of that, right before i left, when i started questioning my purpose. when i first moved, it was the excitement of something new. getting away from what i had let become too familiar to me. a perfect escape. an escape from hard, frustrating, and hurtful things. now, this is one reason why i hesitated to blog this. i worried that some of it would be read the wrong way... or more-so, that i would say it the wrong way. moving to heartline was not just an escape. it was a door that God had opened. and i am so thankful He did. even though things had come to an impossible situation at Three Angels, and for many reasons, i just could not stay there- i struggled with the thoughts that i was just running away. i did not want to be someone that just quits when things get hard. is that what i was doing?? often times, what you know doesn't stop you from thinking otherwise. i knew that God had, in His perfect timing, given me this amazing opportunity at Heartline. and i love where i am at. i love where i live. i love who i work with. i love the many dear friends God has brought into my life. i love the ministry of heartline and what they do. but i guess that's just it. it still kinda feels like a "they" and not "we". i'm just not sure i know my place yet. at Three Angels, i had decisions to make, things to plan and organize, fires to put out, complaints to deal with and cry about. i had things to do. right now, i'm still feeling things out. i'm not really sure where i fit. the original plan for my joining heartline was to work w/ the sewing program. then, when john found out i had worked with adoptions at TAs, he wanted me to help out with them at heartline. actually, he wants me to take over for him and work with Junior (the guy that does all the haitian paper work stuff) so he can step out of it. as far as the sewing program, there is a haiti lady, that learned and worked under sheila, who is heading things up now. i don't really know what to do or how to help or like i have anything to offer in this area. marjorie seems to have it under control. as far as adoptions, i have done some running around with john. i think things will pick up with this, in time, when i get back. there was a lot john couldn't really hand over to me yet, since i had plans to be gone for 7 weeks. but i think it will be good. i think that will be my main role. eventually. things just take time, right??

i'm really at peace about things. even if this post makes it sound like the opposite! i'm so thankful for each opportunity God has given me in Haiti. i am amazed when i look back and see how God has worked things out. perfectly. and i am so blessed for the people i have met along the way. i really cannot imagine what my life would look like without the friends i have met on this journey. God is good. and that's about all i know in life.