The air is still sticky and leaves the barest essence of sweat covering every hair follicle on your body, making you feel overheated and chilled at the same time. The sun has long past dropped from its heights in the bright blue sky over Port-au-Prince, giving at least a breath of relief from the direct blistering of its rays, even though the stagnant heat remains trapped between the bustling, sweat-drenched bodies that still roam on their routes home. The dark clouds that hover over the mountains during the day creep down upon the city the moment the sun begins its descent, chasing it from the sky, like a never-ending push and pull, a battle of dark vs. light. When the rain starts, it sounds like bacon sizzling in a skillet, the first few minutes evaporating nearly before it hits the ground. As soon as the ground cools just enough, the downpour quenches the thirstiest of creation. Massive lakes quickly rise in vehicle-sized potholes, and rubbish-laden sewer ditches become raging torrents of foul-smelling, grey-brown rapids along the streets. Now sitting in the hotel room, safely back, clean (having scrubbed the day’s dry-sweat-film away), the brewing anger between the mountain clouds and the sun has declared a victorious champion. I have never in my life heard and felt thunder and seen lightning like I’m hearing, feeling, and seeing it right now. The walls and windows are shaking as the thunder rumbles through, echoing across the city and reverberating through the surrounding hills and mountains. The lighting is constant, much like a strobe-light in the sky. Some crackle, and spit splinters of light streaking down from the clouds, others just flicker in the clouds, lighting up the entire city with each burst.
“Mom, can we go get dessert?” “I’m not taking a shower.” “Netflix is working! It’s working!! Quick! Give me your iPad!” “Go take a shower, you are covered in sweat.” “Fine.” “I’m getting dessert with Daddy!” “Wait, where did Daddy and Abby go?” “To get dessert.” “For all of us?” “No, just them. You guys were taking too long getting in the shower!” “What?? That’s totally not fair. I was on my way to the shower right now!” “Honey, I’m kidding. They are bringing it back for all of us.” “Oh my gosh mom, that’s SO not nice.” “I know, but it was funny!”
(the barrage of interruptions into my poetic journey through the storm)
This is why, if I were ever to write a book (which I would love to do some day), it would be about a 10 year process, and most of the writing would actually get done after they moved out of the house. I think I could feasibly get about 3 sentences per month done without having to find someone clean underwear, get toilet paper to a stranded, paper-less pooper, or run to the school 5 times in one day because each child forgot a lunch, a homework packet, or had a dentist appointment in addition to the drop-off/pick-up route. When W gets home, it will go down to about 3 words per month because every 30 seconds I’m going to hear “Mommy, I’m so hungry!” LOL
A mother’s work is never done – probably a good thing, because without these four lovely handfuls this mommy would be out of a job! 🙂
Today was a short day with W, we took the kids to the Apparent Project (papillon enterprises), which they loved. It was amazing for them to see first-hand what an organization like Papillon can do to help the people on the ground here in Haiti. Not just by handing out food donations, and bringing clothes, but by establishing an actual company to employ the Haitian people and give the the opportunity to create a life for themselves and their families – with their own hands. Conversation was buzzing as soon as we got in the car about finding a way to set up shop stateside and help them sell goods here. Turns out there are ways to do that, either in retail space, pop-up shop at someone else’s space, or just word of mouth…I’m sure it will be a constant conversation in our home! Our kids were all over that one 🙂
By noon, we were heading back towards Croix-du-bouquet and the orphanage, stopping to grab waters and lunch food. When we got to the O, the kids hadn’t come back from school yet, so we waited in the shade down by the mango tree for almost an hour and a half until finally about 1:45 they began to trickle home. First the little 3-5 year olds in their bright colored polos and little grey skirts and shorts come toddling down the road with the nannies, and we helped them get across the water-filled sewer “river” that runs across the path winding its way through the maze of cinderblock and tin houses. A short time later, a few of the big kids come babbling along, stopping to tell us “bonswa” and give us hugs and quick banter before heading up to the big house to change. After they passed, we waited another 3o minutes or so, and said “bonswa” to a few donkeys, some chickens and goats, and a small herd of cattle that were being prodded down the path back home by their master. Kris and Braeden tried to catch more tarantulas and the girls and I kept to the safer of creatures, watching an anole lizard change colors on the mango tree.
A few of the older kids saw us, and realized W hadn’t come home yet and turned back and ran all the way back to school to tell him to hurry because his “fanmi” was waiting. Pretty soon, the big kids came tearing back through the brush, towing W, grinning ear-to-ear. Dripping sweat and falling over in exhaustion he was immediately swooped up by his siblings and daddy and then tumbled out of their arms to come run and give mommy a hug. Laughing and giggling, he nuzzled his nose into my neck as I asked him about his day, and if it was a good day today, and he gave a muffled “yes” onto my skin. Halfway up the dirt path, I put him down and he grabbed Abby’s hand along with mine and we walked up to the O together.
