I really do like to look for the silver lining in every circumstance I encounter. I firmly believe in the goodness of God and tend to filter everything through that belief. We do live in a fallen world and bad things happen regularly, but I have every confidence that God is never caught by surprise and His good plan has already accounted for all the bumps in the road.
Having said all that, I want you to know that I am not ignorant of the dire circumstances facing our friends in Haiti. I would like for all of you to be aware, as well, so you will be able to pray with understanding. We know that God loves justice [...the Lord loves righteousness and justice...(Ps. 89:14)]. Those living in poverty in Haiti are currently facing injustices every moment of every day with no apparent way out. As followers of Jesus, we are to seek justice for them - first and foremost on our knees.
The current UN report on Haiti shows that 5 million people are hungry right now. The remaining seven million are part of the country's 20% employed or else they have family in other countries send support to them. 80% of the population of working age have no resources with which to earn wages. It is in the midst of these circumstances, compounded by gang violence, kidnappings, and severe inflation that the prime minister announced 128% fuel price hike last Sunday.
Monday began a week-long (so far) lockdown in the country. Announcements were passed all across the country, "Do not leave home for any reason!" Barricades, often flaming, were erected across MOST streets. Rocks and bottles were thrown or shots fired at anyone daring to disobey ... unless, of course, you were one of the thousands of people ensuring no passage. This picture is from the bridge out of Fonde Fred into les Cayes, where we helped construct a medical clinic with Forward in Health. With the raging waters below, people in this area have no way out.
In Port-au-Prince many businesses have been looted. Several politicians' homes were set aflame, causing all high-profile politicians to leave their homes, seeking refuge with friends or family. Many went to hotels, rather than put their loved ones at risk.
Throughout the country businesses and residences have fallen to arson. Several banks and transfer centers that we deal with have been among them.
In Petion-Ville, home to the majority of the country's elite, stores and warehouses with barred windows and heavy, steel doors were broken down and the businesses looted. In the city of Gonaives the UN's World Food Program's food warehouses were divested of food, supplies, and even shelving. CARITAS, another Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) was overrun by a huge mob and their substantial food stores evacuated on the backs, shoulders, and heads of the mob's members.
The lack of fuel in the country (at any price) is beginning to impact even communications, with internet signals becoming weak or nonexistent. We have had difficulty communicating with our friends in Grand-Goave and les Cayes. This is just a glimpse of some of the realities in Haiti right now. There are personal stories, like a fellow missionary whose husband barely escaped with his life when the vehicle he was riding in was attacked by armed gangsters. Many others were injured and killed. I know I"ve been saying things are bad in Haiti for a couple of years now, but believe me, they are worse than I have ever known them to be over the past 22 years.
So, please pray, knowing how difficult the battle is for these people, but also knowing how big and amazing our God is. Nothing is too difficult for Him! By the way, Tropical storm Fiona is heading toward the Island of Hispanola and is expected to bring lots of wind and rain beginning Monday. Will you join us in praying for the well-being of our friends in the Dominican Republic, as well as in Haiti? Thank you!
In the midst of all this and so much more, we are still managing to keep the babies fed.
Clinic patients waned significantly this week and yet we were still able to serve those who came.
While in Imbert, Dominican Republic (about 30 minutes east of Luperòn), we spent some time with Pastor Anthony and his wife, Nadine at Iglesia Jesucristo de Imbert. Pastor Anthony suffered a massive debilitating stroke 3 years ago. It left him unable to speak, walk, or care for himself. Nadine is an energetic encourager. I'm sure the Lord used her mightily to keep her husband going. She testified to us of the goodness of God. The church members rallied behind them, offering their help and stepping into leadership roles to keep the church moving forward. They became an even closer community of believers through this. Nadine was ecstatic to tell us how wonderfully the Lord has dealt with them. She's in awe of God to see Pastor Anthony able to walk and talk today and she's grateful he's still with her.
Late in the day, we were playing with some children near a field. We learned that the dozens of animals in the field had come there of their own volition. Apparently, during the day they wander throughout the village looking for food, but by 6pm they all come back to this field. Their owners (many different people) will call for them there and they'll follow them home. Since I've never been a shepherd of goats and sheep, this experience shed new light on some Bible verses for me, like these from John 10:27-28, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Today Lex and I were blessed to present at Burns Hill Christian Fellowship in Milford, NH. This church has supported MOHI's work in Haiti for almost two decades now. Wow! We are so grateful for co-laborers and friends like Pastor Gary and Stephanie - and Nancy, too!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. As I say goodbye, I welcome you to enjoy a brief time of worship with our church in Thozin. Be blessed!