Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ministry Direction and Update

After spending time in Haiti following the earthquakes from Feb. 3rd-13th, our small team from Lincoln was able to get a sense of direction regarding Grace Chapel's future involvement in Haiti.  Recently, we reported these findings to our key leaders as well as our church elders.  


After ten years of working alongside El Shaddai Ministries International in southern Haiti, a couple of months before the earthquakes, the staff of Great Commission Alliance had received a new ministry direction to a town called Mirebalais in central Haiti.  Mirebalais is located about forty-five minutes to the northeast of Port-au-Prince and just recently grew from a town of 200,000 people to nearly 400,000 as a result of the many refugees fleeing the devastated region of Port-au-Prince.  Needless to say, the needs of Mirebalais became even greater overnight; yet, God in His providence had just placed GCA in a very strategic location to minister to the growing needs of the Mirebalais community.  


While in Haiti in Feb. 2010, Gene Summerlin, Trey Summerlin, Mike Hsu and Chris Tran worked with GCA to help with their food distribution efforts.  Even prior to the earthquakes, God had opened doors for ministry in Mirebalais.  Some examples ... GCA had received the blessing of the mayor of Mirebalais for their ministry as well as a beautiful piece of land where they are completing the construction of a guesthouse and developing the land for an orphanage and school.  Also, GCA has connected with various local pastors and student leaders in the region as well as an orphanage for the deaf.  We are very excited about the ministry direction of GCA in Mirebalais.  In addition to Grace Chapel's focus becoming directed to Mirebalais in the aftermath of Haiti's recent devastation; also, one of our own, Trey Summerlin, just accepted a job where for the next four years, he will work during the summer months with GCA in Mirebalais.  Continue to pray for Trey and his preparations as well as Grace Chapel's future involvement with the people of Haiti.  Thank you for your partnership with God's people in Haiti, a partnership that began for us in 2004 and only continues to grow.


This is a ten-minute video that tells the story of GCA, the earthquake of Jan. 12th as well as ministry in Mirebalais. At about the eight-minute mark of the video, you can see the food distribution efforts that Mike, Trey, Gene and Chris were a part of: 




Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Lament for Haiti, by Ben Homan

A Lament for Haiti
by Benjamin K. Homan 
February 2010 

More than 220,000 people perished. 
More than 700,000 people displaced from their homes. 
70% of the schools destroyed. 
Life disrupted – and changed forever – for millions more. 

The Haiti earthquake staggers the mind – and breaks the heart. 

I felt torn as I went to Haiti, a tragedy that evoked hard memories of past emergencies.  Still, having walked through what I can only call an “open graveyard” in post-tsunami zones and seen terror in the bullet-ridden hospitals of Baghdad, Haiti’s lament summoned.  Yet I also knew such calls included searching for elusive words to say in unspeakable situations.

Haiti was no different. 

My first morning in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, I glanced at the schedule.  To my surprise, my name was listed next to “Staff devotions.”  I winced.  What would I say?  What could I say?  All around us was indescribable loss, the crush of debris and even the stench of bodies trapped in the rubble.  In the dim morning light, I muttered a simple prayer: “God help me.” 

The day before, I saw many of the 337 makeshift camps that contain an estimated 550,000 displaced people. Children roved by themselves.  Bed sheets hung loosely as roofs and walls.  Desperate stares. Pancaked buildings.  Twisted rebar.  Rescue crews.  And the vacant eyes of survivors.  I donned a face mask to fight the terrible odor.  A staff member recounted pulling 15 bodies from his collapsed apartment building.  “I was 5 minutes from death,” he said, reflecting on how far away he was from his home at the time of the quake. “I arrived home to find the bodies of six sisters huddled in one place; they died together.”  

I fumbled through my Bible, hoping for God’s Spirit to speak to my soul and arrived at the Old Testament book of Lamentations – written, scholars believe, by the “weeping prophet,” Jeremiah.  “A book about lamenting,” I thought.  “That should do.”  From my bedside, I devoured all five very hard, grief-filled chapters of Israel’s defeat, devastation, captivity and exile.  Questions streamed through my head.  How do you process the intensity of Haiti’s tragedy?  How does one understand the huge loss of so many, many people?  I read the prophets words, “Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?” (Lamentations 2:13). Exactly, I thought.  As I tried to grasp the pain and suffering around me, I clung to three big ideas that gave comfort and hope – notions that I needed for my own sustenance – and that I shared with our staff on that morning.  Below I have recorded an updated version of those rough ideas: 

Through Lamentations, God invites us to into 1) honesty, 2) relationships and 3) humility. 

