Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last Minute Plans

Today was another busy day.  It was a day full of hurrying up to wait, and then rushing to make up the time.  C’est la vie.  That’s life; especially in these days. 

And guess what?  No update.  Sorry.  I had actually started it hours ago, and then……got busy…and now, I’m making last minute plans to go spend a few days with my friend Jenn in Christianville for a few days. I just felt like it was something I needed to do.  She mentioned that she could really use family or close friends near to her.  We’ve been friends for many years.  Truth be told, while I’ve got friends here and people I love dearly (the McLaughlins, a couple of the staff guys are good friends, a couple others) at the end of the day, I come home alone.  So I’ve been lonely too.  I think it’ll do me some good to spend some time with her as well.  I told her I could do whatever; take out trash, throw away stuff, whatever would help.  Hopefully I’ll be a blessing and not a burden. 

Right now, they’re still sleeping on mattresses outside under tarps.  They do have food and drinking water and I’m taking some stuff for them too.  I’m taking extra snacks and juice for me (I’m Type 1 diabetic) and extra diabetic supplies so I’ll be fine.  I’m not really sure what to expect other than that. 

I am so looking forward to seeing her but I’m not particularly looking forward to leaving again at 3am.  But, sometimes you only get two choices.  Do it when you can or don’t do it at all.  Gary’s going into Port again tomorrow.  That’s the reason this all came together so quickly- I just had the idea a couple nights ago and then Gary made plans to go in to Port tomorrow. I’ll be riding in with him.  Not exactly sure when I’ll come back but looks like it’ll be Monday, maybe Tuesday at the latest.  Enough people are now coming and going that I’ll be able to catch a ride with one of the missionaries if not one of our guys. 

Our water here on my hill has been out for almost a week; well, we’ve had water but the water pump was broken so its been as good as useless.  It came back on this afternoon but no one was here when I got back from today’s activities so I didn’t know until it was too late to do laundry.  Since we have to line dry everything AND the washing machine is right outside Beth’s room (and the door and windows are only made of screen) so I can’t do it now.  It’s been a while since I’ve done laundry so I might smell a little funny. But hey, whatever.  Nothing a little Febreeze can’t tackle!

I should have internet access there. She’s been on fairly regularly.  Hopefully I’ll be around to throw out a quick update.  But if you don’t hear from me, don’t be afraid.  I’ll get to the internet when I can.

I look forward to the next few days.  They won’t be easy though, I imagine.  Many things in life aren’t easy, but they’re the right thing to do.  I feel like this is the right thing to do and where God leads, His provisions accompany. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Night Off

I keep promising a more comprehensive update.  I shall fail to deliver yet once again.  I realize I keep saying I am exhausted but the reality is, I am.  Tonight is Wednesday night.  The missionaries have a Wednesday night Bible Study.  I normally go when I am in Cayes, but tonight I opted out.  I’ve been exhausted since I returned to Haiti on January 5.  The first two days I was back, I had major planning to do for events that would occur over the next three weeks.  I was up way too late (sometimes 2 or 3am) and then up early the next morning. Then I was out with the team; one night I couldn’t sleep because of the goats, dogs, and roosters another night it was the dog, locked in the dining room, right next to my room.  The walls were not finished and so only went up maybe 8 feet.  There was lots of empty space between the top of the wall and the ceiling which meant plenty of opportunity to hear the dog screaming and yelping and crying at top volume.  He finally got released around 12:30am.  And then there was the night that we were awakened at midnight by the shaking and then at 3:30am by the Pastor. 

The things that I lost sleep planning for never happened.  Instead, we had an earthquake.  Since then, days have been backwards, forwards, upside down and sideways.   And I’m just tired.  I have no reason to complain.  I’m just stating the facts.

Things are OK here in the city for the moment.  Nothing major to speak of that I know of, but sometimes I feel very sheltered here on the mission center and have to rely on what others in the area share.  I have heard nothing note worthy. 

I went and spent a little time at the hospital today.  I saw Fernel he looks good and is holding up OK.  I heard he may be going home soon.  I am happy to hear that for his sake, but will miss his sweet face greeting me when I walk in his “room”.  My roommate Beth works at the hospital and has befriended him as well.  He asked her today if she would bring him home- to live.   I also spent some time with my little friend.  I have to admit and apologize, I suppose for, something.  I had her name wrong.  Sometimes it’s really hard to understand and remember what they say because the names are so different.  I saw the name Molienne on her entrance papers but apparently someone had written her mother’s name where the patients name should go.   Today, I asked her dad to write her name down for me, just to make sure I was spelling it right and he wrote "Migline” and I heard him call her mother, Molienne.  I am glad God knows who we’ve been praying for.  She was supposed to have surgery today but when I made it to her bed to visit this afternoon she had yet to have the operation and her mom and dad didn’t know when it would be.  Her mom told me it was to help close up the wound so it could heal better.  If she had the surgery this afternoon, I imagine she’s in a lot of pain.  My friend Rita was there, too.  She’s holding up OK but is also in a lot of pain.  She’s in a partial body cast.  I hadn’t seen the torso part until today.  My friend Peterson was there as well.  His head is still quite swollen and painful but his arm appears to be going down a little bit.  The Dr. told his mom there was no internal head injury so there was nothing they could do but wait. 

Lots of food and medicine is still coming into the area and its gone almost as quickly as it comes in.    There’s so much need, its hard to comprehend and I’m sitting here somewhere in the middle of it all.

I was going to try and go to bed early tonight.  Looks like that could still happen.  Actually, I think I’ll make it happen.  I’ll try again tomorrow with more news from the past few days activities. 

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.  They are coveted beyond my ability to express that to you.   God bless. Or as they say in creole; Bondye beni ou.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prayer Requests 1-25-10

The last few days have been extremely busy from sun up to sun down.  I’m trying to find the time to write a more comprehensive update b/c the last few days have been random and busy but God has done some cool things and I’ve met some interesting people and made some new friends.  But all the details of that will have to wait. 

For this evening, I am leaving you with a few matters of prayer;

1) Please pray for Gary and Marilyn McLaughlin, the other missionaries serving here in Haiti with RMI.   And please continue to pray for me.  We are busy and exhausted with no real end in sight.  While I am saying this, I will add, we will not complain.  God has given us life and he has given us the opportunity to serve Him in a real and tangible way, as many of my friends have reminded me, for such a time as this.  We are here to be Gods vessels and we trust Him to be everything that we need.

2) Pray for David.  He is a young Haitian man who is doing what he can to help his own country in time of need.  He, along with Pastor Malingo and a few of his friends have collected food, clothes, personal hygiene supplies and are distributing to those in need.  A few days ago, the team, a long with a couple of the missionaries here went out to a local area and distributed the supplies.  Along the way they shared the gospel with those they met and David and Pastor Sean (one of the Missionaries) were able to pray with a young man who prayed to receive Christ.  They have done another round of collections and will be leaving tomorrow early in the morning to do some more distributions in Leogane, one of the hardest hit areas just outside of Port au Prince.

