The Internet is still down at the Clays, and I don’t know when we will have it again, so I thought I would start a sort of journal just so I don’t forget to tell you things.
Just a note, if you’re really into empathizing, this whole journal entry should be read to the repeating soundtrack of Disney’s High School Musical. For Christmas, friends of the Clays sent the kids a miniature boom box that apparently contain everlasting batteries and only plays songs from HSM. All four kids, plus the ten Haitian boys that are regulars, love to sing along and dance to the music, but each one only feels the validity of the experience when they are holding the box, so what could be a few minutes of upbeat and irritating lyrics, turns into an all day, every day affair. Unfortunately, it’s the most durable toy of ever seen, surviving drool, grabbing, throwing, smashing, and of course, an earthquake.
Another very important detail that I don’t want to neglect is that the Haitian boys have now learned how to properly sing the song, “Who let the dogs out?” They knew the basic sounds, but were definitely making up their own words and hopping around to strange barking noises. This also has been a recurring part of our developing soundtrack the last few days.
Yesterday, Jan 12th, the earthquake struck at 5:15 pm. I was on the Internet, hoping Ian would sign on and try video chat with me when all of a sudden everything in the room began to sway, then the shelf started to collapse. Corrigan and Shelley were in the kitchen doorway with the black babies so I went to the front of the house to find the white kids. The house stood, but several huge cracks in the cement walls are now visible.
For the first few minutes we just stood there. Maybe we were relieved, but mostly in shock of what had just happened. Only that morning a young girl had tried to leave her baby on the side of the road near our house. Beatrice, a woman in Shelley’s beading program found the baby and caught the girl running away. She had a six-month-old girl that was only a little over 7 lbs, named Marilyn. The night before she had been thrown out of her uncle’s home, no doubt in a slum, and was forced to walk the streets of Port-au-Prince all night with her baby in her arms. I’ve been reading about African culture and one of the strengths in most African communities is the network of relationships one has, and the expectation of hospitality. It seems from the high walls built around every home, the four guard dogs at every residence and the armed guards at the shops that this networking for the purpose of survival has either disintegrate rapidly or was never a part of this remnant slave culture. So, this morning we sat with the girl, promised to find her a place to live, fed her breakfast and let her take a nap. Beatrice found her a room not too far from her own for $150 a year, so she moved in that morning with her little girl and an air mattress from the Clays. By noon it had felt like a full day and we figured out that although our wireless box wasn’t working the Internet cable was working, so I plugged in and started updating Facebook and my email for the first time in four days.
I had been teaching the Haitian house help and Richard, the teenage boy who lives with the Clays how to make a few American meals. We had already made some pretty awesome lasagna the night before and today Lellan and Richard made fresh tortillas. I was just getting off the Internet to go wash vegetables and make the rest of tortilla fixings when the earthquake hit . . .
We looked out the gate and saw several neighbors’ walls had collapsed; anything that was cheaply made without rebar had fallen into the already rough streets. We guessed correctly that all the neighborhoods in the ravines were demolished. Shelley and I hopped in their car to see if we could help any of the ladies in her beading program who lived down there. We first stopped at Richard’s home and community. The house and neighborhood that his mother lived in was completely toppled over. Several children had head bumps and bruises, but one woman in particular had the back of her Achilles tendon sliced maybe ¾ of an inch through and 4 inches up, so to slow the bleeding she had packed the wound with coffee beans and now the skin was just laying there in the dirt. Having seen an orphanage just up the road was starting a makeshift clinic; we took turns carrying her up and out of the ravine. From there we went back to the next ravine, where many of the ladies who do the beading program work. By now it was almost total darkness, but we crossed the little stream to see the houses of our friends were still standing, although the houses of many other had crumbled right beside them. Many had already been reported dead. Miraculously, the new home for the girl, who had attempted abandonment of her baby that morning, was still standing.
Assuming all of the people we were looking for would be making their way to the Clay’s home, we returned. What devastation lay around us, and yet I could not help but praise God that so many literal walls had crumbled in only a few seconds of earthquake and prayed for spiritual walls to follow soon after. It was a strong reminder of the frailty of Satan’s power and the unfathomable strength of God’s. Haitians have said that ten years ago, they were still poor, but no one had walls around their homes. Today Haitians live in fear of one another and every building has a ten-foot wall with barbed wire or broken glass cemented into the top. Every store that I have entered has had a minimum of one armed guard in the parking lot, probably with no practice at firing the very scary, very illegal looking weapon slung over their shoulder.
