I can not explain how thankful I am for not only Ashley's care of Nora, but even more so for her heart. I recently ran across a post she put on her facebook page to thank all of her supporters who helped her get to Haiti for this last month with supplies in hand. I could not help but ask her for permission to post it here. Her words are an open window into the heart of the every day life of the orphanage as well as the heart God has given her to help. I will let her words speak for themselves...they are priceless.
Original fb post from Ashley....I just wanted to say a great big, love-filled thank you to everyone who helped contribute to getting me to Haiti. These trips are not cheap, and there simply is no way that I would be able to do them without all of your support. I'm the one who gets to go have all the fun loving on these kids, but it's because of all you angels that the magic happens.
Since I have been in Haiti, we have had around 15 new children dropped off at the orphanage. These children all have at least one parent... they are not orphans, so you can just imagine their extreme grief, anger, confusion, and sadness at being left behind in a completely unfamiliar place. We really came at the perfect time because the first month that the kids are at the O is the hardest by far. The nannies at the O have so many responsibilities; simply loving on the children is often overlooked. When Audra and I are there, we are with the children 24/7, which means we help them get through all the good, the bad, and the ugly (not to mention, stinky!).
When I leave Haiti in a little over a week, my heart will be overflowing with all the amazing memories that I will have have. But it will also be filled with the memories that although I wish I could forget, are the reason why I have been called to be here. During our first week, we had one boy dropped off who screamed all afternoon for his papa to come back for him. Anything that we did that hinted of him staying at the O permanently, he absolutely refused. As we tried to take off his old clothes when we offered him new ones, he explained, "my papa is coming back for me and he will not be happy that you took my clothes." It broke my heart that he really had no idea that his papa was never coming back for him. We had twins who were dropped off that we physically had to restrain when their mama walked away. They cried so hard that their entire little bodies shook until they finally fell asleep. We had a baby boy, around four months, who almost choked on his full body sobs when his mama left him behind. I resent days where we have new children dropped off, my throat swells and my heart plummets as I wrap my arms around the little ones who hate me for being part of their terrible predicament. But I am grateful, oh so very grateful that I am there because even though they hate me at that moment, I will be a part of their incredible journey to an amazing new life. All of my babies are adopted, and I sincerely believe that their first day at the O is the absolute hardest step for them out of their entire journey. By having a shoulder to cry on and a reassuring voice to tell them that it's going to be okay (even though it's coming from a blanc speaking an unfamiliar language), makes this absolutely terrible day for them a little more bearable. Or at least that is what I tell myself as they bite, kick, hit, and scream at me. Another important thing to realize is that life at the O doesn't stop when these children come to us. The nannies still have diapers to clean and meals to cook, so if we aren't there as punching bags then the other children take the hit. We had a baby who ended up with a bloody foot because a five year old bite her on his second day at the O. The five-year old is not a bad kid, but we were at church and he had no one else to help him work out his feelings.
The joy of being at the O for extended periods of time is seeing how these children change and begin to accept their new life. Seeing these new children transition is beyond words! This last week has been harmonious. The little boy who bit the baby always gives me a kiss as he walks by. The twins are having oodles of fun and giggles with the other children. Audra and I let out a whoop of joy when the boy (who spent his first day screaming for his papa) finally let us hold him. Up until yesterday, he would punch us repeatedly every time we tried to touch him. All the new children call us by our name instead of "blanc!" We are able to do group activities, like story time and singing, for the first time in history of the O. The children do not fight as badly to get our attention because they know that they will all eventually get their turn at some one-on-one that day. My throat is not sore at the end of the day from having to yell, "pas frappez, pas frappaz, pas frapez!" all. day. long.
Another big part of this trip has been communicating with the families back in America and Canada who will be adopting these children. Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I want a big multicultural family of my own some day. This has probably stemmed from the fact that I grew up with my mom running a daycare in my home. I have always been surrounded by children, and I love it. However, this idea of adopting a bunch of children from throughout the world has been built on quite a bit of ignorance. Working at the O has shown me just how unimaginably hard adopting can be. When we had a baby pass away of TB last fall, all the parents of the children at the O had no idea if their own children were okay. I was not yet in contact with them and the O's director was crazy busy with a billion other things. This time around I have thoroughly enjoyed skyping, sending updates, and taking pictures for all the parents anxiously awaiting the glorious day that they will be able to take their precious ones home. Oh the joys of technology! It also eases a great strain off the O's director by having someone there to help her with all the paperwork that these adoptions entail. Especially when you consider that it is all in English, a language she has only been fluent in for the last five years.
So thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Hundreds (yes hundreds!) of people are responsible for changing these little one's lives... through giving me your bottles, buying a bracelet, placing a bid at out silent auction, or purchasing a chocolate bar, every single dollar really does help. And your generosity has not been singularly monetary, thanks for helping me gather up 200 pounds of formula, diapers, t-shirts, vitamins, and peanut butter. We have significantly filled the O's supply closet for months to come. You know who you are, thank you for your selflessness and your willingness to help make a difference. A small difference, but a significant difference nevertheless. ♥ I love you all.