3) Pray for Molienne.  I have visited her several times in the last couple days.  Each time our eyes meet her eyes light up and she breaks into a beautiful smile.  I do not say that to boast that I am the reason she smiles.  I only say that because I am honored to know that God has placed me in her life for a special reason and I am blessed to know her.  She is having an operation tomorrow morning.  I am not sure why.  I didn’t get to talk with the Dr.  or her family.  Only her.  I would venture a guess it has to do with infection in her foot but it could also have something to do with her broken leg.  I am hoping to get there in the morning.  I told her I wanted her to read a Bible Story for me and she said she would.  I hope the morning is free of interruptions. 

4) Pray for Jenn Rogan.  She is the friend I have mentioned several times on here.  I spoke with her very briefly on Sunday night and I could hear her exhaustion in her voice.  I spoke to her on IM this evening and she said she was tired…in so many ways.  Her area is finally getting food aid and they have enough to feed the people in the area.  She said they are still treating up to 15 new patients each day, many of them with complex fractures.  She also said they are still experiencing tremors and aftershocks.  Its is wearing on her soul.

5) Pray for Jeef and Peterson and their mother.  Peterson is at the clinic here on the center.  His arm is broken and he suffered a pretty severe injury to his ear.   The right side of his body from his arm up to his ear, including is face is still swollen.  He told me today he is still in pain. 

6) Pray for Dumesle and Cianie.  I met them on a visit to the Tent City set up in downtown Cayes.  They are cousins.  They are here from Port au Prince and they both lost family in Port.  They are staying at the Tent City while they regroup and find a more temporary place to stay.

7) Pray for my friend Amber, her son Ty and her husband.  They live in the states but I received word from another friend that they were in a bad boating accident this evening.  Amber is OK.  Ty was getting a scan on his head done and there was no word on her husband. 

8) Pray for my friends Scott and Katy.   And for the rest of Scott’s family; Ellen, Elizabeth, Shannon, and Jeff.  Scott’s father passed away last week after a long bought with cancer.  He is cancer free and rejoicing in God’s presence but the family is now working through the emotional process of loosing a loved one. 

9) Pray that the medical, physical and spiritual needs that come alone with an influx of quake refugees will continue to be met. Food is needed, medical supplies are needed, and comfort and grief support is needed. Although the physical supplies are coming in (food and medicine), they are still in great need as many people have (and are still making) made their way from Port.  The spiritual needs will be present for months and years to come.

10)Pray for the future of Haiti, the rebuilding of the government, and the infrastructure Haiti needs to move forward.  Pray for the long term effects that no one can yet see, the sickness and disease that can stem from the unclean conditions, the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless, jobless, and hopeless. Pray that after the media has forgotten Haiti, that people will not.  Pray for spiritual awakening and revival. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

its late and i’m tired

I don’t have the energy to write anything of much substance today.  I am leaving for Port au Prince in the morning at 2:45am.  I am going with a caravan of other missionaries.  We are going in to try and help bring some of the refugees into Cayes who can’t afford to get here.  There will be our big F250, a bus, a couple other large pick-ups and perhaps a tap-tap.  But today was a busy, busy day and I am exhausted.  I’ll update you more tomorrow.

Pray for us and for our safety.  I don’t say that because I am worried.  From what we hear from some journalists who were there since the 14th, Port is safe and in the areas that weren’t destroyed life is slowly moving back in. There is gas in Port, banks have reopened, buses are coming and going.  People are far from ‘moving on’ but life has to go on.  People have to try and make a living and carve out an existence for themselves.   I’m looking forward to the day.

-Signing out. 

Rejoice and pray.

I spent the most random afternoon I could have imagined.  I was with a President, a GI Doctor, a Pilot, and a journalist from an ABC affiliate in Florida.  A group in Pensacola, Florida had put together some health kits and they got connected with the reporter who wanted to come do some on location work in Cayes and follow the health kits through to delivery. Dan (President of RMI) got connected with him and he flew in today.   There is also a GI Doctor who decided he wanted to come help out here because he’d so much need, and a Pilot who also just wanted to come and do whatever he could to help.  And somehow, they all ended up with us.   So we spent the afternoon together. 

Today, we visited two Clinics in the area.  One was the clinic here on the mission center.  This was the same place I had spent last Tuesday night.  It was the place I had met Molienne and Rita.  I hadn’t had the chance to go back and visit with them.  I was hoping to see them today.  The first area we visited wasn’t crowded with people, but there were plenty of people there.  Beds had been placed in random corners and hallways, where ever they could find a spot.  I met a  DSC_0231boy there.  His name is Furenel.  I don’t remember how old he said he was but I would guess 10 or 11.  He and his family are here from Port au Prince.  I didn’t understand all that they told me but I know they lost other family members in the quake.  He was alive but his right leg had been crushed under a falling building.  He had only remained there for an hour before being rescued.  He now has only one leg.  I don’t think it had been long since his surgery but he was in good spirits.  He, like most patients, had been given very little painkiller- its something they just don’t have on hand.  While he looks sad and forlorn in this picture and I am sure he was in pain, he was smiling just moments before.  Its hard to get most Haitians to smile for the camera.   While his story is heartbreaking, I asked him if he had any thing he wanted to say (the journalist was recording a little bit of his story) and his response was “Thank you God for keeping me alive and for not letting me die”.  We have reason to rejoice. He IS alive.   Pray for Furenel.  Pray that he will quickly heal.  Pray that he and his family will find a new life.  Pray for the provisions a young boy will need in life with only one leg.  Pray for his future and for opportunities.  Pray that the purpose for which God saved him would be served in His life.

He was downstairs.  When we went upstairs almost immediately I saw the girl I had mentioned before, the one with the broken hips.  She smiled at me when we made eye contact.  I asked her if she remembered me- she said she did.  I got her name this time.  Her name is Rosie.  And she’s 22 years old.  She said she is not out of pain yet but she’s feeling better.  It seems as if her hips have been stabilized and hopefully the healing process has begun.  

I also saw the other girl, the one who went into surgery, who had gangrene.  I didn’t really get to talk to her.  A lot of people were crowding around her bed.  But she was still in a lot of pain.  One foot and one ankle were wrapped and she was moaning.  She’d probably been given the Tylenol they had on hand for pain but I imagine it just wasn’t enough.  Her mother was there with her.  She looked tired.

There were many patients at the hospital.  Many of them had leg injuries.  There were lots of casts, lots of bandages and lots of pins holding shin bones in place.  I imagine the upstairs area hold 40-50 beds.  All of them were full.  The area is separated in to four areas with a central reception desk in the center.  But the four sections aren’t private.  5 or so beds line each wall and only the outside walls are floor to ceiling.  The inner walls are only partial walls.  As we arrived upstairs the sound of singing could be heard all through out the upstairs ward.  There was a man with a massive wound to his shin, with a  set of pins holding it together.  I’ve put a link to his picture because it might be a little disturbing.  But its here if you want to see.   It was he who was singing and as he sang, many others sang along.  He too had been given minimal pain medication and yet, he found reason to rejoice.   It was a beautiful sound.  I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with him but I know he and his family could use your prayers.