1. God invites us into HONESTY.  

As I read the pages of Lamentations, I was struck with the raw emotions and stark descriptions.  

My eyes fail from weeping,  
       I am in torment within,  
       my heart is poured out on the ground  
       because my people are destroyed,  
       because children and infants faint  
       in the streets of the city,” Lamentations 2:11 

“…your children…faint from hunger at the head of every street…. Whom have you ever treated like this?” Lamentations 2:19, 20 

  “This is why I weep  
       and my eyes overflow with tears.  
       No one is near to comfort me,  
       no one to restore my spirit.  
       My children are destitute  
       because the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16 

“You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.  Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long?” Lamentations 5:19- 20 

As I read these rugged verses in Lamentations along with Psalms of lament, such as Psalm 10, I was struck at the emotional range and space that God’s prophet uses to lead others into lament.  Is God really that big and expansive to invite His people to wail, to weep, to complain – and even to, at times, lodge charges of abandonment on heaven’s doorstep?  The answer is “yes.”

God invites our honesty.  He will meet us on the “holy ground” of our expressed sorrow, our lament, and He is doing this in Haiti.  Yet I am convinced, as I read Scripture and understand more of God’s amazing emotional depth, that the path of healing for Haiti must first route itself through grief.  Lament cannot be healthily by-passed.  God can deal with our brutal emotional expression – and beckons us to come close with all of our hurts.  He wants to touch us and heal us at that level. 

2. God invites us into RELATIONSHIPS. 

Lamentations was not written as a private journal or secret diary.  It was inspired and preserved for a collective purpose in the life of God’s people.  Indeed, it was written as a community document, in poetic form, that would facilitate a shared historical experience.  It builds a lexicon of suffering, a model of how to communicate about epic loss. Yet while the Book of Lamentations at its most basic structural level strings together five poems that key off of Hebrew acrostics, the book trail blazes vulnerability with others and a group sharing of hard emotions.  But the prophet does not stop at the transparent exposure of feelings.  He also goes down the brave path of confession.   

“My sins have been bound to a yoke….” Lamentations 1:14 

“The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command,” Lamentations 1:18 

  “The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim.” Lamentations 5:16-17 

After I shared my thoughts about Lamentations with our staff in Port-au-Prince, I was with one of Food for the Hungry’s trained trauma counselors inside the wreckage of a neighborhood Haitian church. With holes in the ceiling above and crumbling walls, he distributed blank sheets of paper, pencils and crayons to each of these precious Haitian quake survivors.  At a crude table, he invited the group to draw pictures of their earthquake experience.  Where were they?  What do they remember?  The group quietly drew – and then they spoke, wept and discussed.  The community of quake survivors found a common voice in their drawings – and it allowed them to take an early step toward processing their pain and receiving God’s comfort – in the context of relationships.

My own natural tendency when I return from disaster zones is to shrink away into private reflection.  “Leave me alone,” I sometimes think.  Yet withdrawing from relationships is no path for restoration or depth of healing from trauma.  God grants relationships as a means of recovery from wounds.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn,” (Romans 12:15).  We are invited in the community of faith to meet each other across our vast spectrum of both easy and difficult emotions.  Of course, this has implications not only for folks who experience suffering, but also those in close proximity.  Sometimes, the bystanders of pain must go in pursuit of a friend or loved one who is hurt.  No one who is injured should bear the burden alone. “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2. 

As I emerged from post-earthquake Haiti, I dedicated the better part of a day to talk with a friend who is also a pastor and trained counselor.  I shared what I saw and experienced in Haiti.  I grieved for the man with mangled legs who dragged himself everywhere with his arms. I told of a restless, almost mob-like situation surrounding our distribution of health and hygiene boxes – and I felt graced with the restorative impact that flows from close relationships.  One of my prayers for Haiti is that it will become a nation of “wounded healers” who bless and restore each other, in part, through the ability to express loss.  In the context of relationships, we can remind people in pain that what Jesus said is true, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28. 

3. God invites us into HUMILITY. 

The prophet in the Book of Lamentations, viewing the tragic events for the Hebrews, offers no pat answers or definitive answers as to the “why” question of suffering.  He offers no explicit, one-size-fits-all philosophical statements on the problem of pain.  To be blunt, the book affirms that suffering perplexes and that we lack God’s full perspective.  The Hebrew reader at the time of the book’s writing would likely have been instructed in the Law of Moses and be familiar with Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”  There are realities hidden from view.  There are answers we do not have. 

