I am going to try and describe how I (Matt) feel coming home from Haiti, but it is difficult to really explain. There are so many different things that run through your mind as you try to readjust to your “home” if I can really call it that anymore. There is the sadness of leaving our children, there is the joy of coming home to see family, there is the comfort that America offers, and there is the confusion of living in 2 countries with 2 different cultures. All of these come together to make it really difficult to describe how I feel coming home. It has also only been 2 days since we have been home and one of those days was just a travel day, so it is very new. Anyway, this is kind of what it is like to come back to America after spending 3 months in Haiti…
The first thing I really notice is pulling into an airport that is nicer and more comfortable than anything I have seen in Haiti. There is hot water to wash my hands, it is nice and cool in the airport, and there is a variety of food just in the airport that I cannot find within an hour drive of where I live in Haiti. The next thing I notice is how tired I am and how awesome American comforts are in light of being this tired. For instance, to get into an incredibly awesome bed and actually need to pull on a comforter feels better than I could really explain. To walk around the house and not constantly want to have a fan pointed at you is somehow freeing. If I am being honest, yesterday I ate a steak from Outback and a Publix sub and they tasted better than really anything should taste. After eating rice and beans with red sauce 4-5 times per week for 3 months, meat tastes so good and it is really nice to know I will be able to eat it at any point for the next month. I was driving around yesterday, and I could never fully relate to an American how great our roads are. I know I have mentioned it before, but it is truly unexplainable.
In the midst of all of this, there is this sense of true sadness every time I think about our children. I loved being there with them, and I know it is better for them if Jess and I are there. We made the right decision to come home, we have to continue to fundraise and it is important for us to rest, but it is so difficult to imagine them there. To know that some of the things that have made their lives better will not be happening for the next month. Also, I just miss them. I love them very much, and we got to spend every single day (and I mean that literally, we did not take a day off the past 3 months we were there) with them and then all of a sudden we don’t.
There is also this sense of guilt as I look at all of the things that I have access to and know that none of my friends in Haiti will ever even know that these things exist. As I type this, my hands are cold even though it is almost 70 degrees outside. I just drank a delicious smoothie from Tropical Smoothie, I just worked out in an incredible workout room at our apartment complex, I am going home to lay in our awesome bed and watch television, and I am going to have a very good dinner tonight (even though I don’t know what it is going to be yet). My friends (and our children) in Haiti have no context for what I am experiencing right now. They will probably never experience takeout and will probably never live in an air conditioned home. With Christmas right around the corner, there is going to be this consumer mindset here that (at least hopefully) our children will never understand. There will be enough money spent down the road from our house on (at the Towncenter Mall) Black Friday that could completely feed the entire community where our orphanage is for the next 40 years. This is so difficult to think about, and it truly does cause a feeling of guilt to come over me. This is not me being judgmental at all, please understand that. I am going to buy Christmas gifts, I am going to go to nice restaurants, and I am going to spend money that I probably shouldn’t throughout this holiday season. But once you have friends and children who have nothing, it is hard to not feel guilty, sad, and other emotions that I have not quite realized yet.
I think this blog might come across as a little disjointed because I am still pretty tired from the past 3 months and on top of that, I don’t really even know exactly how I feel yet because I am still processing. The one thing I do understand is that it is very difficult living in 2 places. It is very difficult to have our future (and our children’s future) up in the air because there are so many decisions we still have to make and so much money we still have to raise. It is difficult to know that I had a nice warm shower this morning and our children do not even have clean running water. Our children do not even really understand what it means to have electricity (because they keep asking for televisions without realizing that they would just sit there without electricity) or some of the most basic American conveniences (some of them have just discovered what a seat belt is and I don’t mean the younger ones).
I also know that I will go and worship at churches where the pastor and staff have been trained on how to study and teach the Bible (something that almost no Haitian pastor has had the privilege of doing). I know that many followers of Christ can open their Bible (something that many Haitian Christians do not have) and read (something that many Haitian believers cannot do) the Christmas story. I know that many people in America have at least been presented the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and have been taught what it means and how to follow it.
Anyway, it is so hard to understand why things are so different here, and it is so difficult to figure out the emotions of coming back here after being there. If you, as you read this, could just pray for these things:
- Our children in Haiti
- Our fundraising efforts here
- That we would get rest while we are here
We truly thank you for everything that you do. We would not be in this position without you and we covet your prayers.