Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reflection and Goodbye

Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 5:00 p.m.
34 seconds that changed so many lives. 34 seconds is all it took to change everything. Haiti has a hold on my heart. I’ve grown to learn the language, adapt to the culture and fall in love with her people. Pictures flash through my mind. Sabboule, Nicolas, Denise, Jocemine, Anoud, Dana, Pawel, America, Ari, the list goes on and on. My heart aches for them. When will I see them again? Changes, changes, changes. Feelings and emotions. I miss our simple life. What now Lord? I ponder. He gives me peace. He has the whole world in His hands. He has a plan. A perfect plan for everything. We need to trust Him moment by moment and day by day.

I close my eyes and reflect on the two and half weeks gone by. Time flies. Traveling to Ft. Pierce, our time there, and then on to Toronto. The love, care and generosity we received from everyone along our way. God is indeed good. After several days in Ontario back to our home town Chilliwack, British Columbia. Family, friends, the familiarity of our previous lives. Presentations, interviews, sharing our stories time and again. Keeping in touch with friends and coworkers in Haiti. A time to rest and recuperate.

Now today, it’s time to say goodbye. Jason is going back. Excitedly he packs his suitcases and carries the boxes of dried soup mix and apple chips donated and manufactured by the Gleaners, to the car. My heart is torn once again. I would so love to go back with him, to hug Denise and hold her children in my arms, to see Haiti for myself once again. To visit Dana and check on the feeding program children and the orphanage kids. To make sure the little boys outside our gate still have enough food for their families to eat. Jason reassures me that he will do it for me. He will hug the children and hand out the food. He will go to the orphanage and check on everyone there. He will reassure Anoud and Denise and send them my love. Hearing his reassurance I start to feel better.

Jayden needs me now. My 2 and a half year old little boy needs his Mommy more than ever now that his Daddy is gone. He needs someone to explain to him that freezing temperatures are not “too hot.” That boots should be worn in the rain. That these people he doesn’t recognize are in fact his aunties and uncles and cousins, that in Canada you wear socks, and that bananas just don’t taste the same. That carpets are nice and soft, unlike our tile floors, and that fire places are hot. That car seats should be used at all times, and that wiggling out of them is not acceptable. That the real word for “Mimi’s” is cats, and that here people say “thank you” instead of “Mesi”. My role as mom of a cross-cultural child is challenging but also so rewarding. How precious it is to see my little boy walking with his great grandmother in the rain, wearing his new giraffe boots.

What a joy to see him start recognizing his cousins and asking for them by name. To see his love for his grandparents and the love and joy they find in him. God has blessed us and continues to direct our lives moment by moment, day by day. Once again I close my eyes and thank Him. He gives me contentment and peace as I face the unknown future. He has the whole world in His hands.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Information Meeting #2

Hello Everyone

Just wanted to let you know we arrived safely in Chilliwack, BC, our home town, last night. Although our hearts are still in Haiti, it is nice to be here! For all those interested, we hope to have another Earthquake Information Meeting where we hope to share pictures and stories of our experiences and the relief efforts MAF is currently involved in. The Lord willing, it will be held this Saturday, January 23, at 7:00 p.m. at the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack, 5471 Yale Road, Chilliwack, BC, V2R 3Z8.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Information Meeting #1

Dear Friends

We are currently in Guelph, Ontario and would like to invite anyone who’s interested to a Haiti Earthquake Information Meeting where we hope to share pictures and stories of our experiences and the relief efforts MAF is currently involved in. We hope to be at HRC of Jordan Station, 4171 15th St. Jordan Station, Ontario at 7:30 tonight, January 19.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Jan 15, continued

Once we deplane and our suitcases have been offloaded, it’s time to head through Ft. Pierce’s US Customs and Border Patrol. Having many negative experiences with the US border crossings, I am in for a pleasant surprise. Since it is only our group going through and the MFI pilots explain our situation in advance, we are treated like fragile vases that might shatter at any moment. A few basic questions are asked and we are treated with love and compassion. Our suitcases go through the airport scanner, but they don’t even require us to go through any metal detectors and Jayden is allowed to stay sitting in his stroller. As we head through the glass sliding doors we are met by Rick and Teresa Dickson, our MAF Regional Director and his wife. They welcome us with open arms and give us cell phones to call our families back home. Since our family is in Canada and it’s a US Cell phone we figure out later how to make calls with it. A nice charter bus is waiting and once all the families are on board, we are given our choice of drinks and cheese burgers. What a treat! After a 45 minute drive we arrive at a place called “The Manor” a former old folks home where we will be housed for the weekend. Having our own room with a clean bed and a bathroom with a shower is a real blessing. The first thing I do once our suitcases are inside is take off my filthy clothes and step under the hot shower. Scrubbing the dirt from my face and from under my finger nails I begin to feel more human again. Jayden is next, but cries because showers scare him. After putting clean clothes on him he feels better too. That night after a supper of pizza we crawl exhausted under the covers. Before we fall asleep we pray for our friends in Haiti and thank God for His provision for us. How great is our God.