We had a surprise for him this afternoon, laying out new Captain America shorts and a red t-shirt for him to wear. His eyes got huge and a wide grin spread across his face – “MESI!!!” he squeaked – I think Captain America might be just a tiny bit higher on the totem pole than Mommy and Daddy…Just a little. Our only advantage over Mr. C.A. is that he doesn’t swoop in every 2-3 months and bring backpacks full of cookies and fruit snacks!
We found another food he loves almost as much as chocolate – Raisins. 🙂 He might just like saying the word as he’s eating them but he loooooooooves raisins! Kind of a funny thing to like – but I think he’s going to eat his way through America when he gets here. He will pretty much try anything right now – which is great! He’ll be eating sushi in no time – as long as there’s a side of chocolate sauce.
After eating lunch, and hanging out with the big kids over a quick basketball game in the melting sun, his nanny sent me outside with his school books – turns out everyone had homework tonight and W was not excluded from that fun! Everywhere I turned in the halls, around corners, spread out over the long picnic tables were kids bent over little lined notebooks. In each one are hand-written directions from their teachers in perfect cursive and immaculate French, along with cursive letters to practice, and some kind of math problems laid out. It was absolutely adorable! His brother and sisters all laid out on the floor with him while he painstakingly formed his letters, decided it wasn’t perfect, erased them and re-did them to his standard of perfection. He is going to be a great student!
Shortly after that, it was time to leave. We had our translator take some quick family photos for us all together – hopefully a few will turn out! – and huddled up for our final goodbye hugs and kisses. I think I thought that leaving this time would be easy, it wasn’t as difficult as the first time, but what was difficult was watching his siblings have this first goodbye for themselves, and then dealing with our own emotion on top of that. These kids have met the little brother in the flesh whom had only been frozen in photographs and in someone else’s head for months. They have bonded, loved, tumbled, held, kissed and kissed again, his nubbins of coarse black hair and his sweet cheeks. They have exhausted themselves playing baseball and basketball, colored Captain America, lived and breathed bringing a world of love to this little boy they now call their brother not just with their words but with all of their being. Watching my 14-year old son well up with tears as he held his little brother close struggling to get the words “goodbye” out of his trembling lips was just as heartbreaking as it was when it was mine and Kris’ the first time. Comforting the three of them in the car as we clunked our way out of the gate was something I don’t want to have to do again. Thankfully, W isn’t nearly as in-tune with the sad, grieving emotions at this point as he is with the happy-go-lucky happy/content side of things, so he patiently and lovingly hugs and clings but doesn’t cry, he says “goodbye” and “okay” when I say “we’ll see you soon”. He tromps off with his friends to enter back into his normal routine of the life that he knows. The kids understand this is the broken process of adopting in this country, that it doesn’t make sense, and it shouldn’t be this way. As Abby lamented over dinner, “He’s our little brother, mom, he shouldn’t have to stay there. He should be able to come home with us.” In a perfect world, yes. Unfortunately, we live in a bent and bleeding world that cannot always figure out how to walk righteously, therefore others suffer because some who have gone before have broken the path. The fall of man in the garden of Eden…
As the thunder and lightning begin to settle for the night, bedding themselves into an appeased slumber, I think that this storm is probably indicative of what happens when God’s heart breaks. I know that His heart breaks for us when we go through painful situations, His love for his children falls, as with each drop of rain, showering us with His comfort and his care, overflowing our hearts with peace in times of trials. However his anguish over our own pain is not short-lived. It echoes and rumbles, tumbles and roars, it shatters the skies and pierces the depths of our hearts – He sees us, He hears us, He knows us. Nothing we feel, nothing we cry over, nothing we break for – goes unnoticed by His eyes, or uncaptured by His hands. I love Psalm 56:8 which says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (NLT) How amazing it is to me that every tear we cry, whether in pain or in sorrow, God painstakingly collects and keeps record of. Not a single moment of our lives is hidden from Him. He hurts with us, He cries with us, He listens and He loves. He journeys through the toughest times with us and then – in a moment of unfolding beauty, He leads us into relief, into the pure joy of knowing we are on the other side – that we have made it through!
Our hearts may be broken, but they won’t be broken for long. We are renewed and refreshed by His promises! Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
As we prepare to fly home in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, we rest in Him, in His love, and in His promise – simply that He loves. That His heart breaks for us and for W and with us, but even more than that – that He loves. He. Loves. And His love conquers all.
Blessings, (and we’ll see you at home…)
Laura & family