West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Parting memories of our trip

So much happens over the course of one week on these mission trips. Difficult to capture all of it; partly due to my fatigue at the end of the day. Fatigue which builds as the week goes on. Working in the heat saps our energy, as well as carrying all the responsibilities of each day. Did we give the Braille maps to the blind classes teacher yet? No, they are still at the guest house. Did anyone see my water bottle?  Who has the lidocaine?  Does anyone know if we brought any 3 cc syringes?  Where is that extra hand sanitizer you brought? Did you see my black bag in the clinic? I think John has my glasses.  No you gave them to Claire.  Remember there are 4 kids who need Amoxicillin tomorrow.  Remember to give Madame JoAnn a glucometer and the rest of the glucose strips. If we have any extra suitcases left, I promised to give one to JoJo   Let’s give the rest of the snacks and granola bars to Alphonse….and on and on it goes. 

Claire is surprised that she so quickly became an integral part of our team. Her music brought joy to the kids during the day and to the team relaxing at the guest house in the evenings. Hearing Dieumene sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is now one of my all time favorite Haiti memories.  

Sherye worked with many of the teachers on lesson plans and @@@@@@@@@@@@@@
She has been planning this for months and was worried about how she would be received; would she connect with the teachers? Would they be interested in what she had to say?  She came out of those sessions practically singing about her experience; how great everyone was and how they exceeded her expectations.

Before leaving the guesthouse today for the airport we got to visit with Pere Sadoni briefly. Phillip explained his plans for continuing dental care for the children, with the assistance of Dr Samuel Prophete who is Dean of the dental school in PortauPrince. We gave him an envelope stuffed with money collected from all of us. None of the team is returning home with more than $20 in their pockets!  Pere Sadoni said a final prayer to bless our group as we departed. 

As I sit on the plane now, watching  mountains beyond mountains fall away below me, Brittany tells me about getting bitten by mosquitoes while waiting at the airport. She wished out loud that she hadn’t packed her bug spray, and Vickie handed her a bug spray wipe.  Mama Vickie. Such a gift to our team. Before she started coming with us 3 trips ago, we were always losing things. Never had our medical cards organized properly. Always needing a paper towel or hand sanitizer, a ziplock bag or something to eat. Now we just ask Mama Vickie and like magic she produces what we need. The Brittany story continues with Brittany pulling her boarding pass out of her pocket to board the plane, and after standing in line a few minutes realizing the mosquito repellent on her hands has managed to wipe off all the numbers on her ticket. She does not know which seat or have proof of which flight she is on. Fortunately her second boarding pass for her connecting flight is undamaged and can be scanned, so she is allowed to board the plane after all.  

We are all more than ready to be home and see our families and loved ones. But we have left behind more than granola bars and vitamins, glucometers and Braille maps. Anyone who comes to St Vincents knows this. So be gentle with us, those of you who have missed us for a week. We may be a little withdrawn, slightly intolerant of the mad shopping culture that fills America in this holiday season.  We carry something with us that we may not be able to explain in words. Not to mention the fact that when we arrive at the airport we will not smell very good! A peculiar mix of sweat, Haiti dust, sunscreen and bug spray.  See you soon!

Susan Nelson

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