January 16

I wake up to Jayden’s coughing. He sounds worse and I help him sit up. My ears are still bothering me and Jason’s cough has grown worse as well. After breakfast Rick calls a Nurse practitioner who arrives soon after to check up on all three of us. We find out that Jason has some kind of infection in his lungs and Jayden and I have ear infections in both ears. All three of us have bad colds as well. She prescribes antibiotics and Rick and Jason head over to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled. At 10:00 I lay Jayden down and he finally falls into a restless sleep. An hour and a half later he wakes up crying and continues to cough. A Chinese lady in the community has volunteered to prepare a lunch for us and it’s wonderful, but Jayden hardly eats. I try to feed him bananas and cheerios but even that doesn’t interest him. I finally give up and just let him drink fruit juices and water. After lunch I lay him down again and he once more dozes off. It’s time for our debrief meeting now. Sitting in a circle on chairs in the kitchen and taking turns sharing what happened and what we felt is healing. Hearing everyone’s stories and the cycle of emotions they went through makes me feel more normal. I’m not the only one who felt the way I did, and talking and crying with one other is a balm to my soul. Not comfortable speaking in a larger group and not great at expressing my feeling with talk, I record everything in my mind and when I have a spare minute I continue to write. Writing is my outlet and it comes easy for me. The things I can’t say out loud flow out naturally as I write. It’s my way to categorize, organize and reflect on what’s happened. It’s my memory, so I can forget. Once the meeting is over, Jason spends time working with MAF Canada, MAF US and Rick Dickson to formulate a plan for his return. Jason is a doer, and not being in Haiti and helping the people there is difficult for him. Having a plan and setting it in motion is the balm for his soul and he starts feeling more and more like himself. Recognizing that he is weak and sick at the moment, MAF decides to give him a two week recovery period, which includes time to visit MAF Canada headquarters and see family and friends in Chilliwack. From there, if he is well, he will be sent back to Haiti, to relieve the other MAF Haiti pilots and start working a rotational schedule with them. Knowing that he will be able to go back soon, and that he will be able to check up on Anoud and Denise and our friends is a relief for me as well. Although my primary concern at the moment is Jayden, Haiti is in my heart, and giving up Jason so that he can help there is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Relief Work

I wanted to thank all of you for your support, prayers, emails and comments on the blog! It has all been such an encouragement for our family.

Just a brief update from us, we hope to be traveling to the MAF Canada HQ in Guelph, Ontario this coming Monday. On Tuesday evening we hope to be doing a short presentation in Jordan, Ontario - if you are interested in attending here is the address / time.

Tuesday, Jan.19 at 7:30 PM

HRC of Jordan Station
4171 15th St
Jordan Station, ON

From there we hope to travel back to Chilliwack, BC, where Wilhelmina and Jayden will be living. MAF is arranging a 2 week rotation schedule for the MAF pilots working in Haiti, so I hope to be returning there in a couple weeks to join the relief efforts.

Below is a News Release update from the MAF Headquarters explaining what MAF's role in the relief work is. I will continue to update you all as i learn more, and as i hope to return to Haiti shortly~!

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The MAF presence in the devastated nation of Haiti has transitioned into full disaster response mode, as the team began working with Samaritan’s Purse to provide relief to the suffering people.

“MAF has been ministering in Haiti since 1986. We know the country, the culture and the language,” said John Boyd, MAF president. “This experience and knowledge will be invaluable to groups coming to Haiti to help. What’s more, MAF will continue to minister here in the months and years following this disaster.”

John Woodberry, MAF manager of disaster response, arrived in Port-au-Prince Friday afternoon to aid in the ministry’s relief efforts. MAF is ramping up its assistance to aid agencies by coordinating the storage, distribution, and transportation of food, water and medical supplies, as well as tarps and water purification systems.

“Our first priority is to establish a reliable communication structure, which will allow us to more effectively collaborate with aid groups trying to bring relief supplies to the people of Haiti,” Boyd said. MAF will install a GATR Technologies inflatable satellite terminal at the Port-au-Prince airport, which will provide reliable internet and wireless data connectivity, including VOIP (internet telephone service), to aid organizations.

In past disaster situations, including the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Felix and Cyclone Sidr in 2007, and the Haitian hurricanes of 2008, MAF provided communications systems, delivered relief supplies, transported medical teams and assisted humanitarian organizations in reaching people and areas that have been otherwise cut off from assistance.

Woodberry also reported the following from Haiti:
• Wives and children of the seven MAF missionary families have been relocated to Florida for counseling and debriefing.
• MAF is committed to providing assistance to the families of Haitian national staff members, as well as to the communities in which they live. Of immediate concern is ensuring that aid goes where it should.
• MAF is ramping up efforts to assist aid agencies, networking with relief agencies such as Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision.
• A Samaritan’s Purse DC-6 has finally arrived carrying 25,000 lbs of relief supplies. The MAF hangar at the Port-au-Prince airport is being used as a logistics point for this flight and will likely be similarly used for other flights.
• Although small aircraft are still not allowed to fly out of Port-au-Prince, MAF continues to ready its fleet to contribute to the relief efforts.
• MAF staff housing is being used to accommodate MAF staff as well as relief workers from other agencies.

