Archive for November, 2010

Where do we begin?

Arrived back in Miami this afternoon safe and sound from Port-au-Prince–Haiti. I felt like our small team had a productive time in PAP working out details for a building project in one of the worst hit areas of the city. Last night we met with local church leaders to discuss our plans. We worshiped together and then explained to them that we were not their saviors coming from the US to help them. There is one messiah and we are all brothers in Christ. We talked openly about the plans drafted in Miami for homes. Would the design be accepted culturally? How could we use the project as an opportunity for community development and kingdom building?

Their answers were enlightening. When asked about the design of the homes we would work together to build, they said that our plans were a gift to them from God. They’re living in tents, and the proposed design would be an unspeakable upgrade. They were so thankful to God and so welcoming of us. Given the cholera outbreak and the recent unrest in the country, they were surprised we had not cancelled our trip.

During our time in Haiti we saw no evidence of cholera. It has spread into Port-au-Prince but not yet into the part of the city we were visiting. Most of the rioting and unrest has been in the northern part of the country, in Cap Haitian. It is clear that the latest problems have hindered further travel to Haiti. Our return flight was completely full. The flight down was not so.

We did see evidence of massive unemployment. Men lingered almost everywhere with nothing to do. Few are working as many businesses were destroyed. We could not help but feel a heaviness about it all. Many streets were filled with rubble and in vast areas the debris has not been touched as yet. The scenes make one want to stand back and ask, “Where do we even begin?”

Of course, God always has ways to remind us of his glory. We visited two schools yesterday operated by evangelical churches. One school building was being demolished because of damage from the earthquake. Children met in makeshift classrooms to continue their education. During our visit the children had a break and were dismissed from their classes. Their smiles tempered our sadness and reminded us of the hope God gives us when we feel we are at our worst. The pastor of the church told the story of how his home was destroyed during the quake. Though his mother died, his son was miraculously saved. His words of explanation were: “God is good!” Indeed, he is.

The way forward is not clear, nor is it easy. But, it is the only way to go right now. We’ve chosen a small project to begin and we pray that God will open the way for it to multiply. One thing we feel most strongly about. We believe God wants us to walk alongside our Haitian brothers and sisters on their journey. This is the way of Jesus.

No Words

Spent the day in some areas of the city worst damaged by the earthquake. Rubble is everywhere and just a few signs of recovery. We did observe a few buildings under construction. There are more tents than anything. One site for a potential container home designed by our Granada family is surrounded by immense mounds of debris. Frankly, it is hard to know where to begin.

We have identified and made arrangements for one building site that is ideal. Two other pieces of property are less than ideal. We may be able to use one of them. A church totally destroyed has left only a footprint for us to see. Two Christian schools are meeting in temporary facilities. The children surprise us with beaming smiles, a joy to us in the sadness we feel as we see their condition. Here we can see God clearly at work in the hearts of the people. Listening to people’s praises tells us much about them. The pastors of the churches we have visited are so encouraged by our visit. We share powerful prayers.

Pray that as we come home our mission will be clear and that we will know how to share it.

Back in Haiti

Arrived this morning to Port-au-Prince. It is such a short flight from Miami, but the difference is shocking. Before the wheels hit the Tarmac we could see almost endless fields of tents. Once on the ground American Airlines bused us to an alternate terminal, a warehouse replacement for the earthquake-damaged one. Driving across town you get the feeling that half the city has been abandoned. No one has bothered to tear anything down. Untold numbers continue to dwell in tents.

Of course, the latest grief for Haiti is the cholera outbreak that has reached Port-au-Prince. With unsafe conditions and lack of clean water, this disease has found the opportunity to spread. We carried bottled water to avoid drinking the water in the city.

We are here only for a few days to firm up plans for some container homes on a new piece of property. The problems: where can we secure a crane to lift and position them? How will we get our containers and supplies through customs and to the site? Who will be our in country contractor to assist us?

It only takes a small light to pierce the darkness. Yes, the battle is spiritual. Putting up buildings will not be the cure. Hope is not restored easily. It is hard to think about the future when today is in question. Long-term gospel partnership is the way to show Christ’s love here. Pray for our efforts, safety, and for the relationships.