As she stared embarrassed and scared at the ground, the rush of cars in the background made it hard to hear. Her tiny frame now cleared of any skin problems and illness stood somewhat trembling as she kicked a rock with her foot and listened to her father. Standing next to her side she reached up and clenched my hand tightly and her eyes met mine briefly and I could see the fear inside of her.
They asked her to step forward and give her name. As she gave her name, they asked her a question that I couldn’t hear and she turned, glanced at me, smiled beautifully and said loudly, “Megan.”
As they asked her father for her paperwork, he pulled out a folded up torn and stained piece of paper…her birth certificate…shortly after that he pulled out of his wallet a piece of torn notebook paper. I tried to read what it said and realized it was a death certificate of Michaelle’s mother…it was written in Creole and described that her mother died of a fever in the presence of two children and her husband…there was no morgue where she lived so she wasn’t buried.
My heart broke as Michaelle stood there listening to the questions the judge was asking her father…”So, you want to give your child to this white person.”…”So, you don’t want to keep her yourself?”…
As Michaelle stood close by she gripped my hand again and I prayed that she would forget this feeling of being unwanted and replace it with HOW MUCH I wanted her.
After paying for the paperwork and finishing up a few other things…I heard in English…Congratulations….and as quickly as it began, it was finished.
Walking away from the folding table and plastic chair underneath a carport area next to the national highway, it was surreal. Going to the “courthouse” in Gressier to finally get custody of Michaelle was so strange.
For her, I don’t know if anything changed, because she had been living with me for almost 6 weeks straight this time…but for me I felt this incredible rush of…”Oh crap, what did I do?”….”Will I be living here the rest of my life now?”…”Oh Lord, surely you would have boomed down in your loud voice and yelled at me to stop if this wasn’t what you wanted.”
As we parted ways with her father…I had the nagging feeling that in a perfect world, it wouldn’t be like this at all. In a perfect world her father would have the ability and desire to keep her….he would dote on her and love on her…realizing that her joy and her love is contagious…he would tell her she is beautiful and smart…
But the real world is hard. And the real world in Haiti is even harder. For me, It’s hard to justify having a child who has a family…but it’s harder to justify a child living with people who don’t want her. I choose to suck up my anger towards that and trust that God knows what’s going on, and He knows why things happen like this.
When I met Michaelle on Bellevue Mountain back in December of 2010…I did not know how much this little girl would change my life. I did not know what God had in store for her… or for me.
This precious child has gone from throwing rocks at birds because she’s hungry…to serving others first because she knows there will be enough food.
She has gone from screaming, biting and yelling….to laughing, hugging and singing sweet songs.
She has gone from whispering and being afraid to speak…to asking a million questions!
Everyone who meets her is drawn to her….to her spirit…to her energy….to her joy…it is because that is Christ.
I see Jesus in Michaelle more than anyone …and I see it everyday…to know where she has come from…the way she used to be and how she used to act…to how she is now…I KNOW it is Christ…it is Christ in me that reached out to her over and over again….and now it is the Christ in her that has taught her and continues to teach her of her true identity.
This is a beautiful story of redemption, and a beautiful story of TRANSFORMATION. God is the ultimate transformer.
Bellevue Mountain, where I first met Michaelle is an miraculous place. Ironically (or rather, divinely) this is also the location of the school Respire Haiti is building for over 350 Restaveks and vulnerable children. As Michaelle accompanies me to the top of the mountain almost every day…her blue tent where she once lived is no longer there, as the people have moved on to another place but the story of freedom and beauty remains.
Sometimes I feel like I am building this school for her…so that Michaelle, once a slave to what people told her to do, will now have the freedom to learn, to grow, to eat and to play! But then her beautiful, loving spirit reminds me that there are many more just like her, and God is just getting started. Two nights ago as I finished reading her a bedtime story and she was getting into her bed, in her tiny voice she told me proudly that she had room in her bed for another little girl to sleep…that she wanted to go to the orphanage where Gabriel came from and pick out a little girl to help and live with her …God uses her every day to teach me that HE can and will heal us of our past, that because we have been hurt does NOT mean that we should just wallow in our pain…God is the ultimate healer and HE does and will heal us.
Just last week we took a group that was visiting and children from an orphanage in Gressier to the beach. As these precious orphans played in the water we ordered drinks for them all, Michaelle ran up and grabbed for a whole one…as I explained to her that we would be sharing (pouring some into cups) and I wanted to make sure we had enough for all of the children…she immediately started separating the cups and pouring Tampico into each one…she smiled brightly as each child came up and she gave the instructions to choose one cup!
She is 7 and she feels their pain, she knows their hurt and she hurts with them. God has blessed her with an incredible servants heart and an incredible gift of compassion.
How can I ever tire here with seeing a beautiful story of the power of Christ, the power He has to heal, to redeem, to TRANSFORM. Michaelle is a walking testament to God’s power and love of His children.
***If you would like to donate or help with Respire Haiti’s school being built on Bellevue Mountain for over 350 Restaveks and Vulnerable children, please click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org ***