Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hurricane Stories

Highway flooded in many places.

Tent city outside Cabaret.

Thinking twice before going through huge pot hole.

Remains of washed away house.

Flooded farm land.

Giving away food supplies.

At 4AM on Saturday morning (yesterday) we got up to leave the house at 5 so we could get to Montrouis, walk across the bridge and meet Mike and Marion with whom we were riding to Port au Prince. We picked Barb up so she could drive our truck back to St Marc rather than let it sit in Montrouis all day in the melee of trucks and people. Al and Bev were moving to their new apartment so they needed the truck as well. We got back to our house at 6:30PM just as it was starting to rain.
Our trip to Port was not bad except for a near head on collision. Mike was sure the truck coming at us would move over but he didn't. Thank God Mike finally caused us all a bit of a scare! The same thing happened on the way home but the truck driver got distracted by a guy on a bicycle and didn't see us! YIKES! It makes one thankful for the protection of the Lord on Haiti's highway.
Listening to the missionary stories at Agape made me realize the drama after a storm. I know it's happening in the States as well, but here, there is very little relief efforts except the little missionaries can do and with the relief are the stories of the people.

A man and child came to us from Gonaives, through Pierre our employee. This man is his brother. The child was hit with something while wading through the flood and was days with a broken leg and hip. He's now in St Marc with Pierre. The wife ran when the water started coming up, they don't know if she is living or dead. We will help this family relocate and pay all medical expenses.
Yvesner (an employee) took us to a family of five whose home was washed away. They constructed this little lean too along a wall in an empty lot used for dumping garbage. When it rains they find a place with a roof where no one is living then return to their "house". As we spoke with her and saw how desperate they were, we will rent them a room and give them clothing and food supply. That day all they'd eaten was a banana. The father was out searching for more to eat. We bought them food from a street side vendor, gave them beans and rice, and will continue to work on relocating them.

Yvesner also took us to the house with the tree across it. The baby was sitting right where the tree fell but because the top of the tree was caught by the roof next door the baby's life was spared. We need to find a chain saw to help them cut this tree out of the way and then we will help them repair their home.

Other pictures are not real clear but were taken from the vehicle we were in and give you an idea of the amount of water still around. We've decided that rather than feed a bunch of people one or two days we will find those who need help getting their lives back to some sort of "normal" such as these three families.

Monday should prove to be a better day at school now that we'll have our books. Believe it or not, we got all sixteen boxes and our groceries into five wheel barrows and crossed the bridge to where Barb was parked in our truck. If you think that was easy, think hundreds of people, yelling and pushing, a sagging bridge, and a parade of five wheel barrow guys, Gary, Al, and me trying to keep up, carrying my bag of bread that I didn't want to get squashed! All of a sudden I felt someone slip their hand into the handles of my bread bags. When I turned to look it was Pastor Alphonse! He gave me a big smile and got me across the bridge. He drives a Coke truck which was parked on one side and getting unloaded to fill the truck on the other side but took the time to walk way out of his way to accompany us to our truck....that kind of kindness is not found often is it?

The Lord bless you all and may you have a wonderful time worshipping today! Remember to pray for Hait and all people who are struggling at this time. We pray those who don't know the Lord, and there are many, will bow their knee to Him. We will continue to keep you posted on hurricane relief efforts as the Lord shows us who we should help.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

El Shaddai Begins

Monday was our first day of school and as always we didn't have the full number of children but each day brought more. We won't know how many we'll have until the end of the next couple of weeks. But, right now we have 38. Six of them are in pre-school. Jessica is gearing up with her little ones. Surprisingly, this only one who is crying. His name is Pablo and he's barely three.

The hurricane situation is still a big big problem. We will be involved very shortly in relief efforts. We sat here Tuesday night enjoying a nice rain that cooled everything off and then we got a call that Cabaret was flooding. It took a very hard hit from Ike, killing a lot of people and another flood! We felt a bit guilty at enjoying the cool rain when others were suffering once again.

Prices are still rising. Yesterday was the first day in two weeks that we could find eggs. There are no tomatoes in town. The lettuce I had was full of ants. It's not a good situation. Electricity is sparse and the bridge at Montrouis is still an issue. We have no curriculum which to date is still in customs making it difficult at school (but we are managing).

