Reflections On My First Months
Bonswa!! I hope this post finds you all loving life and looking forward to the holidays with family and friends. I write to you all tonight from the balcony of the Children’s Home where I currently reside. The stars are bright on a cloudless night and the Friday night noise of Port au Prince seems to surround us on all sides.
I am heading home to Naperville, Illinois tomorrow in order to spend the holidays with my family and I must say that I am very excited for a short break and the festivity/energy that only time with family can bring. As I sit here tonight after a great day with the deaf community I am drawn to reflection regarding the last several months. In short, I can only say that it has been quite a ride. Frequently I look around me or just sit back and soak in a meeting with leaders in the deaf community that is taking place in a temporary wooden shelter on the outskirts of the most dangerous slum in the Western Hemisphere.
I moved down here several months ago anticipating a crazy ride and many new challenges that come with life in a different country including new languages, customs, living situations, worldviews, and completely unique ways of going about life as an individual and in a community. Suffice it to say that life down here has far exceeded even my wildest dreams and hopes. It is true that we now find ourselves vastly ahead of all anticipated schedules in construction, programming etc… but more importantly, I take it as the highest compliment that the deaf community now calls me a trusted friend and confidant. Teams of people from the United States have frequently travelled to work with the deaf community and due to greater visions of sustainability and the articulated goals of the deaf community. a great and continuous fellowship always occurs between all visitors and everyone in the community.
Sustainability will continue to stem from the vision of the leadership of the community and the priorities that are placed on their hearts. More education, chances to work hard, continued fellowship, and life as a servant of the community (to name only a few) remain the top priorities for the community. Once again, I can envision no greater foundation for sustainability in Haiti.
Man . . . how can I possibly attempt to sum up this first leg of a many year journey? I sat all afternoon in the deaf community with several dozen people just laughing, joking, discussing dreams and visions for the new community, and just observing the joy on the faces of my new friends as they think about what the next year holds for them. At the end of the day dozens of members of the community gathered to see me off and wish me safe travels and a restful visit with my family all the while giving the sign for “love.” Last week Mackenson turned to me in the midst of a conversation and signed – “man you are signing fast – now you are deaf haitian.” While I still have a long ways to go and a lot of learning to do with the entire community, I take Mackenson’s words as the highest compliment he can give. I truly consider it the honor and privilege of a lifetime to work with people like Mackenson who have taught me more than I ever expected to learn about leadership, perseverance and HOPE.
These people have become more than a community I moved down here to work with and help. They have become brothers and sisters. From the men in the community who plant themselves outside of whatever home I am visiting as “Kyle’s protection,” to the children who chase my motorcycle through the community everyday so they can be the first to give me a high-five, to the dozens of people in the community who have been incredibly patient with this “blan” (white guy) who has been working hard to learn all he can about the languages and cultures of Haiti. While I am not yet entirely fluent I have been conducting meetings, classes, seminars, and interpretation within the community for some time now – I attribute the very fast language acquisition to many of the most patient and caring teachers I have ever had.
Brief Construction update – 43 homes are ready for roof installation and we remain ahead of schedule to move the first 50 families into their new permanent homes starting January 28th. Many people will begin new jobs in construction, gardening, teaching, and small business ownership in order to settle into their new lives on the beautiful new piece of land!
Well, it is time for me to finish packing and get to sleep for an early departure at the Port au Prince airport tomorrow morning.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you over the holidays and hope that you are well. Thank you for all of your prayers, support and encouragement this fall – knowing that all of you have gathered around this project has brought a measure of peace to my heart.
Grace and Peace,