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Child of My Heart

Last night, as I sat under the stars, Julinsky came and climbed into my lap. He was mostly quiet, looking up at the stars and drinking in the evening air. I sang softly. Tears formed in my eyes. I’ve treasured hundreds of moments just like this before he could climb up on his own or say a word. 

Now he asks me a question, a profound question for a little one, “Pou ki sa ou pa rete lakay ou?” “Why do you not stay at your home?” I could have given him a long answer or said something about calling and the great commission. Instead, I responded simply with all he needed to know “Paske mw renmen Julinsky.” “Because I love Julinsky.” He was satisfied with that. 

I love all the kids here and Julinsky loves all the mamas that take part in his care, but he and I have something special. Giving all of yourself day in and day out for another human being does something. It changes you. It creates a bond, a mutual love that cannot be explained. No matter how ministry changes or where the future leads me, no matter the children I might bear of my own body, Julinsky will always be the child of my heart. My baby. And all those sleepless nights will be treasured as the first time I learned what it is to be a mother. 

January 2018 

Julinsky came into my life through the nutrition program. I remember the first time I saw him– a tiny thing unable to sit up or roll over. It was on his 2nd visit in February, when he was sick and having trouble breathing, that we decided to take him in for a rehab of sorts. 

I remember sitting there that first night, watching his chest rise and fall with deep retractions as he fought for breath, I knew this would not be a quick fix. Something was wrong. 

We started hourly breathing treatments and someone was with him round the clock. After a week with little improvement, we went to the hospital for testing. After three long days of chaos and blood draws the results were in. The child in my arms was AIDS positive, the root of all his problems. He also contracted Tuberculosis and Pneumonia. Four medications were administered twice a day and he had weekly check ups at the hospital. 

It was a team effort at first. Then our director went home and then I went home. I had been in Haiti for three months and it was time for a break to renew my visa. After two days home, I got a call– Julinsky was worse. He was hospitalized with a 106F fever. 

I cried over the picture they sent, hooked up to two IV’s, head wrapped in a cloth. A limp little body. Would I go back as his primary caretaker until he was strong? I was tired and tempted to selfishness for a moment, but it wasn’t a hard choice, this little one had already won his way into my affections. After three days home I was on a plane again headed back. 

On arrival, I dropped off my bags and headed to the hospital. He was discharged the next morning. Once back at the orphanage the longest days of my life began. This little boy was never more than a foot away from me. We were joined together and any task I did was with him in hand. This 7-month-old child functioned on the level of a 2-month-old. He weighed only 9 pounds. He had no muscle tone. During the day I held him, fed him with a bottle, administered medication, and cleaned him, myself, and the floor every time he vomited them up, and changed endless diapers that always seemed to leak right after a bath. 

A chair in the yard became our spot to watch the boys play soccer each evening. Every night I walked in the yard under the stars bouncing him to sleep– it was the only thing that worked. He was the lightest sleeper ever and would never be put down. Most nights I slept no more than an hour, 5 minutes at a time. I got so accustomed to waking with his shrill cry that before it even left his lips I was up and putting him back to sleep. For months after, a goat bleating out the window would have me on my feet. 

He became known as my baby. It was like I had become a single mother (I now have much sympathy for single moms!) of a very sick child overnight. Never had I been so exhausted in my life. Never had I given up so much of myself for another human. Because of his sick state, I would only take him out of the gate for checkups. I too stayed inside. The four walls of Grace House and this little one in my arms were all my focus. 

As the weeks went on Julinsky vomited less. He began to put on the pounds and sit up. After 2 months others began to share in his care on a schedule and I was finally off of night duty. It became something like 8 am-7 pm Mon, Wed, Fri that I would have him. Slowly he began to take naps laying by himself. He began to eat solid food and got weaned off the bottle. At 16 months of age, 10 months after taking him in, in November 2018 he took his first steps– the night before I went home for a break. 

Today Julinsky is a whopping three years old. He is energetic, hilarious, and super smart. This year he started preschool. He is one of the happiest and most smiley children I know. His AIDS is now inactive HIV. He takes his meds daily without a fight. As I look at this miracle boy, I can never forget how amazing his journey has been. 

God uses mundane sacrifices to bring about change, slowly, over time. Julinsky is a boy that overcomes. He has a will to thrive. We, as a team, labored with him. The fruit we now get to behold from that labor is so so sweet. I would do it all again in a heartbeat for this child of my heart. 

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Hi! I’m Rachel. Through a series of God orchestrated events I ended up in Haiti, in 2017.  Through years of serving with a ministry there I came to love the country and its people. I met Nelson and we got married in 2020. It was the best decision of my life! 

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