Bondye Pi Fo!
William believes God is greater. Greater than any hardship or trial. Greater than any blessing or good day. Greater than anything in heaven or on earth.
That’s a pretty inspiring perspective for an orphan.
William’s mom and sister died in Port-au-Prince. When his dad remarried, they went to the Dominican Republic, looking for better work and a new start. While there, William’s dad got sick. To support the family, William learned to shine shoes. In 2009, they moved back to Port-au-Prince, and soon after his dad died. Then, during the 2010 earthquake, his stepmother died. That’s a lot of loss and change for a young man to handle in a short period of time.
Through all of the difficulty, William says, “I am an orphan, but God provides everything. I have never missed a meal.” His shoe shine box is painted with the Haitian saying: “Bondye pi fo” which means “God is greater.”
Since 2010, William has been making a new life and seeking God. He lives in Peredo by himself in the house he grew up in. He’s not sure of his actual birthday, but he thinks he is 25 years old. Every Sunday, William goes to church in Peredo. Recently, he’s been talking with RoRo about baptism. We are praying William comes to know Jesus even more in his life.
In a culture where schools require students to wear black dress shoes, learning to shine shoes back in the Dominican has been a blessing to William. “Some days I don’t make any money. But I don’t want to be rich,” he says. When school is in session he makes more money. He also makes more money when teams visit the Peredo campus. William charges $2 Haitian dollars which is $0.18 US for a shoe shine. American teams can have a pair of shoes shined for $2 US dollars.
We’ve used William’s story and his shoe shine box painting as inspiration for the 2017 team shirts. We hope the phrase is a good conversation starter – and that teams can share the truth of William’s trust in God with others. Teams will receive their Team Gear (shirts, luggage tags, name tags, lanyards) about one month prior to their trip.
Photos by Jonah Steele and Cameron Mayhill