Taking a Trip, Not Taking a Trip

A few years ago I went to Haiti on a medical mission. One evening, our team returned to the mission house after working a long day in a clinic with no electricity, no water, and patients lined up for days. No sooner had we entered the house and sat down than word came from the village: a baby was being born.

Four team members grabbed their bags and loaded into the truck. I stayed sitting on the couch. "Aren't you coming with us?" they said, sure that I would get a great story out of this event.

In my mind I could see the hot rooms of the small hut filled with people scuffling over the dirt floor; I could hear the screams. Barging into the crowded home of a woman in painful labor, surrounded by family members, long into the dark Haitian night did not sound appealing to me. No, I wasn't going.

After they left, I went upstairs and sat on my bed, struggling with regret about my decision. It would be a great story. A once in a lifetime opportunity. And what kind of writer was I, to stay at home instead of following the action?

The oldest son of our mission hosts, 10 year-old Stephen, came by - I was staying in his room. "You didn't go see the baby?" he asked.

"No," I told him.

He sat down beside me, his face a beautiful combination of his American mother's compassion and his Haitian father's determination. "It's hard to know what to do," he said. "Sometimes it's better to get the experience, and sometimes it's better to hear about it afterwards." He thought for a moment, then added, "A lot of times, my dad makes it sound more interesting. I wait to hear it from him."

This week, when faced with the concurrent tasks of buying a house and packing and moving all our stuff...and a nonstop boatride of indeterminate length with a crew of five men, I have opted to save my sanity and stay on land.

This was not an easy decision. I'm still sitting on the couch, wondering if I'm missing the trip of a lifetime. Maybe I am.

I'll wait to hear the story from the captain and crew. Like Stephen said, maybe their versions will be more interesting.

That night in Haiti, the American nurses returned rather quickly from the house of the Haitian birth, with an over-the-top story of how they assisted in delivering triplets. Then they confessed: "The baby was already born by the time we got there. They didn't need our help at all."

1 comment:

Peggy said...

You made the same decision I would have made but I would always be thinking about what I may be missing. I'm sure all of those Schneiderhan men will have a lot of stories to tell. I understand the other man is from LacLaBelle. Everyone I know from there are great story tellers so this trip will get bigger and more exciting as the years go by.