On the way home we learned that the strength of the earthquake had been a 7.3, which might not seem so impressive in the states where quality of design is typically appreciated, but here in Haiti, quality over expediency is a rare thing indeed. Not only had our favorite grocery store, the one with the different cheeses and unique sauces not to mention I’m sure over 200 people inside, had crumbled, but so had the Palace, the central point of Haiti’s government. People kept confirming that downtown was in rubble and many people who had been at work or out shopping at the time of the earthquake would not be able to make it home that night.
Turning onto our street we heard the sound of music, then saw the Clay’s gates wide open. Corrigan had turned the natural disaster into a block party, bringing out his sound system to blast praise music, starting up the grill for spaghetti and calling out to anyone who needed a place to rest and eat, to come in and grab a plate. One of the little girls began to sing Jesus loves me into the microphone in English then in Creole. Although the gas line was cut during the quake, cutting off our access to the kitchen’s stove and oven, the house still had electrical power and the water piping seemed to be in decent condition.
Shelley’s eyes filled with tears in appreciation for Corrigan’s heart echoing Christ. Beatrice, Shelley calls her a missionary to her own people, had walked her children the half-mile to the Clays, but when we arrived, she asked Shelley to please take her in the car to find her husband. Only a few months before, Beatrice had left her husband because the beatings were too much for her to take, but at the junction, she wanted to know he was alive and well. Here it is more an expectation that men will beat their wives, and an oddity if they do not. This is a huge prayer for Haiti, that men here, who profess to be Christians, would stop beating their wives and learn Christ’s heart when it comes to relieving stress and resolving issues.
I stayed behind this time, watching babies, slicing bread and dropping everything (not babies) to ride out the continuing after shocks. As the night progressed, we accumulated a crowd of about 20 people. We slept in the paved front yard, dragging pillows, cushions and mattresses outdoors for our new and old friends to sleep on.
That night Shelley maybe had a full five minutes of sleep, thanks to babies, a man who thought 11:30 would be an excellent opportunity to deliver a Haitian sermon on Jesus’ coming, Jackson’s midnight vomit and various other interruptions. I slept through most things other than the dogs sitting on my head or licking me and I think I held Jackson for a little while after he puked.
At 0615 the roosters were crowing like it was any other day. One of Richard’s sisters, who spent the night, had a dream where she saw people in white grabbing Haitians and plunging them underwater like a baptism. Then she saw a woman dressed all in black completely chained up and the people in white were taking her away. The spiritual awareness in this country is so profound. For example, when the Clays first adopted Ember, one year ago, she was having seizures regularly. When they asked the remaining family about the seizures, they rejoiced because the spirits were with her. Corrigan and Shelley prayed over Ember, calling on Christ to break those bonds and since then, Ember has not had an attack.
So, back to the story, we awoke and went to find a little boy’s grandmother. He said her leg was broken. The neighborhood she lived in was also demolished and Shelley and I tried to administer as much first aid as our little box would allow. One girl’s finger tips were hanging on by strands of skin, so I had to wash those out and then put the stuff that stings on . . . that was a bit frustrating considering the language barrier. We rebandaged a few and I thought about Dr. John Wayne Coatney giving me his diatribe on the evils of band-aids and if you want something to heal quickly, air is the best thing for it. So we told them we would come back tomorrow to wash their wounds one more time and unwrap them. We brought the grandmother home with us and after placing her on my mattress in the front yard I started cutting away at her blood encrusted bandaging around the ankle. I realized how little I was processing emotionally when it irritated me that I was cutting her bandages with Swinger sewing scissors, a huge sin in my household, probably the only thing I’ve seen my mom consistently wig out about, an improper use of the sewing room’s scissors. Fortunately I’ve never been too detoured by rules, so my irritation didn’t actually cause me any pause. But the actual wound, let’s just say it was gnarly, and any scabbing and clotting that had occurred was ripped up by the dried bandages to reveal green puss and blood. Eventually the gaping hole in her ankle was uncovered and washed out and rebandaged. We think the ankle is broken, by the swelling. I speak no Creole, but by the end of this little incident, I definitely knew how to call down Jesus in times of trouble, because she was thoroughly convinced that he would come down and take care of me, the provocateur of her pain.
