All Things Considered

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Today I cried. It was the first time I had cried in a long time. At least from what I can remember and I haven’t been remembering too well lately. Short-term memory loss tends to make life difficult in that way. Anyhow, I cried and it felt really, really great. I cried first with my sister and then with my mom.

Moseying around our room at home today,  my sister asked me “are you OK?” I responded with “yeah, sorta, well actually no.” Cue tears. And she said that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with not having it all together. No one is asking or expecting you to be totally with it. I had a similar conversation with my mom. I am so thankful for these women in my life.

After coming home from spending two weeks in the hospital in Seattle, I wasn’t sure the kinds of emotions I would experience, but after one week in I’ve mostly felt overwhelmed. After being home for one week, there is still so much to process. That is to be expected.

Two weeks ago, I had a seizure that caused me to become unconscious. After not being able to communicate with me, my parents started reaching out to my school friends via Facebook. Finally, after sending my friend Andrew directly to my dorm room finding that I did not respond to his knocks, the police were called and the door to my room was broken down.

Before being flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital from Washington State University, where I had been enjoying my first semester.  I spent a short time in the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital.

Things were bleak. I am no doctor, but I’m pretty confident that a lot of people were unsure of if or when I would wake up, and if so, what damage would follow?

Waking up, while clearly a great step towards recovery was nonetheless very confusing. I didn’t know where I was, who my parents were, or even what had happened.

In all of the confusion, there has also been  a lot of clarity. I’ve had to rely and trust entirely on Jesus and my doctors. Jesus has shown me that my priorities are out of place and I also need to take it easier on myself. His presence has been so imminent. One of the workers in the hospital told me “I am so glad you have your faith!” I am too. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without my faith.

I have never felt so loved in my life. By God, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve also learned that just because God throws us curve balls in life and we don’t receive what, does not mean at all that he does not care for us. This is not the case at all.

I feel strongest in my weakest moments. People have been calling me “miracle child” and more commonly, “fighter.” And while I know this is meant to be flattering, I rarely ever consider myself either one. I call it being human. I am who I am because of hope. Side note: many people who follow my blog, read a blog post I wrote in March titled Hope is Hard. If this post interests you in any way, I’d also encourage reading my thoughts about hope as it is a topic I have brought up.

When people ask me how I’m doing and how I’m handling everything, my typical response has been along the lines of “All things considered, I am doing great!” However, internally, I’ve also recognized it’s perfectly healthy and normal to recognize that there have been large bumps in the road and recovery, especially emotional recovery, will only come with time.

Everyone, whether diagnosed with epilepsy or not faces trials and tribulations of various sizes. Sure, the events which took place two weeks ago my not occur to everyone, but everyone has a story-one that is unique!

No matter what I write about, storytelling almost always becomes incorporated. I write and share with you only because I hope that it’ll prompt you to do the same! So tell me, what’s your story?

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Ayiti Ap Dekole: Part 2

Day 6 Thursday, July 26: Debrief

Praise: somehow, I managed to acquire at LEAST three hours of sleep!

I took a cold shower before going to bed, and I firmly believe clean sheets played a huge part in helping me relax more. Praise Jesus for prayers answered!

Image taken from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

Today, was a very refreshing day. Although we were all very sad to have ended Vacation Bible School at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince, we looked forward to whatever plans God had in store. On our “day off,” we celebrated two birthdays on our team. Luke turned 19, and one of our leaders turned fifty-something. In the morning, four of our team members went to the Jehovah Nissi School in Cite Soleil. It was unfortunate that the entire team couldn’t go, but our team leaders Jeff and Terry promised our parents and team leaders to keep us safe. Anywhere we go, we tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Taking such a huge risk with our first youth team just didn’t seem to be a wise idea.

Ti- Papi arrived late with our rental and so all of our plans were delayed, but not really changed. We had a lot of time in the morning before our day really started.

We ended up leaving around 10:00 am to go to Club Indigo in Montrouis. A.K.A the Caribbean!!! Since we weren’t sure how long our team members in Cite Soleil would be delayed, we decided to take a head start to our beach destination.

