Haiti’s beauty lies in the faces of her children, who seem to smile so easily despite the very difficult living conditions there
Tuesday morning finally arrived, and I rolled out of bed excited about the day ahead. This was the last full day of my five-day trip to Haiti to check on the progress of our relief efforts there. Today our ministry friend, Pastor Preval, and I were looking forward to delivering food to several groups of needy believers in Port-au-Prince, including a stop at Mt. Zion Orphanage. (Click here to read a report in our March newsletter about Mt. Zion.)
I wish you could have been with me that entire day to enjoy the many expressions of thanks I received on behalf of you who have given—smiling faces, warm handshakes, sweaty hugs (it’s always hot there this time of year), and even a kiss! Well, I hope I can at least bring you along through words and pictures.
Our first stop was at a bulk-food warehouse to purchase $1,000 worth of rice, beans, and cooking oil. This warehouse wasn’t Costco or Sam’s Club, however, and the shotgun-carrying guard confirmed that. Port-au-Prince has made some significant progress since my last visit there a week after the January 12th earthquake, but it remains a dangerous and desperate place. After loading our beat-up old Land Rover to its capacity, and covering everything with a tarp to avoid attracting unwanted attention, we were on our way.
We planned that our first food delivery would be to a small camp where a few dozen people from one church were taking refuge. Preval informed me on the way, however, that their location was too dangerous for us to take the food to directly. He feared that we would be mobbed by other people in the area. Naively, I did not realize that all this food made us a target. In much of Port-au-Prince, people are everywhere and never seem to sleep, desperately trying to make enough money to survive another day—and secrets are hard to keep. Instead of going to the camp, therefore, we made a low-profile delivery at the house of the pastor who serves the people there, leaving about six large sacks of food that he would deliver to them in smaller portions.
Next, our Land Rover groaned and rattled its way to Preval’s own church, up eroded rocky “roads” that wound through the tightly packed houses, shacks, abandoned vehicles, and other various discarded materials that seem to fill every nook and cranny. When we finally arrived, I saw about eight tents erected in a small church yard surrounded by walls. Also in this yard were four or five outdoor classrooms filled with children in school uniforms. Several tarps stretched across the area to shield them from sun and rain. After unloading some of our valuable cargo and taking many photos (I can’t resist when I see precious children whom Jesus loves!), we moved on to Mt. Zion Orphanage, just a few minutes away.
I enjoyed seeing the children of Mt. Zion Orphanage again, and they seemed to enjoy seeing me! Many children were just returning from school when we arrived, and one little girl greeted us with a kiss on the cheek. They quickly gathered around, and many hammed it up for my camera.
The orphanage compound, small as it is, looked much more organized and back to normal than when I visited in January. They’ve moved back into their home during the day, but continue to sleep in one large tent at night, still fearing the aftershocks that occasionally return to remind them of that awful day in January. We unloaded some more of our life-giving cargo, and also left some clothes, toys, and a little candy that I brought.
By now our load was getting lighter, and our joy at being able to serve our needy brothers and sisters was growing. We drove southwest, towards the outskirts of the city, then made one more arduous climb in our Land Rover up a yet steeper and more deeply rutted path/street (Land Rover’s reputation for building vehicles that go anywhere is well-deserved). We passed one of the larger tent cities on the way.
When our path came to an end, we found ourselves at a very small church in the midst of various small, dilapidated cement-block houses of the type that characterize Haiti. I was told that there was an eighty-year-old pastor who served a congregation there numbering fifty-five or sixty people. His name was Pastor Clermonier, and we met his son, Daniel, and his family, as well as his brother-in-law Cressant and his oldest son, Jeff. We also brought them a tent.
Almost the entire right wall of Pastor Clermonier’s church had collapsed, but thankfully two columns prevented the roof from caving in. The small home that Clermonier, his wife, and his son’s family lived in didn’t fare so well (half of it collapsed), but no one was seriously injured. Preval told me of his heart for Clermonier’s ministry, and of his desire to rebuild his home for him.
With only a couple bags of food remaining, we headed back towards Preval’s home. On the way, a woman from his congregation met us on the street. We gave her the remaining food for her family, completing our mission for the day. It was so awesome to be able to deliver the much-needed food—God’s love for them provided through spiritual family members like you! My heart was full of joy.
Although the need is so great, it is wonderful to be able to serve Jesus through these people who are still so much in need. And by purchasing the food locally, we are also helping the economy to recover. As the economy gets back on its feet and more Haitians are able to find jobs again, we’ll be able to help other hurting brothers and sisters in another part of the world. Thanks so much again to our friends who have given in the past few months to help disaster relief victims in Haiti and elsewhere. If you would like to contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund, please click here.
Because of Jesus,