Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reconnecting with Marie

(Written January 31, 2012- for the protection of this individual, her name has been changed.)

I just returned from a quick trip to Haiti with Real Life Christian Church- my home church in Orlando. We were in Morriseau, Haiti for 4 days and then they flew back to Orlando. I, however, couldn’t go to Haiti without going to visit my dear family in Grand Goave at Lifeline. I was only going to be there 4 days, but I had so many people I wanted to see. I knew the moment I had to say hello to a dear friend, might be the time I would also have to say goodbye with my time there being so limited. One person I was hoping to see was Marie, the beautiful girl I met in 2010 who touched my heart.

I saw Marie yesterday- the first time since I left August of 2010. Earlier in the day I had complained of my frustrations with being able to speak Creole but struggling to hear it. But for that hour I talked with Marie, I barely spoke; I listened, and I heard almost every word. God opened my ears. I could see the heaviness on her heart because I could see the pain in her eyes; the tears were just millimeters from falling out and rolling down her cheeks.

The twenty-year-old was wearing a denim skirt with a sun yellow tank top with knitted sleeves. Marie is in her last year of secondary school (equivalent to our high school) and hopes to go to college for communications or something in the business field. But her real dream - to be a singer. And with her voice, she could. She has one younger brother and has been raised her whole life by her mother who is her closest friend. Her father has always been absent from her life, in part because of his “maladi nan tet” (sickness in his head). (Two days after this conversation, I was walking through Grand Goave and a friend pointed out a man sitting across the street. I know the majority of Haitians have nothing and many are homeless, but this man looked like even in the culture of Haiti, he would be considered the homeless town crazy. Then my friend told me he was Marie’s father.) She is such a beautiful girl, but there is no glow in her eye; only pain and years of hurt and loneliness. She has felt abandoned and alone.

I’d love to tell you she has many great girlfriends to support and encourage her, or even just one, but I can’t. The friends she does have, have always been boys. She began to tell me about her desire to have a boyfriend. She didn’t have to say it in so many words, but her desire stems from an emptiness and loneliness inside- this void. But the boys in Haiti, “They’re not good boys,” she said. They like the girls from the U.S., Canada, Europe- the “blans”. And those girls have the nice things, the sensual dresses, the pretty sandals, cars, and money. But Marie’s not that girl. Maybe not because she doesn’t want to be, because I think a part of her does want to be- if it means earning a little more attention in hopes of filling that void, then to her, it might be worth it. But she’s not that girl because those girls have money, and that’s one more thing that’s missing in her life.

I told her I understood. And I do. There are Friday nights that pass when I wish I wasn’t alone, when I wish I had someone there. I want that fellowship and friendship. I also want to love someone and have that someone love me back. But I know that that time will come, but not in my timing, in God’s. I told her that the boy she finds some day needs to be a great guy. Not a guy, but a man. A man that will first love the Lord, and then, will love her. It’s like a triangle. God is at the top, and the man and woman form the two points of the base. If the man and woman individually are seeking the Lord and keeping Him first, then as they draw closer to God, they will naturally become closer as a couple. But if before the Lord, is each other, they will only stay on the base line of the triangle and God will be forgotten, and their relationship will suffer.

I think she liked that whole thinking, but I think it also made her think it was too late because she’d already messed up. She had a secret; she’d gone too far already with a guy. But then, he moved to Port au Prince and left her- left her alone and overwhelmed with guilt, more pain, more loneliness, and a void that had grown in size. The closest person in her life she could share her dark, painful secret with- her mother. But that would hurt her mother too much. So other than me, she’s only told one other person- a guy friend from school.

Maybe she should go be a nun. There aren’t any guys worth hoping for, so that seemed like a good option to her, an easy option, a safe option. She knows God has forgiven her, but I don’t think she knows how to forgive herself. She hasn’t been to church regularly in a while now either.

