"I Know My Plans for You"
[Leah was part of the 2016 Mission Trip to Haiti with Lifeline Christian Missions. Just prior to leaving Leah chose to sponsor a Haitian child. Unfortunately, when she arrived in Haiti anticipating meeting her child, Fednerline, she learned that the child had moved away and Lifeline didn’t know where. However, another child needed a sponsor so Leah agreed to be hers. Here is Leah’s story…]
After my initial visit with my sponsor child, Rood Phania, I was on Cloud 9! I was head over heels in love with her the second I saw her sweet little face. Sponsoring a child had just taken on a completely new meaning for me. With one kiss from Rood I had immediately become passionate about sponsoring these children and my wheels were already turning on how to get my little girl and her family a home.
In the middle of our trip, we got to spend an afternoon at the Children's Home, another piece of Lifeline Christian Missions that would quickly find a place in my heart. The Children's Home isn't technically an orphanage. While some of the kids in the facility are true orphans, many do have a parent who was simply unable to care for them. The kids can stay at the Children's Home until they finish their schooling. In the United States we think of that as being eighteen years old, but in Haiti many students start school later, or may have something disrupt their education, and cause them to continue their high school level education into their twenties. At that time, it is hoped that the kids will go off to university in Port au Prince and/or reintegrate back into their family outside of the Children's Home.
The Children's Home is run by a married Haitian couple. Their love for each other is brilliantly evident. In our time visiting, the husband fawned over his wife as if she were the last soul on earth. My heart swelled at the beautiful love story these children all get to witness and the example they get to see of what a spouse should be.
When we walked in through the gate into The Children's Home's yard there were several children eagerly awaiting our arrival. As I stepped into the yard, a boy with a beautiful smile wrapped his arm around my waist and began escorting me inside. Inside the dining room area, he sat between me and my dad and held our hands. His name was Owen. He was ten years old. I was smitten.
I would later learn that the Children's Home took Owen in when he was just a baby. His mother and father had both died. He had a sister but she had been taken by someone else already when the Children's Home came for Owen. She's out there somewhere. I pray she's safe and loved the way that Owen is.
The kids performed several songs for us and we, in turn, performed one back for them. We held a small devotion and helped them with a small craft, a canvas bag they could decorate to carry their bibles and their new prayer journals that we had brought for them.
We got to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring their world with them, playing their favorite sports, swinging on swing sets, and having our hair done by some of the older girls. If Owen paused for any length of time from playing soccer, he immediately came to my side and took my hand or wrapped his arm around my waist. How could this ten-year-old boy who wasn't even able to experience the love of his own mother and father be so affectionate and loving to a stranger from a foreign country?
We attended Lifeline's church service the next morning. The kids from the Children's Home attend church there and here came my sweet Owen looking for my dad and I. He and a friend sat between us on our jam-packed wooden bench and despite how hot and sweaty we all were, he never let go of me for the entire almost three hours of worship and praise.
I knew in my heart that Owen was mine as soon as he wrapped that arm around me in the yard of the Children's Home. After church service was over I knew I needed to make it official. I went back to the dorms, found one of the leaders, and asked her if she could find Owen's paperwork for me. Signed, sealed, and delivered.
On that final day in Haiti before heading home when we all got to see our sponsor children one more time, Rood Phania wasn't the only one on the grass in the shade under the big tree with me and my dad. Owen got to join her that day.
God, if you didn't already know, is a funny one. He has plans far beyond what we can imagine and I can picture Him smiling when I cried over Fednerline's absence on that first day in Haiti, knowing of the two children He instead had for me, saying "Be still. You have no idea what I have planned for you."