Gaby Visits the U.S.
Two years ago, Michael and Lisa Haywood traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They felt an instant connection with a certain little girl, as is so often the case for those of us who visit POI's ministry. As they continued to make trips back and forth, the Lord constantly laid Gaby on their hearts. They prayed about the role they should have in her life, a life that had been filled with heartache up until she entered the orphanage. Even though she was safe and taken care of in the orphanage now, they wanted to be able to see her more than once a year on a mission trip. Michael and Lisa began discussing how they could arrange for Gaby to stay at their home in Memphis, Tenn. during her school break. They got the call right before Christmas that the U.S. Embassy had granted her visa! She visited them from January 1 - February 9 and Michael and Lisa answered a few questions to give us a little glimpse of Gaby's visit to the United States:
Q: What activities did you do with Gaby?
A: We took her on several shopping and eating out adventures. Her favorite places to shop were Justice and Target. She also loved Chinese food so we ate at many different Chinese restaurants. We visited the country to ride 4 wheelers and had an early birthday celebration at Incredible Pizza. We visited Sunday School classes at Bellevue, as well as other churches, to tell Gaby and POI's story. We attended a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game and she did a lot of playing in the neighborhood with our two boys and their friends.
Q: How did the language barrier affect the visit?
A: It took a little getting used to at first, but we had translator apps for our phones and Ipad that allowed us to communicate in more detail. Since we already had a relationship with Gaby over the past two years there was a comfort level of how to communicate from our past visits. After a few weeks, Lisa and our oldest son Dalton could carry on basic conversations without the use of the translator apps.
Q: What was your favorite part of having Gaby with you?
A: I think for all of us it was just the ability to have her as a part of our family - not as a guest but as a true member of the family. Gaby and our two boys, ages 11 and 8, immediately formed a bond like they had known each other for years, which should not have come as a surprise since they had all prayed for each other and this visit for the last two years. Once God made it a reality, it was very emotional for us as parents to see the happiness on all three of their faces everyday and the unconditional love they had for one another. Gaby has a great outgoing personality so to watch her fit in, make friends and just become one of the group without speaking English was great. Also during a visit to Lisa's parents' small, country church, I had the opportunity to share with them Gaby's story and our relationship with her. At the end of the service we were asked to stand at the front so everyone could meet her and say hello. To watch Gaby greet each person with her beautiful smile and a hug moved most everyone to tears and now the church is going to dedicate support to POI in Gaby's honor. It was awesome to see God use her in such a powerful way, as well as how she represented herself and the POI ministry.
Q: What did Gaby enjoy about the States? What did she like to do?
A: Outside of shopping with Lisa and hanging out with her new friends, I would say listening to Michael Jackson music on the Ipod and dancing to his music on the Wii game. Before the trip was over she was able to sing a lot of his songs in English. She also shared how she enjoyed just being part of the family and getting to participate in the normal day-to-day activities and experiences.
Q: What did God teach your family through the experience?
A: For our boys it was the true realization of how blessed they are to have parents who love and care for them and how great it is to put someone else's needs ahead of your own. There was never any jealously or fighting for attention as both of them would make sure Gaby was taken care of first. For Lisa and I it was the faithfulness of God and how as humans we may not believe that something is possible but with God all things are possible. Gaby's time with us was an answered prayer and we are all counting down the days until she is with us again next year.
When asked about her trip to the U.S., Gaby said:
It was by the grace of God that I was able to go. It was more than I expected or ever imagined. I felt happiness like I had never experienced - I was their spoiled daughter. We took shopping trips and met a lot of nice people, but what impacted me the most was every night when they would come to my bed to say goodnight and give me a kiss. Nobody has ever shown me love the way they have. Every day I think about what they may be doing and try to work my hardest in school to make them proud. I am counting down the days until I can see them again.