TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
October 9, 2016
J O S H U A 1 : 9
The team is safely back in the United States. The winds and rain are gone. The reality and the aftermath are starting to set in. The emotions are buried deep in my soul and few tears have made it to the surface. Whole sections of this country are left without homes, without food, without their livestock and gardens and with only the wet clothes on their backs. How does one even begin to digest that reality when we are sitting in a comfortable home with all that we need???
Through it all, God’s hand has been evident in so many ways.
Before returning to Haiti, God had prompted me to memorize Joshua 1:9, which says, “This is my command! Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I believe God was intentionally making sure that I had this verse laid on my heart. When I opened a “daily-verse-for-the-day” email, this exact same verse popped up! It occurred AGAIN when I opened my daily devotional. And again, when I spoke with my brother as he conveyed to me that he had delivered a message as the chaplain at a Civil War event based on Joshua 1:9. When I returned to Haiti, I found my desk in disarray and as I was putting things back in place, I found a slip of paper that I had saved, and YES it was that of Joshua 1:9. Preparing for the onslaught of the storm, I shared this verse with the mission team who had come to serve in our ministry on Île-à-Vache. This verse is not just a SUGGESTION, but the words are a COMMAND! Throughout the night of the worst wind and rain that I have ever endured, I kept reminding myself of this command. I decided that if God’s word is true, then I must follow His command to NOT BE AFRAID and rely on the reassurance that God is with me WHEREVER I GO! Truly, truly, truly these words brought me through a long and difficult night when many in the storm’s path were wondering if there would ever be a break in the velocity of the screaming winds and if they would be alive in the morning to see another day on this earth!
How did I see God at work before, during and after the storm?
– I believe God used my previous 2010 Haiti earthquake experience to prepare me for Hurricane Matthew.
– I believe God used my daughter Tasha, a woman who is a 9-1-1 dispatcher by profession, to be my eyes and ears regarding the storm’s impending arrival and later my liaison with the frantic family members and friends wanting to know the status of the mission team. Ironically, she had had some practice at being that frantic family member, when 6 years ago she awaited word of my survival from the Haiti earthquake. Thus, when she was able to proclaim … “They are safe!” … she completely understood the relief that those few short words would bring.
– I know that I was personally blessed to have a mission team present both during the 2010 Haiti earthquake AND during Hurricane Matthew. Their presence provided me with added strength to endure two very similar, but different, experiences. Only God could have planned that all out!
– I was amazed during both events how God brought long-ago memorized Bible verses and familiar hymns to provide comfort and reassurance that I am forever a daughter of the King, both in this life and the next. That same King had me in the palm of His almighty hand.
– For Hurricane Matthew, we had been advised to board up all of the glass windows on the ocean-side of the guesthouse. In a world with a Home Depot just down the street, that would have been good advice. But, on an island where sheets of plywood or supplies of nails are non-existent, we were unable to do so. AMAZINGLY, after the storm was over we would see that not one single piece of louvered glass was broken. Some had dislodged from their holding brackets, some window frames had quivered in their openings, but NO glass broke.
– We were told that with 145 mph winds, there would be no way that our solar panels would stay attached to our roof and they most certainly would become projectiles. AMAZINGLY, all panels remained in place and we were able to have limited power throughout our time on the island.
– The church down the hill from guesthouse has a huge metal roof. When all other metal roofs on the island blew away or peeled back like the lid of a tin can … AMAZINGLY, the church roof stayed intact and would later serve as a great place to paint a huge S.O.S. sign.
– The orphanage is located just a little higher up on the mountain. The orphans and staff chose to stay in the orphanage, even though the unfinished 2nd floor could have posed a risk of collapsing the whole building. At the end of the storm, the entire orphanage structure was intact AND had turned into a refuge for people who needed to flee their home at 3AM by walking through almost impossible winds to find a safer shelter while their homes started to explode into rubble.
– God spared the one big building on the island capable of housing over 200 of the homeless. AMAZING!
– A stockpile of food stored at the school prior to the storm was available to feed the now-homeless people of the community who had no food to eat and whose gardens and fruit trees had been destroyed! AMAZING!
– At no point did we run out of food or drinkable water for the mission team, even though the number of days on the island had been extended because of the storm. The cooks had planned well and we would leave the island with food and water to spare!
– At no time did the mission team experience an illness that would require a doctor’s care.
– Following the storm, we learned that cell phone signals were non-existent. We had no way of knowing how many days/weeks it would take for the signal to be restored. AMAZINGLY, on the second day after the storm a weak signal was found on the top of the mountain allowing us to send word to the very concerned families of the missionaries back in the United States. Some hours later a stronger signal came in and team members were able to speak directly with their family members. An added blessing was that Verizon was providing FREE international calls to and from Haiti!
– It was feared that our boat that had transported us to Île-à-Vache was washed out to sea. We were amazed that it was found with only some damage to the benches. Such was not the case for the commercial-grade boats of two nearby resorts that were rendered unusable and many more boats of the little fishing-vessel variety that were washed away or damaged beyond repair.
– Knowing that it was not wise to take our boat on the sea back to LesCayes without another boat as an escort in the event our motor stopped running, it was again God’s provision that we were able to find one boat that was intact and one boat captain who was willing to partner with us to accompany us on the sea crossing.
– As of this writing, it is AMAZING to report that only one life was lost on the isle, a sheer miracle when one views the utter destruction and has lived through the incredibly mighty winds and the unrelenting, lashing rains of this Category 4 hurricane.
– With three main bridges washed out on the road between LesCayes and Port-au-Prince, the team was not only in jeopardy of missing their original booked flight time, but also the possibility of not being able to get to their departure city of Port-au-Prince at all. God provided us with an incredible chauffeur (named Garry) who has proven time and again that he will go the extra mile to get our mission teams safely to where they need to go. He searched for alternate ways to cross the now-bridgeless rivers. AMAZINGLY, the team made their original intended flight time so that they could be reunited with their families who were eagerly awaiting their return.
The God of wind and sea … means what He says …. “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing …
HURRICANE MATTHEW RELIEF … how YOU can help!
PLEASE use the link below for Hurricane Relief donations. Western Union is NO LONGER offering fee-free wire transfers. OR Mail your tax-deductible donations to Caribbean Children’s Foundation PO Box 33 Jenison MI 49429.0033
100% of your donation will go to Hurricane Relief in Haiti
Our current objective is to provide iron sheets to those who have lost their homes. It is possible for the people to make temporary grass frond walls, but they have no means to provide a roof over their heads. We will also be bringing food to several communities on Île-à-Vache. Funds sent to Haiti will allow us to purchase the items here and bring them by boat to the isle. Both our car and our construction-material transportation boat were severely damaged making our task more difficult, but not impossible. We are so grateful for the outpouring of words of encouragement, the prayers and the pledges to send money!