Category Archives: Haiti

A Picture

Tonight Jack was asleep and Johanna was having a girls night out. I was perusing my news feed on Facebook when I came across a gallery of photos that had just been uploaded by Samaritan’s Purse. They were pictures taken of the attempts to fight and contain the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

As I clicked through the pictures I came across the one above, which in an unexpected wave brought back to my memory all the hurt and pain that I saw during my short time there. It created in me a flow of tears and a reckless desire to leave everything behind and go to this country to help them.

I don’t want to only help their suffering but to tell them that Jesus suffered and cares about their suffering.


Today I read a story on NPR’s website about the collective sigh of relief coming from Haiti. The short piece was written Jason Beaubien who was in Haiti as Hurricane Tomas brushed by the country. He recounts an image of a little girl leaning on her daddy as they stood underneath the doorway to their tent shelter, looking up at the darkening sky. Jason describes the little girl clinging to her father with a sense of security.

Beaubien was there to report a story, but he confesses that he was hoping no story would happen. He “crosses his fingers” that the hurricane would stay out in sea and not send tarps flying on land. He closes with this hopeless sentence:

And the only thing that kept that fate from befalling the Haitian capital this week was that this hurricane happened to stay away from Port-au-Prince.

Are we all victims of random fate in this life? Do we cross our fingers hoping that some calamity or illness will barely miss us, just as Tomas clipped Haiti? It is impossible to not have this worldview result in despair.

Calamity visited Job in massive ways. too He lost his houses, possessions and children. His wife told him to curse God and his friends were not a comfort to him. Job did not resign himself to fate but fell down on his face and worshiped God (Job 1:20). He declared, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21)

The Christians hope is in a sovreign God who is in control of everything. When sickness, disaster, death, disease, poverty, and depression strike we know they are from a mighty God who only allows it for our good. He wants to work greater things in us, than simply having a pain-free life. Through the suffering we grab hold of a joy unspeakable that can only come from God.

Father God makes more sense than random fate. When the clouds of life darken, we can lean on our unshakable, soul-satisfying Father who will be our eternal security.

A Week in Haiti (Day 6)

The last two days have been spent doing field clinics in the mountains of Haiti. We passed through areas that were so impoverished that I could feel my heart being wrenched. This was an area that had been the epicenter of the earthquake. We could see gigantic cracks in the road that had resulted from that now infamous day. As we began ascending up the roads leading us away from Port-au-Prince we were presented with an amazing view of the city and ocean. The 3 hour trip led us through one poor village after another.

We arrived in Jacmuel and set up a clinic their the first day. I helped unload and load our truck that was filled with the needed medical equipment for the day. At the clinic those of us who weren’t nurses played with the children while they waited for hours to be seen. The hours were spent in intense heat and humidity, however; the mood was joyful. The Haitians always seemed joyful.

We blew bubbles for a solid hour which produced a lot of laughs and smiles. We also gave away balls, stickers, and other toys. We played duck, duck, grey duck and replaced the English words with the Creo equivalent. Later in the day some of the guys set up 12 tents  for our group to sleep in that night. By the end of this day I was more exhausted than I had been in a long time.

The following day we set up another field clinic an hour away. A woman had come in who had received a mastectomy which had become infected.  The tumors had also returned. The infection made her skin looked as if it had been badly burned. One of the doctors told her she would be dead by Christmas, and if she did not know Jesus she should talk to the pastor before she left. It was a sobering, life crushing moment.

We came back down the mountain that evening as the sun was setting over the ocean which provided us with a beautiful sight to behold. As the sun sank behind the ocean it silhouetted a large tent city. It epitamized what I thought was the only way to describe Haiti- a tragic beauty. Haiti has beautiful mountains, a gorgeous ocean, warm hospitality and smiles on so many of its people. Along with that comes pain, poverty, filth and violence.

