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,
Peace on this Sabbath Day,