Connecting with Haitian women has always been a challenge for me. Children are easy. They run towards you with open arms, willing to trust you from the moment you meet. But we, as women, are notorious for immediately sizing each other up and passing judgment when we meet an unfamiliar face. Add cultural barriers and my natural shyness to this equation, and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to relationship building. Fortunately, all that started to change when I moved on the Project Eden property. I’ve been watching God take an impossibly difficult situation and turn it into something wonderful, as He so often does.
For a while I’ve known this girl who has always been guarded and suspicious of me and she recently found out she was pregnant. I was in the States when I heard the news. She’s only 17 and still has a few more years of schooling left. I knew she was dating a boy and right before I left, I attempted to give her “the talk”. Apparently it wasn’t received well and when I heard the news, I was heartbroken for her. My only thought was early pregnancies make it almost impossible to escape the cycle of poverty, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it besides love her through it. I made up my mind not to lecture her on my return and just be beside her as she navigates through this time in her life.
When I got back to Haiti, she was afraid to visit me. The children told me she was afraid I would be angry with her. After a week of waiting, I was about to go look for her when she finally showed up. I didn’t say much when she walked through the front gate, I simply hugged her and told her I loved her. Before I could let go, she started to cry. At that time, I didn’t want to question her or say anything at all, so we just stood in the open field holding each other while she let everything else go. I think sometimes the greatest gift we can give a person is just our presence so they know they’re not alone.
I’ve spent every day with her since then. She comes to my land early every morning and I’m trying my best to answer her many pregnancy questions, even though I’ve never had a baby of my own. She’s due in June, but still hasn’t decided on a name yet. Most days we spend sitting under the mango tree rattling off different names for boys and girls. The more I began opening up to her, the more I found she opened up to me. I told her about my ex-husband and how scared I was to leave him, and about the pain I went through learning about his other family in another town. I’m sure she knew the story already, everyone in our town does, but she had never heard it from my perspective before. For a long time she just listened in silence, but one day she began to talk.
We were driving over the mountain listening to some Haitian music on the radio when she abruptly turned down the volume and began telling me about the last six months of her life. So much had changed for her, even more so than I realized. She had started dating a boy in our village and her father immediately disapproved. Instead of talking to her about his concerns, he beat her with an electrical wire. She showed me the scars on the inside of her thighs while I was driving. All I could think at the time was I wasn’t here for her. I was in America, dealing with my divorce and taking a break. All the while she’s being beaten and thrown out of her home. With nowhere to go and no other family to take her in, she moved in with her boyfriend. During this time, he was the only person in her life being kind to her and feeding her. Soon after this, she found out she was pregnant. She’s 17 years old, seven months pregnant, with no mother or father to support her. I can’t even imagine how scared she is right now.
She said, “I’m just afraid once I have this baby my father won’t love it.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “You and I will love this child and so will Jesus.”
No matter what trials we face, no matter how lonely we feel, He is always there to guide us. His love is constant and His mercy never fails. I can’t be everywhere at once and I can’t protect everyone I love, but I rest in knowing He walks before me. He takes a mess and turns it into a masterpiece. Our mistakes are His canvas and with every brush stoke, He paints a new portrait of redemption in each of our lives if we are willing to submit to Him.
I’m going to do my best to be the mother this young girl needs right now and I thank God for giving me Project Eden, a sanctuary for her to come to everyday. One day, I hope to build a small house for her and her baby on our land, so she’ll never have to worry about being kicked out on the streets again. In the mean time, we will trust that God will provide all our needs and we will continue to praise Him in all situations.