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.