Conversation between Diana and Chandler, one of our orphans.

: If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

Chandler: Port- Au- Prince

Diana: What would you do there?!

Chandler (eyes getting really big): Ride in a helicopter with Jeremy!

Diana: Can I come too?!

Chandler: No... just me and Jeremy

Food Distribution from our church
Our first movie night- Tom AND Jerry (circa 1940's thus many Uncle Sam "I want YOU" secret references)
A small orphanage built by the boys to provide shelter to this newly born chick and his brother...
It's interesting to rediscover common threads of our humanity. Take music for example. If I were to examine every human, I know I would discover that each of us connects with particular sound waves that drive certain emotions. Music makes us feel.

I went to an Arcade Fire concert once. I hope to have the opportunity to go again because to this day, it was the closest I’ve ever felt to God through music. They consist of about 9 musicians who pump out sounds as full as an orchestra. Slowly, masterfully building songs, the musicians will occasionally step up to the microphone to join the lead singer and chant. Not just any chant either, I could visually see each and every one of them pulling out of their depths an emotion so strongly connected with the song it sent chills down my spine. Since I was already well acquainted with their songs I, in return, tilted my head back looking towards the rafters and sang/screamed as loud as I could in the chorus of 6,000 other people. You know when you hit a note and actually harmonize (doesn’t happen very often with me so I love when it happens) with a lot of people? It feels as if your voice just latched onto a sound train steamrolling by and you get to ride it as long as you have air in your lungs. This is the rib vibrating ecstasy I was experiencing. And there, right then, something happened. I felt like I went primal, tribal even.

Over and over for the rest of the concert, I united with something so much more than myself, something that for thousands of years people of every tribe and nation finds connection with: the Japanese with taiko drumming, the aborigines with the didgeridoo, the Celtic people with their bagpipes, mountain folk with banjos, and now me through shouts and screams barely distinguishable over the mounting wall of orchestral sound in the amphitheatre. Now this was music, this mattered. I was alive. Like fire burning through me alive. The whole time I was praising God with thanksgiving. I was just so thankful to be there, in that moment, connected to something. The whole world seemed to disappear and there was just me and God and music.

This brings me too yesterday. A bunch of women in the village gathered right outside our house and started singing at 8am and didn’t stop til about 11:30am. It seemed like they warmed up until they found the rhythm of the heart beat. And once they did, they sang, hummed, and clapped with alternating inflictions and intensities. I began to feel these poetic sounds penetrate my skin and connect with my soul. So, I went outside and sat on the tower and felt the cool breeze bring their song and chant right through me. I looked down to see shirtless men in rolled up jeans and hoses working the field to the rhythm of the claps of the women. Again, here I was connected with something that was beyond me.

Even in the deep brokenness of Haiti, these vibrant parades of melodies seem, even for a moment, to drown out the cries of hopelessness. I understand praising God can do that, for everyone, even the most hopeless, even me. The louder they sing, the faster they clap, the closer I feel to Heaven. What will a chorus of angels sound like? It’s all a beautiful reminder that I am a soul confined to this temporary skin on loan for my earthbound days yet God finds me where I am, trapped and desperate, giving me glimpses of music, glimpses of meaning, glimpses of hope that foreshadow the day I return home.

Haiti is different. Arriving yesterday felt like arriving for the first time in a new place. Sure, I can always expect the staples- a mob of people outside the airport, wobbly wheels on the large trucks ahead of us, and trash everywhere. Yet many things caught me off guard, starting with the people walking onto our plane.
An eclectic bunch, our plane sat everyone and my eyes were drawn to several things: men dressed head to toe in extreme khaki on khaki cargo safari gear, elderly Haitians that obviously were new to the whole riding in planes  experience due to their complete misinterpretation of the “fasten your seatbelt and remain seated” sign to meanwander about freely whenever wherever," white teenage girls with braided hair and giant white pillow in hand seemingly heading to a sleepover, and to be sure- many a fanny pack outwardly flaunted around the waist. It makes me kinda wonder if I know what I’m getting myself into either…

We arrived at PAP to be taken by bus to a new hanger for immigration. The airport itself has seemingly traded its plethora of planes lining the runway six weeks ago for large organized military tent villages stationed on the grassy knolls between the runway and airport. There is no customary belt anymore in this international airport to display our luggage in a calm orderly fashion, only men taking luggage off the carts quickly pulling up and throwing it through small half doors greeted by other men who then place the luggage in the middle of a mob of people hunting for their belongings. 

We’re lucky; we find all our bags and are one of the first out the front door of the airport. We find Charles waiting with his blue truck. The white man with him sitting shotgun tells us of his plans to build a food market for Charles supplied by farm lands he wants to buy near the border of the DR. As exciting as that sounded, I couldn’t help but to zone out taken aback by the tents in PAP. From the time we leave the airport to the time we reach our campus, I am stunned by the overwhelming number of tents I see. From these miniature house-like US military tents to the rows and rows of sheets and sticks, it looks like everyone lives in a tent. My initial marvel of the ingenuity and survival practices of the Haitian people soon turns to concern.

Hurricane season is fast approaching.

Before we know it, Jay, Diana and I are home. Before crossing the bridge to enter through the gate, women come out and greet Diana. They instantly notice her short haircut with faces glowingof approval. They tell Jay he looks bigger. We enter and begin to see our old friends. Many ask, “Where’s Zach?” to which I reply that he is engaged and with his fiancé. This response usually induces the same physical reaction from Haitian women who are married. It begins with raising both hands to either side of the face followed immediately with a downward clapping of the hands into resting position on the hips with elbows out like chicken wings. The head is then flung forward with mouth agape followed closely by excited laughter. I can’t blame them; I basically did the same thing when I found out too.

I see the boys and they see me. I instantly here them start singing, “Jer-ra-me, Jer-ra-meeeEEEE”, over and over. How could I not love these boys? Love begets love and they love me well. 

I move into my old room, without a roommate for the first time. It looks the same but feels different. In the 6 weeks since I have been gone, one new addition particularly brightens my bare white walls. 

A poster of a unicorn running out of the crashing waves onto the beach with a shell laden necklace under a haze of twinkling stars. 

I rest in my bed. It’s hot… but not that bad. I’m back in Haiti and just like that, the rollercoaster I was on that began as abruptly as the earth moved two months ago has ended. Still, as wild as it was, I am acutely aware that moving back here to Haiti is like stepping off one rollercoaster and right back on to another.

Buckle up.
We are moving back to Haiti on Friday. I, we, have been on a long winding road for the past 2 months. Its been a confusing, frustrating, exciting and ultimately- a clarifying road. I am also excited to start updating about Haiti again when I get back down there.

Recently, Jay, Diana and I went to California to look at Grad schools. It was incredibly refreshing. Here is a video I made of our trip: