Our first trip back to Haiti since the quake January 29 – February 6th was very productive. The first 2 days, as my mom spent time encouraging local children and refugees I helped a team of American doctors and nurses at General Hospital in Port Au Prince. I translated for doctor Billy Alexander who was part of a group of doctors from Louisiana. With my Creole not as strong as some of the other translators, I was thankful to also be utilized in helping carry patients to and from X-Ray and the pre and post-op tents we were working in on the hospital lawn. The death and destruction is indescribable, but the resilience, strength and spiritual condition of many Haitians was very encouraging. As one woman put it, “God did this!” “Many opposing Him were killed, and thanks to His grace WE were spared!.” What an encouragement to hear such a proper perspective given the despair surrounding her! A Haitian man was quick to point out “the churches are full in Haiti today”.
Most families are living outside or in homemade tents. With the rainy season soon to begin, Haitian President Preval appointed Friday (Feb. 12) as a day of rest. Immediately, local church leaders added their voice for a three-day fast of prayer and repentance to seek God’s mercy on Haiti. Many gathered in churches and in places throughout the city and country. It is a clear sign that the Lord has gotten Haiti’s attention, and people are hearing and responding.
We stayed with Charles Amicy, who is a dear friend of our family. He heads up, lives and works within the Presbyterian Mission in Haiti. Many lives were saved in the moments after the quake on this property and many continue to find strength and encouragement in the Lord and His people there. What a joy it was to wake up at 4:30 am to hymn singing and prayers being lifted up by the many refugees that are now housed in red cross tents on the property.
As one woman put it, “God did this!” “Many opposing Him were killed, and thanks to His grace WE were spared!.”
We were able to take medical supplies donated by my dermatologist here in Rogers, AR. Included meds were cephalexin, amoxicillin, antibiotic ointment and bandages. The antibiotics are helping treat many that today continue to fight infection in Port au Prince, while the antibiotic ointment and bandages are being used within our 4 schools on the island of LaGonave.
When we reached the island, we learned that loss of life to those living on the island was around 1,500. Structural damage was bad but not as severe as Port au Prince. The deaths were those who lived on the island but worked or went to university in Port au Prince and were caught near the epicenter of the quake when it hit. The primary concern at this point is the supply/demand challenges we see taking shape. Increased prices are forcing many families to eat even less or not eat at all which as you can imagine fuels an already serious situation with malnutrition.
My company has been gracious enough to support my absence from work to make the multiple trips needed this year to help with relief. My next trip is scheduled for March 5th through March 13th. During this trip, myself along with pastor, Chris Miller and Greg Billingsley will be conducting the 2nd food distribution to the schools since the quake. The first was conducted the week after the quake with funding provided by Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Orland Park, IL.
Our prayer is that we can continue to conduct periodic “supplemental” food distributions for the short term as prices and supply remain an issue. Long term we hope to eventually incorporate a consistent nutritional lunch program as God provides clarity of vision and means to do so. The combined headcount in the 4 schools is now over 300 students. The cost for each food distribution averages $3,500. This amount covers rice and beans and feeds a family of 6 around 7 meals.
Matthew 11:28-30, says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Amen.