What’s your rollercoaster face?

I’m going to jump into this whole blog-thing with an entry from my journal over the summer.

I love to journal, it’s how I make sense of everything going on in my head. It’s how I pray, talk to, and hear from God. I wanted to start sharing my stories from Haiti, but the timing just never seemed right. So on this day, I wrote in my journal as if I were writing my first ‘blog entry’. Crazy how it always comes full circle, isn’t it? I had just moved all of my things to Haiti and was on the plane flying back to the states for a funeral. It took me months to make the ‘official move’ and I expected to call Haiti home for a lot longer than a month. Considering I had:

1. Been back and forth for over a year + customs gets old.

2. Called off an engagement.

3. Quit my job.

All because of this place that I love so much. I had no idea that my life was about to change, again.

 June 27, 2016

Today marks one month in Haiti. One month of officially calling this crazy, beautiful, chaotic, broken place home. Today I’m flying to Boston for a funeral. This is the second death in my family this year. And as I sit here with a broken heart for my family, I rejoice in Your faithfulness. Both losses have happened while I’ve been in Haiti. The place where authentic love abounds. Somehow my family in Haiti turns my loss into Heaven’s gain and I am reminded of how we are constantly guided to these heavenly places. So I write today in honor of my Papa and my Uncle Billy who loved me so well and now get to sit and talk with Jesus about what’s next for me. My heart sings a song remembering your big hearts. I love you both.

It has been a crazy 12 months to say the least. What’s funny is that some of the pictures hanging in my room in Haiti are from amusement park rollercoaster rides. It is one of my favorite things to see +  collect- someone’s facial expression caught on camera on a rollercoaster. I wonder if God finds joy in our responses to the ROLLERCOASTER we call life the same way I find joy in these photos. Are you laughing, screaming, holding on for dear life, maybe you have your arms up in surrender… I imagine He’s got all of our weird faces hanging on a big wall somewhere in heaven. Maybe even laughing at our dramatic reactions but loving us regardless.

I went on writing about the “rollercoaster”- like it was over. Like all of the craziness had blown over and I had finally found my place. I wrote about love + losing love (in many ways), I wrote about a little boy named Ferlander and I wrote how it was the year of searching my heart. I got off the plane with my frizzy hair smelling like I hadn’t showered in a few days because that was the truth behind the stink. Even though I was back for a funeral, I was wide eyed + bushy tailed- full of so much hope. Haiti makes heaven so real, it fills you with this hope that’s hard to find in most places. Death hadn’t won.

My mom and I shared a room in her grandmother’s old house in Boston. We slept in the twin beds that she grew up sleeping in. We dyed my hair with 3 different boxes from CVS (I don’t know how my hair hasn’t fallen out yet). We ate italian food and remembered Uncle Billy sitting in his chair that was usually covered in cats- but not this week. We stayed up until midnight looking at old pictures and laughing with a family member who we hadn’t seen or talked to in 13 years. To me, all was good in the hood. Until I said some stupid comment to my mom, probably regarding my hair, and found her on her twin bed- crying. If there’s one thing I can tell you about my mom, it’s that she’s the strongest (and most joyful) woman I know. So crying is not a normal thing, unless my brother or I are leaving or we graduated or something, which doesn’t happen often.

That was the night she told me that my dad had been diagnosed with stage four cancer for the second time. And we laid in that twin bed together crying until we fell asleep. Little did I know I’d be falling asleep like this for the next month.


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Life + FaithMadison Nelson