I have a moment before I take Matthew to someone’s home to play so I thought I would post an edited version of what I wrote my family recently….
From July 19th – Aug 12, I was privileged to be able to spend time in the US visiting family and friends in the Chicago area, Winston-Salem area, Wilmington, NC and W. Palm Beach. I flew back on Missionary Fellowship International out of Ft. Pierce, FL which was a unique experience.
Many of you have been following the events in Haiti following the devastating earthquake on January 12th. We have now passed the eight month mark and are seeing some progress, although it will take years to rebuild. We have been blessed with the ability to serve both here in Fond-des-Negres and Port-au-Prince.
The government has begun the painful task of clearing buildings and finding new locations to house the government offices that were completely destroyed. The main post office has been razed and is just a flat block. Interestingly enough, we got some mail that had been collected before the 12th. Included was a mailing from the SA THQ in Chicago with our Christmas gifts and magazines. Felix’s gift was a book by Randy Alcorn “If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil”. How appropriate it is to receive this book when so many are trying to understand where God’s power and mercy fit into all of this.
We were blessed to not have had significant rain for about three months after the earthquake. This is amazing since the couple of weeks before Jan 12th (even on the 11th) we had heavy rains, so much that some of our staff didn’t make it to work and Matthew didn’t have school on the 11th. With everyone sleeping outside under makeshift sheet shelters, rain would have been terrible. Most people now have tents to sleep in and some temporary houses are being built by the many organizations helping here. The SA has been able to build 600 of this temporary units in Jacmel, an area on the southern shore of the peninsula. We hope to be able to do a village in PAP once approval is given by the government.
The Salvation Army is responsible for about 6,200 families (nearly 30,000 people) in a soccer stadium and public plaza that surround the SA’s property on Delmas 2, in the St. Martin neighborhood. Our disaster response team (organized by SA personnel from IHQ and NHQ) have been able to stage distributions of food, personal hygiene items, plastic tarps and tents to these families that have been fairly organized and orderly. We have had the help of the US 82nd Airborne unit and each family has been registered and given an allocation card authorizing them to be assisted. Those services are winding down and efforts are being made to try to relocate the families into more suitable housing.
The SA clinic at Delmas 2 was seeing about 200-300 patients a day and have helped deliver several babies. The SA has been having a rotation of volunteer Christian medical teams from OK and they have fit right in. They are now seeing more “normal” cases and will probably have to curtail services significantly during the rebuilding process.
We have had to spend a lot to repair Bethel’s truck this year. It has cost quite a bit of money but the clinic cannot function without it. It is ten years old and we need to find about US$46,000 to get it replaced. My sister, Diane, raised about $3,900 so we are on our way. There is a possibility that a grant can be found through the SA to help on this project.
President Preval called the nation to three days of prayer and fasting Feb 12 – 14, marking one month after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Leogone, Petit Goave, and Jacmel. At the clinic we started on Thursday with a time of prayer and reflection, using the acrostic A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Testimony and Supplication). It was well attended by both staff and patients alike. On Friday, the clinic was closed for all but essential services.
Quite a few churches in PAP organized a united Fond-des-Negres Community Prayer Service, held in The Salvation Army primary school courtyard. The services began at 6:00 AM and ended each day around 12:30 PM. There was a crowd of 2,000+ each day with the crowd spilling out into the school yard. There weren’t enough chairs so many stood for 4 to six hours, quite a few in the full sun! At the end of Friday’s meeting they encouraged people to come with their own chairs and umbrellas. About 350 people responded to the call to accept Christ and 85 chose the SA as the church they wanted to continue to attend. After a couple of months in new converts class 25 of them participated in one of the meetings, singing their praises to God for His goodness. Our corps was just able to enroll 15 senior soldiers and nine jr. soldiers, including our very own Matthew! Many of these new members are the fruits of the earlier community services.
My prayers for this country are that there will be a rising up of a new spirit of leadership for this country, servant leadership, that there will be comfort for those who have lost family members and all their worldly belongings, that there will be a way to provide decent shelter for those who are still sleeping under sheets and tarps in soccer fields, parks, vacant lots and wherever they can find a bit of land and that the rebuilding of the country will be like a phoenix rising from the rubble.
We had a quick run into PAP in June to start the process of renewing Matthew’s US passport. PAP is slowly removing all the rubble and there is lots of talk about how to reorganize and replace all that was lost. Many, many people are still in tents and there are predictions that this will be a very active hurricane season.
It was Matthew’s first time seeing the earthquake damage first hand and I asked him what he thought. He said that it was sad to see all the buildings fallen down and to know that so many people died, like the young wife and toddler of one of our former doctors. I can’t imagine how the children who lived through this are coping with the effects. Many of the schools have not been able to reopen and if the kids didn’t leave the city, it will be a lost year. TSA school here in FDN had 45 new students coming in from quake affected areas and has just started a feeding program to try to assist all the children.
The effects of the earthquake where we live in Fond-des-Negres, 75 miles southwest of PAP, were not nearly as severe as it was in PAP. The Sal. Army church in FDN is unusable and the congregation of 250 are worshiping in the SA school yard each week. The Bethany Children’s Home, where I used to work, had the main section damaged and the 40 children, after sleeping in tents for 3 months are now being housed dormitory style in the back scetions. The primary school lost three classrooms. For three months all the 400 students were taught in outdoor groups under tarps and palm branches. After that, they moved back into the classrooms.
Felix went back and forth to PAP from the early days after the quake carrying supplies and assisting with transport of injured patients to the U of Miami Field Hospital at the airport. Both Felix and I were able to go into PAP on Jan. 30th in order to attend a Rotary Club assessment meeting and to get our mechanic to work on Bethel Clinic’s two trucks. I took photos of quite a few places that are dear to our hearts. Our bank, Citibank, collapsed completely and we heard that 5 people were killed. Our main grocery store, One Stop, settled down on itself but we have heard that many were able to get out, including the Christian manager who has been very helpful and has become our friend over the years.
The big news is that IHQ has put together a “Reconstruction Team” that will be lead by Major Ron B. who had served here for six years at the DC. There are 3 other couples on the team: our friends Capts. Monael and Lucy, a couple from Switzerland and …..my brother Bob and his wife Rae!! They will be assigned for 3 years to help in the recovery effort. It will be so good to have family so close for a change. We have had two opportunities so far to get together including their short visit to FDN. We look forward to many more such visits.
Matthew will be starting a new school on Oct. 4th so we have been busy getting new uniforms made, going through his books to see which ones can still be used and which ones we will need to find and practicing our new school schedule since he will have to leave the house by 7am each day. We are doing better but haven’t quite made the 7am target.
Well, time to get out and walk on down the road. Many blessings on you!