Hurricane Matthew, the slow moving monster that crept its way toward us for days upon days. We called out to neighbors to prepare, to come stay with us, to tell their friends. We packed sand bags, made from rice bags and dirt, we stocked up on fuel, water and food. We brought our generator inside and secured roof tin. We let our goats off their ropes and locked our cat and dog inside. We bought extra food to do distribution after the storm. We picked up our handicapped guests and drove them to our house over 24 hours before any rain fell.
Before the storm, at our kitchen table we heard stories about the earthquake in 2010. One guest recalled his wife being hit in the face with falling debris and her being too far along in her pregnancy to run. He had to leave her because their seriously injured 3 year had to be carried out of the house. His wife, 8 months pregnant and injured emerged from the house on her own. He then carried his sister who was still swollen from giving birth 6 days earlier and got she and her infant out of danger. Another friend talked of how her baby was thrown from a portable crib and she was hit in the head. She had to run to grab her baby and try to find help. As they sat at my table, there was a sense of fear but also familiarity to tragedy. They seemed to be readying themselves. Reminding each other where they been and what they had seen. Reminding themselves what they are capable of. We left our house 2 days later to find their homes in tack although wet. They immediately set to the work of drying clothes, mattresses, etc…
The word from our friends to the SW of Haiti, has been to slow to come. We worried for days about one dear friend, Alfred, and his family as no one could get a call through to him.
The roads to his area were completely impassable. People have just recently begun making it into these areas for the past few days. The news is devastating. One missionary friend who arrived in a coastal town today remarked, “This is worse than the earthquake.” She is referencing the long term damage to agriculture and the hunger crisis she is sure is coming. She was here for both so I guess she would know. I cannot fully wrap my mind around all that means but my broken heart is piecing it together for the community she was standing in. Cholera is breaking out in these coastal towns and people that have lost everything they own plus friends and family members, still stand to lose their lives. That is the reality.
A few days after the storm we got news that Alfred and his family were safe. They had sheltered in their home and it had been ripped stone by stone from around them as they crouched for cover. Eventually they were forced, when their roof went flying, to find shelter elsewhere. When they returned, everything they have worked years to build, was gone.
He borrowed money from a local friend and drove to us, arriving Monday. His cheeks were sunken in and the sight of him filled me with such relief and such pain. He told us how everything is gone. His garden he has been pouring money, toil and years into. His home he has built stone by stone for years. All their clothes, including his children’s school uniforms that I am sure took everything he had to buy. 4 out of his 6 goats are dead. For days, until he could get us, they ate a vegetable called Lam that they found lying on the ground. He’s tells us about the mass devastation in another one of our villages and we realize, just barely, the scope of the damage. After he tells us all this and after eating a big meal, I see him looking off in the distance and I ask him simply if he is tired. This was his response. It flowed deep from his spirit and he spoke it honestly and humbly. Alfred said, “I have strength because of God. God saved our lives and we are so grateful! We can build our home again. We can buy things. You cannot buy life and you cannot buy your soul. I trust God.” At this point I am battling to maintain composure. After talking some more he said, “Bondye Konnen.” Which means God knows. I can tell from the wounded look in Alfreds eyes that he is heartbroken. But heartbroken does not mean without Hope. Alfred has Hope and that is a miracle. Hope is the evidence of things not seen. Hope is a miracle here, but it is EVERYWHERE.
Haiti can sometimes appear numb to tragedy. They see it so often. Their lives have many times hung by a thread. They know despair, but they know hope. Haiti can and will rebuild, again. They always do. Haitians are the most resilient people I have ever known. They are a worthy investment of your finances, prayers and love. They will work harder than you can conceive to get their lives back. They are NOT lazy. They are NOT quitters. They fight everyday to survive and tomorrow will not be any different. Please pray for Haiti. Hope is a miracle that is taking place. Please give to credible organizations. They are “boots on the ground” here and God is using them to rescue and give relief to the people here.
Thank you for prayers and comments. You stood with us in unprecedented numbers. Share with others what the media is not. There is a humanitarian crisis happening right now, hours from where I sit. Remind people that this is not over. We still need your prayers and partnership as relief is, in many ways, just begun. There are entire villages that have not been reached. Pray also for a time coming soon when that relief turns to development. Love you all and I pray that you see the hope that Alfred sees. God Knows. Bondye Konnen.