I’m having a tough time writing this update.
I never realized, until now, that it’s tough to grin from ear to ear and type at the same time. I keep giggling and that, to be quite candid, is a real distraction.
There are just some things that can’t be put into words and, while that’s generally regrettable for a writer, today it seems just fine. Perfect, even.
It has been that kind of day.
For the sake of sharing the most incredible story I’ve ever experienced, I’m going to buckle down and get this right. But do you really want to know the minutiae? All that truly matters is that:
WE FOUND MARKENLEY!!!!!
(I keep adding exclamation marks. ‘Tis just how I feel! (!. !.)
Last night, as you know, I received a text from the young Haitian man who was scheduled to begin his search for Markenley, on my behalf, today.
But he just couldn’t wait, he said.
He felt God telling him to go NOW.
In Haiti, that’s no simple request. There is transportation to consider – into, in this case, a dangerous section of town. Near dusk.
But Jay Louis doesn’t question when God tells him to do something – he does it. Right away.
I’m learning that is just his way. (And I’m oh so glad!)
In this case, it meant skipping class. (My son would surely love to convince me that it’s God’s idea for him to cut class, but somehow this is the first time I’ve actually felt it is legit.) He also had to convince his buddy to join him.
No hill for a climber, right?
So they paid some guy to give them a ride in his van across town to the center of a slum and then they drove slowly up and down, trying to find an orphanage that I had only partially named. That, of course, would only be the beginning of the search, since I have been told several times by the orphanage director that she does not have a 10-year-old boy there and only suspects that he lives nearby.
And that was a year ago.
At last, Jay Louis’ buddy said that his dad was calling, wanting to know where he was, and insisted they needed to head home.
“I just felt certain that God wanted me to do this now,” recalls Jay Louis. “Right then, I received a text from Stacy with the address of the orphanage and we were directly across the street from it!”
Ah, Stacy Furlow.
I can’t adequately share today’s miracle without explaining her role.
A few weeks ago, this precious woman in Arkansas read one of my blogs about Markenley and then, like most other readers, she moved on.
In fact, she has her own website (http://beyondthismountain.blogspot.com) about her experiences in Haiti and, after reading my account, Stacy says she genuinely weighed whether to shut her own site down. Someone else, it seemed, was telling the story of this broken country well and, without immediate evidence that her own words were being seen, perhaps it was time to work silently.
But something caused Stacy to pause and she backed up.
Returning to my blog, she left a comment of support, sharing that she has friends now in Haiti – men who could provide the three things I said I need to search for Markenley: transportation, translation and security.
I remember clearly the moment I read her note. It was like manna from the heavens! For a year, I have been aching to go look for this boy and, for a year, the obstacles have seemed too great.
Swiftly, I wrote back to her, eagerly asking for more information. I would take her up on her offer and, somehow, some way, I was going to go at last! I even began perusing flights.
I could feel that it was time!
And then… nothing. No word came back from Stacy. She didn’t return to my site and never saw my eager note to her.
Flummoxed, I refused to let it be just another dead end. I knew, in my bones, that it was truly time! A full year had nearly passed since the earthquake and, surely, Markenley would vanish forever into the dust and mire of the forgotten world if I continued to wait.
So, I did what anyone in the 21st century does when there seems to be nowhere else to turn: I Googled her.
It revealed a Twitter link and, through that, I discovered Stacy’s website. When I saw the faces of Haiti, I knew I had the right girl!
I read every word of her blog, stunned by the beauty of her writing and tears that poured down my face at the stories she shared.
Swiftly, I pursued her, sending notes on her blog and Twitter. When she responded, a fast friendship formed!
I wanted to throw into high gear plans to travel to Haiti as swiftly as possible. We even unearthed what seemed to be workable dates. Alas, her work schedule wouldn’t gel and, though she had a trip of her own with her husband planned, it is one of the two weekends a year that I committed long ago to be on retreat with my church kids.
(Have I mentioned lately that God’s plan is always better than our own?)
Fast forward to my realization that her friends in Haiti could conduct the search on my behalf for Markenley. They speak Kreol, can move freely and safely without sticking out like sore thumbs among the tents and cluttered streets. And they care!
I suppose this is where I should expose my own unsuitability for launching a search in a foreign country for a kid I’ve barely met. These things, you know, take money. (Doesn’t everything?) While it doesn’t take nearly as much as it would in the United States, any money seems like a lot of money when your bank balance is flimsy. I suspect plenty of you know the drill. In this economy, income seems to turn into “outgo” long before it even arrives.
So I needed to raise some funds.
(I suspect God chuckles sometimes when I’m clueless.)
The solution had been sitting in my computer for an entire year.
When we met in the orphanage that day, our bond formed around the camera. It crossed the gap of two different languages and gave us a way to share with each other. When I left him that day, there were pieces of his perspective saved on my memory card!
Again, opportunity fell into my lap. Barbara Barth, a new friend, was opening an antiques shop in Lilburn, Georgia, and wanted to include the works of local artists as a fun aside. She invited me to display my portraits of Haiti – for sale! Since it was her grand opening, she wouldn’t even charge me for the exhibition space.
My small-group kids from church encouraged me, and it was their idea to add an Opening Day bake sale to begin a school fund for Markenley!
I’m not sure if you are reading between the lines and see all the God moments sprinkled throughout my fumbling retelling of this story, but they are everywhere!
Throughout the day of the photo exhibition’s debut, ones and coins trickled into the bucket we set out for Markenley, in exchange for brownies and hot chocolate. At the end of the bake sale, a man drove up and I suspected he wanted to complain about my girls waving their signs in the street.
Instead, he had tears in his eyes and complimented me on their hearts for service and said their selfless acts – outside on a freezing winter day – had left him emotional when he had driven past earlier.
Rather than just smiling and thinking warm thoughts, he had done what NO ONE would do in response – he went to the bank and withdrew cash to contribute! To the girls’ utter astonishment, he shelled out bill after bill, to the tune of 100 bucks!
Oh, the celebration of a dozen sixth-grade girls and their teacher who have seen God in action!
I guess this has turned into a bit of a book. Sorry for the length. I just can’t get around God’s tendency to work in my life in ways that take their own sweet time and teach me a thing or two about patience.
With the money we raised from the bake sale, picture and t-shirt proceeds, I was able to contact Stacy’s friends and engage them to launch an official search for Markenley.
You nearly know the rest of the story!
(dot dot dot)