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Leaving The Nest

It was time for our young people to spread their wings and fly.  Gretchen, Lifeline's Co-Founder, shares about the ceremony and the sending out party:

Tuesday was a beautiful day in Haiti as we said “farewell” to 41 young adults from our 2 children’s homes.

Emmanuel Adam, our Administrator, started by encouraging the youth and praising them for what they have accomplished and then thanking God, their house parents, and Lifeline for all that has been done. He reminded them they are privileged.

Bob, Lifeline's founder, spoke next and shared about our first trip to Haiti and how we stayed in the apartment at the children’s home in Port au Prince; that is where we first lost our hearts to Haiti….we lost our hearts because of the children at that home.  He reminded them that so many children never receive an education, have a bed to sleep in, nor people who love and care for them.  And many have not had the chance to hear about Jesus and His love for them.  Again, they were reminded they were blessed and that God was blessed too, because of what has happened in their lives.

The young people sang special songs, gave their speeches of gratitude, and did dances of praise to God.  Many cried crocodile tears…mixed emotions of wanting to go out and spread their wings but somewhat uncertain and probably a bit fearful of what is ahead for them.

The house parents spoke and they too shed tears, while admonishing the youth (not just those going out but those remaining behind) to remain faithful to Jesus in their walk into the world. 

I had the privilege of speaking last and spoke on behalf of you, their sponsors, and their parents, many who are no longer living.  They were reminded of your love for them; that you are praying for them.  I also shared some stories about their beginnings at the children’s homes.  I want to share those with you.  And while all of the children have backstories, here are just a few:

Tamara, Nadia Valerus and their half-sister Stephanie Sainsurin from Grand Goave.  
Their mother, Gladys grew up in our Lifeline school. She was ornery and often poked fun at us as we walked through the village praying with people. Nadia and Tamara were the first 2 of 7 infants placed in our Infant & Toddler Nutrition Program. Gladys had just lost a little baby boy and was destitute.  When we started this program she was not a Christian. I was impressed in clinic how she helped sort of “take charge” of the program with me and impart to the mothers how the program would work and how to take care of their children.  In time she came to Jesus and Bob and I loved her dearly; she was funny and fun.  Finally, we had an opening in our dorm kitchen, cooking and cleaning for the work teams that come.  Because Gladys was so tall (over 6 foot) the other girls in the kitchen gave her the nick-name of “nechel” which is Creole for “ladder”…Gladys had the distinct job of reaching the food in the high-up cupboards!  Those were fun days.  After about 2 years working for us she became very ill.  She developed typhoid and let it go untreated for a period of time and it did major destruction to her intestinal track. Upon returning to Haiti and seeing how sick she was we immediately sent her to Port au Prince for treatment. The house parents at the children’s home, opened their doors and arms to her and Everne “Nay Nay”, the house father would take her from the children’s home to the doctor regularly; when she got out of the hospital one last time, he took her to the home to stay but when it became apparent she did not have long to live, she wanted to come back to Grand Goave to be with her children and husband.  Gladys had worked hard at Lifeline and built a nice home where her girls will now live again.  On the day she came back to Grand Goave she had Nay Nay bring her first to my office, and she sat down and said to me “Madame Bob, please take care of my girls for me; that is all I ask”. I promised her we would, and later that day she went home and also went home to be with Jesus.  The father was disabled with severe arthritis and could not work. The 3 girls went to the children’s home in Port au Prince. Tuesday they eagerly left to move back home in the place Gladys provided for them. Their mother is with Jesus cheering them on.

