February 27, 2014

lovena

i open my folded piece of paper, secretly wishing it would be a baby girl...

lovena, three years old 

it was posted on my steering wheel, mirror, refridgerator, closet. it was the background on my phone. everywhere i looked i saw her name. i wondered what she was doing. if it was nap time for her three year old little body. i prayed over her name. thanking him for this little girl i was about to meet. praying she will grow up knowing she is loved by a king. 

my first trip to haiti was this time a year ago. letting that sink in as i reflecting on all the crazy adventures and moments of joy i have had in haiti since that first trip. we were all given the name of a child to cover in prayer leading up to spring break. 
when i stepped off that plane in port au prince, i was ready to meet little lovena.

our team finally gets to faith hope love infant rescue and walking in, i'm not really sure what to expect. the orphanage i had been to in rwanda had nearly 500 children who could be heard miles away. walking through the gate, turning a corner, i see 25 children playing in the backyard on swing sets and tricycles. 25 boys and girls who would who would soon become a part of my family. i can talk about that for days. but for now, lovena.

everyone wanted to meet their prayer baby. dorothy is helping us pronounce their names correctly and matching the team up with their child. everyone turned into a personal jungle gym with their child. and then i heard the words i had not prepared for...

"lovena went home. she is healthy and went home with her grandmother!" 

while yes, this is a praise, i cannot say i wasn't sad. i wanted to meet this little girl i had on my mind 24/7 for the past three months. i kept reminding myself- she is healthy and has a grandmother who loves her, amelia. that is an answer to your prayers. 

fast forward to april. by this point, i know haiti and these children will be a part of my life forever. my next plane ticket was bought before i knew it. 

simultaneously checking facebook and pinterest while giving the occassional nod to my english teacher, i find multiple post on facebook that send a chill through my body that not even a mississippi july afternoon could break. 

"URGENT PRAYER REQUEST. lovena has been taken from a feeding center by mother with believed intentions to sell for money. child trafficking or voodoo. PRAY." 

"URGENT. lovena has been kidnapped by her young mother. friends and family of lovena believe she will be taken into dominican rebuplic and sold for profit. PLEASE SHARE AND PRAY."

i slid down in my chair, too nervous to get up and go to the bathroom. 
this was real. this wasn't just a story i read about online or a video watched on youtube. this little girl has been on my heart everyday for the past five months. it hit me and it hit me hard. she was just at the house. i missed her by only a couple of weeks. she was rose mischel's little sister. cha cha was her big brother. the kids showered her in love during her time at faith hope love. this kind of stuff is NOT SUPPOSE TO HAPPEN to people i know. only other people.
..right?

the next two weeks i sat on pins and needles. only using facebook as communication with dorothy and those helping lovena's grandmother. people were searching all over. going into the dominican. asking anybody and everybody that might know the whereabouts of her mother. no trace of lovena had been found in the city. some had thought that by this point, her mother had already passed her on to someone else. all we could do was pray. 

it's may now and i'm back at my haiti home. my first time sleeping at the house with the kids and it is a whole new experience. dorothy was in florida so i was frequently playing charades with the nannies, learning to work a generator, fixing a washing machine, and had goodnight hugs and kisses that brought tears to my eyes nightly. i was tired, sunburned, and the happiest i think i have ever been. 

one saturday morning, i sat on the front porch area feeding mathieu his bottle. rose mischel is fixing tangling my hair. claudine and rosa are drawing on the chalk board. emma is coloring her fifth picture of the morning. 
(i might have made that sound too calm. nothing is ever quiet. they keep me laughing with their big personalities.)

it all seemed like a normal morning.

then i look up and see a white man with grey hair knocking on the gate. 

looking through the cracks. 

with a little girl in his arms. 

claudine took mathieu from me quickly. her young mother-like instinct could tell i was beginning to cry and knew something is going on. the kids are too short to see him at the gate. 
but i know it is her. without even knowing what she looks like, i know it is her. 

he comes through the gate in a rush. i don't even catch his name or talk to him for more than one minute. it all happens so fast. he drops her in my arms and leaves. as soon as the kids see her, it starts. the chanting. the singing. the laughing. the praise of her returning. 

"LOVENA! LOVENA! LOVENA! OH LOVENA!" 



the nannies take turns twirling her around in the air. kids are laughing and literally jumping up and down. they quickly fix her up some food and start shoveling it down her mouth to get her little body back on track. jesula, one of the nannies who i call my haiti momma, is examining her arms and legs. she has a few bruises but otherwise looks healthy.

it was one of the most beautiful moments of my whole life with overflowing tears.

i had been praying for this little girl, she was gone, she went missing, and here i am, on the day of her return. lovena was quiet. she was not smiling or laughing as a little girl should. i don't know what all her eyes had seen in the past couple of weeks. at first, i wanted to know. i wanted all the details. but now, all i need to know is that He was holding her the whole time. He knew where she was when we didn't. He held her when nobody else was. He knew. 

it's not just something we are suggested to do. it's a biblical mandate to fight for justice. to fight for the rights of the oppressed + the widow + the orphan. 
isaiah 1:17

lovena is the funniest and happiest little girl i know. she is full of sass. she is full of joy. i'm thankful for the people who fought to protect lovena. thankful for her grandmother who loves her so much, has her somewhere where she knows is safe. lovena is healthy. lovena is loved. 


these full circle stories show the power of prayer.