Coming home to a miracle

Dear Friends:

Today, I have come home to a miracle. Bishop’s driver picked me up and brought me straight to St. James the Just in Petion Ville, where you see damage in one spot and absolutely no damage in others.

In Place Ste. Pierre, across from my church and home, there are hundreds of tents with thousands of people living there.

At the church, we pounded on the gate and suddenly, at the other end of the corridor stood my friend, my tutor, Michelet Pierre. As his huge grin split his face, a huge grin split mine and my heart surged with joy while my eyes began to fill with tears. I had been told at the beginning of the month, on my visit with the Presiding Bishop, that Michelet was alive and well. But to lay eyes on him and wrap my arms around him was astounding. In the midst of this tragedy, I have found joy.

Then he took me upstairs to the third floor, where my apartment is. And lo and behold, it is fine! Things fell during the quake, but Michelet has been caring for it, even putting the art back on the walls. Both he and bishop assure me it is as safe to be here as it is anywhere, so I shall sleep here, they say. I will keep the tent, just in case, but so far, so good.

I have found all my belongings, and I must say, I am astonished and overjoyed. I had thought that perhaps all or at least part was gone, damaged, lost … but no. I am in awe.

And then there is the absolute joy of the walking down the street on which I live, where so many of my missing friends work. At the Kinam, Raul Charles, the head waiter whose two children I sponsor At the music school here at St. James, erupts with joy at seeing me. James, another waiter, is there as well. The guard recognizes me and welcomes me home.

I walk a little farther and find Anil, an art vendor, and Hercule, another vendor. They are at their corner, busy selling art to all the aid workers. We hug and dance with joy. Their families are all fine. I turn the corner again and there is Sadwa and Enil, and Enil (the other). We practically leap into each other’s arms. All are well. Some of their homes have been damaged or destroyed, but injuries are minor.

Where, I ask, are Tony and Frantzy Fleresca, my brothers who take such good care of me? Frantzi, I am told, is now driving a motorcycle for people. Tony is out on his. No one knows if he will be back today. Ernest, I ask? (He is a sweet and gentle old man, Anil’s father, who sells stone carvings but never pushes. I buy from him to make sure he has food to eat, and give him medicine for his arthritis.) He is OK, but no longer working.

The message is the same from so many: we are OK. We have been praying for you, trying to reach you. Our homes are damaged, but we are doing OK. We will rebuild. Haiti will rebuild.

The Christian Brothers School is now a clinic for Doctors Without Borders. There are many, many “blan” here, and they come out on the street to buy snacks, drinks, art. I meet two nurses outside the school and we begin to chat. Suddenly, I am grabbed from behind and nearly lifted off my feet. It is Tony! He was driving by when Anil spotted him, flagged him down, told him I was home, and ran up the street to bring Tony to me.

We dance and hug and cry, asking over and over, “Are you well? How is your family? I have been trying to call you, to text you, but could not get through.”

The two American women watch with joy on their faces. I explain that I was in the US during the quake, that I have been working there, that this is the first time we have been able to see each other. They laugh with delight, and leave us to visit.

For nearly seven weeks, I have been praying for this moment, fearing that it might not happen. Those I feared were lost have been found. Not all of them, no yet.

But slowly, one person at a time, I am finding joy in Haiti.

I know so many have been lost, so many are hurt. I k ow that not all my friends survived.

But some of the flock, some of my people, they are here and we have touched and hugged and laughed and wept with relief, and for that I give great thanks to God.

I will take pictures and write more. I will laugh more and, I know, cry more.

But I will never forget the miracle of my homecoming today.

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, for this beloved land where there is so much to be done, where the need is so great. Please continue to tell our story, to share from the beauty and bounty of your hearts. And tonight, please give thanks for the small miracles I have been part of today.

Blessings and peace,

Lauren

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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