Haiti - 2010

    "Where quiet waters flow."  HE led us there again.  Yesterday morning in Dupraz' home in the western suburb of Carrefour, it just seemed a little flock of sheep knelt, rested and drank again of those quiet waters.  The first Sunday after the quake, this city of tumultuous, laughing, hard working, music loving millions was still and silent as death.  Morbid.  And rightfully so.  Our own hearts were bleeding.  Yesterday religious fervor filled the streets under blue skies and hot sun with crowds led by their pastors, prancing, dancing, drumming, shaking branches and flowers high in the air, chanting slogans against Satan, people running to join the excitement, whether Catholic, Rastafarian, voodoo adepts...the streets filled, the parks spilled over.  All week the nation has been harangued with radio and megaphone  messages that God's wrath had spilled over on Haiti because it is the most sinful people in the world.  Yes, we bow our heads and admit we are sinful people. 

But the "most sinful?"  They were told if they didn't fast and pray for three days God would strike them with a worse catastrophe this week.  That first Sunday, Germain seemed to for see all this and spoke of Jesus words, "Or these eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men who dwelt in Jerusalem?" (Luke 13.4)  "I tell you, Nay, but unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  It is a wake up call to serious thinking.  Again and again we've heard that humble plea, "I'm not better than any of these who perished, I just want to be ready...now it seems so foolish not to be ready."  I too, repent.  Natachia spoke of the privilege of not being troubled.  Rutha spoke of John 14.1 "Let not your hearts be troubled", and her overflowing thankfulness to be to find peace in upheaval, and knowing where this has come from in her life.  A neighbor of hers, Bania, that began this past year, was just bursting with feeling, speaking of all the neighborhood rushing to this crowd or that crowd, blaming her for not joining the rush.  She testified that Ex 14.14 is true, "Hold your peace...the Lord will fight for you" and the quiet peace she was finding in her tent and the Lord very near her each day.  Why run?  Gedeus also spoke of all the running this week and his joy, "We didn't need to run to find the way.  We've been walking in it already."  What a joy to just keep on walking home with Jesus, hand in hand. In all this boiling and rolling pot, God sees every heart.  May those crying to know a quiet place near to HIM find it.  It was deeply touching for me to feel Jean Pierre's peace of surrender to Christ in his words.  It wasn't so a while back.  The struggles of youth.  But last year his older brother, who had been running with a tough crowd, was poisoned and died looking up into his mother's eyes with these words on his lips, "Mom, I didn't think you loved me because you didn't like my friends.  Now I see you loved me and wanted to save me."  And slipped away.  Dupraz and Bethanie were a lovely couple and a beautiful little family with Daphne and Bertrude.  We lost Bethanie, so young, in 2006.  Daphne's clear part in the meeting surely fed her father and all of us.  The God of ALL comfort...what more does the little flock need....ALL COMFORT.  
    After the meeting we heard more stories of "Where we were" the 35 seconds.  Cindy had just left her school.  She would still have been in it, but, as class president, had spoken to the professor, reminding him that the class was for two hours, and that he had started one half hour early.  He gladly complied....their early exit saved the class.  Dupraz is the chief dispatcher for SECOM rent a car.  For the second time only, in his 13 year career with this company he left work early.  He always stops in at Caribbean Market, the biggest and nicest grocery store in Haiti, on his way home, which is just across the street from his office.  Every other work day of the year he would have been inside the store at exactly the moment the quake hit.  Hundreds perished in its collapse.  Twenty seven days after the quake a survivor was pulled out alive.  It hit the news!!  But later the hushed reality hit...he was a looter trapped inside by another tremor.  At least he was saved alive. Daphne was in the morning session of her school. Thousands died in the afternoon session of this highly coveted school for girls when it collapsed during the afternoon session.  Dany was at home.  She bolted out of the house and ran to find her mother, Mary, who sits by the street selling vegetables.  On the trail she suddenly turned back.  Just ahead of her, two men who were running with her were crushed when a hillside home crumbled and crashed on the trail.  We took these folks home.  Home is now the tents that have been shared with us. They are so grateful and proud of them.   Homercille, told me a neighbor was jealous of the tent and threatened to burn it when she went out.  It rained hard in the night.  She went to that neighbor and asked them to come and spend the night with her in the tent. Twelve people took refuge in the little tent together.  Last night it rained for the first time in months at parched Cabaret. My old tent that I use at preps and convention time leaked on me.  I laid awake thinking about the thousands under sheets and wished they had the tent.  This old world is hardly a place for family with all its disasters and danger.  But God has woken us with a feeling and love for Family and He has prepared a HOME that is perfectly worthy of FAMILY.  FAMILY FOREVER.  Our hearts cry at His wisdom in not leaving us here forever.
