When you go on mission trips, people expect you to come home with thrilling stories about your time in the country, like when the men of the community took over the job that the missions’ team was working on, or nearly getting trampled by some cows being herded by a small child. Both of which happened while I was in Haiti with my mom and some other people from my church this summer, but the most important thing that happened to me while I was there was a conversation I had with my mother.
We sat on Chishnel’s, the community leader of the village we were working with, porch as we waited for his wife to bring us our lunch for the day. Despite the sheets hanging up for privacy and keeping the bugs out, I could still see the kids that were waiting outside the fence for us to be finished eating so we could play with them and the stray dog whined and paced underneath the window, begging for food. We had just gotten there after attending two of the local churches and we had a crowd of kids following us. I watched my mom talking to some of the men that worked with Food for the Hungry, the organization that our church partners with. I wanted to join her, but I had been feeling very weighed down from a secret that I have been carrying for a little under a month that I had to get off my chest.
“Hey Ma, can I talk to you?” I asked suddenly as I extended a hand out to touch her. “Oh, don’t worry it’s…it’s nothing bad. Well…it is bad. But it’s not my fault this time.” I stumbled through my words, unsure what to say next, despite me thinking about this exact conversation for months. She stood up and followed me out of the covered porch into the little clearing nest to the house, where we could have a little privacy. Ma didn’t say anything while I thought of a way to start. “So I don’t know if you’ve noticed but ever since getting home from visiting dad, I’ve been kind of… reserved.” I paused, searching her face for a reaction. All she did was nod. I took a deep breathe before continuing. “But that’s because dad and Heather,” my stepmom,” are getting a divorce.” I could feel myself starting to cry so I swallowed before continuing. “He was… cheating on her with another girl. And now he’s moving in with her. She lives in York.” Ma came over and held me in her arms like she did when I was little. I was bawling and I could hear Ma sniffling also. “I want to move home. I don’t want to move in with a woman I don’t know.”
“Know that I want you and Heather to continue to have a relationship. She is still very much one of your parents.” Ma said firmly, after a while. I nodded and wiped my eyes. She did the same. “Why did you wait so long to tell me?” The last time I visited my dad was on Father’s day, at least three weeks before the trip to Haiti.
“Dad asked me to wait to tell you about the divorce till he had a chance to tell you. I thought he meant a couple of days, not several weeks.” I said, trying to not sound guilty. “I had to tell you because I felt guilty all the time. Every time you touched my IPad, I thought you were going to see the email I sent to my best friend about it. I felt so guilty and I didn’t even do anything. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt so lonely. I felt like I couldn’t talk about this with anyone.”
“He shouldn’t’ve asked you to keep that secret.” She said fiercely, like a mama bear. “You are not alone. You have me, and Matt, and you know our church family is always there for you.” And as if to prove her point, when we rejoined the rest of our group for lunch, several of the ladies came over and gave me a big hug and one of them held me and prayed over me, which of course caused be to cry again. God made sure to remind me that even though I was in a dark place, He was with me and He will surround me with people who could help me through this.