The situation in the already poverty-stricken nation is heartbreaking. And the needs seem overwhelming. Thousands are dead, and thousands more are suffering from injuries following the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that stuck Jan. 12. Millions of people survived the quake in Port-au-Prince are now suffering without food, water or shelter. Fear remains high that already desperate people will turn to violence.

How You Can Help:

“We are touched and encouraged by the hundreds of supporters who have contacted MAF to offer their prayers and assistance,” said John Boyd, MAF president. “We are grateful to God for this overwhelming show of love.”

To respond to the disaster, MAF has set up the “Haiti Disaster and Recovery Fund.” Donations can be made by clicking here

In Canada, you can donate by clicking here

Many have also inquired about volunteering to assist MAF in the relief efforts. Currently, MAF is unable to bring volunteers into Haiti. There may be a later need for those with specific technical skills in logistics and communications, coupled with disaster response experience. Watch the MAF website for more information.


Jan 14, 3:00 a.m.

I wake up and look around. With nine people sleeping on the living room floor, the place is pretty full. Everyone is sleeping. I pull myself off the couch and check on Jayden. He is sound asleep. A few minutes later I crawl back on the couch and fall into a deep sleep. I don’t feel the two tremors or even wake up when they occur. Jason even tries to shake the couch to wake me up, but I go on sleeping. At 5:30 I wake up and hear Jayden. Everyone else has gone back to sleep. I pull him out of bed and hug him tight. I then find a spot for him beside me on the couch and we both fall asleep again. At 6:15 everyone is awake and we slowly sit up. Jason tells me about the tremors and I’m secretly glad I didn’t wake up. Now that I haven’t felt them for awhile myself I am not as on edge. Or maybe I’m just too tired to care. Julie makes pancakes for all of us and they are good. Jayden and I both eat one, but our stomachs have shrunk and once we are finished we have no room for more. I put my glasses on even though I don’t normally wear them. The dust has really been bothering my contacts. As I get Jayden dressed he just can’t stop coughing. I hug him tight and try not to cry. Once we are all dressed and our pajamas and toothbrushes are put back in the suitcases we sit and wait. What now? Mark Williams, our program manager comes knocking on the door several minutes later and tells us all the families are meeting on his porch across the street. We slowly make our way over there. 2 minutes into the meeting one of the phones we have that is on a different network rings. None of our other phones are working. “It’s John Woodberry”, Amber says, and we all sit up a little straighter. Mark takes the call and comes back several minutes later to say that MFI (Missionary Flights International) is going to try to land at the Port au Prince airport again this morning at 9:30 to pick us up. Since it’s already after 7:00 everyone rushes to get their bags back in the vehicles and before I know it we are ready to leave again. As Jayden and I sit in the vehicle, a group of little boys comes running over. “My friends!” I exclaim gladly, as I grab their hands. They latch onto me. These are the neighborhood boys all around the age of 6 that hang around outside the gate of our home. They help me pick grass for our rabbits and then I pay them in treats or little toys. Am I ever glad to see all of them! “Are your families okay?” I ask. “Yes”, they say, smiling broadly. I am so relieved. These children are poor, and I’m sure whatever houses they live in are not built well. I silently thank the Lord. Minutes later it’s time to leave and as we pull away, my heart breaks. With all three of us feeling sick, exhausted and emotionally spent, and with the no hospital, no food, and security issues, I understand that it’s prudent to leave temporarily, but it’s still hard. What about Anoud and Denise and family, what about these children? I feel my heart being torn in two. Just then Jason and Jayden fall into coughing fits again. I need to focus on the present. All these feelings and mixed emotions will have to be sorted out later. Jennifer had given Jayden some cough syrup and he now sits there like he’s in a daze. I don’t know if it’s because of the dosage we gave him or just because of all the craziness of the last few days. William, one of the white kids falls into a coughing fit and it’s painful to listen too. All the kids and many of the adults are coming down with it. Since Jayden is sitting so quietly, I have nothing else to do, but to stare out the window. The destruction is almost too much to bare. At one point we are rerouted around an area where they are digging up a police station. As we drive the back roads I see a building completely caved in. How could anyone have survived that? I wonder. Just then I see a leg sticking out from