It’s late. But I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about her. I have been writing this post, in my head and on paper for over a week now. And it’s time…
This is Harvery (2006).
I had lost my child from Peru. (She looked just like a china doll.)
I was sad and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick another child. I had just been disappointed – after 6 months of supporting her, her mother decided it was too difficult to walk her to and from the child development center – and I had bills to pay and a busy life and lots of reasons not to sponsor a child. But I decided to anyways.
I had always had a heart for Haiti. I hoped one day I might be able to go there and see Haiti and visit her. I wrote her my first letter. I think it was a pretty lame one. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to talk to a three year old.
She wrote me (actually her mom wrote for her) and told me that she was three years old and had three sisters. She drew me a picture. It was a red circle.
I prayed for her.
The letter writing thing got easier, more natural, it became more of a dialogue. I told her about my life and about how much I loved her and prayed for her. I responded to her questions and asked her questions of my own – what is your favorite game? What do you like to study at school? She answered my questions and told me about her life.
I have been rereading some of her letters – she thanked me for choosing her… repeatedly. I wonder – had no one ever chosen her before. Singled her out and said, “You are special, you are worthy.” Perhaps this is one of the most valuable parts of sponsorship.
I got an updated picture. She did not look all that happy. She looked a little hardened. By a hard life? I wondered… Did she enjoy being in Compassion’s program?
Then, when I was planning another trip to the Dominican Republic (my heart dies a little every time I am away for more than six months), I decided. It was time to go to Haiti too. I recruited a Dominican friend to go with me. I made plans. I was nervous, but excited. Then, right before we were supposed to depart, the plan started to go South – my friend had a death in the family and couldn’t go. We tried to reschedule, no luck. I had to go. She had been told I was coming. I could not disappoint her. I went alone. Well, not really, the Lord went with me. He made a way and provided and kept me safe. And boy, was I in for a treat.
Harvery ran into my arms and I picked her up. She kept rubbing my arm, “Are you real?” Also, “You’re white, and that is a bit strange.”
In one of her letters, when talking about mother’s day and how much she loves her mother and enjoyed celebrating, she asked me, “Do you love your mother? I love you like my mother.” I think I was a little nervous to meet her mother, what will she think of that? Will she like me too?
She warmly embraced me. She smiled. She was so sweet and loving to me. Later, as we talked, it became clear that she, too, had read every letter and knew me intimately. “What about that friend, that you visited last year, how is she and how are her three children?” I had to strain to think of who she was referring to; she remembered everything though.
Havery’s little sister spent the day with us.
And she captured my heart.
We visited the Compassion child development center (HA-804) and we visited Harvery’s home. It was an amazing glimpse into her life. And I got to hold her in my arms. And my heart grew. And if there was any doubt about how real she was to me it had been washed away. She was amazing and I would always love her. She would always be in my heart. And I couldn’t wait to see what she would grow into, what she would become.
I am going back.
Not now, because I’m not a trained relief worker and I don’t speak Creole (although my rusty French almost allows me to get by a little) and I don’t have any medical expertise (I have often wondered why God did not give me one ounce of interest or talent at science.) For now all I can do is give.
Because I need to kiss this cheek.
And hug this neck.
And be captivated by this little one again.
And just be with all of them.
And praise God together.
My heart is heavy. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by sadness. It’s difficult to wait and wonder. It seems impossible to hold on to hope – it even seems unreasonable and uneducated. But then I realize, God is beyond reason. He is not limited by circumstance or hardship or devastation. He holds the universe in His hands and He sits sovereign on His throne. The Lord Jesus is hope Himself. And He is comfort and joy. And my heart rests in Him.
Oh, P.S., I got another updated picture of Havery shortly after my visit. Even when she is 18 and going to university, I will always remember her like this.