God-Bumps & God-Incidences: “To Find a Son”

March 28, 2012 | 52 comments

I stood outside the church doors, in that blur of people streaming from Haiti’s version of a mega-church.

How would I find ever find him in this mass of people? He knew I was coming to his country, but what if something happened: What if he didn’t get the message, or he couldn’t afford a ride? What if he was sick?

My shoulders slumped, and the Nikon camera hung from my neck. I clutched an envelope in my hand with the words written on the front: For Claudel. The girls had drawn pictures and given him a lamb lapel pin with the word “Jesus” written on it.

In his letters, Claudel always calls me his mom. But a mother and father do more than pay for schooling and a few meals. A mother holds her child, reminds him that he’s loved and adored. I’ve had the ache of empty arms.

He was barely a man when we signed up to help him finish his schooling. He was living in a tattered shack on a eroded hillside in Haiti. His father had died, and his mother was living in a tent. He needed help, and we signed a check and made a commitment.

In letters, we told him that if we ever visited his country, we would try to see him. As God ordered things, my first-ever trip to Haiti landed me just a few miles from his village.

We’d arranged to meet at church, the day before I would board a plane for home. This day was our last chance to meet.

I scanned the crowd, looking for a face I’d memorized from a two-inch tall photo I keep in my office.

I could not find his face, and my bus waited.

And then, the voice from behind me. “Mom Jennifer,” he said.

I turned,
and we embraced.

 

Claudel

 

 

Sharing my “God-Incidence” of Haiti with you today. A God-Incidence is an event that some would choose to call coincidence, but we like to give credit to the Father. Feel free to share your God stories, God-Incidences, and God-Bumps with us in community today. Write your story, add a button to your post, and then drop your link below. Now that I’m home from Haiti, I’m so eager to catch up with all of your stories!

by | March 28, 2012 | 52 comments

52 Comments

  1. Shelly Miller

    This story gave me goose bumps – literally! What a gift to wrap your arms around the one you only knew in the prayers of your heart. You did so much in those few days in Haiti.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Shelly! It’s so wonderful to “chat” with you here in the comment box again. I’ve been away so long, it seems.

      Yes, God-Bumps for sure. And a bonus: Claudel and I were able to spend the whole afternoon together. His brother, who speaks English, joined us. So we were able to talk about his hopes, dreams, struggles, faith.

      I spent about an hour in his home. He sleeps on the floor. 🙁 … He told me he actually prefers the floor to a mattress, but it all just makes me shake my head.

      He’s a joyful young man, as you can see by the photograph. I’ve been so blessed by our meeting.

      Reply
  2. Michelle DeRusha

    “Mom Jennifer.” That right there made my entire day.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Me, too, Michelle! It was such a wonderful meeting. Hard to say goodbye…

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Brandee! Me, too, friend. I cried, too. Happy, joyful tears.

      I took video of his home, and I “interviewed” Claudel about his life and his home, his hopes and his dreams, so the girls could see what his life is like.

      Thanks for being here today, Brandee.

      Reply
  3. Kim

    Celebrating with you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Lyli! I appreciate you.

      Reply
  4. Dea

    You didn’t find him. He found you. Beautiful.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Dea … Good point. Isn’t this the way of God, too? We go looking, and then turn around to see that He has “found” us first. Love you, friend. And thank you, thank you for all of your God-care and concern during my trip. I treasured your words.

      Reply
  5. Christina

    How wonderful you got to meet! A memory to treasure. I hope to one day meet our Compassion child. I just have to find a way to Africa:)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Christina,

      I hope and pray that you have that opportunity. This was such a gift. And then to have a whole afternoon — with an English-speaking interpreter!

      Reply
  6. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    First you share your friends. Now you share your son.

    You are something, Ms. Jennifer Lee.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      🙂

      Thanks for your love and support this past week, Sheila. xoxo

      Reply
  7. Laura

    The relief and beauty of this moment is palpable. Can’t wait to hear more. Tried to link up, but maybe you have to approve it first?

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Laura — I see your link here. I am eager to read your story. Thanks for being a part of our community!

      Reply
  8. Kelly Sauer

    Sitting here. Not crying. Really.

    Reply
  9. Julie

    Beautiful the way God works these things out. You brought tears to my eyes this morning…thank you for sharing your beautiful experiences 🙂

    Hugs!

    Reply
  10. Jennifer Ferguson

    Oh, He is so faithful like that. Honoring commitment, desires, love. I am so thankful you found each other!

    Reply
  11. Nancy Franson

    “As God ordered things.” Those are just four beautiful words. So happy you got to hug the neck of your son.

    Reply
  12. Lori Poppinga

    “Mom Jennifer” I love that. So glad you could love on him in person whom you had loved on in prayer for so long.
    Keep up the God work, Jennifer!

    Reply
  13. rcubes

    All I could think was “Awesome!” Then again, that’s not even enough to express what our good God has planned in this trip of yours. That’s what being His child is all about…sharing His unconditional love. Thank you for sharing your heart. God bless and protect you.

