Archive | January, 2010

Back home in Costa Rica

29 Jan

I just arrived back home in Costa Rica and am excited to be able to enjoy the family for a while.  Steve Spellman has come into Haiti for two weeks at which time I will rotate him out and have others take his place. Steve is now blogging from Haiti and I’ll post that link here tomorrow.

The situation is still very dynamic, yet God has provided some new opportunities for a longer term strategy.  Our priority for now is while continuing to help with immediate needs we will set up two locations to host teams that will address the longer term needs.  We are praying expectantly for God to open doors for this long-term ministry. 

Quick video from a few days ago – couldn’t upload from Haiti

27 Jan

Monday in Haiti

27 Jan

Instead of writing my own, I’m going to post what my teammate wrote about his experience on Monday.  Kevin was up in Cap Haitian and came back with us to Port-au-Prince on Monday.  This is his perspective coming into the world in which we’ve lived this week.

As I went to bed at 11:30 quite spent, I laid down on the only available cushioned thing left, a white pleather sofa in the living room, just inside the front door. We had a long, hard day of travel from Milot to Port au Prince over rocks, potholes and ditches, through mudholes, streams  and craters, all of which would make a great moto- cross track, but somehow in haitien terms was qualified as a road. I had left Milot, in the northern part of haiti, 12hours before with Jim, Brian and our hatien companion Charles, southbound for the devastated city.

Jim and Brian had come to visit with the team,  meet pastor Henoc and pick me up for our flight out the next morning. Charles, an off-duty member of the Haitian police force, had accompanied them for the purpose of translation, protection and originally driving. It was not too long after they left port that he was relgated to just providing directions and riding shot gun after Jim could no longer fully extend his fingers from holding on so tight to the overhead handles on the tired old nissian Xterra they had rented at the airport. Haiti must be where rental cars go to meet their ultimate demise.

On the return trip I volunteered to drive. I chose to take a different route since just days before, Henoc had taken Omar, Greg and I to see Brian Jim and Mark in Port au Prince where we also aquired some much needed medical supplies for the hospital we were working with in Milot.

I intended that this trip to be more pleasurable than the previous one with Henoc. On that one, the company was great and the scenery was beautiful, but the speeds at which we traveled over the rough terrian made our teeth rattle, our butts numb and our vision blur. Omar was already dealing with some back pain before the trip, and by the end of it was wishing for a chiropractor and some pain killer. The suspension bottomed out numerous times and we had 2 flat tires due to the abuse heaped upon them by the driver.  I was not interested in a repeat.

I tried to make the trip as comfortable as possible, while still keeping the pace fast enough so we would not reach p au p too late in the evening.  Being out late, in the dark, in a city filled with desperate, hungry people, was not my idea of a good time. But we did have Charles.  I had seen his bullet proof vest earlier in the trip, but his 9mm had remained concealed.

God had used Charles a few days before when Mark, Brian, Jim and Aaron, our partner from another minstry, had a flat tire on this same suv while delivering a full load of supplies, food and Meds well after dark. The car had to be completely unloaded on the street, the tire retreived from inside the vehicle, and jacked up in the dark in order to change the tire. All this while desperate people looked on, pressed in, trying to obtIan what they had already promised to others.

Just when the situation started to deteriorate, the other ministry’s van pulled up behind the group. Charles jumped out, cocked his pistol and the crowd instantly dispersed like demons from the presence of Jesus.

As we neared port, the road, having recent work completed  after years of neglect, became markedly better and even freshly asphalted for the last seveal miles into the city.

I turned over the wheel to Charles happy thy it was he who would negotiate us through the grid locked traffic, debris strewn streets, and next to impassable, neglected avenue.

We arrived at our “house” a compound used by our new partner Shepherds house Ministries, that house thier staff and freinds, displaced orphans, a medical team from Signapore our staff and temporary p au p office, as well as anyone else they know who needs a “safe” place to spend the night.

We had supper, met together in a small bedroom for the first time as an entire team since leaving Florida. We stratigized and planned for several hours, after which we all turned in for the night. Since I was the “new” guy, of course I ended up on couch.

As I pulled the sheet over my head to keep the mosquitos from buzzing in my, ears I thought of those outside the door in the courtyard, a big concreted area inside the compound walls who were too afraid to sleep inside. Many were sleeping in the bus, the cars or the tents that were set up out there. I said a prayer for them, for protection, and shortly after the generator was shut down, and it wasn’t long before I had fallen asleep.

Early in the morning darkness while I was in a deep sleep, the  plates under the city scraped together once again, creating seismic activity which was enough to jolt me off the couch and toward the door. In a split second I was scrambling for the door, slipping on the tile because of my socks. So much so that I whacked my knee on the floor, and left my sheet in a trail behind me.

