Can I share some deeply personal and maybe not so positive thoughts with you? I know, I tend to be a positive person and don't like to dwell on difficulties. But sometimes it's just really hard to ignore the elephant in the room.
I am so grateful to the Lord for leading me to where I am today. I wouldn't be anywhere else. Sometimes, however, it is a very difficult place to be.
Lex grew up in extreme poverty. He didn't even go to school until he was ten and then only by the grace of a woman from Michigan whom the Lord used to sponsor his education and so much more. He tells stories of putting salt under his tongue as he left home to walk to school, trying to trick his tummy into thinking he'd actually eaten. He has known much hardship in his life.
Not a day goes by that he forgets where he came from. Whether it's a child in the school yard, a young man in a fight, or an elderly woman in the clinic, he can relate to every one of them. He feels what they feel. He hopes beyond hope for each one. And he intervenes as often as possible.
Sleeping at night has never been a real problem for Lex and I. Dogs barking, donkeys braying, roosters, goats, cows, horses - we can sleep through it all. Sleeping since Hurricane Matthew hit, however, has been a bit problematical for us both.
First of all, we are apart a lot. We lack our time of strengthening each other before we start our day. I am holding down the fort, so to speak, here in Grand-Goave. I'm okay with that. I know my skillset is much more useful and beneficial to those we serve by staying here. Lex is out gathering supplies, motivating people to get involved, preparing, traveling, and always leading so many people. It's what he's good at and he's happy to be doing it. It's actually very fulfilling to be where and doing what the Lord has directed us to. Does that mean it's easy to live that way, though? Uhhhh, NOOOO!!!!
Our biggest problem? There are so many people who are really hurting. And they are hurting right now. Sure, we're doing what we can, but who can hide from the reality that it's just not enough? Knowing you can't save the world and watching it passing in front of you every day are two different things.
Do you know what Lex says to me every night?
"I just don't know where these people are going to sleep."
We both remember the earthquake that hit Haiti January 12, 2010. We remember what it felt like to try to sleep in the school yard that first night. Not much success. As exhaustion overtook us over the nights that followed, we did get some sleep. I remember waking up so, so cold - rolling over onto the dew all around me. There would be no going back to sleep. Eventually, we figured out we could sleep in our box truck. We were warmer and there was no dew in the early morning hours.
Most of the residents of southern Haiti don't have a vehicle they can sleep in. Many of them don't have a sheet or a pillow or even a spot of earth that's cleared of debris and mud. Where are they sleeping?
Oh, and I should probably mention that it has again been raining for several days now. As Lex and the team drove back on Friday, they saw rivers flowing over bridges, homes with water 2/3 of the way up the doorway. Here's a picture of the general hospital in Cayes, taken by another missionary...
The five hour drive took almost 15 hours, as there was a landslide that landed on the main road. I'll tell you what, we had some real troopers this week. Angie, Alicia, Walt, Dr. Emmanuel, Lex, and two policemen who worked with us all week pulled into the yard at 4 o'clock Saturday morning. And the stories they tell. Wow!
I suppose that I am somewhat sheltered from all of this, since I am on the homefront here. However, just now, as I am writing this, I received a notification of a $250 donation from someone I don't even know and I broke.
When the news I am receiving from home is almost exclusively about the distress of the upcoming election, to receive a donation from a total stranger seems crazy awesome to me. Certainly it's beyond what I expected. I am reminded of how much God loves these people. (AND He loves you and me just as much!)
I have received so many notes of encouragement. How can I even describe to you what it means to us PERSONALLY to hear from friends, some of whom we haven't heard from in years, as they send funds and tell us that they appreciate what we're doing and that they're praying for us. Wow! Thank you!!!!
That was, I suppose, a very long way of asking you all this: Would you pray for us this week? Please pray for Alicia, Angie, Lex, and I to have the emotional fortitude to keep being a help. Pray for us to have wisdom to know who to help and how best to help these for whom Christ died.
I do want to give you a report on what we've been up to this week. Our wonderful partners, Bless Back Worldwide, sent Walt Rumfelt to us this week. He is a PA who has been here previously and is a real trooper. He joined Alicia, Angie, Dr. Emmanuel, Nurse Ruth, Jephte, Gardith, Wadson, Marie Ange, Pastor Hakine and many volunteers from the MOHI churches in an outreach to Port Salut this week.
The network that Lex has built over the past 16 years brought us a nice place to stay -no electricity or running water, but strong walls, a roof, and good security. The bus made several trips back to Grand-Goave to pick up more supplies for the outreach each day.
Mobile medical clinics were held daily in several different locations. We did see some pretty serious cases where people had been injured. Metal roofing is particularly dangerous during strong winds and we saw some very bad lacerations. We're so grateful for knowledgeable and flexible medical professionals and a good supply of medical supplies and drugs that enabled so many to be helped. We're especially grateful for the partnership with Bless Back Worldwide that prepared us for such a time as this.
Each day we distributed water, food, and various other supplies (clothing, soap, tarps, rope...) to different areas of Port Salut. Our church volunteers, armed with machetes and a chainsaw, were able to lend a hand in the seemingly impossible task of cleaning up the debris and fallen trees.
There were also many opportunities to pray with folks and offer some extra attention. One woman approached Alicia with a baby of maybe 6 months. She explained to Alicia that the parents had died and she was now caring for the child. THIS is the Haiti I fell in love with! Alicia was able to introduce her to Pastor Lex, who was able to offer her some extra support in food and money.
We are happy to see other missionaries responding to the need in the south, as well. Missionaries from the Hands and Feet Project and Tree of Hope each joined us for a day on this outreach. Heart to Heart missionary, Rebecca Honorat, let me know today that their church here in Grand-Goave is collecting clothing and their ministry also wants to purchase supplies for us to take down with us next week. It thrills me to see us all come together for these folks in another area.
We are at a point now where having teams of hardworking individuals who are not afraid of roughing it would be very helpful. We like to use Haitian labor, as much as possible, but there is so much work to be done that no jobs will be lost if you come and assist them!
If you'd like to come work with us in the south, please contact me and we can discuss the logistics.
The need continues to be great. We are blessed to be a blessing. Please continue telling others about the ministry of Mission of Hope International and connect us with folks who want to support the kind of work that we are doing. Thank you!