Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti Quake Relief Slideshow

Please visit THIS video link to see the Haiti slideshow I made. May these beautiful faces touch your heart in ways you cannot understand.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's all in the numbers... so read on!

I'm whooped and still have much to do, so I'll make this post short, but very sweet!
Here's what Heart to Heart is doing in Haiti... read and be amazed!

5,000 patients
3 million US Dollars
98% direct use

Our teams of physicians and nurses started arriving in Port au Prince Haiti last Monday, January 18. In just over one week, they have seen over 5,000 patients! FIVE THOUSAND!!! Yes folks, our one organization alone has done some serious work. They have seen a myriad of orthopedic injuries, wounds, and illnesses that we rarely see in the States. As a nurse, I will probably never have a patient in my entire career who suffers and dies from tetanus. But I'm so sorry to say that tetanus is killing a large amount of people in Haiti. This one illness alone shows the little access to vaccines that many other countries have. Amputations continue by the masses, every day. It is estimated that 1/3 of the earthquake-affected population in Haiti will be amputees by the time this is all said and done. Is your heart breaking? Mine is! The medical situation is dire.

In addition to all the patients our volunteers have seen, Heart to Heart has delivered over $3,000,000 in medical supplies and medications to Haiti over the past week. Three million US Dollars!!! Praise God!

Though our medical teams are staying at a secure compound outside of PAP, secure remains a relative term. More earthquakes and aftershocks have caused them to stay in tents outside on many nights. And gunfire can be heard all throughout the night... we trust in our God to protect them from harm. Keep praying!!!

Our teams are dividing and conquering. One team goes out to the national stadium in PAP each day to see patients. Another team has stayed in the devastated city of Leogane to provide much needed care there. And yet more teams are traveling elsewhere. The impact that Heart to Heart is making is widespread and huge. It is through financial donations that we can continue to do this work. Would you consider contributing to Heart to Heart (HHI)? Here are more numbers: 98% of the financial donations made to HHI go straight to the people. No other NGO can boast this at all. Most of them spend 12-15% of donations on overhead/administrative costs. HHI only uses 2%!!! And for every $1 donated, HHI is able to leverage $20 of in-kind donations, namely medications and medical supplies.

5,000 patients
3 million US Dollars
98% direct use

It's all in the numbers. Who will you choose to give your money to?


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

Sorry for leaving you hanging the past two days.. so many of you check in daily to see what we're doing, and I greatly appreciate that. All of your prayers have been felt immensely among our team members. Thank you!

On Friday morning, John and I woke up to take a 3:00 am trip into Haiti. Just to remind you, we have been staying in the DR doing logistics and operations, working on clearing airlifts/shipments through customs and coordinating the arrival and departure of our medical volunteers. It has been crazy! Anyway, we woke up bright and early to make our long drive into the devastated city of Port au Prince. In reality, it should only take about 4 1/2 hours to make it all the way to the compound our team is staying at, but it took nearly twice the amount of time because of all the traffic in PAP. In order to get to Petionville, we had to enter the very outskirts of PAP. Mass destruction was not everywhere on the city border, but I stood amazed at the sight of buildings which had completely crumbled. There was an entire hotel and resort that was nothing but piles of rubble. One would never think by looking at it that the concrete was ever a cluster of buildings. I don't even want to begin to imagine how many people lost their lives in that one resort alone.

I love to watch people in public. In fact, my husband often has to nudge me because I could [discreetly] stare at a person for minutes on end, analyzing their choice of clothing, facial expressions, body movements, etc. I think I like the challenge of figuring out who they are, what their social class is, if they are happy or depressed, and so on. So this drive in PAP was very interesting for me. I would say that the general facial expression of people was one of blankness (is that even a word?). People were everywhere, I mean everywhere, along the streets, just walking as if they had a sure destination. At one point in the journey, our eyes were immediately drawn to a man walking with the flow of traffic, completely naked! Did he lose his clothes in the disaster? Is he mentally altered? I always try to catch a glimpse of a person's face. Looking into their eyes and watching their moldable face tells me so much about them. Funny enough, we never got to see this man's face. He was walking just to our right, but since traffic was so bad, his pace was faster than our drive. At times we would inch up, as if to get close enough to pass, but alas our car would come to a halt and the man would continue on. This continued for a good 10-15 minutes, and then he disappeared. Oh I wish I could have seen his face. And then we saw children... We saw so many beautiful children, playing as they should- laughing, dancing, skipping. Poverty stricken, hungry, shelterless children- yet unphased by the past week's events. Oh to be like a child again!

