After a month of health issues in Haiti, we finally made the decision for me to head back to the states and seek medical attention.
The decision was difficult. Why, you ask?
For so many reasons but again being able to leave for a kidney infection when others cannot. Leaving my hubby behind to pick up my slack was also hard. The unknown of leaving for something that could be nothing also weighed heavily on my heart.
We do not make these decisions lightly though. After consulting with many other missionaries and a couple with medical backgrounds here we were advised I leave. Also a few doctors stateside said the same thing.
I left on a Wednesday with a doctor appointment scheduled for Thursday morning and no health insurance. I also had an urgent care clinic awaiting my arrival that night to make sure I got some testing done and maybe pain relief before my appointment. Then I had the worst day of travel mishaps and flight delays I have ever had traveling in all my life.
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So to make an incredibly long story short(ish), imagine being in a large amount of pain in both kidneys and being exhausted to walk, let alone carry heavy luggage. Then imagine being alone without your rockstar hubby. Add in the stress of not knowing what is exactly is wrong and trying to avoid a hospital because you do not have insurance. Sounds pretty stressful, right?
Well then imagine you are seated on your second flight that connects you to a third flight to get you home in time for your ride to your appointment and they let you know an indicator light just came on and something little might be wrong with the plane. Twenty minutes later they announce the left engine is not working properly and everyone must deplane and see the agent at the gate.
I waited in line for almost a half hour and was next to be helped to get another flight when the agent announced everyone needed to go to the customer service desk for this airline which was several gates away. My wobbling, pitiful self began to lose it.
I ended up behind 75-100 people and had to stand for an hour and a half in line while each person was being redirected to their destinations or connecting flights. By the time it was my turn to go to the counter I was exhausted and in much pain. It hurt to not have peed in a couple hours and I did not dare drink water and take Tylenol for pain relief in my kidneys in case it sent me to the bathroom and cause me to lose my place in line.
This was the PERFECT STORM of events that led me to a small breakdown in the middle of the Miami Airport.
After I was told I would not make my connecting flight to get to Detroit I began panicking and crying right there at the counter. I even asked for a refund thinking I might make another airline flight but I was promptly told "No, you have to expect these things when it comes to 'such and such' airlines," and the rudeness sent me to a seat all alone to cry to myself for the next two hours. I sobbed all alone and experienced something I have never truly felt before- aloneness.
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CONTRAST- I bet I have you wondering why exactly I titled this blog "Contrast". Well, let's rewind to my first airport and flight experience. In this beautiful country I call home, I am a foreigner. I am constantly exposed to things I am not used to and some of them are very difficult, but some of them are incredibly beautiful.
My first experience in the Haiti airport consisted of happy, friendly faces. Strangers warm and welcoming to me just because I know their language. The men around my seat were more than happy to help me and a couple older ladies get our heavy bags into the overhead compartments. I had friendly conversations with the three rows around me the entire time we were in flight. We all helped each other navigate the Miami Airport customs and got a little lost along the way.
These perfect strangers quickly became friends- full of warmth and care to share.
Yes I left my Haiti home for more adequate medical care and there is contrast in that journey.
However, my focus is not on that contrast but in the kindness of the people. You see, I cried for two whole hours by myself in Miami. I sat alone with tears streaming- in my own pain and fear. Not one person reached out to me and asked if I was ok. Not one person smiled or really made intentional eye contact. I would not have suffered alone in the Port au Prince terminals. Many looked at me, walked passed and heard me- but nobody SAW me. The "aloneness" was heavy.
This is where the starkness of the contrast hit me- it is something we have lost along the way in America. We have lost the ability to live intentionally in the moments we have right now. We have lost the ability to empathize with hurting hearts and wounded souls, to reach out in each other's brokenness and be present. We have lost warmth and friendliness to perfect strangers because we have an agenda. We have blinded ourselves with technology and screens that disable us from seeing the faces and the tears of those RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. We have lost kindness and manners and basic sympathy.
However sad this truth is or however hard it is to swallow- I know a place where you can find this genuine love. A place where neighbors are family and neighborhoods serve purpose. I know a place where sorrow is shared and burdens are not carried alone. I know a kindness that runs deep and where strangers become pals. I am honored to live in this place and be impacted each and everyday by the hearts of those who take the time to see what is there, or rather who is there. You are always welcome to come and experience this kind of intentionality first hand right in my Haiti home. You will feel like family here- a richness in culture you cannot find elsewhere- of this I am sure!
This population teaches me what it looks like to Abide in Love, and I hope I can properly capture it with my journaling- but again seeing it firsthand is the best way to really know it.
I challenge you to share the Love with which you Abide- bring it to others and allow them to feel it too <3
Kristen & Alex Bradshaw