The two-hour drive in the Tap-Tap was just plain fun. We have seen so much in a mere four full days. It’s pretty incredible. As we inch ed closer to the beach, “houses” became few and far between. The land was still poor, but at long last, on this lonely road, we found two distinct lanes on the road!

First things first at Club Indigo: Food. The system they have set up is really confusing. You tell the person taking orders what you want to eat–simple enough. Then, you pay. Each order bought equals a certain number of tickets. So instead of just buying food, or a drink from the snack bar, you must make sure you have the correct number of tickets. Due to the lengthy process, we weren’t able to eat right away.

We basically found the closest shade and beach chairs and ran to the water. I dove straight in. This was a poor decision on my part. The water, though  cold and refreshing, was by far the saltiest water my poor eyes had ever made contact with. Once I had recovered from my hasty immersion, I gazed out across the waters. The cloudless sky and transparent water almost melted together.

I love trying new things. Fresh coconut was an awesome “first.”412515_4272218093429_1651764971_o (1)

After we had all absorbed our first views, we trekked a little farther down the beach to satisfy our hunger. After much more confusion, we presented our tickets at the snack bar and retrieved meals for everyone on our team.  I ate a very interesting sandwich. It was satisfying, but very peculiar compared to every other ham sandwich I had previously consumed.

We sang the happy birthday song to Luke and Terry. I love Windy. He is just so adorable. He calls Terry his mom. After much convincing, he went all the way into the water. He blew bubbles and attempted to swim. He did so well!! He ate French fries, a hamburger, and a chicken nugget. All for the first time. H e really loved that chicken nugget though. 🙂 Every time I think of Windy, he reminds me to be thankful and value EVERY SINGLE SECOND of every minute, every hour, every morning, every evening, every night, seven days a week of all the twelve months that make up a year.

After eating, we moved even farther down to find some umbrella shade. The sand was far to hot to lay on, even with a towel. This one of many problems Washingtonians never face.  Despite the brief shade, I burned, but in the moment, it felt incredible.

Our ride home was delayed by a blown tire in the Tap-Tap. Windy handles these little incidents so well. While our drivers sorted through the situation and we figured out who would ride where, Windy was found dancing in the street, head phones on,seemingly oblivious to the world, and listening to Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

The team arrived home–Heartline very quickly became home to me. Rachel found a dead gecko on her bed. First we thought  it was fake, then we discovered it felt and looked pretty legit. It crawled up on Rachel’s bed and just died. Alex picked it up and put it in a cup. From then on we didn’t really know what to do with it. I took it and thought about how to dispose of it ceremoniously. Claire came out of our room and we made eye contact. At exactly the same moment we thought of something brilliant. “PUT IT ON LUKE’S BED!” We started laughing to hard and made a failed attempt to prank him. We were too loud and then we worried we had put it on the wrong bed–not a risk we wanted to take with a complete stranger. Luke took it and put it out on outside railing. We told Melissa about it later and she said “Is it still there? It’s kinda gross, but my cat loves geckos and lizards.

We ate dinner, ate some delicious cake homemade by Melissa, chilled out, and then slept.

The best part about today was blessing our drivers and translators with this trip. None of them had been to this beach! It is a luxury they would not have otherwise been able to indulge in. To enjoy bonding with Ti-Papi, Jonas, Esther, and Rodney have fun with us was awesome. There are so many things–both big and small– that can impact a person’s life forever.

Day 7 Friday, July 27

Today was busy, busy, busy! Our first destination: a visit through the heart of Port-au-Prince to see Jo Jo the artist. On our way to Jo Jo’s, we had originally planned to stop by the presidential palace in the heart of Port-au-Prince. However, not even our drivers, locals, felt comfortable taking us close enough to climb out and take pictures. If my research is correct, there was a festival called the Carnival of Flowers occurring. If I HEARD correctly, the last time this festival occurs there was a shooting. All that being said, we decided to avoid the masses.