In the life of my own family, we have no clear understanding of why my wife has the disease Multiple Sclerosis.  My father and my wife’s father both died from the same form of cancer.  One lived to age 86; the other did not reach 70 years.  Why such different courses for the same diagnosis?  We do not know.  The complexities of not knowing can be frustrating – yet we are allowed and even invited to struggle, wrestle and dispute.  At the end of the day, mysteries and secrets remain – and starkly remind us of human limits.  In short, the secret things of this world humble us.  I am finite; God is not.  And it is perhaps in this recognition of my shortcomings and limited view of reality that I can gain a larger view of the greatness of God.  As we learn in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  God is great; I am not great.  It is a humbling truth to which pain and suffering can bring us. 

CONCLUSION


A reflection on lament cannot be complete without acknowledging Jesus’ lament.  Recall that desperate moment on the cross as Jesus completed His selfless act of redemption and sacrifice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).


Jesus’ lament, which marks an amazing moment in redemptive history in which He bore the penalty of sin, was likely not in clear view of the writer of the Book of Lamentations or its initial audience.  Think of it.  The Creator God becomes human, bears our burdens and cries out in lament.  Though the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah to be a “Man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3), the notion then of a suffering Savior was not fully grasped.  Yet being a reader of the Book of Lamentations on this side of the cross, I can only stand in greater amazement and worship of God for entering our world of lament, suffering on the cross and truly becoming a “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) who meets us in our pain and binds up our wounds.


As we pray for Haiti and as we connect with each other through our own lamenting, be reminded that lament also represents an invitation.  Lament can be a part of our journey into honesty, relationships and humility.  God meets us there in hard, but intimate communion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Doing Good Badly

I just ran into this article by Nancy Gibbs of Time Magazine. It's the best thing I've read or seen put out by mass media on Haiti, since Jan. 12th: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1963749,00.html

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

4.7 Quake and Torrential Rains

I'm told by a friend of mine who is coordinating relief efforts currently in the Jacmel region that a 4.7mag earthquake hit near Leogane on Sunday night and torrential rains came down as well. The rains truly complicate matters for the countless number of people and children living in tents. The geography is as you move west from PaP, you hit Leogane and the mountains, then Jacmel. Jacmel is a region that was devastated by the earthquakes, but initially was neglected as relief flooded into PaP. Continue to pray for the people of Jacmel.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gene and Trey are Back in Lincoln

Gene and Trey arrived late Wednesday night. I know they are very glad to be back home. Gene has not been feeling well since he got back, so please be in prayer for him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"A Confused Anger"

I just returned from Haiti Sunday night, after having spent a couple weeks there. I spent most of my time rooming with Gene Summerlin, and as Gene and I talked, I realized that I have struggled with a mixture of gratitude for all the attention now directed towards Haiti as well as some resentment and anger. Gene was experiencing some anger when we were in Haiti and he kept receiving messages from people saying how great he was for going to Haiti. I’ve been getting angry too at all the media attention that will soon fade once the next best thing arrives. I wasn’t able to put my finger on my anger until I read this article written by my friend Jimmy Dodd. Jimmy took me to Haiti for the first time in 2004 and his sentiments in his article nail my feelings. I’m still working through the emotions, but I’m grateful for Jimmy to have put a finger on them. I’m glad to be back home and I’m looking forward to returning to Haiti in March with our Grace Chapel teams. Thank you for your partnership with God’s people in Haiti.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reflections – A Confused Anger, by Jimmy Dodd

One month ago today an earthquake struck Haiti. The following thoughts have stirred in my heart for the past several weeks.

It is a picture we have come to know all too well. Haitian orphans wandering the streets, unemployment inching towards 80%, clean water a luxury, food in short supply, no working sewer system which results in refuse flowing down the streets of Port-au-Prince, children being sold into slavery and more than half of Haitian children not attending school.

A post earthquake picture of Haiti? No! This was everyday life in Haiti on January 11th, the day before an earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince.