  I groped for the doorknob on both sides of the door- ripped it open and ran out stocking footed into the courtyard. I heard panting behind me and turned around to see Mark Lewis behind me with his hands on his knees bent over breathing like he’d just finished the 100 meter hurdles in record time… which he had.

   As I felt the surge of adrenaline start to subside, I found myself huffing as well. I looked around the courtyard and noticed not too many people stirring, although gasps and murmurings could be heard. No one else came out of the house behind us, though everyone was up.

Gee, I thought, that must have been a small one!! If that was a small one, what do big ones feel like???  If you’ve ever experienced the cabin of an airplane shaking because of extreme turbulence, felt the plane shaking up and down,and side to side in a non rythmic way, that was the best way to describe it. The sound was also very similar.

I walked back inside, and picked up my sheet, and sat down on the couch. I looked at my phone, saw that it was 5:01 and took a deep breath. Since we wanted to leave for the airport at 6:30, I decided to take a shower.

Once in the bathroom, I turned on the faucet, waited for the water and realized that I wouldn’t be getting a shower this morning.

So I’m flying home now for a few days of downtime with my family and post- crisis stress debriefing, a little shaken up and a whole lot stinky. Saturday I’ll be heading back again with a better understanding of why people are afraid to sleep in their houses.

Shaking things up for Jesus,


Sunday,January 24, 2010

26 Jan

The first order of business today was to get the promised food and water to the orphans we discovered in Carrefour yesterday. We must find a longer term solution that will keep them from depending on others in the community who are scrounging daily for necessities. One important need that will be faced in upcoming months by Haitians will be how to gain access to food and water that is not logistically wasting resources.

God opened doors for healthcare as well. The medical teams spent the morning examining the remaining children there. All but two had no serious problems, and the team was able to take care of them. We were thrilled that as reported yesterday, another organization was able deliver those 400 diapers and 10 cases of food supplement powder. There is a local Haitian now working with the orphanage’s director as they seek a longer term shelter and disposition solution for the children now that immediate situation is stabilized.

Two of us stayed in PaP and two drove to Cap Haitian to meet the team there. The military has been flying 60-80 patients per day to a hospital there. It has been overwhelmed with patient volume and needs. Our partner opened up the church grounds to receive patients who are pre-discharge. Tents and tarps were set up for them and as they are able, they will move to their next destination. The challenge where to send them? Most of the patients have no idea that PaP incurred such incredible destruction. They want to return home; but because they were unburied from rubble, transported to various places and eventually to Cap for surgery, they really have no concept of the situation there. Going home to PaP is simply not an option. Finding family living outside PaP will be the first solution but getting them to those family members who can help with daily needs as they face physical and emotional rehabilitation will require planning and effort.

Another substantial long-term challenge is fear. We took a PaP native up with us to Cap Hatian. Even though there was no earthquake in Cap Haitian, he simply couldn’t sleep inside the house. He’d go in to eat, seated near a doorway, but he has been so impacted by the destruction in PaP that it is unconceivable that he could sleep inside a concrete structure again. And this is a Haitian policeman, used to difficult situations and certainly not a fearful person by nature. Part of our focus will be training Haitians to be crisis counselors. There will be many emotional and physical problems that follow a crisis of this magnitude and, in training Haitians, the more we are multiplying ourselves.

Photos from Cap Haitian

26 Jan

Brian and Mark spend time snuggling some orphans…

24 Jan
A dad’s a dad in any language….Brian and Mark went searching for an orphanage in Carrefour yesterday that was in need of provisions (food, milk, diapers, etc) and found an opportunity to snuggle and play with these little ones! They found a group that recognized the neon green EFCA Touchglobal shirts, who offered 400 diapers and some nutritional supplement powder that will be delivered today! Continue to pray for appointments such as these and for the people of Haiti!

What day is today? On the ground in Haiti 1/23/10

24 Jan

All the days begin with a bit of confusion as to what actual day it is. Not that it matters, as life isn’t much different from one day to the next when in a crisis situation. Today began with an exploration for an orphanage that we had been told was not getting any help. We found it near Carrefour. What was a four story building with what appears to have been over 130 orphans, is now ten feet of rubble. Fifty- six children survived but some caregivers and the nurse did not. The neighborhood has joined in to help and the children are in a courtyard during the day then sleep on the street at night. The street is blocked and adults guard either end. There are tarps strung over the street for protection. Immediate needs are food, clean water and diapers. It is difficult to describe the feelings we experienced when we were with the orphans. They surrounded us, wanting to be held or simply just wanting to hold our hands. The adults said a number of aid organizations have come by, but have not returned.

Our next stop was at the UN medical warehouse where we have found a bit more bureaucracy but still open doors. We placed our order for the next day and, as we walked out the gate, some guys came up to us and said, “We recognize those shirts, we were in Galveston with you, you’re good people to work with.” As I write this, I have just received an email from them. They have 400 diapers and ten cases of food supplement powder that they will give us tomorrow for the orphans. This is a small snapshot of how God has brought us to the right people at the right time. Such provision continues to occur daily.

