I’ll never forget how Louisando entered into my life. It was my first year in Haiti. I was excited and full of zeal. I was finally here, serving the people God had called me to.
I woke up to a text on a February morning that one of our 9th grade students had died the night before due to sickle cell anemia. I didn’t know that student, but I couldn’t help but cry. This was my first experience with death in Haiti. A death that would have most likely been avoided if there was easier access to good medical care.
I’ll never forget that funeral. I had a student on each side of me sobbing at the loss of their 17-year-old friend and classmate. I was heartbroken.
That’s when I met Edna, his mother, and Louisando, his quiet, 3-year-old brother.
With a desire to come alongside this family, JiHM was able to put Louisando in Grace Emmanuel School the following school year. It felt like redemption. God was turning this heartbreak into something beautiful.
Unfortunately, we soon learned that Louisando, like his brother, had inherited sickle cell anemia. He was often in too much pain to attend school. As a ministry, we were able to help the family by covering regular doctor visits, as well as emergencies.
Despite the disease’s severity and what happened to Edmundo, I developed a hope that he would always be just fine. He was brought into our lives for a reason, right? There was no way this would happen again, especially now that we were aware and able to help.
Then earlier this month, one week after school had started, I woke up to a text that shattered my heart. It felt like deja vu.
“I have news for you. Louisando died.”
It couldn’t be real. He couldn’t be gone.
Cute, timid Louisando had become one of my little buddies at school. When he would see me, he would yell my name and run into my arms. Although shy, he possessed one of the best smiles.
How could he really be gone?
I was in the states at the time I got the news, waiting for airports to open after Hurricane Irma so I could return to Haiti. I found a flight to get me there the next morning; I needed to be there.
I arrived the next day with just enough time to sit with Edna at their home and attend the funeral. Over the years, Edna has become a dear friend. The moment we locked eyes, we started crying. I hugged her and sat with her. I didn’t have words to comfort her. How could anything comfort a woman who has just lost her second and last child?
Roger, JiHM’s director of operations, sat with us. He shared something I had not yet thought of—though Louisando will be missed, he is no longer suffering.
He doesn’t have to be sick anymore and rushed to the hospital. He doesn’t have to miss school anymore because of how badly his body hurts. He is with Jesus, where tears and pain don’t exist.
Edna shared with us that Louisando loved Jesus. He wanted to become a pastor one day and would practice by preaching to his friends. Louisando’s last words were, “Jezi, Jezi. Sove m’.”
Jesus, Jesus. Save me.
In the midst of suffering, Louisando possessed the kind of childlike faith that Jesus described.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4
It is hard to see God’s goodness when staring at such a small casket. It is hard to imagine God’s faithfulness at the sight of a crying mother who just lost her last child.
We may not ever understand, but there’s one thing we can hold fast to:
God is good.
He sees us in our pain, He sees us in our suffering, He sees us in our lack offaith. He sees us and He understands. He knows, and He is good.
Sweet Louisando, your little smile will forever be etched upon my heart. Although you will be forever missed, I’m so thankful you get to be with your precious Jesus, suffering no more.