Monday, October 23, 2017

Haiti October 2017 Night 1 & Day 2


We arrive to Hinche with unexpected smoothness and ease. The ladies at the compound have food waiting for us when we arrive. We carry all our bags up to the third floor of the compound, to the area that we will call “home” for the next 2-3 weeks. I am hot, hungry, and tired, but I am even more excited. I am at the beginning of what I know is going to be an amazing trip. God called us here. I am sure of it. We obeyed, we are here, and I am expectant for all that He is about to do.


After eating dinner, we begin to get ready for bed. There is a lot to be done before we can actually lay down. It is decided that in the girls room Mommer will get her own double bed, Olivia and Alexa will share the bottom double bed of one bunk bed, and Audrey and I the other. There are twin bunk beds on top but they have no railing, which makes me a little uncomfortable knowing how much my kids usually move around at night.
In the boys room Ethan will have a bottom double bunk, Tim will share the other bunk with Titus, and Treyton will take the twin bed near the door.

We are all exhausted after a long day of travel. Ethan especially who took a midnight flight out of Denver in order to meet up with us, has gotten hardly any sleep.

The temperature is noticeably hotter when we arrived to the third floor of the compound. I mean, Haiti is always hot, obviously, but this is a whole new level of heat. While the temperature drops (slightly) at night, our rooms tend to hold the heat throughout the night, which makes sleeping (especially with another person) a little tougher.

I’m not sure what time we all lay down at. I know it is late by the time we ate, found everything we needed, and got ready for bed. As I lay down that night, I started thanking God for a wonderful day of travel and arriving safely and praying for the rest of the trip. I don’t think I can get more excited. I am full of hope.

Midnight
I doze off pretty quickly but wake again shortly after.  
I am sweating profusely. 
The generators must have already kicked off. The fans are off. 
There’s nothing I can do to cool off.
I hear sounds of water dripping on the tin roof outside our window.

Drip. Drip. Drip.
{Rooster crow}

Drip. Drip. Drip.
{Dog bark}.

I begin to feel heaviness all over me. I start to pray. My mind is at war. Lies begin to surface and I begin to panic.
I pray. Hard.
I start quoting scripture. Random scriptures, scriptures that have nothing to do with what I’m experiencing but I am searching for any verse that will pop into my head.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The last time I look at my phone it says 1:30.

3am

I wake up to a loud bang.
“What was that?”

{Dogs barking}
Drip. Drip. Drip.

Someone’s snoring. 

I’m hot. Really hot.
I’m thirsty. I have no spit left, my mouth is completely dry. I need water. I reach over next to the bed where I keep a water bottle. I take a long drink of warm water.

I look over and I see two cockroaches crawling up my mosquito net.
Ugh, gross.”
I grab my sandal from off the floor and gently lean over Audrey to smush them both between the netting and the wall. They fall down under the bed… or at least I hope that’s where they fell.

I lay awake for a while until I realize that something is biting at my ankles… not just one bite but a lot of them…. it doesn’t feel like a mosquito, I turn on my flashlight to look. I don’t see anything. I get up and grab bug spray and spray some across the bottom of our bed.

I lay back down.
I don’t know how much time passes but I’m wide awake still.

I begin feel the skin of my arms start to tingle….  Oh no,” I think. 

{Quick side note ---- I know most of you know this already, but I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life, though praise God, it’s been significantly better the last year and a half or so. In saying that, I’ve only had a few actual anxiety “attacks” in my life. The last one was in March. In the middle of the night. In Haiti.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that they are spiritual attacks, but nonetheless, an anxiety attack in the middle of the night. In Haiti. Let me tell you, it’s not ideal.} 

…. My mind begins to race….
…. My heart is pounding…..
…. I begin to hear the voices of those who questioned us bringing our kids…
…. I start to believe the lies….
…. I start making up new lies….
…. I’m worried about my sleep….
…. I am panicking….
…. I want to go home…
…. My skin now feels like it is on fire….

Drip, drip, drip
{rooster crow}
{some other animal making some strange call}
{loud bang. Again}
It may be a tin roof piece flapping… I can’t figure it out.

My skin feels like it is on fire now. It makes it hard to move.
My breathing is increasing.
I try to slow it.
I can’t hardly move at all anymore. I feel plastered to my bed.
I’m laying there.
Mind racing.
Sweating.

I tell myself “You know what this is. Fight it. You’ve got this.”
I try to pray, but I can’t. My mind is racing, I can’t seem to control my thoughts.
I’m so hot. I’m exhausted and I can’t think straight.

