My parents can attest that I have always had trouble staying in one place. As a youngster I was always on the move. As an adult, although I’ve bid farewell to (most) of my bad fidgety habits I still have trouble staying in one place, geographically speaking.
In the past four years Martha and I have lived in three different cities, in three different countries. Port-au-Prince is home now and while I am confident this is where God wants me to be and I absolutely love the excitement and adventure of living in such an interesting and vibrant place, I don’t enjoy the frequent goodbyes that come with living in a transient city or with moving every couple years.
Goodbyes are bittersweet. There is a sense of excitement for the person who is leaving and beginning a new chapter and at the same time a sense of sadness knowing that your relationship with this person will look different in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Haiti is one of those places where people, namely foreigners or the Haitian diaspora or educated Haitians, come and go. You often to have look hard to find people who have been here for longer than a couple years. This is for a variety of reasons but the proximity to the U.S. and Canada, and the “short term contract/commitment” culture are major players.
Thankfully Martha and I have found great friends in Haiti and are slowly building a strong community here. However recently we did have to say goodbye to one of our friends, Dr. Joanne, who was also a colleague at World Concern. Dr. Joanne served as World Concern’s health program coordinator and was a wonderful friend to Martha and I since our first days in Haiti. She is the kind of person that always lights up a room when they walk in. Her godly leadership and sweet spirit will truly be missed.
Dr. Joanne will be staying in Port-au-Prince. Haiti is her home. So we’re happy about that and we will likely stay in touch.
Although we’re excited for her as she steps into a new ministry role with another organization, we’re also saddened by her departure. Her leaving not only has made me think about my mixed feelings with goodbyes, it has also reminded me of the importance of being present. Meaning, I need to make the most of the moments I do have now with the people in my sphere or office or apartment building or church. This is something that takes practice and I am still figuring out but am seeing the importance and value of it more and more.
Here at the World Concern office in Port-au-Prince we had an awesome party for Dr. Joanne last week that honored her very well. It had some serious moments and some hilarious ones. There were speeches, prayers, stories, snacks, and laughs shared. One highlight was the ‘dancing game’ that was organized beforehand but that no one knew about. I had no idea some of our staff could move so well!! Unfortunately there’s no video footage of the dancing but I did want to share some photos of that party with you.