I have had the same discussion with a number of people this past month. Each feels sheepish about beginning the conversation. They experience a mixture of guilt and anger as they share the deepest recesses of their heart. The exchange goes something like this:

I am so grateful that everyone jumped at the opportunity to help Haiti. I am grateful that George Clooney, Taylor Swift, Alyssa Milano (and ten thousand other celebrities) have made Haiti a priority. They are speaking out about the need to get involved, raising money, answering the telethon phone and even traveling to Haiti (Sean Penn leads the parade). But, it’s not like Haiti didn’t have extreme problems on January 11th, 2010. When people are asked, ‘why are you involved in Haiti?’ The answer is often – I am involved because I feel compassion for the thousands of orphans, for the families who lost loved ones, for a country literally starving before our eyes.

“But”, (and here is where I hear a confused mix of anger and passion), “where were these people on January 11th?” Why now? The devastation in Haiti did not begin on January 12th! The devastation has been there for decades. The earthquake took Haiti devastation from a 9 to a 10 on the tragedy scale.

I too am grateful for those who have rushed to Haiti. I thank the Lord for the countless individuals who have given of their financial resources and their time to assist. I believe that the Lord can and will use the earthquake to awaken a new commitment to serve one of our closest neighbors.

I believe (and I pray) that January 12th will be remembered as the worst day in Haitian history and the best day in Haitian history.

But, the question remains: Why are so many people wanting to be involved in Haiti? It is a valid question. I Corinthians 13:5 tells us …Love is not self-seeking. Love does not seek its own personal, private preference without reference to what may be good for other people. Love seeks its joy in the good of others.

When you attempt to live – not motivated by love - but so that God will bless you make you feel better about your earthy existence - this is incredibly selfish. If the good works you do – are being done with selfish motives, then you are living life to ultimately justify yourself and your behavior.

Here is where this reflection gets downright painful –

If I jump on a plane to Haiti immediately following the earthquake – because I need to be there; but the need to be there is in actuality a deep personal need to feel justified – then ultimately , though I may feed a thousand children, I am not helping the poor – I am helping myself because it is all about me as I attempt to justify my existence upon this earth.

Please don’t get me wrong. Everyone working in Haiti is not doing so from selfish motives. And, it is not wrong to naturally feel satisfaction with serving. But, if that is the root of our good works then our acts of kindness are ultimately selfishness.

As a pastor, I have encountered the following on countless occasions. In a family, one spouse is a drug addict / alcoholic (name your addiction). The spouse of the addict sacrifices much for the unhealthy spouse. They go the extra mile again and again to help the unhealthy spouse to recover and lead a productive life. Commonly, more often than you would imagine, when the unhealthy spouse gets healthy – the marriage falls apart. Why? Because the healthy spouse finds it difficult to connect any longer to the (newly) healthy spouse. Ultimately, the relationship was not about love – the relationship was about the healthy person needing to be a savior. The apparent acts of sacrificial love were about the healthy spouse's need to be indispensable. “Look at the love I’m giving my spouse who has so many problems”. When the unhealthy spouse recovers, the marriage is often over. This is Love seeking its own (I Cor. 13:5). Clearly, in this scenario they were both unhealthy,

Some are championing Haiti and rushing to the scene because they are feeling like they have to be the hero, the champion, the savior. If that is where your heart is today, while your acts to serve the poor are commendable, your acts are not motivated by love. You are seeking your own. To be sure, these are actions which will benefit Haiti, but ultimately, your actions are not motivated by a need to feel justified, accepted and loved.

The rush to help Haiti points to a deeper issue. You are not the champion. I am not the champion. But there is a savior, a hero. His name is Jesus. When you begin to see that Jesus alone is the savior and lover – only then can you begin to be motivated by love. When the other person’s joy is your joy, their delight is your delight – this is love. And, it is only found in Jesus.

Please – don’t mistake being good for meeting Jesus.

Watching the world’s celebrities take their turn at the front of the stage to promote helping Haiti has more often than not revealed their search for significance, a search which can only be settled in Jesus.

I understand why many people feel resentment towards those who have suddenly made Haiti their life priority. But know this: many of the people who have jumped on the Haiti bandwagon are looking for an opportunity to justify their existence upon this earth. GK Chesterton wrote, ““Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God”. So too, any person who rushes to Haiti for self-justification is looking for God.

