Sunday, October 5, 2014

air

Dear ones ~
 and just like that, we have finished our time with our daughter here in Haiti on this trip. Tonight before her bedtime we said our goodnights, our goodbyes, and our God bless you's because tomorrow at 6:30AM we climb into the truck for one last trip up the hill to the main Petionville road which will lead us to our morning flight home. By lunchtime we will be 30,000 feet above the Caribbean, robin blue as far as you can see out the oval window. 
The last 2 days have been heaven, almost completely. For those of you who read the emails from our last trip to Haiti in January, you will appreciate the photos and the report that our time with her has been positively magical - affectionate, reciprocated, endearing, satisfying, refueling.  After spending 12 solid days in January working hard to woo her for 10 hours daily, to burst back into her world a full 8 months later, having had zero direct contact between us, to now return and enjoy this beautiful acceptance...can only be attributed to God's good grace. I sincerely accept it as a miracle. 

It has been heaven.
I could exhale. For the first time in many months, I stopped holding my breath. 
Andrew could really breathe her in and I swear, I witnessed them fall in love with one another before my eyes on this trip. 
It. Has. Been. Heaven.

And yes, tonight was brutal. 

If you have lived this, I don't need to paint you a picture. 
There aren't really words for it, anyway.

And now, we fly home. 
Tomorrow at this time it will be dark again, and I will be 890 miles away from her. 

Friends, we need your prayers. Please pray that the judge will sign the blessed paper and we will move forward....there is maybe a year still to go. 


with love from Haiti from us both

Saturday, October 4, 2014

water

Dear ones ~
 to call the way I got clean tonight a "shower" would be too generous, I think. There was that moment, watching the drops dribble from the sad showerhead when I found myself debating, thinking: "okay, I need to commit one way or another" and then: "wait, what if the lights go out while I am in here?" and then: "I am so desperate, this has got to be better than nothing". There was water of course and man, was it frigid - the kind of cold that makes you gasp like a baby who got swung too high in the air and jumped in reflex - but to call it much more than that - water - would really just be an insult to showers everywhere. This whole island is surrounded on all sides by water for as far as you can possibly, humanly see but you can't drink it, can't bathe in it, and everything in my world smells like mosquito spray, hand sanitizer and baby pee. So bizarre. This whole country is a mystery of contradictions to me. Nevertheless, we will fall asleep under the fans with the whole day washed away before we wake to roosters, fresh coffee and canned milk, car horns and Creole songs in the street again tomorrow morning. This short trip has been an oasis in the desert for me and Andrew, kooky and foreign though this all is. There is nothing normal in our world right now, nothing remotely American about the life we lead while we are here, but it is like ice water after a day at the beach - we've been so parched and we are drinking it in.

 Today's joy arrived around in unruly waves. Quickly, our daughter warmed up to us and once warm became absolutely entwined with us. Upon deciding she would give us a chance this morning, she swiftly settled on my lap, snuggled herself in, tilted her head back to see into my eyes, melted like milk chocolate in a hot pan, and just gave in. She spent today coloring, swinging, snacking, stickering, climbing and playing while we merrily tagged along. When she had us by the hand or was in our arms, she was radiant as sunshine; when we left amid waves goodbye, blown kisses and "I love you's" for mealtimes (as is the rule), she receded like low tide, briskly but imperceptibly finding her rhythm in the mass of little ones again like she'd never been out of the pack. This is all very good for the time being of course...we will be leaving and the point of us even being here is merely to be with her and let our hearts get spilled out...but the waves of belonging, of how right it is to be together, of love, of healing and of hope switch to waves of resignation all too soon. She is the sweetest, sweetest, sweetest thing. Every ounce of us yearns to bring her home.
That swell of anticipation, the crash of embracing and the splash of adoration...followed by a departure from each other feels like standing on the shore at low tide, wondering where the water went. The tide will be high again, but you must wait. 

  
 Have you heard that song, "Oceans" by Hillsong United? If so, you know the one. If you have been in my world much you know these last few months that song has been my heart's anthem, mostly sung through tears and often through rage. "Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide..." Never truer, never more deeply known than here and now. 
All of your prayers make this bearable, all of them precious and valuable to us - all your messages and emails and texts such life-breathing sweetness to us.
We love you all - thank you for being in this with us 

Friday, October 3, 2014

heat

Dear ones, 
 after a full 10 hours of travel, we have arrived once again, safe and sound at the little block guesthouse behind the kelly green gate on this crumbling, steep road in this tiny corner of Delmas. Flying low enough to see the towns and mountains below, there is such wonder at all this life brimming on this island way, way out here, isolated from all other life...all these people only a 2-hour plan ride from Florida but such a world away. 

