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Leaving and Seeing

I wanted to write something poignant, something memorable, but nothing really comes to mind. I'll be leaving in just over an hour to begin my journey to Haiti. And that sounds so strange to me.

I always figured it would be Avery who would pack the bag, board the plane. It would be Avery that I would wait for weeks, maybe months for, until she would finally find the time to send word that she was okay. Her heart was always in Haiti.

When Avery was young she spent her days at Mary Jo's house. Mary Jo is an incredible woman who opened her home up for day care; except it was nothing like day care. It was a home. A family. Other kids became brothers and sisters. Papa Jim became surrogate grandfather. Mary Jo, just like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, taught children how to sing from their diaphragm and grow vegetables in the garden.

It always struck me that Mary Jo would run an incredible orphanage. She heaped love on children yet expected them to toe the line. Older children assisted younger ones when it was time to go outside: this taught compassion and kindness, as well as reinforced shoe-tying skills. Children set the table for lunch and cleared it. Meals began with prayer.

Avery learned her compassion for others through Mary Jo. I knew Avery would become the next Mary Jo. Gentle yet stern. Loving yet expecting. Mary Jo expected her children to be kind, to be patient, to be thoughtful. And, if they weren't that way, Mary Jo showed them by example what that looked like.

Kids grew up, went to school, moved on.

Not Avery. Avery wanted to stay. Forever. Sometimes I thought Avery would still be there through college, but that didn't happen.

I often thought of how Avery would do an incredible job heaping love on the children of Haiti, showing them kindness and compassion.

I can't wait to see how she's doing that now. Because, don't think for a second that Avery's not in Haiti. I have a feeling that's the first place she went after giving God the biggest hug ever. She's got her children there that need her.

And I'm about to go to Haiti to see for myself what Avery's been up to.


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