I should have seen it coming.
Of course when you come back from a trip to Africa or Haiti or some equally far-flung country, people are going to ask you how your trip went. But even thought that seems so obvious, I wasn't ready for it. The first morning back in America, a good friend spotted me and ran to give me a hug. First question out of her mouth?
"So how was Haiti!"
Reasonable question, but all I could do was just stare at her... "How was Haiti?!" I thought in that frozen moment staring at her expectant face, "I just came back from living in one of the poorest, most devastated, nations on this side of the planet. Where death, destruction, and poverty are everywhere, where we slept in tents that would get flooded by island storms, where hundreds got saved and healed before our eyes, where I made some of my closest friends, but where every fiber of who I was and what I was capable of was tested in the fire of the Haitian sun. What on earth can I say... how can I make you understand..."
Eventually I just smiled and said "Haiti was good!" And she nodded, and I nodded, and then we talked about what movies had come out in the theaters while I was gone. It was like we had a mutual, unspoken, understanding that what I had seen, I couldn't put into words, I could barely wrap my mind around, much less explain.
A week later and my thoughts were somewhat more organized, and when my neighbor makes the statement "Haiti must have been just life changing!" I could quickly agree, and even coherently add to the conversation "Yes. Haiti challenged me physically and spiritually--but out of the struggle, my character grew enormously." Because as much we all hate to hear it, the truth is that we grow the most when life is the hardest....