Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Transition Home

Well, we have been in the US of A for the last 48 hours. Once again, time has been completely distorted. The past two days have flown by, while the three days we spent in the UN compound seem like they lasted forever. It's been a surreal experience and our time in Haiti already feels like a dream. We're still trying to process everything that we went through, but I think it's going to take quite some time. However, this weekend has been a good start! Adam's sister Amelia and her husband Joel drove six hours to meet us in Ft. Lauderdale yesterday and we've spent the weekend with them. It's been so interesting to hear their experiences in the last week. To be honest, I think Adam and I had a much easier time than our families back home. It's really hard to learn that your parents were starting to worry about your deaths or safety, especially when we really were protected. I'm glad that our story has a happy ending, but unfortunately, so many do not. There are so many unanswered questions and missing's so difficult to even imagine. One thing that we continue to remind ourselves as we see pictures of the mass graves is that these people are not forgotten. We know that our Heavenly Father knows each and everyone of His children. He knows who each one of those unidentified people are and loves them and cares for them. Knowing that this life isn't the end definitely helps soften the enormous burden that this disaster has placed on so many.

Last night I was trying to find information about the other refugees that were in the UN compound with us. I found a news report from Chicago where Sue's mother was interviewed. Having met Sue and been with her as she learned of her best friend's death, the interview was especially touching. Adam and I were trying to figure out a way to get in contact with her mother so we could let her know how amazing and strong Sue has been through such a difficult tragedy. Imagine our surprise and delight when we received a phone message from her mother! It turns out that she had a friend from Topeka, KS visiting her in Chicago who knew my mother, knew we had been in Jacmel, and was able to contact us to find out about Sue. It was so good to talk with her and relay any information that could be helpful. Jacmel is so isolated from the rest of the country right now because of the destroyed roads and communication lines, but Sue needs to return home and is bringing the remains of her friend. We have a few contacts that we are trying to make and we gave her mother a few possibilities that our families were going to pursue to reach us. Please keep Sue and her family in your prayers that she too will be able to return home.

We also received an email from Marianne, one of our amazing Danes. They are now safely home! We're not sure when or how they left, but it was so good to know that they are no longer stuck in Jacmel. They had lost everything, except the clothes on their back, but they were so generous and caring. It was hard on Friday night to be at a hotel with a king-sized bed, room service, and no threat of aftershocks when we knew everyone we left was still sleeping on a mat outside, eating nutritional biscuits. And even now that they are safe, there are hundreds of thousands of Haitians that have lost their homes, families, and are lacking in food and water. Through trials, we've never really asked ourselves, "Why me?" but we are definitely asking ourselves "Why us?!" as we have experienced so many miracles and so much protection and safety when so many others are suffering. It's hard. We're just hoping to do as much as we can to help as many people as we can.

We were hoping to go to the Haitian branch in Ft. Lauderdale for church today, but were sad to find out that it no longer exists. Instead, we went to two different wards for their meetings and were able to see many people from Adam's mission. Each Haitian family we spoke with was waiting to hear news and we offered the best advice and support we could. I think the highlight of our weekend was meeting Erick's brother and sister. We gave them the biggest hugs and told them how much Erick meant to us. It is so good to know that Erick and his family are safe! There are other happy endings! We also found out that the church building in Port-au-Prince is still standing (which is another's just down the street from where the Palace collapsed) and many church members are staying there now since they lost their homes. I still wonder and worry about all the missionaries that are serving in areas affected by the earthquakes - and their families! I just pray that they are all safe and protected.

We got locked out of our room twice tonight, but it gave us a chance to speak with one of the hotel employees. She had family in Haiti and we were able to really relate to what her thoughts and feelings were about the earthquake. We are grateful that we had been in Haiti before the earthquake hit, so we have a sort of baseline of the people, lifestyle, and culture. I think that helps us better understand the reactions we see on the news or the information we read. We're beginning to realize that as traumatizing as this experience has been, we needed to be in Haiti when this happened. We needed to witness this firsthand so that we can know how to better help those in need. We have always had a connection to Haiti because of Adam's mission, but we definitely feel that we have left part of us in Haiti. We don't know what all we are needed to do in Haiti, but we definitely feel like we can help in small ways, especially with Pazapa. We just received news that they will continue the program and will rebuild if necessary. As soon as we return to Kansas, I plan on meeting with the Dept. of Special Education to figure out the best way to raise funds. My mom wants to even contact Oprah! We'll see. Every little bit helps.

1 comment:

Linley said...

I just want to say thank you again for posting your amazing experiences. I've been following diligently from Iowa, (even announcing during our Relief Society's "happy moments" that you two were home safe and sound) I can't wait to hear more news of Pazapa's rebuilding and what we can do from here to help. Karen, your mother's blog was very inspirational too, helping me to realize that everything happens for a reason, no matter how tragic.