We visited the back left corner of the upstairs ward last.  I hadn’t seen Molienne or Rita.  I was scanning for either one of them and about the same time I saw Rita, Moilenne saw me.  AMY!  She called up as her face lit up.  I am sure mine did too.  I ran over to her and gave her a hug.  She looked like she was doing well.  Her wound had been covered and she said she was feeling better.  She told me she had seen Sarah everyday but she' hadn’t seen me.  I told her if I am able to, I’ll come to see her again.   I told her I had been praying for her and has asked my friends to pray for her as well.  I heard from Sarah later and Molienne had reported my visit to her.  Sarah said that Molienne told her she likes dolls so Sarah and I working on trying to find a doll for her.  We don’t know how long she’ll be at the hospital so hopefully one of us can find one.





I am happy to report that Rita is doing well.  She is in a full leg cast on her right leg and her left shin has pins.  She has her two daughters here with herl.  I did also confirm that she lost one child in the earthquake.  I know she will be grieving for many months. 

Here are the names of a few other people I met today.  One I met at the Clinic here and the other two I met at another clinic we visited in town:

Emile G.  He had a leg injury.  Spoke very briefly with him so got not other information. 
Dirozaire D. and his girlfriend, Gina.  They have a 16 month old daughter who is also in Cayes.  Gina and their daughter are fine.  His leg was broken in two places when an office building collapsed. 
Jean Bertran.  He was a young boy with a broken wrist.  His mother was with him.  She had lost two other children in the quake. 

Please keep praying for these and for others I have mentioned.  While there stories are sad, and we mourn with the loses they have experienced, lets also remember to rejoice and celebrate the life they have.  It it truly a gift from God. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

today’s news

Dan Shoemaker, President of RMI, forwarded this information in an e-mail  Don’t know if the news media has gotten a hold of it or not but wanted to share.  The people of Jacmel need our prayers. 

Out today from the UN in Jacmel-- statistics ON Jacmel, which is a city of 34,000...
1,785 homes completely destroyed
4,410 homes partially destroyed
87 commercial businesses destroyed
54 schools destroyed
24 hotels destroyed
26 churches destroyed
5,730 families displaced
Death count approaching 3,000 (nearly 10%)

I have read though that in the last few days they have been inundated with Relief supplies so they have not been forgotten but from best I can understand much of this relief has been received because of the work of individuals running an orphanage in the Jacmel area (The Hands and Feet Project). 

In Cayes, it seems like we are good for now; food shortage is not an issue, and fuel is available (if you’re willing to wait in lines for sometimes hours at a time).  A number of medical teams are preparing to fly in.  Medical supplies and deliveries of food also continue to be flown in.  God continues to provide in the midst of impossible circumstances. 

This morning we made two food deliveries; one to an old folks home run by a pastor and his wife and one to the Rotary Club as they are preparing and delivering two meals a day to the General Hospital in town because many of the patients there have no family and no one to care for them. 

We also visited General Hospital in town.  There are still a lot of needs there and a lot of patients who need care.  There was people lined up in stretchers in the hallway and sometimes people lay on mattresses on the floor.  There was  a dead body covered on the floor.  It seems as though they had only recently died.  Pray for the family of that person.  Much has already been lost.  Although there is much work to be done, they have already done much and are working to continue to do everything they can.

I talked with two ladies there today.  One, was name Christiene.  She said she had a large wound on her leg that was still waiting on the right supplies to finish repairing the damage.  I am not sure exactly what that means because I couldn’t understand everything but she is obviously in need of our prayers for healing and provision.  Her spirit was sweet and she didn’t seem worried or frustrated.   I told her that I am my friends would be praying for her.  She was genuinely grateful.  She was taking it far better than I would have.  I also spoke briefly with Marieannete.  Her daughter was in the hospital.  Her daughter appeared to be physically and mentally disabled.  I didn’t get much of her story as I only had a moment to approach her before we headed out.  But she too had a sweet spirit.  I told her I would be praying for her and that I would ask my friends to be praying for her as well.  She said she was grateful for that and knew that God could help.  So consider yourself asked. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random bits of news.

Today I heard most of the grocery stores were open, although still with limited hours, and apparently they still had food on their shelves.  They must stock pile it somewhere and say they’re out when they really mean, we’re just not putting any more on the shelves today.  But I don’t really know.  I didn’t see the stores.  I do know that Sam was able to find some more rice and beans; I think he may have found them around here instead of having to go all the way into town.

Yesterday DSC_0031afternoon I visited one of the tent cities set up down town at the soccer field.  There is apparently a busier one, but this one maybe have had 25-30 tents.  There were a few kids sittings around and adults scattered in various locations around the field.  We had received some tents that had been to delivered on one of the relief flights and one of our guys delivered them downtown.  We weren’t sure to which location he had delivered them but we weren’t too far from that particular area so we dropped by.  The soccer field is actually enclosed and they had security guarding the gates.  It was quite peaceful and quiet inside.  We didn’t stay long and only had a brief chance to visit with one of the ladies sitting over with the kids.  Her name was Leonette.  She is actually from Cayes and although her house hadn’t collapsed , she felt unsafe inside because it was old and she was afraid it had been damaged.  So until she could figure out what to do, she was staying in the tent city.  She had 13 kids there with her.  Some of them may have been her grand kids.  The one she was holding was her grandson so I assume there may have been more. 

I also met Charlie. DSC_0022 He was also from Cayes.  He was probably about 20.  He asked me if I would take his picture.  Then he told me loved me.  Then asked me for my number so that he could call me so I could give him the picture I had just taken it.  It was very special to him.  Apparently so was I.  I was disinclined to give him my number.  

There is apparently some gas in town, too.  No one knows if we’ve gotten a new shipment or if it just means they had electricity and had opened up the pumps.  There wasn’t even a line from what we heard.  We have also been told there is a station on the road to Port that has gas and is distributing it like normal.  So if we need to go to Port in the near future to deliver supplies, pick up teams, etc. we have an opportunity to get gas.  God is providing in the midst of what seemed impossible. 

I was almost stuck with shampoo in my hair today.  I had just lathered up when the water went out.  It came back on just enough to get my hair rinsed.  There is a leak in the cistern that supplies my house and the others on this hill with water.  We’ve basically been without water all day. There is the slighest trickle that comes out when you turn the faucet on, but its not enough to “live off”.   That means carting water in (ideally from the buckets we leave out to collect rainwater and not from the river.  OK,  I don’t think we’d have to do that.  We’d just borrow it from the other hill) to shower and flush.  Not sure how long the problem will persist.  I think the faucet outside works too.  Not sure why it works and nothing works inside but hey, its better than not having any water at all. 

We still need a lot of Doctors and Nurses to come to Haiti.  The problems is massive.  Patients are still waiting to be seen a week and a half after the quake.

I found out that Sonita and Charlament’s older sister died in the quake. 

A large shipment of food was delivered to Cayes on a relief flight today. 

