It is so strange to be writing this blog from Haiti again while Jess and Sophie are back in America without me. I have said this before, but I have no idea how military families do it. It is such a huge sacrifice that I could have never comprehended before I had to leave my wife and my now 2 month old daughter for 2 weeks. Now, if you are a military family, please do not think I am comparing my 2 weeks away with your sacrifice. I am not. It just gives me a sense of how difficult it must be for you and allows me to know how to pray for you better.
The last time I came down to Haiti without Jess and Sophie was December 9-14. Just a quick 6 day trip to make sure everything was going well down here and I did not think it was going to be too difficult. The funniest thing happened on the second day of my trip…Sophie started to smile at Jess! Now, Sophie had smiled already, but never directly at stimuli. On this trip, Jess sent me a video of her talking to Sophie and Sophie just smiling and cooing right back at her. It was really cute, really awesome, and really sad at the same time. I know it is not a huge milestone like a first step or a first word, but it was her first real smile and I was not there and I was not the first one to make her smile!
So this is partly what I was thinking about as I was coming down here to Haiti without them. At the same time, I know for sure that this is exactly where I should be. Our kids down here need to know that they have not been abandoned, they need to know they are loved by the people who have been with them for the past 4 years, and they need to know that they have not been replaced…because they have not!
These were actually all of the same things that I was thinking yesterday as I was coming down on the plane and driving through Port prior to my arrival. Then I got here. Then I walked out to see the kids while they were playing. Then, all of the kids (Fedeline first!) sprinted out to me and jumped in my arms. They really almost knocked me over (and if you know me, that is not that easy to do) in their excitement. This is when it hit me. They are not the only ones who “need” this relationship…We need them too. It’s funny how that works. The first thing I noticed (similar to Sophie smiling for the first time) is that Apolon looked like a young man. For the first time, he was not a little boy, he is growing up. The second thing I noticed is that Fedeline was the first one to run to me. She was so excited and knew that I would be excited too. This is definitely new for Fedeline. I then noticed that Misthafa, Gueline, and Dada all immediately asked me to see pictures and video of Sophie. As soon as I pulled out the phone everyone crowded around and were just dying to see our new daughter and this just shows that we care about each other. Finally, as I started hanging out with the boys in their house later, Herbison pulled me aside and wanted to have a “man-to-man” conversation about something both very important to him and very personal. This was another first.
The point is that just like Sophie changed so much while I was gone, our other kids did too and it made me realize, again, how much we care about them. It’s funny how GOD calls different people in different ways to ministry. Just in the missionaries we know, some of them were called specifically to Haiti. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around this calling because it is not how we were called, but they were and they came. Some people were called to serve a ministry and they did just that. They moved down to serve a ministry they believed in and loved. It’s the same thing for vocational ministers. Different people are called different ways. Some when they are older, some know even before High School, and some run away from the calling for a while. I was called after beginning my pursuit of an engineering degree at Georgia Tech, a school with no Theology classes available. It’s funny, my call to ministry directly coincided with my call out of an engineering major (if you are an engineer you understand this). It’s also the same with those who are not called into vocational ministry but are followers of Christ and therefore, by definition, are ministers. GOD uses different people, different circumstances, and different modes of calling to get each of us into the place He wants. We sometimes run, we sometimes cry, and we sometimes wish we were called to something else, but in the end GOD wants us where He wants us and He is a lot smarter than we are.
The point of all of that is this…GOD specifically called us to these kids.
Isn’t that funny? That our call was not initially to a country (even though now we love the nation of Haiti and want to do whatever we can to contribute to its future) or to a ministry (ATN came about because of the kids so we now love this ministry as well) but to these specific kids. It is really hard to explain how grateful to GOD I will always be for giving us this specific call. A call to love these children that has turned into a call to love our employees, a call to love other children in Haiti, and a call to allow GOD to work through us here in whatever way He wants. I often thank GOD that His calling on our lives was to take care of His children!
Now, to get back to the title of this blog, “Sophie and All Things New.” I cannot wait for Sophie to get here to meet the children that GOD has brought into our lives, and for these children to meet her. They already love her, and there is this sense of joy every time they see her. Sophie, even though she does not know it yet, already loves these children too. I thank GOD all of the time that He called us to these children first and then brought Sophie into our lives. If Sophie were first, how much more difficult of a decision would it have been to move here? Now, we know that Sophie was just adopted into a much bigger family than most children have the privilege to know. Here are 2 things I now know about Jess and I:
- Our family is not complete without Sophie.
- Our family is not complete without our children at All Things New.
When you put those 2 things together, you see the enormity of the blessing that GOD has given us. I am not saying that it is not difficult because, in truth, moving here has been one of the most challenging things in our lives. I am not saying that there are not days when you almost want to pack it up, because there are. What I am saying is that the call GOD has given us here is one of the greatest joys in our lives and I cannot wait for it to be one of the greatest joys of Sophie’s life because I know that that is exactly what it will be for her.