Wednesday, October 26, 2011

His name was Makendy.

After returning from Haiti in March I had a lot of healing to do. My heart was broken and it effected many aspects of my life. The emotional drain on me was almost too much to handle. But, God did not take me to Haiti, break my heart for His people and then leave me to wither away. He broke me and then He started putting me back together, one day at a time.

In July of 2010 an opportunity arose for me to participate in an orphan care trip to Haiti. With support from my husband and children I packed up and headed back for an eight day trip of ministering in a Carrefour orphanage. I was very excited about this trip because we were going to be staying in the community that we would be working in, which was much different from our first trip.

When we arrived in Haiti we were taken to a nice little apartment on the streets of Carrefour, Haiti. The house did not have running water, air conditioning or even a toilet. However, we were living among the Haitian people and we would have the ability to build trust and true relationships.

Bucket showers with cold water, a cockroach infested outhouse, warm water to drink, sleeping mats on the floor, dripping sweat 24 hours a day......most people would be very turned off by these things (they are not my favorite things in the world either ;) However, it is hard to explain, but these things brought a sense of comfort over me.

I woke up the first morning excited to see what God had planned for us. I could have never imagined what I was about to walk into. We loaded up our day packs and walked down the street to the Son of God orphanage. Walking along the rocky, trash lined street I began thinking about the little faces that I was about to see. Would they be happy, hopeless, joyful, desperate. I could feel the anxiety building inside of me as we got closer to the orpahange. I was trying to be strong for the two college age girls that were on the trip with me. We approached a tall, green gate that closed the children off from the outside world. Our AIM leaders led us through the gate and into a small courtyard. "This doesn't look too bad", I thought to myself. Then, we walked into a very tight, dark hallway. I immediately got a chill down my spine as I felt a sense of evil. I cannot begin to explain this feeling, but it is something that I will NEVER forget.

The dark, tight hallway led to a larger courtyard. We came through the door to see children sitting everywhere! Most of them had a look of pure hopelessness on their faces and were either naked or crying. I saw huge, swollen bellies from lack of nutrition, open wounds seeping with puss, babies sitting on a filthy ground with no diapers on. It was a sight that I could have never been prepared for.

Our white faces brought lots of attention to us. Some of the kids clung to us for attention while others hid behind bigger kids out of fear for the unknown. Most of the children simply wanted to be held, snuggled, given attention.....things that all kids yearn for. As I snuggled a precious little baby in my arms I couldn't help but notice a little boy sitting on a bench across the courtyard from me. I didn't know what it was about him, but I instantly felt a tug on my heart when I looked at him. Maybe it was his big, swollen belly. Or, his bones protruding from his skinny body. Or, maybe it was his huge, empty, brown eyes. It wouldn't be until months later that I would realize why this little boy made my heart ache.

I handed the baby off to one of my friends and walked over to this fragile looking little boy. I said "Bon Jour" (the way to welcome people in Haiti) and I received no reply. After a few minutes of trying to get some response from this little guy I decided to just leave him alone. After a few difficult hours at the orpahange it was time to leave for the day. The sense of evil and darkness that I had stayed with me for the rest of the evening.

The next day we arrived back at the orphanage and I found myself looking for the quiet, sad little boy from the day before. Each day after that was the same. I felt a desire to seek him out and try to break through the wall that he had built around himself.

During our last day at the orphanage I spent the whole time sitting by the quiet, mysterious little boy. As I sat and watched the other missionaries play games with the children I felt a light touch on my hand. As I looked down I saw a tiny, dark hand laying on mine. I slowly took his hand in mine and we sat quietly. As my time came to an end at the Son of God orphanage the children began singing a song of thanks to all of us for coming. I sat there with tears streaming down my face and the next thing I knew the little boy, whose hand I had been holding, climbed up into my lap and began to sob. For a brief moment I just sat, holding this fragile little boy in my arms.....never wanting to let go!

Leaving the orphanage that day was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Something about that little boy had made it's way into my heart. Something about him was different from all of the other precious kiddos at Son of God. Every ounce of my being felt a love for that child.......his name was Makendy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Start of an Incredible Journey!

To start my story, I am going to take you back to March of 2010. This would be my first mission trip to Haiti, just three months after the earthquake. When we landed in Port-au-Prince you could feel the chaos and fear in the air. Our plans for the week would be relief ministry.

We spent our days visiting churches to find out the needs of their communities. Spreading God's love was about all that we had to offer. However, the desperation in their eyes told me that there was much more that they hoped for. Money from the "rich Americans", food, water, shelter, education for their children. In some cases people begged us to take their children and give them a better life. My first thought was, "How can someone try to "give away" their child! Now, as I look back, I realize what a selfless act this was. The willingness to give their child away in order to give them a chance at a future. I don't know if I could be that selfless.

In the evening, we would get in our vans and drive several miles away from the overcrowded tent cities. Our vans would make there way up to the top of a hill where we would pull behind a huge iron gate that would lock us away from the "real Haiti". We would gather in the Haitian mansion with running water, an air conditioned room and enough food and drinks to supply an entire tent city.
I learned SO much about God and about myself in those seven days. I grew to love PEOPLE. Not the "poor Haitian people", but God's people. People that had the same joys and struggles in life as me. But, these people had learned to work hard and to persevere. I have carried one bible verse in my heart since returning from that first trip to Haiti. Romans 5:2-4 says "And, we rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God. We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character; hope."

My heart was forever changed by the lives of many people during that week in Haiti. People that I will hold dear to me forever.
- Our amazing translator, Watson. I will forever admire this man because of his heart for God, his heart for God's people and his heart for his country.

- So many people from the AIM staff.
- Mark Newland-watching you give yourself, completely, to the Haitian people forever changed me.
- Benny-your heart for those of us coming into Haiti to do God's work was transforming for me. You knew God would not bring a mother of four to Haiti for no reason. You spoke into my life and led me to understand God's purpose for me. I am forever grateful!
- Stephanie-the way that you captured the lives of the Haitian people and told their stories to the world! You made them real people with real lives.

- The mama with the twins-God used you to break my heart!

- Pastor Christian, Pastor David and Pastor Claudelle, their families and their congregations along with all of the children that we grew to love that week.

As our plane took off from Port-au-Prince airport and I looked down over the piles of rubble and the tent cities that covered miles of land, I knew that I would be back. I didn't realize that God's timing would be just a few short months later........