People in Port au Prince are singing.  Gladys, one of the missionaries who lives in this area said she was in Port the night after the quake happened.  She was sleeping in the streets with everyone else.  When the second quake occurred, around midnight she said you could hear a song rising from all corners of the city.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, the saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind but now I see…

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

shopping with Sam

Tuesday, I went to town with Sam.  We had a large list for RMI, a list for Gary, a list for my household, and a list for myself.  Up until recently there were two main grocery stores we shopped at.  The Superstar and the G&B.  When I say the word grocery store, you’re probably imaging something like a Publix, or a Kroger's   The Caribbean Market in Port was something more like that. And it had air-conditioning.  Its not there any more.  It was destroyed in the earthquake.  The stores we have here a a little different.  If you’ve ever been to a Hispanic Grocery store or an Asian market in the states, you might have a little better picture of what I’m talking about. Shelves line the walls from floor to ceiling.  The shelves are attached very securely to the walls- I’ve seen employees climb the shelves to reach the top shelf items.  There are more standard grocery shelves down the middle of the store; the Superstar has one row and the G&B two.  Both stores are long and narrow.  At the back of both of the stores are two or three chest freezers.  These are filled with cases of chicken, boxes of bacon, bags of ground beef, butter, cheese, pepperoni and various other things that need freezing.  The G&B also has a glass front freezer where soft drinks, yogurts, cheeses, sour cream and other perishable items are stored.  There is also a standard standup refrigerator where you can find beer, sports drinks, juices and other liquids and in the freezer you’ll find various meats.  All along the wall shelves additional items (mostly items already out somewhere else and waiting to be restocked) line the floors.  The G&B is wider than the Superstar but not as deep.  When they’re busy they’re both crowded and hard to maneuver around.  Employees who work in the stores are there for you.  If you come in with a list, they’ll help you shop.  There’s no room for a buggy  but they do have plastic baskets and these guys will help you fill your basket, and take the full one from you, set it up front at the counter, and replace it with an empty one.  They’ll climb shelves, check on prices, and check the store room if you can’t find what you need.  When you’re ready to check out, there’s someone standing with you the counter.  He’ll pull the groceries out of your baskets, place them on the counter and call out the price of each item so that the cashier, quite often the owner, inputs the amounts on a calculator.  After unloading your baskets, they’ll load your groceries in bags, or cardboard boxes if you have a large quantity of groceries, seal them up and take them to the truck, which is usually parked curbside just out front or just across the street.  You’d be surprised at the things you can find in these grocery stores; anything from cereal, milk, flour, sugar, cooking oil, baby supplies, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and soap, to expensive shampoos, L'Oreal hair color, Betty Crocker cake mixes, maraschino cherries, Diet Coke and Victoria’s Secret Body Spay and Lotion, and many various and random items in between.  There are other places in town to get some of these things, but in much smaller quantity and with much less variety.   The Superstar has expanded to a second location.  Its a little nicer in its set up.  Its air conditioned, and three or four aisles.  There is one more grocery store on the way out of town and back into Cayes but we rarely shop there.  It too is air-conditioned and is quite large compared to the other three-and for that reason, it is generally more expensive. 

The first time I took a trip to town and visited a grocery store, I was overwhelmed.  It was busy and crowded and different.  Everything smelled different, looked different and didn’t quite feel right to me.  I was new, maybe 4 days off the plane.  These days, it just feels normal.  

Since the quake, stores in town have been closed on and off, and then some of them only open two or three hours.  I was told this was for fear of another earth quake.  Buildings seem stable enough but are old and some of them look like it wouldn’t take much to disrupt them.  Sam and I went to town around 9:45am.  We were hoping to go to the Superstar because we usually find most of our stuff there.  We passed the new Superstar, aptly named “The Superstar Remix”.  It says so on the sign painted on the building out front.  The one in town wasn’t opened either.  Sam tried to call the owners (everyone knows everyone around here) and couldn’t find them.  Just down the street, we were relieved to find the G&B opened, and packed.  It seemed like everyone is Cayes was there stocking up.  There was literally not a place where you could stand where you weren’t in the way of somebody and if you moved you were in the way of somebody else.  There were places on shelves that were empty with nothing to fill their place.   We bought the last of a lot of things- others bought the last of a lot of other things.  We couldn’t find some things.  We shopped for two hours buying bulk of many things and filling basket after basket.  People streamed in and out.  Mind you, its not a lot of space but never the less, lines backed up at the register and bottle-necked in the middle aisle and at the two front doors- one on each side of the cash register’s counter.    And then the activity ceased.  People began trickling in at a more casual pace and momentarily, it all felt normal again.  My guess is it was because the Superstar had by that point opened up.  After we paid, I needed to get Haitian cash and had checks from several other missionaries who needed cash as well.  The man who usually cashes checks for us had been closed on and off all week, too.  It just so happened that he was closed on this day.  Nothing we could do but hope he’d be open another day, problem was we were trying conserve fuel considering its virtually impossible to find around here.  Finding him open another day would entail another trip to town. 

Sam and I made our way to the Superstar where the environment was similar to that at G&B, a furry of activity.  We were able to find most of what we hadn’t found at the other store.  Except we couldn’t find chicken (we buy it frozen by the box), rice, sugar, or beans.  For Haitians, the case of chicken isn’t a staple but rice and beans and sugar are.  They are becoming increasingly harder to find.  We drove around the market to four different places to find chicken with no luck.  We eventually found sugar, rice and beans, but it wasn’t easy.  And its going to get even harder in the days to come. 


The people in Cayes are going to have an increasingly hard time finding food too.  They don’t have the luxury of buying in bulk.  So pray for them.  RMI has some available for distribution, and is hoping to get some more sent in.  Pray that we would have the wisdom to know how to allocate what we have in the most effective way possible.  People are going to be hungry; and soon.

Sam was able to get money for Gary and me today.  When we run out of Haitian cash, we run out of our ability to pay our Haitian staff.  When we can’t pay them, they can buy what they need to provide for their families, when they can find food.  Its not a matter of needing more American cash either (not that it wouldn’t help but local Haitian produce and products are bought with Haitian cash.  It doesn’t matter how much American money we have sitting in our banks, without the flow of Haitian cash, it doesn’t matter).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

how about some good news.

I heard from my friend, Lesly, today.  He e-mailed me.  From Miami. 

Somehow he made it to Miami.  I don’t know how or any of the details.  He dropped me an e-mail that only had a couple lines and very little information.  He is in Miami and headed to NY soon.  I think he has family in Miami and his dad in NY.   I am relieved to know he is alive and well. 

This morning Sam and I went to town.  We had a huge list for RMI, a list for Gary, a list for my household, and my personal list of supplies and food items we were trying to stock up on.  We spent from 10am to 2pm, shopping.  I’ll post more details on that later.  While Sam and I were in the grocery store, I saw a familiar face looking at me and smiling at me.   It quickly dawned on me it was Lesly’s cousin, Charlemant.  I was so happy to see him.  We hugged, shared greetings and I asked him about his family, if they were well.  He said yes.  I then asked him about Lesly, if he was OK.  I couldn’t understand exactly what he said and we didn’t have much time, or even physical space to continue our conversation.  I know that sounds odd, considering I’ve been concerned about his well-being but it was really quite chaotic in the store.  It was only grocery store opened this morning and the store was packed with people, trying to stock pile what they could.  If you moved to get out of the way when someone said “excuse me” and needed to pass, you were immediately in the way of someone else saying, “excuse me”, and needing to pass.  So I just couldn’t chase him down and hound him for information.  But I felt good about the fact that he hadn’t told me he was not OK.