Once we actually arrived to the city limits of PAP, it took probably 3 hours to make a drive that should have taken about 10 minutes. I'm not sure why, but it didn't even cross my mind to bring food or water for the trip. So as we drove, my stomach gently reminded me of its need for food. As the minutes slowly passed, I could feel my blood sugar dropping, a headache coming on, and general malaise. This made me quite upset I must say. Not upset because I felt ill, but upset because I wondered why I would try to find food to fill my stomach when the people around me had not even eaten for days. God is so good to me. He always provides for my every need. Why are these people, then, going without the food they need? It is gut-wrenching.

When we arrived at the compound, Gary quickly pulled John aside and asked him to stay behind to help with the much-needed work to be done. I was extremely reticent to leave him in that dangerous country, but when I looked into his eyes and asked him if he wanted to stay, John immediately said "I'm here to help." How could I make him return to Santo Domingo with me when he was there to do the work of our Father? Being hurried by those who needed to leave PAP for SD, I gave him a quick kiss and ran off to the van. My heart began to ache instantly. I think that was the worst goodbye I've had with John. Because of the traffic in town, our driver decided to take a back way... not a good idea in Haiti! For reasons beyond my understanding, the van driver stopped the vehicle, and Jorge hired a Haitian on the spot to get in our van and navigate through the dirt roads. He started leading us down a hill and across a rocky river where people were washing clothes, etc. As I suspected, our van got stuck in the rocks, and my heart sank into my belly. Haitian men started coming out from nowhere, and I was sure this was a ploy to trap us, kill us, and take everything we owned. That might sound crazy to those of you reading this, but believe me, this is happening in Haiti right now. When foreigners take the back way, Haitians set up road blocks, do horrible things to them, and take everything they own. This is a big reason the country is so dangerous. I have to say I was completely freaking out. I think I must have had the most scared look on my face. I just knew this would contribute to my demise. Prayers flowed like rapid waters from my mouth and heart, and the LORD protected us! The Haitian men worked together to get our van out of the river, and they didn't lift a finger to harm us. Seriously, folks, this was a miracle! Once we were on our way again, I completely lost it. My sunglasses hid the tears I was crying, and it took all power in me not to sob out loud. It was as if my life was flashing before my eyes. Everything went downhill from there.

John is headed back to SD today, and I am fervently praying that he'll arrive here safely. I can't make it without him! I would continue on, but I just received an update from Gary Morsch, Heart to Heart's founder and the team leader in Haiti right now. Please read what he has to say.

