Archive for February 2010 | Monthly archive page
Members of the Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity volunteered their time at Giving Children Hope to help sort medical supplies. We are thankful for their willingness to give back to the local community!
In my time on the ground just a week after the 7.3 earthquake in Haiti, there was a consistent message that I heard from the Haitian people – pray for us.
__While they did need things like food, water, medical supplies and medicines, the thing they said that they wanted the most was prayer.__ I’m not sure I should be surprised by that but I think I was a little. In the face of having so many physical and emotional needs it seemed that the people understood that more important than any of these needs were their spiritual needs. So I ask you to please continue to keep them in your prayers.
In the last weeks nearly everyone that I have talked to that has spent any time in Haiti has experienced God’s miracles. I continue to received reports of the miraculous. Here’s a few that I have received I wanted to share with you:
In all of Haiti’s history, there has always been Carnival. Haiti is known for its Mardi Gras celebration that last days, costs the government lots of money, and harms many people. The news will glorify the festival, saying that it is a cultural celebration. But, they don’t understand the devastation that Carnival leaves in its wake. Carnival is a voudoo service–it is worshipping Satan. In the act of worship, practitioners will spend their last dime, harm themselves, or willingly let possession take place. There are always people that die and many others are injured. But, the news will only show the dancing and singing and partying. People come from all over the world to celebrate Carnival in Haiti. Carnival was to be this week. But, for the first time, Haiti’s government has cancelled Carnival. Instead, the president has called for 3 days of national prayer. That is a miracle, my friends. That is what we have been praying for since coming to serve in Haiti. What an opportunity this will be to stand up for the name of Jesus. **The nation of Haiti will be spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in fasting and prayer.** For our community, we will be uniting the local churches to pray and fast together. The community chose to use our worship center as its meeting place. They chose our facility without us knowing about the decision. We are so glad that we are able to provide the setting for the services. Pray that JeanJean and the other leaders will be able to guide people to Christ for their comfort. Our prayer has always been that God would fill up the worship center with people who are looking for Him. The community is encouraging those who go to church and those that don’t to join together to pray. We hope that many new people will be exposed to the gospel and that people’s faith will be strengthened. May the whole nation be as the jailer in Acts 16:30 that experienced the earthquake in the prison and called out to Paul, “…what must I do to be saved?” I have been convicted that God can use a major disaster to become a major turning point for Haiti. Please consider praying and fasting yourselves on these days. Haiti is still desperately in need of your prayers.
Wow!! The first day of the prayer and fasting service was wonderful. It was one of the best experiences of my life. There was such a spirit of unity and praise. The pictures can’t even begin to show how many people were packed into the worship center. Actually, my camera died after these pictures. More and more people came as the day progressed. I have no idea how many people were there. Our worship center is a big, open building and there was no walking area at all. People spilled out into the lawns. All the churches united to give the service. Justin, JeanJean’s brother, told the assembly that this was a glimpse of the universal church that we will see in heaven. There was a lot of singing and praising; prayers of confession, adoration, supplication, and thanksgiving; testimonies that would make you cry, and many good Biblical messages from local pastors. JeanJean taught on the reason for fasting and prayer from Isaiah 58:1-12. He encouraged the people to rejoice that the president of Haiti, Renee Preval, has cancelled Carnival and given Christians the chance to make a new Haiti. That was a common theme among the pastors–let us look forward to a brand new Haiti that will look to God for their leadership and not look to Satan as their leader. I wish these pictures and this poor attempt of mine to describe the service could be better. I wish you could have all been there in person to experience the joy and faith of the brothers and sisters in the service. There was not a sense of discouragement or hopelessness like the world might expect. No, God gave His people a peace that is beyond understanding. __The people prayed for you, too! They prayed for all the people that prayed, cried, donated so much, who just remembered them.__ And one more thing that was prayed for was for the future government. The presidential election will be coming up–pray for a godly leader. We have 2 more days of prayer to look forward to. I’m going to try to send you a link to a youtube video that I attempted to upload. I’m not the best at this, but hopefully you’ll get it in a later email. God bless you!!!
You also can view the video that was passed along to us showing some of the singing. Please honor the request of the Haitian people by keeping them in your prayers during this difficult time in their history.
I returned from Haiti ready for full-blown action. When you are on the ground and you see the enormous need you are certainly spurred on to do something about it. I think it’s nearly impossible to spend time in a refugee camp that desperately needs food, water, shelter and medical care and not be compelled into action.
In the almost three weeks since my return from Haiti I’ve been going at non-stop speed. Unfortunately I’m behind in so many responses with about 250 unanswered emails. I’ve been speaking to almost anyone who would listen – yes me, the woman who doesn’t like public speaking. And only recently did I get a few moments to sit, process, and pray about it all. That should have been the first thing I did.