I got home around 2, at lunch and around 2:30 I signed online to check my e-mail.  I had an e-mail from Lesly.  I officially knew that he was OK. 

Not long after, I was still on the computer, I received an Instant Message from someone I didn’t know.  It was someone that had requested to add me a few days ago.  The name and all information was in French.  When I received the IM I asked who it was and she immediately responded, Sonita.  Sonita is Lesl'y’s other cousin, Charlemant’s sister.  We had all become friends while I was in Boyer back in November with a team.  I was so excited to get word that they were all OK.

I didn’t have a phone number for Charlemant but had tried to get a hold of both Sonita and Lesly on the phone and had heard nothing.  I find it amusing that I heard from all three of them today. 

In other good news, the Wray family, one of the missionary families here on the center, drove some of the Haitian youth that work with them on the Sunday School Feeding Program to Port au Prince.  These were people who had family in Port who had yet to hear from them.  The Wray’s have a big truck with a large metal frame on the back so they loaded a bunch of youth up, and drove them to Port to search for their families.  They returned this afternoon with fifty people on the truck; many of them were people whom they been located in Port! 

not forgotten

Last night I spent some time at the clinic here on the mission center.  I told them to put me on the on call list if they ever needed help.  I wasn’t medical but was willing to do whatever.  Sheila, one of the other missionaries who was volunteering last night came and got me about 7pm. 

There wasn’t too much activity, I guess not as much as they had expected to have so there wasn’t a lot for me to “do”.  There were four ladies in the room when I arrived.  One had a massive wound on her foot.  She had had emergency surgery some days before but it looked as though infection was setting in, and she had gangrene on one of her toes.  She wasn’t in the room too long because the doctor took her into surgery to reopen her foot and see what kind of repairs he could make.  He was afraid she might loose her foot but after the surgery he felt like he could save it.  That surgery will have to happen later this week.  Once he was done with her surgery, they took her upstairs.  I didn’t get her name, but I do know she is 22 years old.  Pray for her.  She will need much grace and comfort in the coming months. 

Another of the ladies had broken hips and some kind of pelvic injury.  I didn’t get to speak with her.  She was in a lot of pain and mostly slept.  I didn’t get her name either.  But God knows who she is- so keep her in your prayers.

Rita was a little older, I’d guess mid 40s.  She had scrapes and scratches on her face a small flesh wound on her right knee, a slightly larger, extremely deep whole in her left leg and at least one broken femur.  They were working on cleaning her wounds when I arrived.  She was in Port au Prince when the quake occurred but came to Cayes because she has family here.  She has 5 children.  I couldn’t understand if some of her children died in the quake or not.  Once I understood her to say yes and once I understand her to say no.  That's my fault- I’m still learning Creole.  Her husband is also here in the hospital.  Both of his legs were crushed in the quake.  Life will be hard for them in the coming months and years.  She needs our prayers.  Pray that she will be able to walk away from the trauma of her past emotionally and spiritually whole. Pray for God’s mercy, healing, and grace to surround her and comfort her now.  Pray for His provision and mercy to meet her in her future.

Molienne is who I spent most of my time with.  When I arrived she had a cast on her leg from mid calf down.  Not long after I arrived they were cutting a window into her cast to expose a massive open wound on her foot and heel. They had no pain killer to give her so she felt everything.  Li fe mal!  Li fe mal! LI FE MAL!!  She screamed; over and over again.  It hurts! It hurts!  IT HURTS!!!  All those of us there could do was to hold her hands, wipe the sweat from her brow and pray for her.  She asked for water once.  There was a plastic cup sitting on the counter, no one knew if it was clean or not; it was all we had.  I rinsed it, filled it and brought it to her.  Once the window was opened, some of the pain subsided and she was able to calm down.  There was a visiting U.S. Dr. and a local Haitian “Dr”.  He is a self-made Dr of sorts.  His brother was in an accident many years ago and lost both his arms.  That birthed in his heart the desire to be a Dr but without knowing for sure, I would venture to guess he never had to opportunity to attend Medical School.  So he taught himself what he knows.  In general, from what I understand the care he gives is adequate.  While he may not be able to solve complex medical mysteries, much of what he sees on a regular basis he is able to do well enough.  He is the one who casted Molienne and he is the one who was opening the window.  The visiting US Dr. was going to do follow up, access the state of the wound and perform surgery to close the foot and begin the process of healing.  But he needed to see the X-rays first.  Before he could do any further work on her he needed to know what the state of her broken bone was and he couldn’t know that until he saw the X-ray.  Somehow the X-ray was missing.  It was have to wait.  There were other patients to see and three patients waiting in the O.R.  I think the assumption was that she would have her wound wrapped and it could be further examined today, when the X-rays were located.  In a relief situation like this, things aren’t like they usually are.  Things often seem disorganized and out of order.  The self made Dr. was sick.  He had a fever.  And so he left.  The tools were left lying on Molienne’s bed, plaster dust surrounded her foot, and the wound lay open, slightly bloody and exposed.  The girl that had gangrene was the next to be checked and everyone moved to her bedside but I stayed with Molienne.  The girl with gangrene was assessed and it was decided she would need surgery to reopen the wound to determine if her foot could be saved.  The visiting Dr left the room to prepare.  And within a minute a two and after a quick flurry of activity, everyone was gone.  All of the other volunteers were gone. They had an organizational conference call they couldn’t miss.  All the medical staff disappeared.  I was alone in the room with the girl with the broken hips, Rita, Molienne, and their families.  One of the missionary kids, Sarah, who had been volunteering with her family almost every night for the last week eventually came back in and stayed for a little while.  Molienne kept saying she was tired and wanting to sleep but she couldn’t sleep on her back, the way the “Dr'” had left her.  So we tried several times to carefully move her legs so we could get her on her side.  She was a brave girl; only 10 years old.  She and her family were from Port Salut, the same place I had been just a week earlier with the team.  They were visiting Port au Prince when the quake happened.  She had been hit by falling cinderblocks.  She was an only child and her mom and dad were there with here.  They had all survived.  I didn’t know what to do or where to go so I just stayed and sat with her.  We held hands and chatted, we talked about me, we talked about her, we talked about what she wanted to be when she grows up.  She wants to be a Doctor.  When the pain would get to be too much I told her she could squeeze my hands as hard as she needed to.  Sometimes she did.  She would call out in pain and her mother would come over and we’d comfort her.  Her mother was exhausted.  You could see it in her eyes. That's partially why I stayed, so her mother could get a much needed break.  They had been in Cayes since Wednesday.  They had already been to one hospital in the area and received very little help.   I imagine it wasn’t because they didn’t want to help her, but the other hospital is swamped as well.  Finally, on Saturday her parents brought her to the clinic to seek help.  She had had the cast on since Saturday.  The wound had been covered with a simple layer of gauze under all that plaster for almost 3 days; its no wonder it hurt when they opened the cast.  Molienne was good natured.   She even smiled quite a bit.  She was soft spoken and well mannered.  There were times when her face would begin to grimace. so to pass the time and keep her mind off the pain, we sang a few songs.  I don’t know too many songs by heart in Creole yet so I thought her one that my churches team had translated years before.  I told her when she had lots of pain, or when she was sad, she could remember these words.  I sang it once for her and then we sang it together, many times.  I hope the message resonates in her heart long after she returns to Port Salut and life gets back to normal.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Bondye konnen nom’m.  Li konnen nom’m.  I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten.  I am not forgotten,  God knows my name.  He knows my name.

