It’s been a few months now since our trip to Haiti. I have been absolutely horrible about sitting down and writing about the last two days of our trip. Since our move, writing always seems to sit at the end of my to-do list. It doesn’t have the same urgency as laundry and lunches I guess. Yet when I write, my soul seems soothed. I really shouldn’t put it so low on the list.
I last left you with our decision late Wednesday night to sponsor another child through Compassion. This child would correspond with Precious A, so it was important to me that A have a say in who we sponsored. Of course she picked a little girl who loves to sing, as if there was ever any other option!
Thursday morning at breakfast I let Rick know about our decision. We were headed to see our last center that day. What I didn’t know was that while we were there this sweet little girl would get to join us. Junior, our country liaison, worked a small miracle to get her from her center to the center we would visit in less than two hours.
When we got to the center that day, we enjoyed another welcome program from the students. They sang our national anthem, and then their own. I loved hearing them sing their country’s song. We were the first group to visit this center and we could see the excitement they felt.
The center was located in the middle of the city of Saint-Marc. It was the most urban of three centers we visited. It lacked the land and outdoor space of the two previous centers, but it had electricity and a beautiful cathedral chapel area.
After the opening and while the director of the center spoke, someone nudged me and pointed to a little girl with a red lunchbox.
“Mandi, isn’t that the little girl you decided to sponsor?”
“Oh, my goodness. I replied. It sure looks like her, but I didn’t think that we would get to meet her. We decided to sponsor her so late in our trip. How on earth did they pull this off?”
As soon as the program was over I wanted to rush her! But I had to be patient. There wasn’t a translator available yet.
After what seemed like forever, they found a translator for us. And we got to explain to her that we were going to be her sponsors. I just watched as she and Precious A started to color and draw together.
Our sweet little Flower was fascinated by the cameras she saw. She loved to scroll through the images and see herself!
Before I knew it we were surrounded by a group of other kiddos wanting to color and take pictures too. The older kids were drawn to Precious A and they all wanted a picture with her.
Not long after we started coloring we were gathered up to the front of the chapel to go in for lunch. While we waited for the others to join us a group of kids gathered around us again. I did’t have any games or coloring pages so I pulled out one of the small fries favorite games that needs no preparation or equipment to play, rock-paper-scissors. We played several rounds before they caught on and we all had a good laugh.
At this point, Sweet Flower was very hungry. She opened up the lunch she had brought with her and ate while we waited. Her chaperon from the center explained that she was not feeling very well because of an allergy. We could see in her eyes and on her skin that she really didn’t feel well.
At lunch, Precious A had the most eye-opening experience of our trip. Since Sweet Flower had already eaten, she sat at the table while we got our plates of food. Precious A picked up a plate for Sweet Flower with a few sweets and other things she thought Sweet Flower would like . I brought her a fruit soda. After Precious A finished her food, Sweet Flower reached over to Precious A’s plate and picked up a left-over chicken bone. The bone had just a few scrapes of meat on it. And to a sweet little girl who doesn’t get to eat chicken very often it was too much to resist. Precious A looked at me in panic.
“Mom, I’ve already eaten that. What should I do?” she whispered.
“Offer to go get her one,” I suggested.
So Precious A went and got Sweet Flower her own chicken leg. Sweet Flower ate every piece of meat on that chicken leg. To Precious A, and to me, this made us realize just how much we take for granted and how much we have that we don’t even see as being a privilege.
After we finished eating lunch, Precious A had a good time taking selfies with Sweet Flower and showing her games on my phone.
Sweet Flower seemed to relax a little and was enjoying herself until Texas Tony moved her soda so he could get a picture without the soda bottle in it. Sweet Flower flew out of her chair, glared at Tony, and grabbed her soda before it could be taken away again! She held on to that bottle for dear life after that and kept a very close eye on Tony! There was no way she was going to let him take the soda we told her she could take home!
We all reassured her that no one would take her soda! One of the sweet ladies in our group gave us a goody-bag full of bubbles and toy cars. She loved the bubbles!
Another lady in our group brought a lot of pillow case dresses for little girls that a friend of hers had made. She had one just Sweet Flower’s size and she gave that to her. I wish I would have caught the delight in her eyes when we first handed the dress to her. She just glowed.
She and Precious A became friends pretty quickly.
After lunch we walked to the home of a girl from the center. This little girl and our newly sponsored little girl had the same name, so for a while we thought we were at our newly sponsored girl’s house.
Being invited into this family’s home was such a privilege. They visited with us for a while about how the little girl’s father was a mechanic and how her mother didn’t live in the home, but that her father and aunt and grandma were all there to help raise her. They told us how much she learned at the center and how she came home and taught the other kids in the neighborhood what she leaned. I loved seeing the impact the centers have on the families, not just the kids that attend there. It’s amazing the reach one child has.
When we came outside, all the other kids had gathered around so they could see us too.
After the home visit we went back to the center and then back to our hotel. Rose got to come with us to the hotel for a very brief goodbye before they took her back to her village. I ran to our hotel room to grab a bag of goodies I had hoped to leave for her. What an amazing thing to be able to give them to her in person. We didn’t come to Haiti prepared to sponsor a little girl. We came with gifts for a 15-year-old. Because of the generosity of the people in our group, Sweet Flower got a new dress, bubbles, and toy cars in addition to the school supplies we brought. I am so thankful they said, “Here, I have this left over, give it to Sweet Flower.”
We said “Goodbye for now,” to Sweet Flower not knowing when the next time we would see her. I pray that one day I will see her as a young woman, healthy and well prepared to change the world around her.
Thursday had been a wonderful bonus day for us. Getting to meet Sweet Flower was so unexpected and wonderful. It changed me and Amber because it made our sponsorship seem so much more personal. We got to meet the child we would support over the coming years. Our hearts grew that day.
That evening as we sat with our fellow travelers we shared again the word that came to our mind that first night in Haiti. We talked about how the trip had changed us and about our feelings about the next day when we would all get to meet our sponsored kids.
Friday was just around the corner. The day we all came to Haiti for.
It was good to hear that I was not alone in feeling nervous and anxious about meeting someone who I have only communicated with in letters.
What would she be like? Shy? Animated? Playful? Reserved? Would we be able to communicate well through a translator?
But as nervous as I was, Friday couldn’t come soon enough!!