under the rubble. I shudder. How terrible. Seeing the big pile of rubble cement brick and rubble around it makes me certain there is no way that person is alive. Plus it’s been three days now since the quake. I try to get the disturbing image from my mind but I can’t. When we finally reach the airport we see people everywhere. We drag our suitcases to the entrance, but then are told by the American Embassy that only American citizens are allowed into the airport. Since all the other families are American, they have no problem, it’s just us. I don’t get worried or upset as I stand at the edge of the sidewalk. If I’ve learned only one thing in these last few days, it’s this. God is sovereign and we need to trust him. Getting angry, upset or impatient in difficult circumstances is not trusting Him. Mark and Jason argue with the American consulate but he just doesn’t care. The man in charge begins to yell and swear. “You don’t think I have enough problems getting the American citizens out of here,” he yells, “Canadians are not my concern.” Jason and Mark then find a different entrance where they are recognized by one of the Haitian security guards. When they explain the situation to him, and that we have an airplane that might be coming to pick us up on the tarmac, he lets us in a different way. I look up and smile. God is in control. In the terminal itself, no passports are checked, like they were being the day before, and we walk right onto the tarmac. Once again He has directed our paths. Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” The runway is crazy busy again today. More US military troops have come in and I observe them from my spot on the floor 10 meters away. After awhile Will White comes to tell us that MFI has landed in Cap Haitian, a city North of Port au Prince, and that once again they have not been given permission to land. I sit there quietly once again, not disturbed. If God is for us, who can be against us? Mark, Todd, and David go and talk to the makeshift tower on a grassy spot on the other side of the tarmac. It consists of a group of 10 or so men with radios and other equipment. After talking for awhile, they agree to allow MFI to land at the domestic terminal. With God all things are possible. We mass pile 11 of us into a five person vehicle and make our way over to the domestic terminal. MFI is able to land sometime after 11:00 and offloads relief workers and supplies. As we wait the air quality gets so poor, I can hardly breathe. I wrap a shirt around my mouth to try to filter out the dust and pollution. I feel so weak, I once again find a spot on the dirty floor and sit. Thankfully I took Jayden’s stroller along, and he sits quietly in there, not saying anything. Finally our baggage is loaded into MFI’s DC3, a World War II aircraft, and it’s time to find our seats. Jayden and I sit on two seats right up front and we get a good view out the window. As the airplane takes off I thank God once again and pray for a safe flight. As the aircraft climbs higher, the stress, lack of sleep and lack of food hits me, and I feel myself starting to lose consciousness. I grab Jayden’s small hand and then put my head down hoping the dizziness will pass. I manage to keep from passing out and grab for my water bottle. Once the airplane has leveled off, I’m given Kool Aid and a cup of instant soup. Soup has never tasted this good, and the warm liquid revives me. Once I’m feeling better, Jayden begins to feel worse. He cries and cries and cries, but because the cabin is not pressurized and the airplane is very noisy, no one but me can hear him. “Owie tummy, owie tummy,” he keeps complaining between his coughing fits. I try to help him get into a comfortable position to sleep but he keeps twisting and turning and it just doesn’t work. Not until two hours later does he finally doze off into a restless sleep. The flight to Ft. Pierce is 3 hours and 40 minutes in the DC3 and it feels like a long time. When it is finally time to descend the pilots descend quite rapidly due to a thick cloud cover. Having a bad head cold and a lot of fluid build up in my ears the pain I now feel is almost more then I can bare. I try everything to relieve the pressure but since the cabin is not pressurized and we’re coming down fast there is nothing that helps. I swallow, yawn, chew, drink, but nothing helps. I finally just stick my fingers in my ears and let the tears roll down my face. No one except Jayden can hear or see me cry anyway. Jayden meanwhile has grabbed both of his ears as well and is screaming in pain. Feeling helpless I try to massage them, but there is really nothing I can do. I pray that we will be on the ground soon, but it still feels like it takes a long time. By the time we land I’m emotionally spent. Nothing sinks in. Like a robot I grab our bags and walk with Jayden off of the plane. When my feet hit the ground new emotions swirl through me. Joy, hope and thankfulness. We are finally here.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Hello All -

