Archive for February, 2010

Want a Baby?

I did not follow the story of the Baptists who allegedly attempted to take children out of Haiti. I think I can understand the desire to help the children of Haiti. It is clear upon visiting Haiti that there are many children without a place to sleep and without the essentials of life.  One statistic I read says that as many as one out of every seven Haitian children is an orphan.  I can’t begin to get my mind around this.  But, we did have a personal experience that demonstrated the desperation.  As Mario Trevilla and I were in the Dominican Republic entering into Haiti we stopped to take a picture along an almost deserted strip of road.  Mario was approached by an older man and asked if he wanted a baby.  The older man explained that the mother had taken off weeks before, leaving her baby with him. He said he had no idea what to do with the baby.  As Mario walked back to the vehicle and told me the story, our eyes welled up with tears.  Yes, of course, we would want to take care of such a child.  Yes, we would want this baby to have a future.  It seemed clear that this little one would not live unless someone took the baby from this man. Our hearts longed to say “Yes!”, but we knew we had to say “No!”   We would not be allowed to do this.  Haiti is such a place where your heart leaps from your chest calling you act.  Yet, there are many times when you know you cannot.   We believe that God loves each child, every one is precious in his sight, made in God’s image, and of inestimable value.

What is Granada doing to help?  In addition to providing food to earthquake refugees, we will be working to build a new orphanage during the coming months.  We expect to have teams assist in the work and to also build a church and a school on the same property to meet the physical, spiritual, educational, and emotional needs of the children.  The news from this week is that the feeding program is going ahead and another container will be unloaded this week.  We expect to assist in the shipping of one container each week with food and medicines needed to support the mission.  Please pray for these efforts and for safety for those involved in the planning and execution of these projects.  We expect to begin organizing teams to go as soon as air transportation opens into Port-au-Prince.

Please check with Granada’s Serve the World team office if you would be willing to go to Haiti this spring or summer.

Typical Haitian Highway

Family food portions being put together for refugees

Crane being assembled to lift container

Hope

What does hope look like? In Haiti we expected to find people in distress that we assumed would be dizzy with loss.  Instead they surprised us.  We found them praising God.  Each evening in the town square of Mirebalais, huge crowds gathered for services of praise and prayer and worship.   They could see the God of grace beyond their circumstances.

Shortly after entering Mirebalais, Haiti, we visited Pastor Gibbons. (He told us to call him Pastor Gi.)  He introduced us to his wife and neighbors and a man named William-Mark, who they had invited to live with them in their home.  This young man looked to be about 20 years of age.  His face was bright as he related the events that unfolded on the day of the earthquake. William-Mark had been in Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake. He was a student in linguistics school and was attending his final class of the day when the earthquake struck at 4:53pm. He found himself beneath the rubble with many of his classmates.  He was in the darkness and his friends lay around him lifeless.  He lay there two days before being pulled from the debris.  He was saddened by the loss of so many of his school-friends.  Their corpses were near him when he was saved.  At the same time, he marveled that he was alive. He explained that he knew his life was the Lord’s and that God must have some special purpose to have spared him.  William-Mark told us his story from a wheelchair.  His right leg had been amputated just below the knee.  We looked at him and wondered, “What future can he have?”  Survival is the daily concern of every Haitian.  William-Mark faces challenges that far outpace the average Haitian.  How will he work?  Have a family?  What life will he have?

Immediately,  Mario and I sensed an opportunity.  The scores of amputees in Haiti are all wondering about their future and what kind of place they can have in Haitian society.  William-Mark was attending linguistic school, and from the moment we entered Haiti we’d been frustrated by language difficulties.  William-Mark had told us his story in almost perfect English, and his Spanish is almost fluent as well.  In the mission we are always looking for translators.  Could there be a fit?  Here was an opportunity for this man to serve where desperately needed and also to send a clear message to others in his condition.  There is hope.  Hope for the people of Haiti, hope in Christ.

The latest news: The first container has arrived, and the crane has been assembled. The container has been off-loaded and unloaded and food is going out to refugees in Porrt-au-Prince and Mirebalais.  Thanks for helping to make this happen.  Now there should be a steady stream of containers making their way down!

Truck arriving in Mirebalais. Steep hill required partial unloading before entering compound.

Crane sent in 1st container to lift the container of the truck at site.

Food being parcelled out for distribution in the city.

Passing the Baton

Mirebalais in Haiti

(We lacked power and water when we woke up Saturday and so could not post.)  Saturday was a travel and transition day for us.  Back in the DR we made some final arrangements to provide resources for the next team coming into the country.  We had the vehicle cleaned and fueled, and then we met them at the airport before catching our flight back to Miami.  We had just enough time to give them the vehicle, directions for crossing the border and detailed instructions about constructing the crane for removing containers from the trucks coming in. (The crane weighs a couple of thousand pounds and was made to order for the mission site.  Without heavy equipment where we are working in Haiti it was necessary to have the crane built and shipped with the first container to Mirebalais.  The parts are all color coded and so should be easy to construct but the equipment is heavy and dangerous to operate.  We want to make sure the team knew what they were doing and would be present to assemble it.  Even with the crane unloading containers will be labor intensive.  Our containers will weight 45,000lbs.  The crane can lift 8,000lbs.  This means that each container will need to be unloaded before it is removed from the truck and then refilled for storage.  Our plan is to use empty containers to begin to provide housing.  They can easily be convert and adapted for this use.)

