Faithful Friends

The red truck comes slowly up the dirt road, under hickory trees and a half built house, the sun gleaming down on it. The kids are in the back atop a dwindling pile of mulch, smiles plastered across their faces, the wind whipping around them. Levi is shouting with joy, his body covered in dirt and weeds and his hands blistered, his soccer uniform a royal blue in the sun. He hops out of the back of the truck, out of breath, so happy he can barely speak. “We did all the mulch around the garden! And we rode in the back of the truck!” He’s shouting this at me, though I’m standing beside him. The kids worked for two hours to mulch the fence around the garden to prevent weeds from sneaking through. They had just played a soccer game, hadn’t eaten yet, but decided to work with Rick, the grandfather. Rick takes out his wallet, praises the kids for their hard work, and gives them each 5 dollars.

It’s this moment that I have to turn my head so I can wipe my tears. This small gesture, as we stand in this open field, the truck still rumbling, bikes scattered all around me. My son, barefoot and sweaty, receiving his portion of the pay. The sun is bright and the wind is cold, the first signs of spring, and the deepest part of me feels a gratitude that overwhelms.

When we first moved home from Haiti, I only saw despair. The landscape before me wasn’t one of plenty, or goodness, or hope. I had this secret in my belly, and I moved through the days numb, scared, and alone.

When I told Kristin, it started to shift. We were in her home, drinking tea from green mugs. We were talking about Haiti, memories from when she and her husband, Sam, lived there as well. Our time together in Haiti overlapped for 1 year, as Sam built the orphanage. It was the hardest year, sleeping in tents above the river, walking 7 miles to site every day, forming our tongues to this new language. We made so many mistakes just being American and not understanding the culture. We shared a room, them, just married, me, a single girl just out of college. We shared malaria, and a motorcycle accident. It was quite the year. We had also been strangers, then suddenly missionaries together, being stretched to our limits, cut open and poured out as we navigated this life in Haiti.

She slowly put her mug down, then came around the table to hug me. They were huggers, despite my resistance and pure hatred of hugging, I allowed it. I folded into her, and for the first time since I moved back home, I felt like the burden wasn’t so heavy to carry.

Kristin didn’t ask me questions. She didn’t dive back into what happened, how it all spiraled, how everything I had dreamed of and worked towards was now gone. She kept her eyes forward, and doing so forced me to do the same. She drove me to our other friend’s house, helped me to tell her as well that I was pregnant. This woman, Alicia, laughed, said, “impossible” and then quickly realized it was the truth. Kristin answered all her questions for me, a protective shield around me, the shame beginning to dissolve as my friends lifted me up, shed light onto my darkness.

That night Kristin’s husband, Sam, and Alicia’s husband, Jonny, both contacted me to tell me they love me, and that whatever I need, they are there.

It was the first time I felt like I could breathe.

It’s been 8 years since I came home from Haiti, and Kristin and Sam have given me a second chance at life. They’ve taught me to fight through difficulties, and to cling to God when all hope seems lost. They have become my best friends, my family, really. They watch Levi for me weekly, taking him to soccer practice and doing his homeschool work with him. They pray for me relentlessly, always guide me financially, and consistently have my best interests at heart.

I remember being 8 months pregnant and still so full of shame, and Kristin came over, barged through my house, and sat on the end of my bed. She looked me dead in the eye and told me that this was the only sin that produces a gift, so for the sake of my child I need to stop feeling sorry for all I had lost and start clinging to a future full of hope.

Eight years later, she’s still calling me onto this. And Sam, he’s a rock in my life. When we lived in Haiti, it took time for me to understand him. He’s passionate about the truth, and justice, and getting things done. He speaks with authority, knows what he wants out of life and isn’t afraid to go after it. He’s a risk taker and wild at heart, and I often see myself in him because of this. Once I understood his tones weren’t anger just passion, our friendship began to grow. He’s an incredible father figure to Levi, walking the line of discipline and teaching so well, bringing Levi into his family life without any hesitation. Sam built a house for his family on their incredible property, and included an apartment in it for Levi and me. His faithfulness towards us moves me to tears. He was the first person I sought council from when I entered into my current relationship, and he’s the first person I go to about anything happening in the world that I don’t understand.

But it’s so much more than all these things. They’ve given my son the opportunity to not just exist among them, but to flourish. They’ve remained by my side through all my trials, all my setbacks. They’ve welcome us over and over again without judgement or cost, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

They are what it means to be pro life. Levi is important and wanted and good. He is worthy. I feel this when I see Sam giving Levi a Mohawk. I feel this when Kristin cooks Levi’s favorite meal. I feel this when they correct Levi’s behavior.

And I feel this especially in this moment, when Sam’s father, Rick, pays Levi for the work he did. Levi is a part of their family. Without hesitation, without question.

And to think, the advice given to that same community, upon learning of my pregnancy, was to close their doors to me, do not expose their children to sin.

Kristin’s response still sits deep in my bones, “no, we’re showing them life.”

A faithful friend is a strong defense, and he who finds him finds a treasure. Ecclesiasticus 6:14


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