what I want: a reflection

by Kayla Raymond

One whole year ago. Where did the time go?

A year ago I was newly engaged, 23-years-old and loved where my life was at. I was comfortable and felt right on track. Then you know what happened the very next day? Not even 24 hours after saying “yes” to my fiancé, a little life came into my life and turned it all upside down again.

A lost momma had given up her 11-month-old baby at our orphanage gate and upon meeting this child I knew my life was forever changed. It took a couple of weeks before she became mine, but the journey to make her mine was the biggest leap of faith I had ever made in my life.

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My mind told me so many lies: you can’t do it, she’s a baby, you’re too busy, you’re planning a wedding, and you already have two boys. But, my heart kept crying, “Yes, you can.” So, we did. My crazy fiancé and I took in an 11-month-old, 8 pound, severely malnourished, AIDS positive, tuberculosis fighting baby.

She’s a miracle and she reminds me that miracles are an everyday thing as long as we have our eyes open to them. She’s also hilarious, a little naughty but a literal bundle of joy. She has the biggest smile and a personality that makes you fall in love with her almost immediately.

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It’s been a year.

But, a year before Wishla came into our lives, Loveson made his debut. He also came out of nowhere, but we fell in love with him instantaneously. Also malnourished and weak, and kind of goofy looking, he had the most contagious spirit.

This past Sunday I watched him graduate preschool (preschool graduation is a very big deal in Haiit!) and I have never been so proud. I really think he has taught me more about life than I have taught him, though. I don’t know what he will grow up to be, but I do know that whatever it will be, it’s going to be incredible and he’s going to make the world a better place.

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So, needless to say I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting of the past two years the last couple of days. I’m blown away that God would trust me with the many roles he has given me, but I have to admit there have been more days where I feel totally inadequate and unqualified than I do feel equipped.

I dreamt of having this very simple, missionary life when I moved to Haiti. I would spend my time playing with village kids, holding babies and learning a new language. Somewhere along the way it became so much more than that, though. The lessons I’ve faced have been far from easy. Figuring out how to do things the right way and not ruin lives in the process has been the hardest part. Realizing that lives will always be at play when poverty is the issue is what makes things difficult.

You can’t stop fighting and working when there are lives at play. Even when I find a new job for someone or put another child in school, there are always more waiting. There will always be someone knocking at the gate. The idea of this becomes daunting and exhausting. Some nights my mind just doesn’t know how to shut off because I either haven’t solved the days’ problems or I worry tomorrow’s problems may be just too much.

But, somehow I keep holding on. Sometimes it seems by just a strand, but for what its worth, I like to believe a strand is just enough to get me by. The pressure of poverty and the worries of tomorrow haven’t stopped me from dreaming any bigger.

In the past year, my dreams came true when I said “I do” to the craziest, most loving man I know on a beach at sunset. He’s my rock and my partner in crime when it comes to solving our problems. I followed my dreams when it didn’t make sense to open up a new business and somehow that is working out for me, too! I never dreamed of being a mom, but putting my three munchkins to bed after another day feels a little like a dream come true, too.

But, at the same time all the dreaming can get in the way. Some days my “to-do” list is longer and more of a priority than my “to-love” list. My days seem to run out before me and the simple things like walking through the garden to see my favorite grandma, or going to visit the donkey man, or visiting a mom with her newborn baby, or getting down and dirty to play soccer with the village kids don’t get done. The hard things seem to trample the beautiful things.

Basically, in a nutshell of a reflection, because my mind can’t seem to figure out what it wants to say and my heart has had a rough couple of days….all I really want is more Jesus. I want a love that is simple and pure. I want more love and to be a forever vessel of that love. I want to be broken day after day, to be exhausted at the end of every day and to be reminded again and again what my purpose is. I want to stop being distracted. I want more justice for the hurting, more freedom for the oppressed, more jobs for the unemployed, more hope for the hopeless. I want light to shine in places where it has never shown before.

I know it’s a far stretch from reality, but really, I just want things to be okay in my corner of the world. I want the man who can’t pay rent and is forced to live on the streets with his three kids to find a job so he can provide for his family. I want the mom who keeps showing up at our gate to find a way to feed her six babies. I want the dad who just used all of his savings for his son’s surgery to find a job so he can have a sense of security again. I don’t want us to be rich, have the nicest things or prettiest clothes, I just want it to be okay.

So, I’m going to keep on dreaming (and working as hard as I can) to make a path for a better tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be the best, just for the better, so people can say they’re okay.

And, I don’t think I will be okay until they’re okay.

Until then,

love from Haiti

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