C’est La Vie

One decade. Ten years. 3,650 days. My first mission trip to Haiti. I was set out to save the country, I was. Yes sir. Yes ma’am. I remember our welcoming assembly like it was yesterday. Each class at Hope For Haiti Foundation’s school, Unifiée, was lined up in order of grades. They each had a presentation for their village’s newest and palest visitors. A familiar but foreign song or a well rehearsed poem.

Then comes to the stage, the four year olds. They have plaid knickers that match their adorable plaid dresses. They have patent leather Mary Jane shoes with lace socks. They have red barrettes in their hair. All over. They are wearing handmade paper crowns with the words “Ces’t la vie” painted on them.

They negotiate the steps and continue on to sing an awkward and glorious song. One particularly precious girl takes front stage. I don’t know one word this girl is saying, but she shouts from her toes and her message is clear. She believes. Without question. In her God. In her country. In her American teammates who want so dearly to help make her life meaningful. She believes in every ounce of the paper crown on her head. Ces’t la vie. It is life.

It’s been a decade. Ten years. 3,650 days. There are more grey hairs on my head. My own children are nearly adults. The four year old who has ingrained this special memory in my brain is fourteen years old; no doubt much more subdued than then her sassy self on that stage ten years ago and with no doubt fewer barrettes in her hair.

One decade. Ten years. I am sitting in a hospital courtyard in Bainet, Haiti. Soaking up some sunshine. Feeling my messy hair tickle my face. I am surrounded by some of the best people I know. The kind who speak messages from their toes. The type who believe without question. In God. In Haiti. In the mission to spread purposeful lives one drop at a time. One surgery at a time. One exchange of smiles at a time. Those who wear invisible crowns proudly on their heads. Ces’t la vie. It IS life. Hope For Haiti Foundation’s eighth surgical team.

I am no less honored and humbled by my participation today than at the emerging campus of Unifiée ten years ago. I am no more mentally or emotionally prepared for the obstacles this country puts up for my team. I am no less awed at the way our God clears these obstacles when we lift it all up to Him. In His name.

A special thank you this week to my American team. Shirley, Amanda, Lisa, April, Rob, Lela, and Lanita as they help our newest members, Jessica and David, adjust their new crowns. Thank you for walking by my side and straightening my crown as I navigate to understand the simplistic and complex nature of the words written atop my head. Ces’t la vie. It is life.


Karina Bethje

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