It’s always hard for me to know where to begin a story. If it were only as simple as “Once upon a time..” The thing I love about a good story is that if it is truly a good one, the beginning is further back than one may ever know. People. Places. Events. So much had to take place for a story to even begin.
|One of my first times to ever hold Titi.|
As best I can tell you, this story begins when I began my internship at Mission of Hope (MOH) in the fall of 2011. I had the privilege of working with short term teams that would come down and serve for a week in Haiti. MOH has a northern property called Leveque. This is where teams spent a great amount of their time because MOH was building permanent block homes for people who were currently living in temporary tents. With dozens and dozens of homes being built, there were dozens and dozens of homes to be painted. MOH would send teams out daily to Leveque to paint homes. With all this time being spent in Leveque, I quickly began to recognize children, families, moms and dads. Among all these people, there were two little ones who began to capture my heart. Their names are Jetson and Titi. Brothers. Every day when we would arrive in Leveque, about a dozen children that would come running for the bus, Jetson and Titi were always in the group. I would scoop them up since they were both so little and kiss them till they couldn’t stop giggling. Over time I met their old brothers and their mom and dad and even their aunt. During this time of getting to know them I learned that Jetson and Titi were living in a tent. This nearly broke my heart. Such sweet, loving, adorable boys, living in such harsh conditions. However, I also learned that their aunt had received a home from MOH and so the boys spent a good amount of time there. As my internship was coming to an end, I was offered a staff position to work with teams in 2012. I gladly accepted. So even though leaving Haiti in December for a month was going to be hard, I knew that I would be able to see everyone when I got back.
Or so I thought.
When I arrived back to MOH in January of 2012, I was so excited to get out into the villages and see all the people that I had formed friendships with. It was no secret that Leveque was at the top of my list. I was excited to see some of the families and children, but definitely the most excited to see Jetson and Titi. It was a Sunday afternoon, we were arriving in Leveque and I couldn’t help but scan the children’s faces, eagerly looking for the two boys. They weren’t there. This didn’t concern me too much because they could be at their aunt’s house. I quickly made my way to the house. No one was there. As I slowly walked back towards the bus, I was amazed at how much Leveque had grown in the short 4 weeks I was gone. There were more homes and less tents. I left Leveque that day and assured myself that I would see them the following week. I knew that word would get out that MOH was bringing people again and that the boys would be there. The next Sunday came and the boys were not there. The next Sunday came and the same result. For 5 weeks, I looked and the boys were nowhere to be found. My heart was heavy. What happened? Where had they gone?
I finally saw the aunt one day in late February. After talking with her I learned that the boys, their siblings and parents had moved to Cabaret. Cabaret is a city between MOH and Leveque. They couldn’t live in a tent any longer and had an option to move into a block home and they made the move. Leveque’s population is around 3,000. Cabaret… 70,000. I figured I would never see the boys again. I asked if the boys would ever come to Leveque to see her. She said that they might, but she could never be sure of when. I asked her if I could come to her house and check every time I was in Leveque. With a big smile, she told me yes. Two weeks later, the boys were there. As I walked up to her house, I quickly recognized the giggles and laughter coming from the yard. When I walked through the fence the boys immediately ran to greet me. I dropped to my knees, right in the dirt and hugged them both. Hot tears streamed down my face. I was so happy to see them. For the next 5 months, I went back to the aunt’s house to check and see if the boys were there. Little did I know that one time in February would be the only time I would see them in Leveque.
|Reunited with Jetson!|
Mid July I was in Leveque and as I began to walk towards the aunt’s house, I questioned myself. Why do I still keep going? You know they won’t be there. It’s been 7 months now since they moved and you’ve seen them once. Why do you put yourself through this? But I kept walking. When we got to the house it was quite. The boys weren’t there. It took everything in me not to break down and cry. As I began to walk back towards the bus with the translator, I saw the aunt coming up the road. I greeted her and asked if she had seen the boys. So shook her head and said she hadn’t. The translator began to speak with her in Creole. They spoke longer than I than I had expected. After they finished, the translator looked at me and said, ‘I know where the boys live in Cabaret. I have a friend that lives near there.’ I couldn’t even speak. I just stared at him. Again, it took everything in me not to break down and cry. I finally said, ‘Are you sure? You are absolutely sure you know where?’ He smiled. ‘Yes. I’m sure.’
- - -
|Reunited with Titi!|
As we drove the roads of Cabaret, my heart began to race. Would we really find them? Would this be the day I would get to see them? We parked. We got out of the car and walked through a metal gate. As we entered the yard, I could hardly contain my excitement. And then, there they were. I think their level of surprise somehow outweighed my level of excitement. The shock quickly wore off and with screams and giggles, they ran to meet me. There was no holding back the tears now. I scooped them up and held them so tight. They spoke so quickly and at the exact same time. I couldn’t make out anything they were saying. I didn’t even care. I had found them. After 7 long months, I had found them.
I’ve been back a handful of times since that day. It’s amazing how much I appreciate my time with those boys because I learned that it could easily be taken away from me. It makes me look at other relationships in my life. It makes me question if I appreciate the time I have with others, now fully knowing they could be taken away. I pray that I would appreciate and cherish the relationships I do have. I am also praying that these young boys and their family come to know Christ. In my last few visits I’ve learned that voodoo is predominate in their home. I know that the Lord has put them in my life for a reason. I know that it will be a journey. It almost feels as if the story is really just beginning. I am so thankful that I will be in Haiti for another year, working with MOH and I will have the chance to see where this story takes me.
|Most recent visit with the boys. Also getting to know a lot of their friends.|