Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When I Carried You

Dear Sweet Little Babies,

I will always remember the time I carried you, the day we left the land of your birth. It was a privilege, an honor and the most incredible thing I have ever been a part of. It was the greatest assignment of my life.

I arrived in Cap Haitien last Thursday on a tiny little 4 passenger plane provided by Agape. We took off from Venice, Florida, stopped in The Bahamas for a quick lunch, bathroom and fuel break and got to Haiti around 2pm. I had never been to Cap before but I can honestly say that this place that was your first home, is beautiful. There was a compound filled with solid, comfortable buildings, grass for you to play in and a brand new playground set up just for you. When I arrived women with tiny babies filled the yard. It was the day for pre-natal class and this week women who had just had babies were asked to bring them along to be weighed and checked out. There were over 50 mothers with their newborns there, showing them off and learning how to take care of them! It was amazing to see the things that COTP is doing in their area.

I had the privilege of meeting your nannies and they were incredible. The women who took care of you all those months are beautiful! They are strong. They loved you with all their hearts. On Friday morning when I left to fly to Port Au Prince with the last 3 babies the nannies gathered around to say their goodbyes. They kissed you and smiled through their tears over the new life you were about to be given. They were sad to see you go because they loved you so much, but they were SO happy for you. They told you they loved you and waved until you were out of sight. Throughout all your time at COTP, these were the people who loved you the most. The ones who got up with you in the middle of the night, the ones who took care of you when you were sick. The ones who cheered for you as you took your first steps and the ears that heard your first words. There are no words for me to describe the respect and admiration I have for these women. You are so blessed to have been held in their arms.

After arriving in Port Au Prince we waited at the airport for several hours for a ride to the embassy. Because Bill Clinton had arrived in PAP just before we did, all the roads leading to the airport had been shut down. We had no idea why our ride wasn't there, So we just waited. Finally after 3 hours we were able to get a taxi and get to the Consulate. When we arrived the Tennessee 1 DMAT was there to greet us. They provided us with fresh bottled water, and MREs. You really loved the mashed potatoes! While we waited for the Prime Minister to see your files you ate non stop! After you finished the potatoes you went on to eat pudding cups, applesauce and cookies. I think you thought it was a very special day for you to be getting all those treats! One of the officials at the Embassy finally came out and told us that all we could do now was wait for your visas to be issued. They didn't know how long it would take so we found a place to stay in Petion-ville while we waited.

And wait we did. We spent a few nights at Dr. Nat's apartment but soon realized that it would not be a good place for 11 kids to spend more than a few days. We were blessed to be allowed to stay at God's Littlest Angels, another orphanage in the area. When we were there you had a huge yard to play in, Haitian nannies to help take care of you and other kids to play with. It was a fun few days for everyone!

Finally on Monday afternoon we got "the call" the visas were ready! We quickly packed everything and everyone into one car for the drive into town! We were a mile from the embassy when motion sickness set in, being so tightly packed in all we could really do was give you a wipe to clean your mouth and get you better cleaned up when we arrived. We were able to pull a new outfit out of a suitcase and get you redressed outside before we got in to pick up all your paperwork! After another long waith we had paperwork in our hands, it was official! We loaded into vans and headed to the airport.

In Haiti to learn to be flexible, you learn to be patient. It is a lesson you use every day and a lesson that we used especially on that night. We arrived at the airport expecting to be boarded onto a military evacuation flight only to be told that our plane was not coming. There was a problem with the aircraft and they couldn't get another one in until 4:30am. We would have to spend the next 10 hours in our van at the airport. 10 kids and 3 adults in a van all night is not any one's idea of a good time but you were amazing. You ate more mashed potatoes and then settled down for a nights sleep on a van seat! It was loud and cramped but as you lay there in your peaceful dreams I couldn't help but imagine how many Haitians, at that very same moment would give most anything for accommodations that were as nice as ours. How many of them lie in the streets with no idea how long their lives will be this way. We had an exact hour as to when it would be over, they have no idea. You are so blessed baby!

Our plane was late, we finally boarded at 7am. Your excitement was contagious. As we drove in the vans to the C-130 that would take us away you craned your neck to see all the "avion" outside. You jumped up and down in excitement as we walked aboard. You sat down in your seat with eyes wide and mouth agape. You were in awe. As the engines roared to life you didn't cry! Instead you clapped your hands and cheered. As we started down the runway you waved and shouted "bye-bye Haiti, bye-bye." I hope you didn't notice the tears in my eyes. You had no idea the change that was about to come. The flight seemed to lull you and almost immediately you were sound asleep. Aside from a few (hundred) diaper changes the you slept, in your seat or across my lap. I loved the weight of you as you lay and the feeling of your breath as I patted your back. I loved the peaceful look on your face as you sat in complete trust of where I was taking you. I loved those last moments when you were "mine". When the plane landed applause erupted. You had no idea why but you clapped your chubby little hands and pointed out the window at the other airplanes. Again I hoped you wouldn't notice the tears in my eyes. I was so happy for you in that second. Thought I don't know if it's possible, I prayed you would remember the journey you just made.

