known by name

by Kayla Raymond

For she is more precious than rubies… – Proverbs 3:15

It took Webert and I a while to find the perfect name, but we think we have found the name for our daughter, due October 10. We are going to name her Ruby Jo. I wasn’t going to tell social media the name but then I met Peterson on Wednesday.

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Mami Sarah with little Peterson

Peterson is six-months-old and lives in Haiti. He was born into poverty. If Peterson could talk, I think he would say life has been hard so far. He has four older siblings and a mom who is struggling to get by. They live in a tattered blue tent with a rickety tin roof and absolutely no material possessions inside except a suitcase of clothes. The day I met Peterson, all of the clothes were being washed and hung to dry on the nearby cactus fence. We brought them a bed and it twists the bottom of your stomach knowing a handbuilt bunk bed frame and two second-hand mattresses will be Peterson and his siblings first bed. The kind of stomach twisting that makes it hard to breathe and move forward. I’m sure you know the kind.

As we walked up to Peterson’s house, I found him sitting in the dirt with only a piece of cloth on his bottom. He was covered in dirt; his brow was lined with sweat. His mom poured a small bucket of water into a basin, so I could wipe the dirt off his body. We splashed in the water for a few minutes. One second he wanted to laugh, but he also wasn’t sure what to think of the strange blan visiting his house. I picked him out of the water and minutes later we were sitting on a five-gallon bucket of water as I rocked his naked self to sleep.

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Mamoune with a sleeping Peterson in the background

His mom eventually laid a worn sheet on the dirt in the shade and laid him to rest there as we talked about her situation. What a situation it is. The children’s father is no where to be found and she seems hopeless. We talked about her starting  a small business and registering the older girls in school. We built the bunk bed inside and the girls laughed as I threw them on top of the bunk.

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Peterson has been in my dreams since I met him on Wednesday. His name has become engraved on my heart. It’s funny how a name will do that.

I haven’t even met my baby girl yet, but since we decided on a name, she’s become so real and known to me. Before, it was almost just this idea of a baby coming, but it became so much more real once there was a name. Now that you can call her by name, isn’t she so much more real to you as well?

The same thing has happened with Peterson. He’s become so much more real to me. Before he was just a number on a sheet. I read Mamoune’s intake form for the Starfish Program: five children. At the time, those children didn’t have names or faces. It was just a statistic. But, then you meet them and see their faces and learn their names. Everything changes. Your stomach twists and your heart breaks. Once you learn their names, there is no going back. Once you learn their name, you can’t not fight for them.

I’ve been wrestling with God since meeting Peterson. I just don’t get it, I say to God, as if He owes me any explanation. Why was Peterson born into poverty and why will Ruby be born into opportunity. Why do some women not get to have the babies they dream of raising and other women have too many kids they can’t take care of. How can one woman cry out for a child and another woman abandon hers at an orphanage gate. Why does Peterson have to sleep on a dirt floor and I get to sleep in this comfortable bed. 

I only spent 20 minutes with Peterson but I want him to have the same opportunities Ruby will have. That isn’t to say I know life won’t throw curve balls at Ruby and I as I raise her, but they won’t be anything like the curve balls life has already thrown at Peterson. Ruby will never go to bed hungry. Ruby’s first basinet is already picked out and registered for a friend to buy on Target’s registry. Her first crib is already made and a stuffed whale sits there waiting for her. Ruby already has a dresser full of clothes. Ruby isn’t even here yet and she has already accumulated more possessions than Peterson’s entire family. Stomach twisting.

I think about redemption for Peterson. I want to help write a beautiful story for his life. I want to be a part of the kingdom coming in his life. I want Ruby to be a part of his story as well. I want her life to stand for redemption. I think of how hard that work will be, but how beautiful it will be some day when he goes to school or moves into a new home.

I don’t know how God will provide all these things for Peterson yet. I wrestle with God as I don’t have the perfect plan to help Peterson yet. I struggle with the responsibility to give and when to set boundaries. But, I know my life is different now that I know his name. I can’t not forget him or the image of him sleeping naked on a sheet in the dirt. I want better for him. I want better for the world. I want Ruby to know better.

Maybe that’s where my fear lies: I’m bringing a new life into the world and I don’t want her to know the world I see. I don’t want Ruby to see babies sleeping in the dirt or know kids who go to bed hungry. But, maybe at the same time, I’m glad she will know them by name. She’ll see the harsh truths of the world and have a chance to fight for the poor.

Regardless of what my unsettled heart fears, I find comfort in knowing a day of redemption is coming for all of us. For any of us who call on God, will also be called out by God and we will be known by name.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 20:3-4

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