    This morning we plan to put a 30 X 60 tent.  Tomorrow the Jamaican army will bring a group of Jamaican Doctors and nurses to give this area a "Day Clinic."  We hope to set up some tables, beds and chairs to make it a little more comfortable and the tent will provide some shade for the doctors and those waiting in line. 
    Regarding the moratorium the government had passed on building in Port au Prince, we have good news.  When I spoke with the Minister of Justice on the phone and asked him if we could proceed, he gave me an appointment to see him.  I took this to mean he needed more details than what could be shared over cell phones. So I went prepared with sketches that would convince him that the engineering would be earthquake and hurricane resistant and pictures of building materials to be used that are good quality.   It wasn't that at all..   He just wanted to see me as an old friend.  He stood up from his desk and came around and gave me a big hug....the mode of the day when you meet your friends alive.  He shared his experience.  He was in his second floor office of the Ministry of Justice.  He woke up in the choking dust, in the two foot space under a fallen pillar that had jammed in a way to hold up the debris of the building leaving him this "space of life".  He found chief of staff was laying beside him in the dark alive.  Four hours later rescuers pulled them out.  He went right to work helping search for his colleagues.  Nineteen were found alive.  Fifteen perished.  He found a close friend pinned under the concrete.  He spoke to him, gave him water to drink, and his friend closed his eyes and died. 
    When we got around to do business....I never showed him anything.  I explained what we wanted to do to help and he just said, "Dan, there is no problem...go ahead."  I felt so relieved.  So glad. 
    Today once the tent is in order we plan to start on Orel's house.  Really it was just shaken apart as it probably never had enough cement in it from the beginning to stick together.  Some of these places in Port au Prince don't have an easy solution.  They would not be difficult to repair but they have a neighbor's house looming on the next shelf cut out of the mountain directly above them ready to fall in the next tremor.  There is no such thing as a "safe space" ...they are one on top of the other.  And the friends homes in some cases pose an equal threat to the house below.  Looking at them would give you the impression that they were hastily built.  It couldn't be more contrary. It's taken them years to build their little homes.  In order to build something and get out from the never ending grind of facing an angry landlord for late rent, this is what they do.  If someone has a salaried job, government or company, they enter a "sole."  This means two or three very trusted friends put their monthly salaries together.  This month the combined salaries are mine.  The next two months, yours and then yours.  With the combined salaries they rush to buy stones and cement to start a foundation on a rented (10 year) little plot of land on the mountain side stretching high above Port au Prince.  Four months later, it's your turn again and you rush to buy a few sacks of cement and sand at a shaving cheaper price because of this combined capital, and pay a man on the side of the street to make cement blocks in a single block form.  The blocks are stacked.  Patiently waiting for the next turn.  Then you buy more cement to make mortar and put up a few blocks.  Often about this point you find the land never belonged to the person you rented it from and you start all over again.   During this long period of time, sometimes years, the salaried spouses income is being consumed in this way.  They live on the income of the other...who maybe makes fried pork to sell on the street, selling water, selling fruit, selling used clothes...whatever.  It is a glorious day when the little couple and their babies can enter the one room shelter with tin over their heads, blocks not yet used to stack in the door at night for protection and hold each and thank God for their deliverance from paying rent.  It is not hastily built homes like it appears to be. 
    We have beautiful morning. It is usually 92 degrees in the shade by noon. Tomorrow we look forward to Derek coming again from the doctor with supplies and also my brother (Flip), his wife (Jan), and son (Willy).  They can help us for a week.  With joy I look forward to this.
    Mike has had good luck sharing water truck loads of water with the camps in the streets near Vaillant.  But the boys were aggressive when trying to share bags of food.  The government has decreed that only women can stand in lines now for the distributions and it seems to be working better.  Even then it's a huge job to get it done.
    It was a special moment to see Caridad again at Vaillant.  She's looking good.  The wound is healing but "not all healed yet"  for sure.  I asked her if she like the helicopter ride....."I LOVED it!!!!" 
    Again with our gratitude.
    Your brothers in Haiti