It has been a whirlwind trip. As you know, I landed in the Dominican Republic Friday, January 29. I spend the night in Santo Domingo. I woke up at 6:00 am to a phone call asking me to be ready to leave at 8:00 am. Wondering to myself — does he mean 8:00 am — or somewhere AROUND 8:00 am.
I decided to get up and get a meal at the hotel restaurant — last meal before heading to the unknown.
I took a shower, packed up and head to breakfast. It was great — a buffet. I LOVE breakfast, especial in buffet style. I have eggs, potatoes, a wonderful banana, bacon, and fresh orange juice. It was great. However, I was think to myself, “Self, you have an 8 hour bus ride to Haiti. What goes in must come out.” I’ll spare you the details. But, it was a concern.
I went back to my room picked up my luggage and heading to the lobby. I checked out at 7:55 am and prepared for the hour long wait. However, to my surprise Ivan was waiting for me outside. It was great. He told me that I would be riding alone to Haiti. “Do you speak Spanish?” he asked. I said, “Nope — not a lick.” He said, “I should be a great trip to catch up with your reading because you’re not going to talk to anyone.” LOL
He was right. I sat near the front in assigned seat 12, next to a girl who told me right away, “No, English — none — no English. No talk.” That sounded like English to me. She was young, about 20 something. She was traveling to Haiti with several others — not sure if they were family or not. She did not enjoy sitting by me. Not sure why. She did have this thing for bees. She had a bee that kept crawling toward her on the window. She’s was afraid of it. But, she wouldn’t kill it. I tried to help her, but she wouldn’t let me. A tree hugger in Dominican Republic.
The bus was nice. Air conditioning, quiet, good springs. It was comfortable.
It took about 4 hours to get to the Haitian border. Woe, what a stark difference between the DR and Haiti. It’s like night and day. On the DR side, trees, grass, water, pretty flowers and everything you would expect in a tropical island nation. However, when we got to the border it was just the opposite. Like a wasteland. No trees. The lake was full of silt. Pollution everywhere. It was just awful.
We made it to customs and it was chaos, at best. We were there two hours. Since I don’t speak the language, it was anybody’s guess what was going on.
We finally made it in to Haiti. The roads — bad. As we got closer and closer to Port au Prince we started seeing damage to buildings. As we finally made it to the bus terminal, I thought I had seen it all. But, I hadn’t been down town yet. That’s when my eyes were open to the incredible amount of devastation.
The pictures speak for themselves.
What’s great is Compassion International is there to help. No, they’re not doing it alone. They come along side the local church to empower THEM to do. Since they understand the community needs better than anyone, they uniquely qualified to identify the most needy. They’re the ones who become the heroes in the community, which gives them a platform to share their faith.
Compassion International had 74 staff. Now they have 73. Of the 73 staff members, 15 of their family members lost their lives. 16 program staff (church members) lost their lives. 61 sponsored children and young adults lost their lives. 233 were injured.
One staff member Eusua and his wife, lost his daughter. He told me, “I wasn’t even there. I was here working at Compassion when the earthquake hit.” His eye welling up with tears. He told me his wife was caring for his son and daughter when the quake hit. They survived the quake, “But when they ran away my daughter got away from my wife and a wall fell on her.” He asked me to pray for his wife who is taking it hard.
Can you imagine having your son in your arms, you other child running for her life, only to be killed by a falling wall.
Today, was Help Haiti with Compassion. I talked with several radio stations around the country — from New York to Chicago to California. All with one purpose, raising money to help Compassion International’s work in Haiti. The goal was to raise $1-million. At the time of this blog post, we were really close.
Well, it’s been an incredible couple of days. Keep praying for the people of Haiti. Equally as important — GIVE. http://www.HelpHaitiWithCompassion.org.
Or, if you’d like to see the video about my trip on YouTube.com, click below.
The adventure begins. Yesterday, I took the day off from work so I could get everything in order. I’m borrowing a tent from my daughter. I put that up and took it down, just so I was familiar with it. I got my gear around. I went out and purchased freeze-dried food, dried food and canned foods so I can eat while in Haiti. I was on the phone countless times yesterday getting details worked (they’re still not totally ironed out yet). But, I got everything packed and got to the airport ON TIME and my bag was right at 50 pounds. I didn’t even weigh it. My only fear is the zipper. It doesn’t always catch just right. I hope it doesn’t spring open on the first ‘throw’ from the baggage handlers.
I’ve been trying to pray for this trip, but I’ve been having difficult knowing how to pray. I started off praying that God would provide me the opportunity to go to Haiti to help the people in their suffering. Then, I started praying that God would allow me to represent Compassion International in a way that would encourage many people to begin supporting Compassion International. Now, I’m just praying that God will give me wisdom that I can accomplish all He wants me to accomplish, and nothing more.