 Walking outside the airport baggage claim in Port-au-Prince, so many thoughts descend like a clattering: there is nothing so immediately disorienting as being immersed in a language you cannot understand, even a LITTLE bit. There is only one familiar face, but many people all rushing to hand me things, take things, all at the ready and I keep repeating "no, mesí" ("no, thanks") while trying to look sure of myself though I am not. It's breathtakingly hot weather in Port-au-Prince. There is a breeze from somewhere descending in soft waves from way up over the top of this island, but it is still "Sarasota-in-mid-July-hot" here in October. Andrew and I are sweating, silently hoping we each packed enough deodorant for this trip by the time we crawl into the truck which collects us from the parking lot and we remained that way throughout dinner, all evening and likely will remain hot and sweaty until we board an airplane on Monday. The heat is pervasive, everywhere. I had really forgotten. 


 After dinner, we headed over to the orphanage with our guides, the young married missionary couple who we've never met before, living these 6 months at the orphanage. They are heading over to the orphanage for the night, (after our very American meal of spaghetti with meat sauce and salad, with a Haitian side of breadfruit loaf) and they offer to give us a lift. It's literally about a 3 minute commute by truck. The orphanage is the same except for the mural of a massive oak tree on the wall, adorned with photos of adoptive families and their children who have already headed home since we visited in January. The wooden gate, still latched the same way, swings open and there they all are: all 13 babies, gaping and shyly staring in fascination and a little fear at the tall, white couple who enters. I see our baby out of the corner of my eye on the right, in a nanny's lap. She sees me. It's hot. My cheeks are completely flushed. All my energy is spent greeting babies, exclaiming over their size as I gently make my way through the awestruck crowd of children, all under 4 years. Still, she hasn't moved. If anything, she sinks deeper into her nanny. It is so hot, I can feel sweat rolling, can see her own throat shimmering with it, and her tiny eyes are cutting a sideways glance at me so fearfully I barely greet her at first, trying to sandwich my greeting to her between other children's. The room feels like a million degrees but the tile floor is cold and white and it's sureness is such a comfort. Most of the first hour was spent letting the babies crawl all over us, jumping up and down, throwing themselves into our laps and on our backs, everyone very content to have new people to play with, everyone but our precious daughter - her insistence to stay walled off to us almost complete for the first hour. 
A beautiful thing began to happen, though, as playtime ramped up into Ring Around the Rosie and Pat-a-Cake...though it was boiling hot under one lone ceiling fan, though we were entertaining like we were in sequins and character shoes on Broadway, though Andrew looked like he had stepped out of a sauna and I like my hair had a life of it's own…she started to play with us. She was holding our hands, she was smiling, she was blowing kisses, she YOU GUYS she REMEMBERED how to do the sign for "I love you" without being prompted by us...all that stifling, smothering heat...it refined for us an half hour of pure joy. 

She knows us.


This time here, it is precious but it is not ideal. Ideal would be bringing her home. Now. Immediately. Elbowing past everyone and locking the doors once we have her inside our home, that would be ideal. But this heat? It's what she knows...it's her familiar and though it feels like a furnace to me - spending time with her on her terms, under observant eyes, in a foreign country where we can barely communicate let alone find comfort...it is forging something magnificent.

"You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon us...We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance." - Psalm 66:10-12

Goodnight from Haiti from us both 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

return

Dear ones ~
 tomorrow, we will find ourselves heading out of this house very early in the morning, driving to Ft Lauderdale, flying to Port-au-Prince, driving to Delmas, and walking the steep, chalky, crumbly hill between our guesthouse and the orphanage all by dinnertime, all to see one little girl. 

 We have not seen her in 8 months. She doesn't know that we are her parents, that we grieved leaving her in February, that we have missed her and cried and prayed and begged the Lord to act, that we have oodles of friends and family members desperate to see her adoption completed, that she has 4 siblings at her house, all ready to fold her in...all she knows is that we were around for a while and then...we left. All she knows is that sometimes we leave and sometimes we show up again. 
Tomorrow, we return to this daughter of ours with her unknowable thoughts, her twinkling eyes, her dimpled apple cheeks, her slim hands and mass of black curls. Tomorrow, we learn how it feels to see your child 8 months older, every day grown out from under your eye. 
Tomorrow, we find out whether we are forgiven. 

No more clean tap water, no more chilly, silken bed linens, no more easily mosquito-free living...tomorrow we return to Haiti and instantly remember how effortless American life is...tomorrow we find out how it feels to stop holding your breath. 

All your prayers, every single one of them for our baby, we treasure them ~

off we go, friends!