TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
August 1, 2005
Part of the fun in a relationship is discovering things about the other person that you did not know. Sometimes the discovery is funny. Sometimes it is surprising. Sometimes it is unbelievable. Recently, I learned a surprising part of Leon’s past. We stumbled upon the event as Leon and I were talking about our plans to visit Michigan. Because of the political unrest in Port-au-Prince, no visas are being issued. That has forced us to look at Plan B, since Leon and I had hoped to have his fiancé visa by now, insuring that we could marry in Michigan and during that same visit be able to see my first grandchild born in October. We have learned that we can travel to the Dominican Republic to attempt to get a visa approval there. Thus, we were talking about the possibility of flying there. I had assumed that Leon had never flown or never been out of the country of Haiti. I was wrong on both accounts. He explained to me that in 1994, when there was much violence during the time of Aristide, he had boarded a homemade boat that was sailing from his birthplace of Ile-a-Vache, with many other people on board. The intended destination was Miami, but without the needed navigation equipment, they had landed in Jamaica instead. Some people from the boat chose to make a new life in Jamaica. Some, like Leon, were placed on a plane that would return them to Haiti by way of Port-au-Prince. Five years later, Leon’s sister unsuccessfully attempted the same thing. Her boat landed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to find out that no Haitians were being admitted to the United States. How interesting! Before, I had only read about people having taken that risk. Now I know people that have! In the past, I had wondered what was so desperate about their situation that would feel driven to make such a decision. Now, having lived in Haiti and having seen the actual conditions that many of the people here live in, I can more easily understand why they might make that choice and take that risky chance!
I am also discovering, while living in Haiti, how much one learns from seeing things from more than one perspective. In the past, I had witnessed many adoptions from the receiving family’s perspective. Now, I have had a chance to see it from the “giving family’s” perspective. In the past month, three girls from the Children of Israel Orphanage have been blessed with the gift of adoption. I have watched as each person at the orphanage, whose life interacted with these children, is affected in some way. The caregivers feel a sense of loss of the children that they have cared for as if they were their own. The cooks prepare fewer meals. The laundry person reflects on the children that are no longer there when washing or ironing clothes that they once wore. The other orphans watch apprehensively as some of their “siblings” leave to go to a life they can only inadequately imagine. They must be asking themselves, “If this is a good thing, why do we feel sad and empty?” The administrators of the orphanage have worked hard to prepare each adopted child for this event. But they, too, feel a hole that not even a replacement child will be able to fill. Shoes that were once worn by the departed children, a bed that they once slept in, friendships that they once had, are all residue reminders of what no longer is. In essence, a mourning process must occur before a healing can begin.
We at the “Children of Israel” Orphanage consider it an immeasurable blessing for the children who have been offered the gift of adoptive families in the states. We consider it a privilege to have been a part of these children’s lives and count it a joy to know that they are receiving such a precious gift. Please pray for all the adjustments that are required in this process! Please pray for healing from the loss that the people at the orphanage feel. Please pray for the newly adopted child who is facing a strange, but wonderful new world. Please pray for the adoptive family as they face the joys and challenges ahead. God had a plan for these precious children before they were even born! God used many people as instruments to fulfill this plan – everyone from the birth parents and all the way to the adoptive families! Our ultimate hope is that these little ones will continue to be raised as children of God and will be of service to Him in their adulthood! Please embrace these children and their new families with your fervent prayers!
The adoption of children from the orphanage leads us to one more joy! That joy is the ability to take in one more child who is in need. We now have a new little girl at the orphanage. Her name is Lovelie. In the photo included below, she can be seen being welcomed by her new “sisters” Chamimine (on the left) and Claudine (on the right)! Lovelie’s mom died when she was seven months old and her father abandoned her. She has lived with her aging grandparents ever since. Before her arrival at the orphanage, I was sitting near her grandfather in church. He slipped me a note during the worship service stating that he had no food to feed his family for that day and asked if I could somehow help! After the service, I directed him to the Izidor family where he received some food to take home to his family. Can you imagine how much it must hurt to have to swallow your pride for the sake of your family’s survival? Can you imagine his worry about what would happen to Lovely when he and his wife were too old to care for her? The Children of Israel Orphanage counts it a joy to be a small part of the solution for this family. We ask God’s blessing as we continue to reach out to the multitude of poor and orphaned children in this community. God has indeed entrusted us with a big responsibility! We can only do it with your continued prayers! Thank you for being a vital part of this ministry!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic
Until next time …