Wow, I’m exhausted! I can’t believe that the day I have been talking about with the kids for two years was actually today. And who would’ve known it would go so much differently than expected. Everyone expects when they return to a place where they are loved to be greeted with arms wide open, big smiles and tears of joy. Ya, not so much! It would be so easy (and probably much more uplifting to read) to fake it and say that my reunion with the Village of Hope kids was nothing short of Oscar-worthy. But I guess in this case, uplifting is overrated. I could not have been more excited to drive onto the Mission today and stopped just short of jumping out of the moving truck to greet the kids… only to be met by rolling eyes, questions about why I cut my hair and accusations that I would never actually commit to staying in Haiti with them for any significant amount of time.
My initial reaction is to be like: seriously?! I just committed to AT LEAST a year with you people… don’t I deserve some kind of credit?! What a letdown. After literally imagining this day every day for the past 2 years, that is how it went. I don’t know much about much and have almost no credibility when it comes to talking about anything concerning faith, but I am confident in the fact that the one thing that can shake me is absence of admiration in those kids towards me. Just about the only thing that can make me question what I’m doing here is those kids questioning my love for them. And look at what happens- exactly that! I could pretty confidently put money on it at this point that Satan is using his most powerful weapon against me to convince me that coming here was a mistake. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to commit to a whole year! Maybe I should’ve just gone straight into grad school. At least there’s air conditioning in the United States!... and also french fries.
Unfortunately for Satan, we’ve been down this path before and you’d think he would’ve learned his lesson the last time that he tried to pull this exact same trick on me. No amount of insecurity on my part could ever take away from the experiences I have already had and the memories I will surely make in the future with these kids. The side-splitting laughter that can be heard whenever I try to join in on their choreographed dances, the annoyingly-difficult Kreyol lessons taught to me by six different 7-year-olds at once, the trips to the beach with kids so excited that our bus filled with songs can be heard from miles down the road and the tears that I’ve wiped off the little ones as we say goodbye. None of those memories can ever be taken from me or from the kids. No matter how their growing and (sometimes slowly) maturing minds tell them to act one day, I stand firm in the fact that each and every one of them knows and cherishes the love I have for them. I can’t wait to write again, laughing about how shaken I was by their greeting today. I can’t wait to relive a moment like so many in the past where carrying five chickens in my hands down the streets of the market in Cabaret for the younger boys to have as pets is a normal day or watching two little boys who were thought to be too malnourished to ever live, let alone walk, strut past me holding hands as a regular, everyday occurrence.
How can any other plan I may have had for myself compare to 365 days filled with potential like that?! I’m pretty positive I could never conjure up a more amazing opportunity on my own. God certainly has a sense of humor: taking the girl that only applied to Texas schools out of high school out of fear to leave home and the girl who had to be heavily medicated anytime she got on a plane to a place thousands of miles away in a country that is DEFINITELY not Texas and understatedly more than a quick car ride away. As I lay down tonight to think about starting my first day tomorrow in the MOH office, I can’t help but dream about the potential for growth in my new position, get excited about the possibility for life change in so many Haitian individuals and maybe even squeal a little about the fact that these kids won’t be able to get rid of me- even if they tried.