Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Firsts and Lasts

Monday night I went to Chez Wou for the first time- a Chinese restaurant in Petionville. Chinese food in Haiti! It was tasty. The contrasts were clear from the outside- the restaurant is across the street from the Place Boyer tent city, and the only other car in the Chez Wou parking lot had "UN" painted loud and proud across every surface. Is it Christlike to eat at a restaurant across the street from a slum? Would it be any more Christlike to eat at that restaurant somewhere else, when my faith teaches that everyone is my neighbor, regardless of proximity? I don't know. Still wrestling on a thousand questions. I wear them like a weight all the time here, because you cannot hide in Haiti from the biggest questions, like a parka you put on every morning when you get out of bed and wear around all day.

Today is the last day of school. For our closing ceremony, I dug out my heels. I haven't worn anything but two pairs of flip flops and one pair of sneakers since January 12. I've been awkward, like a little girl, tripping in mom's heels. I used to literally RUN in this exact pair of heels, down escalators and across platforms, sprinting toward a whistling DART train on my commute to downtown Dallas.

I'm about to confess a kind-of-dirty secret. Another "first". Ben and I are preparing to move out of our apartment on campus and into another school-owned apartment across the street, so we're going through all the suitcases again. I found my hairbrush about a week ago. I brushed my hair, for the first time since December 28, last week.

Today is the ending ceremony of this semester. Kindergarten graduation, 6th grade step-up, 8th grade promotion. In yet another shining example of how going to camp prepared me for my adult life (I have this theory that summer camp and Pi Phi, two notoriously discounted activities, trained me for success more than anything), I will be closing the semester with a rousing rendition of that timeless hymn "The Fruit of the Spirit's not a Cherry".

After the ceremony, we have several days of work, work, work on the school. The many-thousand volume library is being moved to another building. The library shelves have been serving as a pharmacy, but now all the meds have been distributed to local hospitals. The computer lap is in boxes. The elementary classrooms need to be completely put back together, having been hurriedly emptied to make room for the 1,700 doctors who slept underneath word walls and glittery snowflake cut-outs between January 13 and last Wednesday.

We're feeling apprehensive about our summer furlough in Dallas. In the mornings I just beg God- make it the summer you want. I don't know what I'm supposed to feel. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Just make it a summer that glorifies you.

But I won't pretend I'm not already having Texas food fantasies. Spicy chicken, please. And may the salsa flow like water.



  1. Katie,
    What an enjoyable read... your transparency is so refreshing.

    I know you and Ben are both struggling over what it will mean, and feel like, and do to you, to come back to Dallas for a couple of months. It will most certainly be shocking and emotional, but God is faithful. He has such intentional purpose and He redeems ALL things over and over. He will work in you and through you as you are back here for a while. He will sustain you through the mixed emotions and pressing questions. He will be preparing you for whatever He has next for you. And He will be teaching us all something through your experiences, too.... as he has for months now! That is my prayer for you guys.

    What a great, humble, open attitude to have! "I don't know what I'm supposed to feel. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Just make it a summer that glorifies you." Keep that openness, don't pressure yourself when you're here... just let God move and follow His lead!

    I am so proud to call you both friends. Thank you for keeping us all a part of life, sharing your experiences and intimate thoughts with us, calling each of your readers to think about our own lives, as you live out yours there.

    Can't wait to see you guys soon!
    Kim :)

  2. Hi Katie,

    I was reading a book (fictional) where the topic of enjoying lavishness despite poverty and need was discussed. It didn't give a definite opinion or answer but posed the question "Does it help them if we don't?" Food for thought.




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