The guest house our mission team stayed in while in Haiti was strictly off limits to the kids. Kids swarmed the porch, but they never entered the house. They’d been well trained in their boundaries.
After a full day of activity, many of us rested in the common area inside the guest house. The sounds of the kids outside drifted in through the open doors and windows.
She rounded the corner into the common area of the guest house with full confidence. All three-years-old of herself. As if she belonged there. As if entering that house was a regular occurrence. She locked eyes with me immediately and walked straight to my chair, eyes on mine, and climbed into my lap.
She walked to me as if she knew me, knew who she was walking to, and what she was coming for. She never uttered a sound, just sat on my lap letting me hold her and love on her. I assumed she was a child belonging to someone the Haitian pastor knew because of the confidence with which she walked in that house. We asked Pastor Actionelle, who happened to be with us while this unfolded. He didn’t know who she belonged to.
He gathered a couple local kids to inquire who this toddler belonged to and asked them to find her mother and bring her to us. A few minutes later a young woman timidly entered the guest house. She and Pastor Actionelle entered into a French/Creole conversation. We helped this young mother select clothes for herself and her little girl from the supplies we brought to share. And then they left.
I knew God had sent that little girl directly to me for a reason. I wasn’t sure of the reason at the time, but the message was held in the eyes. It was that look of intimacy and depth. A knowing, a longing, a look inside. There was something there, in the eyes. Jesus was speaking through the eyes.
Sunday arrived. We watched the families walking to church. Coming from miles away, dressed in Sunday best despite the suffocating heat. Kids spilled onto every square inch of tile on the porch of the guest house. I stepped into the heat when my friends began to tell me that they’d just seen “my little girl”.
I spotted her within minutes. She wore a bright green dress, her hair in braids held by green bows. I opened my hands to her as she walked my way, climbing into my lap. I held her close and tight, sweat pouring down my back, surrounded by mobs of children oblivious to the heat.
Again her eyes seemed to say something. I never heard a word come out of her mouth. But God placed her on my heart and directed her to me for a reason I would soon discover.
Over the next two days, God began to speak louder about this little girl and her mom. I needed to find their home. I needed to know if that mama knew Jesus. As we neared the end of our trip, the burden intensified.
Monday and Tuesday were days we planned to hike to more remote areas and deliver meal packs to families. But rain came and made a hike impossible. We trusted in God’s redirection of our time and prayed He would direct us to where He wanted us to be.
Our pastor suggested we determine if there was a special someone we would like to visit with before we left. God had already spoken to my heart that I was to find my “special” little girl and her mama. It was the mama he placed on my heart.
I knew I would find her that day. I HAD to find her that day. It became about obedience at that point because God was pushing harder and harder.
It was Tuesday. Our last day before we headed into our full travel day back home. At some point that day I scrolled through pictures on my phone when I got to the first group of pictures I took as soon as we arrived that very first day. We stood on the rooftop of the school looking out into the distance. But directly below us was a house. There was a little girl, a toddler looking up at us. A woman stood next to her, maybe her mama. We waved down at them. They waved back. I snapped a couple of pictures.
I’d not thought about that moment again until I began scrolling through my pictures. I froze. Was that my “special” little girl and her mama? I expanded the picture, zooming in. It was them. The first moments of our arrival. Before that little toddler walked straight into my arms. Before I looked into that timid mama’s eyes. Before I knew God was telling me to go find them, He’d already shown me how and where.
I couldn’t believe it. But I could. Because God is the creator of storylines that no writer can write.
There was no question. God wanted me to go to their home and tell them about Jesus. I’d never done anything like that before, but I was certain that God expected total obedience. It wouldn’t be about what I would say. It would have zero to do with me at all. He simply asked that I go on His behalf, open my mouth, and allow Him to do the work. My task involved only saying yes to Him.
Little yellow butterflies hold significance to me. Many times I’ve found myself running along a trail praying, when God sends these little butterflies my way. I notice them at times I find myself in a deep conversation with God. Or at times I feel He has a message for me. It’s something I’ve never shared with anyone because it almost seems silly, but I know that God speaks in intimate and personal ways. These little yellow butterflies are one of those ways.