Finally around 11:35 one of the other missionaries, Tim, Sarah’s dad, came back and saw that I was still there.  And he saw that the wounds of both Rita and Molienne were still open and uncovered.  He immediately sprung into action, found beds for them (Rita was on a mattress on a makeshift bed and Molienne was on an exam table, the lady with the broken hips was already on a hospital bed) and we took them all upstairs to get wrapped up and made more comfortable.

I sat with Molienne for several hours; almost 4.  I didn’t get the go see her today, I spent a good bit of my day in town shopping for supplies but I’m hoping to get to see her tomorrow. 

Pray for Molienne.  Pray for her healing and pray for her heart.  Pray that the things she has seen and experienced as a ten year old child will only serve to strengthen her resolve to appreciate life and serve God.  Pray that the trauma will be a forgotten thing.  Pray for her mother and father.  Pray that their relationship and their family would be strengthened through this.

Busy \'bi-zē\ (adj) 1: engaged in action 2: full of activity

If I had to describe these last few days in one word, I’d go with insanely busy.  Ok, that’s two words. 

Its hard to imagine or adequately describe just exactly how quickly information is changing around here these days.  I’ll give you an example. 

Saturday afternoon:

The team was expected to fly out between 2 and 4pm. Luggage would have to be weighed in at no more than 40lbs a person.  At 5:30pm we left the airport, with the team.  At 6:15 a message was received from the pilot, bad weather prevented him from leaving Cap Hatien.  He’d be in Cayes Sunday morning at 11:30am.  At 9:30pm I received an IM from Gary, the plane would be earlier.  We’d need to be at the airport at 9:30am. And bags could only weigh 10lbs.  

Sunday morning: 

At 8:45am we received a call, the plane was coming early, leave for the airport ASAP.  The team wouldn’t have to check bags or go through any kind of customs check so it was to be a quick, the plane comes in and unloads, the team boards the plane and leaves. We arrived at the airport just after 9am.  The airplane arrived around 10:15am.   And bags were not guaranteed. 

And with our phones still not working consistently, sometimes the news has changed so quickly, its changed again before everyone gets the first message.  And the rounds of “things have changed” goes around again….that's just the way it is these days.

Because there was such limited space available for luggage, the team had to compact their luggage.  They had already done so once, to meet the 40lb limit.  Lots of items in their suitcases were evaluated and many items had to be left.  When the luggage limit was decreased, they consolidated to three small cases total and left the rest behind for us to send later.  They had to leave behind a lot of stuff. I mean a LOT of stuff. 

While we were at the airport I was asked if another group, of 14 people who were still stuck in Haiti, could stay at the Guest House for the Sunday night.  For safety reasons, they had been uprooted from where they had been staying when the quake happened and they had been been sleeping at the mission school.  They would need dinner that night, breakfast the next morning and possibly lunch.  It was absolutely no problem for them to stay there, its why the Guest House exists…the Guest House was just a wreck!  Since the team had left Saturday afternoon with the expectation they would be gone, we had sent the house ladies home Saturday after lunch.  By Sunday morning there were dishes in the sink from 2 meals for 12 people each.  There were beds that had to be made, so much dirty laundry (sheets and towels galore), sweeping, cleaning to be done, and food to be prepared; not to mention figure out where to put all the stuff our team had to leave.  As soon as I arrived back at the Guest House, we called on the house ladies to come back up and I got to work as well.  While all of that was going on we had all of the medical supplies that had been delivered in the front yard of the Guest House and a team of people who had flown in to do some medical relief work here in Cayes and out in Bon Finne.  Our driveway had become the distribution center.  That meant we had company; company who had left the US early that morning, who were now working in the hot sun to sort and divide these medical supplies before heading out.  I had to ‘care’ for them as well. 

Somehow it all came together and we got it all done.  The ladies are awesome, Gary, Benson and Benjamin who helped move all the luggage to a new out of the way location are awesome, and God gave us the grace and strength we all needed even though we were all so tired. 

Even with all that done, the activities didn’t cease.  I had to track down Gary (since I couldn’t call him), check in with the team at the Guest House and get them settled, and I still had to plan shopping lists and emergency supplies we would need to have on hand in the coming months.  It takes a while to a make list of stuff thats gotta keep a lot of people fed and clean for several months at a time!

I turned my  light out at 1am. 

The good news:  both teams were able to get home.  Our team was unexpectedly able to make it all the way to Atlanta within a matter of hours.  They arrived in South Carolina last night. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

keep them in your prayers

Benson, one of the RMI staff members and one of my closest friends here in Haiti has heard from his family in Port.  They are all alive.  They suffered injuries, but they are alive.  Pray for their healing and comfort for their hearts as they adjust to life after January 12. 

Madame Ti Jean heard news from her family.  Some of them survived, two of them didn’t.  Pray her family as they make preparations to bury their loved ones and face life without them.

Marco, my friend and Creole teacher lost his cousin.  She was not a Christian.  Pray for comfort and strength for the family.  Pray that her family may come to know the love of Jesus in the midst of this tragedy. 

Nadir, a dear friend of the RMI family who runs the taxi service between the local and International Airport in Port, is safe.  He lost his home and with the airport out of service, his job, at least for the time being, as well.  Pray for him and his family as they rebuild their lives.  Pray for provision as he finds a new (or at least temporary) source of income. 

Still no news of my friend Lesly.  If he is alive, pray for his safety and for that of his family.  I just had a conversation with him earlier on Tuesday. He told me he had spent all week looking for a job (he’s been searching for a long time without finding one) and he was just beginning to feel hopeful that he would be able to find something soon.  Pray that if he is safe, that same hope will continue to rise up and sustain Him.

Gerline, the co-worker of my roommate Suzanne, has a brother in Port.  She has not heard from him. 

Annette, one of the ladies who works in my house, has a sister in Port with 6 children.  She has not heard from them. 

Myrlande, one of the girls who volunteers at weekly feeding and Sunday School program for  orphans in one of the poorest areas in Cayes, had not heard from her Mother, Lauranette, and her two brothers, Djimmy and Milord, as of Wednesday. 

Anise, another girl who volunteers for the Sunday School/Feeding Program, as of Wednesday had not heard from her mother, Lucette, or her sister, Cator in Port. 

I asked some of the girls who were working at the Medical Clinic on Wednesday to write down the names of their family member in Port but from the way they wrote the list I cannot tell if it is themselves or their family members they have listed.  Either way, they can be lifted up by name.  Etienne, Suzette, Hippolyte, and Claisaint.

For all of those who have yet to hear from family members; pray that they will have strength, hope, and courage as they wait.  Pray for the safety of their families and that they will be able to quickly receive news of their situations.

