Impromptu road trip to Connecticut then New York then New Jersey.

When I heard Sean Forrest would be playing a Haiti180 benefit concert in Connecticut, I looked up how far away Connecticut was. When I realized Connecticut was only five hours away from Maryland, I decided I should probably go. When I heard Katie, my friend who lives in Haiti, would be there, I knew I needed to go. (It didn’t hurt that it crossed something off of my 20 New Things Before I Leave My Twenties list: Road Tripping to Connecticut.)

Connecticut

The weekend began in Connecticut where I met up with Katie and her parents. As soon as I arrived, Katie had to run off to sound check and rehearse for the concert. It was my first time in Connecticut, so what did I do? I drove around Connecticut admiring beautiful northeast houses with wraparound porches, talked with Katie’s parents about faith, and took a nap. #partyanimal

The concert was more than I expected. It was so great to be in a room with people who share a love for Haiti and the children of Kay Mari. And it was nice to put a face to some people I am constantly emailing. AND Sean Forrest is a hilarious and holy dude who gave me a lot to think about during the show. My favorite line was, “If the Lord can’t find a colt, He’ll use an ass.” It’s always good to be reminded that the Lord can use even me. ;)

New York

The following day was unplanned, on my part. I decided to be a little spontaneous and spend the day in New York with Katie and her family. Road trips are my favorite. Road trips with a friend in the car, giving you the chance to catch up on life, are even better.

I drove through New York for the first time ever and almost immediately found street parking. We went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Grant’s Tomb, two place I’d never been. And then we drove to Queens to check out the neighborhood where Katie’s father grew up and go to a little restaurant for delicious calzones and wine.

So grateful for road trips and good friends. Perhaps I should be willing to be spontaneous more often.

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Kay Mari, Round 4.

I’ve been home for two months, so I guess it’s time to finally write about my latest trip to Miragoâne, Haiti? Honestly, the more I go the harder it gets for me to write about the trips.

Miragoâne, Haiti

The memories are becoming more personal. The experiences are becoming more normal. But writing helps me process. And writing helps me remember to pray. And writing reminds me the things I experience in Haiti are not normal. And writing keeps the people close, even when I’m 1,455 miles away.

Miragoâne, Haiti

This time I took down a group of local college students, instead of a group of my friends. And we took a priest! And we met up with a group from Massachusetts! All of these things made the trip very different than any trip I’d gone on before.

What did we do that was typical for a mission trip? We completed a service project (painting and digging a hole for the septic tank… much more relaxing than moving rocks for a few days straight). We went on home visits. We visited Madame Aselide. We went to the market. We took the food we purchased to some of the local villagers. We went to the beach. We enjoyed some delicious fried plantains.

Typical, but still awesome.

What did we do that was new and exciting and unexpected?

Craft time. I always take a craft down to do with the kids, but this one was my favorite. Hands. Down.

Miragoâne, Haiti

I take lots of pictures when I’m in Haiti. I give my camera to the children and they take lots of pictures. So, as you can imagine, I have a lot of pictures of the kids. Thousands of photos of the children exist thanks to the mission teams that travel down, but the kids don’t own any of them. This needed to be remedied. I printed a photo of each of them and took down pictures frames for them to decorate. The smiles when the received a picture of themselves were priceless and brought me so much joy.

We enjoyed delicious, fresh coconut.

Miragoâne, Haiti

Watching someone climb a palm tree is mind blowing. Watching Brother, the spiritual director for the orphanage, bust open a coconut with a machete is amazing. Watching the children take turns climbing a tree with huge smiles on their faces is priceless. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend that afternoon.

We hiked to a waterfall.

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Well, first we drove a mile or two to the next village (which saved us about an hour) and then we hiked about an hour and a half. The entire time, Katie and Stephen kept reassuring me that, “It was totally worth it.” I find that phrase is used a lot in Haiti — it’s hard, but it’s totally worth it. And whoever is saying it is always right. Apparently the drought has affected the epic-ness of the waterfall, but the cavern was beautiful and… totally worth it.

What were some of my favorite moments (without taking the easy way out and saying “everything”)? I’m glad you asked.

Miragoâne, Haiti

Heart to heart conversations with this lady.

Miragoâne, Haiti

Evening dance parties.

Miragoâne, Haiti

Mass every night and Eucharistic Adoration on our last night because: priest.

Miragoâne, Haiti

All in all, it was a wonderful trip.  M pa te vle kite Ayiti.