The incoming team was delighted with all the arrangements that were made. They were eager to get to the border and then up to Mirebalais.  Pray for their safety and work this week as they oversee the construction projects and food distribution program.  The plane-trip home was uneventful.  Two things about traveling home from Haiti.  First, it is very close to Miami.  The flight is brief. The Haitian people are our neighbors. Second, one is always happy to be back in the U.S.A.  We have been blessed with freedom, and security and resources to share with others. We thank God for his protection and his guidance and for giving us a mission in life. Let us continue to pray for our neighbors and that the light of the gospel will make way for a new day in a renewed nation.

Over the next few days: more details of happenings while we were in Haiti and how we hope to see the mission develop going forward.

Passing by Port-au-Prince

After learning that we could not direct the container trucks through the Elias Pena border crossing into Haiti, we wanted to explore a better option.  Today we drove from Mirebalais down to the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.  The closer we got the more houses we could see had collapsed.  There were also rock slides in the mountains along the way.  After hearing about the conditions in Port-au-Prince and the potential danger, we skirted the city and drove to Jamini, another border crossing into the DR.  On our way out there were immense convoys of trucks bringing in supplies. Canada was bringing in their troops with all their hardware as we were going out.  We found our route.  It was nothing short of chaos crossing the border, but eventually we sailed through.  This is the road we were looking for to transport teams and goods.

Along the way we saw immense crowds trying to get food as trucks were off-loading.  I plan to share more about this Sunday.  It was sad to see the crowds and wonder what would be next for them.  But, I was pleased to see the assistance that is flowing in.

Each step of the way, Mario and I were convinced that God was guiding our way.  First, the delay of the container made it possible for us to scout the best truck route to Mirebalais.  Second, when we took the medical supplies to the clinic in Mirebalais, we could not find all the antibiotics.  That night I became sick and Mario found them.  Our trip today would have been miserable with this mercy.  It has been amazing how God has orchestrated the details.

The needs are overwhelming in Haiti.  Entering the country after the earthquake is like stepping back in time. Everything is done by hand.  No tractors to farm, little equipment of any kind.  But the people were grateful to see us, and so thankful for our love for them and interest in them.  I was constantly reminded of the gospel and the lengths God went to in order to come to us and serve us.

Tomorrow we drive to the airport for our flight home.  We will greet another team coming in and give the vehicle and supplies to them.  They plan to drive to the border tomorrow and continue the work.  I look forward to sharing more with you in the days again.

Arrived in Mirebalais

Getting into Mirebalais via the Elias Pina border crossing was very difficult. The road was barely passable in some sections, and we are in a land rover. The mountains were beautiful as were the people, but 30km (about 20 miles) of dirt road took us 2 hours to drive. Good thing we had 2 Haitian leaders who help with the mission with us. This time today was well spent because we learned the road conditions and where we need to direct the container trucks in the future.

Upon arrival we met with a pastor who started a network of ten churches and who also has an orphanage for deaf orphanage. Out next stop was to chech on the GCA guesthouse and see it under construction.

Later we visited the orphanage and left a soccer ball and bat and ball with the children. They were so pleased to see us. When we got out of the car we could hear the boys choir singing. Beautiful.

While visiting one of the pastors, we met a young man who had been trapped two days under rubble in Port-au-Prince. He lost his right leg below the knee. He explained His sadness in the death of many friends. He was in school attending his last class for the day when the building came down. He was so grateful to God that his life was spared.

Next we are off to a hospital to provide medical supplies. …we stopped in found Cuban doctors but no supplies or medicines. They were happy to see us and what we brought to them. They provided us a list of items we could bring in the future.

Tonight we picked up a pastor and his wife to take them to dinner.

Hassles

At the border we are meeting with struggles. They want our papers (not a joke!), and to make sure everything is in proper order. Our Haitian counterpart crossed over to assist us. Then we learned we would be driving two people to Mirebalais with us. No space in the vehicle…we are putting bags on the roof. It is good we are learning the ropes so that we can bring teams in the weeks ahead. Thank God for safe night, and pray for trip into Haiti.

At the Border

This morning the final purchases of cooking items were made in Santo Domingo. In the afternoon we began the trip to the border with Haiti. We arrived just short of the border to spend the night. The border opens at 7:30am and closes at 6pm. Tomorrow we plan to cross at opening time. A church pastor in Mirebalais will help us distribute medical supplies and cooking implements when we arrive. We have seen God’s faithfulness in opening the way for new relationships and also providing safety in our travels. Pray for an easy crossing and for safety entering Haiti. The road is rough. We have been told that 200,000 refugees are now in Mirebalais. Will provide updates as we are able.