Continue to pray for Dawne, Katherine, Mary, Steve, Chris, John Paul, Laura, Bob and Susan the team members we have here now.  They should be leaving tomorrow morning at 11am.  They should land in the Bahamas tomorrow afternoon and fly to the states on Monday.  Pray for their safety in travels and peace and comfort for them and their families.  Pray that they will be able to process all that they have seen and done in the last few days and that they will continue to stay emotionally and physically healthy. 

Take One:Dress Rehearsal

Today the team was supposed to fly from Cayes to the Bahamas.  It didn’t happen.

Opening Scene: Take One.

Some of the members from RMI’s sister church had made the original contact and so they were guaranteed the first 9 seats.  RMI put the word out and opened it up to other teams in the area who had people needing to fly out; all of them aware that it was only a possibility and not a guarantee that the plane would be able to land and it if did, there was even less of a guarantee that they would have a seat.  But everyone was hopeful.  A crowd of probably 65 people, some waiting to fly, some waiting with those waiting to fly, sat anxiously awaiting the arrival of the plane.  Around 3pm or so, a small plane came over the horizon.  It wasn’t our plane. It turned out to be a relief plane delivering tents.  They had only 5 seats, including the co-pilot’s seat.  And the pilot said he wasn’t cleared to take passengers so he couldn’t return to the states with passengers on board.  He would, though, be able to fly them to the British Isles of Turks and Caicos and they could take an international flight home from there.  There happened to be two couples and a single person waiting, who were able to take that flight. It was a long afternoon at the airport.  People speculated, milled, and chatted.  Some travelers slept.  Kids played in the yard in front of the airport.   Anticipation ran high.  At 5:30, a decision was made for everyone to return home.  The runway had to be shut down at dusk because it isn’t equipped with runway lights.  On the way home, Gary, Marilyn and I made emergency dinner plans.  And then Gary and one of the team members went to Gary’s house to use to phone to try and figure out what happened.   The plane was stalled in Cap Haitien, an International Airport north of Port au Prince.  They couldn’t get clearance to fly because of bad weather. 

We are going to try it all over again tomorrow.  The plane is scheduled to land in Cayes at 11am.

End Scene.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Here are some things to note about the past 24 hours here in Haiti.  I’ve listed them by number, but that doesn’t imply their order of significance.  It just means that's when it came to mind.  I don’t intend to be overly dramatic.  I am only stating things as I know them to be.  As I know more, I’ll try and pass info along.


1)  I have been sick in bed all day.  I had a fever of almost 101, nausea, stomach illness, aches and pains.  Its been going around the group- a couple others on the team got it as well.  We did medical clinics on Monday and Tuesday of this week so there’s no telling what we picked up.  I’ve taken cipro and some other stuff.  The fever is slowly coming down.  Hoping by Saturday to be well.

2) We are out of gas in Cayes.  I think we’re about out of diesel too.  All the RMI vehicles were filled yesterday and I don’t know if there’s a stash of gas we have on hand but either way, that will only last so long.   Apparently town was basically shut down at 1pm today.   It should be reopened tomorrow for business as usual.  They just may be closing early to try to conserve what resources we have.  I’m not sure.   And I’m not saying this is cause for alarm yet.  I’m just stating the facts.

3) Our team of Drs and Nurses worked all day today at the Clinic here in Cite Lumiere. Trauma patients are being transported from Port to here.  The Dr from our team who came and checked on me and brought me my medicine said that it was pretty rough stuff.  The patients really need an orthopedic surgeon…and a miracle.  The hospital is already short staffed and it was a true blessing to have them there.  Despite the tragedy, good things are happening as well.

4)  Despite what the media is apparently reporting about Cayes, for the moment, all is well here.  We are not in ruins. I repeat we are NOT IN RUINS.   One home collapsed and other buildings have a few cracks in them.  No one died as a result of the quake.  My advice?  Get the news you need but don’t let the media brainwash you.   Use discernment with what you hear and know when to turn the news off.  The truth is tragic enough, you don’t need their drama.  Instead of spending hours watching the same thing over and over again- the news isn’t going to get any better- spend that time in prayer.  Pray for the things I mention here and for the things I mentioned in my last post.   I personally think that’s a much better use of time. 

5)I saw my friend Jenn today.  She is the one working in Christianville who I mentioned in the last post. She came to Cayes to try and find some supplies.  Things are still horrific where she is.  They are hoping to have some aid supplies delivered soon and to reopen the clinic on Tuesday.   Sometimes I feel very lonely here, especially during this time when post others have family and loved ones to go home to at the end of the day. It was good to see her familiar face and to physically see that she was OK.  She said there is a medical team staying at the Guest House there in Christianville.  Currently, all 27 of the team and missionary staff are sleeping outside on the porch on mattresses, afraid of sleeping inside. She said that most of the Haitian staff was traveling together on a tap-tap through Port when the quake happened.  It flipped the truck.  One staff member was knocked unconscious and when she came to she was the only in the truck. All others were gone.  She doesn’t know if they escaped or if they all died and got carried away.  I can’t imagine.  Port and the surrounding areas are still experiencing a lot of tremors and after shocks.  Jenn suspects anywhere from 3.0-5.0 in size.  She is also concerned about rain.  If it rains, there are major potential hazards for rock slides and mud slides, which could severely handicap an already devastated area by shutting of all roads in and out of the area.

6)  Its raining in Cayes.  I am praying that it is ONLY raining in Cayes.

7) As of this afternoon, our team was most likely going to be able to fly out Monday on MFI (Missionary Flights International).  As of tonight, a relief agency flying supplies in from the Bahamas will most likely be able to transport them out tomorrow.  They can only transport 24 and there are 49 short term missions team members total who need to get out.  If there is a problem and they can’t get out tomorrow, another aid plane will be here in a few days and can transport them, or whoever else doesn’t make it on the plane, then. 

8) Although Jacmel is on the Southern Coast a fairly good distance from port, they have received lots of damage.  The town is in ruins and they are receiving little to no aid; everything’s being sent to Port. 

9) RMI’s Board of Directors had a conference call tonight to discuss ways that we can be directly involved in the Relief Effort.  I am looking forward to being involved.

10) I still haven’t talked to my friend in Port.  I don’t know if he’s alive or dead.  Pastor Jean (one of our staff) heard from his children today and they are safe and well.  His son’s wife’s sister didn’t make it though.  Madame Moise, the lady who works in the kitchen at my house, heard from her son today and he is well.  She is relieved beyond words. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

unraveling things

I finally had time to sit down and really start trying to get my head around what I have been feeling.  I've been so busy the past few days I’ve not had the chance.  In an e-mail I sent to friend responding to the question how I was doing in Haiti, I finally begin to pull things a part.  I’m in the midst of the process but instead of trying to recreate it again, I am posting a slightly edited version of the e-mail.  There may still be typos- I’m too tired to read it again.  It is below in italics.
I am safe and well at home but broken hearted with what I know to be happening within 100 miles or so of my home.  I am currently helpless to do anything but pray.  Going in and out of Port right now is impossible, at least for foreigners.   When the quake happened I was about 30 miles further east than I am now from Port au Prince so what we felt where we were was minimal to what people felt here in Cayes (home) so I can't even imagine what they experienced in Port au Prince.  We had a team from the US in this week and we felt 4 tremors.  It has been reported there were at least 30.  At 3am Wednesday morning we were all awakened by the Pastor of the Haitian church telling us that a radio message had been broadcast that they were telling all people to evacuate all buildings because another large quake was feared at 3am. All we could do was stand outside and listen to the radio for updates.  Most of us eventually went back inside and went back to sleep until 7am but it was a rough start to a very rough day.  As the day progressed we got more and more information about the tragedy that was taking place in Port.  Thousands to hundreds of thousands were feared to be dead, thousands of people were buried in buildings and no one really knew what was going on...the stories just kept getting worse.  I'm sure I don't need to give you details because I'm sure you've seen the news.  You probably know more than I do but the pictures I have seen and the report I read made me sick to my stomach.  I'm trying to avoid the hype of the media and find what I know here in Haiti.  The truth is bad enough, I don't need someone to make it any worse than it already is.