The Delmas Children; these are the 4 grandchildren of Matilde who heads up our clothing/shoe distribution and baby layette program.  
When Matilde’s oldest son and his wife became very negligent because of drinking and carousing, Matilde pleaded with us to take the children and we did.  They had been running around the town of Grand Goave heading for all kinds of trouble. Even though we had them in the nutrition programs they would come there and act out and hang on Americans, starving for more affection than Matilde could provide.  We took them to the home and after they had been there a short time they cried.  One in particular, little David cried because he did not realize that other people loved him.  Martine, the house mother nurtured these young people and I remember her sharing the story of how she told David and the children that because they now had a loving, caring family to care for them that he had a future….he could become something special.  She said “David, you could even become President some day!”  (I smiled at that because being President in Haiti isn’t easy!).    Two years ago, their father Jimmy Delmas finally gave his life to Christ, was married again and baptized in the Grand Goave church.  Last month he suffered what we think was a brain aneurism and died suddenly.  He is in heaven with Jesus. His children have that peace about their father. I told them he too is cheering them on and would be so proud of them. And thanks to God and a sponsor, they are getting a Lifeline home built for them in January. For now they are with other family in Grand Goave.

The Courtois girls (4 of them); their half-brother is Robenson Faustin (Lifeline’s Homes For Haiti Photographer and a strong leader in the church); their brother Junior “Hommebien” Courtois is a helper/worker at Lifeline part time.  
Their mother, Sonia was a problem.  She was one of those people that no one liked because she always picked fights with them, pushed her way to the front of the food line, and in general caused trouble. But thanks to the love of Peggy Burke, the witnessing of Peggy, and her prayers, Sonia accepted Christ, married the father of the girls, and was growing in Jesus when it became known to us that she had AIDS.  She deteriorated quickly and also asked us to care for her girls.  Her husband is an alcoholic and not a responsible person. But thanks to Peggy Burke and members of her church, a nice home was built for Sonia, her husband and the kids. The Courtois girls will now be living back at home with their father. Robenson and his wife and Junior all have Lifeline homes.  The girls now have the home that Peggy provided for Sonia over 10 years ago.

Nathalie Auguste is a Haitian albino girl from Grand Goave.  
Her mother was a deaf mute.
  Her father was long out of the picture, probably abandoned her. Nathalie was an only child.  The only living relative was the mother’s brother, a Voo-Doo priest.  When Nathalie’s mother became ill and her health deteriorated, the sponsors of Nathalie, Jamestown  Church of Christ had great concerns for her and none of us wanted her to go to live with the uncle who practices Voo-Doo so she went to the children’s home in Port au Prince.  What is unique about Nathalie is her love for the other children…every time we would take a new young child into the home, Nathalie would latch on to them and become a surrogate mother for them, comforting them, and helping Nay Nay and Martine to care for them.  When the time came to send the children out Nathalie was one of only 2 of the entire 41 leaving us, that had absolutely no place to go.  She is staying at the Port au Prince location to be house staff for the new Leadership Training/Bible Institute that will now be in that location.  One other young man, Edner Jeune will remain there too as yard/maintenance worker as he too has no family.

Ambotha is another special young lady.  
During a terrible hurricane about 10 or 12 years ago her mother and her Shri-Lankan Father (U.N. worker) were killed and Ambotha was left an orphan.
  She had family in that region of the country but they couldn’t care for her.  Nay Nay and Martine learned about her from other people in the Gonaives area and brought her to the Home.  She is short, cute, beautiful in spirit and is now leaving to return to her home town where she does have some relatives to live with.

These are just a few of the stories of these precious young people!

In concluding my message to the young people, I reminded them that from the time we are born we are growing up and growing out. And as Christians we are Christ’s ambassadors.  Our prayer for them is that they will take Jesus to the world and remain pure and faithful.  And that we are all always going to be there for them if they need advice along their journey.

The day concluded with hugs, tears, thanks, kisses, a lovely meal, and the giving of the beds, food, Bible, sheets and clothing.    

What really surprised us was the young people's eagerness to launch out on their own; they began taking their beds and mattresses and heading out after the events of the day, instead of finishing their last few weeks at the home. 

They were ready to spread their wings.

In Ecclesiastes it shares that there is “a time for everything…” Martine reminded them of these very verses. It is their time to leave the nest and fly. Let’s all pray that they do remain faithful, and that God’s protection will continue to cover them.

Thank you for being part of the lives of these, “our children.” 

P.S. Now we plan and await the welcoming of new little ones who are just waiting and hungering for a home!