February 27, 2010

The following is a letter to three of my best friends.

Rebekah, Josine, Natalie,

It's been almost a month and a half, but I only recently began to think about how the earthquake has affected us. Sure, there are the obvious things. We've been separated for weeks without a proper goodbye for most of us. I guess there are no proper goodbyes though.

Remember our the last weekend before the earthquake? We all went to Koraly and Fabrice's after school with everyone else to swim and hang out. Then James drove us to my house...well Natalie helped him a lot to say the least. We watched the Hannah Montana Movie, except I fell asleep about ten minutes into it. The next morning we spent a while trying to figure out breakfast, and ended up making banana bread french toast, which was awesome. Oh and then we went to Fior di Latte for lunch and to get Josine's belly button ring that she had replaced with a giant chandelier earring after it fell out.

I feel weird saying it, but a lot of the memories I have with you guys involve food. Like how Natalie would always pick the beans out of her rice and beans, or would wait an hour for food, take a bite, and declare it disgusting. And I can't forget to mention your freaking obsession with apple juice...I'm sure you're the sole reason apple juice companies are staying in business. Then there's Josine who puts curry powder in everything she eats...ketchup, eggs, macaroni and cheese. You are also the slowest eater I know. Rebekah Boyer, I won't even go there. I will just say that I am still bitter about all the times I made you food because you were so hungry, then you took two bites and couldn't eat any more.

But we go so much farther than that. We've spent every morning before school together watching the little kids. They never ceased to provide us with entertainment from their voices and uproars and strange games. But should they ever give us silence, we had plenty else to talk and laugh about. Stories about parents, boys, teachers, and homework took up all the time we had left before the bell would ring to tell us to go to class. I know I never said it, but that hour before school was my favorite time of the day.

And then there was the beach for Christmas break. Sun and ocean and volleyball and boats and taking pictures and jumping off tall places and doing back flips off boats and good food and staying up late and talking and listening to good music and dancing funny and...just being with each other. Remember that feeling of being so happy that it didn't matter what happened next because we had that moment? We had that moment. It's gone now, but remember it, because it was that last glimpse of sun that we had before this tragedy clouded our lives.

Our friendship sounds a bit lame when I try to write it down, but we know that we were something special. No, we are something special. Maybe we won't all be together again, and if we do get to someday, it won't be the way it was. Things change quickly, as we witnessed in the weeks after January 12. We're far away from each other now, but we'll always be close. People say that high school friends don't stay together, but the people who say it never grew up in Haiti together or lived through what we've experienced together. You guys are my sisters, my best friends, my family, and we will always be together, no matter where we are. We have common bonds: God and Haiti.

I love you guys.

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February 18, 2010

It occurred to me today that I really don’t want to write this. It’s not that I don’t love writing or updating people or anything like that, but I just hate that something bad enough happened that I feel sick writing about it.
I had a conversation with a friend in the States the other day who was surprised when I said things weren’t good here. She asked me what specifically was wrong…was it with food not being available to people or what? Answering that question is hard because there is not really an answer you can put into words. Relief and aid have been getting to people. Businesses that have been left standing are starting to run again. Schools that were spared by the earth’s shaking are trying to reopen with the handfuls of students still here. Things in that sense are not too horrible considering the circumstance, because Haiti is strong.
It’s more of a feeling really…
Though there are so many people giving and doing so much, I wonder how much anyone can really do. If people were to come in, clear out all the rubble and rebuild the entire country, there is a feeling that would still be here. The feeling that life is broken and the scars of what happened and what we experienced will always remain with us, branded onto our skin for us to see every time we look into a mirror. Perhaps I’m not making sense and if you didn’t go through the earthquake, I don’t expect you to understand it, this feeling of sorrow and pain that weighs on your soul with all the gentleness of a concrete wall. It is a feeling that I am afraid that I and many others will always have with us.
If anyone tells you that the earthquake didn’t do much damage, they have not been downtown. This week, for the first time since before January 12, I saw downtown. Saying that nothing is left is only a slight exaggeration, as almost every single building is either damaged or reduced of rubble. Seeing the palace was sad…it was only about a year ago that my class went on a field trip to spend the day there for my comparative government class. The palace is to Haiti what the White House is to the United States. And now it is fallen: a pile of white concrete sliding farther each day; a gaping wound for all to see.

