It is a strange feeling visiting a new place, knowing that you will be moving there shortly. On the surface, we looked the same as the rest of the twelve people traveling with our group. We all packed bags for ten days, got a slew of shots, and every type of bug spray available. We saw the same things, smelled the same smells, and went to the same places-but I think our experience were very different.
I arrived in country with my modest missionary skirt, rain jacket, and my game face. You know, the one you wear when you’re out of your comfort zone, but you wanna look tough. I didn’t know what to expect when we flew into Port au Prince. But, in reality, we didn’t see a whole lot. From the plane you can see hundreds of tarps which constitute entire tent cities. When we landed we were trucked to the commuter terminal just down the street, and still didn’t see anything. Even as we flew in the small 18 passenger plane, we were unable to see the magnitude of the devastation. As we landed in Port de Paix, and drove the long bumpy ride to Northwest Haiti Christian mission in St Louis de Nord, my game face was still on. It seemed to be met with other game faces too. All along the streets and in every nook and cranny, people were peering at us. Their expressions were hard and almost menacing. I was certainly intimidated, but quickly found the solution to the stare down. A smile! A simple ‘bounjour’. They instantly lit up! They It seemed odd that so many people were out until I remembered the statistic I read before I left. Eighty percent of the population lives in abject poverty, and out of that, 90% are unemployed! What does 90% unemployment look like? People everywhere, just hanging out. And they think whatever you are doing is so fascinating-although I am unsure why really.