From there Shelley went back to the makeshift clinic to relieve the doctors and nurses of people with wounds that were only taking up space, such as severe cuts, bruises and broken limbs. We kept the mattresses out on the ground, fed, splinted, rebandaged and drugged all of our patients. Shelley even found some heavy-duty pain relief in a pharmacy near by that you use a syringe to shoot the deep tissue of the buttocks. Everybody was pretty mellow at around 3:30 in the afternoon, so Kristlyn put on rice and beans on the outdoor grill and made a huge pot for the now 30 people in the yard.
Some pretty convincing cloud cover came over in the late afternoon, so Shelley and Corrigan put up a tarp for everyone to sleep under. The earth was still grumbling with after shock, so we tried to figure out sleeping arrangements as best we could. Corrigan, Keziah, and Zebedee slept in the car. Richard took Ember on his mattress outside and Shelley, Jackson and I slept in the front room with easy access to the door. Besides being eaten by flies and mosquitoes and the occasional earth tremble it was a more peaceful night than the night before.
January 14th – Priority one – baths. Especially the little ones smell like pee and that’s bringing on the flies. So Shelley bathed and clothed about 8 little ones, not including her own. Kristlyn made oatmeal for the crowd and I shared my hardboiled eggs with Clay kidd-o’s who needed some protein.
After breakfast, I rebandaged four people while Shelley got laundry going, both in the machine and having a few Haitian ladies doing it by hand. We washed all the sheets and all the clothes of our people, most of which were soaked in pee. It’s pretty clear that one little boy broke his leg and he’s such a moaner, so while I was changing his bandages, (his muscle tissue was popping out in tow different places) I spoke firmly to him that he was going to break his lungs if he didn’t quit screaming like a little girl. He needed to breath, so everyone around him started taking deep breaths for him to follow. I’m definitely not a nurse, and I have little to no bed side manner when all the person is doing is causing a scene . . . but you know, I really think that is just part of the culture to be so . . . voluble, in times of pain. The funny thing about pain is that it’s this amazing indicator that you’re still alive, so what a blessing it is in times of tragedy to be in pain . . . this coming from the girl who is not in pain.
So, after all bandages were changed, it was time to bathe the girl with the broken leg. Richard lifted her up and I boiled some water, so she wouldn’t be so cold in the regular bath water. We had made splints out of chair legs for her, so we undid the wrap holding her leg straight. She was soaked in urine and had day old bandages that were stuck in her wounds. So we soaked the bandages to loosen them while I wiped her down. She screamed for a good portion of removing the bandages, but seeing how she was a little girl, I couldn’t get too upset for her screaming like one. We got her out of the bathtub, rebandaged her cuts then rewrapped her leg with the chair leg splints. We couldn’t find any of the larger diapers, but we did find one size 3, which is what Shelley’s one year-old daughter wears. The girl we put the diaper on is 6 years old, but she is so skinny that it stretched to fit. Shelley had picked out a red dress of Keziah’s to give to her, so we put that on her and carried her back outside.
While we had been bathing, Shelley had been sanitizing the mats and mattresses with our little bit of Febreze anti-bacterial and washing off the plastic sheets, so the little girl had a clean bed to return to. Lellin began making black beans for rice on the grill. This morning we learned the police station and prison collapsed, with the news that all of the policemen and all of the prisoners had been killed. Shelley learned that the city was digging mass graves just one block up the road from us, so after lunch we went and photographed the uncovered bodies. The holes were in the cemetery, but that didn’t make them any less disturbing. We were told a truck was going around picking up dead bodies from the side of the street to dump the bodies in the holes. I’ve got the pictures if you ever need a reason to throw up or cry, but what may seem odd is that other than the smell, right now the sight of these limp bodies, gray and covered in flies brings no emotional response. A friend of the Clays from SPU, Kurt Hildebran, asked how or if we were processing the event on an emotional level, I had to laugh and then admit that most of the fleeting thoughts in my brain were completely crass and dishonoring of the whole situation. In my head, I keep rewriting my Facebook status with things like, “ . . . is alive, which is more than I can say for the people around me”, or “ . . . is really bummed she won’t be able to go to the beach this week.” Or “ . . . is very concerned about the zit on the end of her nose, oh and the 20 wounded people in the front yard.”