Needless to say, when I let all of it sink in it certainly moves me to tears. __In spite of the resiliency and the images of hope and laughter, I’ve been a little overwhelmed with all we must to do help. And we absolutely MUST do something.__
As I’m on the fundraising trail, knowing that without the financial resources it will be impossible for us to do our job. I’ve been blessed by the unexpected this week. For me it was a continual reminder from Jesus that he loved me and was going to provide in ways that were His.
Let me tell you some of the blessings for me this past week:
On Monday I received a call from someone I met 2 ½ years ago. This man saw me on the news during the Peru earthquake in 2007. That newscast resulted in raising about $200 total and made me question if I should ever spend time on media efforts again. This man asked if I had received his donation yet. When the mail arrived that day I found a check for $2,000 for Haiti relief. He doesn’t know me well, but he has watched our organization for the last 2 ½ years since he first saw that media broadcast. When the earthquake happened in Haiti he decided he wanted to give to us. I called to inform him that I received it and on behalf of my organization and the communities we are serving in Haiti that I was very grateful. His response to me was “Jenise, this is a gift from Jesus.”
On Tuesday I received a check for $52.48 from a kindergarten teacher with a note that her class did a drive “Pennies for Haiti” and this is what the kindergarten class collected. Kindergarteners doing what they could to help those they would never meet.
Later that week I read through an email from a mother who was explaining that her 5 year old son heard about the kids in Haiti that had a need and wanted to collect band aides for them because they didn’t have any.
And on Friday I returned to Whittier Christian High School where I had been the chapel speaker the week before. The school decided to do three things to help Haiti. First, they were going to do a hygiene drive to collect needed items to go into a container shipment. Second they were going to do a fundraiser with a goal of 2010 – $2,000 in 10 minutes. And third they are going to come in and volunteer their time sorting and packing supplies. That $2,000 goal was more than tripled as they ended up raising $6,423.33 to help Haiti.
**So as I sit with the thoughts of the refugee camp still fresh in mind and an overwhelming task much too large ahead of me, I remember that it’s not too big for the God who created the heavens and the earth.** As I continue to share the needs and what we can do together I see that God will use the unexpected – so often the children – to care for the most vulnerable in Haiti.
I’ll try and sleep a little more peaceful this week, giving to God the weight of the problem, and continuing to work hard to do my part to share the message and to try and be a little bit more like Jesus here on earth.
Remember to keep praying for those in Haiti!
A teacher from Centralia Elementary School sends a thank you to Giving Children Hope and all its donors for bring the We’ve Got Your Back program to their school:
We have one family who shows up every Friday after school with a smile and graciously asks for “the backpack.” Every Friday morning that I run into the student, he says “my parents will pick up the backpack after school today.” Sure enough, these parents show up and never have to be reminded. They thank us each week for what we do to help their family.
The “thanks” goes to the staff and donors at Giving Children Hope. Thank you for all you do!
Centralia Elementary School
Many of you read about the little baby that GCHope Haiti Relief team member Jason Friesen from “Trek Medics”:http://www.trekmedics.org/ took to the hospital. I am happy to report that Jason received an email that the baby did in fact survive. I’m also happy to have Jason as a guest blogger on the GCHope site. He recently wrote an article about his trip for his church, “The Rock”:http://www.therocksandiego.org/ and has allowed us to share that article on our site. Here are Jason’s experiences:
Two walls used to surround the grounds of Grace International in Carrefour, Haiti, only a few miles west of the capitol, Port-au-Prince. The exterior wall once enclosed the ten-acre Grace Village compound, which includes a small medical clinic, a large open-air church, a school and the unfinished, two-story Grace Haiti Children’s Hospital. The inner wall, situated in the southwest corner of the compound, surrounds the Girls’ Orphanage, which is home to 54 girls, ages 3 to 26. But since the 7.0 earthquake shook the country on January 12, 2010, only the inner wall is still standing. Little else looks the same.
What was once the spacious, green lawn of the compound has become home to a dusty, teeming Tent City of close to 20,000 internally displaced Haitians. There’s little likelihood that they’ll be able to return home any time soon either, since many have no home to return to, and those who do were warned by the government to keep out of them for fear of aftershocks.
The term “Tent City,” is a bit of misnomer itself, as the tents are made from little more than whatever cloth big enough to create a barrier could be found: bed sheets, blankets, table cloths, rugs, tarps and even flags are strung up and pinned to sticks or poles or rebar that was pulled from the piles of concrete that once constituted their walls. “Refugee Camp” would be a more suitable term, though there’s little refuge found in a make-shift tent.
