Note: Due to bandwidth and scarcity of connection in Haiti, my posts will be without video or pictures.
Entering Another World
After a long day of flying and waiting and flying again our missions team, made of doctors, pastors, support folk and a reporting team from the Free Lance Star arrived at Port-au-Prince Haiti. The airport (previously damaged by the January earthquake) was a cacophony of movement, sounds and people – lots of people. The plane from Miami to Haiti was full and by listening to most of the plan it was Christian missionaries and many were arriving, as we were – ready to provide care, love and support for a people in need.
As much frustration as I sometimes have with the church-universal, it was amazing to see His people in action. Actually doing something – actually fulfilling The Great Commission. Within minutes of leaving the airport it made the frailty of what we Americans consider consequential; insignificant. We were met at the gate with people there to make any money any way they could, children with hands held out asking for food… It was hard to not feel immediately overwhelmed by the needs of the people.
Etiquette for Benevolence
We’ve been well warned that giving food or money to anyone could cause big problems. We knew that we had to provide care and support in very specific ways or the help could just create more problems. The ride to the compound which we were staying was rough and dusty. The aroma of poverty and illness passed through our open transport like cigarette smoke lingering in a crowded bar. The entire team was exhausted from the day’s travelling; but you could see in all our faces that we were ready to help. It’s such a blessing to have team members who have been here before and have planned for an organized approach to emotional, spiritual and physical support.
The Week’s Home
The compound that we are in is a Christian School in Port-au-Prince. It was a school created in the 70’s for the children of missionaries and then later allowed children from all over. Now, after the earthquake, it’s a basecamp for missionary aid. The school continues to teach, at a very decreased capacity. After unloading about 50-60 bags of supplies and medicine that we have brought with us, we were debriefed by the school staff. Many of the folks I had seen on the plane ride down were re-united at the basecamp.
At one point during the debriefing a gentlemen of mature years asked “Is there support staff for doctors who have come?” The answer came quickly, as another person a few seats down, said “We have nurses, but no doctors…” Isn’t if funny how God works?
I’ve been here now about four hours. Unpacking organizing and cleaning. In that time I’ve heard at least six different languages and met a few people. All here to help. All united by the significant need of these people.
Least you think that the discomfort of sleeping on floors, 100+ weather and the overwhelming atmosphere a sacrifice, it isn’t. We’ve only driven through the town and heard a few stories – we’re still living blessed lives in our compound that has running water, electricity and food. It puts a great deal in perspective. It trivializes the insignificant things that we consider “stressful” in our blessed American lives.