Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Journey Home

4:25 a.m. June 9

I roll over in bed and stare at my alarm clock. Without my contacts it takes my eyes a moment to adjust and read the numbers. 4:25 a.m. It feels like I hardly slept, but I guess only six hours is hardly sleeping for me! I still have five minutes before the alarm goes off, but instead of waiting under the warm blankets like I normally do, I quietly slip out of bed, careful not to wake Jason. My traveling clothes are already laid out, and I notice that they’ve become quite worn. On closer examination I even see small holes appearing in the fabric, but it’s nothing really noticeable so I slip it on anyway. I always wear the same outfit when I travel so it's no wonder it’s looking so worn. Once I’m dressed I slip into the bathroom to put in my contacts, give my teeth a quick brush and run a comb through my hair. 10 seconds later I’m done and on my way to Jayden’s bedroom. I crack the door open and peek inside. He’s still sound asleep, so I decide to leave him for a few more minutes. By now the alarm is beeping in our bedroom so I go back and wake up the still sleeping Jason. I smile at the sleep lines on his cheeks and then proceed to pull him out of bed. “Come on Jay,” I whisper. “We’re leaving today, remember?” He groans and then gets up. “I’ve got your clothes ready over there. Once you’re dressed quickly brush your teeth so I can pack our final toiletries.” I put on my bossiest tone and grin at him. “Okay” he replies, more alert now. I once again make my way to Jayden’s bedroom and this time quickly change the still sleeping Jayden into his previously laid out clothes. He doesn’t even stir, so after a quick kiss on his soft cheek I carry him still sleeping up the stairs and lay him down on the couch. Jason meanwhile packs away the toiletries and then together with Dad loads the suitcases into the car. Loaded with little pots of yogurt and apple juice packages for breakfast we head out the door. At the door we say our goodbyes to Mom and Esther before strapping on our seat belts and stowing our final luggage. When it comes to saying goodbye, Jason summed it up perfectly when he said “I don’t like it.” It’s really hard saying goodbyes especially when we both have such great families and so many good friends. I look down at Jayden in his car seat beside me and with Thomas the Train in his hand he seems quite oblivious to the changes about to come. In moments like these, I wish life could be that simple again. The trip to the airport is quite uneventful. The early morning traffic is light and besides the occasional rain spatter on the window the brooding sky holds in her tears. At the airport we say our last goodbye to Dad and then we’re on our own. We check in with American Airlines and then wait to board our plane. When we’re finally seated and the plane becomes airborne Jayden and I press our noses to the window for our final glimpses of B.C. before we’re in the cloud cover. Goodbye Canada.

10:00 p.m. Florida
I stand outside the West Palm Beach International Airport, surrounded by 4 suitcases, 2 backpacks, a purse, a netbook bag, a laptop bag, 2 carry on suitcases, a pooh back pack full of Thomas trains and a stroller with a sleepy Jayden. As Jason goes back inside to call our hotel shuttle, I try not to melt in the humidity and heat. Tired from a long day of travel, I find a concrete post to lean against and then take in the sights and sounds of the city. Palm trees sway in the slight breeze as horns honk, people shout, and whistles blow. Tall high rises, lit up on every story, brighten the night sky, making the distant stars all but invisible. Welcome to Florida.

June 10-15
Grocery shopping at our favourite stores, water parks, beaches and pools.

After several days of running our last errands and relaxing, the morning has come for us to fly to Haiti. As all three of us sit in the pool for the last time, and as Jason and I play games with Jayden,I’m filled with nostalgia. Just then an old song, I think from the beach boys, plays over the speakers and I can’t help but smile. Although we can’t actually hear the words of the song, we can hear the chorus that says “I wanna go home, just let me go home”. Since those words just seem to fit, I start to sing “I wanna go home, just let me go home!” Jayden looks at me oddly for a moment and then a smile lights up his face. “I go to Grandpa’s house, see Casey Victor, go to Kaelie’s house?” I sigh for a moment before correcting him. “No, we fly to Haiti and you get to play with Nicholas and Sabboule.” He stares blankly at me for a moment before playing with his Mac car once again.

June 15 12:15 p.m.
Excitement mounts as I peer through the window of the shuttle van. I love airports, airplanes and traveling and I love Haiti! Within minutes we’ve pulled up to the Ft. Lauderdale airport international departures entrance and we are once again faced with the job of loading and unloading our baggage. At the counter we are told by the ticketing agent that since we don’t have our Haitian Immigration Passbooks with us we are required to purchase 100% refundable return tickets. Since we can get all our money back once we arrive in Haiti Jason hands over the credit card to buy the tickets. “You aren’t going to get mad at me?” the man questions, looking at us in surprise. “No,” we reply, “We know the rules”. Quite impressed the man makes a note on our file. When several of our suitcases are overweight, he lets it pass and doesn’t make us add the extra weight to our lighter suitcases, much to our relief! Later as we finish the last bite of our pork sandwiches we hear a voice over the loud speaker announce. “Krul, party of three, can you please come to the ticket counter?” Several minutes later a grinning Jason comes back with three first class tickets. Apparently the man had been so impressed he bumped us up to first class! How cool!
First class is a whole new experience in itself! We are one of the first allowed on the aircraft and the seats are so big, I’m pretty certain two of me could fit on one seat! Jason and I ooh and aah over all the cold drinks they bring us, the delicious meal they serve, the warm towels they give to wash our hands and face, and the warm peanuts and freshly baked cookies.

Jayden on the other hand takes it all in a stride. Lounging back in his giant chair he remains cool as a cucumber. Looking at him, you would think he always travels first class, while looking at us, you wouldn’t exactly say that! Watching him play with Annie, Billy and Salty, friends of Thomas the Train, of course, I realize what a seasoned traveler he really is. My first flight wasn’t till I was 3.5 while the barely 3 year old Jayden has flown over 25 times on the airlines already!

