Gueline is our oldest girl that has been living with us up until this past Saturday. She turned 18 last May. To read more about Gueline and what she is like, click here. In Haiti, when children turn 18, they must leave the orphanage. We have always known this is a rule and because we have so many older children, have been praying about a transitional plan for our kids once they move out. This is not an easy thing to figure out. What we would like to do eventually is have a transitional boy’s home and girl’s home that they would next move into but this just isn’t affordable right now. It has been clear for a couple of months now that it was time for Gueline to move out. She desires more freedom, has a part time job now, and needs to begin to learn how to do more on her own. We have already told all of our kids that we will never move them out until we have a place we know is safe and where they will be loved and taken care of. We have even told them that if this means they are still with us when they are 20, so be it! After months of praying, we found this place for Gueline.
Marjorie is our cook for the kids and her husband, Lener, is basically our assisant. He does anything and everything for us. Of our employees they have been with us the longest and are our most trusted. They have been married 6 years, have 3 children of their own, and are also raising 2 other teenage girls. One of our older girls, Fransline, recently moved in with them and this is who Gueline moved in with this past Saturday. Soon after we got here in August, God kept bringing them and their home to my mind for Fransline and Gueline. We sat down first with Marjorie and Lener to run the idea by them and they were immediately open to it. They love our kids very much and already treat many of them like their own. The next step was to sit down with our House Mom Manager, Gina, to get her opinion. We rarely make any decisions in Haiti without getting Gina’s opinion. We highly value it and she also helps us navigate things culturally. Gina was on board as well which we took as another confirmation that this was the right thing for Gueline. Next came the hard part….telling Gueline. Matt and I sat down with her and explained what the plan was. This was a hard conversation to have. We in no way wanted her to feel rejected (something all of our kids struggle with) or unloved. We made it very clear we would always be here for her but that she is growing up and the time had come to move on. I was very proud of the way she took it. She was not entirely surprised as she knew this had to be coming at some point. Mainly she just kept saying she was sad to leave the other kids. These are kids she’s lived with for years including her brother, Kervinson. I’m sure the thought of not waking up every morning with them was terrifying. We didn’t want to in any way rush her so we told her she would have a couple of weeks to think about it and process it. In the meantime, we would be busy making sure her room at Marjorie and Lener’s had what it needed. After some letters from Gueline letting us know she really really needed a cell phone before she could move out (what 18 year old girl doesn’t?), some time telling the kids about the move, and some time telling the House Moms, we set a moving date for this past Saturday.
Since we have moved Sophie to Haiti, much of my time is spent at home with her while Matt takes care of a lot of the day-to-day things. We planned out last Saturday knowing I would need to stay home with Sophie while Matt got Gueline moved. She would have furniture to move downstairs and it was more than I could do. We talked about all of us moving her together but just decided this would be too much on Sophie. This was hard for me because I felt like she needed me there. There have been many times like this over the last few months with Sophie down here in Haiti. Times when I knew what was best for Sophie was for me to stay home with her but it meant giving up important time with the kids. I did not take the kids back to school shoe shopping and I didn’t go with Gueline to get her very first cell phone ever. These things have been the right decision but also very hard for me. This was going to be another big life event for one of the kids that I would stay home for.
We brought Gueline to our house for one last talk and to make sure she was ready. She said she still had to pack up a few things and asked me if I’d help her. We decided Matt would stay with Sophie and I would go down and get Gueline packed up then when it was time to take her we would switch places. She and I folded her clothes and put them in her suitcases just the 2 of us. She quietly asked if I would ask Misthafa, Dinna, and Biguedy to drive over with us. All I could think about is how scared she must be…..not to leave this house because she’d only been in this particular house since March but to leave these children and House Moms. House Moms who are the only people who have ever really treated her like the Daughter of the King that she is. Children who, for better or worse, have been her family for years. I knew right then there was no way I could send her to Marjorie and Lener’s without me. I called Matt and told him to get Sophie ready because we would all be taking Gueline together. Gueline’s brother, Kervinson, helped us carry her things out and load up the truck. He was trying hard to be strong but I know this was very difficult for him as well. I am not sure that he and Gueline had ever slept in 2 different places up until now.
So after getting all of Gueline’s possessions in the back of our little truck, Gueline, Kervinson, Misthafa, Dinna, BiGuedy, Sophie, Matt, and I all piled in to move Gueline together. Marjorie and Lener’s house is about a 10 minute drive away and it was clear everyone was trying to make light conversation so nobody got too upset. We got to Marjorie and Lener’s and Marjorie was there to greet us with a smiling face. She and her kids all grabbed suitcases and immediately started helping Gueline get settled. They were all clearly very excited Gueline was coming to stay. Most excited was Marjorie’s 6 year old boy, Ledson. He proceeded to open Gueline’s suitcases, pull things out, and tell her where he thought they should be placed. I started to help until I realized Marjorie had it under control. She knew exactly what to do in that moment to help Gueline. I took this as more confirmation that this was the right decision and place for Gueline. We stayed for a little while to make sure she was settled and ok but Matt and I both knew it would only make things worse if we lingered. At this point Gueline was unpacking and crying quiet tears and so was I. I knew without a doubt that this was the right thing for her but moving her out of the place she called home and into a new place was extremely difficult. I gave her a hug, told her we love her and are only a phone call away and that we would see her tomorrow. We pulled away and my heart ached. How would it feel to not have her there every night at service bossing our little ones around? How weird would it be to load up to go play basketball together and she not be there? All things we would get used to but would be hard (I never have and still don’t handle change well J).
I called her around 7pm that night just to make sure she was ok and she sounded great. That night there was a bad storm and I had trouble sleeping. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up wondering if she was ok or scared or having trouble sleeping and the Lord lead me to just pray for her adjustment. She has almost been moved out a week and is handling it beautifully. I know it hasn’t been easy but I have been so proud of her. I kept thinking of the beautiful quote from Winnie the Pooh “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I am sometimes so in awe of God that He called us to Haiti. What a privilege to be a small part in raising these amazing children who make us so proud on a daily basis. What a privilege to have these employees and House Moms that love our kids so much that they would open up their home and let one of them move in with their family. God teaches me new things here on a daily basis and I am so thankful for this life he has given us.