We can only pray that through their attempts to be a savior to Haitians by serving the poor, they will see their need for a savior and a hero – only Jesus.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Travel

Gene and Trey travel today to Miami. They have an overnight stay in Miami and plan to be back in Lincoln by late tomorrow night. Pray for them. Trey was sick yesterday, but is feeling a little better today. Also, there have been a number of tragedies on Nebraska highways the last few days. Gene and Trey will have a drive from KC to Lincoln, after a long and weary day of travel. Pray for their safety. I've realized the last couple of days that our lives are completely in the hands of the Lord. Over the years, people have asked me if I feel like I am taking risks going to Haiti. I have always responded, the thing I worry about the most in Haiti is the roads, ... not the people. The irony is that the last few days I have feared Nebraska roads more than the ones in Haiti. I would be remiss not to mention Crossroads Church here in Lincoln. Crossroads lost their pastor Dan Thompson when he was killed in a rollover accident on I-80 yesterday morning. Pray for the Thompson family and Crossroads.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home in Lincoln

I just arrived home at 9pm tonight. 23 degrees? Are you kidding me? I fought through sleet, ice and gusting snow and winds as I drove from KC. I haven't yet heard if Chris Tran made it back yet. His itinerary took him through Newark. And just think ... Gene and Trey are still soaking up the sun in the Dominican Republic through Tuesday. But, I was able to kiss my kids and there are still almost three hours left to spend with Tanya on Valentine's Day. It's good to be home.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ezequiel and the Historic Distric of SD

The GCA guys dropped us off at the historic district of the Santo Domingo and the adventure continued. Remember this trip began with a return trip up in the air, so we had no hotel reservation. Gene had googled a hotel in Santo Domingo and found a hotel called the Hotel Pallacio. We strung together the little Spanish we knew, walked for about 30 min. finally to find the HP. It was full. No vacancy. Evidently a cruise ship came into port today so most hotels are packed out. The desk clerk at the HP gave a few suggestions without any promises of vacancies. As we were walking out, I said, "Yo neccessito taxi aeropuerto estan cuatro y media des la mananas," which is my attempt to say I need a taxi at 4:30am. The desk clerk said to wait a second and she went out to grab a cab driver named Ezequiel and E proceeds to walk us to a hostel that is about 2/3 the rate of the HP and there are available rooms. Ezequiel then tells me he will meet me outside the hostel at 4:30am and take me to the airport. How great is that? Tran and I tipped E pretty well.

In DR and Soon Home

Just woke up in San Juan. We will leave for the Santo Domingo airport around 10am. We expect about a three hour drive. We will drop off Frank, Marcel, Diego and Brian. Chris and I fly out tomorrow. Gene and Trey will fly out Tuesday. We're all looking forward to seeing our loved ones. When I told my eight-year-old Mia on the phone that Daddy would be home late on Sunday night and that I would kiss her head since she would be sleeping, Mia said, "I will not go to sleep until I see you." I'll let Tanya handle that one :-).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Last Day in Haiti ... Until We Return in March

It feels weird to say this is our last day in Haiti, after having been here since Feb3rd. We will help out in any way we can, have lunch at Gie's house (just as we have all week). Gie is a local who helps out with GCA's ministry. After lunch, we will head back to the Dominican Republic and stay the night at the San Juan in the DR. Frank, Brian and a guy named Diego who came with Brian as a spanish speaker to get through the DR, will leave tomorrow. Chris Tran and I will fly out and should be to Lincoln by the evening of Valentine's Day. Originally, Gene, Trey and I could not get out of the DR until Tuesday and into Lincoln until Wednesday. But Gene had his paralegal Vern look for a single ticket for me to get back to Lincoln on Sunday. Isn't Gene a great guy? And thanks Vern for your work for me! I've never met you, but I appreciate you! Gene and Trey will do the father-son thing in the DR for a couple days, and I will be reunited with my family Sunday. I can't wait. A few thoughts as we prepare to leave Haiti: 1) the Nebraska guys have given me grief for over 10 days now for blogging so much and you might wonder, "when does Mike actually help?" Let me leave it at this, I can't hold a candle to Gene, Trey and Chris when it comes to serving. They are awesome.; 2) we haven't yet been able to make contact with Michelle (girl with fibrous tumor), but Frank will be back multiple times in the coming weeks and will continue to try; 3) we have so much to bring back and report to Grace Chapel people and can't wait to bring back our 34 people in late March; 4) thank you for your prayers... they have been AMAZING. I've never seen prayer work this powerfully and clearly; 5) Trey got a job in Haiti (I am not kidding ... he will move here in March ... I'll let the Summerlins give you details on that one). Thank you friends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Distribution

