First Thoughts on Being Back From Haiti

I’m not sure what I want to say. I keep jumping all around in my mind, a nontemporalproximal place.

The number of emotions that sweep over me remain overwhelming.

I feel a sadness now that I’m back. I feel like I’ve died.

I feel a great relief to be back home though. Yet, I hate what home brings with it.

I am acutely aware of the sounds: the low murmur of cars on I-5. The buzz of the street lamps in their orange glow. The people yelling down the street. The cars as they drive past me.

It’s so cold here. I’m not used to sleeping with all these blankets.

I put my ear buds in and play a podcast…not my usual one, but one I would listen to in Haiti. My whitenoise maker reminds me of the airplane engines. I fall asleep.

As I walked to the next gate at the airport, I felt inundated with commercial advertisement. What is this product? Why do I need it? Why the fuck are they even advertising this, nobody needs this.

I keep looking out the window, not wanting this plane ride to end. Planes and airports now remain my last vestige of something that means so much, yet I can’t accurately explain what or why.

I don’t want to collect my bags on the carousel. I don’t want to leave the airport — it means I have to say goodbye.

There’s something special about spending such intimate time with these people. We eat together, we sleep together, we pray together, we ride together, we laugh together, we cry together, we work together. We created a new being — a new life form — that existed for 11 days. It was symbiotic and it will never exist again like it did.

I don’t want to go to sleep, because it means I have to move on.

It feels weird to be alone, knowing there’s no one just around the doorway.

We see each other at church and naturally gravitate toward each other.

We seem different now. Sure, we’ve all taken our hot showers; but it’s not that. We act different.

I don’t want to look at my email. There’s 116 new emails covering at least 50 different topics.

Work, even life here, seems too complicated. Too complex. Too overwhelming. I just want to curl up into a ball and cry.

I want things to be simple again. I want to focus on what’s in front of me right now, not what may or may not happen in two weeks.

3026 photos, that’s a lot of memories. I look at them and replay the trip over in my head. I look at the photos from the very beginning of the trip, from when before we really knew each other. Who are these people?

Coming back this time was different. Last time, I was excited to be home because I didn’t know when I was going to get home. This time though, I could anticipate getting home. I knew almost precisely when I would land.

There was no large contingent of people waiting with bated breath for us at the airport. Just our parents, significant others, or roommates.

We sang our song one last time. It was beautiful, amazing, poignant, awesome…just like Haiti was.

I don’t know if I want to go back. I love the simplicity of it. I love Bruce and Deb. I love to see what God is doing. But I hate the politics. I hate that things don’t make sense. I hate that people sometimes try to take advantage of me because I’m “blan”1; it doesn’t feel good when I’m trying to help.

I don’t want to let go of that feeling of being down there. I want to hold it close to me. But I don’t know how to do that and still live and work here.

I don’t know what’s next. I just want to feel that way again.


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6 Replies to “First Thoughts on Being Back From Haiti”

  1. Coming back from mission trips is hard. Deb told us before we left Haiti that we’d have more culture shock going back to America than we did coming in to Haiti. It sounded weird, but she’s right. Maybe it’s because it feels good to slow down and live simply. You’re definitely reminding me how overwhelming it was to go back to the complicated rush of the “developed” world after being in Haiti (Peru is a more developed country than Haiti, so it it wasn’t nearly the same shock to come back). And even if you want to continue living in a slow, simple fashion, it’s really hard to do in such a busy, complicated nation.

    Mission trips do give us a beautiful picture of community. I’ve always had really amazing experiences bonding with the team members on these trips. For a whole 10-11 days, you get to do everything with these amazing people. Then you come home and are surrounded by people who weren’t there and don’t understand. Or you find yourself completely alone with no one else around. I think the worst part is knowing that the group “was symbiotic and it will never exist again like it did.” I had a hard time leaving Peru because of that. I didn’t want to say goodbye to that community.

    Anyways, I’ll continue praying for all of you as you adjust back. Thanks for posting this. You’re helping me remember.

  2. I revel in your ability to snythesis your thoughts so well as you put them into words… your covered a lot of territory as you laid it all out.

    I think any experience/opportunity that gives us a chance/or causes us to rethink what we are ‘about’ is wonderful and scary all at the same time.

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