On Sunday myself and 2 friends flew back to the States after spending 13 day’s in Haiti. On Monday morning, just 13 hours later I found myself at “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland. This was not the most planned out/thought out move on my part, but it had been in the works for a while. We had some great friends come in from Seattle and the Haiti trip just happened to come up in the midst of it.

So, there I stood with Amy and our two girls in Disneyland, surrounded by giant cartoon characters, happy music and clean, paved, immaculate streets. I was not sure what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react to such culture shock so I just went on with my day trying not to ruin it for my girls, yet still trying to remember what I had just came from.

As I walked around I couldn’t help but notice the drastic difference in worlds. I was standing in a world of wealth after coming from the poorest place in the Western Hemisphere. I was surrounded by white kids laughing, dancing and begging their parents to spend more money on them than they already had by purchasing $20 stuffed animals (i’m talking about my kids here, haha), when I had just come from a place where there is nothing left to buy, and there is no reason for the approx. 10,000 orphans caused by the earthquake to dance and sing. I was standing in a place nicknamed “the happiest place on earth” when I had just left a place that people are afraid of going to because of all the corruption, violence and evil.

Everything went smoothly for the most part, but when the evening parade came rolling through I was overcome with brokenness and grief.  I was standing there on the side of the road and the parade stopped right in front of me. Characters and actors broke out into dancing  surrounded by music, lights and floats. As I was watching this I got a text from Ingvar, who is still in Haiti. There had just been an aftershock in Haiti and people were freaking out. That was followed 40 minutes later by another text saying that the Haitian people were singing songs in the streets, celebrating life.

How ironic that here I was watching people who were paid to entertain and lead crowds in a time of celebration surrounded by money and glitter and a false reality when in Haiti people were dancing and celebrating that they were alive, while surrounded by death and destruction. I was overcome with emotion and started crying right there on Disneyland’s main street. Amy came over and asked if I was alright. I had no answer but to say “no.” Why can people in Haiti celebrate naturally in the midst of horror and destruction when we have to hire people to help us celebrate in the midst of all that is plastic, glitter and fake?

I am not sure how to process and deal with my time in Haiti, but I know that I need to. Haiti has wrecked me, and not in a bad way. It has wrecked me to not take things for granted. A few weeks ago on my friend Ben’s blog there was a ton of action regarding the topic of “why did God let, or cause the earthquake in Haiti?” There was lots of Jesus bashing and middle class American ideas being thrown out. The one comment was made by my friend Dave that said “Ben, you need to get out of the country more” were the wisest words in the conversation, and now I can see why.

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11 comments so far on “From Haiti to Disneyland in 24 hours

  1. joanna says:

    phil,
    i don’t know much, but I know that when you share God’s heart, and carry someone else’s grief, something shifts, in us, in the world, in the spiritual. your heart for haiti, and for America is right and good.
    i love you, thanks for this,
    jo

  2. Felicia says:

    Thank you Phil, I don’t have too much to say to that, just thanks. Thanks for going, thanks for sharing and thanks for being real. I’m so glad to have friends like you in my life, sharing their experiences and vulnerability to remind me of who God’s heart is for.

  3. Graham says:

    Phil,
    Reading this has caused a new wave of emotions to come over me. Having been to both Haiti & Disneyland, I can so visually picture everything that you are describing. Thanks for keeping it (& me) raw & honest.
    Graham

  4. Beth says:

    I’ll always remember that moment, and your incredible compassion. I still have a Mickey-shaped confetti stuck to my stroller as a reminder. There are many ironies in this world. God gave us people like you to help point them out to the rest of us.
    Thanks.
    Beth

  5. Tabitha says:

    I appreciate your thoughts and authenticity…I have felt an unsettling in my spirit with my current state of being, it is time for change..this post confirms that even more, priorities need to be re-evaluated….thank you!

  6. Crystal says:

    wow.
    so wow.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for stirring my old feelings up to the surface and sharing in yours.
    much love Phil, Amy and the girls.

  7. Phil, when I read your first tweet about going to Disneyland I wondered of the impact it would have on you. I shared with my wife your situation and said a quick prayer for you. While I have not shared your experience, your experience has touched my heart.
    Thank you

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