January 2017 Trip to Haiti
We have often marveled at the people of Haiti in their reaction to the unexpected changes or disappointments they face every day. We have watched the Little Sisters patiently accept a delay in departure sometimes that is several hours or even days different than what they may have planned. We have observed their patience in dealing with broken equipment, flat tires and other kinds of disruptions that we often find unacceptable in our own way of living. All this we have examined from a distance, knowing that it is an experience we would have more difficulty with than they seem to have.
We prepared for our January 2017 trip like we have done in the past. We prepare for activities, for work projects, for times of recreation and for meal preparation knowing in the back of our minds that all could be thwarted by so many variables. But we plan any way! This year we planned our trip to avoid times in Haiti such as elections that are known to be difficult. In spite of our detailed planning, the dates for elections were readjusted to accommodate Hurricane Matthew. Other things began to unfold that made us begin to question whether it was safe to travel. We certainly did not want to cancel our trip so we continued to make our preparations.
On the Friday night before our Monday departure date we received a call like we have never before received. The Little Sisters told us not to come to visit, it was too dangerous for us to make the trip to Haiti. This was the first time in over twenty-five years of visiting Haiti that we were told not to come. Because of the extradition of a Haitian citizen to the USA, the anti-American sentiment in Haiti had become such that our presence would be dangerous for us and most likely for the Little Sisters as well.
Calls to all the travelers were made to spread the sad news that we would follow the advice of our Little Sisters and cancel our trip. What a mixture of emotions followed! Although we all understood the judiciousness of the decision, we found it very difficult to accept that we were not traveling to see our dear friends, at least for now. Most of us walked around the first few days after the cancelation thinking about what we would have been doing in Haiti if we had gone. Eventually we all came to a new understanding and appreciation of what the people of Haiti often deal with on a daily basis. The people of Haiti find it hard to pre-plan, to prepare for the future because they are never quite sure what event or person or equipment will be available to them. Many times what they plan for is derailed very quickly by things we just expect to happen.
Perhaps we should be grateful not only for the providence of God that provided us with information to safeguard us, but also for the experience itself of having our plans changed at the last minute. We always say we learn and receive more from our visits to Haiti than we give. This certainly is the case in the cancelation of our trip. We have learned a little more personally the lessons of acceptance of change and patience in dealing with the unknown bumps along the road of life.
(By the way, we hope to reschedule our visit in early May if the Little Sisters feel the danger has passed.)
Sr. Marilyn Welch CCW