Corrigan had been out all morning trying to run errands, but nothing was open. He dropped off one of our ladies at the makeshift clinic, because the skin flap on her Achilles either needed to be cut off or sutured. He then took photos of the Caribbean Market that had collapsed and tried to find food, but no grocers were open and no one from the Province had brought produce down to sell on the street. The only thing open was the gas station up the road and Corrigan said the atmosphere was riotous. His car was hit twice, just passing the gas station, as people were trying to cut him off to get in line. After he figured out food was not an option, he dropped by his school to figure out when work would begin. He was told the school is closed indefinitely as most of the upper class will be leaving Haiti in the next week or so, because they can, thus the school won’t have anyone paying tuition. The school is now turning itself into a relief center for when relief arrives for food, water and medical supplies. They think the earliest things will start up again is 6 weeks.
The radio tower is down, which is why the Clay’s Internet is down. We are going to try and get a message out to you and my parents that I am okay through another ministry that has Internet connection, but that may not happen again for another day or two. We are beginning to realize that we only have enough food to last us another 4-5 days before we run out, so your prayers are appreciated. Richard did find a huge bag of rice and a small bag of beans to feed the people in the yard.
Today Shelley and I are also going to work out, I think we missed cardio yesterday, so we’ll do that tonight, and yoga tomorrow. This will probably be very entertaining to the Haitians, but you do what ya’ gotta’ do. The Clay’s TV smashed during the quake in the front room, but I think we can just use my computer to watch the workout. I got Ian’s reminder that he loves me at 9:45 this morning on my phone. That was good to see, although I would definitely trade that reminder for a phone call right now. I’m hoping flights will be resuming their regular takeoff, but I’m glad I scheduled those extra few days in Orlando to return to Vicenza, in case I have to wait a few days to get out of Port-au-Prince. Someone suggested checking in with the embassy next week, so that may be what I do, but I don’t want to waist the Clay’s car gasoline when none is available all over the city. I think it’s a 45 minute drive and all I would be doing is confirming my ticket that I can get out on the 28th.
This afternoon I wrapped a woman’s hand that was sliced badly in three places. She had rubbed all her wounds with coffee grounds, which had soaked up the blood, but the clinic wouldn’t take her because they would have to spend too much time cleaning out the wounds before they could suture anything, so they sent her to us and I got tasked with soaking, poking, and being the all around bitch that had to get the coffee ground out of her infecting skin. In the middle of cleaning, I remembered from the movie Roots that on slave ships the white people would throw buckets of salt water on to the slaves to cleanse and disinfect their wounds, although I remember the slaves shrieking like banshees, it was worth a shot. So I made some salt water in a pitcher and poured it over her hand into a bucket. It definitely made her go nuts, but the coffee beans started to come out and the wound’s puss began to wash away a little more. Then I made her soak her hand for five more minutes, communicating my glorious plan through hand gestures and then her yelling at me in Creole, which I took to mean it hurt badly. So I would nod, frown, and point her hand into the bucket. I went through about 50 q-tips, scraping the chunks of coffee out and all I could think was that the reason I didn’t try to become a doctor was because I couldn’t hold my lunch in anatomy class, and that was with cats! Irony and the blessing of Christ’s promise that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me had made this another exhausting day.
Shelley just got back from scouting for food, so she drove the woman with the hacked hand back over to the clinic where hopefully they can do something for her now. Before she left, she showed me a picture album that she had in her purse, so I’m guessing she’s someone who actually lived in a house and the home must have collapsed. She lost her 3-month-old baby in the quake, and did not know where her husband was. No wonder she was so numb to most of my prodding in her wounds, like I said, I’m thinking there’s something pretty glorious about knowing and feeling pain and something truly scary about not.
