Well, we have returned! Bethany and I flew back into the Charlotte airport at 5 pm yesterday!!! It is so good to be home and mostly so wonderful to see family!
The trip home was a long day that is for sure! The night before leaving I got only 30 minutes of sleep and Bethany only a couple of hours. We wanted to squeeze every possible moment in and we both wanted to do a couple of special things for the kids before leaving. Thursday night we hung out with the kids after dinner since we wouldn't see most of in the morning before leaving. We received tons of precious notes and cards from the kids, shared LOTS of hugs, laughed and even saw a few tears. It was hard to say good bye but so great to know we were coming home.
After bedtime for the kids we walked back to our DARK house....the generator was still out and so still no power in our house. We were left to pack by flashlight, candle light and head lamp! I think my head lamp was probably my most useful item I took.....right after BUG SPRAY! Quite a challenge to pack in the dark :-) Once packed I got started on my little project. I always do this- wait until the last possible moment to start this awesome, time consuming project, but I love it! Earlier in the day I had this grand idea to make some art to leave for the kids to put in their houses. Right after lunch I scoured Canaan for some scraps pieces of wood, and at Canaan I was pretty likely to find some! I ended up with eight or nine pieces of wood covered in dirt, bugs, and who knows was else. I cleaned them, sanded them, wiped them down to get them ready to paint. While doing this a little group of interested little boys joined me to help :-) Once all was ready, I got the paint and let the guys paint the boards. I wouldn't tell them what I was making except it was a surprise! They love painting anything and many of them picked up many other pieces to paint. Ferdinand, one of the boys who loves to paint, even decided to give the dog box (the box they drag the dog in for it's burial--see the FB video!) a painting face lift. So with all of the boards painted I sat down around 11pm to craft them into signs with verses painted on them. I wrapped wire around them so they could be hung. I slowly painted letter by letter and finished the project by 2am! Bethany was up much of the night writing amazing letters to each of the kids!
We left them these surprises on the breakfast tables for the next morning after we were gone. We were planning to leave at 5:30 in the morning for the airport, but in Haitian time that means at least 6:00 or later. Around 6, sure enough Johnny our driver moseys on up to the cafeteria, chats with few people and is finally ready to go. We take off, waving to some of the kids already up busy at their jobs for the day. We head down Highway 1 toward Port for the last time. Johnny the driver takes us the LONG way around getting to the airport b/c last time we were in Port we saw something terrible happen on the road and he won't go that way any more. We drove right through town with lots and lots of traffic. You know that feeling when you know you should be nervous about running late and possibly missing your flight and yet no one around you is in any hurry??? Well, that was me...except I knew I could do absolutely NOTHING about it! So I sat, enjoyed the surroundings, chatted with Johnny and Bethany as we drove ALL over Port and tried not to look at my watch. We kept encountering stand still traffic so Johnny had us weaving in and out of all of these little roads, and I'm not going to lie, it felt like we were getting further and further away from the airport! Finally, 2+ hours later we turned the corner and there was the airport!!! We both let out a sigh of relief once we were finally on the plane then I closed my eyes and dozed off before we were even off the ground!
Once we in Ft. Lauderdale, had traveled through customs, and rechecked our bags we passed a Chili's in our new concourse. We both looked at each other and said: Salad? Margarita? Yes please! Haha, so we sat in Chili's for our first American meal and toasted our fabulous trip :-) Once we were in Charlotte, we descended the escalator to see the smiling, excited faces of Bethany's parents and my mom!!! It was great to be home!
Thank you all so much for your prayers for this past month and more!! The trip was an incredible experience and it's hard to believe it's over! I know there is so much processing, reflecting, laughing to come, but I wanted to let you all know we survived a month in Haiti and it was wonderful! I am going to add some more blog posts because there are still so many stories and pictures I want to share so please keep checking back!!