This afternoon we welcomed an incoming RG staff member who will be here for two weeks, helping organize short-term relief teams. Before we left the airport we went searching for food and water for the orphans in Carrefour. God brought us to the Navy who loaded us up with MREs and the Army who gave us water. They all gathered around as I showed them photos of what we found today at the orphanage. One sailor gave us a stuffed Balou bear to give to a child when we take the supplies to them tomorrow morning.

Even a flat tire has God written all over it. It is highly recommended that no one ventures out driving after dark. We have not been back at the compound before dark any day we’ve been here, yet we have had no problems. We heard that the U.S. media is reporting that crime is a real issue. God must be posting many angels around us. Tonight our tire went flat and we had to pull to the side of the road. Our truck was so full of supplies that we were scrunched up like sardines in a sealed tin. Of course, getting the spare required emptying the back first, in the dark on the street. But as we stopped and looked at each other, a van with our ministry pulled up and out came three of our friends, one of them a Haitian police officer carrying a gun. He stepped out of the van, pulled out his pistol and chambered a round. The gathering crowd disappeared. With the tire replaced, we returned to the compound where we are staying, and settled in for the night.

Stress: Crisis response can be divided into phases. Initially, the stress of seeing incredible destruction day after day and human suffering can all have a strong impact on a person. For our emergency professionals out there, yes, we are arranging debriefing for when we return. Our bodies can rebel. Two of us are suffering from gastric problems at the moment. But Imodium and Cipro are right at hand and it was clear that God sustained us today when in other times we would have stayed in bed. We are tired, but we are sustained. Raw photos can be found at I have not had time to clean them up or organize the albums, so look for albums listed as dates and you will find many pictures illustrating the narrative you have been reading.

We are very grateful for the sustaining prayers of so many. And for the encouraging notes that you send by email,Facebook or other means. We realize that crisis carries an emotional impact that catches people’s attention for a short time. So we ask that you continue to pray for this situation and the Haitian people long after the media moves on to the next breaking news event.


Life in Haiti, Cooking, Laundry, and Living

23 Jan

Pray for Brian and the team…

23 Jan

I just spoke to my wonderful husband, and my heart is heavy. He spent the night ill, and, in my clinical mind, I can think of possible causes, and pray the bug is the most logical, straightforward, and least harmful. I also know that he is able to diagnose and treat himself, yet will most likely be out working even though the team has been working well into the night for days…

Pray for strength, new supplies of drinking water, restored health, and continued open doors.
If anything, this shows me that the continued fervent prayer lifted by the spiritual contingent around the world, and my own household and countless friends, indeed availeth much.

On the ground in Haiti- Day 4 1/22/10

23 Jan

One knows it is coming, one knows that long days will eventually catch up with the mind and body, and that the destruction will all begin to look the same. Today was that day. And today God continued to sustain us. The morning began with two significant tremors that had folks zipping out the door. Smaller aftershocks continued throughout the day. We have set this evening to be a strategic rest night, meaning we’ll go to bed before midnight, unlike previous evenings.

We returned to Gressier to do an assessment of needs and potential partners. While there, we looked at a house that may be a location for teams and our team hosts who will provide continuity for the ministry. There we found many crushed homes, the survivors living outside in whatever they could scrounge. Clean water has become a real issue. The few community wells are not being used by the people because of the proximity to places where the dead still lie underneath the rubble. But we also found a group providing clinic care. They located at the town clinic building which is in good shape, but noone will go inside due to the frequent aftershocks.

To this point we hadn’t found that strategic place, work and partner that we felt God would provide. But He wasn’t done with us today. We found ourselves at a place named Christianville where all but one of the buildings are seriously damaged. This group has been feeding 2,500 people each day and were running out of food. They have wonderful ministries established and seem to be folks who want to partner in ministry. We were able to take them to our Army friends and get two pallets of MREs and water for them to use to feed people in the community. God opened the floodgates and used the relationships he provided us over the past two days to be able to ensure that 2,500 are now being fed. On the same trip we were also able to obtain 330 gallons of diesel fuel (a commodity that is in extremely short supply) here in Haiti. Each day there is new evidence that God is directing our steps. Mark and I are thrilled that now we can move ahead with a strategic approach to using holistic ministries to multiply healthy churches here in Haiti.

This won’t be a long update, not because the day wasn’t full, nor because the tragedy is lessening. The clinic in PaP is still seeing hundreds of people, the hospital in Milot near Cap Haitian is still overflowing, and the need for workers still grows.

Continue to pray for the people of Haiti, the opportunity for the Christian community to show the love of Christ, and for ongoing connections that will make the efforts even more effective.