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February 12, 2010

It’s been one month.
It feels like it was just yesterday, but it also feels like it has been forever.
Perhaps one of the strangest things to me while I was in the States was that life kept going after the earthquake. People went to school and went to work and hung out with their friends and maybe if they passed a TV showing the news or a donation box, they would think of Haiti. Maybe take a moment to think about it, but then move on. Here, it’s like time froze. It’s already midway through February. The quarter is almost over, though I have been in school a total of nine days since it began. While the rest of the world keeps moving, Haiti is frozen with the chill of tragedy. It’s been one month, and they’re still digging bodies out. It’s been one month, and some people are only now getting medical attention. It’s been one month, and the media is getting bored with our story, but we are still living the story.
Even driving through the Dominican on the way back home, I could tell how extreme it is. Just across a thin border; a metal gate, life is completely normal for many. It’s amazing what can change in a few miles.
My school has started back, with 60 students out of the approximately 270 there were, and a mere handful of teachers. We are one of the very, very few schools that have been lucky enough to open again. There are 7 students in my senior class, and we meet in the home of one of our favorite teachers. In the mornings, we cover the core subjects needed to graduate, and in the afternoons do work or learn things we would in elective classes and help out our country in any way we can. This week we went to the community near the house we study in to help record data on deaths and fallen houses. While there, we spent time with a group of younger children, many without clothes, and that very afternoon received a donation of clothes for their age group that we were able to distribute to them the next day.
Today I had no school. This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday have been declared days of prayer and fasting. Throughout the country, people of all ages and social circles are crying out to God day and night.
Aftershocks are not fun. A lot of people have gotten used to them and don’t even feel them anymore. I, unfortunately, am not one of those people. I feel them before they come and while they’re here and after they leave. Sometimes I’ll think that there’s one, but there won’t be. I’m a bit jumpy to say the least.
It’s weird driving by Caribbean Market, where I spent my last few minutes of a normal life. The huge building is completely flattened. Every time I see it or think about it, it hits me again that I could have been in there. My dad found the receipt from that day, and it shows the time we checked out. Only a few minutes before. It shows the name of the worker who checked us out. But there were more workers than her…there was an entire store full of workers and owners and people. Hundreds. Most of them are still in there, one month later. I could have been too, but I am not. Instead I am out here, trying to find a purpose in all of this mess. I think of the workers behind the deli counter and all the shoppers loading up their carts for the week, and I shudder, imagining the terror of their last moments. I remember being at the checkout, looking at the people around me, browsing through the selection of gum, thanking the worker who helped take the groceries to our car. Where is he now? Is it bad that I want to stop thinking about it all? Either way, I can’t, because there it lies every time I drive by, the huge reminder of a flattened building, surrounded by looters and lifting machines and people who have nothing better to do than watch workers chip away at a pile of destruction.
Maybe it’s “uncool” of me, but in all the sorrow, I still manage to make time to be sad about small things. None of my girlfriends are in the country. It’s weird having days off of school and wanting to have a sleepover with your best friends and stay up all night watching movies and talking about things that used to matter. But I can’t. So instead, I sit here, in front of my computer, and write, hoping that someday things will get better.