Here is a link to our photo gallery with over 120 photos.


Facing the Unknown

Jan 13, continued

Jayden has rocked himself to sleep in the pack and play, placed strategically under the doorway in the kitchen. Since our kitchen has a wood ceiling and two exits we decide that it’s okay to sleep inside for the night. Many of the other MAF families are sleeping outside on the streets, too afraid that their houses might tumble down around them due to aftershocks. Trying to sleep on a piece of cardboard on a gravel street right above a ravine with a two year old just doesn’t seem feasible. Too tired, and too emotionally spent to fall asleep, Jay and I continue to talk till 1:00 a.m.. When we feel like we are ready to lie down we pull a rubber mat into the kitchen and throw on some comforters. Jason is still wearing the same clothes he was wearing the day the earth quake happened so I convince him to change. We also brush our teeth, if only for normality’s sake. After pouring our hearts out to God we lie down and fall in an exhausted sleep. Three hours later I’m wide awake and get the feeling we might be experiencing another tremor soon. I lay, eyes wide open for a long time, but nothing happens. Eventually I fall asleep again. At 5:30 I wake up again and this time feel a tremor several minutes later. I wake a sleeping Jason and stand up to grab Jayden. Thankfully the tremor is just a mild one and we soon lay down again. I can’t fall asleep after that but I don’t feel tired either. At 6:00 we all are wide awake and I make two sandwiches for Jayden, but he doesn’t feel like eating. I’m not hungry either, so I give the sandwiches to Nicholas and Sabboule. Not sure what to do next we walk over to the program managers house. There we are told that all but three pilot/mechanics and a mechanic/IT specialist will be temporarily relocated. Just getting connected by internet to the world outside is a real blessing. Although I don’t have time to reply to all the emails and comments, reading them and knowing that so many people are thinking and praying for us is a real comfort. Jason and Marc Williams head out to the orphanage once again to see what they can do. I walk back home with Jayden and get the final things ready in our house. I finish packing two suitcases, Jayden’s pack and play and little stroller and one backpack. It’s hard to pack not knowing for sure if we are able to leave and not knowing where we will be going, and not knowing how long. What’s even harder is telling Anoud and Denise we might be gone indefinitely. Anoud seems to handle it okay, but Denise keeps telling me she’s so sad we might be leaving. We give them money for the next few months and what’s left of our food supply. “I’m glad you are taking care of us by giving money and food”, Denise says,” but I’d still so much prefer you were here”. I nod sadly, not knowing what to say. At 1:30, three vehicles are ready to leave. This is my first time driving through the main streets of Port au Prince and the devastation is astounding. So many buildings completely demolished, vehicles crushed, people wandering aimlessly. Thankfully the bodies that had been previously lying on the sides of the streets have been removed and I don’t have to see them. I’m told later they were picked up by front loaders and placed in dump trucks, because there were just too many to know what to do with. I’m horrified at the thought, but some of the estimates are that 100,000 people died so I’m sure making that decision on what to do with the bodies was a difficult one. As we drive on I see many people walking with dust masks. Before long it becomes pretty obvious why. Jason already suffering from a chest cold prior to the earthquake starts to cough nonstop. What’s even harder to hear is Jayden’s little lungs trying to cough up all the dust in the air. My throat gets extremely sore and I wish I had thought to bring bandanas to wrap around our mouths. Half an hour later we arrive at the domestic terminal where the MAF airplanes are kept. The gates are locked and they don’t allow us in. Mark Williams, Todd Edgerton, and Will White are locked inside the terminal and talk to us through the gate. We all decide to go to the international terminal instead. They walk there via the runway and we drive around the outside. The control tower is damaged, the glass is missing, and the terminal has many severe cracks. Around the airport all kinds of people are sitting with backpacks and suitcases. It takes us awhile to get in and then we wait on the edge of the tarmac. The runway is extremely busy. Helicopters take off and land in 30 second intervals and military airplane after military airplane comes in. We see soldiers, UN Peace keepers and News Reporters. The place is just swarming with people. I put the pack and play down and try to find a place to sit. We can’t sit too close to the terminal building because it’s just too cracked and they fear the vibrations from the large aircraft could make it tumble down so I finally give up and sit on the dirty cement. After waiting two hours we finally receive news that Missionary Flights International was unable to land at the Port au Prince airport, to pick us up. Only military airplanes have permission to come and go. We pick up all our luggage and then walk back through the crowds of people to our cars. Time to head back again. Too tired to feel any emotion we silently drive back. Since our home has no water, the fridge is off and everything has been closed off we join the other MAF families for the night. After a supper of crackers and cheese and a couple mini chicken wings we crash out on the couch. As I close my eyes to sleep, I sigh, a couch has never felt this good before.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Going Through The Motions

