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,


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