1. Collection 1 - The Fourwomen.
Updated: 4 days ago
The Story Behind Collection #1 - Waymaker Loves Haiti
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"She got older and had dreams, but often Haiti will swallow your dreams whole, remind you that they live in the belly of those mountains."
Martine. Mika. Franny. Ashlove.
I want to tell you about these four #women.
First, Martine. I met her my second week living in #Haiti. I was 19 years old, alone, and on the brink of something much bigger than myself. I was sitting outside our hut, at the top of a #mountain that sat above a river, swinging in a hammock someone had packed for us. Martine was confident, bold. She walked up to me, sat down against a tree, and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I barely spoke Creole, and her English was limited to questions about love, so we stumbled through that first conversation. She was patient, kind. She forgot to slow down her words for me, and to this day speaks fast and hasty when telling me things, ignoring any limitations I may have in understanding her. She had been asked to come and cook for the missionaries, and from that very first day I met her, she became a rock for me.
Sometime during that first month of living in #Haiti I had found myself really struggling to learn the language. The other #missionaries picked it up quickly, their vocabulary growing wildly each day, and becoming more conversational within weeks of being there. I was closing up, angry at myself, believing lies that I was stupid, incapable of ever learning.
We had been driving around the city all day, collecting items to go back to the village with us; wood, blankets, eggs, spices, all sorts of things. We stopped to pick up some of the older ladies who would come back with us, and one of them sauntered over to me, asked me where I had just come from.
“Kotew soti?” She asked me. Where are you coming from?
I froze. Two words. She said them again, slowly. “Kotew soti? Soti?” I
had no idea what the word was, my mind having gone completely blank. She tsked at me, shaking her head, and walked over to another missionary, who answered her without hesitation or confusion.
Tears burned my eyes, and I longed so much for my home, for familiarity, for comfort.
Martine saw my tears and aggressively rubbed them off my face. She firmly told me, “you’re ok. You’re ok.” She became a protector, a best friend. Fifteen years later and we are still navigating life together, dreaming big dreams, watching God work us back together in only a way He could.
Mika. Mika’s story is one that I hold closely to my heart, only really sharing it with people who truly want to hear it. But this is what I can tell you about #Mika- she is sacred to me. I met her when she was 15, when her sister was brought to us in the orphanage. She taught me how to blend spices, and peel beans the correct way. She consistently laughed at me, for anything I did- my speech, my walk, my outfits. She was opinionated and independent, and she became my little sister. She lived with us for years, helping out in the kitchen, or with the kids. We’d stay up late and sing songs in creole while everyone else was asleep. She’d go on runs with me, in leopard print shirts and sandals, laughing the whole time at the concept of running on purpose. When it would rain, we’d run to the river and do cannonballs into the water, holding hands. She told me I was more a sister to her than her own sisters. I knew what she meant, because she was that to me too. She taught me to wash my clothes the right way in the river, and how to carry heavy things on my head. When she couldn’t sleep, she’d crawl into bed with me, and ask me to sing her songs about Jesus in my language.
She struggled. She got older and had dreams, but often Haiti will swallow your dreams whole, remind you that they live in the belly of those mountains. She left for a job making bread in the city, and her life spiraled. She’s too thin now, always sick, struggling to raise her son. She sings me songs still, and never forgets to ask about my dad. She rejoices in my good news, and mourns my sorrows with me. She is a true friend, a true sister.
Franny. There is so much to say about Franny. She came to an orphanage when she was 6
years old. She watched her parents die in the earthquake, along with her little sister, who died in her mother’s arms. She had her two little brothers with her, one of them scared, one of them deathly sick. She was polite and withdrawn, eating on the floor beside her brothers, shielding them from us, feeling us out before she trusted us with them. She’d never eat first, never sleep first, always caring for them. It took her almost a year before she let all her walls down, and finally stopped mothering them. She let us do that, and she became a child again. She had a raspy voice and droopy eyes, and had no problem correcting you when you were wrong. She loved to dance, and always had a mob of girls flitting around her, eating up her every word.
When she was 11 years old, she didn’t feel well at school. School was an hour walk away, through 4 river crossings, under the hottest sun. I had walked over during the day to visit an elderly woman, and when I was heading home I saw her sitting beneath a tree, her head drooped to the side. I went over to her, touched her forehead, she was burning up. She could barely keep her eyes open. The rest of the kids came sprinting out of school, yelling and hollering. Franny was all legs, taller than me by then, but I scooped her up, threw her backpack to her brother, and began the long walk home.
As we reached the final part of our walk, I felt her body slump heavily into me; she was fast asleep. I was broken in fatigue, sweat pouring out of me, soaking my clothes. Each step I begged God to keep my body moving forward, don’t let me let her down. It was then I heard a voice, so loudly inside my head it couldn’t have been from me. “She will be your daughter.”
She will be my daughter.
I tucked this thought away deep inside of me. Confused by it, but comforted by it just the same. We arrived home, I laid her down and got her medicine. When her fever broke and she woke up, she blinked slowly, and told me she loved me. I love you, mom, she said.
When I left Haiti, it was Franny who broke me. She begged me to stay, begged me not to leave her. That is what my nightmares are made of; the way my choices affected the kids I knew. The kids who counted on me.
#Ashlove. She came the year I left, and our overlap was short. She had bushy eyebrows and huge brown eyes. She was a tiny little girl, having lived on the street for years before we found her. She barely spoke above a whisper, was always obedient, polite.
She was afraid of her own shadow those days.
Years later when my phone rang and her tiny voice met me on the other side, I was shocked. She cleared her throat and said, “I had no one else to call.”
So that is them. The fourwomen. And this is why #TheWaymakerCollections were born. Each of these women hold a place in my heart. They are all on their own journey, navigating the mountains and chaos of Haiti. They are our first #collection. We want to help them make a way. With God, there is always a way.
Martine. Mika. Franny. Ashlove. We all thank you.