On the grill, I made spaghetti with ketchup, a Haitian favorite, for the people in the yard while Corrigan and Shelley took turns returning to the small gas station for food and provisions. Shelley and I did our workout, which the Haitian kids enjoyed watching our synchronized exercise. Afterwards Richard mentioned that his phone had started working so Shelley asked if I could use it to call my family. The connection took a while and I could barely hear my dad’s voice on the other end, but it was so great to tell him that I was alive, although it sounded like he already knew, which was weird. I could only talk for a minute because the call was definitely soaking up Richard’s minutes, but still, what a relief. Afterwards Kurt arrived on his motorcycle asking if anyone needed to use the Internet. A man just up the road was offering his working wireless service to anyone wanting to use it, so I took my second ride on a motorcycle in my life and went to update our Facebook statuses and send out an email with this journal.
When I returned, everyone was pretty much in bed with the Clays sleeping in the living room, 20 or so people out front and me returning to my little apartment on the roof, having not felt a trimmer all day.
Jan 15th Waking up after a full nights rest was pretty amazing, and it definitely didn’t bother me as much when the moaning started from down below. I changed bandages while the Clays handed out bowls of milk and cornflakes. Most of the bandages are ready to come off completely, letting the air do its wonders. I put a little bag balm, used for chapped cow utters according to the label on the wounds and told them to keep the moosh (“Moosh” is the Creole word for flies) away from their cuts. We changed sheets and diapers and encouraged some of the adults that could to take sponge baths.
Corrigan and Shelley went out to investigate Keziah and Zebedee’s Montessori school, which they found also closed indefinitely. They had also taken medical supplies with them to visit Woodelson’s orphanage, just in case the kids did not have medical care. They breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the kids were still eating enough, had water and the building was still standing. It was a strange experience for Shelley to interact again with Woodelson again, but she appreciated who he was becoming, and noticed some positive changes in his demeanor.
Back at the house I had the boys picking up trash and sweeping, while the extra ladies were doing dishes and mopping. For lunch Lellan made rice and beans for the crowd. The boys have been pulling up water from the cistern in the backyard and filtering it so our patients stay hydrated. Later in the afternoon Shelley walked down to see if we could use a friend’s oven while I built a veggie lasagna. (We’re definitely running low on meat.) On her trip outside the wall she learned several things, one, that a team of doctors would be a mile away from us and could set broken bones and do casts, so we’ll be driving four of our people over tomorrow. Two, the city is spraying disinfectant all over the city and is telling everyone to cover their faces with a mask, so now we all look like the Taliban with t-shirt masks wrapped around our heads. Three, Madame Françoise was down at the orphanage where Shelley and Corrigan lived for a year and would let us use the oven. Boberto, my buddy, who is maybe 4 feet tall and refuses to say my name correctly, walked with me down to the orphanage and made sure I didn’t get mugged for my pan full of uncooked lasagna.
The sun is setting now and Corrigan took the car out to an area called Delma 60, where whole neighborhoods collapsed and the walking wounded seem innumerable. He’s hoping to be of assistance just by transporting people to facilities set up as clinics around the city. Shelley is making spaghetti, and I should go cut up the lasagna. We’re hoping the Internet will come back soon to our little house, but so thankful for the opportunity to update friends the night before.
Oh, and apparently someone really likes hotdogs because the four packages Corrigan had bought for dinner tonight, plus some of the cash Shelley had been keeping to pay two of the ladies in the beading program are gone.
Jan 16th Hope is exhausting. Last night we heard there were medical teams nearby, at the school and chapel. In particular there is a group of German bone doctors who are prepared to set and cast bones. Shelley is a German and Creole speaker, so she figured she could be a lot of help to the group.
Waking up, I scrambled sixty eggs for our friends in the yard and then Shelley and I left to find the bone doctors with our moaning boy and girl and a parent for each. We went to the school but found out the doctors had been relocated to a nearby hospital, so we drove the two miles and parked near the gate. The line was already formed and the gate guard wasn’t impressed by much, but when he saw Shelley’s white skin, he let her in with the boy and I followed a few minutes later with the girl in my arms. I left the group at the hospital, hoping it would not be too long before they were seen and returned to the Clays to move the rest of our wounded to another clinic being set up at the chapel. This time I think it had to do with Richard knowing the gate guard, but they actually let us in early to unload the Toyota 4 runner and return with more.