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February 3, 2010

Sometimes I forget about the earthquake. Not in the sense that I am ignoring all the pain and suffering going on, but more that I am able to not think about it for a moment. I'll be out with my family or laughing or doing something fun...and it's almost as if it never happened. But then I look up and I'll see snow and remember where I am and why I'm here and it hits me all over again.
I remember in the early days following the earthquake I would be on the phone with someone and all you could talk about was what happened and what was going to happen. It seemed wrong to talk about anything else. I still deal with that. Is is bad that I'm able to have fun or go to the mall when there are people my age getting limbs cut off or mourning their family? Is it wrong that I'm able to eat three full meals a day when there are those who can't even find one? Sometimes it feels that way.
What I can't get over is how quickly things can happen. The earthquake happened, and ever since then, things have been in fast motion. Exactly one week after the earthquake, I was on an airplane and thinking that if one week ago, I had seen where I would be, I probably would have had a panic attack or something.
The first time I listened to my iPod since the earthquake, I started crying. It was a week after, and all the music I heard was from Christmas vacation and hanging out with friends and having a good time. The thought that nothing would ever be the same as in those moments...I will never be happy in that way again...it just hurts to think about.
I still feel the earthquake. Lying in bed at night, the earth still shakes. I can feel it.
Going grocery shopping is never going to be the same for me. It reminds me of going that day with my mom, and leaving almost not soon enough. I read an article about the people working on Caribbean Market, and it described the scene at the checkout. There were many dead, and the bodies were "unrecognizable." I just checked out there. It was close. I could have been one of the unrecognizable.
Falling asleep is difficult. Usually I end up lying awake for a couple of hours before I can, even after taking allergy medicine. (That used to help.)
My sister had hip surgery this week, and it went well. It was weird being in a hospital; it was so quiet and peaceful compared to the crowded and loud medical centers in Haiti. If only they all had the opportunity to receive the first class care there is here.
My mom and I are working on getting back to Haiti on Sunday, and I am really looking forward to it. I ask you to pray for our plans to succeed, and for safe travel. Pray unceasingly for Haiti. The news may eventually be filled with other tragedies, but Haiti will still be there, fighting it's way back to normality.

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Update coming soon.

Sorry I haven't written for a few days.
Don't worry, I haven't forgotten, but I have been pretty busy.
There will be one soon though, so stay tuned.
Thank you all for your continuing prayer and support. Please keep it up; Haiti needs to heal.

January 27, 2010

It snowed here the other day. Not too much, but enough to make me a little excited. (I have a thing for snow.) It's weird being here and seeing Haiti in the news and papers...it doesn't even seem real sometimes. The Haiti I do remember was before the earthquake; my mind has freakishly quick-acting scar tissue.
Things are starting to happen back home. School started today and restaurants and stores are beginning to open back up. It's an encouraging sign. I really miss home though...I can't wait to get back. Not that I'm not enjoying myself here, because I really did need this time and it's doing wonders. Just it's easy to miss home. And my parents. They are so busy that I don't hear from them very often. I told my mom the other day that I feel like the mother who sent her child away to college and writes them long e-mails only to get a couple lines back. (I really miss them, if you couldn't tell.)
God is so real to me these days. I can see him in ways that I wouldn't have before. He's very present with me: I feel lonely sometimes, being the only person from Haiti around here, but I can feel him here with me. My faith is also growing, and I can see answers to prayer made very apparent. Allow me to share an example. I have what some would call difficulty with nerves. As an active member of student council throughout my high school career, I have more than once had to make speeches in front of the entire student body. And for some reason, no matter how often that occurs, I cannot get used to it. So on Sunday, when I had to be interviewed in front of an entire Church, many of whom I do not know, you could say I was freaking out a little. I sent out a few desperate prayers to God, and just before I was to go up, someone read scripture in front of the Church that spoke to me very strongly. Unfortunately, I don't remember the reference, but it was something along the lines of "stop looking for what you're supposed to say and let God say it through you." (Or at least that is what I got out of it.) So I went up in front of a couple hundred people and was able to speak with minimal nerves, an experience I have never had before. You may not know me very well, which could hinder your understanding of this situation, but I am by nature a very nervous person. I really feel like my ability to speak in front of so many and be at peace is a total "God thing."
Haiti still fills my thoughts. Though I hear of good things, I try not to get too excited about them because I know they are baby steps. Maybe things are reopening and fuel is becoming available, but these wins are still so small compared to what my country will have to overcome. This country will take generations to heal. Therefore, Haiti is my prayer. Sometimes when I can't seem to find the words to say I can simply lift that word to God: Haiti. He understands.

