The Boy Who Stole My Heart




It was my first full day in Haiti with Compassion International. Hours into the day, I found myself actively engaged with a group of girls at the far end of the project’s play yard.

With the help of a translator, I uncovered bits and pieces about the girls. They were all around my son and daughter’s age – eight, nine, ten and eleven-years-old. I was intrigued by their personalities and way of being with one another, and kept thinking how cool it would be if my daughter was there, engaging with the girls, just like me.

Another woman from our group approached and began conversing with the girls, so I decided it was a good opportunity to engage the teenage girls I saw yards away.

The day passed. We spent the rest of the morning with mamas and babies enrolled in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, had lunch with project staff, visited families’ homes, and returned to the project at the end of the day.

After we spent a little more time in the classrooms and play yard, after we used the restroom one last time before we had to leave, I met the boy who stole my heart.

I really didn’t want to say good-bye, but I was on my way back to the van. It was time to go.

Most of my fellow travelers were already on the van. I was one of the last to load.

Just feet before the van, a boy approached. He came alongside me, hung close, tight to my body. I’m still not sure if I’ve ever had anyone step in tandem with me the way that boy did. The only way I can describe it is that his little body was so tight, right alongside me, that we became one walking unit in that moment.

God helped me recognize, immediately, this boy’s strong presence.

I put my arm around his shoulders as we walked. “Hi buddy,” I said quietly, lovingly.

He kept close, never out of step. He snuggled in a bit closer.

And then he looked up at me, as we were walking even slower now, and ever so gently but assuredly said “I want you to be my mommy.”

This was the first child that had spoken a word of English to me all day, and these were the words I was going to hear?

My heart broke. I began crying immediately. “Oh buddy,” I said, as I gave him the biggest, most endearing mama bear hug I could muster.

The world around me disappeared. We were three, maybe five feet from the van at this point, and I’m sure there were an abundance of kids and adults wondering why I was crying and hugging this boy. I’m certain they had no idea what he’d just told me.

I loosened my embrace because we were now even closer to the van. He looked down and pointed to one of two bracelets I had on my wrist, one purple, one cream. (Oddly enough, I’d received those bracelets as gifts of appreciation from Haitians in the market 16+ months ago after I’d presented them with gifts I brought from home.) I couldn’t be his mommy, but I knew as soon as he looked at that purple bracelet that I wanted to give it to him to let him know how much he was loved. A translator was present and helped with the exchange. For a few seconds, all was right with the world. I had a bracelet and the boy had a bracelet. We’d be tied together, in our hearts, and the bracelets would be a tangible reminder. But a little girl approached and saw I had another bracelet to give, so I obliged, even though it meant I’d no longer have a bracelet to keep my heart tangibly tied to this sweet boy.

Still crying, I gave him one last hug, waved good-bye, and got on the van. Tears continued to stream as I made my way to the back of the van, past most of my fellow travelers. I explained to a couple who’d asked, he said “I want you to be my mommy.”

How was I supposed to sit in this van, act like I’d just heard any ‘ol words, and move right on out?

Praise. The. Lord. He wasn’t about to let my time with this boy end, even though all other indications said it was a done deal.

Thankfully, our departure was delayed for one reason or another. I didn’t even care because all my mind could think of was the boy. Kids were swarming around just outside of our van. I looked to my right, and there he was. I caught him just as he was looking down, fiddling with his bracelet. “I’ve got to get a picture of this boy,” I told those around me as I stood up immediately and captured not one, but two pictures. I felt blessed to have, at the very least, seen him again and captured these photos to remember him by.



If I remember correctly, the van moved, turned in the direction of the gates where we’d depart. I thought I’d seen the last of the boy. I was sad, but grateful too, that God had given me the opportunity to see him from afar one more time.

But God knew otherwise. The van stopped. There was another delay.

Some moments passed, and then I noticed my boy coming alongside our van. He was looking up, into the windows, and he was now on the side of the van where I was sitting. When he came to the window of the people sitting in front of me, I noticed he was looking at them and pointing to his bracelet. I knew right away, he was looking for me.

“He’s looking for me!” I exclaimed as quietly and as calmly as I could without seeming like a freak to my fellow travelers close by.

I knocked on the window, loud enough so he could hear and notice I was there in the back row. I waved, put my hand on my heart, pointed to his bracelet, and then pointed to my wrist where the bracelet had once been. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and smiled.

We’d found each other, once again.

I began crying, once again.

I opened one hand and put it up flat against the window. He put his hand up too. One panel of glass separated us.

It was clear the bus was about to move towards the gates.

I blew him a kiss. He blew me one, too. I blew another. He blew another.

And as we drove off, I looked back and noticed. He was wearing navy blue Converse, untied. He walked quietly by himself as we drove away, fiddling with his bracelet, yet again.

Call me a blubbery mess. Call me whatever.

In the days following, I wasn’t sure what to do with this experience. In fact, nine days later, I’m still not sure why I met that boy, why he was the only child I engaged with that day that spoke any word of English, or why he felt compelled to say “I want you to be my mommy.”

I’d give anything to know if that little boy has a mommy. I’d give anything for the opportunity to go back and take a Compassion staff and translator with me, visit his home, and know more. If he had a mommy, I’d love on her and tell her how awesome she is and how she’s raising her son with a beautiful heart. I’d tell him what a great mommy he has and how she loves him with all her heart. And if he didn’t have a mommy? Well, I don’t know what I’d do. But reality is, I’ll never get the opportunity to do any of that.

Why is it that my Heavenly Father gave me this gift, this boy to love for just a few moments? I don’t know.

The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name, is all I can say.

Perhaps I’ll never know why I met this boy, why he wanted me to be his mommy. Perhaps someday the good Lord will make it clear. For now, I trust, there was a reason.

Five days after meeting the boy, I arrived back home. Photographs of my journey flashed on our television screen as I recounted my days in Haiti with my husband and two oldest children.

And then, the Lord gave me eyes to see what I needed to see in a photograph I hadn’t remembered taking earlier that morning in the play yard.

The boy.

There he was!


I’m not 100% sure because the first two photos I took of the boy were from the side, and this photo was straight on. But my heart knows, my heart feels confident. The Lord gives me eyes to see what He wants me to see, because He’s awesome like that.

That boy in the middle of all those girls?

It’s him.

I recognize his face, he looks familiar. He looks exactly like the boy who told me “I want you to be my mommy.” He looks exactly like the boy who blew me kisses when I was still crying in the van. He looks exactly like the boy who wore navy blue Converse, untied.

And if it’s truly him as my heart thinks it is?

Then God has spoken.

I’m here, orchestrating every bit of your life, whether you know it or not.

I chose you before you chose Me.

You are loved.

Now go love.


*This is part of a month-long series about my journey to Haiti. Click here to read all the posts in the series.

  1. Hannah Hinojosa says:

    How beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I’m so glad that this boy has a continual prayer advocate in you now!!

  2. Terri Siebert says:

    oh man this had my crying, this is so beautiful and touched me so much. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  3. Vicki Thunstrom says:

    Oh my word, Amy! This is the most precious thing, Tears and more tears….. what a gift!

  4. Tiffany Femling says:

    Not much makes me tear up … But, your writing does! Thank you for sharing!

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