On the return trip I had to stand outside the second gate for 30 minutes while they decided what to do with our different people. I met an American guy who’s been coming to Haiti since 1994 to work with their police force. He corrected my understanding that it was not the police station that collapsed, but rather the ministry of defense, which I think had a great many policemen inside too. We also heard that there are UN teams making their way around the city and assessing structural damage to homes and buildings that are still standing, but maybe have large cracks. The epicenter was said to have been in Carfour, which is south of us, which makes since because everything north of us is really okay, minus a few walls.
One of the women we brought over they were not able to treat without an x-ray, so I took her back to the hospital with me to check on Shelley. They had been moved inside the building, but no x-rays yet. We got our girl inside with a little more persuasion at the door and fed her some ibuprofen for her wait. Shelley asked for more water and medicine for the boy and girl, so I went home, grabbed an amazing lunch by Corrigan of fried fish, sautéed vegetables and white rice (still all done on the grill) then returned to relieve Shelley. The two injured kids had still not received X-rays, we think because of a shortage in the power, every time they would take a photo, the generator would go out.
Shelley left to take a break, so I sat with the group for an hour and a half. Shelley had mentioned that since they had arrived, the little boy had not stopped masturbating right in front of everyone and he would moan and call on Jesus every few minutes. This continued while I sat on the bench above him and I kept wondering if I, or preferably someone else would have to rub that cow utter balm on his penis if he didn’t stop it soon. Anyway, Shelley returned after 90 minutes and five minutes later both the boy and girl were x-rayed. The boy’s tibia and fibula were both completely off set only a few inches above his ankle and it did jiggle really well while we were loading him on and off the table. The girl’s fibula was also broken at a diagonal angle, but we weren’t able to assess her swollen knee without the help of a doctor. I left after another 45 minutes and came back to the house. Corrigan then grabbed the car because he had heard that relief teams were dropping off diapers, Vienna sausages, boxed milk and other essentials at his school. I am now going to try and take a nap, before I go and hopefully pick up Shelley and the kids with casts at the hospital in one hour.
Well, on the way to pick up Shelley, we spotted her walking in the dark. Both kids had been wrapped with splints and we’re hoping they have casts put on them tomorrow. We went home to grab more water, Vienna sausages and crackers for people at the hospital. While passing out the food one young man was released from surgery dead. The infection in his leg had spread to his heart, causing cardiac arrest. He must have been in his early 20’s. The staff needed his family to remove the body as quickly as possible, but they kept him uncovered so that he only looked like he was sleeping for the sake of not scaring the other patients. Another little boy was still breathing, but the doctors predicted he would die tonight because of his wound and the swelling in his brain. We have to begin thinking about how many more people will die in the next few days due to these delayed injuries. The Haitians do not know how to take care of themselves with our kind of medical care. They don’t spend money on medical supplies, but rather food and water. So many have been bandaged these last few days, but if they are not followed up with, most likely many of their very treatable injuries will turn to infection. We prayed over the little boy, asking God to heal the swelling in his brain. His leg was being held up with a cast by a piece of twine and a rock weighing it down. Both his parents were dead, but his sister and uncle were there with him. We passed out all the food we had and one man yelled at me for not giving him any while he ate from a full carton of take out food. I gave him a confused look and then patted his big belly. Everyone in the room got the point and laughed.
I think I’ve come close to crying four or five times today, once when someone simply offered to let me use their cell phone to receive a call from Ian. Yet, the tears only came when we were praying for the little boy with the head wound. Shelley had been praying this afternoon for food when Corrigan got the call about the truck of relief food, and along with the dairy milk, there was also soymilk for lactose-intolerant Jackson. God seems to answer our every immediate need with gusto, and I am weighed down by his love for us, keeping my head out of the clouds and making eye contact with the wounded and hungry. One prayer request is for Kristlyn and her family. The man who is the father of her kids is a wanderer and ladies’ man for sure, but during this past week he has been by his family’s side. Shelley really encouraged him to see how beautiful his family is and to stay with them, even after all of this is over.
