I thought I was doing well dealing with the emotions of saying good-bye to my friends in Haiti and have been getting ready to move back to Minnesota. I started packing, I read a book about re-integration, I’ve been processing my thoughts and feelings, I started saying good-byes, I have tried to complete projects I am working on and have been organizing things for the next missionary to take over, and I have invested extra time with the children. I even made a special photo DVD for the kids of our memories over the year. My emotions have been a variety of sadness to leave and excitement to go home. A lot of change is coming, and I really don’t know how I will adjust to life back in Minnesota. One thing is constant. God is with me through everything!
Well, yesterday the tears wouldn’t stop. In the morning, one of our elders who comes to Grace 3 times a week to get his bandages changed by our nurse, came to my window and sang, “Tiiiii Kaaaa!” numerous times. He came to pay Dominos, our favorite game to play together. Sometimes he walks to Grace extra days of the week just to play more Dominos. He has been like a grandpa to me. Last Monday, I told him that I was moving back to Minnesota to teach next year. I explained to him that I wouldn’t be living in Haiti, and that I planned to visit him. He told me not to go and asked when I was coming back. I didn’t have a ticket to visit my friends in Haiti, but I know I will come back. The relationships I have built are too deep to not come back to visit.
I brought my tin of Dominos to the front porch, we sat on my chairs made of banana leaves, and we emptied out the box of Dominos. Ofane looked at me, with his big blue eyes, and he said, “Don’t go. Live in Haiti. I am sad and I love you. No one can replace you. You are very special to me. I want you to stay here. When you go my heart will break and I will miss you too much.” When he told me his feelings and opened his heart to me, I was flooded with emotions because I knew it would be so difficult to say good-bye. Tears flooded my eyes and he reached out and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Pa kriye, cheri (Don’t cry, sweetheart).” I told him that I love him too and will miss him so much. After more sharing and comforting me, we played Dominos. Lots of Dominos. He said I need to come back and play Dominos, see his goats, and talk with him. I can’t wait for that day to come soon enough!
Tonight we are going to watch the photo DVD I made for the children. It is a surprise for them! I’m even baking them cookies for a special treat. This year, we have made so many memories. I feel as though I am a mother to all of them, but one boy has captured my heart. The love I have for him is abundant. I truly didn’t know I could love someone so much. He has been spending extra time sitting with me, listening to and singing worship music with me, and talking with me. We have a special bond. He told me he will miss me so much and will cry every night when I am gone. It is so difficult to say good-bye to all the children, but especially him. My heart breaks as I think about it. It makes me even sadder when I know that his heart is breaking too.
The children and I have been busy making beaded necklaces before I leave on Saturday. It has been so fun seeing how their artistic creations are all so unique and beautiful…just like each of them. It is beautiful to see their smiles as they look at themselves in the mirror with their necklace on them for the first time. Some squeal with excitement and others say thank you and feel so proud of their work. They said it was their first time making them and they also said they could make hundreds! So, maybe I should plan a trip back to Grace to have jewelry making class with the kids. I think we all would have so much fun and it would be a great way to stay connected with the children that I have loved all year.
It will be so hard to say good-bye.