January 13
Helicopters fly low over head and even the noise of their rotors makes me cringe. Everyone is skittish. We’ve felt so many aftershocks I’ve lost count. My body is on red alert. Nothing sinks in. Survival. It’s come down to that. I don’t let Jayden out of my sight and every shake and quiver I grab him and we run outside. The stress is taking a toll on Jayden. “Walls fall down,” he says. “Rocks fall down. Big mess.” He sounds like a broken record, repeating the same sentences over and over again. Loud noises scare him and he clings to me. What to do? The house is still a mess and needing to do something, I slowly start cleaning things up. Denise comes and helps me, even though I tell her she doesn’t need too. “Just a little work,” she says. “We will just clean up a little.” Although still frightened that walls will cave in any second, the normality of just cleaning and organizing helps. I slowly calm down and even allow Jayden to have a nap in his own room. He’s exhausted and sleeping in a pack and play in the middle of the house, just doesn’t work. Thankfully while he sleeps, I don’t feel any tremors. Neighbors who’ve driven down Delmas show us pictures of what they’ve seen. Bodies lying alongside the streets, some covered in sheets and some not. Crowds of people just walking and walking, either searching for loved ones, or just not knowing where else to go. The pictures of the Caribbean market where we normally shop for groceries are horrific. Twisted metal shopping carts, pieces of the checkout counter, and all other un-identifiable objects in one heaping pile of rubble. The store is always packed and we shop there every week, we could have even been there that moment, since we often shop after Jason is finished work. The thought is sobering. Even the security wall that fell down on the side of our house could have been a lot more serious. An hour earlier three little boys were playing right alongside that wall. Nicholas, Sabboule and Jayden. If the earthquake had hit an hour earlier they could have been under all the rubble. I shake my head as if to clear away those thoughts. God is still in control and spending time worrying about “what ifs” is useless. Jason spends some time trying to fix the more serious problems with the house. During the earth quake our two big bottles of Propane used to power our stove had fallen over, snapping the line. Our hot water tank had also fallen over breaking the water line there. The security wall that collapsed not only made our home easily accessible for anyone it also burst the water line running through it in various places. After working for awhile, Jason realizes the damage is too great for him to be able to fix. The tools and supplies he needs just aren’t available either. So we are left with no stove and no running water. City power will be off indefinitely, so we are thankful that our solar panels will bring enough power in to run the bare necessities. No gas for vehicles and no diesel for our generator, makes the situation even more difficult. With Caribbean Market completely devastated and substantial damages to Eagle our grocery supply has been caught off. No drinking water, no food, how much longer can we live this way? Thankfully, we have about 20 Gallons of drinking water stored in our depot room and a clay urn that we can use to filter dirty water to make it drinkable. The food issue is not as easily resolved since I have no way to cook anything. Only a couple slices of bread left, and snacks. One of the other MAF families gives us a half a loaf of bread to add to our supply, but everyone has a family that needs to eat. Still suffering from shock Jason and I have no appetite whatsoever, and just grab a small bite to eat here and there, the bare necessities to keep us going. Jayden however eats well, something for which I am thankful. Jason spends the afternoon helping people at the orphanage I used to help out at with the weekly feeding program. Basically they’ve turned the boy’s home into a hospital and treat as many people off the street as they can. At 5:00 all MAF families get together for an emergency meeting. At the meeting I hear that Daniel, one of MAF’s national staff that works at the hanger is presumed dead. I can’t believe it. Daniel is my age, 24 years old and has helped us out a lot culturally and running errands with us. I liked him, he was our friend. He was a strong believer and planned to be a missionary in Jeremie after he married. While the earth quake struck he was in a class at a university that collapsed. An eye witness says they saw him fall and nothing has been heard or seen from him since. Mark Williams tries to comfort us to say that he’s in a much better place now, but I just can’t comprehend that he’s gone. Three of the other MAF national staff have not been reached by phone, but cell phone service is almost non- existent. They all lived very close to the center of the quake and we pray that they are okay. As we go over emergency procedures, the three storey concrete home we are in starts to quake once again. Everyone instantly jumps up and runs down the stairs out onto the street. After this we don’t feel comfortable meeting inside and get some folding chairs and put them in a circle in the middle of the rocky, dead end street. At the end of the street, there is a giant ravine full of small concrete shacks. As night falls, we see candles and hear people singing and praising God. I’ve never met an atheist in Haiti. All though many suffer from all kinds of superstitions, they all believe there is a GOD, who is in control of the entire universe. They aren’t interested in scientific explanations of how earthquakes occur. “God moved the earth.” They don’t question or are angry. They sing and praise Him. I feel a shiver crawl up my spine just watching and listening. Even in the midst of this destruction, God is present, and I can feel Him. I shift my attention back to the meeting and find everyone comparing notes of how much food supply they have. With the UN focusing on their own losses, and grocery stores and markets closed, access to food will be a problem. The unknowns are there as well. Will people begin to riot when they run out of food? Will looting and plundering start to happen now that many walls are broken down? Is it safe for the men to leave their families at home? At the end of the meeting it’s decided that all non-essential staff should be evacuated, starting with families that have small children. Since Jayden counts as a small child, we need to pack. That night Jason and I walk around our home in a dream, moving stuff, covering stuff up and deciding what to pack. 50lbs each, we are told, is what you can take. Never putting much value in material possessions and having seen so clearly the slight step between life and death, nothing seems valuable to me. We end up just packing some clothes, shoes and toiletries and leave the rest. When Jayden finally falls asleep, I sit on the floor as Jason recounts his day. He seems shell shocked. “We picked up injured people alongside the street”, he says, “and gave them rides. Then when we got to the orphanage there were just hordes of injured people. Someone asked me if I knew how to do stitches and I said I’d done it once. That was all it took to get me the job of stitching people up. With very little no how and no anesthesia I got to work stitching up these big gashes. While I stitched, people were screaming and others helped to hold them down. I just had to do it though. As a fire fighter our job was to get people out and get them ready to be transported to the hospital. Today I was the Doctor. Then when we were driving home people were calling us to stop and help at an apartment building. Looking down a crack into three storey’s of rubble and just seeing body parts was very hard. When we tried to help everything started shifting and it was too unsafe. Without proper equipment there was nothing we could do. The people helping to dig said they hadn’t heard anymore screaming for the last couple of hours.” He stares off into space for awhile and then says. “If we really leave tomorrow, I’m going to cry. Everything is so unreal now, but when this really hits me, I’m afraid I will cry.” I don’t respond and just sit there staring wide eyed in front of me. It’s like we are in dream, just going through the motions, but nothing is really registering. “I might cry too”, I finally respond.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


January 12, 5:00 p.m.

