Hey everyone! It’s been awhile. AND a lot has happened! I will try to quickly fill you all in.
I finished my Fall semester with decent grades, not my best, but definitely not my worst. I am very optimistic about this semester. I started off break getting all four wisdom teeth removed. That was two weeks of pain (If they tell you differently, they are wrong lol). Christmas came and went. It was very different and difficult as well. I wanted it to be something it wasn’t. Gift giving was hard, as was appreciating gifts. Not a lot matters when you lose someone you love. That’s the gift you want. The impossible gift that could never happen. I made a photo book of my sister for the grab bag my family does every year, it was really nice to collect pieces of her and put them in one place. It makes remembering and grieving for her easier. It has her pictures and poems throughout it. I always forget how good of a writer she was until I read one of her quotes. I miss her. I miss talking to her. I miss remembering the past with her. I miss her jumping on top of me and loving me when I came back from college. I wish she has been there when my wisdom teeth were removed because I know she would have made me do something ridiculous. I missed opening presents with her. I miss her doing my makeup for me Christmas day because I’m so bad at it. I miss her harmonies during mass. It was and continues to be a lot of missing. A lot of reminders of the loss I have. A lot of not bringing up the loss, or trying to ignore it.
On a better note, I went to Haiti for a week for a mission trip through my parish here at Purdue, St. Tom’s! It was an amazing experience so different from anything I have ever experienced. It was the first time I left the country. We left St. Tom’s Wednesday morning at 2:30am. Drove to Indy airport, flew to Atlanta, had a few hour layover, then flew to Port Au Prince! We drove four hours to Boudin, driving through Port Au Prince and through the mountains. We fit eleven people into the back of this truck with benches instead of seats. We taught English at a school who was on break for four days. I showered twice the whole trip (only washing my hair once because my hair was braided for the second shower). The showers consist of a bucket full of cold water that you dump on yourself. We visited the market, local farms in the area, and hiked some of the mountains. The parisher’s gave us a New Year’s celebration even though they don’t usually celebrate New Year’s. We shared one bathroom between all 18 of us, and you could hear everything that happened in the bathrooms, so that was an adjustment. It was quite the adventure. Nothing compares to Haitian hospitality. We were welcomed with love and open arms, everywhere we went. They gave to us everything they could. If the only thing they could offer us was a chair, they would. It was beautiful. A real lesson in appreciating and giving of everything you have to give.
One of the boys at the school asked us what the difference was between America and Haiti. We didn’t know where to start, nor how to explain certain things. We have stores, they have markets. We flush our toilet paper, they do not. We all own cars, they generally walk. Mass is one hour, their mass is three. We have three meals a day, they have one. Beer is beer, beer is prestige. We usually just know English, they study English, French, and Spanish. The list goes on. And yet, with all these things, I would not say we are better off. In many ways, we live in luxury, but we suffer from this. We take for granted a lot of what we have. We distract ourselves with our technology. We don’t enjoy other’s company as much. We always have to be doing something. We waste a lot of the food we buy. They live their lives simply, but too the fullest. They share everything they have, even if it is not much. Not a bite of food gets wasted. They taught me many beautiful lessons.
I remember the first day I was very frustrated because of the language barrier. I just wanted to be able to speak and have a conversation with the children, but by the end of the week I realized the importance of just immersing yourself into the culture. Just being in the children presence. That’s all they are looking for. That’s all I was looking for. When I realized that I experienced so much more. I became friends at the orphanage with a girl named Olenzia (I wish I knew how to spell her name). She was one of the older girls, I believe 15. She made sure I got my hair braided. She took me to girl who does hair for all of the girl’s at the orphanage. The braids were beautiful, a wonderful gift. She give me and Joey with handmade bracelets, and in return I gifted her with nail polish. She then took me to the girl who does the nails for all the girl’s at the orphanage and shared the nail polish I had just given her.
This trip was a lot about just doing. Don’t ask question when one of the kid’s asks you to walk somewhere because they are probably leading you exactly where you should be or what you need to experience. Ryane would have loved every moment. Every conversation, every unexpected event, the adventure of it all. I could feel her the whole trip wanting to experience it my side. I could hear her voice talking about how cool my hair was. She would have gotten it braided right along side of me. She would have been with me when Olenzia took me to their room to get my nails painted. I was able to experience the life of teenage girl’s in Haiti for 15 minutes because Olenzia was so open to me. It was enough to see, we are all the same. Our environment’s may be different or our language. But you can still communicate. Relate. Care. Smile. Laugh. Dance(Dans) And most importantly… Love.
Random Haitian words I picked up: Yes = wi, Ball=Boul, School = lecole, Food/to eat = Manje, What is your name?= Kijan ou rele?, My name is… = Mwa rele…, I like… = Mwen renmen…, Good = Bon, Beautiful = Bel, Sing = Chante, water = lo, thumb = pous, candy = siret…