Right now I can hear Shelley going through the pile of miracles God has provided for our friends and us. All the ladies in the beading program have houses that are standing. The wall that Shelley and Corrigan were standing near has two huge cracks in it, and every other house in our neighborhood has lost a wall, it goes to reason this wall should have fallen but for God’s grace. Even the miracles of hearing our parents’ voices on the other end of the phone line have shown us God’s grace.
Jan 17th – In the middle of the night there was a significant tremor, so I gave it an honest thought about moving my bed in from the overhang, but then just fell back in exhaustion. Corrigan the presence of mind to move Zebedee out from under the ceiling fan with the rationale that being crushed by a cement ceiling was preferable to being sliced in half and then crushed to death by a cement ceiling. Satisfied with his efforts, he too went back to sleep in the family room.
Haitians don’t drink unsweetened milk, so in our cornflakes this morning, Shelley made chocolate milk for them. Her kids are finding earthquakes to be a definite mixed bag of heartache and blessings. Shelley and I did the P90X chest and shoulders workout and in the middle of it realized it was Sunday. I had lost a day at some point in my mind, because I would have wagered money that yesterday was Friday. Corrigan walked to the church to see of there was a church service or maybe a meeting to pool resources and share information.
Shelley and I took the car to the hospital to pick up our cast kids and their families. The little boy we prayed over was still alive, breathing, but not too responsive. We prayed over him again and had the doctor look at our third girl, still waiting to be x-rayed. The boy and girl were said to be set well, but we should bring them back in two days just to check their bandages.
I’m going to check Internet right now, so hopefully I’ll be able to connect and send this back out.
Our biggest concern now is finding a gas supply for the car, generator and propane for the grill, and or finding a way to fix the oven and stove.
Okay, so I tried to retrace my steps to the house where I found Internet, but no luck, so walking back the streets were filled with Haitians coming out of church. Everyone, not an over exaggeration, was pointing or calling to me, saying, “Hey Blanc, . . .” otherwise translated, “hey, whitie, . . . I need some help.” Then most would giggle that I was walking and most white people drive here. Anyway, I went back to the house, grabbed another water bottle and went to check on Dorothy’s infant recovery center just down the road.
Dorothy’s an amazing woman with a heart for restoring infants to health and then getting them back to their families. I had done an interview with her only last Saturday and we’ve gone by her house enough to know that the building was still standing. She told me she had been downtown when the earthquake hit, just pulling into the hospital to spend the night with one of her babies. The hospital she was at did not collapse and had been overrun with wounded only hours after the quake. The Hospital General, the other main hospital downtown had totally collapsed, along with the UN building, Hotel Montana, where most visiting white people stay, and the adoption processing building.
There are rumors that entire orphanages (the kids, not the buildings) are being air lifted to the states in order to finish their adoptions there. We’re hoping this means quick adoptions for the Clays who would love to return to the states for a couple weeks with both Ember and Jackson.
While talking with Dorothy, a man walked in, asking for Shelley. His name was Scott Salvint and had roomed with Shelley’s brother at Bible school sixteen years ago. He’s overseeing an orphanage in Haiti from the states and had flown down only two days ago into the Dominican Republic in order to try and bring aid. He and his father had only come with back packs, but through God and phone calls, they were crossing the DR border into Haiti with truck loads of medical, food, sanitary and gas supplies. Tasha, a girl my age who is helping Dorothy, and I walked their truck up the road to the Clays where he dropped off huge bags of rice, beans, a five gallon carton of diesel fuel for our generator, sardines and $400 in cash (Shelley had written him a check for $200, but he insisted on giving more).
After taking a few photos I navigated them down to the makeshift clinic where they traded a few supplies to meet the needs of their next meeting. From there Tasha and I said good-bye and headed over to the relief center on the next block. Tasha’s new adoptive nephew and the rest of his orphanage had been evacuated to the backyard of this church – 150 kids were jumping, playing, napping, doing hair . . . The group had just finished feeding 3500 people that day and were packing up. I asked the pastor of the chapel if he had Internet for me to use while Tasha held her nephew. I promised to be quick, as he rightly wanted to get home to his family. After updating my journal and briefly checking my facebook page, I signed off. Checking my phone for 456th time I almost broke down in tears when it registered that I had missed two phone calls from Ian. Nothing had been registering with my phone, so this was huge. Hopefully I will be able to hear from him tomorrow. One of the guys he knows in the scout platoon was killed during an encounter with the Taliban, so I’m really praying for him and the 173rd in Afghanistan.