I’m crying now.

“Oh dear God, what was I thinking?”
“Why did I come here?”
“How could I have ever brought my kids?”
“What was I thinking?”
“Lord, what have I done?”

I try to muffle my sobs. I cannot let anyone see me like this.
In my heart and the deep recesses of my mind I know how ridiculous this is. 
I know people are counting on me and that makes everything worse.

“Amber, pull yourself together. This is an attack. It isn’t reality. This is not truth.”

“I can’t. I can’t. I’m too tired. I have nothing left to fight with.”

“Go get Tim.”

“No, I can’t. I won’t”

Olivia is rolling over. She has been tossing and turning all night. I know she's not sleeping well either. 

I try to silent my cries. I don’t want to wake anyone up.

“Wake up Olivia, she’s right there, she might even be awake.”

“No, I won’t wake them up. They need their sleep. Sleep is too valuable here, I won’t take that from them.”

“These are lies. You don’t have to believe them. You’ve got this.”

“Lies? Yes. Lies. I know that. I know they are lies. But here I am, with only a few hours of sleep, and I can’t do this. I can’t do what I’m supposed to do with only a few hours of sleep. What am I going to do?! What am I going to do!? I need a plan. I need to find a solution. I have to fix this.”

“Just breathe. Start by breathing.”

I start counting my breaths, slowly I regain control of my mind.
I start to pray.
I’m still crying. Softer now. I don’t know what just happened or why, but I’m broken. 
I have nothing left inside of myself. 
I’m crying out to God, because I feel as though my life depends on it, and I realize in this moment – my life DOES depend on it. It always depends on Him. I need him in this moment as badly as I did yesterday when I didn’t feel this desperate.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I slowly try to stand up out of bed, my legs are still tingling but at least I can move them. I make my way to one of the bags and start looking for my earplugs. I can’t believe I forgot to put them in.

I look at the clock it’s 4:00am.

“Oh, Dear God, help me sleep. Please”

5am
I’m woken up by a slap to my face.  Audrey has rolled over – arm first – apparently. I push her back on her side and roll so that my back is too her. I’m facing Olivia and Alexa now. Olivia has been tossing and turning throughout the night. At one point, I don’t know what time it was but I woke for a moment when she got out of bed.

I start to pray for her.
I fall back asleep.

6am
I’m woken by Audrey, she’s shaking me.
I have a headache. A bad headache.
She’s whispering something to me but I can’t hear her.
I take my ear plugs out.
She has to pee.
I help her get out of the bed and the mosquito net without waking everyone else.
I hear someone else awake out in the living room…. (?) My guess is either Tim or Lavaud.
I don’t get up to check.
Audrey comes back.
It’s a little cooler now, but not much.
I pull the flat sheet up over us for the first time.
She snuggles in close and I put my arm around her.
I close my eyes but leave my earplugs out.
I am kind of sleeping but I can still hear all the noises.

7:00ish
Everyone in the room is stirring. Olivia is sitting on the edge of her bed. She looks at me. She looks as exhausted as I am.
I ask “How’d you sleep”
Her look to me is my answer.
I say “Yeah, last night was a little rough.” 
We fill each other in on the fact that we were both awake for most of the night.

I head into the boy’s room where Tim is sitting on the twin bed, Ethan is sitting on his bed. I sit next Tim.
He says “How’d you sleep?”
I start to cry.
He puts his arm around me “That bad, huh?”
Pretty soon everyone gathers in the boys room, and I am blatantly honest with everyone about last night. I’m upset. I am questioning everything. I have a headache. I did not sleep well. I want to go home. I am scared. I don’t know what to do.
I know God called us here. I know we’re obeying. I wasn’t expecting this. What happened?

Tim leads us in prayer and a devotional.
He prays for me.
I am feeling a little better, other than my headache and a weakness in my legs.

As I walk back into the girls room Olivia is in front of me. She turns and says “I am feeling the exact same way. We know this is an attack. Tonight, if it happens again we have to wake each other up.”
We hug, as we shed a few silent tears.
“I’m sorry, I feel like such a mess.” I say, “ But God’s got this. We’re going to be okay.”



BREAKFAST
Breakfast was eggs, pineapple, avocado, bread and peanut butter. As soon as I sit down and smell the food, I just KNOW I’m going to be sick. The nausea is overwhelming. I look at my hands. I'm shaking. 
I force myself to eat at least a little bit. I know if I don’t eat I’m going to be in even worse shape.