    Reply
  14. Megan Willome

    “Mom Jennifer.” See? The seeds for this trip were sown long ago, and the fruit is yet to come. I’d guess you’re in the flowering stage.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Megan … Your comment early on during this trip (about the uniqueness of making real friends on mission trips) has stuck with me. Thank you for that… Really, thank you. You made me see the blessing of it.

      Reply
  15. Cindy

    Tears. What a wonderful reunion for you and for him.

    Reply
  16. Joe Pote

    Precious! What a glorious reunion!

    Reading this post made me homesick for Heaven, all over again.

    Won’t THAT be a glad day?!

    Reply
  17. Elizabeth

    What a handsome “son” you have! His smile lights up everything. So glad you were able to meet him.

    Reply
  18. Megan @ Here to Find Him

    I don’t think that was a coincidence at all. All credit definitely goes to the Father! What an incredibly touching story 🙂

    Blessings to you!

    Reply
  19. Audra Marie

    What a beautiful God incidence. 🙂 He blesses us so much. Thanks for sharing! Love the photo of you two. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Dolly

    Rejoicing with you, “Mom, Jennifer!” How truly special 🙂

    Reply
  21. Hazel I Moon

    Your story is so precious and once you could see that smile, you would certainly recognize him. Thank you for sharing this incident from your life!

    Reply
  22. davis

    so good to read this…

    Reply
  23. Deborah Ann

    I haven’t been here in a while. Thought I’d stop in and see what Jennifer is up to. Wow! sounds like you’re doing the Lord’s work, and how!

    Reply
  24. Shanda Oakley

    What an incredible moment. I cannot imagine your joy.

    Reply
  25. deb

    oh you are just beaming in that photo Jennifer!
    I think these moments of power and tenderness are what it’s all about..

    so glad for both of you.

    Reply
  26. Sarah

    So blessed to have some time to come by and visit again. Love His heart written on the world through your life.

    Splashing around in God’s goodness today … Had to stop by and wade in this glorious place. Hope you don’t mind if I stay a bit and let joy soak deep down. I have quite a bit to catch up on.

    Splashin’
    Sarah

    http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  27. Kathleen

    What a wonderful story! I would love to meet our sponsored child. You are so blessing him with a “future and a hope”. Bless you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I hope you can meet your sponsored child as well, Kathleen. It was an incredible experience.

      Reply
  28. Diana Trautwein

    Oh, that wonderful smiling face – actually both wonderful, smiling faces. Eyes welling, face smiling here. Thank you for this capstone of a story from your week in Haiti. And welcome home.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      It is good to be home, Diana! Thank you for joining me on this journey. I often thought of my online friends while I was there, knowing that you were praying. I don’t know how to thank you enough. You’re a gift.

      Reply
  29. Rebecca

    I am choking back the lump in my throat and wiping tears from my eyes. The sheer joy on your face and Claudel’s…I have no words. Praise God you were finally able to embrace! So happy for you.

    Reply
  30. Leah Adams

    That brought tears to my eyes. I hope to meet the two little girls I sponsor in Tanzania one day.

    Reply
  31. Lisa

    So thrilled that God gave you this gift at the end of your visit to Haiti. God-Bumps for sure.

    Reply
  32. Lori

    Oh Jennifer….These posts brought tears to my eyes…oh to see what you have seen. I know your heart cannot ever be prepared for what you see. I kept thinking as I read your beautiful posts, about my sponsored children I have had over the years, and what kept me from going over to see them. So many excuses, “it’s too far, it’s too dangerous, I don’t have a passport” but really what would Jesus say to me if I told him that! Bless you! Lori

    Reply
  33. Missy

    What a wonderful opportunity to get to hold him and meet him face to face.
    We have 2 children that we sponsor and I hope that one day, I will get to hold them.

    Reply
  34. Deborahjoy

    That’ll be God’s GPS working for you! Tender love. Amen

    Reply
  35. Jean Wise

    ooo I sit here in Ohio with tears streaming down my face. God is so good!! Connection of love across the borders. What a great opportunity for you. wow. Bless you for making a difference in that young man’s life.

    Reply
  36. Simply Darlene

    Well a big ole YEEHAAW for you both!

    Blessings.

    Reply
  37. laura

    Your stories from Haiti have been such a gift, Jennifer. What beautiful people you have introduced us to. I’m so grateful to meet Claudel too. What a beautiful smile he has.

    Reply
  38. Anne Lang Bundy

    I finally made it here! How happy I am that I did. I truly rejoice with you, Jennifer, that you finally held in your arms the son you’ve loved these many years. I can only imagine your joy. o/

    And can you imagine the joy of our Father as He looks forward to that moment with us?! And yet, the love is not diminished across the distance of faith—the evidence of Him Whom we love but do not yet see. ♥

    I’m also waiting to meet and hug you …

    Reply

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  1. He loves his mom. | Hall of Fame Moms | Ohio Mom Blog - [...] *Linking up at God Bumps & God Incidences. [...]

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