Home again, home again

Sorry all you addicts for not posting, but it was for good reason. Last week was a bit nutty. Manba Tuesday, and the Wednesday we took a day OFF. As in told everyone we weren’t available and that they needed to see Peter and Sara about everything, and we went to the beach. It was a much needed family day away. What was a highlight is seeing Olivia fall in love with swimming again. She’s been going through a period where it wasn’t that fun for some reason. Wednesday she was playing in the ocean and loving it, then we went over to the pool and she realized she could climb the ladder out of the pool and that jumping back in and being caught was FUN. Chris and I had a ton of fun catching her and were gushing parents watching her have so much fun. It was one of those “all is right in the world” moments. Just a moment, but a good one.

The other reason for not posting is that I spent a day and a half on airplanes and now I’M IN CANADA!!

My little brother is getting married next weekend and I’m home for the wedding. It’ bittersweet – I get to come home but my husband and daughter did not. Not yet. We’re hoping and praying for this summer. Very much hoping and praying.

Thoughts on coming home…

It’s weird to walk through airports and hear people talking to themselves. Okay, not really to themselves. But seriously, people are so connected to their cell phones. ALL. THE. TIME. Even 13 year olds. I personally am not much of a phone person, so the whole concept of needing to talk to people all the time is just weird for me.

It’s funny for me to see what people get worked up about. I KNOW that the things that have happened to us or around us in the last year obviously have changed our scale of what is really a big deal. I mean, it will be difficult for me to think that waiting for a few minutes to see if the store has an actual copy of a computer program in stock because all they have on the shelf is a cardboard box version is a thing to get put out about when a) in Haiti the possibility of having one copy of anything in the store at any given time is very touch and go; and b) after having things like arson attacks, death threats and living/working through a natural disaster… well, really, none of that kind of stuff is worth even batting an eyelash at – to me. I realize that this is the reality for people here, it’s what they live in, it’s their lives, and it’s valid. It just seems a bit ‘off’ for me.

I have to work really hard mentally when I drive. Things like working at staying within the speed limit, because we don’t have speed limits in Haiti. Things like not being aggressive when I drive because I don’t need to do that here. People take turns and there are rules to the road that everyone abides by. It’s so very civil and orderly. Staying in between the lines is a bit of a challenge to. I mean, not that I can’t, but when you don’t have lines to restrict you to one side of the road, well, then the whole road is fair game.

It’s always interesting to see what has changed. I haven’t been in Armstrong in 19 months or so. There are more houses, less trees because of more houses. I have grown up here seeing the same things and I really notice what wasn’t there before or what is different. I think development is good, but I think back to what things were like as a kid and sometimes it makes me sad.

It feels good to be home. Literally it is making me feel good. Lighter. The last year has been so heavy for us. I have had chances to get away, but neither time was I actually coming home. Coming home feels good. Wednesday night I became this blubbering blob of emotional goo. It was so strange. Chris was wondering what was going on. I realize now that I had gotten to the place where my body knew it was close to having some space and it just started letting out the stuff that I had been good at pushing down. I was already feeling really emotional about having to leave Chris and Olivia in Haiti to go home for my only siblings wedding. One more family thing we couldn’t all be here for. One more time of feeling that ache. It was hard. On Thursday morning as I was hugging Olivia good-bye she said, “Miss you,” and I about lost it. It was the first time she had said it on her own, no prompts. The fact that she’s old enough to understand sadness like that was a hard realization.

While at the airport, waiting in line, I saw Troy and we realized we were on the same flight to Fort Lauderdale. When we got inside and chatted more we realized that we were on the same flight to Dallas too. We had time to have lunch in Ft. Lauderdale and it was good to talk to someone who is similar in mindset to Chris and I. When people just get where you’re coming from it’s such a good thing. It was a bit healing to talk about life, post earthquake stuff, adoption stuff etc. We’re in similar boats. I felt the inevitable ugly cry that had been sitting below the surface subside for a while. Thanks for your realness Troy :)

Spent the night with friends, which was good. Their kids haven’t seen Chris and I at the same time since 2007 and they haven’t ever met Olivia. They were talking about how excited they are to meet her, and how they want us to come visit together so they can all play. It was really sweet.

