Frannie Taylor drove me to this confession. Well, also Catherine Cox, and my sister Judy, Marissa, some nurses at the hospital, and a few others, who kept asking me, or sending me, what was needed for this Haiti trip. I confess that you all offered to fill my suitcases with donations for Haiti, which are practical and needed, and that I was not organized enough to make any plan for this, not on this trip. I've got a lot of balls in the air, and am happy to have time to go at all. But there's good news, bad news: Suitcases full of donations will still be packed carefully, and I will take some. Suitcases also seem to “fill themselves” by this, my tenth trip. Things that need to get to Haiti are already sitting in my basement, have showed up on my doorstep through out the past months. So even without a grand scheme, my bags this trip will contain many pounds of cloth from the Pettys/Brandquist family to donate to the Haitian Artisans Co-op and sewing school. There is a bag full of kids' clothing that our Haitian student, Gladias, is sending to his neighborhood kids in Hinche, along with some nice dishes and blouses for his mom & sister. There will be gloves and hand sanitizer and toothpaste, and scrubs, and cash, and most of it just came to me because you: Friends, family, and Quaker Friends-- knew that it's needed. Thank you so much. And there's the marvelous liquidity of cash--- I will go out and buy what last things are needed, with funds you sent, and I'll pay for the trip with the same. Your generous and continued financial support of Midwives for Haiti, and Heartline ministries, does much good.
This “cargo” shipment, however, is becoming the most minor piece of my contributions to Haitian aid efforts. The most significant gift I now take to Haiti is the experience of 10 trips there, the ability to speak some adequate Creole, and 30+ years of midwifery knowledge. I am taking my husband , Greg, along, on his 3rd trip, and he is bringing an oh-so-valuable brain full of organizational skills, construction and business know-how, savvyness about internet visibility and non-profit success strategies. I'm packing my little bag that has been distilled to contain all I really need of physical comforts-- earplugs, flip flops, scrubs, Kindle, a church dress, sunscreen, and some wine. I will have the great joy of helping to teach and open up a new class of skilled birth attendants- the 7th class taught by Midwives for Haiti. To date over 70 midwives have been trained, and we are still the only program in Haiti producing these health care providers that save the lives of moms and babies. This is “orphan prevention” at its most basic.
So then, here I sit in the quiet embrace of my Quaker Meeting house in Lincoln , VA, on a sunny Saturday in March. I'm not in a worship service, but rather, waiting for my Haitian friend Gladias, who is participating in a scholarship application process in the next room. 5 years ago, I was recovering from breast cancer and felt it was time to pay closer attention to my “bucket list”-- how to make a difference in the world, while I'm still here? I volunteered a one-week trip to Haiti to help train some midwives. Now, I speak some Creole, and a young Haitian guy is part of our family household, while we help him through college. I have a Haitian God-child, and am not afraid to ride a motorcycle down a dirt road without a helmet. I've learned that I love to eat goat, and cornmeal, rice, and okra..-- thank goodness! Most of all, I've learned that poverty/wealth and health/illness and life /death take many faces, and that we have no monopoly on grace or God's goodness, in America. The Haitians are richer that I am, in so many ways. But we all try to help each other and do something good, together. Training and supporting midwives has been a good start.
What a long, strange trip it's been: a journey of learning, humility, and (literally!) blood, sweat, and tears...some of them, tears of joy. If you want the long version, just back this blog up to March 2009, and start reading! We leave Thursday morning, March 13, and will be in Port au Prince that evening. Between then and now, I have so much to do that my head is spinning and I'm trying to not feel frantic. So here goes Trip 10. If you would like to travel along this time, I try to post most days, if the internet is working. I love that others care to follow. I am so grateful and ask yet more, to be held in prayer. For safety, for wisdom, for courage, kindness, and clarity. Safety and supplies for the moms who deliver at the hospital, and our midwives and doctors who help them. Grace and miracles for the moms who can't get to town and deliver in the road, but got vitamins from our mobile clinic Jeep. For us all to remember to Do it--, whatever we do--, in the Presence of God.
II Corintians 12: 9: ..“My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.”