Friday, January 12, 2018

Jan 12 - 8 Years of remembering

2018 

On this day 8 years ago my life changed forever. I survived one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history and saw, heard and experienced many horrific things.
It was a dark time.

Out of that darkness came great suffering, suffering I cannot even begin to explain, nor would I ever want to. That suffering was eventually followed by the most intense personal and spiritual growth I have ever and probably will ever experience.

Out of the ashes came the Bernard family as it is today.

I have been blessed with the incredible honour and privilege of raising three amazing boys who lost their mother that day. And I have been blessed with the most loving and kind hearted husband, who was miraculously spared. Jubilee, named for the year of Jubilee, a great symbol of restoration in years long past, is only here because of that terrible day.

Always remember, no matter how dark your circumstance may be, God truly can make something beautiful come out of it.

Today we pause and remember. So many lives lost, so much pain and suffering. We remember today, but we also choose to live, because we were all lucky enough to make it through.
Today we remember Jan 12, 2010.

2017

I never know what to say on the anniversary of the earthquake. It's not something I like to talk about, or think about really. Those few seconds changed me, changed Haiti and changed the course of my life. There were moments in the aftermath that I felt damaged beyond repair. But in the brokenness I found hope. In the desperation I found faith. And out of the ashes I found love.

They say, "Nou pap janm bliye" in Haiti when referring to the earthquake which means, "we will never forget", but we do. We forget. We forget that we were chosen in those few seconds, to live, while others were not. 

I don't know why I was chosen, why Kenol was chosen, why the boys were chosen and Mariane and Farah and my "grocery store crush" along with thousands of others were not.

I was not special or important or really even all that impressive, yet I was chosen to live. I want to honour the memory of those who became late and the choice to allow me to live by remembering daily that I was chosen, and to live my everyday life as one who was spared.

Which is to live a life with purpose and meaning, and love.

2013

What is there to say on this solemn day? There is a thick sadness in the air as we all remember things we have so desperately tried to forget, but at the same time there is a hope that lingers just beneath reminding us that we were chosen, hand picked by God, to live. That has to mean something.

As I looked at my boys this morning, I realized that January 12th means something completely different to me now. This was the day my husband became a widow.  The day my boys lost their mother. It is also the day that sparked a series of events that would eventually make me a wife and mother of 3. It is hard to mentally digest all the emotions flowing through me today. This was the worst day of my life, yet if it had not happened our precious family would not exist.

So, instead of wallowing in my confusion I have decided that today I choose to celebrate. I choose to celebrate the amazing perseverance and everlasting hope that is wired into the DNA of every Haitian I have ever met. I choose to celebrate my dear family, and the incredible miracle it is that we are one.  I celebrate the Hope House, the incredible mismatched love soaked family we are.

The road of this life has been long and weary. A river of tears have seeped from my eyes but I have experienced more joy in this life than anyone could expect or imagine.

You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.


 Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
          - Maya Angelou
This morning I kissed my husband, and thanked God for miraculously sparing his life. I hugged my boys and wished I could thank their mother for bringing them into this world, then thanked God for making them mine.  I looked around the room this morning at the 68 beautiful smiling precious faces of my babies and praised God that He spared every one of them for a great purpose.
Today I choose to celebrate life. Both the bright sunshine and the deepest darkness, the ups and the downs, the joys and the fears, the love and the heartbreak. Today I choose to celebrate it all.
Peace, love and life.
Rachel

2011

It’s hard to believe it was a year ago today my world fell apart. Most of the time it feels like the earthquake happened a hundred years ago, but when I find myself jumping out of my skin when someone bumps my chair, I am reminded that it really wasn’t all that long ago.

For the past 12 months I have been waiting for the tears to come. I have cried, short little burst of tears, but there has been this lingering sorrow waiting to burst through my tear ducts. Last night the tears finally came. It was at our Tuesday night worship service, we sang this song we’ve sung a hundred times before but for some reason last night it hit me like a ton of bricks and the tears started falling, those tears turned into sobs and soon there was a small puddle of salt water forming at my feet. The song is a creole song that translated says something along these lines; When your life becomes dark and everything is difficult don’t be afraid. Our Lord says that He is responsible and He will be with you through it all, don’t be afraid.” This time, instead of forcing myself to pull it together I just cried. I was finally able to just cry, and be sad, and mourn the loss, not only for the hundreds of thousand that passed away, the loss of my sense of security but also the loss of a country; the Haiti I knew and loved is gone, everything has changed but God has been there with us through it all.

It is incredible to be here, one year later and see the amazing things the Lord has done. I have heard hundreds of “earthquake stories”. People who should have been at school but were called in to work and their school collapsed, people who were in buildings that collapsed completely who made it out without a scratch, people who were stuck in traffic and were late for appointments in buildings that fell down, people who were trapped in the rubble for weeks and somehow survived.  I don’t know why the earthquake happened or why so many had to die. I do know that I survived for a reason, and I will live everyday of my life thankful that I am still here. I will live everyday with purpose and meaning because I have been given a second chance to make a difference.

Haiti is broken, but there is still hope; hope for a better life, hope for a brighter future.

Please take a moment today to pray for Haiti, a country of survivors struggling daily just to make it through the day.

Peace, love and remembrance,

Rachel

2010

Hello,

I know you've probably heard by now about the earthquake. It was the scariest thing I've ever experienced. I am alive and well. All MOH staff on campus are ok. We had a couple kids with bumps and bruises, but we are ok. The kids are all sitting in the middle of the soccer field now eating Emergency food packets. They are going to be sleeping outside. I am heading back down there as soon as this email is sent.

All phone lines are down.

There are many people dead from all around here.

My house is a complete disaster, everything is smashed.

But we are alive and the kids are safe.

Somehow the internet is still working.

Love you,

Rachel