Lord, Keep Their Hearts Only for You

compassion-international-haiti It was difficult to sleep. Anticipation had kept me awake, as did the roosters crowing every half hour, the dogs barking (probably fighting over a discarded dinner bone), and the stuffy, humid air.

I wake up early and eagerly get ready for the long-planned visit with Ancyto, the Compassion International child my family and I sponsor in Haiti. The hired driver/interpreter is due to arrive at about 10 a.m.


I linger, getting things organized. Camera. Water bottles. Protein bar. Cell phone. When I get to our breakfast room I see the driver has already arrived. It’s only 7:30 a.m.

The cab driver and I head out early. We must travel a roundabout route because the more direct road was washed out in the last hurricane and has yet to be repaired. It’ll be a 90-minute ride. The driver and I chat as I stare out the window at the changing countryside. He tells me of history and events of Haiti.

I watch as we pass naked children. Women dip water from a mud puddle where their donkey is urinating. Other women are leaving the large, murky puddle with their containers filled.

We wind along bumpy, potholed roads, up and down mountain sides, to a large river where we stop.

The driver makes a phone call and talks loudly in Creole. He is concerned whether we can get through the river.

The driver then puts the vehicle in low gear. We start into the river and are soon up to the door in water. We begin to climb the bank on the other side. We made it. It is not far now.

The view is a lovely green-blue of ocean water; beaches are dotted with roaming cattle grazing on a few blades of grass.

We are in Cotes de Fer, another community seeped in despair and hopelessness. With no work available, men sit around the town park, looking about aimlessly. Earthquake rubble sits just as it did more than a year ago. Naked children run through the streets. Garbage litters the curbside.

Meeting Ancyto

We pull up to the child development center. My heart is beating wildly again. The palms of my hands are moist. I search for the face I have posted on my refrigerator at home.

We enter a small room and he stands from a chair in the corner. Ancyto! I put out my hand to touch his. He is so tall. Oh, that’s right, he’s 14. He doesn’t smile and I’m wiping tears and chatting. The interpreter is trying to keep up with what I am saying, snapping pictures of us every 30 seconds.

We sit in a small, dark room of Ancyto’s school and chat about his schoolwork and favorite subjects. I give him gifts — a soccer ball, a pair of sandals, a package of gum. Ancyto pockets the gum with a smile.

I tell him about my children and their interests and show him pictures from the small album I made for him — pictures from the farm, pictures of my children, pictures of us as a family. Ancyto looks intently and turns the pages slowly. He comes back to pictures of my 16-year-old. He looks again at pictures of my youngest son and smiles. I cry.

My heart longs to touch this young man’s heart, to make a difference in his life. We go for a walk and he shows me his classrooms — simple plywood structures after the earthquake flattened the previous child development center.

I meet Ancyto’s mother and sisters. We walk through town to visit their home and pass many of their friends. I’m introduced to his older brother. We meet Ancyto’s father, who leaves the group of sitting men and walks with us.

We arrive at their simple, small, crowded, freshly cleaned home. Jagged cracks in the wall show the obvious earthquake damage. Ancyto’s mother is so proud to have me in their home.

We talk about gardens. We talk about raising children. She shows me a basket of fresh fruit she has arranged for me to take home. I feel all warm and flushed because this is such a big gift for a family of little means.

Dad has no work. They have very few possessions. They struggle to survive, yet they give me a gift. Me — an American with a good job, a farm, and here in Haiti to minister to them. I am overwhelmed.

It is soon time to leave and I feel my heart tug. I want to stay longer. I want to crawl into their lives and be with them, listen to them, walk with them.

We return to the development center, where a meal has been prepared for us in honor of my visit. I am humbled. I don’t deserve such honor. I’m just as human as they are. I’m the one with much.

Everyone is so gracious with so little to give. We break bread together, eat and laugh and talk about Ancyto playing soccer. Ancyto is spinning the soccer ball on his finger. His face shows anticipation of kicking that ball around with the other boys. The time has come and I must say good-bye. Ancyto’s mother cries.

“Thank you, thank you so much for giving my son a better chance in life.”

My vision blurs. I brush back the wetness in fear that if I cry I might not stop. I think,

“This is so big, Lord. I want to run. Help me say good-bye. Help me to leave here graciously.”

I turn to Ancyto and touch his shoulder. He looks at me gently and touches my arm. The interpreter translates for him,

“Someday, I want to visit you — my other mother — and your family and your farm over in America.”

I respond,

“Yes, Ancyto, we will pray God would make that dream come true.”

I swallow, I hold his arms close and we embrace gently, tenderly, lingering. His 4-year-old sister tugs at my sleeve. She wants a hug too. We reach the vehicle. I get in, then turn and wave. The family huddles together, touching one another, wiping tears, waving and blowing kisses. And I pray,

Lord, I am not just sponsoring a Compassion child. Rather, You have given me another whole family. I am the one who is so blessed by these sweet people. Watch over them. Protect them. Keep their hearts only for You.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leanne Beyer is a widowed mom of five children and has been a Compassion sponsor for several years. She was one of the first sponsors to visit her sponsored child in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. When Leanne is not working as a registered nurse, you can find her working hard at her family’s 75-acre farm in Wisconsin.

