Where’s Gabriel? Part 1.
Written Thursday September 30
I have gotten many questions about Gabriel and have not been able to respond, because it is difficult. This is the hardest thing I have ever written about. It’s a terrifying memory. A heartbreaking event. And though God knows the end, I do not yet, which breaks me, every day, every minute.
As I walked into the orphanage in Carrefour, Haiti for the hundredth time, unfortunately I didn’t think much would be different this time. Starving, malnourished children suffering from completely preventable and treatable sicknesses. Every time I would get near the entry gate I could just feel the evil emanating out, and the wickedness of the directors would send shivers down my spine.
The group that I met at the orphanage was visiting from Colorado and they were going to take all of the children on an “outing” to Gressier. The bus was waiting outside…as they gathered all 75 sick, scabied covered children, who many had untreated sicknesses for weeks, the children made it to the bus, each trying to enjoy through their sickness, the excitement of something new.
The team was ready to go, sitting on the bus with all the kids they had gathered…I looked on the bus, and for some reason said, “I’m going to run back in and check one last time to see if we have all the kids.” One of the members of the group said…”I just came out, there’s no one. “ Since I had been rounding up kids for nearly 20 minutes, I believed her, but for some reason I just felt like I should check one last time….so I went inside again.
As I passed through the courtyard. No one. Inside the halls. No one. I then entered one of the side rooms expecting again to find no one. That’s when I saw a little child, sitting still with a light pink shirt on way to small. He was gazing into the cement gray wall with an empty look of hopelessness. There were two “orphanage workers” nearby, I asked who this child was, no one knew, as their face filled with almost disgust as I asked if this was either of their children. I picked her up only to realize it was a him. He felt warm and immediately went limp in my arms. His sick body was broken….so I took him. And this is where it started.
For the next 5 months, Gabriel began to teach me about redemption, healing, anger, sadness, hopelessness, hope, pain, fear, joy, beauty and that’s just the beginning.
Although he went between the orphanage and my house numerous times from March to July, I was always thinking about him. Thinking about his health. His poor little sick body. His spirit. His hurting, broken, healing and beautiful spirit.
When he stayed with me, nights were hard. His screams would fill the room and remind me that he’s had SO much practice perfecting his empty cry in an orphanage…in his cries I could hear the hope that if he was the loudest then maybe, just maybe someone would hear his cry and know his pain…so as night would fall and his body would become more fatigued his siren-like screams would begin and once again he would choose to sleep on the tile floor rather than his bed.
I was willing to fight for him. To not sleep for days, weeks. To pray over him morning, noon and night. We were on the road to healing. So close. He started giving kisses instead of biting. He started relaxing when being held instead of trying to break lose. He started playing and laughing and smiling.
But then reality set in again in June. He was an orphan. In a country where an orphan=money. In a country where orphanages=business. The director of the orphanage and his wife were both very aware of this. Their orphanage is a business. From October of 2010 until March of 2011, 53 children have gone missing. Unable to be located.
To give a brief description of the chaos of the details. Because of my unwillingness to give the orphanage director, what he wanted for Gabriel, I had started an uphill battle with the Haitian authorities about what was happening.
On the day the director was arrested. My whole world changed. My sheltered and safe life became SHATTERED. I witnessed before my very own eyes the reality of injustice. Of human flaws. Of evil, pure evil.
I have to say, the Haitian police did a pretty great job with the actual sting operation. Their plan, their follow through, their success was surprising, and impressive.
But the buck stopped there. The Haitian Social Services branch, was beyond terrible.
If the government organization that is PAID to care and fight for these kids is too busy eating their lunch and listening to rap on their IPOD, then who the heck is supposed to fight for these kids. I had a new VIGOROUS and FIERY passion ignite in me for this orphanage and for Gabriel. And This was before the end of the day (when the unthinkable happened)….
As this branch of government visited the orphanage more worried about what they were doing this weekend than with the sickness, feces, scabies and filth that was in front of them…I couldn’t imagine how bad the day would end.
As they ripped, and I mean RIPPED Gabriel out of my arms at the end of the day…his nails clawed at my hands reaching back at him. His face was TERRIFIED…his screams were ear-piercing…I looked back at him and felt like I was about to vomit, my heart was breaking and I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t move. “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” I thought frantically.
They locked him in a white vehicle with the windows rolled up. But I could still here him screaming loudly.
I was forced into a car with some Haitian Police and other officials. They said you will see him in “3 days”…and another voice chimed in…”no 7 days”….and the last voice states…”10 days”….as I felt my togetherness unfolding…I angrily said in English…”You have GOT to be kidding me. If YOU don’t even know when I’ll see him again…I’m NEVER going to see him again. You guys have NO IDEA what you are doing. I am NOT the bad guy here! ” Tears streaming down my face…Anger bursting from EVERYWHERE. One man chimes in in English (oops…didn’t know anyone spoke English)…and he says, “If you don’t believe you’ll see him, then fine, you won’t.” Oh, great! I thought…what did I do? I apologized quickly as I said with tears streaming down my face…I’m sorry, this is just overwhelming. He smiled and said, “I understand.”
Here I am 69 days later. Without Gabriel. Without a word of his whereabouts. Without even a hint at his safety.
The only thing keeping me going, is Christ. Hope.
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” Luke 1:19
As I read this, over and over. I am waiting. Waiting Gabriel. What’s the Good News? Where are you? I pray you are safe. That you are healthy. Loved. Secure. I know…I BELIEVE…I will see you again. I Am Searching for you…Please know…I Will NEVER give up.