Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rood Phania (Part 2 of 2)

After the utter heartbreak of my sponsor child, Fednerline, not showing up with the rest of the sponsored children I was questioning my presence in Haiti. Fednerline had been my saving grace in giving me the strength to make it to Haiti. Meeting her was all I had thought about for several weeks and now what? What was I doing here in Haiti when the one thing I looked forward to more than anything else had fallen apart?

Christy, who led our mission trip alongside her husband, explained the process of tracking down the children and getting them to the compound to meet their sponsors. She worked diligently over the next 24 hours to find my Fednerline and get her to me but the next afternoon she pulled me aside to tell me that she had spoken to the director of Fednerline's school only to find out she had moved further away, they weren't sure where to, and that they didn't know if she intended to return. This isn't uncommon in Haiti. Sometimes people come and go and occasionally hardships force them to move in with friends or family outside of their city in order to support themselves.

Christy told me that her recommendation was that I take a look at the board of children still needing sponsors and pick a new child who they could immediately begin to look for and bring to me. It was unsettling to think of replacing Fednerline. Despite the fact of not having met her, not having even enjoyed our first correspondence, the idea of her and all that she is was what had battled my anxiety over the last several weeks. I knew that Christy was right and I tried to trust that God had His own plan in this matter.

My dad and I took a look at the board. Nobody immediately jumped out at me the way that Fednerline had. Nobody felt like The One. I told Daddy to choose. He pointed to two girls he felt pulled to and after looking at the two of them I pulled Rood Phania's picture off of the wall and took it to Christy.

By the next afternoon we had received word that Rood Phania had been found and that she would be at the compound that day! I grabbed the bag of gifts intended for Fednerline and raced to the waiting area, shaking in anticipation but trying not to get my hopes up as great as they had been the first time. There were several children in the waiting area and a couple of other American missionaries waiting to see their children who hadn't been able to make it the day prior.

Finally, after so much waiting, after so much heartbreak, Rood Phania's name was called and a beautiful 3 1/2 year old little girl walked up with her mother and right into my arms. My darling girl kissed me right on the lips and rubbed her tiny little hands in circles on my cheeks. My heart swelled, tears filled my eyes, and I silently thanked God for the series of events that had led this little girl into my life.

We all sat down on the floor; my dad, Rood's mother Annette, our translator and a tiny little girl in my lap. I pulled out the grey teddy bear that I had bought for Fednerline and felt filled with the peace that the teddy bear was meant for Rood Phania all along. As we started to go through the rest of her gifts I explained that the dresses would be far too big right now but she could grow into them. I showed her the barrettes my mom had bought and how she could place them in her hair. Playing with her new grey teddy bear, Rood Phania slowly began to come to life, giggling in my lap. She kissed my face, rubbed my cheeks, and let me squeeze her sweet little body.

Through the translator we began to learn more about Rood Phania and her family. The paper I had received with a summary about her life had said that her father was a teacher, her mother was a vendor, and that she had one brother. It turns out that since that paper had been typed up, her father was now unable to work, her mother had no money to purchase the shoes to sell and make money, and she now had a second brother. I'm still unsure what led to her father's inability to work. It's likely that despite his qualifications there just simply aren't enough teaching jobs available. As the money dried up, Annette lost the ability to purchase more goods to sell and they found themselves having to move in with a friend of the family in order to keep going. When I asked the translator if there was anything specific that Rood needed I listened to her speak to Annette in beautiful Haitian creole and then she looked at me and said, "She says they need a house."

I tucked my face into Rood Phania's hair and began to tear up. The thing about having to wait several days to meet my little girl was that in the meantime I had learned a lot about life in Haiti and what it meant to sponsor a child. After two mornings building a house for a local woman named Rose Marie and her daughter, Serafina, I knew the details behind the Haitian people needing homes, what it took to get one, and the amazing job that Lifeline was doing in building homes. A Lifeline home is a simple 12 ft by 24 ft two room home that costs roughly $4,700 in American money to build. To qualify for a Lifeline home, the family has to have the ability to purchase or rent land on their own and the funds have to be raised and turned in prior to the start of building. The money for homes is raised by churches across the United States and often times it is raised through the hard work of an American sponsor who feels led to get their sponsor child in a home of their own.

Is it an easy task to raise almost $5,000 to build a home for a child in Haiti that only you will ever know the pleasure of hugging, kissing, and holding in your arms? No, I don't really imagine so but when Annette spoke her plea I knew immediately that I would come home and get my girl a home, whatever it took.

For the remainder of the week, I held Rood Phania close in my heart and at the front of my mind. We got to meet with our sponsor children one more time the day before we were to head home. I packed up the second half of her gifts, including several new size 4 dresses that I had chosen from the donations Lifeline receives, and the money we had brought to give her mother, praying it would be enough to allow Annette to purchase the goods she needed to begin vending again, and headed back to the waiting area one more time. The room was fairly full but my little girl wasn't there yet. I sat with my heart beating a million times a minute waiting for her to arrive. A few minutes later I glanced up and walking in was a tiny little 3 1/2 year old girl wearing a dress several sizes too big, hanging off of her shoulders, with barrettes decorating her hair; all gifts that I had given her the week before. A huge lump formed in my throat and tears filled my eyes at this beautiful gesture from her mother.

We all sat together in the grass under the shade of a tall tree and Rood Phania played with the Barbie wearing a fancy dress sewn by one of the women at my church. I hugged her and kissed her and she rubbed those tiny little hands in circles on my cheeks once again. We didn't talk much that afternoon but I don't know that we really needed to. It's a funny thing about visiting a country where you know none of their language, sometimes you find out just how many other ways there are to communicate. I tried to commit every moment, every giggle she made, every kiss she gave me to memory and prayed that the Lord would never let me forget exactly what it felt like to be with Rood in Haiti.

Annette spoke to the translator and he told me, "She says that when you go home she will be praying for your family and she will be praying also that you do not forget your family in Haiti and will pray for her family as well." My dad and I took turns telling her that we would NEVER forget them and we would always be praying for them. I know that when Annette says she will be praying for our family that she will most definitely be praying for our family and with all that I learned while in Haiti, I know that despite the little, the almost nothing, that Annette's family has, she will still be praying with all her might for my family in America who has it all.

**** If you feel called to help me in my mission to get Rood Phania and Annette a home, please check out our fundraising page here. We have chosen a Christian based crowd funding site and would appreciate anything you are able to share. ****


  1. Leah! I literally just cried when I read about her wearing the too big dress.... I can't even imagine what that moment felt like! You can believe that I will be donating to your cause

  2. I'm so glad you posted this tonight. God bless you and your family (US and now Haitian). I'll be praying for you and Rood. You're such a blessing.

  3. I needed to hear your story tonight as I lay here wiping tears missing all our Haitian friends. Walking through this journey with you has been such a blessing not just for me but for Maddi and Angelina too. God knew what he was doing by making us do something totally out of our comfort zone. So blessed to call you my friend. Next time we go, we will be building our families houses together. Love your heart.

  4. I needed to hear your story tonight as I lay here wiping tears missing all our Haitian friends. Walking through this journey with you has been such a blessing not just for me but for Maddi and Angelina too. God knew what he was doing by making us do something totally out of our comfort zone. So blessed to call you my friend. Next time we go, we will be building our families houses together. Love your heart.

  5. Reading this was wonderful in that it reminds me of what I always tell others (then forget myself). Everyone who goes on one of these trips thinks they made the decision to go by themselves. When they get there and open their hearts, they realize that they are right where God wants them to be, right when He wants them to be there.