Stark Contrasts

Yesterday was emotional.

Today was heartbreaking, embarrassing, and soul-crushing. However, I realize more and more just how blessed beyond measure I really am.  

This morning we went to a beautiful and passionate worship service at the Methodist Church of Thor. Pastor Jacob and his congregation greeted us like royalty and treated us like honored guests. When it came time to serve Communion, we were the first to receive the Sacrament. I saw faces of children, youth, and adults filled with love, hope, and gratitude.

They didn’t just shake my hand, they kissed my cheeks. They welcomed me not only into their church, but into their hearts as well.

The road to the church was fierce with the realization that as bad as the conditions ARE, they were much worse when other teammates were here last October. The reality of the situation is this….Haiti is dirty, unsanitary, and smells really bad.

Take a look for yourself, these pictures were taken on our way to church:

 

 

 

 

The part, I think, that upsets me so about these pictures is that no one can fully understand or comprehend the VASTNESS of this reality unless you see it for yourself. The tent cities go on forever, it’s like they never end. The streets are overcrowded and filled with garbage and raw sewage. The waterways are filled with trash, yet you see children and adults bathing in them. Street vendors are selling produce and goods for their survival, these people live one day at a time. Today is all they have.

All of these thoughts were running through my mind when we arrived at our destination for lunch this afternoon. Located high atop a mountain above Port-au-Prince is Hotel Ibolele, pronounced E-boo-ley-ley. It’s a resort-style hotel and restaurant that caters specifically to Western and European clients. It’s obvious the stark contrasts between the locations I visited today.

 

My soul was crushed when I walked through the veranda and onto the courtyard and saw the view.

But then a teammate reminded me that I needed today for a physical and psychological break from the reality we have been living for nine days. Today’s lunch served as a powerful reminder of just how good my life really is….not that I ever doubted this before, but this trip has sure put everything into a new perspective.

After lunch we drove higher up on the mountain, about 3,500 feet above sea level, to an overlook point. Yes, it was beautiful. Yes, it was painful.

I’m really looking forward to returning to the worksite tomorrow. To be honest, I’m tired of sight-seeing and personifying the obvious role of American Tourist. Yes, I’m the photographer for the team and I’m the crazy lady hanging out of the tap-tap’s window in order to snap these photos you’ve been seeing here and on the team blog. But, as difficult as digging a trench and hauling five-gallon buckets of dirt, gravel, sand, and cement mix to a second-story is…..I’d rather be doing WORK than eating a salad and shrimp cocktail at a neatly dressed table with linen napkins and fine china at a resort high atop the pain and devastation of Port-au-Prince. C’mon, let’s be honest with each other: there are 1.7 million people living in PAP right now and approximately 800,000 are still displaced and living in tents.

I need to be on the project site.

I want to be on the project site.

 

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Comments

  1. Wow, these pictures truly speak a thousand words. Thank you for sharing, Looks like you’ve had a very humbling and inspirational trip. Praying for your safe return 🙂

  2. Wow, I have no words that describes the emotion when looking at your pictures. Heartbreaking. Be strong. People like you are the ones that bring the real truth of devastation to our eyes. You are making it real. it is eye opening. It is real. What you are doing there is amazing and I applaud you. You are amazing, Nicole.

    • Jamie, there are no words. Seriously. Unless somebody sees the scenery for themselves, there is no way to describe what we are seeing this week. And, truth be told, the scene we see is leaps and bounds BETTER than when my team leader was here in October. Keep praying, it’s HOT!!!!

  3. Nicole, you truly are an amazing person.. I have come to respect and admire you with each step of the trip you are on.. I’m glad we are family and very proud of you…

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