After the earthquake hit on January 12th, the road to Sequin was impassable and our medical mission trip changed to Port au Prince. Were we called to go? Would we be safe? How would we get there? American Airlines had canceled all flights into Port au Prince. We prayed for God’s direction. We were prayed over by the congregation, our friends and our families. Then an anonymous $10,000 matching grant through Haiti Needs You was offered. Tim Ryan, our coordinator, looked into reserving a charter airplane. It would not carry all the supplies we needed. We still packed our supplies, we still prepared, and we still believed. The charter fell through.
Amway offered to fly us one way.
Wednesday morning, January 20th, waiting on standby, I found this verse as I was packing, confirming to me we were to go:
The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
The 6.1 aftershock that morning, delayed and grounded us.
“The Lord your God is with you.”
God showed us His perfect timing. Again, our team changed. The advanced team of 5 flew into Dominican Republic on Friday and caravanned into Port au Prince. Twelve of us flew in on the following Tuesday and the last 8 flew with Amway that Thursday.
Tim Ryan coordinating with the advance medical team opened up networking with drivers, interpreters, hospitals, clinics, and medical supplies. Our lodging changed to The Methodist House, a guest house, a respite for us, where we slept in bunks not tents. We took occasional showers, and at the end of the day came back to a wonderful hot meal of spaghetti, rice, or pizza with different sauces. We were expecting to sleep in tents and live off protein bars and tuna.
“He is mighty to save.”
Each of the 25 medical team members shared their talents with the 5000-6000 people we treated. Our team consisted of Surgeons, orthopedic and maxilla-facial, Physicians, emergency room and family practice, Nurses, EMT’s and support staff.
I saw such love through excellent medical skills, acts of kindness, generosity, laughter, and compassion. Truly being Christ to one another.
Each day I used a variety of skills. My 1st assignment was videotaping, on the Amway plane everyone was interviewed and told their story – on pause. (When the red light is on that means pause, right ) At times, I worked at Pastor RhoRho’s clinic, Mathew 25,“La Ville de Mooch” (city of flies) , and the Children’s Hospital seeing patients, dressing changes, helping with the dispensing of medications, restocking supplies, running errands or doing whatever was needed at that time.
“He will take great delight in you.”
When we saw people, in their tent cities, on the back of a truck, or in the clinical setting, I felt we gave them hope. We were given the gift to serve and learn from these beautiful people who were so humble and patient. The first day at Mathew 25, a small girl smiled as she came up to me and wrapped her arm around my leg in a big bear hug to say, “Thank you”.
On Sunday, we did not hold clinics to have a day of rest. At Sisters of Charity Orphanage, we helped to feed the youngest children. As I was rocking Markenley a toddler whom I had just fed, a preschool girl jumped up on my knee and joined in singing “Alleluia” with Dr. Mike Page and the children next to us. She then promptly began “feeding” her cookie to me and the younger children that came running up to her.
“He will quiet you with His great love.”
Later that day, I will never forget as we left the holy grounds of Notre Dame Seminary where seminarians and many others had perished, our grief was so great for their families, the surviving people of Haiti. Yet, aswe departed driving down the steep hill, a man on the back of a motorcycle passed us, waving and saying ,”Thank you for coming”. There was not a dry eye amongst us.
I have received more than I have given. I have been blessed to work with a wonderful, giving and talented team of people. I have had an unforgettable and amazing experience. I left part of my heart in Haiti.
“He will rejoice over you with singing.”
God bless the people of Haiti! They have such great faith. Nightly the tent city next to the Methodist House sang out their praises to HIS Name as we heard them from our bunks as we slept.
They are a beautiful people. They are survivors. May we never forget them!
Love, Rita Cwengros
“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, yes, establish the work of our hand. Psalm 90:17