2.12.2016

an unexpected love -- jessi meyers north

Again, where to begin with Jess? We met in our sorority six years ago and our friendship blossomed while we had the opportunity to serve alongside her in our sorority presidency and briefly be in the same major together. We spent many hours laughing, crying, doodling in class, getting all kinds of foods and dessert and talking about life, being birthday twins (we're born one day apart). The greatest thing was watching her fall in love with her sweet husband, Michael. They both are true examples to me of selfless love. 

And even this summer, she came to Seattle with her friend, Jenna, and I was able to take her to one of my favorite restaurants on Alki Beach and then get my favorite cake in the entire world. I still remember, it was a Tuesday night in early July and we stood in the bathroom of Cactus, washing our hands, and she randomly said to me, "You're going to find love. It will work out. And then you'll wonder why you ever worried about it." 


If anyone can inspire me to have even a little more faith in things working out, it's this girl. I cried while reading this post, because I still remember going to dinner after she returned home from this trip and hearing about her boys, knowing in my heart that it will all work out, somehow. 

Thank you for being my friend over the years, Jessi. I sure do love you. 
...
“When God puts love and compassion in your heart toward someone, He’s offering you an opportunity to make a difference in that person’s life. You must learn to follow that love. Don’t ignore it. Act on it. That person needs you.”
This quote took on an entirely new meaning to me in April of 2013. I sat next to my husband, tears streaming down my face, as our plane took off from the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We were on our way back to the United States after spending 10 life-changing days remodeling an orphanage in that beautiful country. Every part of me ached at the thought of leaving. Once I felt those wheels leave the ground, my heart felt as though it had been broken into a million pieces.

Rewind to ten days earlier. Our van bumped along the winding, narrow dirt roads on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. It was hot, the air was muggy and I was stunned by what I was seeing outside my window. Poverty in its truest form surrounded me at every turn. I had tried to prepare myself before leaving for Haiti for the things I would see. I thought that I had a pretty good idea based on the research I had done on the internet and pictures I had thumbed through. The reality was that my research hadn’t even come close to preparing me for what I was seeing. Shock, sorrow, fear, love, gratitude, and awe were all the raw emotions I felt on the van ride to the orphanage. Upon arriving at the orphanage gates, we were greeted by some of the most darling children you will ever meet, but two boys in particular caught my attention. These two boys were not excited like the others. They stood clinging to one another sobbing uncontrollably. We soon came to find out that they were brothers, ages 18 months and 3 years, and they had just been dropped off at the orphanage that morning. Undoubtedly they were confused, terrified, and missing their mother. Everyone in our group tried to console them. We offered them toys, candy, attention; but they wanted no part of it. We decided to give them some space while we got out some soccer balls and frisbees for the other children, and began to organize the equipment we would need for the remodel. Close to a half hour later, my husband and I were standing on opposite sides of the room when the two brothers approached us. The older one came to me and the younger went to my husband. I remember being a little surprised that out of our group of 15, they came to us. We held them close and dried their tear-stained cheeks. We tried to get some smiles out of them for the rest of the evening, but they were hurting and in no mood to smile. 

Over the course of the next few days, our bond with these boys continued to grow. Each morning when we would arrive at the orphanage, they would come straight to my husband and I. By our third day there, the younger boy started calling me Mama and would not let me put him down once he was in my arms. All of the work I did in the orphanage I did with him in my arms, unless he was down for a nap. He would cry if I even tried to put him down for a second. The minute that little one started calling me Mama I knew I was in trouble—the love I felt in that moment and over the course of the next few days is something I will never forget. My husband and I played and laughed with them, their smiles melted our hearts. They would reach up for my husband and I and we’d wrap them up in our arms silently wishing we could hold them forever.
I began to panic as our days with them drew to a close. All I could think of was that they had just been abandoned by their real mother and now I was going to have to leave them too. What would they think? How would they react? Would they ever be able to trust and truly love someone again? These thoughts spun round and round in my head. I tossed and turned, prayed, and cried at night under my mosquito net thinking about it. Unfortunately the day came when it was time to say goodbye. My heart broke as I held them for the last time. I had to hand my little man off to one of the older girls in the orphanage and literally run out the doors before I could hear his screams and cries for “Mama” once he realized I was gone. I knew if I heard that I would turn back and not be able to leave. The minute I got outside of the orphanage I broke down…sobbing, a very very ugly cry. I never knew I could love a child that wasn’t my own that much. I never knew I could hurt that badly at the thought of not being there for those boys. My husband and I cried ourselves to sleep that night, and I found myself weepy the entire flight home the next day and for weeks after that. I turned to my husband at some point during the flight home and said, “This isn’t good enough for me. There has to be more that we can do. I love those boys.” He agreed and we started planning. We knew it was a long shot, but we wanted to adopt the boys the second we got home. Unfortunately, we were far from meeting the requirements at that time. We were however immediately able to sign up to be their sponsors so that they could begin to attend school and get the basic necessities that they would need. To this day we often send clothing and other items that they are in need of. I have been blessed to be able to go back and hold them in my arms since then, and to no-one’s greater surprise than my own, that connection and that love between all of us is still there. They still cling to me and argue over who gets to sit on my lap. They cuddle up in my arms and fall asleep with their little arms wrapped around me. 


I thank my Heavenly Father every single day for leading me to those boys. He has certainly put a whole lot of love and compassion in my heart for them. I have tried my hardest to follow the love I feel for them and act on it. It has helped me grow and change in ways I never could have imagined. They’ve helped me understand what is truly important in life. It’s not the big things that matter most, but the little things. Serving them and loving them is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I often thank Heavenly Father for allowing me the smallest glimpse into a portion of the love he feels for all of His children no matter where they are in this beautiful world, no matter what struggles and trials they may face. From the moment I met these boys there was a connection that I couldn’t and still can’t explain. I do know that it has changed me. Their love for me and the love I feel for them has all become a part of me. There is no going back. There were no coincidences in ending up in Haiti on that spring day. I needed to be there, I needed them to be a part of my life. Heavenly Father had a purpose in mind and he has continued to lead and guide me down this path, on a journey that I have a strong feeling is just beginning.

        


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