The little boy with the hole in his shoe curled up on Carlee Roethlisberger's lap and fell asleep. Nothing inside the church woke him. Not the Haitian heat. Not the Creole singing. Even though he'd stir every now and again, he'd always snuggle back into the basketball player's arms. A week after Roethlisberger and her Oklahoma teammates returned from a mission trip to Haiti, that is the face etched in her memory. "Those kids, they don't have anything,” she said. "To know that he could find comfort in that church with me, that he could rest and wake up around his friends, was really cool. "It was the neatest thing.” So was their trip. Less than two months removed from playing in the Women's Final Four, the Sooners ventured to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a place that was further decimated by January's earthquake. They saw devastation. They saw despair. They saw desperation. But they also saw hope and love and faith. Now, the Final Four isn't the only place these Sooners want to return to next year. They want to go back to Haiti, too. "People there do want to change the country,” point guard Danielle Robinson said. "They don't want to live in that type of poverty. Then again, they need help.” The genesis of the trip to Haiti was a visit from an old friend. Adam Barnett, a former male practice player on the team, stopped by practice one day last fall. Now the College Missions Director at Journey Church, he was looking for items for a fundraiser. The beneficiary: the Mission of Hope. Barnett told Sooner assistant Jan Ross about the Haitian ministry that includes an orphanage, a school, a church and a medical clinic. He'd been on a mission trip there. "You know,” she told him, "I've always wanted to do something like that.” Ross started asking around to see if anyone would even be interested in a mission trip to Haiti. About two dozen players, assistant coaches and support staff wanted to go. Sooner coach Sherri Coale wasn't part of the group; job duties kept her from making the trip. Plans started to be made. Funds began to be raised. Then, the earthquake hit. The massive January tremor devastated Port-au-Prince and much of the surrounding area. Hundreds of thousands were killed. Millions were left homeless. The Sooners wondered if their mission trip would be canceled. How would they travel? Where would they stay? Would they be safe? "All that's in the back of your mind,” Robinson said. "But at the same time, you know they still need help.” The Mission of Hope is less than 20 miles north of Port-au-Prince, but it was spared devastation. Because of the social services that it offers, it became a hub of activity for people who needed medical attention, food and supplies. It needed outside volunteers more than ever. Finals at OU ended on May 14. The Sooners left for Haiti on May 15. Even though they had been meeting weekly in preparation for the trip, nothing readied them for what they saw when they landed in Port-au-Prince. People packed the streets begging for money and food. Tents appeared in every open space. UN tanks patrolled the streets. Buildings large and small lay in ruins. The massive dome of the Presidential Palace was still crumbled on the same spot where it had slid to the ground. "It's the best that they have,” Roethlisberger said, "and it's gone.” Those images were fresh in the Sooners' minds when they arrived at the Mission of Hope for church the next morning. The open-air sanctuary overflowed with nearly a thousand people, men and women who lived in extreme poverty, boys and girls who faced an uncertain future after the earthquake. But when the service started, there were no hints of hopelessness, no signs of sorrow. Instead, there was praise. There was hope. There was joy. "They had this faith that God would help them through,” Roethlisberger said. That morning left an impression on the Sooners, and it showed the rest of the week. No matter what they were doing at the mission — sorting unopened boxes of medical supplies, doing construction on a new guest house, helping in the nursery, playing with the children, practicing with the school's basketball team or talking to some of the high school classes — they worked with excitement and enthusiasm. Joanna McFarland, for example, is usually quiet and reserved when she's around new people. But when she played with the kids in Haiti, she laughed and smiled and treated them like siblings. "Every person, you saw a different piece of them stick out, a different part of their strengths,” Roethlisberger said. "That was really fun to see.” Robinson said, "We saw each other grow in more ways in Haiti than we might've seen all season.” This is a team that was already close. "It's just brought us closer,” guard Jasmine Hartman said. That's another reason why the Sooners are already talking about going back to Haiti. They want to return to the Mission of Hope. They want to continue the work there next summer. Ross wants to give the players a little time before they make a final decision. She knows that there could be an opportunity to do mission work in Liberia, where former player Shannon Selmon has strong connections, but the Sooner assistant coach also knows that time might do little to change the players' feelings about Haiti. "I just think they're gonna want to go back to Haiti,” Ross said. "It doesn't take long for them to get connected.” Roethlisberger said: "This time, we went and we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. We didn't know anybody. Next time, we can go back to a face that we know, to a face that we're familiar with.” There's one face in particular that Roethlisberger would like to see again — that little boy who curled up and slept in her arms. She looked for him all week. She had brought several pairs of shoes to Haiti, and she wanted to give one to him. People told her that he wasn't a student at the school or one of the kids in the orphanage. Roethlisberger never saw him again. Still, she can't forget the little boy with the hole in his shoe. "He wouldn't let go,” she said. These Sooners don't want to either.