After a wonderful trip to visit family, we made it back to our home in Haiti last Friday. Traveling from the Midwest to northern Haiti is not a quick trip, and it took us even longer than usual, thanks to this wonderful little thing called “lake effect snow” that we learned about while visiting my parents in their new home in Michigan. Originally, we had planned to leave my parents house early Thursday morning to head to Chicago for our mid afternoon flight. However, when woke up Wednesday morning, my dad, who had been watching the weather, determined that it was too risky to wait until the morning to head to Chicago – that route would head us straight through icy roads and winter weather due to the lake effect. The roads were already bad, so instead of going straight to Chicago, we ended up leaving a day early to drive around the storm and went south, staying the night in Champaign. That turned out to be rather fortuitous, as we were able to see Bryson’s parents and a couple other friends one more time, and I got another meal of cheese fries from Portillos! Thanks to my dad’s quick thinking, we were able to get to Chicago the next day with plenty of time, and luckily my parents had a safe, though very slow, drive back through the nasty weather to get home after dropping us at the airport.
We arrived in Haiti severely craving some sunshine after two weeks with below freezing temperatures, but we returned to storms in Port-de-Paix. Luckily, there was a break in the rain the allowed our plane to get in last Friday, but the rains started back up again Saturday morning and didn’t let up until early Monday. Over that time period, we received about 11 inches of rain! Houses were leaking, some roads were impassable, and streets were flooded. Though we had planned to start school on Monday, we had to cancel for the day due to the devastation from the storms.
I’ve always loved the sound of rain. It’s so cozy to be sitting inside by the window, snuggled under a blanket, sipping a hot drink while the rain putters outside. I’ve especially loved it while I was sleeping – any time I would wake up during a storm, I would happily listen to the sounds of the raindrops and they sang me back to sleep. But now, when I wake up and hear rain, I don’t feel quite so peaceful anymore. Instead, I start to worry. How long has it been raining? How long will it keep raining? Are my students safe? Will we have school tomorrow? If we do, will my students be able to get here safely?
In my nice, safe home in America, rain never caused me much concern. It only gave me some mild annoyance when the raindrops would curl my freshly straightened hair or force me to keep a room full of energetic children inside during recess. But here in Haiti, as with many other places in the world, the rain can cause great destruction. Today, during centers, one of my students wrote about how over the weekend she had to sleep in her brother’s room, because her room leaks and lots of water was coming in. During a big storm a couple months ago, one of my students was very late to school. When she arrived, she handed me the note she had received from the office, which stated she was late because due to the damage and floods from the storm two people had died in the road and traffic had been backed up. Can you even imagine that? Being late to school, or work, because people have died from the rain?
I saved that note for a long a time. Sometimes, when I’m looking at my students, it can be easy to forget the world they come from and the lives in which they live. They come to school clean and well dressed – if you look at a picture of my classroom, it looks almost exactly like the ones I’ve taught in in the States. But many of these children face more struggles in one day than I ever will in my entire lifetime. It’s heartbreaking, and I often feel as if I should be doing something more to help them.
But at the same time, we are giving them something – we are giving the hope of a God who loves them and a life so much better than this one. And even though there are many storms throughout life – both figuratively and literally – after the storm, the sun always does shine.
Just as it always does, the sun has now returned to Port-de-Paix. And just as the sun is always behind the clouds, I know the Son will never leave our side. Please continue to pray for us as we work to make a difference in the lives of our students, and for the people of Haiti as they deal with the devastation of this storm. But most importantly, pray for those in our community who are still lost in the rain and are in desperate need of the Son.