We are reading the US news and see the damage Ike did there. It seems these are the days we must all look up for our redemption draws nigh.

Keep your eyes and heart on the Lord and not the circumstances created by the weather and financial institutions and may the Lord bless each of you.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Morning, New Mercies

Gary sent Mike Painter to Port to pick up Al and Bev yesterday. He went to Montrouis to pick up Al and Bev. They left all their luggage at Mikes as it wasn't safe to have four big suitcases going across the bridge in the dark with so many people millling around. We will have to figure out how to get the needed luggage when it's not going to cause a great problem. It seems that people are agitated and anything we do these days or anywhere we go insults are hurled as though the hurricane were our fault and now it's our job to fix it all. Desperation takes on many different forms.
Gary went to one of the cell phone offices to get Jessica hooked up (she already had a phone) and a man from New Jersey badgered him (in English), "What are you doing about the flood?" Gary ignored him until the man got in Gary's face and asked again. Gary's reply was this, "I've handed out 1000 Haitian dollars and fed 500 people, what are you doing to help?" The guy backed off saying his pockets were empty but at least it stopped the badgering. Gary's decided not to go downtown unless absolutely necessary so as to avoid these kinds of confrontations. There are many quick trips that a staff member can handle so we are "laying low".
We think we have a good plan to distribute food to the needy. One of our staff is a pastor and has connections in town with local officials. We think we will put him (Samuel) in charge of distribution of goods. There will be more about that as it develops.
Helicopters are going overhead all day in one direction or the other since Gonaives cannot be reached but by air. When Al and Bev flew over they could see that water was everywhere.
I better get over to the school and put the finishing touches on the pre-school, kindergarten and first grade classrooms so we are ready to greet the children on Monday.
Be blessed!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pastor Alfonse Comes For Help

We were sitting on the porch yesterday when we heard, Pastor Gary! It was Pastor Alfonse, whom we've known for a long time. He pastors a church in the Artibonite Valley village called Ducla. The Artibonite River runs through Ducla and while it's a lush tropical village during this hurricane season, it was a source of danger to the Ducla residents. All of them lost their homes.
Because the church is the center of everything in these villages, the church members and residents came to St Marc, to Pastor Alphonse for help. What they didnt' know until they arrived and what we didn't know until yesterday was that Alphonse lost all his possessions as well. He lives in a flood area in St Marc. Just as the people of Ducla went to Alphonse, Alphonse came to see if we were in the country.

We visited for a while and he told us the story. Gary had just purchased three bags of rice for our school use while we wait for money to come in for us to buy rice for relief distribution. But of course, in dire situations you don't wait and we were thankful we had something to give him. He was thankful as well! He said the 100 pounds of rice, the quarter bag of beans and two gallons of oil we gave him would feed his group for two days. We will do more to help him in the coming weeks.

As we begin today, we wonder who will come next. We pray for abundance as we are only to be pipelines for the Lord. What comes in must flow out.
We found out that the fuel trucks on one side of the bridge are using a huge hose to pump fuel to the trucks on the other side of the bridge which will alleviate a pressing situation in St Marc of no fuel. We hope the UN can get an alternate route and some sort of bridge up so that traffic can resume and goods can flow again. We were able to get two drums of diesel on Sunday and are using it cautiously so that we can keep our truck running. A highway that is usually filled with traffic is very quiet these days. We don't hear the roar of trucks, their horns blowing nor do we see many drive by our house. Without fuel and Montrouis bridge closed, has really stopped everything.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Pictures

1) St Marc River that overflowed this bridge for days. Yesterday was first day we could drive across it.

2.)These are backwards in sequence. Gary and Jessica coming off the north end of Montrouis bridge to our truck parked near by.

3.)Crossing the bridge to go to St Marc.

4.)Gary saying, "Come on Carolyn quit talking to people we need to cross the bridge!" If you could hear the sounds, you'd hear people shouting, arguing, and you'd constantly have to watch not to get run into by a wheel barrow.

5) I tried to show the crowded situation but it doesn't appear that way in picture 5.

