On the ground in Haiti- Impressions, Day 1

20 Jan

A chilly morning greeted us in Ft. Pierce as we left our hotel after a brief sleep and headed to the Missionary Flights, Int’l.(MFI) terminal. Missionaries, work teams and others lined up outside to wait for their names to be called for the today’s passenger list heading to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Two DC-3s that MFI regularly runs through the Caribbean are not nearly enough to bring the ministries and supplies trying to reach Haiti with help. Hendrick Motorsports has lent two Saab turboprops with a seating capacity of 34 people to make daily runs to Port-au-Prince ( PaP), along with full crews. We were blessed to be on the first flight out and to find clear weather. A two hour flight took us to Provo, Turks and Caicos for a fuel stop then another 45 minutes brought us into Port-au-Prince. Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) maintains a hanger and three planes for Haiti missions work at the PaP airport. Their tarmac allocation is being used by many missions groups to stage supplies and the fact that the MFI planes can move off the very limited commercial space has opened the door for regular flights where others are not being allowed.

As we began our descent, we began to see the panoramic evidence of last week’s earthquake. Buildings looked as if a giant had stepped on them and crushed them into dust. This was just a hint of what we would experience. At the airfield there is somewhat organized chaos with many groups staging supplies, setting up tent cities and official vehicles moving through the maze. We were picked up by a ministry in the Carrefour area that has been running a makeshift clinic in a church for several days. They had run completely out of supplies today as they treated hundreds of open wounds and crush injuries. Our first stop was to pick up a Haitian who works for the UN that could direct us to their distant storage warehouse under guard by UN peacekeepers in armored vehicles. The first response to the desperate request for supplies was a short statement that we needed to fill out some forms, email them and wait for a response. However, they did provide a listing of what they had, so Brian chose what he expected would be needed, in the correct quantities, and Mark took it back and found a different person who said, “We can do this right now.” God opens doors, even with those who don’t know Him! The next two hours was spent climbing in and around their huge space that was significantly damaged during the earthquake. We were able to gather enough supplies for the next few days. Many hundreds of patients may be seen in the next few days with huge health needs.

God sighting: the supplies ran out at the end of today, and tonight we showed up with all that is needed.

The time spent at the UN was critical, but it put us on the road after dark. On our ride to the ministry center in Carrefour we saw more of the tragedy that has impacted many. People lined the sidewalks guarding their few possessions. In some areas, rubble has been placed so as to cut the two lane road down to one lane so that people can sleep in the street. On a wide boulevard, the center median has become a line of huts, constructed of blankets and sticks. People wander in the streets and it is clear that fear drives them still. There is no electrical power except for the few solar-powered street lights and the occasional building with a small generator. Candles and oil lamps provide the only light that shows families sitting around small tables in the street, or glimpses inside the tent like shelters.

We arrived at the home of a local missionary who has a church with the makeshift clinic nearby. Fifty Haitian church members sleep inside the walls around the house, some on an old school bus, some in tents, and others on blankets. Yet there is joy in this place, as we watched them gather around in a circle and begin to sing praise songs and chants. This is no shallow religion, practiced halfheartedly. These believers are truly worthy of the name. In the midst of incredible pain and crisis, with lost homes and lost loved ones, the praises and joy are real, because they know the living Savior.

Even now as I write this, it is beginning to rain. Inside the house, the tile floor is being cleared to bring in those who have no overhead shelter. Yet there is smiling, laughing and joy as people gladly give up privacy and quiet to share with others who need it.

It has been a long day, and tomorrow promises to be even more intense. What a privilege it is to wear oneself out (for a short time at least) demonstrating the love of Christ.

One Response to “On the ground in Haiti- Impressions, Day 1”

  1. Barton January 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Brian, my thoughts and prayers are with you, your team, and the people of Haiti. Please be careful and let me know how I can help. I am strong like bull!

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