It seems appropriate that I would visit our church in St. Etienne this morning. (And yes, that IS a chicken in the church, listening to my husband preach! [picture below]) Ten years ago today, Alexis and AJay led a team from Central Massachusetts up and down the mountain paths of the area, visiting and praying with our neighbors. It was a warm, sunny day and the team thoroughly enjoyed spending time with folks and blessing them with what they had to give.
They returned to Grand-Goave with exciting stories from the day - and then it happened. Although at that moment we couldn't even fathom what was going on, it was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that would not only destroy an estimated 70% of the buildings in our little city, but would claim the lives of an estimated three hundred thousand individuals in the country. It was the beginning of a seemingly hopeless season in Haiti. A season I do my best to forget.
A decade later, as I reflect on that season, the feelings of the moment quickly rise to the surface. The looks of fear on every face, the uncertainty of now (who have we lost?) and tomorrow (will life ever be normal again?), sleeping outdoors in the cold and wet (the wet being the dew that we'd roll into in the middle of the night) - and the gratitude - as terrified as we were, we were so grateful to God, for we had survived.
Ten years ago, we also had a great sense of unity within our communities as we had gone through a horrible tragedy together. I remember several people who had previously expressed their dislike of my husband started to come around and ask to be a part of what we were doing. Much healing took place in those early days.
We lost one of our school teachers that day. Denise lived right on the path I walked on daily to go to the school or to the open market. I had visited with her and her children many times in front of their home. She was one of literally hundreds of thousands who died that day. Each one had a name. Each one is still missed today.
Denise's son reached out to my husband recently. He's living in the US now and has dreams of one day becoming president of Haiti. God's grace has seen him through the tragedy of losing his mother and I trust HIS grace will continue to help him to accomplish all that God has in store for him!
God remained present throughout those months and months of major aftershocks. We had people willing to work hard and other organizations had the funds/materials needed. Great partnerships were formed that enabled the needs of many in our communities to be met.
Ten years later, God is still using us to bring hope, knowledge, and means to those in our communities. Some wonderful partnerships have remained and are still ministering to the need here. We are so grateful for our friends at Mission USA who partnered with us to bring dental care to our clinic.
This first full week of school, Dr. Mabou was extra busy checking on our students.
Bless Back Worldwide joined with us to bring medical care to a whole new level in Thozin.
That last picture above includes Daniela, one of the children that we cared for while the Hands and Feet Project prepared a place for them. She gave a week of service in our clinic, as she is interested in the medical field.
Many of you have continued generously donating to purchase rice to share with those in need. We have already shared food with over 2700 families. Thank you!!!
Our students are so thrilled to be back in school. It was a wonderful week!
Personally, I have been thoroughly enjoying being back in Haiti. It's very much a sense of coming home. Unfortunately, though I am surrounded by so many precious souls, the nest here is empty.
While I do miss our kids and grands very much, I'm actually content in this season. I sense the Lord is preparing us for another step forward in ministry and in our personal lives. It's all good!
Lex and I have been enjoying our morning walks - they always start out with just the two of us. These are very special moments for me, since time alone in Haiti is very, very rare for us. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with it! While the purpose of the walks is to keep us moving (exercise), that's not usually our focus. This week we spent some time in the garden.
Yes, my husband even took a few minutes to sow some beans. And those chickens, are not our friends. If they get into the garden, they'll eat the beans before they get a chance to grow.
We also got to visit a bit with the fishermen.
Yes, again, that's my husband helping to pull in the net. It's so sad to see them work so hard to put out the net and then pull it in to only find a handful of tiny fish. There's a reason fish is expensive!
There's also a reason I said that our walks "start out with just the two of us." And that really works well for me. We are surrounded by community. We all stick our noses in each other's business and give unsolicited advice - and it's okay. This is community.