Karen’s brother Ken recently returned from Haiti and was asked to speak at his Church and with CBC Radio when he got home to Newfoundland. Some of you who listened to his interview may be familiar with his moving “Love Affliction” essay that he prepared for these presentations. (Those who have been to visit HATS will identify very clearly with it!)
Ken has provided us with a copy of his essay for the blog, reproduced below…
“HATS-Haiti: Orphans Love Affliction”
My sister Karen dreamed as a little girl of being a missionary in Africa. 15 yrs. ago, she went to Haiti, and BASICALLY NEVER CAME BACK. She is the founder and Director of HATS, “Hands across the Sea” orphanage and school.
I understood in my mind, now I understand in my heart. She caught it, everyone catches it and now I have it. The black skin rubs off, you can’t see the black dye, it is invisible, but it is there, it is sneaky, sharp, penetrating and painful. It gets in under your skin and wraps itself around your heart. The side effects: It makes your eyes water and you get big lumps in your throat and you can’t talk. It makes you speechless. My heart is now half black.
I’m home. (I think, but sometimes I’m not sure.) Part of my heart is still in Haiti. I can’t seem to focus on things I thought were important. Sometimes I find myself staring as in a fog, and I can’t see straight. As if I came back from a war. I’m out of the real world. I understand why soldiers go back. This isn’t the real world as much as that is. If I had stayed longer I might have ended up like Karen, unable to escape.
When I go down to the recreation room I see the big suitcase I took to Haiti. It was brought back empty. But isn’t empty. It is full of love from Haiti. I’d share it but I can’t. You have to go get your own. I almost left it – I’m glad I didn’t. I look at the suitcase and see it full of need, memories, love and longing. It seems to cry out to me – “Take me back again”. That suitcase is a reminder – of the deed, the need and God’s love that is pouring into Haiti from Christian all over the world. There is lots of love down there to share with everyone. I can’t give you mine you have to go and get your own.
Warning: If you go, don’t touch the smooth black skin, don’t hold, hug, or look into their eyes, those little black eyes they hypnotize. If you go you may catch the “HATS-Haiti, Orphan Love Affliction”. It is painful.