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January 23

Well. It's been an interesting few days. I've been staying with my family in Louisville, Kentucky, and have had a really good time hanging out with them and relaxing. Everyone here has been so incredibly generous to me; it is truly a blessing.
I've loved getting to have some downtime, but it is not easy. When I am told to "try to not worry about Haiti", I find I have a difficult time keeping to the task. Worrying seems to be a natural reaction...being here that's all I can do. Worry. Well there are two things at least, worry and pray.
I'm feeling a little more relaxed than I did at first, but I still hate being away from home. I hate not knowing what is going on at each and every moment, and though they are not fun, I hate not being there for the aftershocks, simply because I cannot judge for myself how bad they are as oppose to what the news tells us.
I'd like to share a bit about how my parents are currently occupying themselves.
Almost everyday, they go to a ministry called Heartline in Tabarre, Haiti. My mother helps with organizing supplies and interpreting and running errands while my dad helps with medical procedures. I was able to talk to them on the phone the other night and hear their stores, and I can say that I know they are doing what they are called by God to do. This experience has made me so grateful for my parents. Every day I see a new side of them. They have faith when there is no reason to; they have sight even when things are dark. Though they cannot do what they ordinarily do, they are giving themselves to my country, working from morning till night to help Haiti out of this dreadful time. I miss them both so much, and cannot wait to be reunited with them.
Though I worry a lot about Haiti, and am anxious to get back there, I am filled with a deep Peace. Philippians 4:7 says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I am so glad to experience the Peace of God, especially in this horrible situation. It is amazing to me that I can realize how bad a situation is, and how bad it will be for a while, and still be at peace about it. I know that Haiti is in a bad place, but that God is still with Haiti.

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Still January 19

I had a conversation with Josine last night before she left.  We were talking about everything that had happened since the earthquake.  So I have a few more of my thoughts sorted out.
I feel like something was stolen from me.  A part of my life I'll never be able to get back.  It's weird that 30 seconds robbed me of months of my life.  People here are being so generous.  Not only in donating to Haiti, but helping me out while I'm here.  I'm so grateful, but I'm also sad.  Because no matter how much people give me, no matter what they do, I will never get back what I lost.  A precious part of my life is gone, and no amount of money or food will get it back. 
I'm crying a lot more now that I'm here.  I cried myself to sleep last night and I cried on the airplane and Lord knows I will cry some more.  I'm hearing more and more that my friends don't know if they're coming back.  I don't know when I'll see them again. 
But there is some goodness I'm beginning to see.  I mentioned to a couple of people that when I look back, I see that there was closure, even though I wasn't able to notice it until now.  During vacation, I went to the beach with friends and spent time with my family.  My last weekend of normality I had a hang out with my class, a girl's night, hung out with my friends the next day, and went out to eat at my favorite pizza place.  I also went to Colin's mountain house one last time.  It sucks that those times are gone now, but there was the blessing of having it all while it lasted.
I feel God so close to me, though.  I'm not afraid about anything, only sad.  I feel him with me when I travel and when I cry.  When I think I am completely alone, I feel him there.  He is next to me and he will never leave me.
I'm heartbroken, but he is there. 

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January 19-20

Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 and got to the small airport at about 7:30. I waited with Colin and Celine for the plane that was donated by a raceway driver, Rickenson...or someone. I have the name written down but I am running on pretty much no sleep right now so not sure.
We waited and waited and waited for the 10:30 plane which finally arrived at about 3 pm. We got out by 3:30 I would say. I spent the flight listening to music and talking with Celine and Colin and eating peanuts and cookies that the crew handed out.
We arrived in Fort Pierce at about...actually I'm not really sure what time we got there. But Erika, Colin's oldest sister was there to pick the two of them out, as well as a woman named Debbie to pick me up. All of us went out to eat at Applebee's, and...it was really nice to be that full of good food.
I said goodbye to Colin and Celine and went to meet Lonnie Murphy, a friend who used to live in Haiti, and is pretty much family, as well as my friend Josine, who flew out the previous day and was staying with her. We spent a couple hours together and I stayed the night at Suetta's (another family friend) house and got about 3 hours of sleep before I had to wake up and leave for the airport.
My flight to Kentucky was cold and there was a bit of turbulence. But I got an entire row to myself because it was pretty empty, so I mostly tried (and failed) to sleep, and cried a bit.
I'm here in Louisville, Kentucky, with my Aunt Leslie and her family, and they are treating me wonderfully.
Sorry if this is not too much of an emotional entry, I'm drained. I have no sleep and I had to say goodbye to Josine, and I don't know when I'm going to see her again.
Hopefully I'll be able to say more soon.
I miss my parents a lot, please keep them in your prayers.

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