The flight seems to go by so quick, that before we know it we are looking through the window down on the beautiful coastline of Haiti!

It's been exactly 5 months ago today since I’ve left and I can hardly express the mixture of joy and sadness that runs through me as I see my beloved Haiti once again. I’m almost home.
With, what Jason calls my dazed look, I grab my backpack, Jayden’s backpack, my purse and Jayden’s hand, as we make our way off the airplane. I barely thank the flight crew so absorbed am I in my surroundings. Instead of disembarking onto the tarmac like usual we walk through a long newly constructed hallway. I am impressed. Since the main terminal has been condemned we follow the hallway till we reach a shuttle bus station. From there we are bussed to immigration, where we are allowed through without a fuss. In a tin roof structure, that feels like an oven, we bake until finally our suitcases start coming through. Jayden hot, and restless, keeps trying to run away, and I struggle to hold onto him and watch our bags at the same time. Before long Dieucon (pronounced Jason) joins us and it takes me a moment to realize that he’s Daniel’s replacement. With the heat and humidity and the pain from the knowledge that Daniel really is gone, I try my best not to cry. Sadness and pain, mixed with love and joy. Oh Haiti.
When Jason finally has our last suitcases, and we have two carts loaded to the max we head out the door. Dieucon pushes the first cart while Jason follows him with the second. I’m left with carrying the hot sticky Jayden and do my best to keep up with them as we push through the crowds of people. “Bonjou, Bonjou, I keep repeating till I remember it’s after noon and should be saying “Bonswa!” I take a moment to laugh at myself as the crowd around me thickens. Small brown hands nudge me as dark eyed children beg for money. “I’m hungry” they say, patting their stomachs. Not having any money on me I reply in Creole. “Mwen pa gen lajan”. Hearing my reply they notice the white little boy in my arms. A rarity in Haiti, he is soon surrounded with people saying “Gade, ti blan” (literally translated it means, look a little white!) He doesn’t seem to mind the attention and grabs their hands or meows like a cat, something he started doing recently especially around strangers. The crowd is quite taken with the little white that meows, and I can’t help but laugh. What a silly kid!
On the road now traffic is so busy, we end up walking between the vehicles and keeping up with traffic, something which does strike me as funny. The heat and humidity, the smoky air from charcoal fires, the friendly honks of horns, the merchants carrying their wares on their heads, the roaming goats and dogs, and the heavy traffic all remind me I’m in Haiti again. Thankfully it doesn’t take long to load up our truck and after dropping Dieucon off, we are on our own once again. Since all the suitcases are in an uncovered cab and traffic is slow, we keep a good eye on the back to make sure nothing gets stolen. Since it’s been 5 months since I last saw Haiti I am happy to notice that most of the rubble has been cleared away from the sides of the streets, and that the route we take looks much the same as it did before the earthquake. After what seems like about an hour, and just as the first drops of rain hit the windshield we pull up to our gate! At Jasons’ honks a grinning Anoud opens the gate. Oh it’s good to be home! As soon as I’m out of the car Anoud comes running up to Jayden and I and gives us big hugs, followed shortly by Denise. It is so great to see them all! The kids seem a little shy, but don’t mind the hugs I give them. When I see Jocemine I’m in for a surprise! What a big girl she’s become and already walking too!

It takes Jayden all of three seconds to reconnect with his “brothers” and after running inside to unpack his Thomas trains he races back out and hands them over to Nicholas and Sabboule!

An hour and half later I have to drag a resisting Jayden inside because it’s gotten too dark to play. Instantly the boys start to cry and I quickly promise they can play again in the morning! Jayden wet with rain and sweat and dirty from head to toe, needs more convincing that he will get to play again in the morning, before finally giving in. Jason and I in the meantime have scoured the house, which, thanks to Denise is spic and span, and start to unpack our suitcases. Even with fans blowing on us, we are soon dripping with sweat. After working for several hours we finally decide that tomorrow is another day, and we can save the last two suitcases for then. After a cool bath, I try to lay Jayden down, and turn his fan on, but he can’t seem to settle down. In the meantime city power has turned on, so Jason and I have made our way to a slightly cooler living room where we make quick phone calls to our families in Canada. Since Jayden can’t seem to settle down, I let him lay on the couch for awhile which seems to help. Soon after wards I carry him to bed where he lays down without a fuss. That night, before we lie down and sleep, Jason and I thank God for the safe trip and smooth travels. We also pray for direction and protection in the unknown future. Feeling my own soft pillow under my head, and sleeping in my own bed snuggled close to Jason, I close my eyes and drift off to sleep. Having not forgotten the earthquake I remember the words from Psalm 4. “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety.”


  1. Thank you so much for allowing us to "travel with you". We thank our Lord for His protection and help and pray so much for His guidance as you settle in and also readjust! Give the little kittie cat a big hug.


  3. Thank you so much for allowing us to "travel with you". We thank our Lord for His protection and help and pray so much for His guidance as you settle in and also readjust! Give the little kittie cat a big hug.

  4. Thanks for sharing Will. Glad to hear you arrived safely.

    God bless you and keep you safe!

    Love Henry and Jenny

  5. I'm so glad that ya'll are back and had such a safe trip! It was hilarious to read about ya'll's time in the first class seats! Jayden is SO cute!

    God bless ya'll!

    Faith from TX

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. Praying that God will grant you direction and an abundance of His love and grace as you continue your work in Haiti with MAF.

  7. love your descriptive posts. God bless as you settle back in to life in Haiti