Friday, July 2, 2010

Haiti to get Jeremie

I have held on to this almost a year. I have to edit it some more but I thought I would get it out there.
Today is my first full day back from Haiti.
The experience going there was incredible.I will start by telling of my first impressions and thoughts when we landed in Haiti. We have been traveling a total of 18 or 19 hours when we reach Haiti.
The flight over the city is rubble everywhere.The earthquake has torn down many buildings. Then you see a tarp of white and blue material on the ground in the middle of the rubble in the clearings in between. These are the tent cities.The fact that many people are living under these blue and white tarps exposed to the elements. The questions started racing through my head where are they showering, the toilets and where are they cooking? How are the misplaced children? How are the people that lost loved ones. Then out of know where we land in Haiti with rough turbulence suddenly.
We get off the plane and have to walk around a wing of the airport damaged by this huge earthquake.I should say the wing is pretty much flattened. We get in a line and go through security, then immigration to check our passports. Then we are in this big hanger where we pay for a cart and it's mass pandemonium. People are everywhere and there is no order.You are standing there in total amazement that getting our bags was like a bunch of kids trying to get candy after the pinata breaks open. So we decided to join the craziness to get the cargo. After that we go out of the airport to be swarmed by these men dressed in gray outfits like auto mechanics. They are luggage carriers and they are fighting to grab your bags to carry them and fighting with the others to get the job. I found this frightening at first because you can't understand what is going on it is disorienting.We stood outside the airport for awhile trying to find out where our ride was from the airport since they had moved the gates since Steve had been there last.This of coarse took us paying someone to use a phone and Steve trying to speak to someone there at the gates that knew something. We hired one of the men to get our cart down the drive of dirt and pot holed pavement to our ride. I was very happy to see that Meray, Ceres and the driver were there to take care of us. We get all of our things packed up into the truck and the tarp on due to the rain.Five of us squish into the small pick up.The truck goes first to the guest house in Port A Prince so we can go to the bathrooms and get a few supplies. We load up for the 4 hour drive to the town of Massade. As we are leaving town we get a call we need to pick up Pastor YOYO. This took a little bit finding him due to some road construction and confusion. The ride was long. I think because we had been sleeping on and off in the planes.At one point we stopped to pee on the side of the road. We get to Massade and we are sitting around with Driver, Meray " head of our trip", Ceres " our interpreter" and then Johnny shows up.
Johnny was another of the towns people there in Massade he was a great help to Steven and I during the whole trip. Johnny came to make sure we had arrived. Jeremiah's family knew we would be coming and sent Johnny to see if we had arrived. We sent Johnny with a message to make sure Jeremiah's dad stayed home in the morning to go to court with us to do the necessary paperwork for Jeremie's adoption.
Steve and I then went to get ready for bed. The dogs barked most of the night. The first night there we heard singing down the streets at 2 am. Yes, we think it was a vodoo practice.I begged Steve to take me to the bathroom because I am a chicken. Things settled back down and we slept until 6am.
We then had a simple breakfast. Everyone got ready for the day and we walked to where Jeremiah's family lives. While we were walking it was serial to see people living in such horrible circumstances.Circumstances in which we would consider horrible.Some of the people don't know anything else. The little children and other would peek out of there homes when our parade went walking by. Some of the little kids were laughing and pointing saying blanco. Blanco meaning white or white people.
I looked around and saw the worst poverty ever. Kids running around naked because they don't have clothes. Elderly begging for food saying they were hungry. Houses that are like a dog house and don't keep out the rain. Shacks and I mean real shacks.My shed in the back yard would be considered good housing.
We arrive at the Bien Aime house and they pull out these plastic lawn chairs wipe them off. Then others bring chairs and we all sit on the porch. Meray starts off by saying why we are all there and asks Jeremiah's mom if she has anything to say to us. She said that she was blessed to have Jeremiah to go with us. How she wants him to know Jesus and not to forget them. Papa said the same. He also said he was grateful that we could take him and raise him because they couldn't. I told his mom that she was an incredible woman to give up her son for a better chance. It's the most sacrificial gift anyone could give is child.The emotions at this point were very overwhelming for me.The tears at this point kept coming. Weeks before I had gotten to Haiti I asked myself How can a mom give up her child? What would cause a mom to give up only one child? Why not the other two children? What kind of desperation would I be feeling? What are the circumstances? I would like to say that I have all the answers to these questions. What I did walk away with is seeing the desperation and poverty know one can describe. The commercials for the third world countries our real. Even worse than the pictures they show us.