A Week in Haiti (Day 5)

We woke up to Haitian music crankin’ and bumpin’ next door. The only thing louder than the music were the people yelling. As I awoke out of sleep I brushed off the ants crawling up my leg and felt my back protest the movement. Although my body didn’t want to take the day on, at the end of it, my soul was glad it did.

We are camped out at a rental house that the church from the Dominican Republic is renting. Most of them don’t speak English and we are discovering the differences in our cultures. Despite these differences we can unite under the banner of Jesus Christ to work together, eat together and share the experience of Christ working in our lives. Christ is the one who unites us.

Today we set up two clinics similar to the ones we did yesterday. The first was at a site of an orphanage. Located in the center of the property rubble from the school and church which had collapsed during the earthquake. I had the amazing experience of meeting Pastor Bob who operates the orphanage, Good Rest Mission. He left his home state of Kentucky 34 years ago to start this orphanage. The call to Haiti began as a professor. He had a Haitian student in his class and began talking to him about the needs of his home country.

When Pastor Bob was asked what the greatest need at the orphanage was, he replied, “God is.” His complete rest in the sovereignty of God was simply amazing and uplifting. I felt like I was in the presence of a spiritual giant. Like one who is described in Hebrews 11 as whom the world is not worthy to have. He told us that ten minutes before the earthquake shook, he was trying to get all the kids ready for church,however; they were running late. He said that if they would have been on time they would have been in the building which crumbled, killing them all. Now he faces the task of rebuilding  what he has spent his lifetime doing at the age of 74. I told him how much I respect him for leaving the wealth and security of America to give his life for the Gospel, which caused him to break out in a song about wanting Jesus more than silver or gold.

We then went to a second orphanage for a clinic. I handed out coloring books after the children received their immunizations. I was coloring with a girl who was asking me a question in Creo. I got the attention of an interpreter who translated for me. She had been coloring a picture  of Jesus on the cross and wanted to know if the story of Christ’s death was true. I told her it was true. Christ died for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him. It was a sweet moment of telling her the truth about Christ’s saving work.

The orphanage was built on a swamp and we had to drive through streets of slime to get there. The air reeked of stale swamp water.  Amidst the smell, the children sang to us before we left. There were many tears shed by our team as they sang about Jesus.

A Week in Haiti (Day 4)

Today we returned to La Plane to continue construction projects. The nurses came along with us and conducted a field clinic on the other side of the village. The clinic began with with tetanus shots and de-worming   medicine. Following that the nurses would do a triage assessment on them and send any children with obvious injuries or sickenss to the doctors. At the end of the clinic was a pharmacy set up with all the drugs we had brought from Minnesota.

That afternoon I began helping the nurses by holding children receiving shots. Some of them took the needle without a flinch while others screamed bloody murder. The shots were done inside a large tent. Shortly after we began the parents started a near riot to get their kids to the front of the line. This caused the people at the front of the line to start falling into the entrance of the tent. I grabbed a couple other guys to do crowd control, pushing everyone farther away and creating two lines. It was tough for me to yell at people who were hurting and wanted help, but without some organization the situation would have spun out of control. I stayed there for 4 hours to help keep the peace.

We were joined by 3 more guys from an organization in California called Safe Harbor. One was a homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department who helped me with the crowd control.

Construction was  also continuing on the houses simultaneously. The much needed materials were being held up at the Haitian border in a shipping container though. The government had begun to return to its corrupt ways previous to the earthquake and wanted a bribe to release the materials. It was extremely frustrating and made me want to gather a righteous posse together and break some skulls over the issue. These evil, corrupt politicians who control the country run it into the ground for their own selfish gain.

The frustration was replaced by sweet fellowship that evening back at the rented house. We talked about God over rice and beans and the conversation was on how to effectively reach the poor for Christ.

A Week in Haiti (Day 3)

Today was a long day. We woke up to chickens crowing and music bumping. We packed up all our gear because we thought we weren’t returning to the school that night. That in turn made us late for breakfast and when we got there they had run out of food.