Happy Sunday Morning Fam!
It's a beautiful Sunday morning in Port-au-Prince, about 70 degrees, with the sun shining. If you closed your eyes, you'd think you were in paradise (or Hawaii, Vick!).
Our teams are doing great. We've got two teams of 6 docs/nurses each out west of PaP, working around the epicenter, and in smaller areas that haven't received help. The stories they are telling are unbelievable. I think I have enough to write another book. Dean and I are already talking about it. We've got more volunteers coming, and some are heading home, so we're starting to get into our battle rythym. Our headquarters are in Nazarene Seminary at the Volunteer house (Work and Witness team house). Some sleep in tents, and some inside. We have a Haitian cook that fixes rice porridge for breakfast, and something good for dinner. We have hot water when the generator is on, which is about 5-9 PM. And we have internet! So we're enjoying our 5-star hotel!
We've had two shipments come in already, and more on the way. About 30 pallets of aid arrived on Thursday by truck from the Domincan Republic, and those have already been used up. We were about out of supplies, when our first FedEx airlift arrived with 40 more pallets of meds, food, water, and Care Kits (hygeine kits). We moved them from the airport to the seminary compound last night, and have already distributed about half the load. Our next airlift comes in on Tuesday with 40 more pallets. Jon North and Gerald Smith (from Premier Studios) are riding the jump-seats on that flight, and they'll be here till next Sunday.
There is so many big and little miracles occuring! I wish I could share them all. But here are a couple of them...
H2H has worked with Jewish refugees around the world for years, and H2H is well respected by the Jewish community because we practice what we preach--- we help all people in need, wherever they are, whatever they believe. The Israeli's have sent two teams here-- one a military hospital, and one NGO (non-profit, or non-governmental organization). I was asked to make contact with them, and I did. I met Gen. Shalom, the head of the Israeli military unit, and Colonel Merin, head of the hospital. They were expecting me, and we had good meetings. We sent a video of our meeting to the Joint Distribution Committee in New York City. In addition, our H2H medical team has been working with the Israeli NGO team at the National Stadium. They asked us to make a proposal for a grant, and H2H submitted a grant request for $90,000 to buy two large trucks and two SUVs. A big miracle: they approved the grant yesterday, and we'll be buying the vehicles this week in Santo Domingo! PTL!
Another miracle: I've been looking for more housing for more volunteers, and someplace that could be our H2H headquarters for the next few years. It's tough finding anyplace that is available, due to all the buildings destroyed, but especially with all the UN, military, and humanitarian organizations that have come and are looking for housing, too. Miracle of miracles, we've rented a house for about 1/10th the going rate. And it's not just any old house. It's the estate of the former Minister of Finance... one of the nicest homes in PaP. It's a two story mansion that has about 8,000 sq. ft. of space, with a stone wall surrounding the estate, so it's very secure. I've already hired 24 hour security that live in the guest house at the back. And, it has, of all things, a swimming pool in the back, which I plan to turn into a giant bathtub to save on water. We have a lot of work to do on it, since it's been empty for two years. We need appliances and cots and tables, etc. And it's earthquake proof. It's got massive, thick stone walls, and, even with the earthquake, doesn't have one crack in it.
Another small miracle is that I threw my Army uniform into my bag at the last minute, "just in case." Well, I've worn it almost everyday, and it's opened up every door I've walked up to, with no questions asked... Air Force headquarters tent, U.S. Embassy, United Nations compounds, airport tarmac, getting our volunteers onto military cargo planes flying back to the U.S. after unloading here. Today, I'm putting on the uniform again, and going to the wharf to meet the USS Loomis, which is carrying a cement block making machine we're going to use to make blocks to start the rebuilding process. -Gary Morsch
I will attach pics to this post later today when the internet in my room comes back on. Thank you for all your prayers. God's favor is upon us because of the intercession happening around the world!
Peace on this Sabbath Day,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

My heart breaks to see these beautiful faces... sacred lives which God created, all in love.
Two big aftershocks just rumbled through PAP. Please pray.
Another team of docs and nurses arrived today. More this weekend. May God bless the work of our hands.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On-The-Ground Update

Please read this update from Gary Morsch, founder of Heart to Heart.

An Update from the ground in Haiti: The biggest need for the country right now is for fuel. Without fuel we are unable to deliver any aid to those in need. People also don't have fuel to power generators to pump water out of the ground. Even the U.S. military is struggling to get fuel for their vehicles. Another need we have is security.

约1小时前 · ·
Gary Morsch
Gary Morsch
Survivors are getting more and more desperate for food and water and on top of that, all of the prisoners escaped from the prison. Last night at the seminary where we stayed, we heard lots of gunfire outside of the gate. We're hoping to get a volunteer security team down here to protect the medicines and other aid. The conditions here are as bad as the media has portrayed if not worse. This is worst disaster that I've ever encountered even worse than the earthquake in China because there is only one small airport here and the huge shortage of fuel. It's also a 10 hour drive through the mountains if you want to drive from the Dominican Republic. We brought enough food and water with us to last about a week so we should be fine. The rest of our team drove here from D.R. and should arrived yesterday. It's very difficult to get into Haiti. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support.
Gary Morsch
Gary Morsch
If any medical personnel are interested in volunteering please sign up at I don't have reliable internet access in Haiti to answer all of the messages that you may send to me.

Thank you!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What about the grief?