After breakfast I take an Excedrin. Tim says he will head up getting the rice and beans packaged and that I should lay down and rest. I don’t disagree. By now I feel like my insides are shaking, my headache is pounding, and I’m fairly sure I’m going to throw up.
I lay down in front of a fan but do not sleep.



I head downstairs a while later to sit and watch while everyone else packages rice and beans.
I smile watching everyone have a good time, enjoying the work God has given them to do. 
My body may be failing me, but my heart is still full of a joy that is unexplainable. 

Everything’s going to be okay.
I just need to start feeling better. We’ll take it easy today, head to bed early tonight, and I will feel better tomorrow. I’m sure of it.

AFTERNOON
After lunch, our friend, Sylveus invites us to the English class he teaches for the older orphans. We ALL are interested in that. Plus that means we get to head over to Rhode where we will see the new gate, and construction that’s taking place, and Tim will be able to check out the playground equipment for maintenance.


While we were waiting for our transportation to get figured out, we had the opportunity to help lay out some of the laundry to dry. 


One of the things I was hoping for, while we were in Haiti, was to have my children see how things are done in Haiti that is different and less convenient than the ways we do things here, so I jumped at the opportunity to have them help too.


Lavaud runs a lot of ministries and he has one primary vehicle, so it can sometimes be tough to manage all the comings and goings with just that one truck. There are 9 of us wanting to get over to Rhode, plus Lavaud, and we have one little 4-door sedan available to us. Lavaud’s not so sure, but we are “pretty sure” we can make ourselves fit in this car for the short ride over to Rhode.
We start to pile in.


Tim, Titus, myself and Lavaud in front.
Olivia, Ethan, Donna, Treyton, Alexa, and Audrey in back.
We fit!
I wouldn’t say that we fit comfortably, but we fit nonetheless. And this is an adventure, right?

The kids think this is awesome, and of course they do. They’re the ones sitting on other people’s laps J

We make the short drive over to Rhode. We’re a little late for the English class, so we try to “sneak” into the back (ha, ha).


Sylveus is writing the words to the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” on the chalkboard. The kids are copying the words into their notebooks.

We take a seat.

I’m very impressed with the English class - not just Sylveus’ teaching (which is amazing) but the students, the atmosphere, all of it. I’m feeling grateful we were able to be a part of it.


Sylveus allows several opportunities for us to participate, as well. A few of us read the words to the song so that the students can hear our accent. Olivia sings the song to remind everyone of the tune, and then we sing it together as a group.



Towards the end of the class Sylveus asks one of us to help teach the class. I quickly volunteer Ethan. J
He does an amazing job.
I’m pleasantly surprised and proud of how quickly he is able to think on his feet.


I had only met Ethan a few times prior to this trip, and after spending only 24 hours with him, I’m exceedingly grateful he is on this trip and a part of the team. He’s 23 year old, and his love for the Lord, people, and The Word is obvious. He has an amazing attitude whatever the situation and pitches in wherever is needed. I am really looking forward to getting to know him better. 


After English class, the kids are able to play with some of the kids at the playground and around the school. 


The Rhode kids are really excited to see “blanc” children. They love touching their skin and hair. It’s sometimes hard for me to actually see my kids, though they are always easy to find, all I have to do is look for the crowds of children. 

 



The three older kids seem to find one or two kids that they bond with immediately and throughout the trip it will be common to see them with the same kids anytime we’re at Rhode.


Titus isn’t overly comfortable with all the attention so he mostly just runs in circles around the school grounds. 


This seems to keep a crowd from forming “around” him, but is also acceptable to the other kids, as they just run after him. J


Today was a good day. I’m happy with what we were able to do, even though I’m not feeling well.

Physically my body is screaming at me. It wants me to stop. I can feel it. All my warning signs are going off and I know deep down what this means.

Mentally I’m concerned. I’ve been where I am before. I’ve felt this before. It didn’t end well. I know if I stop moving, I won’t be able to keep going. I know I need to push through as long as I can. I promise myself I’ll eat even when I don’t want to and I’ll rest every chance I get and I’ll go to be early. I pray that that’s enough.

Emotionally, I feel good, I remember why I’m here. I’m so in love with this place. With these people. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunity to share these moments with my children…. My heart is too full. I’m so happy.

Spiritually, I’m constantly praying, asking God to please heal my body. Please allow things to go as planned. Give me the strength I need. I thank Him for getting us here. I thank Him that our family is together in this place that I love so dearly. I pray that we are still able to accomplish what we have come here to do.


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