I’d love to tell you there’s a happy ending to our conversation, but at this point, there isn’t. After an hour of talking, we both had to leave, so I prayed for her. I told her how much I loved her but that God loved her so much more. She cut me off as she said, “Sarah, I know, I know.” I think she does know, but I’m not convinced she believes it.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.” Psalms 25:16-18

I’m praying for you dear friend. I love you so much and pray that you will soon allow Jesus to fill that void. He’s the only One who can.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


(Written on 2/2/2012)

On the walk back to Lifeline from visiting Mykenlove’s house, I got another surprise I had so hoped for but had given up in my head because of the time- getting to see PeterLee- the 18 year old boy (now 20) who I worked with all summer in 2010 in therapy after the quake. When Dr. Bill saw him right after the quake, he wrote him off as dead after being found buried alive for two days in a huge building in Grand Goave that had collapsed. By the time I met him five months later, it was an absolute miracle he had survived, but he couldn’t walk on his own. Throughout the summer though, he was a daily miracle as he gradually got stronger and began to walk again. By the end of the summer, he couldn’t stand because his balance was bad, but he could finally walk by himself! But yesterday, for 30 minutes, God blew me away speechless with what I witnessed...

I saw him up off in the distance on a street corner, and our eyes met at the same time! There he was, standing on his own! I couldn’t believe it! The word “miracle” almost seemed like an understatement for where he is today. I ran up to him to hug him; he looked amazing! “I’m so happy to see you!” I said. “How are you?”

With the biggest smile he said, “Sarah, I walk well, I run, and I play fĂștbol (soccer) now again.”

WHAT!?!?!?!! Are you kidding me?! “PeterLee, you are a miracle!!” I was astounded and speechless! Since I was still with a team of “blans” (white missionaries), we had to keep walking back toward Lifeline, so I asked him if he could walk with us, and so he did for our remaining good half mile walk. As we started to walk, he looked down at his shirt and brushed it off and half ashamedly said to me, “I’m dirty because I was working.”

“You’re working?!?!? WHAT?!?!” Joys of laughter poured out of me.

“Well, it’s not for money, but just to help my dad.”

“But, PeterLee, that doesn’t matter! You’re capable of working! You thought you would never walk normal again, but now you’re working!” Having the ability to work means that this young man has the skills to be able to provide for himself someday; a man who should have died and when he didn’t, he should have been critically crippled the rest of this life. But now, he’s capable of working!

We walked and talked down the streets of Grand Goave, neither of us able to stop smiling. I asked how JeanEllie, his younger brother who was also injured though not nearly to the extent of PeterLee and trapped in the same building, was doing. “He’s doing well,” PeterLee told me. “He’s as tall as you now.”

We continued walking and I had to ask again, “You can run?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile.”

“PeterLee, run!”

He chuckled, “No.”

“Yes, PeterLee, I have to see you run!” He laughed and shook his head again. “C’mon, I’ll run with you!” I grabbed his hand and pretty much pulled him, and off we ran for twenty yards. Again, I burst forth laughter of joy and praise to our great God!

I stopped and looked at him in the eye and said, “PeterLee, do you realize, do you really understand the living miracle that you are?! You shouldn’t be here today. You shouldn’t have made it, but God saved you! You’re a walking miracle and you have to share your story with everyone. You have to tell everyone about what God has done in your life! I don’t know why God chose to save you, but He did, and so you need to honor Him with the rest of your life by giving your life back to Him, by serving Him and telling everyone what He’s done for you!”

“Sarah, I can’t thank you enough…”

“No, this,” as I pointed to him, “is not me. I had nothing to do with you. How you are today is so much bigger than anything I ever could have done!”

“I know, but I mean, after God, it’s because of you.”

“PeterLee, you need to tell people your story. But when you do, I don’t want you to even say my name because this is all God’s doing, and He needs all the honor and glory for His miraculous work in your life!”

We continued to walk on, in utter delight of seeing one another. I couldn’t cease to be in complete awe and amazement of this living miracle of God walking beside me. We got to Lifeline’s gate and I had to say goodbye. I gave him a hug and told him I had no words for how happy I was to see him. He looked in my eyes and with all sincerity said, “I will never forget you.
You will always be in my heart.”

...Lord, “Thank you,”? Those words don’t do it. “Miraculous”? That’s not it either. YHWH- the letters the Israelites used for the name of the LORD because His name was too great to say and they were too unworthy. I have no words. YHWH.