This is not directly in response to President Trump's recent comments about Haiti and other nations, but I am still partially motivated by them to share what Haiti means to me because such lies and distortion of the truth in this way truly hurts my heart. I am more so moved to speak of how much I love Haiti for the upcoming seventh anniversary of my mission trips there, but I still would like to destroy any misconceptions of the country I love so much.
Haiti has taught me to see the gift in everything, to not call anything inconsequential, and to be able to laugh at myself. Now I see everything the United States calls an inconvenience, the waiting, the uncertainty, the heat, the need for flexibility, as beautiful things that tell me to slow down and enjoy myself and give me another unexpected moment with a friend I may have squandered if I rushed away.
Every time a tap-tap (A Haitian version of a taxi, pictured above) is late, every time the power goes out in the middle of the day, every time something does not go as planned, makes the day better. Every time a rooster crows in the middle of the night, I can smile because I am not losing sleep, I am being reminded of all the endearing quirks that make me feel at home.
The best way I have found to describe the experience of being in Haiti are the lyrics of "Welcome" from the movie, Brother Bear.
"There is nothing complicated
About the way we live
We are here for each other, happy to give
Proud of who we are
Humble beneath the stars"
Something that makes Haiti so beautiful is the fact that life is not complicated when I am there. Although poverty and hardship are evident, being present is so much easier and so much more fulfilling because every little thing is done with great love. Suddenly, I can see how having opportunities to be patient or flexible, discovering how to learn from random encounters with sadness or intense emotion, and making mistakes often are all in themselves expressions of love but also opportunities to express love. The day is full of these moments, so full of intentionality that the stars, minuscule specks of light fill the sky in such a way as to remind me of all the ways in which those special moments sparked the day that just ended, and give hope for all the sparks in the next day.
"This has to be the most beautiful, the most peaceful place I've ever been to
It's nothing like I've never seen before
When I think how far I've come I can't believe it, yet I see it
When I see family I see the way we used to be"
Haiti is the most peaceful and beautiful place I have ever been, it has a way of reminding me who I was, showing me who I am, and shaping me into who I will be all at once. I see the growth since the earthquake in 2010, I see my my growth since first going in 2012, and I see wear we are going together.
"There's a bond between us nobody can explain
It's a celebration of life
We see our friends again
I'll be there for you
I know you'll be there for me too"
An all encompassing way to express the lessons I have learned is to say that it has taught me what it means to celebrate life. By enjoying the small things life, even the "inconveniences", life is truly enjoyed, truly lived, and truly seen for what it is. That is what a celebration is, that is what life is.