Are you ever in the middle of a tragic situation, look around to see that people are living their lives as they should, and wish they could just share the grief you feel? I'm feeling that today. Here I am, wrapped up in trying to make an impact in Haiti, and meanwhile the world moves on. It's like I want to yell out "Hey! Don't you guys know what is going on across the border? My heart is mourning and you are just moving on. What are you thinking?!"

A few months ago, my husband and I made a commitment to God to pursue one of the highest calls He's given us. At the time, I thought it just meant moving to Asia. Today, I'm understanding that it reaches far beyond the walls of the Orient. It has gone to the DR and Haiti. Here it is:

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness
will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isaiah 58:6-12

What more is there to say?

Now for the update... our first team of physicians and nurses arrived safely into Port au Prince last night. There is an urgent request for another team of 20 docs and RNs, so I will be coordinating a fairly large delegation, scheduled to arrive tomorrow and Wednesday. I will be busy! If you are a medical professional interested in joining our volunteer efforts, you may visit and fill out a volunteer application. There are definitely no guarantees that we'll be able to use you, as we already have a significant amount of requests. However, our work in Haiti will most likely be long-term, so there may be opportunities in the future. If you're not a medical professional, please feel free to contribute to the cause by making a financial donation at HHI. Thanks!

We had another doc arrive last night and my husband this morning. We've already shipped the doc off to PAP (no need to waste time!) and John will stay here to help me... nice emotional support!

Keep praying! Pray for rest and sleep for me and the other team members. Pray for strength to endure through the heat, primitive conditions, and emotional distress. PRAY FOR SAFETY!

Always at work for the needy...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flying Nun Escort

(Jorge with the Chinese Ambassador and his team, delivering Heart to Heart's ready relief boxes)

Whew! What a week this has been. I’m finally getting the chance to sit down and slow down for a few minutes… oh what precious minutes these are!

Disaster relief is not a new experience for me. When the May 3rd tornados ravaged the state of Oklahoma in ’99, I had the opportunity to assist in clean-up efforts with Heart to Heart. During nursing school, I worked with an amazing team of nurses in a trauma ICU, which subsequently led me to an interest in taking care of trauma victims post-disaster. Through the American Red Cross, I took classes and became certified in disaster preparedness and relief. Shortly after college, I moved to China and worked with Heart to Heart in their medical programs office, working to implement a disaster relief plan for the province of Sichuan. While living in Asia, the tsunami destroyed village after village in desperately poor countries of the South Pacific and Asia. Heart to Heart deployed me to Sri Lanka and Indonesia immediately after the tsunami hit, an event which essentially began my true love for disaster response work. After Hurricane Ike wiped out the Bolivar Peninsula and other coastal areas of southeast Texas, I also responded with Heart to Heart. And here I am today, once again going full speed to respond to those affected by the destructive earthquake that hit Haiti.

Though I’m a Registered Nurse, and trained to clinically respond to trauma victims, I prefer to manage the operations part rather than perform hands-on patient care. I’m really not quite sure why this is, especially since I love clinical work. Nevertheless, disaster response seems to be my sweet spot, so I think I’ll keep doing it! As a caveat, I should mention that I am not employed by Heart to Heart and only work with them on a volunteer basis. This actually works out well because I get to enjoy what I do without being in the complex web of political hub-bub that generally exists in organizations.

Ok, now that you’re bored, let’s get on to the meat of the situation. Our wonderful team, composed mainly of docs and nurses, left for Port au Prince this afternoon. I find it quite difficult to update frequently, since our plans are guaranteed to change multiple times each day. But I can now safely say that the team has left, made it to the border, and are being escorted into Haiti by a convoy of nuns. Take that! You think it’s funny? I’ll tell you that the only “safe” place to be in PAP right now is at the Cathedral where the nuns are. I don’t know what it is about them, but their presence clearly demands respect. Our fearless leader, who is en route with the team, said that this is the best transportation ever. I love it!

The situation in Haiti gets worse by the day… and along with the severe lack of resources, violence is becoming more rampant as the hours move on. Heart to Heart is doing everything they can to keep our team safe. I greatly appreciate the organization’s care for safety and can assure you that few others take such great measures to protect their volunteers as ours does. Thanks HHI!