We spent an hour driving into the mountain, headed for our destination called La Plane. The roads were a series of potholes and Haitian drivers make New York City cab drivers look like they are driving Miss Daisy. At one point there was a huge back up where the road had corroded. It was a combination of damage from the earthquake and water run off. We helped a driver get his truck unstuck by piling into the back of it so he would have more weight and therefore gain more traction on the mud.

Our team partnered with a church from the Dominican Republic that is donating materials to build houses for orphans. These orphans lost their leader in the earthquake and scattered into the streets looking for food. They were starving and many had been sexually assaulted when the church gathered them up. The church is moving them to La Plane which is located outside of Port-au-Prince at the foothill of the mountains where it is safer.

We dug out foundations, mixed concrete and laid brick and re-bar in preperation for the rest of the materials that were supposed to come that day or tomorrow. The people of La Plane were eager and ready to help us with the work that needed to be done. I met a 19 year old boy, named Reginal, who had taught himself English by getting a hold of a dictionary in English. He asked me how many languages I knew, assuming it would be at least 2.

This village suffered from poverty. The homes they lived in were nothing short of shacks. Kids played in dirt while goats, pigs and chickens wandered around looking for anything edible to eat. I played some games with the kids even though the language barrier kept us from having conversations. At the end of the day we played soccer with them which elicited a  lot of smiles. One of the people asked Pastor Brad if we were Christians, and when he replied by saying we were, responded by saying we acted like Christians. We thought that was meant in a good way.

We didn’t have lunch, so we snacked on cliff bars. That afternoon we ran out of water. Most of the guys from the Dominican Republic had been stopped at the border for hours that day, along with our supplies and bottled water. The Haitian government had reverted to its corrupt ways and was demanding bribes to let them through. There had been a reprieve from those corrupt tactics since the earthquake. We prayed that God would work in the situation and let them through, which did happen a couple hours later.

We ended the day covered in layers of sunscreen, mosquito spray and Haitian dust. We had a wonderful day, however; working with the people of La Plane. We drove back to the school, dropped off the nurses, and went to a house that the DR guys had rented. We pitched tents in the driveway since there was no air conditioning in the house and it was cooler outside. I wrote this journal entry in my tent, book ended by three sweaty guys that I have really enjoyed working with.

Good night..

A Week in Haiti (Day 2)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

This morning started with roosters crowing. Some sounded more like they had a severe case of strep throat and sounded more like cackles. It didn’t take long for the roosters to be overtaken by the sound of traffic, horns blaring and people yelling. The previous night had ended with the thumping of Haitian music from a nearby house. Breakfast was a croissant, pineapple and hard boiled egg. We found out that we would not be getting lunch supplied to us or water. We pooled all our snacks together and topped off water bottles; heading out into the Haitian heat.

I left at 0730 with two of our teams nurses and two doctors we had met from Texas. We teamed up with two local translators and climbed into the back of a caged truck. Being a cop allows me to usually be in control of a situation. To say that I was uneasy about being in a caged truck, not knowing where I was going, and not knowing where I was would be a gross understatement.

We bounced our way down roads for 30 minutes, finally turning into a back alley. I noticed a small waterway that was used for drainage I think. The color of the water was a hazy, flem type color.While driving to our destination we saw garbage being burned 10 feet from a river, goats eating other piles of garbage, cows drinking the water, and children playing in the water.

We set up our clinic in a church which consisted of wood and tin. An announcement was put out by the pastor over a megaphone about the clinic. All age ranges were seen and all types of medical problems showed up. It was more frustrating than anything else, for many of the conditions require more than what the clinic had available. A man had a broken wrist from the earthquake that hung limp on his arm. It was completely useless. The hardest sights to see were children who suffered from a host of problems. Their crying broke my heart.

The clinic lasted for about 8 hours and the nurses and doctors saw about 120 people. We packed up at the end of the day and drove back to the school we were staying at…not knowing what lay ahead the next day. This we did know, that we would need faith and trust in God’s sovereignty more than our ability.