Reentry into the American atmosphere is always difficult after leaving a Third World country. I found this reentry particularly challenging.
Late in the day on Saturday, we arrived at the Miami airport. Quite frankly, travel had gone very smoothly. There were no hitches in getting to the airport in Port-au-Prince and no glitches getting through security. In fact, we had several hours in the Haitian airport to wander around and get our last bites of Haitian food.
As we came through customs in Miami, I needed to use the facilities. I found myself standing in the bright white customs bathroom, with glistening marble surfaces and halogen lighting, thinking how beautiful it looked. It's amazing how a bathroom in an airport can look like the Ritz Carlton in comparison to your previous surroundings!
I stood at the sink allowing the warm water to wash over my hands as I vigorously scrubbed the dirt from under my fingernails. It was the first time I had felt warm water in a week. I did notice others around me staring with a bizarre smirk. I realized there was also warm water streaming down my face. Who knew warm water could make you cry!
After we gathered our luggage, we lumbered through customs and emerged into the Miami airport. I was immediately jolted with the images on every TV screen. We had actually missed the week of the inauguration. On Thursday night before leaving Haiti, the pastor at the mission had mentioned all of the protests around the inauguration. Our entire team was oblivious. We were too busy trying to finish our work there.
Here, as I walked through the airport, I felt the media blitz. There were images of inauguration protests, coping room vigils, and angry men and women preparing for a march on Sunday. I had to read the captions at the bottom of the screen to figure out what in the world they were marching about!
With all of my being, I wanted to scream at those screens: Go to Haiti!
Knowing what we had seen there, every image and news story seemed very petty. I was grumpy to be back to this mess. I sat in the airport and sulked.
After another short flight, we arrived safely in Charlotte, albeit with a less than smooth landing. Our family picked us up at the airport, and I had more tears of joy to be reunited with my husband and my other children. When we got home and settled the children into bed, I stepped into the shower with the hottest water I could stand. And, I cried.
I wept for the hungry families and the children I had left in Haiti. I cried for the young woman who had congestive heart failure that will not likely live to see her children to adulthood. I cried for the middle-aged woman who had the stroke who will never use her arm again. And, I cried for the people I had seen on the TV screens. I cried for those in our country who are angry and frustrated with our political establishment or who feel lost, broken and disenfranchised.
As the water washed over me, and I stood in that shower for a very long time, a profound sense of hope washed over me as well. The only hope for Haiti, America, or any country in the world is Jesus himself:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:18-21)
As I step back into my American fray of clinic schedules, meeting planners, and carpool chaos, I need to focus on the One who brings justice and hope to all. I don't have to fix the problems of the world, I just need to know the One who can.
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