We stood outside of the school building just hanging out with a few of the children. A cluster of these little yellow butterflies appeared. I watched them flit from here to there before they flew over the school building into the backyard of a house. The house I took a picture of that first day. The house that held my “special” little girl and her mama. God was reminding me one more time how and where to find them.
After lunch Steve and I packed a backpack with some rice and bean food packs and some candy. We grabbed our new friend, Jean-Janelle, our translator and headed to the home. I fought the temptation to plan out what I would say. Instead remembering a text from my mentor with John 12:49-50 “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
I also knew that many were praying for this mama and her heart to be ready to hear the truth proclaimed. That Jesus paid the price for her and loves her and wants to be the Lord of her life.
We arrived at the home. Several women and children sat on the porch. I saw my special little girl, our translator asked where her mama was. Someone went to find her inside the house, another pulled up a chair for me to sit in. The little girl climbed into my lap and I held her.
I akwardly stumbled through conversation for a few minutes. I looked back at Steve hoping he was just take over for me. He greeted them, told them about our children. We told the mama God placed her on my heart, asked if we could pray. She nodded yes.
We bowed our heads and I began to pray. Praying through a translator gives you time to have dialogue in your head with God. I’d pray a sentence and while the translator spoke, I was frantically asking God to help. I was about to chicken out. I was awkward at this. My delivery seemed choppy and immature. This feels unnatural. Maybe I should just pray, leave the food, and be on our way.
No. God said No. That wasn’t all I was to do. I needed to ask her if she knew Jesus.
After we prayed, I asked Jean-Janelle to ask her if she knew Jesus. She responded that she attends church. There was a particular look in her eyes that told me I needed to keep going. I asked him to ask her if she knows Jesus again.
Her sad eyes met mine for a brief moment before finding the floor. She slowly shook her head no as she raised her eyes back to mine. She knew that she didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. She knew about Him because she’d been attending church, but she’d never walked into His waiting arms. He’d been chasing her, pursuing her for how long I don’t know. But I know He was chasing hard.
He chased so hard that He sent her little girl with authority to find me, lock eyes with me, climb in my lap and steal my heart. He chased so hard, He captured her and her little girl on my phone before I knew who they were. He chased so hard, He had me reaching out to friends at home to be praying for her. He chased so hard, he caused other friends of mine to pray on that very day for reasons they didn’t know. He chased so hard He sent the yellow butterflies to point me in the right direction. He chased so hard, He sent me and Steve to walk outside of our comfort zone and our own abilities to sit on the front porch of strangers and stumble over words of Grace.
Oh how He loves her. And you. And me.
I asked our translator to ask her if she would like to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior, she responded with an emphatic yes. Yes she did. She was ready. He had prepared her heart. His arms were wide open and He was drawing her to Him.
In my entire life I’ve never seen a more beautiful picture.
We bowed our heads, and I led her in a prayer of repentance and salvation. And when we said Amen, we held each other in a long embrace. Her cheek pressed hard into mine and she rocked back and forth, saying repeatedly, “Merci. Merci. Merci.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I repeated to her that God specifically placed her on my heart. I had to make sure she knew the lengths God went to chase her down.
We began the short walk back, stepping through mud, passing by pigs, passing a woman bathing in the creek. We stepped into the clearing almost back to the guest house when two white doves flew over our heads. A white dove is a sign of the Holy Spirit ( Genesis 1:2 ; Matthew 3:16 ; Mark 1:10 ; Luke 3:22 ; John 1:32 ). A white dove was a sign of peace for Noah. To me those white doves were God’s message of confirmation. I could leave in peace knowing the Holy Spirit is at work.
I’ve never in my life experienced such a beautiful pursuit. Yet each heart and soul the Lord pursues is beautiful. Each is unique and distinct. Each is intimate and personal. He pursues the hearts of His children to the ends of the earth.