TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
August 4, 2018
B I T T E R S W E E T
For the first time since opening Grace Orphanage in 2011, we are allowing some of the older boys to spend a few days with their birth families during summer vacation. It is something the boys have asked about and something we have contemplated doing. This year seemed to be the right time.
I have tried to imagine what that whole experience would be like. Would they miss the orphanage or would they never want to return? Would they remember extended family members? Would they have enough to eat during their visit? Would the house that they remember still be their family home? Would the family find it hard to return their children back into our care? Is it a good choice to allow this experience or does it stir up too many conflicting emotions?
For Stanley and Kerly it was 7 years since they had seen their home town. The two boys traveled to the mainland with us and were met by their father on the wharf. The boys’ faces reflected both delight and apprehension. The father was “over the top” happy! He was amazed to see that Stanley was taller than he was. He was excited about traveling one hour with them to return them to their home town.
Stanley with his father!
Father and Son (Kerly)
I could not help but think about them the whole time they were gone. Were they afraid? Were they hungry? Did they have trouble sleeping? OR Was it the best experience ever?
After their stay, we greeted Stanley and Kerly at the wharf when it was time for them to return to Île-à-Vache. Once again, their faces were a mixture of delight and apprehension. The father was so excited to talk about the reunion. He was so very happy that Stanley had learned to play the keyboard while at the orphanage and was able to share that talent with the church in his home town. It was a source of great pride for the father. He could not thank us enough for the many opportunities his sons have had because of the life the orphanage has been able to offer.
Upon returning to Île-à-Vache, Stanley asked Poppy Léon to have a private conversation with him. So many thoughts popped into my mind as to what that conversation would be about. Stanley (being the older of the two brothers) had some insightful comments. He had discussed these things with his younger brother Kerly and now he wanted to share these thoughts with Léon. Stanley started off by saying that the conditions at his home were very bad. Seven family members slept in the home during their visit, when normally it was only five. The family only owns one bed. The home was in such poor repair, the boys were told not to lean on the structure in some of the places, as the wall would collapse. Stanley realized that he was taller and healthier than his older brother, knowing that, in part, it was due to the lack of food available to his birth family. Upon realizing all of this, he reflected on how he had previously complained about his life at the orphanage. But now, he realized that he had it so much better than the rest of his family. He knew his attitude needed to change to appreciation. He vowed to do good in school and to work hard to learn something that later he could use to help his birth family. I was deeply touched at his maturity level and his insight. As bittersweet as the visit was, I felt that it was a valuable experience both for the boys living at the orphanage and for the birth family.
The birth family’s circumstances determine the length of stay, based on available food and housing situations. This week Wenshel and Jeffté have the opportunity to visit their birth families. I pray that they too will be ok with this bittersweet experience. I will think about and pray for them the whole time they are gone.
Jeffté will travel with his godfather (and pastor of his family’s church) to his home town!
Jeffté and Wenshel enjoy rice & bean sauce at our home while waiting to reunite with their birth families
This series of events reminds me how quickly I can get caught up in complaining about my circumstances, when in reality I am truly, truly blessed. Forgive me Lord!
Your prayers for the boys at GRACE Orphanage and for children all over the world who are separated from their families is so appreciated! Please pray for the adults who care for and nurture these children when their own parents are unable to do so.
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing …………