Sometime last spring, while I was tutoring at New Life, I was reading a book with my student that I had never personally read before. Apparently it is a book that has been read by many children all over North America, but one that I somehow didn’t end up reading in school. You might know it: My Side of The Mountain. I enjoyed reading the book as much as I hope my student enjoyed it. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter entitled “Embracing The End.” I found it noble of the young hero to not fight against what was inevitable.
And that is the chapter that I am living right now: “Embracing The End.” I have not updated my adventure stories for quite a long time because there were things that I could not and did not want to share with a large audience. Not sharing those things might make it hard to understand why things came to pass. I couldn’t possibly begin to tell them all now, but regardless, for six months or so, I have been walking a path that has almost felt booby-trapped by the tactics of en enemy. I confess that many times I fell into the traps, and maybe the end is as much the consequence of my own short-comings as it is a a result of circumstances that were beyond my control even though I certainly tried to control them.
Having said all that, I am leaving Haiti tomorrow on a 3:30 flight. My heart feels like an alien inside of me, both wishing that this wasn’t happening but also longing for home in a surprisingly deep way. In one moment I can feel bitter sadness over the end of this chapter and then in the next be reminding myself “just one more day until I am home this struggle is finished.” How I long to feel so different.
When I moved to Haiti, God has written a passion in my heart for this country that consumed every difficulty in my way. The inconveniences and the frustrations seemed to vanish in the light of how much I just loved being in Haiti and with the children and participating in a story way bigger than me. Somewhere along the way it seemed Haiti even began to be an idol and I had to continue to sacrifice and die to my desires to make sure that I was doing something to be part of the Haiti story and make someone else’s life in Haiti was easier or happier or better. Truly, I arrived at a point in my heart and my thoughts that I thought I would live in Haiti for as long as I was able to set one foot in front of the other. I was, at times, extremely happy and peaceful and loved my story in Haiti.
Then unexpected things began to happen: challenges within friendships, within work responsibilities, and within the direction I was heading and wanted to go. My passion turned idolatry began to erode my joy. Also, new arrivals came to my family, and I had a painful desire to split myself in three and be with all my families: Canadian, American, and Haitian. And yet, I continued to choose Haiti.
But, Haiti didn’t return the favor. About 2 months ago, I left the orphanage I had been living and working at. I moved into a home in a relatively nice neighborhood and have had 4 roommates. During this time I have been immersed in more daily-living as a Haitian than ever before, and yet it was during a time that I was already beginning to feel that I was growing weary of the daily struggles in Haiti and the daily reminder that I was different. I wish with all my heart I could say that it doesn’t bother me to go without power from 7 am to 4 pm everyday, that I LOVE cold showers, and I don’t mind eating the same 3 meals all the time. I wish I loved roosters and barking dogs and could embrace the battle of the ants. I confess I want ice cubes and perishable foods and to be able to brush my teeth with the water from the faucet. I am truly regretful that I stink at hand washing my own clothes, that I’m too weak to carry a 5-gallon bottle of water from the water station, and that while I have practiced Kreyol for nearly 29 months, I still don’t understand many things people are saying to me. But above all these things, no matter how hard I try to assimilate or understand the money or be as much Haitian as possible, I will always, always be blan. And because of that, while I might be loved and embraced, I will always just be on the outside of belonging.
Being blan in Haiti is a life of duplicity: in one moment I am the answers to a mama’s prayer for her little boy’s medical emergency and then in the next I am the reason the country is still struggling under repression. I represent generations of resentment as well as generations of hope. I am both the woman every man wants to propose to as well as the woman every man finds to be “to much trouble.” I represent access to money and the old bondage slavery. Before I open my mouth, my skin and my gender represents and makes me guilty of things I can’t begin to apologize for and betrays anything that might be inside my heart and my mind. And while my friends, when laughing or teasing blan, are always quick to say “its not you, you’re Haitian now,” I know that before they knew me, it was me. I am blan.
And so these unexpected trials and weariness of my soul, the longing to be where I truly belong and to choose God over the idol Haiti, has led me to my inevitable: it’s time to go home. Its time to let go of control and believe God still has good plans for my future. I am trying to be the noble heroine and embrace the end, but my heart is also heavy wondering when or if I will ever see these precious friends and children again. I am trying to believe I am not guilty of bringing the end myself, that I tried my best in every difficulty and embraced every challenge with joy and confidence, but I confess there is a whisper in my soul that says it my be my own fault. Did I always submit when it was time to submit? Did I always hold my tongue when it was time to be silent? Did I always train my thoughts on what is true, noble, and right? Did I take every failure to God in prayer and leave it in His hands, or did I let it become bitterness in my heart? Did I really try to ignore the hurtful catcalls or did I just let them hurt? How responsible am I for my own ending? These are the questions that’ll make teardrops fall in my coffee over the next few weeks but I also know that God has been faithful through every heartbreak I have walked through in the past, and I know He will be faithful to carry me through this one also. While I might have failed at a lot of things, God has always been there, always holding me, even catching me, with His Righteous Right Hand.
So I am embracing the end the best way I know how. I won’t fight it, I know this is the right thing. I have no idea what is on the horizon or what I will with “do with my life” now. But, I am also choosing to believe the psalmist who said, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”