She came to me unexpectedly. I was at a conference, only a junior in college when I first saw her lovely picture at the International Childcare Ministries booth. She was a slender girl with chin-length dark brown hair. If I thought my was heart swollen when I approached the booth, I felt like it was almost ready to explode when I decided to sponsor her.
We wrote letters. I posted her drawings and pictures on my fridge, and I looked forward to hearing about how she was doing in school and at home. She shared about her life and siblings, and I chronicled to her my journey from college student to wife to mother. And a relationship was built out of the unexpected.
But last year, her letters stopped coming. Then her holiday cards stopped coming. Finally, her pictures stopped coming. After another month, the organization sent me a letter explaining she simply would not be returning to school. And that was that after five years of building a relationship. The sweet-faced child I'd gotten to know through drawings, school pictures and letters had disappeared into the hillsides of Haiti to help her parents tend to a farm and chores. And just as my child had disappeared so subtly from school, Haiti gradually disappeared from my mind.
Until Tuesday. As soon as I saw the headlines about the magnitude 7.0 earthquake the tiny country suffered, I thought again of our little girl. I wondered if she was OK, if her family was affected and how they fared. I wondered whether she was hurting or needed help or was giving aid or was left all alone. And finally, I wondered if she even was* anymore.
You see, Haiti has a face for me. And it's hers. And because of the unexpected, once again, my eyes are on Haiti -- everyone's eyes are on Haiti.
It's absolutely stunning how people, in the words of Sara Joy, show up during a tragedy. Every time I see a Tweet go out offering prayers and encouraging aid for Haiti my heart soars. People can be so good. This generation of mine is so compassionate. And I don't want to lose that compassion as my generation ages and the next one takes the reigns.
So my husband and I did something Wednesday we hope to continue. We put all of our eyes on Haiti and prayed.
Not just mine or his, but the boys, too. I pulled the two year old up onto my lap and showed him a map. I pointed to where we live and where Haiti is located. I then showed him a slide show of the buildings that had been toppled and explained that many, many people no longer have a house, food, water, clothes or even some of their family any more. He digested the pictures and asked the obvious questions.
"Why they have no house?"
"Why they have earthquake?"
"Why they have no food?"
I answered as best as I could. He seemed satisfied. I asked him if he wanted to pray for the people.
"Yes, mommy, I pray with you."
So we prayed sweet, heartfelt prayers.
We talked a little more and he said then said he wanted to send the people "monies and food."
I felt relieved to begin teaching him something that would matter.
And then he scrambled off to watch Curious George. As he played, I attempted to get some work done for the business. My blood pressure rose as I worked on what seemed like the impossible for the business. I began feeling overwhelmed and woeful.
And then unexpectedly, just as that little girl appeared into my world so many years ago, my little guy came up to me and said "Mommy, you show me more pictures of broken houses so we can pray."
Sometimes the unexpected plummets you into great joy; sometimes it skyrockets you to the depths of sorrow; and sometimes the unexpected, in the face of a child, reminds you to open your eyes, focus on Haiti and pray.
* I don't know that we'll ever know if our little girl is OK because she quit school, and often the organization does not keep in contact sponsors in the loop after children drop out. Plus, the organization is not even sure of the status of most of the children and workers who are currently enrolled because of the severe infrastructure damage. If you'd like to help, you can donate to the ICCM relief fund. It's a wonderful organization, and most of the money collected through sponsorship directly is used for the children. If you'd like to pray for our little girl, her name is Mirlourde. And I do believe based on her letters that she loves the Lord.