But don't you know that God does much more than we could ever expect or imagine?!?
When we first landed in Haiti and took the 45 minute drive out of Port Au Prince, I was immediately struck by the extreme poverty that surrounded me. Just like everyone else on the bus I round in a sober amazement as I watched people go about their daily life in tents, shacks, and sheds. I thought about their stories. I wondered who they were and why they are where they are now. I thought about that dreadful day just over two years ago and where they were the day their world shook. I asked God to show me how He loves them. But the biggest thing I could not get out of my mind, is that it only took us 1 1/2 hours to fly from Florida to Haiti. I travel for over 24 hours to get to Africa where I see poverty and heartache. But I did not even have to travel half a day before I reached the same poverty and a devastation I have never known. These people are literally our neighbors. They are so close yet we so often turn a blind eye to the circumstances that our neighbors are facing.
Throughout the week I questioned why I was there. I saw a beautiful nation. I saw amazing people who loved the heart of God. I saw children who needed my affection, and I happily picked them up. But yet I wondered did I only come here to pick up naked children all week? I know that God works through simple things but really? God still had a lot to teach me about simplicity. He choose to teach me this lesson through two very little people who touched me in a very great way.
It was Wednesday morning. My team and I were working tilling soil in an older gentlemen's yard. We were taking a water break when I was quickly surrounded by the children above. We laughed as we made silly faces at one another and I tried to teach them how to cross their eyes. The older gentlemen came over to talk to me and through a translator he explained that the girl above was his granddaughter. I had no idea what her name was but something about her stuck out to me. The grandfather grabbed her hand and put it in mine, he pointed to her fingers. On both of her hands she had a little extra finger, something that would be so easily fixed if it were to happen in America. I immediately noticed how embarrassed she was. This little thing mad her different. These two tiny fingers set her apart from all of her friends.
I continued to play with the kids, desperately trying to get her to smile and laugh with the others. She would not. I tried to make her know that I noticed her. I sat in the middle of all the kids and the only one my heart was burning for was the one who would not smile or speak. I knew that God loved her and wanted her to know. So I continued to sit there. Finally after a while of still no response. I went back to tilling the soil. About five minutes later I walked to get another shovel and the little girl jumped to her feet, her eyes lit up and she ran over to me. I squatted down and she threw her arms around me and whispered some secret in Creole into my ears. Then she darted back to her place against the house. I may never know what she said or what it meant that I sat there for so long without a response, but what I do know is that God's love is as simple as sitting in the heat making funny faces. And I know that she knows she is loved and noticed by not only me but by a Father who says she is fearfully and wonderfully made!
Dolfe changed my life.
Through Dolfe I learned what God's plan was for me and what His heart beats for.
Dolfe confirmed my call and reminded me of what I want to do with my life.
Dolfe stole my heart.
The first time we met Dolfe he was sleepy, unresponsive, and sad. The first two days of our trip he hung out with me and my friend Danielle and basically laid on our shoulders as we carried him around. Both of us quickly fell in love and were immediately concerned with this unresponsive baby. We never knew much about him. We did not know where his parents were. Or why he never wore pants. But we fell in love with him all the same. In the middle of a sea of children Dolfe caught my eye.
One day a women from the village told Danielle that if she loved him so much she could have him because he did not have a father who loved him. This broke our heart. We are not in a position where we could take Dolfe home. If we could have we would have but it was impossible. So we struggled the last two days of the trip knowing that in no time we would have to leave this baby not knowing who would love him. However as the trip went on Dolfe began to open up, allowing us in. He showed us his smile and with it stole our affection.
God reminded me that Dolfe does have a Father who loves him and takes care of him and will provide for him. During my last few hours with Dolfe God changed my heart and showed me so much about His.
First I met his mother. She first came to get him. I saw the fear in his eyes as she pulled him away from the crowd. I thought I was going to throw up. I stepped out of the gate holding back my vomit and tears as I watched Dolfe look back at me with those eyes. "That's it" I thought "He is gone and I have no idea what is waiting for him. He looks scared. God please hold him and take care of him" I tried my best to compose myself although everything in me wanted to grab him and take him to the bus and do everything I could to get him away from this women who he seemed to fear. How incredibly wrong I was...
Right as were about to load the bus to leave for the last time I saw him running back over to the crowd with his young mother a few steps behind. I grabbed him and swung him around. Holding back tears I told him that I loved him knowing this would be the last time I would hold him. Then I locked eyes with this young mother. She had to have been my age. Her eyes were sweet and tired. I got a translator to join me as I expressed my love for her son and thanked her for allowing me to play with him that week. She just smiled and looked down at Dolfe. I could tell she loved him. She had nothing to say. But after the translator walked away she tried to tell me something. I speak absolutely no Creole but from what I could understand she was asking if I would be back tomorrow to Leveque. I sadly said no and her eyes dropped to her son. She hung her head and gave me a hug. Then the bus honked. It was time to go. I hugged this precious baby one last time and gave him to the hands of his mother, who I now knew loved him. She was not scary, but she comforted him. As I drove away I saw him cry, but this time it was not a fearful cry but a sad cry. It was sad. But this time instead of me comforting him, his mother was able to. His mother who I know trust is loving her son. Even if she can not provide everything in the world for her son, she does love him and he found comfort in her embrace.
Dolfe reminded me that God called me to love the ones who seem unloved. He called me to hold the pant-less child and sit with the girl who doesn't smile. Dolfe showed me the power of affection even without words. Through Dolfe God showed me that He does not visit Haiti, He stays there. God would be with Dolfe much longer than I would. All I am called to do is love in obedience for the time I'm allowed. I tried to guard my heart when I went to Haiti. I said that I would not let myself get too attached because I would only be there a few days. Dolfe made me a lier. There was no way that I could be unattached. It would have been disobedience to not let myself love those people. God called me to love them for the short time I was allowed. I was afraid. I was afraid of the feeling that I did feel as I drove away and saw the tears run down his face as I felt them run down mine. But just life Dolfe, I was being held by my Father and comforted. I know now that I was called to Haiti to relearn simple love. A love that holds and protects. A love that spins around in circles just to hear a baby laugh. A love that sweats and hurts. A love that breaks down barriers in four days and creates lasting impressions. A love that heals and teaches. A love that goes deep. A love that doesn't have to wear pants. A love that doesn't have to speak. A love that is powerful and full of hope.
The children of Haiti taught me much more than I could ever have imagined or expected. God is so not limited to our experience, expectation, or imagination. He used the most unlikely children to teach me the simplest of love and oh how thankful I am for that!