Experiencing God's Love Through Children at the Greta Home and Academy

June 14, 2016 • Haiti
Greta Home and Academy

Haitian students taught me how to fiercely devote myself to Christ

Alissa Sandoval is a communications intern in Haiti.

A child’s naivete is beautiful. Children speak from the heart and say the obvious. They’re good at being who God intended them to be: innocent, kind, brave, silly, and so many other raw characteristics. They love without fear. These attributes enable children to be good friends to others. This is how Peterson, a boy at Greta Home and Academy, and I became friends.

One day I was at the Greta Home working on a videography project when a little boy dressed in a teal shirt and red and black flannel pajama pants approached me and grabbed my hand. He was sick with a cold and wouldn’t be attending his classes that day, which explained the pajama pants.

Greta Home and Academy

Alissa and Peterson in the ocean near the Samaritan’s Purse base in Haiti

He was at my hip for the rest of the day. Whenever I’d start recording video, I handed him my phone so he could play along. He was the perfect assistant. And that was all it took. A bond had been formed, a completely unexpected one that God would use throughout my time in Haiti.

Peterson and I have been two peas in a pod ever since. When he comes to the Samaritan’s Purse base for a beach day, I give him a four hour piggyback ride in the ocean while the rest of the children swim. I’ll go to the Greta Home for a project, and we go on walks around the building, hand in hand, jabbering away in a combination of Creole and English. I’m thankful that I was able to continue my internship in the spring so I could continue to be present in his life and pour Christ’s love into him like he had in my life.

Spending time with the children at Greta Home impacted me in more ways than I realized. When I returned to Haiti in the spring and was able to compare my first visit with them in the spring to my first visit in the fall, I saw so many differences in my character.

This character difference wasn’t just noticeable at the Greta Home; I saw traces of it all over my life. These children had chiseled away my strategically developed walls bit by bit. I don’t remember the specific day that I noticed my walls had evaporated, but it had happened right under my nose, bit by bit. God used my friendships with these children to remove the guards I had placed around my heart; it was sneaky and well played by the hand of God.

The greatest evidence of change in my heart was found in my relationship with God. The way children love is how God desires for us to love Him. He wants us to cling to Him when we are in the midst of murky waters; He wants us to walk with him daily, hand in hand, sharing our day with him. This fierce devotion is what Christ calls us to daily.

Greta Home and Academy

Alissa with other Greta Home and Academy children

It astounds me how freely these children love people; it was something that wowed me the first time I visited Haiti. Some of the children at The Greta Home and Academy have lost almost everything and I, who have lost very little, found it challenging to love on a level that these children do effortlessly.

They barrel at people full speed, arms open wide for a hug. They yell your name from across the bright, multicolored playground while large smiles spread across their faces. I always know where I stand with these children, and we always know where we stand with God. His love is unwavering.

The Greta Home and Academy’s mission is to raise servant leaders for Haiti. I believe one of the greatest signs of a servant is the ability to love and love well. I’m thankful that because of my friendship with these children, I have the ability to love others more freely, leaving behind traces of Christ’s love in their lives.

I have no doubt that these children will make a significant impact on the nation of Haiti once they leave the Greta Home. The impact is already beginning to spread now that the school has enrolled 150 community children in classes at the academy, in addition to the 63 children that live at the orphanage. The community children now hear the Gospel on a daily basis and have the opportunity to take what they’ve learned back to their homes and allow Christ to break down the walls in other people’s hearts throughout the province of Léogâne.

Greta Home and Academy

Alissa showing the Greta Home children photos she took of them

My time in Haiti has been transformative to say the least. God loves tossing us into places that are outside of our comfort zone to empower us and teach us to thrive where we’ve been placed, deepening our dependence on Him. Although I’m leaving Haiti soon, I’m at peace knowing that where God is taking me next will be just as pivotal as Haiti has been for my life.

Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). The work God has started in Haiti will be brought to completion not just where He is taking me next but throughout every “next” in my life.