Archive | January, 2010

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.

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?