Archive | January, 2010

On the ground in Haiti-Day3

22 Jan

Opened Doors

We began our day with prayer, “God, open doors and give us favor in the eyes of the people we need to meet.” Our first stop was the UN medical supply warehouse where now we are greeted with smiles by the workers who are trying so hard to get supplies out to where they are needed. We seek to minister to the people we see serving, asking how they’re doing, praying with them. One pharmacist who was pulling our items is named Michele. His face shows how tired he is, working without breaks with no end in sight. He told that all he sees is people coming and asking for supplies, and it gets frustrating for him. But I was able to share with him about the hundreds of patients that were treated yesterday because he stayed late to help us on Tuesday. Photos provided a visual so that the whole group there could see a purpose and be encouraged. This was the first of many times today that God gave us favor in the eyes of the people we needed to contact.

As I was inside the warehouse compound, Mark saw a group of Army soldiers setting up camp and creating a helicopter landing zone outside the walls. By the time I had the truck loaded with our supplies, we had made new friends who then escorted us into the secure airport compound right to their battalion colonel. We were greeted with great friendliness and willingness to help. After hearing about the needs for medical supplies in Cap Haitian, the colonel offered to help us get them there…by military helicopter. He then gave us a captain to help us get into UN headquarters and make the connections needed to make it all happen. Short story, it got temporarily mired in red tape, but we made it up pretty far in the chain and we’re praying we can get it soon. The hospital in the Milot area of Cap Haitian is now going to set up a field hospital on the property of our church partners there, so the need is critical. The hospital is overflowing and we need to get supplies there. It is hard to express our incredulity at the contrast between all the resources and people at the airport base (which has now turned into literally, a small city) and the desperate need wherever we go in the PaP area. But God made these connections for us, and we were able to obtain many more contacts that may help us get resources to the people who need them. Before we left, the colonel ordered our van filled with water and MREs so it could get out and start making a difference.

Next stop was Cassier and Leogone, two towns that were at the epicenter of the first earthquake (there have been two more since then over 6.0 magnitude). If PaP is desperate(and it is), then these towns are desolate. No one knows they are there, and the destruction is incredible. We saw several four story schools that were pancaked to a height of eight feet. Although I’ve said it before, decay overwhelms all other smells. We met up with Pastor Miliel who told us his story here at the house compound last evening. The school of 400 kids is gone, though he doesn’t know how many may have been there. All the homes, including his own, are crushed. As we stood on top of his church that is mostly rubble, he couldn’t take it all in; the destruction, all that his congregation has worked for, with no idea what tomorrow will bring. Forget next year, next month or even next week. The thought of tomorrow brings people to a standstill. Over one hundred people are sleeping on the church lawn (actually dirt). The only water source is a well that provides two inches of water in a bucket for each dip. We unloaded the MREs and water and placed them in the only part of the church still standing and is still secure. Pastor Miliel and his leaders now have a means to minister to the community. It was such fun to watch as our local guide and driver demonstrated how to heat an MRE with the included heat packs. People had never seen anything like that before and they laughed to see steam coming from a plastic pack with no heat source.

Darkness approached, but we had another God appointment. Driving through Cassier, we found the mayor who controls the police and government land. We learned that there has been no medical care for the injured and that there are many open wounds and broken bones . We will return in the morning to assess current needs. We intend to bring plastic sheeting from Samaritan’s Purse to protect the thousands sleeping outside. We will also look at a house that we may be able to rent as a base of operations for these two towns that have great needs. Pray that we continue to find favor with contacts and impact lives for the Kingdom.

On the ground in Haiti- Day 2 1/20/10

21 Jan

The day began with a bang…actually a shake, which we learned later was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. The psychological impact on this people cannot be overestimated. Streets are crammed with households that will wait a long time before entering a structure again. We are living in a house that withstood the first earthquake with little to no damage. Yet even with that assurance, many in the house and compound (70 of us?) went running when the ground shook this morning. Amazingly and gloriously, voices began singing praise songs soon after the early morning quake. We heard many stories today of people who are turning to Christ in the midst of this. To quote my friend Mark Lewis, Director of EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis Response, “a mission field opens in the wake of every crisis.”

The supplies God provided in His perfect time were like a glass of cold water offered in the desert. Patients lined up long before we arrived and waited patiently as we organized a pharmacy and medical supply area. These supplies were sorely needed today as patients continued to arrive with devastating wounds that have gone too long without care. The clinical picture for many is not good and we saw tragedy that would never happen in a normal setting. Yet even in the midst of this, God is here and we know that He loves each of these people.

