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!


  1. Thanks so much for posting this story. The pictures and the story are both remarkable. We will be praying for rain for them - they obviously need it desperately. God bless you for doing this for the people in Anse Rouge!

  2. Fascinating like usual. Your stories tell "the story" so well, thanks so much for sharing again Will. What a blessing to be able to help, even though it seems so little. How is the man that got hurt?

    Praying all is well.