This second time in Haiti kicked off one of the most difficult, bewildering, disorienting seasons of life that I've ever walked through. It has taken me these 4 years just to gain a semblance of perspective, begin to evaluate what exactly happened, and to have the courage to share it publicly.
ContextIn the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there was a dramatic rise in the instances of cholera in the country. Fox news reported that there were more than 3000 confirmed cases by the end of October, and the disease continued to spread, until by January, it reached our creche. If it was just a disease outbreak, it would have been one thing. Yes, it would have been an emergency, and people would have worked hard and gotten less sleep and gone through an intense period of effort to bring about recovery, but that would have been all. For me and for the others around me, there was much, much more to it than that. The cholera outbreak was just a medical emergency. But something worse than cholera was infecting the way things were being run as a whole. Over the next few months, I would witness spiritual abuse, hypocrisy, and deception at the highest level, and it was being so skillfully done that we didn't see it until it was too late to prevent the damage.
In December of 2012 when I went home from Haiti, I was walking on clouds. I remember thinking, "I've found the thing that is worth living for above all other things. There is nothing higher or better that I could pursue. I don't need to experiment, guess, or or try other career paths. I am already enjoying the most satisfying life of all." And yet, only a few months later, I had been caught up into a web of so many lies, such clever deception, and such blatant deceit, that I would find myself asking in my journal if it was possible that the whole Christianity thing was just a fraud, too.
The reason for all of this confusion was that the founder of the orphanage where I was working was a fraud, and I didn't yet know it.
Heather Elyse Savage (who now goes by the name of Heather Matranga) was the founder and director of Giving Hope Rescue Mission. I worked for Giving Hope as a schoolteacher at the orphanage from September through May (2012-2013). I considered Heather a friend, even if I didn't think she considered me as an equal. I admired the work she was doing and thought it was legitimate. And then I saw her wreak havoc and leave a trail of carnage in her wake. None of the lives that her life touched were unaffected. Some were hurt worse than others (and I think I somehow escaped the most unscathed of anyone), but everyone was wounded. The spiritual abuse and hypocrisy that I was exposed to in being part of her organization left an indelible mark on me.
In the intervening time, I have come to see that some of the things that I walked through are also consistent with a larger pattern. Other people also operate in a similar way, and there are vocabulary words for the actions that form part of that pattern.
When you read the upcoming journal entries about the cholera experience, keep in mind that these journal entries were written at the time I was going through it. I didn't yet see the pattern. I didn't yet know the extent of what I was involved with. I still trusted Heather and thought that she was acting in everyone's best interest. The only thing that has been edited in after the fact are the handful of interspersed comments on the lessons I learned, that, looking back, I can see as mismanagement (or worse) all along.
Ultimately, while there is little in the way of redemption that is visible to me so far, I hope to trace the story of God's hand through it all. In little ways, I can see glimpses of what God was doing, though I cannot yet see the fuller picture of how He will finally work all things for good.
The journey starts in two days, when I tell the story of my experience with the babies that had cholera in Port-Au-Prince.