What Happened to All Those What Ifs?
Now that I’m back from Haiti, I REALLY want to review my list of what ifs. I didn’t look at it again after I posted it, and I’m excited to reread it. I know that some, really most, of my fears were totally BS. I’m excited to find that, once again, my life is unfolding according to a bigger plan. Worrying is just a waste of my heart energy.
So, I’m gonna jump right in. One by one, let’s see what really happened….
What if I miss one of my flights tomorrow? Nope. In fact, my original flight from BNA to ATL was delayed and I was able to get on an EARLIER flight!
What if I forget to pack something vital, like my passport? No again. Although I did under pack deodorant and hair gel. Over-packed clothes...typical. And how’s this? I took too much money. Said nobody ever! But, I did! Praise God since I am trying to limit my spending until I find a job!
What if I get bombarded in the Port au Prince airport and I get overwhelmed and just start crying? The airport was SO easy! The airports in India were far more intimidating. I felt like an old pro!
What if Dad can’t get to the airport and I don’t have a ride? Delta gave me free access to FB Messenger during my flight so we were able to communicate the entire time. I knew he was at the airport waiting for me before I even landed. And as soon as I exited the airport, he was there!
What if my cell phone doesn’t work and I can’t call anyone for help? I switched to ProjectFi (Google’s cellular plan) before I left. So glad I did! Coverage was spotty, but that was Haiti in general. If any type of service was available, my new plan connected to it. I may have spent a pretty penny on calls but they went through!
What if my luggage gets lost? It didn’t! But I did have to text Colin to ask him what color the bag was that I checked. I was far too distracted at check in and was SOL on the baggage claim conveyer belt!
What if I can’t find anything to eat as a vegetarian? Well, I am ready to back off of the eggs for a few days. And I have had more “healthy” avocado fat than is probably suggested, but there was always plenty to eat. My work evaluating school meals revealed that chicken bouillon is added to almost everything. Sometimes you just have to ignore the small details. I had plenty to eat. Much of it likely contained some chicken flavoring. And it was good.
What if I get malaria, typhoid, infantigo, etc? So far, so good. Shoot! I may have forgotten my malaria meds this morning. Now that I’m almost home, it’s easier to forget! But I feel fine! And I probably absorbed enough DEET that the mosquitoes were gossiping about me.
What if my dad and I get on each other’s nerves? I cannot put into words how thankful I am for this time with my dad. I may tell our story at some point, but it’s a mutual story and so I won’t tell it here. But I will say that much like many father/daughter relationships, we’ve had our challenges. And we seem to have found our path through the challenges. I wouldn’t trade this time for any amount of money. I know we created memories that will last until I die. I am so thankful. Yes, during our 4 hour drives I dozed off while he was talking. Yes, there were times when I saw him go to his room for a rest. But this felt natural and organic. We respected boundaries. It worked!!!
What if I don’t know enough about nutrition and I can’t provide any support to the school lunch program? I felt this way for a few days. But I continued to lean in, to ask questions, to adopt a curious mindset, to approach with humility. And what I found is that I do have an educated perspective. I can take in the information and make recommendations. I have a lot of follow up to do, but I am motivated!
What if I’m assaulted in the streets? Even if this was a risk, Dad and Braman (the custodian at Dad’s apartment) made sure I never experienced anything close to it. I never left the compound, or anywhere, unaccompanied. This frustrated my huge independent streak, but I also felt comforted by the protection.
What if I can’t sleep because it’s too hot or the sounds of voodoo worship late into the night keep me awake? Sleeping in Garcin was simply amazing. 9+ hours most nights. PAP was different but I’d like to focus on the fact that for 9 of my 11 nights, I slept more than I’ve slept in a year! Rather than voodoo, I heard roosters!
What if I gain 10 pounds because I can’t keep up my normal exercise routine while I’m there? I refuse to weigh. I will not weigh. My value is not based on my looks, my size, my fitness level. No, I could not work out. But, I did eat healthy foods. And I’ve been in this place dozens of times before. I will normalize again. I always do.
What if we run out of clean water? Never happened, though on our last night our 5 gallon pail of treated water was running low. I’m sure we had enough, but I still spoke up. I told Dad running out of water is a paranoia of mine. He didn’t judge it. He agreed that it’s better safe than sorry, and he treated more water. The end result is that I stopped worrying...and I had to dump out about 80 ounces of clean water before I left. But I spoke up, and my Dad responded.
What if I can’t get a signal and can’t stay connected with home? I did struggle with a signal most days, but I was able to text and call each day. The spotty connection bothered me some and no internet was hard, but I haven’t had a tech break (even if partial), since smart phones came out. I took the break this time. I read 2 books. I slept. I didn’t miss a thing!
What if I fall in love with a little Haitian baby and leaving breaks my heart? I actually fell in love with 2 of them. But they both had mothers who loved them. They didn’t need to be rescued. Instead I experienced the absolute pleasure of holding a baby...and then returning the baby to mom.
What if I don’t and that leaves me feeling like I’m cold-hearted? See above. I definitely love the babies and the children. The big brown eyes. The smiles. The laughter. The constant desire to get my attention. LOVE.
What if I can’t get out of the country before the planned protests? We cut it close, but we made it. That means we had some VERY early mornings, but again, we are safe. Dad was super diligent. I trusted his gut every step of the way. And now I pray for the people who will be in Haiti on Sunday. May the protests be peaceful. May I remember how lucky I am that I feel safe in my day-to-day life.
What if there’s an earthquake or hurricane? Nope! We had rain most evenings, and we drove on some pretty insane “roads.” And by roads, I mean driving through rivers and over boulders. But, no natural disasters!
And, finally, what if I can’t help in any meaningful way and my expensive flight/travel was just a waste of money? As Dad was packing up our 6 suitcases for the return trip, he stopped and looked at me. So of course I stopped and looked at him too. He told me I’d already made an impact. He told me that my level of engagement was the most he could hope for. I didn’t ask for this feedback. It was unsolicited. And I feel it in my heart. I did do good work. And I will continue my research. I will continue to do good work. A very worthy investment.
So there you have it. There I have it. Wonder how many hours I spent on those what ifs? What if I channeled that energy elsewhere? No shame in the question. No shame in the response. But, a good reminder that if I get rid of the silly clutter in my brain, I can make room for more good stuff!