TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
January 23-24, 2010
Today, I had an extra good time getting to know the children at the Refugee Camp. There was a group of 4 little girls that were especially interested in hanging out with me today. Their names are Flore, Angela, Barbara and Levalencia! They took over like little mother hens. I guess I must have been a mess because they smoothed my hair into place. They picked lint out of my hair. They used their little fingers to clean out my ears and told me that I had something in the corner of my eye. They giggled when I taught them some English words. They sang for me. I sang for them. We sang together.
Angela told me that she and her papa had come to LesCayes from Port-au-Prince, where her home and her school had been destroyed. When her papa came by to introduce himself, he told me that they would be leaving for Jeremie in the morning. I asked if he had family there. “No!” was his reply. Perhaps he is going there in search of a job or just a fresh start. The journey of 50 miles over very, very rough roads will take him and his daughter five hours or more. I was saddened that today Angela is my friend. Tomorrow I will most likely never see her again! On Sunday morning, Angela joined me for my walk. We talked about Jesus. I told her that after she was gone, I would remember to pray for her. I told her that I would not forget her. She told me that when she said her night time prayers, she would pray for me too. How precious!
Little seven year old Levalencia especially stole my heart. She told me that she was going to get me something to eat. When I told her that I was not hungry, she said, “Mommy Nora, I have never seen you eat anything!” Imagine such a little one being so concerned about MY wellbeing! I asked her about the last couple of days. She told me that her papa had died in their crushed house and that she had cried! She told me that her school had been destroyed and that her mama has four children, but that she had come to LesCayes only with her mama and her 3 year old little sister, Dariana. She told me I was her mama too! Later in the day, she brought her mother and little sister to meet me. Levalencia always wants to be right next to me or sitting on my lap. Many times she will gently shove the other children aside so that she can have her “rightful” place by my side. I am sure that bright and early tomorrow morning she will be calling out my name at the door of my tent! What a little sweetheart! When Sunday did arrive, Levalencia said she wanted to go to church with me. She entered the church with the only dress that I have seen her wear and a pair of shoes that are at least three sizes too large for her. She looked around and noticed that her dress was not as beautiful as the other little girls’ dresses. She politely excused herself and returned with a dress fitting for Sunday worship, according to the Haitian tradition of dressing in your most beautiful clothes to honor God. I’m not sure where she got the dress. My hunch is that she borrowed it from someone else.
Today, airplanes are starting to fill the air. The US Military has arrived in LesCayes. I just saw a US Navy plane fly over, followed shortly thereafter by another. On the ground military visited the camp this afternoon distributing American Red Cross Solar/Crank Radios. We have been receiving little individual bags of water. Community leaders have banned together to provide trash receptacles, diapers, snacks for the kids and hot food for the families. Faces of doctors, that have just arrived in Haiti,are showing up at the Camp Medical Tent. It is a good sign that help is here now!
I have the feeling that the “this is not fun anymore” stage is arriving. Can you imagine not having an actual chair to sit in for all the time you have been at the camp? When there are more mosquitoes inside your tent than in “all of the great outdoors”, reality sets in that this arrangement is not a weekend campout!
As you can imagine, I have received hundreds of emails! It strikes me as odd, when I receive emails where subject line reads “REMODEL YOUR KITCHEN TODAY” or “MAKE $10,000 IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME.” My kitchen? What kitchen? Make $10,000 from my tent in the Camp? The outside world just keeps marching on, going about everyday business, some seeming oblivious to the pain Haiti is suffering!
One of the pains Haiti is now suffering is in the area of education. Prior to Earthquake 2010, only those who had enough money to go to school were able to attend. Now, even those thousands of children are unable to attend because all schools are closed. For some it is because the school building is gone. For some it is because the building is unsafe. For others it is because they have moved and there will not be room for new students to be enrolled at already overcrowded schools.
It is uncertain when classes will resume. Possibly they will resume in September 2010 or even later. The school buildings need to be inspected to determine if they are safe! Some of those buildings will need to be repaired or torn down. For the collapsed schools, a totally new school will need to be erected. This means most children will not receive an education possibly for months or even years. Teachers will lose their jobs and source of income. In communities that do not conduct inspections of their schools, their children will be at risk of a collapse while they are attending classes. It will become a huge challenge to fill the children’s minds and time with constructive activities. Many are already asking if they can go to the states to resume their education. For those who do not have visas, this is a dream that most likely will never see reality. This challenge ALONE is monumental. Multiply this challenge by the numerous other challenges facing the Haitian people and you will start to see the magnitude of the situation. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY …. as we know God can find a way!
God is using this time to bring people to Him. Last night, Lèon and I were up late taking advantage of the city power to get internet work done. Many children and other camp residents were gathered around. Quietly sitting next to Lèon was a young lady who lives with her mom in the tent next to ours. She told Lèon her story. When the earthquake happened, she stayed inside her house in Port-au-Prince. She watched as neighbors rushed out into the street and were hit by panicked drivers of oncoming cars. All the homes collapsed, except the one that she was in. She continued talking and she explained that her whole family are voodoo worshipers. On Sunday morning, while I attended church, Lèon remained in the camp to keep an eye on things. This same young lady approached him and told him that she wanted to follow Jesus. Church had just let out and so Lèon summoned the President of the congregation and some other young people from the church to come over to where this young lady was sitting. They sang a hymn and offered a prayer, while this young lady took Jesus into her life! It doesn’t get better that! Thank Jesus for a new soul that is now bound for Heaven!
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Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time. God willing …………