I know, that’s open ended. But, I think that’s how I have to be on this trip. It’s been a while since I’ve covered the aftermath of a natural disaster — the first time covering a disaster of this magnitude. So, getting into ’emergency’ mode is more of an adrenaline rush. In the midst of that ‘rush’ I’m pray that God will allow me to make decisions that will not only call Christians to get out of the pew and do something for God, but that those who don’t know Christ would choose to follow him.
Well, I have a long day ahead of me and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to report in the days ahead. I do plan on making a daily video blog about my work in Haiti. I will probably post that to the MNN YouTube account, which can be found at http://www.youtube.com/MissionNetworkNews. You can also joint the MNN group or fan pages on Facebook. Those links can be found on our main page on our website.
Well, I got official word last night that I am going to Haiti. I’ll be leaving tomorrow (Jan 29) and returning Wednesday. Now the adrenalin is flowing. I’m excited about being able travel to a place where people are in such need. 2 million people were affected by the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti. That’s half of the country’s population. With Haiti the poorest nation in the western hemisphere BEFORE the earthquake, we can only imagine where it falls now.
Let me explain what I’ll be doing while I’m there. Not only will I be covering stories for Mission Network News, but I’ll also be representing Compassion International in their Help Haiti with Compassion campaign. On Monday, Feburary 1, radio stations from around the country will be banding together to help raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. It’s broadcast effort being called Help Haiti with Compassion and will be heard on hundreds of radio stations around the United States. Moody Radio and Air 1 are just two of the networks carrying the effort.
Compassion International has been working in Haiti for 42 years. They recognized the need BEFORE the earthquake. They were one of the first organizations to begin delivering aid to the needy victims. While bottle necks continue happening at the airport, Compassion is bypassing that with an in country distribution network called, The Local Church. With that network, Compassion is able to identify the most needy and get the aid to those who need it most.
I’d like to encourage you to come back here often. I will be trying to update photos as often as I can.
I received a call a number of days ago about the possibility of traveling to Haiti to cover the relief effort. I had originally wanted to travel in at the beginning of the disaster. Had I been able to get in within 24 to 48 hours I would have gone. However, now I’m not planning to go in until January 30.
I’ve been trying to process the whole Haiti disaster and prepare myself for what I’m going to see. But, I’ve been told NOTHING will prepare me for what I will see, hear, and smell.
I have covered Haiti for years here at Mission Network News. I covered the coup, the multiple natural disasters and even the man made ones. However, nothing compares to this.
While details are still being worked out, I’ve been asked to go to Port au Prince to help with the Help Haiti with Compassion campaign that will be on Christian radio across the United States. AIR1 and the Moody Broadcasting Network are two of the notable networks who will be using Feburary 1 as a day to help Compassion International raise money for the people of Haiti.
There are many organizations who are doing great work. However, Compassion International has to be one of the largest. They’re working with more than 64,000 young people and their families. They’ve been working there for 40 years. At the time of the earthquake they had 75 national staff working in Haiti. Many of their staff have lost family members. Sponsored children have perished and are missing. Young people in their Leadership Development Program have died.
Haiti — already the poorest nation in the western hemisphere BEFORE the earthquake — now where are they?
I expect to hear in the next 24 hours whether or not I’m going. I have mixed emotions about going. So, pray the Lord’s will be done.
Sickness hit the Guatemala team. It started with Judy on Sunday. Tuesday night it hit me. I was working on the MNN update around 10:00pm and I started getting the chills. I was sitting with John Balyo at WCSG and I couldn’t stop shivering. Then, the call of nature called LOUDLY. I ran to my cabin to prevent a mess. And, that was it!
I spent all of Wednesday and most of Thursday in my room flat on my back, sleeping and running back and forth to the bathroom. I wish I could tell you it was something I ate, but it wasn’t.
The team carried on without me (shows how much they needed me LOL). They were able to see even more people on Wednesday. The day started like all the others, sun shine, a line outside the Baptist Camp compound and a willing medical and gospel team willing to welcome each one.
Rosa was one little girl that grabbed the attention of Judy Hop. She was a little girl with ‘weepy’ eyes, matted hair, a small looking head. She looked about four years old. She came to the clinic without her parents. She was in need of medical care, but because she wasn’t with her parents, we could give her any treatment. The team took here back to get checked out. She didn’t want to. She fought it. But, finally she allowed the doctors to take a look at her. During that time she said, through translators, that she was known as ‘the town retard’ and that nobody liked her. The team told her that we had medicine that could help her eyes and her stomach ache, but we needed her parents to come to learn how to treat her. She left, but never returned. We can only pray that the love we showed Rosa will speak volumes to her. She did hear the Gospel. Pray God uses this in her life.
Others got sick during the day. Despite the sickness God is still working in the hearts of the team.
