Our search for her began when God told us to adopt the twins. In Haiti you have to first find out if the abandoned child has a mother, and then you need to either produce the mother or produce a death certificate. Not only do you have to produce the mother, you also have to produce her birth certificate and identity card and have her sign her children away.
Our search began with the girls father. A man whom we had tracked down through connections at the Haitian orphanage they were living at. Their parents had not talked to each other for a while and he was reluctant to find Yolande. Penniless and blind in one eye, he was afraid she would be mad at him to know the twins had been living in orphanages for the past 2 years. She was.
We remember the day we first met her. We sat in the adoption orphanage room while the adoption lawyer talked to her about what an adoption was and meant. That it meant her girls who were living in extreme poverty, who were dirty, malnourished and sickly would have a future. That they would be healthy, well fed and be given an education. We remember how mad she was at the father for not telling her where they had been for the past 2 years after she left them. She had a lot to absorb in a short period of time. We remember her questions such as "will the blan (white people) rip out their hearts and eat them?" (a voodoo belief). We remember the father telling her what a blessing this was. At the end of the information session she agreed to sign for the adoption.
The next time we saw her was to take her to the lawyers and to social services where she would sign. We picked her up and dropped her off at the lawyers. We waited in the waiting room for a bit, excited that today this young lady with 6 kids living in poverty in a slum in Port-au-Prince would be giving 2 of her children the best chance at life. All of a sudden the lawyer emerged seeming really frustrated. It did not look good. She said Yolande would not sign today since the girls looked so healthy (they had been in our care for 2 months) she thought she could take them back and they would stay healthy like that forever. They could help her take care of the other kids. She also stated other voodoo related beliefs with respect to the kids and us. Our hearts sank. We knew that if she took them back, they would just end up in that terrible orphanage again because she had no means to take care of them. They gave her until Dec 17th 2009 to make the final decision.
During the next month, we started to pray for this young woman. So lost and so lonely. So broken and so overwhelmed. Living in a slum with 2 other kids in her care. Her other children scattered around. No husband, and being used by other men around her. We prayed that God would intervene in her life. That God's plan would reveal itself. We knew without a doubt that God wanted these girls in our family so we could only trust that He had a plan. We prayed that God would show her His love. That she would listen to God's voice and not those that surround her with the voodoo voice of Satan. That she would be cleansed and relieved of her anger and feel the peace of God. The night of Dec 16th 2009, the eve of the day she was to sign or refuse to sign, our group of missionaries prayed that God would intervene in her life that night. It was all we could do.
The next day, Dec 17th 2009, we saw a new Yolande. The Yolande that will forever be in our hearts. The Yolande that God has always seen, a child of God. Expecting the worst, we saw her walk to the car as we were to take her to sign for the adoption. As we laid our eyes upon her we saw she had a huge smile on her face! She looked totally different. She radiated. We asked her how she was and she said, "Great! Mme Laurens (Cheryl), you will never guess what happened last night! Last night I had a vision from God. I heard a knock at my door and as it opened I saw you standing there and I heard God's voice. He said "I have sent this woman to you". After that I let you in and we had tea together. Now I know you are from God and I am so blessed that you are going to adopt my children. What a blessing this is!"
This was the first step in her transformation for Jesus. After she signed that day, we saw her one more time before the earthquake of Jan 2010. She was still happy and pleased with the adoption. After the earthquake, we did not know if she was alive or dead. She lived right in the area of most damage in Port-au-Prince. If she had died we would have no way to find her body and therefore get a death certificate hence possibly making the adoption process years or impossible. Finally we got a phone call. She was alive! The house she was squatting in collapsed missing her and her other children. Instead of being devastated, scared or crying we heard the smile in her voice as she told us the story, "My friend was always trying to get me to go to her church and I always told her no. After the vision I started to think about God more. After the earthquake I had no home to go to so guess where i am living????", she yelled. "In the church! God wanted me to go to church so bad he broke my house and now I am in the church!!" We laughed at her enthusiasm.
Since then we have gotten to know Yolande as an extension of our family. We see her from time to time and help her out with her needs, keeping tabs on her other children and teaching her about Jesus. We helped her to get her other child out of her bad orphanage and back home. We limit the girls access to her as this is confusing for them mentally but we share pictures and occasional visits with them.
The last time we saw Yolande was just a few weeks ago. She called us in a panic, "Everyone around me has cholera, I don't know what to do." I (Cheryl) told her to come and see me. When she arrived I taught her all the cholera preventative information that we teach in our community health program. We went over early detection, what to do as soon as she sees symptoms, how to make oral rehydration salts at home and how she needs to go to a centre right away, how to wash her hands properly, how to cook her food properly, how to teat her water and how to disinfect etc etc. I gave her money to buy bleach, soap, sugar and salt (to make the ORS). She left feeling better.
On Dec 16th 2010 we got a call from the girls Haitian father saying Yolande and 2 of the children had cholera and were in a treatment centre. As we are having less deaths in centres now than before, we thought she might be OK since she had made it to a centre. On the other hand, we knew that it might be too late.
She died the next day from cholera.... Dec 17th 2010; exactly one year to the day she had the vision from God, exactly one year from the day she first let a ray of Jesus into her heart and exactly one year to the day, she signed the paper giving her permission for the adoption of Ana and Mina. We never got to see her before she died. We were there only after. We know that she died knowing we were praying for her. She lived through a life of poverty, abuse, malnutrition, earthquake, hurricanes, only to be taken by a curable disease in one swift day. She was 6-7 months pregnant.
We are thankful that God knows things long before we do. We are thankful that He had our special children in his plan long ago, knowing that their birth mother would die before long. We are thankful he did not give up on Yolande as a child of God and we are thankful to be a part of showing her Jesus before she died. We praise God for the life of this woman and her wonderful transformation. May she rest in peace with our great Lord.
Yolande Clerge ?/08/80 -17/12/10
|Yolande 2 weeks before her death|