Ever new person I encounter here in Haiti has a unique story. Jo Jo is a very inspiring person. His testimony is outstanding. Jo Jo was born with no arms and no legs. His mother dropped him off at an orphanage. The lady who cared for him FORCED him to persevere and find a purpose. His journey began when he started painting with a brush strapped firmly to his stump of an arm.

Jo Jo grew up in a home for disabled persons where he now works on staff. He speaks nearly perfect English and has been to the States multiple times as a motivational speaker. Jo Jo has personally met the president of Haiti and his wife and presented them with one of his paintings. He is a Haitian celebrity.

There are roughly 1,500 in and out patients at the home. The patients’ disabilities are so varied. Some are quadriplegics, paraplegics, blind, deaf, mentally ill, and have had limbs amputated.

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

Jo Jo and I
Jo Jo and I

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

The Inspiration of a Left Gifted Hand

@ Luke White Photography
@ Luke White Photography

This is what reads on Carlot “Carl” Dorve’s business card. As we were about to leave the disabilities center, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan state university. Carlot “Carl” Dorve. As we were about to leave, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan State University. I watched a You Tube video to learn a little more about him. Seeing that at the time this picture was taken, I knew nothing more than his name. What stood out to me the most, is that Carl lost his arm when he was five. He started playing the trumpet AFTER he lost his arm. I took a double take at my notes to make sure I didn’t mess up the order of events.

I gained some wise words from his video: “Making progress, or being able to do something is a state of mind.”

Next Stop

From Port-au-Prince, our final destination was Grand Goave. Grand Goave is located in a more mountainous part of Haiti. Our business there was to visit an orphanage in the making. It’s name is Be Like Brit (BLB) Orphanage. The story behind BLB is long, but I’ll attempt to summarize without leaving out any important details.

Brit Gengel died in the earthquake. She was visiting with her school, Lynn University. According to her mother, she had been in Haiti only one full day before the earthquake submerged the country into chaos. Brit’s body was missing for 33 days before her remains were uncovered. Brit fell in love with the country and told her parents she wants to start an orphanage. In a call to her parents just three hours before the earthquake occurred, she said

“They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and the work so hard to go nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to mover here and start an orphanage myself.”

I’m going to be completely honest, this made me feel quite conflicted. According to American standards, this may be true. Haitians aren’t going anywhere. However, their value’s: faith, trust, joy, and hope for a seemingly unsolvable wreck of a country, get’s them a lot farther in the big scheme of things. With these virtues and with God, anything is possible!

Brit’s parents, CherylAnn and Len Genegal are building a $1.2 million dollar orphanage. The finished product will be 19,000 square feet. [The building is now complete]. Throughout the layout of the orphanage there are a lot of interesting symbols. The building is in the shape of a “B.” Even with all of this space, they will only house 66 children-33 boys and 33 girls.  This symbolizes the days it took to recover Brit’s body. Throughout the building CherylAnn spoke of flat screen TV’s and advance medical technology. While there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with any of these revolutionary features and the Genegal’s intentions are pure, Americanizing Haitian children does not do much for them in the long run. There are no distinct social classes except these: poor, poorer, and poorest. Leaving Haiti is practically impossible. In order to be eligible for a green card t the states, you must either be engaged to someone there or be in possession of legit medical and legal documents.  Considering applying for a green card is pretty much the only reason you might need any of these things, most don’t have them.

What frustrated me the most–what didn’t seem fair, is that the resources and space they have is unlimited. Pastor Silar has more than 66 kids in his home. In fact there are so many kids that he and his wife cannot even sleep in their own house! Instead, if they do indeed sleep, they sleep in a tent. My prayer for BLB is that the Lord’s will would be done. I send out my condolences to the Genegal family. Their influence in Haiti has the power to to amazing things in Haiti.

After we finished touring the construction site, we traveled even higher in the mountains to absorb the breathtaking view. It was incredible. No picture could ever capture the feeling of looking out across this beautiful city. After a long day, we headed “home” to Heartline. More to come on Haiti! I thought simply two posts could cover my trip–I was very wrong. One day in Haiti equals a few days in the States.

@Kayla Nicole
@Kayla Nicole

More to come on my extraORDINARY trip to Haiti in 2012!

Kayla

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