Friday, July 9, 2010

Change

"You've changed." A phrase that has been thrown at me more than once since Haiti came into my life. People change... it happens. Life experiences change who we are, even if we don't recognize it. One of the hardest parts of going back to the states after living at GLA the year after high school was being able to relate to people. I have never been an emotional person or super good at really being able to listen to people, and since I've lived in Haiti that part of me hasn't gotten any better. The truth is, I could care less about so many things that I used to care about or even try to care about. When people complain about how tired they are or how long the line was at the store or the terrible traffic they sat in and so on I have a resentment toward them and toward their complaints. I think about an 11 pound 3 year old still fighting for life, or a 2 year old so dehydrated she barely has the strength to breath in-between vomiting worms and nonstop diarrhea; and 25 year old women with her limbs swollen because she couldn't feed herself and her children so she chose to feed her kids; and people who have lost everything and everyone and still have smiles on their faces to greet you, and the kids who died because they were just too far gone when they finally reached the clinic.

Sometimes I resent the US for all it has and for all other places don't have, and I try to detach myself from the "rich white girl" label because honestly, in my mind, it's embarrassing to me to be that (when I say rich I mean food/clothes/school opportunities/house/necessities have always been available and a constant for me). I hate that I have everything handed to me on a silver platter but at the same time I don't reject any of it. I love that I have options in life but the guilt I feel for falling short makes me defensive toward recognizing that; because I know how much others work and would kill to have what I have. I feel guilty for what I have been given and it's hard for me to adjust back into my privileged life in the states.

The worst part is how hypocritical I am in it all. I complain about stupid things all the time... I do the same things with my time and money that I get bothered by when other people do them. I fight with trying to lead a "normal life" when I go home and feeling guilty for everything "normal" I begin to do after a while. It's hard finding a balance between trying to get back into life in the states and feeling like Haiti is not being forgotten. My point in all this is: yes. I have changed. I will have a hard time adjusting. I will sound and act like I hate the US at times. Really, I just hate myself for not yet figuring out how to use my privileged life to help others. Last year was the hardest year of my life. Truth is, I am out of my comfort zone in the states any more. Socializing and being anywhere without a sick kid to take care of is hard and unrewarding to me. I have a hard time finding purpose outside of Haiti. Long term goals seem so hard to take part in when I have been blessed enough to be a part of the day-by-day fight for the life of some amazing kids. I feel like going to school makes me just another person to check the Successful Education bubble off the American Dream checklist; but I realize that if this is God's plan for me, to finish college, he will be able to use me even more than now. A good attitude is harder said than done.

I know a bad attitude toward life back in the states did nothing for me last year, and after the earthquake I anticipate it being even harder to leave where I feel completely at home. I want to make the best of what God has given me and work in and through Him wherever I am. I leave Haiti on Tuesday and it will not be easy or fun, but a good attitude could make all the difference in this next year. A lot of people think I don't want to share about Haiti or seem to think it is a sensitive subject. Truth is, it's my life- it's all I think about, dream for and love... I wish I could continue to talk the way I do here about things, but the culture and lifestyle in the states is so different that it's hard for me to share with people who have never experienced Haiti. Talking about babies dying as a normal occurrence is not normal in the states... the way I am with kids is different here than with kids in the states. The things I deal with on a daily basis here are things most people in my life have never had to think about... sickness, caring for kids whos limbs are so swollen from kwash that they are splitting open, maintaining IVS, cleaning up who knows how many diapers a day full of diarrhea, teaching(which I have loved), dealing with kids after they die, forcing kids to eat, trying to bond with a kid who has been neglected for years, waking up to feed kids every night and checking to see if they are breathing every time I go by them. These are the things that have become my normal- and I LOVE every minute of this lifestyle because God has given me a huge passion for the kids here.

I want to share that with my friends and family at home but at the same time I feel weird talking about my life here because it makes so many people sad or unomfortable- and then I feel like I am misrepresenting Haiti. Haiti is one of the most beautiful, most rich places I have been and I have been blessed immeasurably by my life here. I want everyone to know and see that but first I have to be comfortable sharing with others when they ask... I was not able to do that last year for many reasons but I am praying that I grow in that area. If you wouldn't mind praying for me as I adjust I would appreciate it so much. I am excited about what next year will bring and don't want a bad attitude to get in the way of whatever God has in store for me. I have changed, and I hope to continue to change as God breaks and molds me... it's just hard going back and being a different person in a life that in many ways is the same as when I left.

8 comments:

