Anticipation rises as we land in Haiti. We are arriving early so they have agreed to let our team go ahead and make an unscheduled visit to Laboderie that afternoon, the village we love so much. It takes all I have to contain my excitement. After 16 months, I would get to see Biance and her family again. Would she remember me? Would they recognize us?
We grabbed our luggage and scurried out of the crowded airport behind the man Mission of Hope sent to bring us back.
Mission of Hope was a machine. It were founded in 1998 by Brad and Vanessa Johnson who had a vision to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Haitians. They had been doing this a long time and knew what needed to happen to whisk us quickly out of the Port Au Prince airport without incident. It’s different there.
As we loaded the old, worn down school bus with a cracked windshield, torn seats, and open windows, I smiled. I was back.
The rules of the road are suggestions only, if they exist at all, and a broken down vehicle blocked the road causing a traffic jam for about an hour while we sat still, waiting in a hot bus with no air flow. We were finally here though and nothing was going to dampen our spirits.
When we arrived at the Mission of Hope campus at Titanyen, we drove through the tall concrete walls with barbed wire at the top as they opened the gate for us. Security was tight and though it made you feel more comfortable, it also made you keenly aware of the need for such extensive measures. When we finally stopped near the top of a steep and long, bumpy road, we were met with friendly interns ready to show us where to put our things. This was a different campus than last year so a new experience for all of us. We were shown to a bunk room and chose our beds, made them, set our mosquito nets and fans, and settled in. We then made our way to lunch.
The anticipation rose higher.
The time was near. And I couldn’t wait.
We gathered to discuss our afternoon plan which consisted of visiting Laboderie for Strategic Village Time, which I will explain later because all the plans we made were halted as soon as we arrived in the village. We noticed a group of men gathered discussing something and we drew near to see what was going on. They shared with us that they were waiting for a big load of dirt and rock to spread out over their washed out road. This road was the only means of access to the back part of the village and every time it rained, it became impassible. They had pooled together their money to bring in the trucks of dirt and rock to try and at the very least, make the road more reliable.
The men in our group immediately agreed to help, and armed with only shovels as the truck came and dumped in one location, started spreading out the dirt and rock. It was hard work and the sun was bright as the afternoon wore on. The women played with the children nearby.
Except for Shoni and me. Nickson, our local Village Champion who works for MOH, offered to take us to see Biance and her family. We quickly agreed.
As we walked back to the front of the village where they lived, I felt it again. Anticipation.
Ahlmon, Biance’s grandfather, was outside when we arrived and started smiling and hugging us. As he called for Biance, I stood and waited. And just like that, our time of waiting was over. She ran to me and I scooped her up in my arms and held onto her while the tears ran down my cheek. I kissed her cheeks and told her how happy I was to see her as Nickson translated. She couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t leave my side the rest of the day. She remembered me. She loved me. I loved her. There was no language barrier that could keep either of us from knowing this deep in our heart.
I had made a little photo album of our pictures together from the summer before and I gave it to her. She loved it and showed everyone. It was such a sweet moment. Sweet reunion with my Haitian girl. This girl that won my heart and held onto it tightly for all those months. This girl that many say looks like me, aside from skin color.
Her dad Jimmy was there too and we had a great visit. He explained that Biance has been very sad about her Mom not being around – she died when Biance was young. I was so thankful to be able to bring some light and joy into this girls life.
Our day was beautiful, in so many ways. As we were reflecting on it a few nights later, Grant, one of our team members, shared his revelation of helping build a road that day. It quickly became the theme of our week. My next post will explain what God showed him and how it deeply affected all of us. It was truly powerful and something I will never forget.