Friday, July 9, 2010

The Days Before Leaving

April 16, 2010
So I am finished with all the vaccines and boosters I need to go to Haiti with my last two today. I think if I had one more shot I would explode. My arms still hurt. But it is a small price to pay to go change and be changed. I feel like God is testing me. Giving me what I asked for in a huge way. I know I am not going to back down from this. I just hope and pray I do Him proud.

On a happy note this week I started taking my pills for Malaria. To my surprise they were bright pink! It is a sign. Ha! I love pink.

The closer they day comes, the more excited I get. Also a lot more emotional. But it is all this passion and emotion for Haiti that I am feeling. It isn't fear and I don't feel the buyer's remorse feeling you get when you commit to something and want to back out of. I am strangely calm and excited and happy all at once. I can't wait!

Today was also the packing party. I also packed my backpack and personal item. I think that was the soonest I have ever packed before a trip. I usually do it the night before. But seeing as this was a completely new experience I was packing for I wanted to be completely prepared for it with ample time to add things. I compulsively checked everything and rearranged it about a thousand times it seemed. I wanted everything perfect. Think imperfection was the theme of the night. The packing party started at six. Free pizza didn’t lure many people. But the people who were there made it fun. There was a plan for packing but I don’t think it was expressed very well. We wanted individual suitcases to only have one type of things in it (clinic, the priest, school) but as the night went on and for weight purposes everything got jumbled. But you live and you learn. We also discovered next time it would be great to have huge duffels (army style) for our suitcases as you can stuff a lot of supplies in those and they weigh nothing. Some of our suitcases weighed seven pounds empty. We had thirteen suitcases packed all weighing between 48.5 and 49.5 pounds. We left one open for personal supplies, hand sanitizer, bug spray, sunscreen bigger things you can’t take on a plane. We all had travel size items of those items just in case. Amber’s friend Dwayne was there. He had just gotten back from Haiti maybe 48 hours ago. He helped us learn the meal prayer and talked to us about any questions or concerns we had. He seems like an awesome guy. Amber has a lot of good contacts. We received rosaries for us that night, we are saving those to open in Haiti. But eventually everything was packed and we all went home.

I started packing my bags once I got home. It took a few hours to get everything in there and compacted enough to make it as a carry on. I have never traveled with just a carry on and personal item. I now know how to pack. Ha! But I don’t think this packing style will follow me for vacations.

Off to bed as I need to rest up for donuts after the eight thirty mass in the morning and our send off mass at eleven. Then at one I was participating in the Formula for Life walk at St. Francis. They raise money to get powder formula to malnourished babies in Haiti. How many things can I cram in before I leave?

April 20, 2010
Today we are leaving for Chicago. It will be over a week before I see my son, my family, and my friends again. As excited as I am I am terrified. I shaved my legs twice today, as I won’t be able to in Haiti. I’m not even sure if we will shower. I worked a half day today. I got a text from Clint Bayman and he told me Adam had something for me from both of them. It was a hug and an I love you. I can’t remember the last time Adam and I hugged. It was a moment I will remember forever. I was getting so nervous I was feeling sick or it was my greasy lunch (Arby’s – I wanted one last fix of American fast food) and some sour gummy worms (my favorite candy). Adam also shared with me to think of the nervous butterflies as courage building up inside of you. That actually helped a lot. Positive thinking can get you through so much. I’m not sure if I want to go through a lot or not in Haiti. But I do want a true experience there.

We all met at the youth house at six in the evening to head to Chicago. We were staying at Amber’s friend and fellow passionate Haiti traveler in his area, Dave and his wife Laura. He is going to let us crash in his house and take us and pick us up from the airport. It was such a sad moment to leave Decatur. Every trip there is a chance things can go wrong but you see it more travelling to a place unknown with people you don’t know very well. I tried to hold back the tears, but that didn’t go to well. Fr. Ben saw them. The turnout of people to see us off was awesome. Even Brian and John, who were leaving later, came, along with family and friends of the rest of us. A man, I forget his name, gave us necklaces. And we were off.

The drive was nice and easy. It was fun and full of Haiti talk. The sunset was beautiful. God’s parting gift to us I like to think. It is hard to think of the people who miss the beauty God shows us every day in nature. We stopped at Bob Evans per Fr. Dave’s request to eat. The service was SLOW. It took over an hour to finish there. I ordered a biscuit bowl, not good. I was paying and realized that I was given and extra ten-dollar bill. I think in the past I would have kept it, but I gave it back. I think Haiti was changing me before I even got there. Soon we were back on our way. Fr. Dave wanted to pray the rosary for safe travels. He asked me to lead a decade. I was terrified, I had never done that before. But I did it (almost forgetting how the Hail Mary goes) and I survived it. I think I even might have enjoyed it.

We made it to Dave’s house. We found out Laura, his wife, was in Haiti and the Matthew 25 house (where we were headed to in Port au Prince) as the Sister who is usually there took a month off to celebrate her 60th Jubilee. She deserved it especially after the earthquake as the dinning room table there was used to amputate and the soccer field was a triage center. So we would meet Laura tomorrow. Dave’s house was beautiful. He is a dentist who makes a few trips to Haiti each year with his wife. He had just gotten back and was already packing for his next trip in a month or so. The first thing I noticed was his foyer, it was full wall to wall, floor to ceiling of Haitian artwork. I wanted that. A daily reminder of Haiti, experiences and people. We all had a bed or couch to sleep on. Amber and I shared a room. It was hard to sleep because of nerves and excitement. We talked for a while but finally fell asleep. I think everyone woke up around three or three thirty in the morning to use the rest rooms. Morning was going to come faster then we thought I think.

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