I poke at a meatball in the pan to check if it's ready. Looks good! I smile, satisfied. My goal was to have dinner ready at 5:00 p.m. and everything is done right on time. The next few minutes are a blur. I remember hearing what sounded like a heavy dump truck drive past on our street. Then everything started shaking violently. I hear screaming outside and run to the doorway of the kitchen. What to do? I then see Jason running towards me. The shaking becomes worse as the house begins to buckle and sway. Knowing that Jayden was with Jason in the living room and not seeing him now I yell at Jason. "Where's Jayden? Where's Jayden? Get him!" Jason runs back and the house is buckling so bad now he almost loses his balances several times. I'm terrified. Doorways are safer, I remember from earth quake school drills, so I crouch down in one. A second later I have Jayden in my arms." Stay in the doorway", I yell at Jason, as I cover Jayden's small body with mine. I can't honestly describe what it feels like to have a cement, brick house swaying and buckling, underneath you. I just remember feeling so helpless and not knowing what to do. What's a wooden doorway going to help if the cement crumbles around me? I wonder. The quaking seems to last for a long time. I hear Denise screaming outside and calling "Jezi, Jezi" (Jesus, Jesus). I close my eyes to pray but don't know what to say. The rumbling stops but I remain where I am. Jayden starts to squirm to get out from my hold but I hold him tighter. After a few minutes we get up. The air is thick with dust. It's almost like looking through a thick fog. I'm just about to check the damage in our living room when I feel the ground begin to sway underneath me again. Once again we crouch in the doorway, until the heaving and shaking stops. I stay sitting longer now, knowing there might be more tremors. Jason cracks the outside door open and talks to Anoud and Denise. Denise is hysterical, and can't be calmed down. Seeing this Nicholas is terrified. We do our best to calm her down and make sure everyone is okay. Minutes later the earth sways again. Not knowing what's going to happen next is almost unbearable. I'm so scared. After the tremor passes we wait again and then start checking for damages. Our living room is in shambles. Computers knocked down and fallen over, pictures off the wall, a ton of leaves that came from who knows where. What's even more alarming is when I look through a side window. Our entire side security wall has come down leaving a mass of rubble. Dust is everywhere. The kitchen is a mess. My glass vase holding my Mayan Riviera sand has shattered on the floor, leaving a mess of water and sand. The entire contents of my cleaning supplies cupboard litters the ground. Broken glass, pictures, nick knacks and food are everywhere. As I walk to our bedroom, I feel like I have sea legs. I keep feeling the ground buckling even though it's not. In the bathroom I find more disaster. Shattered lamp shades and broken toiletries cover the entire floor. What a mess. Unsure of what to do next, I decide to join Denise and her kids outside. We sit on our courtyard on a piece of cardboard. I feel more tremors. Denise is in shock. She cries, she screams, she weeps, she yells. It's like she's lost her mind. This really scares the kids, so I do my best to calm her. " From now on I will take my children to church, Jesus, she says, I will give all my money to the church, just help us Lord." I pat her arm while holding Jocemine. "Jesus, doesn't want your money," I finally tell her. "He wants your heart." She looks at me for a moment and then nods. "Oh Jesus", she prays, "take my heart, forgive me."She sits silently for a long time with her eyes closed. She seems to have calmed down. Sabboule starts to complain that he's hungry, so Anoud who's stayed relatively calm, gives him a bowl of rice and beans. I help the kids eat it. I'm not hungry at all. Even the thought of food makes my stomach turn, but having some normality for these kids is the best thing. Nicholas refuses to eat, he's too upset. I finally manage to coax him to eat a few bites. I sit there for hours as Jason goes with Mark Williams to check the damages on the street. Every now and then we still feel tremors, and it's frightening every single time. When Jason come back he tells us of the disasters he's seen. Broken walls, broken homes, vehicles smashed, power lines on the road, everywhere you look there is chaos and destruction. By now it's dark and Jason and I make our way back inside. You're welcome to sleep inside with us in the kitchen we tell Anoud and Denise, but they tell us they feel safer sleeping outside under the stars. Needing some kind of plan, we decide to get a backpack ready in case we need to make a run for it. I quickly pack a big bottle of water, clothes, passports, money and IDs. We then pull a single person mattress into the kitchen since we decided that is probably the safest room in the house. We place a kitchen table over our heads and hunker down for the night. All three of us on a single mattress is a tight squeeze, but I need Jayden close to me. He falls asleep soon and after talking for awhile Jason and I doze off as well. At ten minutes to twelve I'm wide awake and less than ten minutes later the earth starts shaking again. "I'm scared", Jason tells me, "Me too", I reply. Before we fall asleep we read Psalm 18 together. Verse 7 says, "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken because he was wroth." Never before has this been so real to me. To feel the earth tremble and the foundations of the hills shake. I'm in shock myself and when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I see my eyes are permanently wide open. After the shaking subsides, none of us can fall asleep again. Jayden keeps asking for Thomas the Train, and we are just too wide awake to sleep. Jason makes himself a snack since he has hardly eaten all day and I just lay there staring at the underside of the table. Before we turn the lights out again Jason spots a cockroach on the table. It escapes and crawls down the table leg and disappears somewhere under our blankets, but I just don't care. There are a lot worse things to worry about then a cockroach in bed. Will we even survive the night? At 3:00 a.m. we finally doze off again. At 6:00 we are awakened by Jason's ringing cell phone. Someone is asking if they will be flying today, before he has a chance to answer the call is cut off. Excitedly I grab my cell phone in the hopes of calling someone, anyone, but the calls don't go through. Jason tries his as well, but to no avail. Our internet doesn't work either. Nothing works, no water, no stove, no internet, no cell phones. What to do? We wash up the best we can with some wet wipes and Jason gets ready to go to the airport. Jennifer arrives a little later and Jayden and I walk over to the other MAF families homes with her. The streets are a mess and many walls have tumbled down. People roams the streets some looking for loved ones and others just not knowing what else to do. At the Williams house I'm able to connect to MAF Satellite internet. It feels good being connected to the rest of the world once again. The internet is too slow to post pictures, but I'm at least able to share what happened. More to come.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Anse Rouge

December 30, 2009

I stare out the window and enjoy the bird's eye view of the world beneath me.