29 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Greg & Jan July 3, 2011

    Wow! What a powerful story you convey of your visit. We envy you. We want to vist our child (sponsered) Sabinette in Haiti also. Praying fro God to provide a way. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Chris July 2, 2011


    Thank you for sharing your story! Your story also brought tears to my eyes. As a college student sponsoring a teen in Haiti, I hope I can see him one day as well!

  3. Julie June 24, 2011

    Wow, this made me cry today – thank you for sharing your story and reminding us why we are doing this! God bless you and Ancyto and both of your families!

  4. Stephanie Green June 23, 2011


    Thank you for sharing thiswonderful account of your child visit. I had the opportunity to meet 4 of my children in Tanzania last summer so I can so relate to what you felt. It was one of the most moving days of my life. So many hopes and dreams and expectations wrapped up in that visit and it is (sadly) way too short a time together. But what an incredible memory and now I know that I needed to get out of my world and into theirs to truly appreciate what God has been doing all along in my life and theirs. Bless you and Ancyto!!

    1. Donna June 24, 2011

      I am a new sponsor and my girl is in Tanzania. It makes me feel good to read that you were there. I don’t know if I will ever be able to go over. I would love to hear more about your experience to know how my girl lives and what her life is like there.

  5. megan June 22, 2011

    I loved reading your story! I just recently starting sponsoring a child in Bangladesh and look forward to one day meeting her.
    May God Bless you and keep you and your family safe.

  6. Jill Foley – Compassion Family June 22, 2011

    What a beautiful story and how cool that you could meet him. I used to question the money spent on traveling to meet our sponsored children – then I went to Peru and met a couple we sponsor. Now I’m praying for the opportunity to meet more of our children. After meeting your child and their family, seeing where they live, work and play – your relationship is taken to a new level.

    Blessings to you and thank you for sharing.

  7. Kelly Willie June 22, 2011

    Beautiful story! Everytime I get a letter from my sponsored childs family, I feel the same thing, I have been given another family to love and to pray for. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Arleesha June 22, 2011

    My husband and I are newly married, and we just decided to sponsor a little girl in Indonesia. We’re still waiting on our initial packet of information, but we are SO excited to be a part of this girl’s life -and as you experienced, the lives of her family members- as she grows. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  9. Debra Martin June 22, 2011

    God bless you Leanne, what a heart touching story and how very brave you are for traveling to Haiti by yourself. Your sponsor son is very handsome. Your so very blessed to have such a warm and loving family….

  10. Nancy June 22, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful account of your meeting with Ancyto and his family! I just sponsored an 8-year old girl from Haiti (haven’t even received her packet yet), so this was especially moving to me.

  11. Barbara Ferraro June 21, 2011

    I had tears in my eyes as I read your story. I was able to visit a child I sponsor in the Dominican Republic twice, each time with her mother. I know the emotions that went through the oh too short visit and I also know the prayers you sent their way as I do the same daily for the children I sponsor. As you said, we have been given families to connect with and pray with by God.

    I think you are doing a terrific job raising your own children, working your farm and also sponsoring children with Compassion. i pray that God will bless you mightily.

  12. Natasha Zecca June 21, 2011

    Leanne – What a wonderful and touching story. I was blessed to be part of a mission trip to Haiti in March, and damage from the earthquake is still very evident. I hope to someday visit my sponsored child, Karina, in Honduras. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Nancy Nelson June 21, 2011

    Leanne so thrilled to be reading your story and to have been a part of your journey! Love ya!

  14. Jennifer June 21, 2011

    Thank you for sharing. It is inspiring. I often wonder how I might be touching the life of my sponsored child, Rose-Carmelle. I pray for her and for her family. I try to keep up with any news about Haiti. Your message reminds me that it all matters, that we’re all connected.

  15. Christine June 21, 2011

    Wow Beautiful, Im in tears! I will be meeting my sponsored daughter who also lives in Haiti next month, and I am looking forward to this moment very much!
    Father God, bless your children those with little and those with much, let them know with all certainty that if they have Jesus, they have all that they need. I know what it was like to feel your love and power at the young of of 5, please extend your hand to all the children in this world and let them feel your love also. In Jesus Name, AMEN, AMEN.

  16. Cheri Duchrow June 21, 2011

    Leanne – Awesome story! You had me in tears. Thank you for visiting your young man and his project. What a difference you made in all of the children’s lives letting them know that sponsors do exist. I live in Wisconsin too! Humbled to be in the same state with you.

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Cheri, it was an awesome experience. I left many tears behind. Please don’t put me where I don’t belong, It was all God’s doing to make me a way to go to Haiti, to have a willing heart, and to have courage to follow through with the visit once I was there. Thank you.

  17. Debi June 21, 2011

    wonderful story. I hope one day to visit my sponsored child Anthony. His letters are one of my most prized possesions. God Bless

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Debi, I am so blessed by God to have had the opportunity to meet Ancyto.

  18. seena June 21, 2011

    wow..what a story..powerfula dn moving..thanks for sharing..

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Seena, It was one of the most powerful and moving experiences of my life.

      1. seena June 22, 2011


  19. De June 21, 2011

    Whew! Amen… loved reading this.

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Thank you, De.

  20. Robin carter June 21, 2011

    I sit here with tears in my eyes! Thank you for loving the Haitian people !

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Thank you, Robin.

  21. Kathy June 21, 2011

    What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. I sponsor a child in Bolivia.

    1. Leanne June 21, 2011

      Kathy, Maybe some sweet day the Lord will make provisions for you to visit your child in Bolivia.

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