Picking up where I left off on my post The Beginning...
I started my job at a children's hospital as an RN. I loved it, even though those first few months were extremely challenging and every day I walked into work feeling like I knew nothing. Meanwhile, Haiti and its people, especially its children, continued to rest on my heart.
In October of that fall I received an email from my trip leader to Haiti saying that she'd been extremely burdened for the boys we'd visited and she'd been visiting them frequently when she visited the Haitian girl she and her husband were adopting. During one of these trips she learned that these boys were being abused and neglected by the man who had supposedly been caring for them. She, along with another couple, named the Manasseros (who'd met the boys on their own mission trip right after ours), flew down to Haiti to help the boys. When they arrived at their "home" they found all the boys walking down the street with what little they owned, starving and exhausted. The man abusing them had been thrown in jail, but that left the boys on the streets because the rent for their home had been left unpaid. They put all the boys in a truck, fed them, and drove around all night looking for a place that would take them. Eventually they found an abandoned church where they moved the boys and over the next few months found a couple of godly Haitian men to care for them. Meanwhile, these two couples were back in the states, raising support to move their families to Haiti to oversee the care of the boys and start a ministry called Child Hope International (with Maison de Lumiere being the home for the boys). My trip leader, Summer, wanted to know if I'd like to travel back to Haiti with her and her sister during the upcoming summer. I was thrilled and quickly agreed to go.
So, it was with much joy that I met up with Summer and her sister Kyle in Miami, along with Rhonda, a hilarious woman from my first trip (Rhonda and I continue to meet up in Haiti almost every year, usually unplanned), and a group from Rhonda's church. We dropped our luggage at the same hotel from the year before and drove over to the new boys' home. We were welcomed by a group of excited boys, twelve in number. The remainder of the boys who'd been living with the American man were older and had moved out, returning to the streets or to programs for older kids. That week we played board games, introduced the boys to play-doh, learned to dance (Haitian-style), peeked in on them as they attended school for the first time, worshipped together, and played a very confusing game of Sardines (most of the boys didn't understand the rules). Summer, Kyle, a new friend named Meleesa, and I decided to spend one night at the boys' home. One of us tried to enter the bathroom but was stopped short by an enormous cockroach blocking our way to it. This was before cockroaches became my roommates, bathroom-mates, and kitchen-mates years later and I learned to be-gudgringly co-exist with them. No bathroom usage was going to occur with that thing in our way. Hours (yes, we were very girly girly) of laughter and attempts to coerce each other into killing it ensued. Eventually one of the other woman killed it by throwing a sandal at it. But we left it in the hallway as no one had the nerve to actually move it- because it surely would rise from the dead. I was so creeped out by the thought of things crawling on me at night, that I slept with pants on and my sandals on my feet. Yes, I am ridiculous.
The next day we drove to the beach with the boys and the team. Swimmers the boys were not. Outside the water, they were tough and independent. Inside the water they became little boys, needing love and safety. Summer and I decided to stay in Haiti an extra few days, while her sister and the team left on their scheduled date. We took our stuff over to the boys home and camped out with the cockroaches.
For the next few days Summer and I traveled around Port au Prince with some of the boys, looking for their family members. We wanted to reunite these kids with their parents and families (some had not seen them in years) and needed permission from their parents to keep them in the boys' home. It was a beautiful but sobering time, watching the kids see their parents and siblings and neighbors after years of being apart. As far as I could understand, we found each family just by word of mouth. The boys had some idea of where they had grown up so we headed out in those areas, walked around a bit, then eventually a neighbor, relative, or childhood friend recognized them. Each time when they were recognized, people gathered around and began announcing their presence. By the time we arrived in front of their parents, crowds of people had gathered. Summer explained to each parent where their child had been, where they were now living and what MdL was doing for them. She asked each child if they would like to stay with their parents, but all shared that they wanted to stay at MdL. Each parent agreed that they would like their child to be raised at MdL. We gave them information about how to contact their children if they wanted to see them and then traipsed our way down through the hills, led through the rocks and the mud by the boys. At one point I remember sitting in a truck and the words, "I want to move here," came flying out of my mouth. I meant them, but the thought seemed so crazy and not like me, that I considered trying to grab the words and putting them back in my mouth. A few days later we bid a tearful goodbye to the boys, wondering when we'd be able to return.
Again, I left Haiti wondering what my role in the future there would be. I could be a nurse there. But me, really? The girl who hates dirt, creepy-crawling creatures, and being hot?