  1. So well said and understood. Love you Anna and will be praying for you!!!!

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  2. Anna, you said "I just hate myself for not yet figuring out how to use my privileged life to help others" You ARE using your life to help others in ways you don't realize. For one thing, I don't know many people that are willing to sacrifice their time like you have. I know there are many who do serve as you, but there are more who don't. I have not experienced what you have, but I do understand when you get frustrated with people who don't want to talk about Haiti. I am an emotional person and when we started researching adoption and GLA, it just broke my heart and I could hardly talk about it to anyone because it was so devastating to me that children were dying from lack of food and clean water. Even though I would get emotional and feel silly because I would start crying when I talked to people about these horrible conditions, I felt compelled to do it. I felt like yelling at them and saying “Don’t you get it? Why don’t you seem to care?” I get so frustrated with people that I love and know to be compassionate followers of Christ, who just don't want to listen. How can they not be drawn as I was? How can they not care? They don't know what to do, so they do nothing. Pray that God will open their hearts and give them strength do something. Then there are those like you who take things head on and deal with reality and uses their gifts and abilities and strengths to help those in need. I understand your frustration but don't stop telling people about your experiences and God will change some hearts and attitudes along the way. He is using you Anna and someday you will see how much of an impact you had on this world. Our adoption of Stanley was a huge financial burden but I knew God was leading me to do it. We had a married daughter, a 15 year old daughter and a 9 year old son when we started the adoption process. We thought our family was complete. We were content with the way things were in our lives. God had a different plan and he led us to Stanley in GLA. Our family thought we were crazy and didn't understand why we were doing this. They knew we couldn't afford another child let alone the expense of the adoption. God knew otherwise and he provided each step of the way for us and He continues to provide for this family. It wasn't my dream to save a child from Haiti, it was God's plan to use us to do so. Going through the adoption was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with and people didn't understand that this was like a mission to me. I couldn't change Haiti or fix all the problems or heal and feed ALL the children, but, I could change the life of one child. My dad asked me why we wanted to adopt and I remember telling him that I wanted to help and I couldn't change everything but I could help one child. Don't be so hard on yourself, it's not our job to change the world, that is God's job and He has given you so many blessings by using you for His service. As a wife and mom of 4 struggling to get by in this world, I envy your opportunities and abilities to do what you have done. I can't be in Haiti serving like you have been but I can read your stories and tell others about what is going on in Haiti. I can pray for situations in Haiti and God can change lives through all of this. Maybe someone will hear your stories and tell someone and they will tell someone and so on. Your work has affected many, so much more than you know. I pray someday you will return to Haiti for your sake, for the people who follow your blog's sake and for the people of Haiti's sake. Wherever you are, God will use you Anna because you choose to follow Him and you seek His will. God Bless Bobbi Hanson

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  3. After being in Haiti for 12 days, I have a better understanding of the internal struggles you face on a much smaller level; I can't imagine how difficult this move is going to be for you. I will keep you in my prayers as you transition from your life in Haiti back to the states. May God's peace be with you as you navigate through your new normal.

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  4. Anna, I know the exact feelings that you are describing! I get the trying to detach yourself from the "rich white girl" label and I get all the exact frustrations and emotions with coming back to the states. I get the resentment towards the US and I completely get the hypocritical part.

    I get it all. I don't even know how to tell you how much I can relate.

    God is using you and He will definitely continue to do so!

    Praying for you!

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  5. You took the words right out of my mouth! I didn't even live longeterm in Haiti like you but a month in the last two summers and a month after the earthquake and I am still struggling here with everything you said. Trying to figure out how to reconcile life there with life here is hard...I can't seem to enjoy anything to the fullest here because I feel guilty and yet I can't seem to find the initiative or guts to figure out what I can do from here to make a difference. To me it's easier to be somewhere like Haiti and serve...because you can't escape the everyday struggles of people's lives and all you have to do is love and serve. But here it's hard to serve because the needs aren't staring me in the face from my comfortable bubble and taking the initiative is more difficult. And it's really really hard not be surrounded by like-minded people like you are in Haiti. The biggest thing I have seen a need for in my life is to become part of a community at a church that is focused on serving the least of these, the oppressed, and the fatherless. I just haven't found it yet...but I will and I think that will help me figure this out. I pray the same for you..that you are surrounded by people who get it and who can relate to you. Sending prayers your way!!

    Holly

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  6. Hi Anna

    I understand how you are feeling. I felt many of the same things when returning home after volunteering in Guyana, South America for two years. When I returned home after a few months I attened a program called misson to misson. It was for about four or five days. It helped me to be with others who had recently returned from different parts ofthe world minstering in situations unimangiable in the states. The program helped me make a still painful but more succesfful transiton to the states. You can goggle it Misson to Misson or you can eamil me if you are interested and have questions at Jwilson44260@yahoo.com

    Jenny

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  7. Anna -
    Troy and I get you. We recently had a sit down meeting in which our family told us that we are not fun anymore and that Haiti has changed us so much that we are not even all that likable. It was like a punch in the gut coming from ppl we expect to love and support us ... but instead they are mad at us for changing. It is not easy straddling the two worlds and doing it with grace for others is the hardest thing of all.

    We can only tell you that we have to remember and remind ourselves that what we've experienced is unique ... we're blessed, we've grown --- and not everyone will get it but HE gets it and HE gets us ... and that is what matters most. In the meantime and in the in-between we have to do our best to love them while they do hurtful things and remember that is what Jesus does for us.

    Prayers for you.
    Tara

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  8. Anna,
    I read all of your blog entries before my recent missions trip to Haiti. I just got back from my week with the Haitian's, and while I can't begin to comprehend what you may be feeling, on a very small scale I understand your feelings of frustration.
    Something I feel God has been teaching me with these feelings is that while I used to feel 'at home' in my comfort of the US, I now struggle as I feel that part of my heart was left behind in Haiti. My heart broke for those people and children, and I left of peice of my heart there as I traveled back to the US. But, what God has been teaching me is that it's ok to feel uncomfortable here, whether that's in the US or Haiti or anywhere. We are citizen's of heaven, and the more Christlike we become, the more this 'world' will not feel like 'home'.
    You have been an inspiration to me, thank you for your faithfulness to God, and I pray He gives you peace and understanding in this next stage of your life.
    d.f.

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