I have really big plans to write all about our recent trip to Haiti.
To include as many of the details as I can remember and to give you as complete and whole picture as I'm able. Because it was an incredible, only-God-could-pull-this-off kind of trip and I'm so excited to share it with you all.
But, I'm not ready yet.
I'm still processing.
And a lot emotional.
The Lord is so faithful and so true and the fact that he uses our feeble attempts to serve and help others to grow & change ourselves in even greater ways is.... unfathomable.
I started off on this journey fully knowing that it was going to change my life and prayerfully the lives of those I was sent to serve, but I had no idea to what extent it would change me or how deep the change was going to be.
I'm still not sure.
I want to be able to talk about what I'm feeling and how I got here.... but I'm still recovering, and I don't know what to say or how to say it or even how to process what I am feeling.
I expected to be emotional and to care deeply for the people I met.
I wasn't expecting to fall in love the way I did.
I wasn't expecting the people and the stories to stick with me the way that they have.
The faces. The laughter. The joy. The sorrows. The chaos. The calm. The poverty. The smells. The views. The gratefulness. The desperation..... I never want to forget.
I miss Haiti.Well, except for the freezing cold showers and the not flushing your toilet paper part.
I don't miss that.
Though I should mention how grateful I was for running water and flush toilets.
I miss things I never thought to think about missing. I miss not having TVs and computers and smart phones to distract me from the people who were standing next to me. I miss the ways the star shine even in the middle of the city. I miss the sounds of the church choir practicing outside our bedroom window. I miss riding in the back of a pick up truck. I miss the simplicity of having so much less.
I miss watching kids entertain themselves with songs, hand games, sticks, rocks and balls.
But I miss the people the most. Oh how I miss the people!
I was expecting to go and bless the orphans and the students and the people of Haiti. I wasn't expecting to be blessed by them.
Their smiles were truly priceless. They just melted me.
Their genuine comments of "Merci" (Thank You) touched me in a part of my heart I didn't even know existed.
Being in Haiti, serving a people that desperately need (and deserve) to be served, was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
I knew that I would meet people and learn their names and hear their stories and that it would be hard to leave. But I didn't know that I would take the memories of their smiles and their voices home with me. That their faces, and their stories would stick with me the way that they have.
I didn't know that I would bond with a little girl who's name I can't even pronounce properly in such a way that I can hardly go an hour without thinking of her.
It was day 1 of our visit to the orphanage when she found me.
She. Found. Me.
She. Claimed. Me.
She grabbed my hand and my heart that first morning I stepped into the orphanage, and I don't think she'll ever let it go.
Her name is Dienaylo've (I say it Jenn-ay-love, I'm wrong, but I'm close).
She is 9.
Or at least she thinks she's 9.
She was born in 2007, she doesn't know the day.
She has 3 sisters and 1 brother.
Her mom died.
Her dad abandoned her.
Her aunt who was taking care of her, chose to give her up when she realized there were too many kids to care for.
She doesn't know where her siblings are. She says, they don't know where she is.
She's lived through more pain and more loss than most.
And yet. She smiles.... All. The. Time.
She has one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen.
She's a fighter. She's spunky.
And she was always by my side.
When we would pull up to the area where the school/orphanage/playground was children would always chase after us calling out "Blancs! Blancs!" (Whites). And as we would get closer, someone always seemed to start calling "Dienaylo've, Dienaylo've" and point at me.
They all knew.
I was Dienaylo've's.
And she was mine.
I miss her.
I miss her hugs, her small hand in mine wherever I was walking.
I miss bumping her in the head with my elbow because she was always so close to me when I would go to move. I miss her smile.
I miss her deep voice and furrowed eyebrow when she got defensive.
I miss the way she puts her head down and looks at her feet when she's feeling shy or embarrassed.
I miss knowing she was close and that I was going to see her again soon.
I expected some things.
But other thing's I never saw coming, and I don't think I'll ever get over it.