Walking back, Tasha shared her unfolding love story with me and I encouraged her about fast relationships, when you really feel God’s leading. It was fun telling my story with Ian, taking a break from present realities and just being two friends on a walk together.
Haitians really don’t have much taste for cheese, so when I made macaroni tonight with cut up Vienna sausages (yeah! relief food) I made the larger batch with tomato paste and a smaller batch with cheese for us silly Americans. Corrigan finally returned from the school after checking the Internet for a solid eight hours. $9000 had already come into their fund. He was so blessed by people sharing the story as right now it is very east to feel alone, with no TV, radio or internet in the house telling us what’s coming or if anyone knows. He said CNN had the death count up to 400,000.
So one of the other things we have heard is that reporters are down here for the major news groups and editing their stories so that anyone connected with missions and attributing thanks and praise to God is cut out and made to look and sound like any other human rights worker. With that in mind and with as many amazing stories of God’s faithfulness as there are, I am hoping to start gathering missionaries stories and pod casting them out in an effort to encourage the church.
So, that was today. I’m going to bed now. Sweet Pup, the 4-month-old Rotweiler who is both an introvert and a chicken hid in the washroom all day today and is now barking her head off in the front yard because she’s scared of Haitians and there’s still ten of them in the front yard.
Tomorrow we are going to start rationing out the beans, rice and oil we’ve been given. No doubt God will provide us with some Ziploc bags.
January 17th – Can I start back with last night’s exorcism in the front yard, then I’ll explain the crutches in my hand?
This is how heavy a sleeper I am; I totally missed the exorcism last night, so this is all second hand account, but it’s definitely worth talking about.
We know as followers of Christ and children of Abba God that He is the creator of all things and Satan is simply a perverter or twister of things that are good. He does not create, merely spoils. So, with the voodoo culture, we believe that at its root is truth, all and the truth I think has a lot to do with spiritual warfare. Last night one of the gems of our Haitian friends, Sun-son, who has been helping medically all over the neighborhood since the quake had a girl who he brought to us in a headlock, choking her and yelling there were evil spirits around her. He was flicking her with water, I suppose trying to baptize her through brute force.
The girl was speaking very quickly in French against Christ and against God. In Haiti the spiritual world is known and spoken in French, not Creole, so this made some sense. Corrigan, who has education on exorcism told our friend to get back. Very calmly he spoke to the girl and called out in Christ’s name that the spirit remove itself. She instantly calmed down and asked to be baptized by Corrigan, so with water and oil he anointed her. But then she got this spooky smile on her face and Sun-son pointed again saying the spirit of mockery was in her, and I think he was right. She was smiling and mocking the process. Sun-son began vigorously rubbing her breasts and again Corrigan called him back and removed him to the backyard. The girl fell asleep instantly and does not remember anything this morning.
Processing this event over cornflakes this morning, Corrigan talked about how much he would rather deal with the girl’s direct exorcism, rather than Sun-son’s apparent spirit of self-righteousness, wanting to be this girls’ savior.
So much was going on here. His desire to dominate her in a spiritual way is very linked we think to sexual attraction and both these desires, to love her and to see her in relationship with Christ are good on their own, but can so easily be perverted by Satan. In Genesis we read how man’s domination over woman is part of the fall, yet Christ brings partnership. This is a huge missing piece in Haitian spirituality. Men are very much the slave owner and master over their wives. We also have to notice that the combination of spiritual self-righteousness plus power is one of the things that takes up a lot of Christ’s encounters and speaking in the gospels. Although his casting out of demons is a powerful part of his ministry, the writers and Christ must have seen that the real complexity of sin was in those who did not realize their own need and helplessness.
Okay, I’ll be keeping this updated:
Right now we are seeing so much unity among missionaries who may have once been alienated from the body and amongst Haitians who are trying to figure out how to get back to their lives.
Peace be with you