Right now, where I'm at, there isn't much physical evidence of damage.  One two story house in town collapsed, and there may be some cracks in buildings weren't there before, but from what we know, no one died and the damage was nominal. 

The short term challenges are plenty.  Haitians are fearful and/or in grief as most have family in Port and most have been unable to reach them on the phone.  Everyone is afraid.  We have two main cell carriers in Haiti- one is completely out, Digicel, and one, Voila, is working if you calling someone who also has Voila.  Many, many people have Digicel so they haven't been able to be in touch and fear the worse.  How can you not- and they haven't even seen the pictures that we have seen.  I too have a friend in Port and I have no news of his condition so while I am trying not to think about it much, when I left myself go there, I too am fearing the worse.  Another challenge we are facing is a non functioning airport.  The team we have with us was scheduled to fly out tomorrow morning.  Currently unless you are bringing aid into the country, you aren't  coming in so no airlines can fly their planes in to get anyone out.  There are certain missionary organizations that may possibly be able to get in, but that's very much up in the air so we are working to see what we can do.  The American Embassy has begun evacuating Americans from Port au Prince so they may eventually become an option as well.  But for now we have no options and don't know exactly what to do.  In Port au Prince and the surrounding areas they are running out of food, water, and basic medical supplies but it sounds like Aid is slowly coming in.  A clinic in Christianville, about 45 minutes from Port was acting as a relief hospital.  They have run out of everything and have shut down.  They are now just surviving.

The long term effects are even more daunting.  As damaged is assessed, of course, the death toll will rise.  A city of 2 million people will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, once they can find the ground.  I am sure many people that I know have loved ones who will turn up dead.  Currently here in Cayes we have food, water, and basic supplies.  But we replenish those supplies from Port so as we run out of those things, we face shortages here as well.  There was already what looked like chaos at a local gas station as probably 40 motorcycles and several trucks (used as taxis) all crowded around the pump vying for a spot.  As people are transported from Port au Prince to other hospitals (some have already come to the hospital in Cayes), supplies and staff will run out as well.  Haiti will be in mourning for months.  People will eventually stop caring (as they did with Hurricane Katrina) and will move on to other things. At least that's my fear; well, one of them.  Only time will tell.

Personally, I am numb.  There are moments when I can't stop from crying and moments when I hear the stories and don't know where to start unraveling what I feel.   We sit here in Cayes with steak kabobs, a beautiful breeze, the internet and Diet Coke.  I'm struggling with that.  I feel guilty.  Guilty because for the moment, life is as it was. I feel guilty for feeling like I've lost something because in reality I have lost nothing, I have seen nothing, and I have felt nothing while there are those who have lost everything, those who are broken, and those who are dead. I feel guilty for being idle. While in reality, I am doing what I can.  I am taking care of the team we have here.  I am preparing for them as they extend their stay.  I am praying.  I am sending out messages and giving people names to pray for.    And I am ready.  But while the truth is I am doing what I can, I feel like there is something more I should do.  And yet, there is nothing more that I can do, for now.  Again, only time will tell.

No one ever imagines a tragedy of this nature is about to occur.  And no matter what you do to realign your thoughts when it does, it still isn't enough.  Sometimes in the midst of something like this, even God feels a little small.  But I know that the truth is, God is enough.  I just have to walk daily in His shadow, and wait quietly by his side.  And be ready when He calls me to action.  That's what I can do. 

And that's where I'm at.  Pray for me.   Pray for the people of Haiti. Pray for those who have lost everything and those who are suffering.   Pray for the government.  Pray for the other missionaries and humanitarians'.  Pray for the families of those who have died.  Pray for the President of Haiti, Renee Preval.  Pray that God would be gracious to us and heal us.  I'd appreciate it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

back in the tropics.

I’m confused because isn’t it supposed to be warm in the tropics?  Don’t get me wrong, its not frigid like it is in mush of the US right now, but its still chilly, especially at night time.  During the day it feels like fall.  In the sun it feels comfortable.  In the shade its very cool.  And its windy.  Very windy.

But I won’t complain because we’re not freezing. Its not snowing.  And we don’t have to go outside and cover up the plants. 

Ah, Haiti. 

I’m home.

I made it back in one piece, again, with all my luggage in tow.  My biggest suitcase now has a gimp in its stride though.  It was practically brand new.  But one of the wheel supports got cracked and the front right wheel is now logged slightly off its base.  Its doesn’t sit up on it’s on.  Its in sort of a vegetative state now.  I have to prop it against something.

But I won’t complain because I got my luggage.  Everything was inside. And it still rolls.

Ah, flying.

You are what you will always be.

I wasn’t quite ready to come home.  The three weeks were gone as quickly as the food on your plate at your favorite restaurant. I was kind of hoping that the plane would be delayed:  just by a day.  Maybe a flash blizzard would come through.  Or the runway would be iced over.  Something minor.  Where no one was hurt and nothing bad happened to any specific person.  I’d come in on Wednesday instead of Tuesday and I’d get this thing started. 

American Airlines has a sense of humor, you know.

My plane from Miami to Port au Prince was delayed but not by a day.

We had boarded up,  fastened our seat belts and prepared for takeoff.  And then we sat. for a while.  And then a message came over the intercom.  A passenger was experiencing a medical issue and would need to un-board.  I didn’t get the sense that it was a serious medical condition but it was enough to stop the flight.  The plane circled the runway, returned to the hanger and deposited the passenger.  And then we waited.   And then another announcement came on that told us that the luggage from any travelers removed from the flight had to be removed, TSA said so.  So we waited while they unloaded the luggage, located the corresponding luggage, and repacked the plane.   And then we waited.  And then a message told us that now the plane needed to be reweighed and reapproved for take off. So we waited. Again. 

An hour after our scheduled take off time, we left.  There was a small child on the plane, probably about 5, who had most likely never flown before.  Or maybe he just really liked flying.  Right after take off, he exclaimed with bright eyes and opened jaw, “MOMMY W'E’RE FLYING!”

Or maybe he just said what the rest of us were thinking.

I met my driver  (one of the RMI staff) in Port, stopped for a quick bite to eat and headed to Cayes.  I was home just before six.

And the busyness began.

Sunday, January 3, 2010