This morning we got to the distribution site and began distributing family packs. Each family pack consists of 20lbs. rice, 20lbs. rolled oats, 20lbs. cornmeal, assorted canned meats, assorted canned vegetables and canned milk. The distribution started off well, but as the family packs began to dwindle, the crowds became more restless and the environment became more tense. A few family packs got "swiped" and Gene went after a couple of Haitians who did not have a card for a family pack. I went after one guy who I suspected of swiping a family pack, brought him back to the site only to learn he was "legitimate." I just had to make sure. I told him, "merci" (which means "thank you"), and the man smiled and seemed to be fine. We ended up distributing 135 family packs in Mirebalais. I suspect about a dozen were swiped (it's hard to describe how crowded and tense the scene was, even with some of our security people in place). We then hooked up with Brian Kelso of GCA who was coming from Ft. Lauderdale and together traveled to another dropoff site near Port au Prince. There we dropped off another 150 family packs. Near the end of distribution near Mirebalais, we were rushing to get food back into the container and locked up. I believe the remaining food items will go to the Port au Prince University students we met a few days ago, and their networks. We rushed to get the food back in the containers because we wanted to make sure the crowds did not get out of hand. Most of GCA's distribution efforts will be through local Haitian networks where the Haitians are distributing, rather than the "blancs"; however, we made a decision to try and distribute to the many people and families who had come out to help us yesterday. Did I feel in danger? I suppose I would say, "as much as I do being around Americans at an 'after-Christmas' sale." The difference is the people are in a frenzy over rice, beans and oats rather than name-brand jeans and sweaters. Despite some tense moments, we accomplished our objectives and that feels pretty good. By the way, this is the big issue regarding relief in Haiti right now. How can we effectively get food to the people without inciting a riot? GCA will continue to work through their local networks so Haitian pastors and local leaders can continue to provide relief that is effective. If you are getting involved with an organization providing relief, feel free to inquire as to : 1) how relief is being provided? and 2) precisely who is providing the relief (the locals or someone else)? Of course, sometimes it is necessary for the outside people to provide relief (like we did today), but is that an exceptional situation or the actual strategy? The former approach seeks to empower the Haitians, the latter does not.

Praise God for the Italians! Grati!

You are not going to believe this. Tonight Frank, Gene and I were unwinding in the commons area here at the hotel in Mirebalais. We had a great day. A group of about twenty Italian doctors and nurses show up around 9pm. They have been working long days in Port au Prince. We exchange greetings and the Italians offer us some "strong drink." So the next thing you know Gene, Frank and I are yucking it up with these Italian medical personnel. Do you remember Michelle? Michelle is the 10yr. old girl we met yesterday (with her mom), with the fibrous tumor the size of a canteloupe around her midsection. Gene pulls up pictures of Michelle's midsection on his phone, and we ask if the group is able to treat Michelle. One of the Italian surgeons comes over to look at the pictures and says that if we can get her to the Italian hospital called Santa Mien in Port au Prince, their doctors will look at Michelle's tumor and see if there is anything they can do for her. Are you kidding me? We got the surgeon's name. So after our food distribution just outside PaP tomorrow, we are going to see if we can't track down Michelle and her mom and take them to Santa Mien. Is God amazing or what? I still can't get over the day we've had. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Successful Day So Far

We started unloading the container at about 10:30 this morning. Because the semi could not make it up the hill, we unloaded about 20,000 lbs. of supplies and walked them the 75 yards or so to the dropoff location. We had over fifty Haitians including small children and elderly men and women carrying supplies. We're talking 8 yr. olds and 60 yr. olds carrying 50 lb. bags of rice and oats on their heads. These people are amazing. Then they got the truck over the hill and we unloaded the rest of the 20,000 lbs. on location. Next, we set up the crane with directions consisting of a picture, but Frank and Gene were great. We set up the crane with two large steel beams each weighing 200 lbs., bolted to the top, and then lowererd the 4000 lb. container to the ground. This was the part of the project where it was important that we have four Americans at each corner of the container with clear communication as we lowered the container in unison. Gene walked around to make sure the container remained level and Frank, Trey, Chris and I lowered the container. We got it done safely and efficiently. Praise God. We took a short lunch break and for the last four and a half hours, we have been working with the PaP University students to get the food into family packs in preparation for distribution. This day has been amazing. This particular project is why we came to Haiti in the first place. Though delayed by a week, this has been an awesome day so far. We still plan to work into the night. As I was working alongside Ralph, the Haitian student leader, Ralph said, "we will need to play basketball" : that gets me excited.