I stayed behind in the DR to receive an airlift of medical supplies that are scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning. I’ve got to arrange their transport into Haiti. We have another physician arriving this evening and my husband arriving tomorrow morning. There is much work to be done here! I presume we’ll all head in to Haiti on Tuesday or Wednesday. But remember, things change by the minute!

I had a whole list of things I’ve been mulling over in my mind and heart, but I’m afraid my sleep-deprived brain is devoid of deep thought at the moment. It should be said, though, that I’m starting to experience many of the same emotions I had while doing relief work in Sri Lanka. The devastation to each person’s life in Haiti is so enormous, most of us will never in our lives begin to fathom the deep pain they are encountering. Can you imagine losing your home, your livelihood, and your entire family? Can you? These people have NOTHING! I’m serious, folks. This is out of control. Does thinking about this even evoke a pierce in your heart? Does it?

I’m so sick I often break down crying. I wish every single person in our privileged country could experience disaster relief one time. We would all live differently.

I covet your prayers, and I know our team does too. May our God and Father protect each of us, give us compassion for the sick and needy, and impart wisdom and discernment in our decisions.

Remember, you may go to to make a contribution to this great task.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

In Port au Prince!

I am happy to announce that Dr. Gary Morsch and 3 other guys safely arrived at the airport in Port au Prince (PAP) this afternoon. As I type, they are in a helicopter, headed for the Nazarene compound where Heart to Heart is planning to stage the relief efforts. This was an incredibly difficult task, but they successfully made it!

I arrived in Santo Domingo this afternoon and will be operating out of here, managing volunteers that are en route to PAP. We have a team of docs and nurses who will leave early tomorrow morning in a convoy, headed straight for the epicenter. I am hopeful that there won't be any roadblocks along the way... safety seems to be the number one concern.

It's been a long day, and I've got a million things to do. Keep visiting and catching our updates. We can't wait to share the work that will be happening!


Friday, January 15, 2010

New Game Plan...

In the face of disaster, no plan seems to remain the same for longer than 5 minutes. This morning we hopped in the car and drove from Miami to Orlando in hopes of catching a charter flight into Port au Prince. No commercial airlines are landing in Haiti, and it is appearing that nearly all flights, including charters, are not able to land. So myself and another nurse are headed back to Miami tonight and fortunately have scheduled tickets on a commercial airline tomorrow morning, due to land in Santo Domingo, DR. Others are trying to get on another charter plane to land in Port au Prince tomorrow. We'll keep you updated as travel details unfold.

The situation in Haiti gets worse every day. There is no food or water to be found in Port au Prince, and this is putting all the people at risk of sickness, malnutrition, and death. The already violent nation is looming in uproar. This country is more devastated than any other I've encountered. It is so unfortunate that accessibility by relief organizations is nearly impossible. They need our help so much. PLEASE PRAY!!!

We are running on little sleep. In the first few weeks following disasters, I sleep maybe 3 hours per night. Please pray for strength- physical and emotional. I remember the torment my heart endured following the tsunami in Sri Lanka. I cannot imagine what Haiti will be like. Our hearts will be grieved, and we will need God's comfort and strength to fight through the pain.

Stay tuned. I'll update when we get to DR, if not before. Remember, Heart to Heart can only provide medical aid to these people with donations from individuals and companies. Please visit our website to make an invaluable contribution!


On Our Way!

We are currently at an airport in Florida waiting for a charter plane to pick us up and drop us in Haiti or the Dominican Republic. The past 48 hours has been crazy, and I cannot begin to imagine what the situation in Haiti will bring. It is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. I don't know what more to say.

I'm working with an organization called Heart to Heart International to bring medical relief to the Haitian people. Our advanced team is headed in and ready to assess the situation and plan for the coming weeks and months. At this point, we'll probably be dropped in Santo Domingo, DR and proceed from there.

Please visit Heart to Heart's website to donate to the cause. I've done disaster relief around the world, and this is by far the absolute worst. Please help if you can... and PLEASE PRAY! I will be updating as much as possible and will try to post pictures.

May our sovereign God protect our every move and our very being.