Alexa and Jean
How We Met
Jean Paul and I met in May 2010 when I went to Haiti for the first time on a missions trip.
He didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t speak a word of Creole.
He was very shy and would basically run away when I tried to talk to him but I just knew there was something so special about him.
We became friends on my second trip – we would practice English and Creole with one another on the tap tap and eventually found our groove on how to communicate.
We were friends for about 3 years when something changed, it happened gradually.
So much so that we never had an anniversary up until last year when we made one up!
How He Asked
On November 4th, 2016, Jean Paul Charles asked me to do life with him for the rest of our time here on earth… I said “yes”
It started as a typical day here in Haiti. And by that I mean we started with a flat tire. My dear friend/roommate/photographer extraordinaire Jess and I were trying to get to Wings of Refuge for our annual Christmas card photo shoot – but of course, it was becoming challenging.
Our motto driver Lunier was getting the flat fixed while we waited in a parking lot and I called Jean Paul. For those who don’t know, Jean Paul is incredibly selfless. I feel like sometimes I take it for granted, but I have definitely learned so much about grace and the giving of myself to others through him.
When I told him we had a flat he said he would be right there. And he was. Like always. Maybe just late from time to time (ahhh – heeemmmm). So Jess went with Lunier (post flat fixing) and I went with Jean Paul.
When we got to Wings of Refuge, it was just as you would expect it to be – pure chaos. Some of the kids were still taking exams (an HOUR after they were supposed to be done), some of them were wearing clothes I did not approve of, some were dirty, and most were running around getting sweaty.
Shocking. And not only were we trying to do our Christmas photo with 34 kids and over 15 staff members smiling (smiling in pictures is not cultural here) BUT we were also trying to do product shots for the Haiti Marketplace with the kids modeling product.
You can only imagine. An hour (or what seemed like forever) later we were done. Jess did an amazing job as usual. And I was left feeling so incredibly grateful for her – her patience and her passion. I was also left with a massive migraine.
Jean Paul told me to go take a little nap. I didn’t fight him on it.
When I woke up, however long later, Jean Paul said “Lex, it’s time to go see Pastor Brian”.
Jean Paul took me up to the nearby mountains in Pernier because earlier that morning he text me saying the local pastor wanted to speak with us about how we could get the kids more involved in the community.
To me, this was exciting as we had been wanting to do this for a while. I asked Jean Paul what the pastor’s name was – to which he responded, “uh, I don’t remember… Byon…. Binion…. Pastor Brian????? Something like that Lex”. In my head I thought “wow that’s an American name”.
When we took the motto up to meet “Pastor Brian”, Jean Paul (pretended) to call him and then told me he was going to be back in 10 minutes but that we should go for a walk in the meantime. “Ok” I said – after kind of seeing that when he put his phone down his home screen was showing, not an ended phone call. But I still didn’t think too much of it and chalked it up.
As we walked, the sun was setting and I was taken back by the beauty of the mountains and the raw simplicity of the area. Sometimes I take the majestic-ness of Haiti for granted and sometimes I let the ugliness of some of the day to day oppression rob me of the beauty in front of my eyes. Today, thankfully, was not one of those days. I was in awe.
We were walking down a little hill when Jean Paul asked me how far in our couples devotional I had gotten so far. I knew he was way ahead of me and now I was being called out on it. “I’m so sorry… uhhh I’m so so sorry… I’m only on day 4.
I’ve been so busy! I’ll catch up though”. He laughed and told me not to worry about it. He said he had only asked because from his readings he felt like the main focus of the devotional was prayer – to which I agreed.
“I think we should pray” he said.
“Now?!” I thought. “How random is this?! We need to go meet “Pastor Brian” in a minute and you want to pray?!” I thought. Not one of my finest moments – but hey – don’t judge me.
“Ummm. okkkkkkk” was what actually came out of my mouth.
Jean Paul then grabbed my hand and made me stand in the most random patch a grass. Literally so random, it made me start to wonder. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I need to tell you something” he said.
He told me about our journey and how much our relationship means to him. He said he wanted to spend forever with me and said he had a question to ask.
“Will you marry me?” Then he got down on one knee and asked again. “Will you marry me?”
“Yes” I said, through my many unexpected tears.
November 4, 2016 was a perfect day. Not only because Jean Paul asked me to marry him but because of the intention behind the ask. He went above and beyond. Everything he did is not in Haitian culture, but he did it anyways – for me.
He did it because he knew it would make me happy.
He planned it all from start to finish. He agreed to let Jess (huge surprise. beyond grateful)) hide in a strangers house so she could come out and capture our proposal.
He had the WOR staff make a big meal for everyone that was ready when we got down from the mountain. He even invited our closest friends to surprise me when we got back to Wings of Refuge. So outside of his comfort zone but done with the purest intentions and love for me.
Don’t get me wrong – our relationship isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be. We’ll fight (we already do), make mistakes (we already do), and say things we don’t mean (yup, we already do that too). But we’ll also have absolutely amazing days. Days that will make it all worth it.
Days where we thank God for one another. And if we intentionally choose to keep Him (the Lord) in the center – we’ll make it. Not because we’re perfect – but because He is. There’s so much grace in that. I look forward to the journey, all of it, with Jean Paul Charles and I can’t wait for the day I get to call him “Husband”.
Photography by: Jessica Eileen Photography