And then I got home.

I was on the plane flying to Kelowna and just looking out the window thinking over things of the last year, and I felt like God just very clearly helped me get to a place. A place of realizing I was totally broken. I felt him say, “Leslie, you’re broken. And it’s okay.” And I realized it was true. We have been doing the best we can to continue moving forward, moving through all of the things that have come to us this last year. But, we’re tired, we’re hurting, we really are broken. Chris and I carry it differently, but I can see it. I hadn’t looked at it that way before and I think that when I realized it I had gotten far enough from Haiti, from all of it, that my heart knew it could just let down and there it was. A very still, small, simple realization that I am broken right now.

Walking out of customs, into the airport, and then seeing my mom and brother for the first time in a long time brought on the tears. If you could have seen me you would have seen me basically crumbling as I was walking towards them. When I got to them I dropped my bags and just hugged my mom and let out the ugly cry. Holding her for several minutes felt so good. Same thing with my brother. It was healing. Hugging my dad, healing. Hugging my grandparents, healing. I have been away, out of physical contact from the people I love, people that are a very deep part of my life has been so hard. I have kept moving and pushed it down, but being home is helping me to see how very much I need them. How very much Chris and I need to be able to come home regularly to connect, to be loved on, to rest.

When I was getting ready to come home I made a point of scheduling certain things and leaving others open. It is so fun to see how those times are working in my heart.

Last night I went to church for the first time in 19 months. To my home church. Chris and I both know that the longer we are away, the harder it is for people to stay connected to us. When I went out and moved to Haiti our church missions team wasn’t working as effectively as it could. They’ve done a lot of work in rebuilding that over the years, but because we’ve been in Haiti we’ve felt a bit of a disconnect and have many times wondered if anyone even really remembers us. When I told people on staff that I would be home and available to share this weekend they did what they could to plug me in.

I got to church last night and my heart, once again, found a safe place to land. Right from the point of walking in people were really excited to see me. Hugs feel SO good. I got to see the new missions wall, which had been redone since I was last home. There’s a beautiful mural that represents all of the missions the church supports, ours included. There is a desk where people can pick up information, and our water filter that collects donations is proudly displayed in the lobby. There is a touch screen tv where people can find out more information about all the missionaries and missions/projects that the church is supporting. It was fun to see it work and to see the small slide show with voice over that was recently done. So recently that it talks about post earthquake work.

Being in my home church and being surrounded by people that were part of my life for several years before I went out was healing. Worshiping yesterday night was healing. At one point I just felt like I needed to pray and things just came rolling out of me and the biggest prayer on my heart for Chris and I was that God would heal us. That he would heal the hurts, the brokenness, the pain. That we could let those things go when it was time, and that we could walk in his TRUTH and with INTEGRITY though the things we are going through.

It feels good to be home.

One thing that is really funny, is that what Chris and I have suspected for a while is proving to be true. When people ask about when we can come home etc it’s usually because they want to meet Olivia. We’re pretty sure that when we come home people won’t care that Chris and I are there, they’ll just care that Olivia is. The kid is going to have a swelled head and think that everyone in the entire world LOVES her :)

Okay, my mind is drifting and I think I need coffee. More to come soon.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

4 thoughts on “Home again, home again

  1. But Leslie – everyone in the entire world DOES love her. I just can’t wait for the pictures of Miss Olivia first meeting North America and having her little mind blown.

    I wish I could see you this trip, since you’re so close, but here’s looking forward to the summer (fingers crossed)!

    Auntie Abby

    • It’s true, everyone DOES love Olivia. I keep thinking about what it’ll be like to step foot on Canadian soil with her for the first time. It’s going to be a good moment I think.

      Keep your fingers crossed for summer. We’re hoping August, and we’re definitely planning on seeing Aunty Abby.

  2. Coming back from any work in a poverty-stricken land is always a challenge, but 19 months is a LONG time. I think that’s why they call it culture ‘shock’. And then the overwhelming sensation of God’s love for you, having brought you and your family through the disastrous events in Haiti. And then seeing your mom. Yeah, that’s a lot. Keep moving forward. Soon you’ll be able to drive aggressively again. :-)

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