I met a little boy yesterday. Although I don't quite remember his name, I think I will forever remember his face, his spirit, and his little wooden chair.
You see yesterday we took the Lipscomb team to a little town called Terrier Rouge which is about 45 mins outside of Cap Haiten. There, Gerome and Pastor Jonathan recently started a church in a much needed community. Renting out a little room attached to a house that can seat 50 people at most, their church is vibrant and hungry for God and His word. The room was filled with plastic chairs and on the ceiling hung hundreds of construction paper cut outs of tea kettles and cowboy boots. Although very Haitien, the decorations defiantly caused some chuckles but in the end we all praised Gerome for the nice work they had done with the building they had been provided.
Gerome taught Sunday School and Phil (our preacher from Nashville and the leader of the Lipscomb Team) led the sermon. And although the service was beautiful, I couldn't help but keep my eyes of the little boy sitting to my left in his little wooden chair.
It was about 10 minutes into Gerome's lesson when I saw him. Carrying his little wooden chair, no bigger than himself, he walked into the church all alone and sat down near me and Dalencia. Although he was wearing cute little blue shorts and an orange shirt nothing could top the fact that he was sporting some black TOMS shoes! A big fan on TOMS myself I immediately was curious.
The longer he sat there in his own little chair the more I began to realize that he was all alone. No parent came to accompany him and no big brother or big sister came to sit with him. All alone and surprisingly all attentive, he sat there, listening to Gerome's sermon as if he understood.
About 20 mins into the lesson, with a little prompting on my end, Dalencia gathered up her crayons and coloring books and walked over to the little boy. Kneeling by his chair they colored together for the rest of class. Although her coloring marks are still pretty spastic, the little boy, no taller than Dalencia, remained focused and and in the lines perfectly.
When the coloring phase was over and Dalencia fell asleep in my lap, the little boy kept starring at me throughout Phil's sermon. I can't imagine what was going on in his head. "Who are all these white people in my church?" "Why is that woman holding a little Haitien girl to sleep?" "If I stare at her long enough will she give me something more to color?" I don't know. But through the occasional exchanges of smiles and the playful winks my heart was pierced. I was so curious about this boy. Where did he come from? Did he have parents? Why is he at church all alone? And why, in a building full of chairs, did he bring his own?
When church was over, the little boy picked up his chair and headed out of the room with speed. Standing among the adults I was unable to find him to try and find the answers to my questions. And before too long the building was empty, the little boy was no where in sight, and I assumed that I would never see him or his little chair again.
After lunch on the truck the team committed to let Jonathan and Gerome take them around the community to visit the homes of the church members. Sharing food, praying, and exchanging testimonies, the team would spend time getting to know their brothers in sisters in Terrier Rouge. As we split up into two groups to go into two different directions I began praying. "God, please put me on a team that will lead me in the direction of the little boy. Please take us to his house. Please let me see him one more time."
On our walk through the sandy streets I could't get the little boy off my mind. I began to question what my motive was in seeing him again, why I was so intrigued, and what would I actually do if we did walk into his house?
We visited families for ever a hour and still...no little boy! As we made our walk back to the truck to head home I began to lose hope of me ever seeing him again. And as we turned the corner to approach the street where our truck was parked I saw him- sitting in his little chair. He was at his home, sitting in the door way. His mom was washing clothes and his grandmother sat working on her sewing machine. I stopped, so excited I didn't know what to say. I called for Gerome and explained to him that this little boy was at his church. Gerome began to ask the grandmother questions about the boy. "Oh, he goes to church every Sunday by himself," she said. The rest of the family does not attend church, but this little boy, age 4, does, all alone. Every Sunday he picks up his chair, walks across the streets, and listens to Jonathan preach his sermons on the Gospel. I went on to tell the grandmother how my daughter Dalencia and her grandson colored together during church. Once she saw that Dalencia was Haitien she looked at me with big eyes and said, "Oh, do you want a son too?" Pointing to the little boy in the chair I was speechless. "You can have have him too," she said. I looked at the boy, smiling, and then looked back at her. I asked her if he had a mother and a father. She went on to explain that he doesn't have a father but his mother lives here with him. Although they can't provide a lot, it seemed as though they could provide enough. So tempted to take her up on her offer I laughed and told her that someday I would want a son but not today.
Despite the fact that I had only spent a few minutes with this boy, I loved him. Maybe that sounds strange, but it is true. And although I would have loved to have picked him up and taken him home to call my own, I knew that I could never take him away from his mother.
As I knelt down to pose for a picture, the kids we had brought from the orphanage began calling out that he was Dalencia's brother. Although I tried to get them to stop, it was pointless. They knew I loved him and they knew his family offered him up to me. Overwhelmed and filled with a heart about to break I had to walk away quickly. I gave the boy a quick hug and made my way to the truck- looking back at him only ]a half a dozen times.
As we drove away he waved to me with a big smile. Sitting between Hunter and Gerome in the front of the truck I confessed how tempting it was to take him. Prepared for Hunter to shoot that idea down pretty quickly he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, if that is what you wanted we would have gone with it." "What?!?!" He was open to the idea? You have no idea how much it took for me not to tell Gerome to turn the truck back around and head to his house. But I didn't. Instead I prayed. I prayed that God would provide for him and his mother and that he would always, always, always feel loved.
It has been a day since I have seen the little boy with the wooden chair and I still can't stop thinking about him. Without saying anything, he taught me so much. First off, I have no excuse to not attend a church service. If a four year old can willingly choose to go to church all on his own- I, at 25, can go to church with my family. No excuses. But above all, I believe God used the boy to show me His presence in my life. I have been in daily prayer that God would open my eyes to the things I needed to see and my ears to the things I needed to hear. I have begged God to daily pierce my heart and break it if needed. I have longed to hear His voice, feel His presence, and see His path before me as I work here in Haiti. And yesterday, God answered my requests.
He showed up in the little with the wooden chair. He showed me that He wanted me to have the faith of a child- so pure and so simple. He wanted me teach me beyond all the troubles in my life right now, beyond all the challenges to my faith, and beyond the desires to give in and give up, a child-like faith is all I need. I need to pick up my little wooden chair and follow Him-even if that means I follow Him all alone.
I still can't recall the little boys name. Although the grandmother told me, I didn't quite understand. And maybe I wasn't supposed to. Maybe God didn't want me to remember his name-maybe I was just supposed to remember the lessons.
I do hope to see that boy again. Maybe one day soon I will head back to Terrier Rouge with Gerome. And maybe I will go visit him, or sit with him in church, or maybe even color with him. But even if I never see him again, I will always remember his face, his spirit, and his little wooden chair.