Seventeen years ago, I was a frequent visitor to House of Blessings at #4 Rue Sambour, Port-au-Prince. In large part, I availed myself of the hospitality of Phil and Lonnie Murphy, whom I had adopted as family while I was in Haiti. ("Abused" might be a better word, but I like to think that I made up for it after my return to the E.U., when I steered some support their way from the Christian school where I was teaching.)
But aside from my time with the Murphys, I put in some time with the children there as well. In particular, I paid attention to Steve and Isaac Adrien, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old pair of brothers who had just arrived. I played with them, talked with them, and would gladly have taken them home had it been possible and realistic. (It was neither.)
I spoke for a while with Steve, during our recent September visit to Haiti. Now 19, Steve hopes in early 2012 to begin attending a unversity in Missouri, where he plans to major in business administration, so he can return to Haiti and make a difference to his people. I felt a sort of distant pride in him, aware of how much I had loved the little kid he once had been, but also aware how little I'd had to do with the man he was becoming.
Steve also told me that he had recognized me last March when he had been at the Cradle of Life Crisis Relief Center. Like me, he had volunteered with the relief efforts; and while we were there, he had been plagued by the thought that he knew me, but for the life of him, he couldn't recall why.
And then last August I led a team to Callebasse to build houses while we stayed at House of Blessings, and it clicked.
So, reader, be assured of this: If you pour your life and your love into someone, they will remember you.
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Several others who had been associated with House of Blessings in 1994 still are connected with it, and I spoke with them while were in Haiti in September -- Wislande, Tania and Woody all believe me when I say I was there, even though they don't remember me.
After I left in 1994, Phil took in my dog for a month or so, until they were unable to keep him any longer. Ajax was a mountain of a dog, an indomitable Labdrador retriever, rising up over everyone, a mighty river coursing the length of his large pink tongue. He one of the best dogs I've ever known.
They all remember my dog.
And all this goes to prove that if you love someone deeply, you can mean as much to them and make as big a difference in their lives, as your dog.
Copyright © 2011 by David Learn. Used with permission.