The rest of the day was spent in immigration. There were a lot of people to hold and play with you there. I was so thankful for all the help, but I couldn't help but feel a little sad that I had to share you with all these other people. I wish I could have just held you in my lap, I know that wasn't possible. I hope you know that even though I only knew you for a few days, I loved you. I loved every moment I was given. You are so precious to me.

As soon as you were processed through immigration I walked with you downstairs. Some of you had parents waiting at the airport to meet you. I was so privileged to be able to hand you over to them. Everyone else was packed onto a bus to be taken to the house where you would meet your Mommy and Daddy. I was so thankful that they allowed me to ride along. On the way to the house I held you. I soaked in the last seconds of your tiny sweetness and marveled at the way you fit perfectly into the palm of my hands. I prayed over you. I prayed the the family I was about to deliver you to would always remember what a precious gift you are. I prayed they would raise you to be strong, thoughtful, loving and happy. I prayed they would teach you about Jesus and Haiti. I prayed they would teach you to love. As we arrived it got a little chaotic. There were so many people around. I was thankful for those quiet bus moments for me to say goodbye. I saw your Mommy and Daddy come in the room and I just knew they were for you! You fit! It was amazing to watch. When I saw the look in their eyes and the joy across their faces I knew that God knew exactly what He was doing when he built this family. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

As I fell asleep last night, for the first time in 4 nights, it was not to the sounds of your breathing. It was quiet and I was thankful. You were right where you are supposed to be. My job was done. As I lay in bed I thought once again of my hopes for you. I hope that you are happy, I hope that you are well, I hope that you remember where you came from and where you can go. I hope you know you can do and be anything. I hope that you love with all of your heart. I hope you give that love freely and I hope that you find your passion in life. Most of all I hope you learn to live for Jesus and that you never forget what He has done out of his love for you. I pray for you baby, I love you and I will never forget the moments when I carried you.


Sarah said...

So beautiful!!! Thank you for following God's lead and for serving the babies of Haiti. They are blessed to have you! I hope you carry my boy out next! His name is Reese. Love him up for me!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

as the tears stream down my cheeks all i can say is thank you. you will never know how much this post meant to me or how the Lord used it in my heart. but i just want you to know that you are appreciated.

Brittany said...

What a privilge you had to hold those babies in their last days in Haiti. What an honor that had to be for you. At time while reading your post you brought tears to my eyes. What a privilge it is for me to know you. You are awesome person! Thank you for loving those kids and taking such wonderful care of them and praying for them, oh how I pray they will forever remember that!

Brittany Schlichting

maggie said...

Once again, I find myself in awe of you and your wise spirit.

Carol W said...

God has proved Himself faithful yet again. You are back, loving Haitian babies and speaking out to our hearts and sharing the pain and victories of the Haitian people. Be Blessed. from Michelle's Mom. PS check the word given to you on Jan 19.

Deb from Lafayette MN said...

Rhyan: you are a true inspiration and missionary. Thank you for your work, your compassion, and for sharing your heart here. I enjoy reading the blog from afar and keep you and the babes and those yet suffering in Haiti on my mind and in my prayers. Many tears shed while reading, thanks for your spirit.

Kristi Heikes said...

Rhyan, You are such an amazing person in so many ways!! I check your blog whenever I am online, I look forward to hearing your updates. I look forward to hearing what the Lord is doing through you! I don't think there has been a single time that I have read your blog without having tears fill my eyes. Please know that our family has you in our prayers, and we pray for peace for all people suffering. Thank you for keeping us updated during your journey.

Mandi Weinrich said...

Rhyan, i sit here at work with tears streaming down my face after reading this blog! A sense of peace has swept over me as I come to realize that the whole time I was sitting in the hotel room, pacing and worrying, little jude was safe in your arms! and even enjoying himself during his week long journey to America! I don't know how many times we tried to tell ourselves that God has it all under control, but emotions get so wrapped up in it and this was just the peace we needed to hear! I remind myself once again, to never question the LORD! You are an amazing beautiful person. We are blessed to have crossed paths and have this special bond with God's children! I am printing this and scraping it for Jude!! Thank you so much!! Jude would love a visit!! Mandi Weinrich

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for bringing Mikayla (Vernise) home to us. I'm just now reading this almost 8 months later and it still brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing the experience, I'm printing it out for Mikayla to read someday. Due to the circumstaces we are not able to give a first hand account of where she came from, you have provided this for her. Can't tell you how greatful we are for all you have done and continue to do. Amy Mattson