What an awesome team!! The people on this team accomplished great things. Prior to this trip I knew only nine of the 25 people on the team. All of these strangers came together to form a very strong team. After long days of hard work, we were able to have fun in the evenings, filling the guest house with laughter.
Being in Haiti was so much easier than preparing for the trip. The preparation included many ups and downs. Last minute scrambling for supplies. About 16 hours a day working email and phones to make arrangements.. Flights scheduled. Flights canceled. Tough, personal decisions to be made. The guest house is expecting us. The guest house is not expecting us. New guest house found. It was so busy and stressful, that my health started to feel the burden. I was losing sleep because my stomach was bothering me. I was close to developing an ulcer. I was so dehydrated that I couldn’t wear my contacts. I was losing weight because I wasn’t taking time to eat.
Once we landed in Haiti, my health issues disappeared. My stomach was fine. I could wear my contacts with no problem. I slept soundly. Best night of sleep in two weeks! That is amazing, since Port au Prince is a very noisy city, all night long.
We were truly blessed during this trip. Many things were better than we expected. We did not have to sleep in tents. The ART (Advance Recon Team) of five who arrived before the rest of us, made arrangements for us to stay at the Methodist Guest House in Port au Prince. Although the buildings around this guest house had been destroyed, the guest house did not have a single crack. We had electricity (that often flickered out), toilets (Don’t flush too often. Water is too precious.), showers (Don’t take one every day, or we’ll run out of water.), bunk beds, and a roof over our heads.
We brought all of our own food with us. Much of it was donated by co-workers, parishioners, team members, friends and family. During the day, we had tuna lunch kits and protein bars. For dinner, we provided food for the cooks to prepare for us. They can sure come up with some tasty sauces for our pasta. When we provided pasta and tuna, we thought we would get tuna casserole. After all, that was a favorite dish as our prior guest house. That dinner became a big bowl of pasta and a big bowl of tomato sauce with tuna in it. One night the sauce was Hormel Chili. We had pizza one evening. Made with Boboli pizza crust, sauce and a variety of toppings like canned chicken, pepperoni and…. was there tuna in there?? No cheese, but I didn’t miss it.
We ran medical clinics in four locations each day. We didn’t keep track of the number of patients, but we estimate that it was 5,000 to 7,000 in total. We saw some incredible things. Some things that saddened us, but mostly things that uplifted us. The patients came to us by foot. Many with painful leg wounds or on crutches. They walked the rocky roads to get care because they want to survive. They have lost so much, but they have not given up. Their buildings are broken, but their spirits are strong. Their faith is unshaken.
There were hundreds of people living in tent cities close to our guest house. They were on concrete or on rocky, rough ground. They were in tents, mostly made from sheets hanging from trees or strung together from one fence to another. They are very resourceful at making things work. Most do not have blankets, sleeping bags or pillows. They don’t know where their next meal will come from, or if they will ever have a house again. They live peacefully and respectfully in crowded conditions.
These people living in tent cities gave us the strength to do our work. Each night, we would fall asleep to the sound of the people singing God’s praises. They thanked him for their lives. They thanked him for everything they have. They chanted “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Then, on some mornings, I would awaken to the sound of more signing. Their faith keeps them going. Their faith kept us going.
The recovery efforts in Haiti do not end with the return of our team. Haiti is going to need help for a long time. Rebuilding the country will be a major undertaking. There are still hundreds of thousands of people who have not received the health care they need. There are cities that have not received the attention that Port au Prince has received, and Port au Prince was not the epicenter of the earth quake. Haiti is no longer front page news here at home, except when American’s get arrested for child trafficking. From the news stories I have seen, it appears that the 10 American’s are the center of the story. The real story should be the children of Haiti and their families. The real story should be that there is still much to be done.
Thank you for all of your support and prayers.
I have been touched by you, and by the people in Haiti.