Our grown daughter and her family came to visit us last week for a friend’s wedding here in Haiti. She brought with her a husband, a father-in-law, one baby, one toddler and one niece, our oldest granddaughter. Morgan grew up knowing important things, one being how to pack a multitude of American items in several suitcases bound for the third world. She is expert. She did this countless times growing up. It was more fun than Christmas morning opening frozen foods, fresh foods, supplies and fun things. Our children know their parents well. Both of our kids went on shopping sprees to bring home the loot. We raised them well.
The week went perfectly. No car crashes with small children riding on laps instead of car seats. A tough call for parents who are an ER nurse and a fire paramedic. The oldest granddaughter fell in love with our little island. The wedding was lovely and semi on time which is a victory in any country. The week was good.
The last day was a trip to the beach. Sun, swimming, lobster lunch, and playing that led to exhaustion.
By 5:00 PM we were ready to travel the one hour trip back to Port-au-Prince. Lasagna would be in the oven for our last dinner together. Airport in the morning after a week of family fun.
We were ready to take off home. Sleepy kids settled on laps, we were crammed into the pick up, salty, still wet and tired. A guy wanders over to the truck. “Are you headed into Port?” “Yeah,” I answer, “hop in back if you want a ride.” “No, madam, I don’t want a ride and you can’t get to Port.” “There’s manifestations, a road block, no getting through, today or tomorrow.”
This is where the perfect week turns sour. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I called John and insisted he come save us on the motorcycle. As if he could get through and make it better. I had several folks in Port checking on the situation. The guy was right, the road was blocked, no one, not even heroic John on the moto could get through and save us.
As in all families we have our roles. I had done really well this week taking care of everyone. When my daughter saw that her mother was in a heap of tears she jumped into action and called her savvy Haitian friends for the scoop and help. They were on it. The granddaughter, awesome Autumn, stated flatly “If we don’t have a gun at our head, it’s still a good day.” She has her grandfather’s optimism. I found a towel, wiped my tear filled face and agreed with Morgan that we needed a plan to get them back to Port before morning for the flight back to USA.
A missionary friend who lives in the area came to our rescue by sending a young guy who could lead us another way back to Port-au-Prince. If you don’t know the roads in rural Haiti you can take a wrong turn and not know it until you are looking across the water at Cuba. We started out the opposite way towards home. Up and around we went through Verettes, Saut d’Eau, Mirebalais and over the mountain and back into Port-au-Prince. The long way around. Four and a half hours long way around.
I felt dread. Driving at night on unfamiliar often pothole filled roads is not my favorite thing. I’m sure I annoyed every on-coming driver with my high beams. I certainly annoyed my passengers by slowing to a crawl every time a truck came towards us but they were too gracious to say so. As we entered Saut d’Eau we were greeted by a life size, voodoo scarecrow character in the middle of the road. Then the silliness set in. Home made speed bumps on dirt roads tortured the full bladders and made us laugh. Babies slept and adult males put up with us while my daughter and I found everything hysterically funny. You know those moments. You can’t plan them but they are gifts. The gift of joy and laughter at what isn’t even funny when you are in your right mind. The gift of being together, finding joy in what a few hours ago brought tears. The joy of a detour. A very long one.
God does that. He interrupts our lives with detours. He often makes us take the long route because He has gifts for us. When we stop crying and complaining we can enter into these moments and find Him there.
I’m learning that God likes the long route, the whisper, the waiting, the slow and the still. Light speed doesn’t seem to be His thing. Dark, unpaved roads through towns that don’t feel like home seem to be more to His liking.
So, if you find yourself at a detour, pay attention, God might be directing the traffic.