Walking along the streets gives an up-close picture of what daily life has become for the displaced. People have become very creative in making places to sleep, do laundry, and cook meals. Crushed houses, buildings and cars are everywhere. Some still stand, but each night when an aftershock hits people jump and run. No one will enter a house or building that was damaged. We regularly walk by one school where sixty children still lie crushed beneath the rubble. The pungent smell of decay and open sewage permeates this poor area.

God went before us as we met our partners from Cap Haitian who came with stories of surgeries postponed due to no anesthesia, fluids or gloves. We were able to return to the UN warehouse and were greeted with big smiles from people who helped us late yesterday. God must have blinded their eyes because we aren’t exactly neat and clean or professionally attired. Yet they went out of their way to provide basic supplies for our team and promised to have the remainder Thursday morning. We continued to rely on God to open doors and we were able to drive right into the guarded airport compound where numerous relief and government organizations are based. We visited a number of them and are using those contacts to build a network of partners who can help with specific needs we cannot. Samaritan’s Purse was one such organization, and they were excited about working with us to set up a water treatment plant here in the Carrefour area of Port-au-Prince.

This morning we return to the UN warehouse for more clinical supplies to keep the clinic stocked and operational. We ask for prayer as we seek for God-ordained opportunities to meet and partner with other organizations in this stricken community.

It is hard to express what is necessary for this relief effort. So much is needed, and we are asking our Lord for willing workers, both lay and church leaders and for the Spirit to speak to the hearts of His people and use them mightily. The harvest is ripe, people are open to the Gospel. Workers for the harvest will find their work is fulfilling and fruitful.

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.

Carrefour Port-au-Prince

20 Jan

We brought new life the clinic this morning with all the supplies we snagged late yesterday.  They are thrilled they can now do surgical procedures with local anesthetics.  People are mobbing me, showing me their wounds as I walk down the street.  Kids, adults, no one was spared.  Open wounds, crush injuries, and of course, mass infection from poor or no treatment for over a week.  It’s a sad fact that more will die from lack of care.  How do you treat open fractures when you can’t operate and there is nowhere to put them for recovery? 

Good Morning- On the ground in Haiti-Day 2

20 Jan

Brian emailed me this earlier today, “We had an exciting aftershock at 6 AM this morning.Better than an alarm clock!” According to a nurse working in one of the hospitals in PAP( reported by CNN),” Patients at a hospital near Haiti’s airport in Port-au-Prince immediately started praying as the ground shook like a ship rocking back and forth. They asked for forgiveness and protection.” Pray for the Haitians who survived the earthquake as additional aftershocks incite emotional distress and terror.

On the ground in Haiti-Day 1

20 Jan

Brian arrived in PAP earlier today and one of our friends from Costa Rica captured this picture as he stood on the tarmac! We spoke briefly by satellite phone, and he assured me that he and the team will have safe lodging tonight. He found some doctors who were treating patients with crush injuries who had no supplies, and several hours later, perused a long list of medications, filled out some requisitions  and returned to those doctors with antibiotics and other medications. Pray for other opportunities such as these as he, Mark, and the rest of the team assess the needs of the people of Haiti.

Relief in Action

19 Jan

Teams are on the ground and in the air headed to Haiti today and tomorrow. This will be a long-term effort coordinated with much thought and prayer. Consider how you may be involved. Give, Pray, GO? Yes, there are opportunities to do all these things, but with a willing heart and a U.S. Passport you may be part of God’s amazingly designed response to this situation. Leave a comment here and you will be immediately connected with those formulating the response.

More later, the inbox is filling and the phone is ringing!

Orphans from Haiti

19 Jan

Just drove in to Ft. Pierce tonight for an early flight out tomorrow. 26 kids just arrived tonight, released to their adoptive families, some of which have been waiting for years. There are some bright spots in the midst of incredible tragedy. This family was smiling from ear to ear to finally have their family whole.
We’re catching a flight out on one of the planes that Hendrick Motor Sports has lent, along with the flight crews, for this crisis.

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Haiti update #3 – First assessment team on their way

18 Jan

Our first team is off to Cap Haitian to assess where we will set up a base and to prepare for our first medical team arriving on Wednesday.  Three of us go directly to Port-au-Prince tomorrow morning.

Haiti update #2

18 Jan

We are sending three people and basic supplies to Cap Haitian in the morning to assess the situation there and Pignon for a medical team arriving Wednesday.  Mark and I fly to Port au Prince early Tuesday morning.
Pray for safety, good connections, and wisdom.