Remembering And Settling In

Our little family landed in Haiti yesterday afternoon. I always get a bit anxious before we make a trip in, and don’t really start to relax until we’re on the plane. I usually find the most stressful part is getting through check in, mainly baggage check in. We always try to weigh our bags, but really, how accurate can a person get with the stand on the scale, weigh yourself, then stand on the scale with the bag and calculate the difference? Apparently we’re pretty amazing at it though because all four bags were right on the mark. And yes, I said 4. Not six. Like our limit was. We’ve never come in with less than our limit, but then again, we’ve never had more than a 4 bag limit.

So the flights were good. We chose to do the night flights so we could sleep on the plane and didn’t need to spring for a hotel anywhere. We weren’t sure how Olivia would do with that, but she was AMAZING. The only incident was an emptying of her stomach just as we were landing in Vancouver, our first flight. We got her cleaned up quickly, got off the plane and changed her into her pj’s. She then proceeded to run around the airport until 11:30 pm and told me I was not allowed to close my eyes. No sleeping for Mommy! Some Gravol (anti-nauseant for you Americans) just before we boarded the next flight ensured no barfing and Little Miss slept the entire time, which meant Mommy and Daddy slept. Our flight into Haiti was uneventful, other than Olivia jamming up her tv monitor because she got overzealous with the touch screen. It was pretty much the cartoon crack for all three flights that provided such a good trip, I’m sure of it. When we landed in Port we were some of the last people into Immigration, which was okay. We just decided that things are different when you travel with kids and we weren’t going to push anything and it worked. As I was filling out Immigration forms I was hit with the reality that our adoption is indeed done. Getting to write Olivia’s place of birth as “Haiti” but her nationality as “Canadian” was almost a breath stealer. We are done. Our daughter is a Canadian citizen, and the passport number on that Immigration form was a Canadian passport number. There is no more paper work. We are truly done. After moving through that milestone we got our bags and though we were some of the last people out of Immigration, we were some of the first out of the airport with our luggage. Peter was waiting and had a prime parking spot, and we saw a couple of friends right there at the car, which was such a nice way to come back in.

As we were leaving the airport area and heading home the first thing we saw was the tents that took up residence post quake last year and I couldn’t help but think that it had been a year, and that was what people were still living in. The sobering reality of Haiti hits hard and fast.

On the way home we were soaking things in and seeing what changes had occurred in the last four months. One of the most noticeable things was three new small police “stations” on Rout Nef, a road that is a short cut from the national highway. Rout Nef eventually leads right into Cite Soliel and any time there are issues in the country this is one of the most dangerous and volatile roads to be one because it’s a direct route to gangs and what not. Rout Nef connects with what most missionaries call “Ambush Alley” because of all the high jacking and kidnapping that has taken place there in years past. Being able to travel these two roads is a good indication of the state of security in the country. When I first arrived in Haiti in 2005 missionaries and foreigners avoided the roads all together because it was so dangerous. It wasn’t until early 2007 that people we know started traveling it again. Having these three police “stations” along this stretch of road means that there will hopefully be less crime out there, making things safer all around. Also, one of the stations is right at the junction where Rout Nef turns off of the national highway, and right where people are settling and developing a previously barren area. Having police representation there will hopefully bring safety to those people settling there.

As we drove home we spent time catching up with Peter and just soaking in Haiti. It felt good to be home. Arriving home was peaceful and as we walked in the door of our house it felt like home. Granted, a home that hadn’t been lived in in four months, but our home none the less. We spent some time talking to our guards, who were very happy to see us. We had dinner with the Craigs and enjoyed watching Olivia and the boys reacquaint themselves. We saw some of our employees as they arrived back from a day of deliveries and were met with hugs which was so nice. We didn’t do any unpacking last night aside from finding our toothbrushes and clean clothes. As we settled into bed last night I spent time just laying there absorbing how good our bed felt after four months away. And the pillows. And listening to all the sounds in the neighborhood. The waves, the dogs barking, the cats meowing, the voodoo drums, the people making noise, the vehicles going by on the highway. Sleeping was lovely. After the trip it felt good, but it felt even better waking in the night to feel the cool breeze coming down off the mountains flowing through our room. We’re in the “cool” season now and we didn’t even need to sleep with a fan last night. In fact, tonight we’ll be putting our quilt on the bed. It was bliss. It was nice to be in our familiar place. I loved waking up in the night and hearing the church bells that ring at 4 am exactly every day. I loved waking up in the morning to see mangoes hanging off the tree outside our window.

Today was a national day of remembrance in Haiti for the one year anniversary of the earthquake. It was a day off work for everyone. We still had some workers come in to pull filters and do some welding so we got to catch up with them. We had a few visitors too, and several phone calls welcoming us home. We were all ready to jump into things, but were also very grateful for the unexpected day to get settled. I know it’s a somber day in Haiti, and aside from the earthquake, many are waiting to see what happens with the election stuff. There’s an expectation that things are going to get volatile again, but only time will tell.

Our bags are mostly unpacked and much of the stuff is put away. I did a few loads of laundry, things like dusty sheets and clothes. Olivia’s contribution to the unpacking effort was to go and take all of her toys out and spread them all over her room and a good part of the house. I can’t blame her really, it’s been 4 months since she was in her room and probably forgot what was in there. She’s also changed her clothes about 20 times today. And I wish I was exaggerating about that, but I’m not.

So yes, we’re settling in nicely. Mostly it just feels good to be in our home. I know it’ll take us a few days to get our groove back, but we’re starting from a good place. We want to thank you for all the prayers that were said on our behalf in the last little while. We know that we are not on this journey alone and we’re excited to share the next chapters with you. We can see how much we needed the time away from Haiti to rest and heal. We can see how the trials of the last few years have created more character in us as individuals, but also how they have strengthened our marriage. Last night as we were talking before bed I just felt so grateful for the solidness that is in our marriage, and I know a lot of that is due to the fact that we are here and doing what we do. We have been stretched and pulled and pushed in all sorts of directions, and God has used all of that to mold us. Thank you for walking beside us and along with us.

~Happy Rollings In Haiti

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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.

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