When a Mother Sways into Ferrier Village
There are moments in a life where everything pauses. It all runs smoothly in the definitions we’ve given ourselves, and then something happens like marriage or childbirth or death that screeches everything to halt. One has to redefine herself before momentum picks back up again. To move forward is to move as someone new.
There was the one with the Superman shirt, whose eyes and smile pitched warm light. He held my hand tight. This is the place in Haiti, Ferrier Village, that I told you I was having a harder time processing. It was the place I was most looking forward to visiting, and it was the place I wanted to never leave. To tell you my final moments there would be to explain a desperate clawing in my heart. I wanted to shove dirt in my pockets, to run back in the kitchen for a mouthful of plantains, to have the drip of that mango running down my arms. I ran my eyes back and forth, back and forth to try to memorize their faces. I ached in language barrier to communicate with the woman who directed the village. I have never asked so many questions or so desired to see children brought to healing and wholeness.
These are the babies who were rescued at the border from being trafficked into Dominican Republic. They were starved. These are the 25 whose families no one could find. Many of them had no names.
Before we set out to see what was within the protective walls (the church, the new houses being built, and where they desired to build a preschool that doubles as a middle school), we sat for a home-cooked Creole breakfast. It was good and kind. Children were obediently giving us space, but you could see them picking us out and getting ready to hang on. They were the kind of obedient that said they had a Mama. One tiny one pitched a fit because she didn’t want to wear her yellow dress, and we giggled. Kids are the same everywhere. Her house mother gave the look, stood her up straight, and tied that dress right back on her.
We were able to talk long about trafficking at the border. It is happening, very small ones taken to be sold, right now today.
It’s always bothered me to wonder what others would think of me if I were to post photographs of myself in a swarm of orphans, like my pride of good-doing were the motivator, as if to say Look at me saving the world. Let me tell you what I learned, besides that none of the good done there had anything to do with me. The truth is that I’ve never had such good done to me. I’ve never so felt in my bones the belovedness of God for me and for the fatherless. I felt like a funnel with love chugging in. I literally felt power come out through my skin. Skin requires the touch of another because spirit and brain formation require it so. My own spirit groaned in gratitude that Jesus brought me to Ferrier, that those children were magnets for empty arms. My own skin was drinking and drinking. My own brain washed in a chemical, the waves of oxytocin in mother-love. I would leave a different person than I came. The photographs of us surrounded in children are Ebenezers, hither by thy help I come. I will never be the same.
Government officials came to Pastor Jean Alix and Help One Now and said they had 32 children they had just rescued that day. They only had a jail cell to put them in. What is the church to do? We come along side, don’t we?
It didn’t take long for the children with orange hair to get back their glow. They hired good work, much from within the church, to build homes. There are “mothers” for each house. Now their aim is already how to raise these young ones up, ones who had been trafficked – to transition them into adulthood as functioning, contributing members of their beautiful society.
They desire to add more homes and to build the preschool that will double as a middle school, so these children can have the multiple layers of what they need, as best as a village can offer it. Not only that, when the other small homes are built within these walls, double the children will be allowed in. These are not mere double orphans, though no orphan is mere. Ferrier Village is for victims of trafficking and for Trafficking Prevention.
It’s obvious that a little pressure makes the most creative people. Haiti proved that to me. Help One Now got creative by initiating Garage Sales for Orphans. We’re hoping to have 99 of you sign up to have a garage sale for Ferrier Village so they can bring more children in. I say 99 because I am the 100th. On June 7th, I am inviting my church to join me in selling our excess. Whatever is left will go to our local thrift shop that supports another ministry. A few nights before our sale, we’re having a church-wide women’s swap-n-shop, and what is left from that, we will sell, too.
All things work together. Sign up to host a Garage Sale with me now! Wouldn’t it be awesome if a bunch of us were doing it on the same day? I’ll keep you up to date about how I plan it, so some of us can do this together.
But for now I need to tell you this one last thing, the thing that I still carry, the thing that makes me weep to even barely let it slip across my mind.
I am a mother. I sway in a mother walk, and I have the embrace of one who is not scared of her mother body. I listen to my mother heart. When my Titus’s heart was racing out of his chest, I knew something was wrong, though no one else could hear it. In it was a hole. When his face sank in for lack of fat, I knew to take his skin to mine and feed him of my love.
The photo up there of the little one with a plaid shirt, his name is Lamar Alix Marlow, yes after the servants of his initial rescue and care. He was shaped exactly like my Titus. My eyes landed and my mouth whispered, he has been failure to thrive.
And then he came to me and he dangled from my neck the rest of our time there, exactly how my Titus would have. It felt nearly 200 degrees that day, and I came as the mother of 4 sons. I was made to walk for miles this way. If I had have brought my boys with me, I would have carried Titus and held the hand of my middle two the entire visit.
This is all I know. It’s how my brain is shaped. But then when I had to put them down, after I had held my face to Lamar’s, it took everything I had in me to walk away. If I weren’t confident that they are being cared for, I would implode. I wish their former care-givers could know that we as the body of Christ are actively engaging our own communities for the sake of their beautiful babies.
If you arrange to have a garage sale, think of the inheritance we have in the children of Ferrier Village. Think of them and take on joy, feel that mother love, the smile of the spirit, funneling through. I pray this blessing on you with all my heart, that as you work, you would know the feeling of being nestled into wings.