I did not want to spring the news of me leaving on the kids the week before I was leaving. I wanted to have plenty of time for them to process and for me to process with them. So, one night after dark, I drove out to the house and surprised the kids. They sat respectfully (after one blow up they didn’t want another!) and listened. I asked questions about what they remember when I came, how long we said I would stay and so forth. We talked about why I was in Haiti and how all of that came to pass… then I told them I was leaving. I let them know it was not because I didn’t love them or that they made me mad or that they weren’t important. We talked through all the details and I let them ask questions. Rather than be sad (I choked back a few tears) I chose to focus on how far they’ve all come. I called out a few boys to give examples of how small or rough they were when I came and how tall or kind they are now. Even the guys that haven’t been around for a very long time. They are already changing and this is so evident of God working in their lives. It’s so beautiful that they are allowing this great love to transform them.
Some of the questions were:
“Is it easy for you to leave?”
“Will you come back?”
“Do you think you will remember us?”
“Can I come with you?”
Some answers were: Of course it’s not easy to leave. Knowing that this conversation was coming, we have been talking about hearing from God and being obedient to what we don’t understand… and naturally using bible stories to show the kids how what seems to be odd to us, or confusing to us makes perfect sense once you see the full picture. We talked about Paul (not that I compare myself to Paul!) and when he left cities where he worked (Specifically Ephesus) he and the people he worked with, who became his dear friends and family, bawled their eyes out from sadness; but they were still obedient. I told them I don’t know what the future holds, but God has got this and I trust Him. What I thought would be a 15 minute conversation was just over an hour, but it was very fruitful and I am quite certain the kids felt incredibly respected by how I was open to giving them details and answering their question.
I hold these kids in my heart. They are each very special to me; I started praying for them almost a year before my first trip to meet them. I cannot and will not ever forget them.
Thank God the kids have been very upfront with me about their thoughts. I really thought some of the kids would pull away from me emotionally. They have not. Quite the opposite. Some of the kids that had pulled away from me before the news have actually been spending more time with me. Now when we have staff or visitors come and they hear I am leaving, I have the kids tell them why to make sure they fully understood why and the details behind it. It’s very cool to listen to Johnky give the details of my life.
I also broke the news to the kids at street church not long after this… these kids, surprisingly have also said they will miss me and have become more affectionate; that was the biggest surprise.