The walk from Jeremie's house was sobering seeing people poking there heads out to look at us. Seeing the little ones with no shoes or clothes. A older woman pleading for food and dogs fighting over a bone in the dust.We continued on to Judge Pierre's house. This was a sight to see the Judge come out on his front porch and sit on his plastic chair with two wooden posts as arm rests. Judge then gave us instructions that we needed three town witnesses and to go over to the notary.Someone left and got more family as witnesses and all of us headed over to the notary. We all arrive over at the Notary's house. We all crammed into this 10 by 10 room around a table. Everything was explained to the notary papers were filled out and money and receipt's were made out. Then we went back to Judge Pierre's home to fill out papers for the adoption and sign our declarations.Come to find out that the day we decided to do the adoption it was a holiday in Haiti. The court reporter wrote everything out by hand it then was taken and officially typed old school. The Judge then had to travel to the next town over to file the papers in Hench. We would have to then pick the papers up the next day.
This process seems straight forward but we had a huge language barrier. Luckily we had wonderful people taking excellent care of us the whole way through.
The next day was a big travel day back to Port A Prince. We finished giving out all of the medicine,dolls and balls for the orphanages that evening. I felt very sad we ran out of time to go to the feeding center. I also was sad for all the need around me. This was the first time I understood why Jesus would leave the crowd and go by himself to pray. The feeling of overwhelming of inadequacy to help felt as big as the whole world.
The judge and Meray returned in the late afternoon while we were passing out gifts.There was a bit of confusion about picking up the papers from the Judge in Hench the next day.Everyone is wondering who was presented to the Judge in Hench to pick up the papers. Well this went on for a while until everyone got there wires uncrossed. Steve and I explained to the driver what was going on and he started laughing because he was the one present before the judge in Hench to pick up the papers knowing we couldn't go anywhere without the driver. This was comical in the end.
At some point Steve and I had a tour of Pastor YOYO's House. This was humbling knowing this man has pored his life out to the people and his house is in devastating condition. Steve and I think it would take about 17,000.00 to replace or fix it to a simple living condition. My thoughts are with this man and the wheels are turning on how we can help.
Travel day back to Port A Prince was an experience. We were getting ready to leave after breakfast/ mid day lunch when we hear this horrible screaming. Jeremiah had just got bit by one of the scavenger dogs. Luckily it didn't break the skin. We continued to load the truck with all of our luggage. I was then really surprised to see how many of us were traveling together in this one Ford Ranger type truck. We had the driver, Ceres,Steve, Meray,Jeremiah,and myself in the cab.In the back of the truck on top of all the luggage We had Jeremie's mom, dad, Jennica, Meray's employee.So a total of 10 in this truck down dirt roads to Port A Prince. The driving is very uncivilized. They drive very fast and who ever beeps the horn the loudest and longest gets the right away. I closed my eyes many of times praying we would make it.
We arrived in Port A Prince at the guest house. Jeremie's family stayed downstairs in the one bedroom with many beds. We were upstairs in a room with air conditioning. I had many feelings about being treated with better accommodations. I felt like it was unfair in some ways. Steve and I enjoyed learning Creole and playing with Jennica and Jeremie. I really enjoyed watching Jeremie's mom take care of him. The most special moments was watching her take him outside to the side of the house turn on the water and give him a bath. She would hum and give him instructions on washing. She gently would wash his face give him a kiss on the forehead and send him to me to dry off and get dressed.
The family dynamics were good. Kenchey was sick with a running nose and home with other family members. Dad was the disciplinarian and liked to play ball with Jeremy.Mom was a loving care taker with a beautiful smile. Jennica and Jeremie loved each other but liked to pick on each other a lot.
We spent three days together times seemed long and others seemed to fly by.Times at the house with nothing to do and not being able to go for walks about killed me. We were never to travel alone due to safety. The day we all left was the hardest day that needed to happen and I know that none of were prepared for it.
The day we all left Port A Prince. The morning was bright and sunny. We were called down to breakfast. The breakfast was a little bigger than normal.Jeremie's family and us all had breakfast together. The mood was good but the talking was at minimal. I think because we all knew what was in store for the day. They were leaving their middle child and we were leaving to the US. Jeremie's mom took the left over toast and put butter and peanut butter on the bread wrapped it up in napkins put it in a bag. The next thing I knew I heard the truck start. I asked the interpreter if they were leaving. The next thing I know is the scramble of everyone getting ready to send last gifts off and good byes the next thing I knew his family was in the truck taking off and the gate closed. Jeremie realized they left without him and this was it. He cried for about two hours and it killed my heart to hear his pain.The thought of this little one losing the only people he knows to perfect strangers. The pain I felt for his family losing a brother and a son for a greater cause or better life. I often ask how am I so privileged. The only thought I can come up with is when I have been given so much all I can do is be as generous and give back.
We have had an exciting time the past nine weeks with Jeremie. Samuel and Jeremie are now understanding each other and playing together. We moved all the rooms around and have everyone sleeping in there own space. May loves to play with Jeremie and spinning in the front yard is there favorite thing to do.He has experienced so much The zoo, bowling, the water park, Science museum,Capitol Building in Boise, Farmers Market, Shopping, and Best of all a Birthday that has never stopped. He has given us great joy and will continue to do so.