We woke up to a hazy beautiful morning in Panabaj, Guatemala. We traveled the five minutes to the Baptist Camp where we’re holding the medical clinic. There were even MORE people waiting to be treated this morning. Yesterday we ran low on pain medication and vitamins for children. However, our team was able to purchase pain medication here and they also were able to break adult vitamins in two.
We saw more unique cases today. Dr. Sandy VanDeWeert discovered a five year old boy with a significant heart ailment. It was a heart mummer that she was concerned about. Dr. Brenda Zook also had to purform a minor surgery to remove what appeared to be a skin cancer on an 80 year old man. (see my video on YouTube.com/MissionNetworkNews) I actually got to assist Dr. Zook on this surgery. Don’t be concerned, the only thing I did was open the scalpel, take the video and clean up afterward. But, I wanted to do more.
Today, John Baylo and I spent more time being security guards. After school let out, many of the kids decided that the camp compound was a great place to ‘hang-out.’ And, it IS. But, not when you’re trying to have a medical clinic. But, Orphan Outreach is all about kids so our team rallied. We played games — soccer, jump rope, bubbles, tug-o-war, tag, chase the kid out of the clinic, and other games for overly rambunctious children. We also had tickle fights and paint the fingernails for the girls.
The highlight of the day, however, was to hear that they young boy who had a defective heart was able to hear the Gospel clearly. We also heard that many patients prayed with the team of interpreters, and a few even committed to attending church at Pastor Diego’s church.
Today we heard that SOME of the medicine we brought into Guatemala will be released. We’re not sure how much, or at what time. But, we’re praying all of it will make its way to us. Keep praying that meds will arrive and that God will continue to use our team to be salt and light to a community who is suffering from anxiety and more from the mud slide four years ago and the economic downturn.
You can see video of our trip at http://www.YouTube.com/MissionNetworkNews.
Sunday, was a day to relax a little. We held our own church service. We sang a number of songs and I shared about the difference between being a slave and a servant. It was a great time of reflection for us all. We also were able to travel to the site of the landslide four years ago this week where hundreds of people were killed. Many are still buried here where Pastor Diego is seen here. He’s the pastor of the Good Shepherd’s Church in Santiago.
On Monday, we opened the clinic at a Baptist Camp. We’ll be holding clinics here all week while our supplies last. This is a great facility for this. The court yard here, was perfect for playing games with the kids. Pastor Diego told us that they had advertised all last week on the local radio station. We don’t know how many people will be able to be treated, but we’re hoping we’ll be able to treat as many as possible.
Judy Hopp was the first person people saw when they walked into the clinic. She would give them a number and would wait in the waiting area where their triage would be done. This is where most of the waiting would be done. Many of these people would come as family units. We also had a few police officers visit the clinic. We thought perhaps they were looking for bribes, but they only wanted a check-up.
Their vital signs would be taken in two staging areas. They would take temperature, blood pressure, pulse, the nurses would listen to their lungs and through interpreters tell the nurses about their ailments. This was difficult because we needed two translations — from English to Spanish, then from Spanish to the local Mayan dialect. Then it would have to be translated in the other direction — Mayan to Spanish, then Spanish to English.
From there, they would go to another waiting area where they would learn how to brush their teeth properly, wash their hands and given everything they needed to do the same. Again, there were two translations that had to occur in some cases. But, it was amazing how many people sat and listened. It was like they were hearing how to do it for the first time.
At the end of the day, we were able to treat nearly 240 people today. More importantly, hundreds more people heard the Gospel. Many children came to the clinic without their parents. We couldn’t treat them, but we could treat their souls and we did. Pray that God will move in their hearts.
Well, it’s almost here. Our second Mission Network News/Orphan Outreach trip to Guatemala. We are traveling to the Santiago area of the country where a few years ago a mudslide destroyed villages. Many people in the area are still living in make-shift housing. Food is scarce. And, medical treatment is expensive and not available for most. Utter poverty is rampant.
The Mission Network News/Orphan outreach team of 22 is traveling there October 10-17 to provide medical care, love and most importantly the Gospel to those who have lost hope.
Orphan Outreach is an organization that is totally dedicated to glorifying the Lord in reaching out to the orphans He loves throughout the world. They provide early intervention, education, spiritual development and improve the lives of those children living in substandard situations.
Many in this area include children. We discovered the need in this area last year. We traveled there to hold vacation Bible school programs in schools and orphanages across the country.
I’ll be providing information about our outreach, which will be a challenge. We’ll be landing in Guatemala City on Saturday and immediately getting on a bus and traveling four to six hours to Santiago to a city called Panabaj. We’ll be working with Pastor Diego at the Good Shepherd Church. He has a thriving ministry and just started a Christian school last January.
While the church is in Panabaj, we’ll be traveling from there to surrounding villages where the needs are so great.
Be praying for us. We all feel like the evil one doesn’t want us to go. Pray for our health, safety on the roads and that God would go before us and prepare the hearts of those we’ll be serving.