call to serve, Feed My Starving Children, Haiti, health care, higher education, hunger, mission work, Uncategorized

Why Haiti? Part II

I decided I would keep a journal before heading to Haiti.  I wanted to look back on my experiences, Haitian cuisine, the orphans, and my team. Haiti would be the 19th country in my passport, except mine had expired and was in need of renewal.  The postmaster in the Mount Horeb, WI post office discouraged me from expediting the renewal, certain that the new one would return within 5 weeks.  She was right.  I paid my $116.50 in total passport costs and merely waited.  A scrub top for the photo–perfect.  I looked the part of a medical missionary.

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my passport pic, wearing a scrub top

Our flight was leaving O’Hare about 0730 with a connection in Fort Lauterdale, FL, so nearly all of the team wanted to meet at a Quality Inn there, dine, and organize the materials we were taking along. Day 1 of this excursion happened to be July 2nd, my 8th wedding anniversary with Sara.  I came home after a 12-hour night shift in the emergency department, napped 3 hours, and headed to the farm.  My wife is an excellent planner and had most of my clothes and accessories gathered already. I made a point of not taking anything that I could live without, worried about the risk of it getting stolen or ruined in some fashion.  By 3 pm we were leaving my brother’s farm and we arrived at the Quality Inn O’Hare by 1730.

Soon we were having dinner at Bella Sera in the Hotel.  I ordered the seafood ravioli and remember that I wanted to lick the plate–it was so incredibly good!  Those who know me well know that I am a foodie, married to a foodie: Sara, 1/3rd of thesisterslice.com Topping off my dinner was tiramisu and a Castle Rock pinot noir.

tiramisu

tiramisu!

I knew it was not likely I would eat this well in a third world nation for the next 10 days. I don’t believe we had any teetotalers among the group, which made organizing and re-packing all the medical supplies that much more fun. By 2230 we were in bed, brother Adam and I in our room, and I awoke at 0200–mind a flurry of activity, so I decided to go use the hotel’s business computer to log some work on my doctorate.

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airport security

I was asleep maybe another hour when the alarm went off and we were up. We were on the shuttle headed for the airport by 0430–strong work on the part of the QI staff and drivers.  It was no easy task to get all of the team and our 12 bags into the shuttle. It was an easy traverse through security and then to an Americanized breakfast of McDonald’s hot cakes and a venti Mocha latte.  I couldn’t imagine there would be a McDonald’s on every street like in the U.S.; but then again, I was surprised to find one in Zermatt, Switzerland and Foix, France too. A couple of hours later we were dining in the Ft. Lauterdale airport before catching our 90 minute flight to Port au Prince.  A nice, hot plate of spaghetti and meatballs in my belly helped get me psyched up for culinary conditions unknown once we landed in Haiti.  How do you get psyched up for intractable diarrhea in a 3rd world nation?

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McDonalds, in the shadow of the Matterhorn!

We knew when we were flying over the Bahamas, a series of islands surrounded by some of the brightest aqua-blue colored water I have ever seen.  Minutes later we were touching down in PAP and I thought “We’re not in Wisconsin any more, Toto.”  We were greeted by throngs, oceans of Haitians everywhere.

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Haitian crowds like the one at the PAP airport

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divorce, fatherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Grandpa? Nope, Late Fatherhood

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Handsome baby Noah

I became a father when I was 39.  That’s old.  Simple math shows that I will be 57 when my oldest son graduates high school.  “Hey, grandpa–so nice you could be here to watch your grandson on his graduation day!”  Why so old, you ask?  I took a six-year detour with The Practice Wife–thankful that no children resulted from that union.  I remember being 12 and thinking that there was no way I would be ready to be a daddy at 25 and that I had better wait.  At that age, I was not entirely sure of the mechanism used to accomplish fatherhood anyhow; but I gave myself plenty of time to figure it out.  I thought I was wiser at 25 than I had ever been, but I still had some wisdom to acquire and maturity to grow.  Yep, 30 would be a better age to create mini-Eriks.  Shortly after that mark I met the first Mrs. Hanson.

ski lodge

I might have guessed how that would turn out when she stood giggling at our altar in a Ski Lodge in Frisco, CO–giggling because the fireplace was making popping sounds that sounded like someone breaking wind.  The emotional maturity of a first grader.  I would think most women would gush over a two-week honeymoon skiing in Europe, traveling by Eurail to six different countries, skiing over the mountain from Switzerland into Italy under the shadow of the Matterhorn. Or the standing-room-only Christmas Eve service in Zermatt, spoken in a German dialect with locals dressed to the nines and big snowflakes falling. Or ringing in the new year in Salzburg, Austria–birthplace of Mozart–at the Festung while serial cannon fire echoed across the nation from one Austrian border to the next.

Festung

But no!  She grew tired of me and I grew tired of her by the end of that two weeks.  I couldn’t wait to be home to have some alone time.  Surprise, surprise when this marriage didn’t work out.  It didn’t help that we decided to try med school living in different cities 2 1/2 hours apart.  I lost my ‘coolness’ factor when I got the boot from med school–suddenly the first Mrs. Hanson was not going to be married to a doctor after all.  She would have to change that. To make matters worse, we opted to gut an entire house and live in it during the repair.  This is also a great way to stress a marriage.

gutted home

home under renovation

When I met Sara, we talked about our future with little ones running about, refrigerator magnets in place, how we would (as older parents) likely spoil them rotten.  I am glad we made some time to travel, see France, Andorra, Spain, visit Cozumel twice, and make a run of the B & Bs in New England.  Having children in school dramatically slows a parent’s pace to travel and see new places. These days we get to Washington Island in Door Co., WI each summer and to visit family in Iowa.  My wife’s family visits on holidays and mine never visits, except Uncle Sam.

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Uncle Sam (suspenders)

Our oldest son Noah is smart, handsome, and likeable.  He seems to make friends easily and always puts his best foot forward…when he is not at home.  When he is at home he lets his hair down and picks fights with his next younger brother, mixes like oil and water with his mama, and seldom misses a chance to show how lazy he can be–God’s challenge to me as a father. When his teachers have commented on how helpful and polite he is at school, we stop to verify that they are talking about our son.  A friend of ours pointed out that it is good that Noah can “let his hair down at home–and be who he really is.”  My fear is that he will require more of our help once he is of age than I can provide, due to my advancing years.

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Jr. GQ, Noah

Our second oldest son Jonah was speaking in complete sentences when he was 18 months old.  In the words of Shrek “you have the right to remain silent; what you lack is the ability.”  He talks with the sweetest lisp and I know one day that will just be done talking that way.  He has deep chocolatey brown eyes like his mama and is a very sweet and thoughtful boy.  He also knows exactly how to best antagonize his older brother Noah.

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Berry Pickin’ Jojo

Our youngest son, Eli, a.k.a. “Monster Baby” was originally nicknamed this because of his off-the-chart growth.

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Eli!

Not that any of the boys is a shrinking violet–all have been off the chart.  Eli is not yet two years old and is 52 pounds.  His size makes him a monster.  Lately, however…his behavior does too!  He is pure imp these days, having found his terrible two’s early.  He is a game player and one of my favorite pictures of him is when he was helping me put away clean clothes and he put my boxer briefs on his head with his face sticking out one of the leg holes.

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Monster Baby, playing with my boxers on his head!

Trust me, there are times when Sara and I look at each other and second guess our choice to be parents.  We could have had another home in the south of France, but no…we chose parenthood instead!

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I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

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