Tarantulas God? Tarantulas?
This is not what I signed on for.
Yellow fever, malaria, mosquitoes,
bad water, food issues--that I signed on for--
but tarantulas,
come ooooooon-God?

Fingering the grayed edges of these first journals I'm amused at how irate I got with God.
Why did I get so upset? As I think back, I was in control of the malaria, yellow fever and mosquitoes. I took all of my shots to prevent those diseases and I religiously saturated my self with the strongest of mosquito repellent. Throughout the day I could control what I ate and the water I drank. Yes, control. An inalienable American right. Control. But I couldn't control when I might happen upon a spider.

Relinquishing control
Not an easy American thing to do
raised on John Wayne, Batman,
Bionic woman, Zorro and the Lone Ranger.
Relinquishing control.
Not an easy African American thing to do.
Raised on Rosa Parks, Malcolm X,
George Washington Carver and The Barack Obama.
Relinquishing control
Not an easy Christian thing to do.
After all I was raised on…on…on…
Well anyway God you never said anything about tarantulas.
Lions, giants and wolves in sheep clothing?
But not one scripture on

The airplane ride home to America is always hard. The only thing that brings me back is my daughters, Erin and Diamond. Or perhaps I would never ever return. On that ride home I am always a prisoner to the thoughts surrounding my missionary experiences. But dear Francois, my beloved friend, translator, caretaker and Haitian mentor explained “Haiti needs you in America. Otherwise, in just a short time you would just be another one of us. There is nothing here, in my country, to sustain you. From America you bring the children hope. Hope that no matter what--we will be able to make it.”

His words made me jealous. If only America could do that for me. Bring me opportunity, renewal and hope. All of my life I was cloned to believe that opportunity is what you make it, hope is what you make it, renewal is what you make it. Perhaps I've grown calloused, hardened, overly righteous, stiff necked. Perhaps I've grown --ungrateful. Because in America--I seem to always just miss--being able to make it.

I gaze at my sweat stained pages and all of the scratches and scribbles of my journal entries. This book is suppose to be about Haiti. I've got the inside scoop that CNN is not showing, that CNN hasn't a clue about, that no media in the world is showing. News reports the facts and statistics. Rarely does it ever report the spirit, grace, enthusiasm, love, hope, joy and spirit of the people.

The world must know about Haiti, but why do I keep circling back to me? Something I wasn't prepared for. A question crawls from beneath my skin. Is it easier to help and heal Haiti, than it is to help and heal me? The abuse, the neglect, the alienation, the bullying, being ostracized and humored, being tolerated…instead of celebrated? The very things that make me such a compassionate and effective worker in Haiti, are the very things I protect, I hide. My face stings as I remember my book coach, Martha Tucker slapping tough love words of encouragement as she read snippets of this book.

“Who are you? Who is Yolantha. If you can't write about you, then you will never be able to write about Haiti. Who are you? You're not real. You're not believable. If your reader cannot relate to you, then they will never read on, they will never turn the page.”

For two days I did not slumber or eat. I wanted to put down my pencil, shut off my computer, abandon this endeavor. But the eyes of Haiti's children haunt me and it's not at night. I usually sleep very well in spite of all I've witnessed in this devastated country. It's in the daytime. That's when Haiti consumes me. Can I not write about Haiti without explaining me? I took my dilemma to another critic. The woman had given me her card a few days earlier and had invited me to Panera's in order to get me involved in her virtual greeting card business. After we exchanged genteel conversation and sipped in southern fashion big tall glasses of exotic teas, I asked, “What is the key to a great salesperson?”

“Connection,“ she said without hesitation. If you, Yolantha, don't connect with your audience, then you, Yolantha, don't exist. Even from the very first moment when you walk in a room, without any connection, then you, Yolantha aren't real. We will choose not to see you. People only acknowledge what they have in common. Then they are willing to listen, they might even help you feed the starving children or give to your cause.”

Slice, slice, slice the knife cut deep into the hidden domain of my soul, the dungeon of my hidden secrets, the vulnerable parapets of my life source.

Here is my monstrous conflict. Am I Haiti? Is Haiti me? Is America's lack of having points of reference for me, the same kinship I share with America's lack of having points of reference for Haiti? Is that why the children of Haiti and I see eye to eye? To say I'm not believable is to deny every breath I have taken and will ever take. Is that what we have done to Haiti? The reality of Haiti's strife and pain is so out of our realm of connectivity that we deny her existence?

I was so angry my first trip back to America. How could we allow this to happen? I fumed. How can we witness the continuation of such poverty? How can we in the depths of our authentic souls look the other way?

My truth then becomes, how did I let this happen? How can my heart be so impoverished? How can my husband look the other way? The inside scoop on Haiti relies on my ability to share the inside scoop about me. Now I weep.

Mommy's Home!!!
“Momeeeeeeee, Momeeeeeee, Mommy's home!!!” My daughters gather under my wings. “Did you miss me?” Of course they did. They were too young not to. On my first journey to Haiti they were only 15 and 6.

Upon my returns from Haiti there is a tightness behind my touch. Tears needing to be shed. But I fear the depth of my tears would traumatize my daughters so I keep them to myself. I hug my daughters just a few seconds too long. They catch me staring at them because after trips to Haiti I forget to look away, no-no-no, let's be honest, I don't forget, I choose to let my gaze linger. I picture them on the mountains of Haiti, jaundiced with yellow fever, stomachs bloated, and bodies teaming with gangrene, eyes staring off in a never land distance.

My umbilical cord of love yearns for my husband. He avoids me. Never asking of my wellbeing, never welcoming my return, never asking about my journey. Never in 10 years. So for 6 months, from July to January, there is a piece of me that is angry. Angry at America. Angry at my husband. Then joy comes again each year in February as I plan my return to a land that needs as much love as I do.

That's why I can't shake this earthquake. I am Haiti. The earthquake has shaken the innermost population of me. The central place where I abide. To help Haiti…helps...me.

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