When I finally made it through the ticket line and had boarding passes in hand I saw one of my travel mates. In conversation with her and her husband I began to let the tears flow. It is so hard to leave my family behind for that long. I'm not going to lie. It was so hard. BUT my comfort kept coming in the form of 1. the parable Jesus tells about the shepherd who left the 99 to go and find the one lost sheep. 2. knowing the face of that "lost sheep" was waiting for me in Haiti.
And so... the trip began.
Day 1: Wednesday, July 28 - flights to Dallas and then to Miami. Arrived in Miami at 12:45 AM. Arrived in hotel around 1:30AM. Fell asleep sometime after 2AM, July 29.
Day 2: Thursday, July 29 - woke early to catch morning flight to Port au Prince. Arrived in PAP about 10 AM (if I remember correctly). No luggage arrived for half of the travel team. Made our way to Pastor's truck and drove on to HCRM.
As we drove up the hill to HCRM, the children gathered on the balcony to greet us. I was traveling with Karen F. who would be meeting her son Rood for the first time. Rood has an amazing story and Karen's family was hand-picked by none other than God himself. If you knew the story you would be astonished by the match of Rood and Karen's family. We were all excited to see Rood's face as he was not aware Karen was coming. And we were certainly all excited to see the faces of our own children.
I was the last person out of the vehicle. As a matter of fact, before I could get out Keemberlie came running to me and jumped into my lap/arms. No words to describe the pure joy of that moment.
just seconds after getting out of the vehicle, Keemberlie sits in my arms
Karen with Rood
Rood sits with my friend, Whitney and the three sweethearts she is adopting (including Franzina, Keemberlie's best friend -who happens to like to cross her eyes for pictures just to be funny!)
I spent the evening following Keemberlie around, letting her get re-acquainted with me. One of the first things I did was give her a photo album full of pictures of Billy with her, Libby with her, me and her together and a few of Gracie and Libs together at home. She LOVED that album and showed it to everyone.
At some point she grabbed me by the hand and took me to each nanny. She was proud to have her mommy with her. I was proud to be with her.
As the night came to a close I sat in on the worship that takes place almost every night at HCRM. Keemberlie was a bit mad at me for not allowing her to sit with the adults at dinner (there were too many other kids who's parents were there to allow her to sit with us. If every kid had been allowed to sit with their parents it would have been very crowded and overwhelming). In her frustration, she wouldn't sing in worship that night. She just sat there trying to make me feel bad. Too bad for her I already know what manipulation looks like... it didn't work.
Still, I longed to see her happy and hoped she would come around. She did, of course, and I was able to walk her to her mat where she sleeps and say goodnight to her face to face - what a treasure.
Day 3: Friday, July 30. Woke up way too early (5 AM) to head out. Had to take little boy, Judson, and his travel sponsor to the embassy. Jusdon was a pre-earthquake orphan who was already matched and in the adoption process before the quake. His humanitarian parole was finally happening. Seeing the excitement in his eyes as we drove him to the embassy made me think of the day Keemberlie will take that drive. What will she be thinking? Will she be scared?
After dropping them off we drove to the airport to pick up our luggage. Airport wasn't opened so we sat in the car and asked pastor some questions. I asked how long he thinks we have before we can bring Keemberlie home. To make a long story short he guessed that it will take 6-12 months. On one hand that is great news. I have been concerned that it would take 2 years or more. On the other hand - it could never be soon enough to get her home. We want her home NOW. And, really, the Pastor has little control over much of the process in Haiti so there's no way he can know for sure. I walked away praying that God would not allow my heart to be set up for disappointment, but if what Pastor said was true I wanted God to give me confirmation.
We walked into the airport to get our luggage. Finally got it all together, but then had to wait for the Customs people to show up. When Customs showed up they looked at us, asked for the piece of paper we had turned in the day before, realized we didn't have them and then said, "okay... you can go". Yep, we waited for an hour to be told we could just go.... This is Haiti.
We drove back to HCRM. Now that we had our luggage I could give Keemberlie a few treats... food, a backpack to keep her items in, some tennis shoes, etc. She loved her shoes and headband/bow. She also loved the illustrated Children's Bible Libby sent to her. She kept it stowed away in her backpack for safe keeping even though it was really heavy.
Keemberlie with new red shoes, headband with bow and backpack. She was so excited!
Later we were able to get a ride to the Baptist Mission. We hopped in the back of the Kia Truck bed and took the drive there. Inside we ordered pizza and ice cream. Keemberlie ate 3 pieces of pizza in about 10 minutes. The girl can eat. She's a survivor. She even wrapped a piece up in a napkin to keep for later. The ice cream was quite a treat. Keemberlie and her best friend, Franzina, along with Franzina's two brothers just giggled, played and enjoyed the outing.
Piling into back of truck to begin drive to Baptist Mission
At Baptist Mission looking out at beautiful mountains.
At the Baptist mission there was a little shopping to be done. I bought 2 paintings and a few other small items to bring home. Keemberlie held my hand and watched me negotiate.
We then piled back into the truck. The sky above the mountains was turning dark gray and rain was surely coming. Not far into the drive it was pouring down rain. We had absolutely no cover. Just sat in the back of the truck getting soaked as the kids sang songs. They sang "This is the day the Lord has made...." And it was good.
Keemberlie in a new, dry outfit after getting drenched. Those red tennies are soooooo cute on her!
At the end of the day I was able to check my email on my iPhone. My friend, Firoozeh, had written me saying that God had prompted her to pray for me that morning (same time that I was having the talk with Pastor about the wait time to bring Keemberlie home). She said she felt the need to pray for speed over our adoption process and felt confident that from this day forward it would move faster. I don't know why I'm always amazed at such clear confirmation, but I sat there staring at the message with amazement. The very morning I felt such doubts over the answers given God prompted a friend to pray and encourage. Love that!
Day 4, 5 and 6 - to be posted later... including pictures of Keemberlie's cute fro!!