Sunday, January 30, 2011

Glimmer of Hope

Taking a drive through Port-au-Prince can be quite depressing when you see how many people are living in tents or make shift shelters. Now that it is a year after the earthquake many of these temporary shelters are disintergrating, covered in dust, and are torn. The camps are cramped, they have to share latrines (if they have them) and water isn't always the easiest to get to. It is common to see people bathing from buckets in front of their shelters, on the street, or in some polluted stream. They are doing the best that they can. For the most part I have been amazed at how clean people keep themselves and their clothing considering the living conditions.

Even though there are still so many people living in this horrible situation, every now and then we see an improvement in an area of the city and its exciting. One area where there has been a vast change is just down the street from the hospital. In a previous post I had mentioned a group of people living in the median of one of the main roads. Well...there whole community has moved!!! ADRA built about 180 wooden shelters for this community and was able to move them to their new homes on the beach on Jan 13! What an amazing celebration it was. Our friends from ADRA said it was so rewarding to see the excitement on people's faces when they were shown their new home. Now each time I pass that section of road where these people used to live I just can help but rejoice!

Another cause for rejoicing is that Spendi, one of our local doctors here, has finally been able to move into a house! She has been living in a tent outside of the ER for the last year. On Friday when I was walking down the ramp I immediately saw that there was an empty spot where her tent had been. I about jumped up and down in the hallway! I was so happy and excited to see that one of our very hard working doctors has finally been able to find a home!

There is still hope for something better. When I am about to fall into despair I just have to focus on all the good that has already happened, even if it often does seems slow in coming.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reflections from January 12

I won't even pretend like I understand what everyone experienced 1 year ago today. The earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan 12 changed everyone's life here in some way. It is estimated that a quarter million people died. Many people lost thier families and friends. Everyone suffered loss in some way. I simply can't comprehend the terror and emotional pain that people experienced and are still experiencing. Life goes on but there are scars. Visible scars on people from where rubble fell on them, scars on the land where there is demolished homes...and then the invisible scars on people's hearts where they carry the pain of lost loved ones, lost homes, lost security.

Thinking back to that fatal day, I want to share a story of about how the earthquake affected one of my freinds here. It is what I shared in November at the Loma Linda University chapel that featured Haiti. This story is about Mackenson, one of the translators that works tirelessly at the hospital. He is dedicated to his work and is always happy to help out wherever he can.  I hadn’t ever talked with him about his experience during the earthquake until just a little while ago. His story explains why he is so dedicated and serves his community so unselfishly. 

 On Jan 12 Mackenson was at his university. The university he attended was the oldest university in PAP and on that day it was a special celebration for the school. It was the anniversary of its opening over 100 years ago and so there were lots of programs and special events planned for the day.  He was in the auditorium with 500 other students right before the earthquake hit. Then someone called him out to help them with some homework. He decided to go and help the person.  Only one hour after he left the auditorium the earthquake hit and the walls of the auditorium collapsed. Of those 500 students only 8 made it out.

When Mack told this story there was a fervent look in his eyes with deep emotion. He stated over and over again. “I was in that auditorium and I should have died.  But for some reason I am here and I owe my life to God. I have a second chance at life and so everything I do I want to give it back to God.” He said he wants to prove his devotion for God, not because he is trying to work his way to heaven or anything, but he says words can only say so much and states, “I want to show the world that I love God because He has given me a new life.”

Mackenson’s story is an example to me of how I should live my life-how I want to live my life.  Just as Mackenson knows without a shadow of a doubt that every breath he takes is a gift, we too have been given a gift of a new life but it is our choice of how we are going to live it. We are all destined to die at some point—this world is going to cave in just like those wall in the auditorium did, but through Jesus we can have a second chance at life. I think one of the ways I see Mack living his life is instead of seeing how he can fit God into his own plans, I see him living for God in everything he does by adjusting his life to God.  It is a beautiful testament to me about how a person can take a bad situation and turn it into something good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mixed Emotions

(My thoughts from Jan 10 as I traveled back to Haiti)

Sitting here in the LA airport waiting to catch the red-eye flight back to Haiti I am bombarded with emotions--uncertaintly mostly. Do I really want to go back (at this What am I really doing there that is making a difference? Do I have enough love to really touch people's lives? Can I be effective? I feel so small for such huge problems that never seem to have answers or a solution.

Everything about sitting in this ariport is a total contrast to the life in Haiti. We left Haiti in a rush right before Christmas due to the political unrest. I won't go into the detail about the whole situation, but it was absolutely mentally draining more than anything. I honestly don't know that I am mentally prepared to go back. There is such mixed emotions that I don't know how I am going to react once I get there. Part of me is happy at the thought of seeing people there, but at the same time the main feeling is an overwhelming sense of dread.

Landing in PAP, being jostled by people who I don't understand, feeling unsure in a foreign land, arriving at the hospital where many people will want to talk to me all at once...makes me just want to hide. I don't like feeling this way. To say it makes me feel like a bad person or that I can't handle it, but I would be lying to say that everything is perfect there and that I am thrilled to be heading back. I really want to make a difference, but looking at all the areas that need help in Haiti it makes me wonder what I can really do? There is devestation on so many levels that it can feel so overwhelming and almost useless. I don't feel like I have genuine love for the people or the situation. I am not the "super Christian" who has it all together. So that brings me to the unsettling question of why am I in Haiti? What do I have to offer. I am young and have so much to learn. I guess it becomes all the more evident that I can't "fix" Haiti. It is all really beyond me. So maybe I should take my focus off of trying to make things perfect and just be available for the people I come in contact with every day. But then how do I Really do that? I don't feel qualified for any of this. But due to that fact it certainly has brouht me to my knees, pleading with God to give me His love and to humble my heart before him because I am recognizing more each day that the ONLY way that we can truely make a difference is through God's incredible strength and help. I can grunt and groan and try to do things all myself, but it doesn't change the fact that I simply can't do it on my own. I don't understand it completely, but because of the pain and suffering I see in Haiti it makes me more dependent on God for strength and wisdom, which I so badly need. And now more than ever I just want Jesus to come and make this old world new. Just think...He has promised to wipe away every tear! I want that now!!!

I don't know what the future holds and I don't know the real reasons why we may be in Haiti. But I do know that God has a plan and I want to be apart of it.