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
For all intents and purposes, these tents are now the official and permanent residences for hundreds of thousands of Haitians, filled whatever material possessions they could salvage from the ruins. TVs, radios, toaster ovens and other home appliances are stacked inside the tents, some intact and some not, though perhaps able to be sold for scrap or parts. Beside the appliances lay mattresses, make-shift grills, wash basins and dusty piles of clothes. Outside the tents, along the narrow, trash-strewn corridors that wind through the camp, other signs of a small city have popped up, with vendors selling food and goods. Some sell deep-fried vegetables or chicken or soup, while others sell candy or produce or MREs that they’ve gotten from the US Army. Still others have set up small stands with power strips connected to car batteries so you can charge your cell phone or iPod, two essential items for the long, purposeless days if you have them. Like any black market, everything is for sale at an ever-increasing fee.
And while the tent walls are hung in hopes of finding some privacy, and to protect their possessions from would-be thieves, nothing escapes the elements. No matter how well built the tent is, the heat still wears you down, the humidity makes everyone feel crowded and closer, and the dust leaves nothing untouched.
It’s a unique type of dust, though, not comprised only of the kicked-up dirt from the beaten, dry grounds, but also from the ashes of the burning trash piles, and from the still unsettled rubble of what was once a seaside neighborhood. The rubble is probably the biggest contributor to this dust, and it creates a thick white-gray film that layers everything, as though someone had taken all the schoolhouse erasers in the world and beaten them together at once over all the city.
All day long Haitians are in an endless fight with the elements, trying to keep the sun off their brows and out of their eyes, the dust from their lungs and the wind from their parched, thirsty lips. But the elements are as relentless as the despair, continually dragging them down as though a constant reminder of everything they’ve lost.
Fighting for Food, for Hope
Yet the elements aren’t the only thing the Haitians are fighting – they’re fighting each other, too, though not always violently: for food to eat and water to drink, for space to live, and for dignity to preserve. They fight the constant threat of infection and sickness from each other’s trash and excrement, and they fight with the dead, with the depression and sadness of having lost their loved ones. Many fight against the hopelessness of having nowhere to go and of having no way to help themselves, and the whole country, once proud for having fought off the foreigners who enslaved them, must now fight the humiliation of having to turn their country back over to foreigners, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.
There are many, too, who are now fighting to provide for new mouths in their family – the thousands of orphans left behind, whether they are the neighbor’s children, or a child they found just roaming the streets. Children are proving to be one of their most difficult fights, too, as it is the children who are most vulnerable to sickness, dehydration, starvation and abduction.
Though it is only a few miles from the capitol, the Tent City in Carrefour has been slow to find any relief or assistance. Most of the supplies are used up by the people who are closest to the airport where they come in. But help has been increasing. Deemed safe by relief workers because of its steel beams and aluminum roof, the open-air church has been turned into a temporary clinic, with its benches and pews used for supplies and examinations, and its wooden tables used for beds, or even operating tables if necessity demands.
The medical workers who come in are only as good as their supplies and creativity allow them. Sometimes they are able to do the miraculous, like perform an emergency C-section; while other times they are only able to sit and watch, as when an elderly woman had a stroke for lack of blood pressure medications. “Take her back to the tent and let her lie in peace – she won’t live much longer.” Assuredly, very few people remembered to grab their medications before they ran out the collapsing house.
And still other times the medical workers are reduced to the archaic, using vodka for sterilization, and even for anaesthesia.
Dusk to Dawn
At night the Tent City becomes another place, and the relief workers remain behind the inner walls of the Girls’ Home, though they can still hear what is going on outside the walls, and are often woken by those sounds in the night. Each evening there will be some type of worship service coming from somewhere near the church, and it’s common to hear the people in the camp break out in spontaneous worship, singing songs in both French and Creole, both soft and desperate. Other times, the sounds are of a different kind of adulation: one night it is the raucous cheers coming from a nearby tent which has hooked up a TV to watch the Arsenal soccer match, while another night it’s a loud dance party that a different tent has set up.
Still other nights the sounds are less uplifting: from time to time there is the deep rumbling of an aftershock which may shake you right out of bed, and will leave the camp in an eerie silence for many hours after, interrupted only by hushed sobs and children’s cries coming from distant corners. Other times, the relief workers may be woken by a desperate pounding upon the orphanage gates. And when the gates are opened it is a young man carrying the limp, cold body of his newlywed wife, screaming and begging the doctor to tell him it isn’t so, and twenty minutes later it is the sound of the gate closing behind him, sending him back to his dusty, stench-ridden tent alone forever. But as the night grows deeper, the sounds might become still more sinister: the gunshots from an ill-equipped community patrol trying to stop an abduction, and the squealing tires of the getaway car; or the tortured, possessed screams from a voodoo séance.
But behind the walls the girls in the orphanage are safe, yet never let outside, and each morning at six, the girls and their caretakers gather the relief workers in a circle to sing songs of worship and give thanks to God, and to pray for grace, international.