This is a guest post from Jessica’s Dad, Phil Atter. Phil and Jill have been down to Haiti on numerous occasions, and he wrote this blog after his most recent trip with us last month. As you read this, please be in prayer for Haiti as there are some political issues going on as well as Hurricane Maria that is taking a very similar path to that of Irma just a couple of weeks ago. With that said, here is the post:
Jill and I returned from Haiti a couple of weeks ago. We’ve now been there twenty-something times since our initial introduction to Haiti and the kids five years ago in June 2012. While we were anxious to see the kids, house moms and other employees the primary purpose of this trip was to help Matt and Jessica transition Sophie and Elijah into the friendly confines of Gressier, Haiti. Sophie and Elijah adapted quickly and beautifully and that’s a source of comfort from a couple of doting grandparents who make it their daily, solemn duty to worry (ok, I know we should give our worries to God). It crystallized for us that kids are just fine as long as they’re with their parents and feel secure.
Something, however, happened on this trip that hit me right between the eyes, impacted me in a moving way and changed my perspective forever as to the role of Matt, Jessica, the kids they care for and the mission of All Things New in Haiti. It was an out of body experience that spoke to the majesty of God’s purpose.
After worship service on the night before Jill and I were to leave we were left alone with Matt, Jessica and two of the older boys, Herbison and Woodly. You see, Herbison and Woodly were petitioning Matt and Jessica for an opportunity to play “real soccer” in the Gressier community. They are part of a little community team that’s well below their talent level and they wanted to expand their soccer horizons. Herbison in particular is an extremely talented athlete and soccer player and surely has potential well beyond community soccer (Herbison would have been a starting wide receiver in my world).
The scene was poignant and unfolded before my very eyes. Herbison and Woodly were respectfully requesting Matt and Jessica’s permission to play advanced soccer. They came humbly and without expectation. They respected Matt and Jessica and it was obvious they would do nothing without their permission or blessing. I truthfully welled up as I watched this beautiful scene and it took me back to my childhood when I would seek permission from my parents and I knew their word and wishes were to be respected above all else. It made me long for the days of Andy Griffith, Leave it To Beaver and the sanctity of family. It made me realize just how often we spoil and pamper our children. It made me also realize that it took a remote, extremely poor third-world country to jolt me to reality and wish for simpler times.
My perspective on the role of Matt and Jessica and their relationship with these beautiful children has changed forever and I finally get it. Matt and Jessica aren’t a couple of Americans biding time in a third-world country. They are the earthly parents of Herbison, Woodly and all the children of All Things New. I am so thankful to God for exposing this simple and beautiful truth to me. It only took five years.