As we stood waiting for the boat that would take me from his village, He didn't understand much of what I said- and that's ok because it was more for me anyway. My jumble of words was a mixture of frustration and extreme thankfulness, and my heart was overwhelmed. But then, when my monologue was finished, he looked up and said, "I love you too LaLa." And I felt like he was thinking something similar. That was a conversation that I had with my 9 year old godson in July, right before I stepped onto the boat to leave him. Again. After 9 trips, we kind of have it down pat. We come, I jump off the boat, we find each other, and talk in the slim Creole that I've mastered. Then, throughout the week, we are each other's home base. He comes into camp in the mornings, we sing together, and hang out in the hammocks. During the day, we work on projects together, or maybe he's somewhere totally different doing 9 year old boy things or helping the guys in construction while I work in the clinic. People ask me where he is and I usually say that he'll be around in about an hour. And then he comes back. We go on adventures in the village together and he shows me new things going on. One afternoon we'll go swimming and he'll want to show me how well he can swim and climb onto all of the sailboats, pretending he's the boat captain like his dad. If he tries to mooch extra crackers or toys from me and doesn't get them, he'll head over to my sister Emily and see what she has to offer. That evening I'll find 45 new selfies on my camera, a few pictures of someone's foot, and a random tree that he wanted to take a picture of. The next day we'll head to VBS and I'll watch as he passes out candy to his friends and then gets on to everyone to pick up the trash. He'll sneak an extra lollipop into his pocket, because after all, he IS 9, and also somehow related to me....That evening we'll have worship in camp and he'll hold the flashlight while I hold the songbook. He'll point out the words on the page and we'll translate them for each other. Then, I'll head to my
hammock and he'll head home, reminding me that we have to go there tomorrow so he can show me how he needs a new bed. And so the week goes. On the last day, we walk to his house, where we sit down with a translator and I talk to mainly his mom Roselene. We talk about how the family is doing, if she has been able to find steady work, how her children are doing in school, and how she feels like things are going spiritually. I pull a set of sheets or towels, some toothbrushes and toothpaste out of my backpack, along with a new dress for her and a few outfits for Pootchy. We talk about how so many people support me so that I can come and spend time with her family, and how much those people love Jesus and love them. We talk about how God supplies every need, and we must first look to Him. We talk about the futures she wants for her children, and how this is not a relationship full of handouts, but of love and service, of communication and the gospel. Some conversations are harder than others, but each one is necessary. We hug and laugh together as if we've known each other our whole lives.
And then comes the day we leave. Sometimes we walk together to the playground down the road in the early morning and sit for a while. After everything in camp is packed up and we're finally ready, we begin the walk to the pier. He used to sit on my shoulders or I would carry him, but now he walks beside me, hand in hand. When we get to the pier, he finally lets himself cry. He used to say, "I want to go." But now he says, "stay here LaLa." And so my heart is full and broken at the same time. We talk a little more, say our goodbyes, and then I finally get on the boat. We paddle to the big boat on the other side of the reef and then we take off. All the children on the pier wave until they can't see us anymore. It isn't too long before I'm goofing off beside some others on the side of the boat, hanging on the ropes as we sail & acting like small children. But it's just a distraction from everything that I've just left.
It's hard to leave, but it's harder not to go. God doesn't call me to understand. He calls me to love. And for reasons I don't know, he has allowed me to maintain a relationship with a little Haitian boy in a little Haitian village on a little Haitian island. But this seemingly "little" boy has changed my life, my family's life, and countless others in more ways than we will ever know. We don't know what life looks like without Pootchy, without La Source, and without the ways God has used all of it to grow us into who He wants us to be. I am honored that God chose me being this boy's godmother to be a part of my story. I'm not called to understand why. I'm called to love.