We recently asked if you had any questions you wanted to ask Sheila about life in Haiti at Children of the Promise and you asked some great questions!
What was your biggest phobia when you got there? Has it gone away?
I’m generally a pretty adventurous person, so I don’t have too many phobias. However, I do remember that when I decided to move to Haiti I kept thinking back to a fear I had faced during my first visit. I came to COTP as a one-week volunteer back in March of 2010. During that trip, there were so many big spiders, like giant wolf spiders (wall spiders?) inside the house! We had a Bible study one night and I remember sitting on the edge of the couch with my feet suspended in the air, not able to focus on anything because I could count about 10 of those monsters from my seat! I was so afraid of moving to Haiti with them!! I researched Haitian spiders and whether they were poisonous or not, but didn’t get too far before it was time to leave (it was only one month between the time they asked me to come and when I arrived).
When I got to Haiti, I was pleasantly surprised to find out there were far fewer spiders than my last trip. It still took a lot of adjusting, though. My roommate at the time, Chante, had to kill huge cockroaches for me when I first moved in and I could hardly sleep because of how many little spiders were cohabiting my room. I remember the first tarantula I saw. We were in Kreyol class at our neighbors house and it just came sauntering into the living room. Bill calmly grabbed a broom and smacked it. Easy as pie. The good thing about tarantulas in Haiti is that they are Really Slow! Not like those darting buggers you see in movies. The very next day, I came home to a tarantula in my bedroom, but because I had seen such a marvelous demonstration, i was able to kill it easily with my flip flop.
These days, the volunteers think I’m a super hero because they can call me in a panic when giant spiders find their way into the house and I can act really brave while I breezily kill them with my sandal. I’d be lying if there wasn’t always a twinge of fear when I get close to those suckers, but I would still say it’s a conquered phobia.