The closer we get to Anse Rouge, the more barren the land becomes. After flying over endless treeless mountains and dusty valleys I suddenly spot a narrow landing strip. This must be Anse Rouge. I recognize it from the aerial photos Jason had taken previously. I press my face to the glass and aim my camera down trying to get a good shot.

Coming in for landing we get a closer look at some of the houses and the sparse vegetation around them, this truly is dry country.

Approaching the airstrip I can feel strong cross winds buffet our small plane. Fighting to keep the aircraft on course, Jason decides to overshoot the runway and try again. Not usually afraid while flying, I close my eyes as fear bubbles up inside. I hug Jayden tighter and he sleepily opens his eyes. Fighting my fear, I pray. God is in control and in the Bible He tells us 365 times "Do not fear". Feeling calmer, I open my eyes again. We circle around for another attempt and this time we come in for a bumpy landing. The ground is hard and rocky and I can feel it as the airplane jars over it. Once out of the airplane, I look up at the heavens and thank God. He gives me peace. The Creator of all, has made this land too, and as I look down the runway, I marvel at its beauty.

Wide open country, blue sky hugging far off mountains, cotton like clouds; all is His handy work. I look towards the mission compound and see a man walking towards us. This must be Manis, our contact here in Anse Rouge. He extends a friendly greeting and then helps Jason push the aircraft back.

Once it is secured we leave it at the edge of the runway.

MAF planes are the only aircraft that fly into this dirt strip. Knowing that no one else will be flying in and that the airplane is safe there, we pick up our suitcases and make the short walk to Manis' home.

We meet Manis' wife Judy and are very impressed with all the work they have done organizing the food distribution. Since the airplane couldn't possibly carry all the food for the distribution, they had sent a truck into St. Marc and purchased everything in advance. Large bags of rice, corn soy blend, flour and buckets of oil. Then with the help of family and friends in the community they had divided up all the food into black bags. Now their home is full of hundreds of bags of food. This must have taken a lot of time and we are very thankful! Since the food distribution is supposed to start at 5:00 p.m. and the food is already divided up and put into bags we have a little bit of time to explore and talk to the local people.

Judy tells us the climate over the last year has really changed due to inconsistent and very little rain. "We used to get rain here regularly during the rainy seasons", she says, "but in the last year we haven't even had a real rainy season." Looking down at the ground, I can tell what a toil this has taken on the land. How can you grow anything when the soil looks like this?

As we stand on the edge of the road in front of Manis and Judy's house we see children come past on donkeys.

We are told later that many children wake up at 2:30 in the morning to bring their donkey to a river two hours away to give it a drink and bring back water for the family. They then have a two hour trip home before school starts.

As I feel the sun beating down on my face, drying my skin and lips I suddenly feel parched. The cactus growing in clusters add to the desert like feeling this place gives me. Judy offers us water and I drink it quickly. Knowing how much purified water costs them, I feel guilty for drinking it, but water isn't something you can do without.
As the sun starts to sink, we help carry all the bags to the church where the distribution will take place. In the thatched roof structure, tables are set up and we separate the food in different piles.

By 5:00 the food is organized and the people have come. Before they gather at the gate we take a group picture of everyone by the airplane.

As the sun sinks below the horizon, donkeys nibble at the little vegetation there is left.

The wind picks up as the large group of children and parents all make their way to the gate.

Before the children can enter they must show their tickets at the gate. These had been handed out previously to the children of especially poor families to ensure the correct families received the food and that we would have enough for everyone.

The children file into the little make-shift church building and find spots on the small wooden benches.

Once everyone is inside the children sing and pray. Jason then introduces us in Creole and explains that family and friends in Canada and the United States have donated money to buy food to help them. He also tells them that although people donated the money, God is the provider of all things. The children listen quietly. After this we all find a spot at a table and start helping the children. Although it takes a few minutes to get a good system going, once we do, everything goes smoothly.

Each child receives one big bag of rice, one big bag of corn soy blend, and one big bag of flour. Then in the empty containers the children brought along we give them oil as well.

Each of the 200 children receives enough food to feed their family once a day for five days.

The load is too much to carry for the smaller children and some of the local people appointed by Judy and Manis help the children out the gate and return them to their parents who take the food from them. It is very touching to see how helpful everyone is and how much the food means to those who receive it. As I step outside to help some of the children, the full moon shines brightly, illuminating the land. Here in this barren country my heart can't help but praise Him. How great is our God!