6.) Gary crossing to get to Montrouis side to get Jessica.

7.) The Montouis River, still flowing very fast and continuing to damage the bridge. When you walk across the bridge you can feel that it's tipped.

8, 9.) The bend in the middle can be seen on the railing in two pics.

10.)Gary going under the chain on the north side of the bridge to cross to Montrouis.

11.) The highway entering into St Marc chipped away by flood.

12.) The highway completely broken off as you can see at the right, that was part of the highway.

Hope these pics give you more of an idea of what is happening. The Montrouis bridge is vital to transporting goods and people. Hopefully they'll get another route across this river so we everyone can begin to move. Tomorrow we will go through the same process. Mike Painter will pick the Carpenters up at the airport and we will meet them only, by the time they get to the Montrouis bridge it'll be dark....that should be interesting to say the least.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Next?

As I sit here this morning, I'm wondering about people who fled Gonaives and the Artibonite Valley. Where are they? What are they suffering? We had a committee come to us yesterday asking for help so they could help those that came to their church. We gave them 200 USD which will buy some food and clothing and we trust those to whom we gave it. Who will come today? How can we help? We walked around this house yesterday thanking God we were dry and had food and reflected on those who were wet and hungry. Multiplied hundreds of people.
This experience has made me more compassionate for those who experience weather related tragedies. So often I've looked at things like hurricanes with fleeting thoughts. God forgive me. We pray the mercy of God for the people and we pray there will be provision so we can help those who come to us.
The bridge in Montrouis continues to be a problem. Gary said it was scarey to walk over let alone think of driving over it. The work the UN did to make a temporary bridge washed away as Ike blew in. The highway was covered with mud so deep it was impassable and people could not get to Port. Hopefully, today our friend can get in to the airport to pick up Jessica who finally will get out of Ft Lauderdale having waited five days to fly in.
Our curriculum was mailed in early August, but it's not in our possession yet. It's in customs yet to be released. Gary and Dan went to Port on Saturday to pick up mail but none of Dan's boxes arrived and of course, we need the curriculum to set up school. Maybe it'll be there on Wednesday if we can get to Agape then. When Jessica gets picked up, she will be brought to Montrouis, we will meet her on this side of the bridge.
Gary was able to buy two drums of diesel fuel yesterday so we will have a supply for a while for the truck and the generator as we expect fuel deliveries to be delayed.
Madame Pierre went to the Haitian market on Saturday for me. She couldn't buy tomatoes or lettuce, there was none. She was able to get a few carrots, and some cabbage, along with some potatoes. The meat Gary bought in Port was stolen off the back of the truck which remains a mystery as to how they got it through the bars and where it happened. So we are eating Spam and I do have a little tuna and some canned corned beef. I'm reminded of when we first came to Haiti when we could only afford to eat canned meats.
People are getting desperate. We pray we can help those who come to us. We pray the suffering doesn't erupt into riots.
We hope Ike doesn't hit the US in a hard way and we are also thinking about Cuba getting pounded. Whew!
If you are asking yourself how you can help let me remind you that rice prices are way up and a 100 pounds of rice is nearly 100 USD as are beans. If we could buy a supply to hand out it would relieve some people. We know pastors we can work through so food supplies are not squandered or stolen. Three years ago a young man in Chicago appealed to people and sent enough money to purchase a lot of rice, beans and oil to give to Gonaives. This year, we will be bombarded with requests right here in St Marc. How do you turn away from the needy when God is clear that we are to have compassion and help the poor. The general fund will only go so far but it will be used to help them.
You have a blessed day. If the Lord nudges you to help, you can send your gifts to:
Touch Ministries
417 Rebecca Street
New Martinsville WV 26155
Mark it: Hurricane Relief.
Thanks for reading the blog and praying with us. Because you give, others live.
Have a blessed day! Carolyn

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Although they are out of order this gives you an idea of our first and second day. Dan was so tired the night we got here, it didn't bother him to go to bed with dirty feet.

We got some of our staff in to help clean up on Thursday and clean they did. When you don't have a way to scoop up water you use your hands.

Return to Haiti

We left Pittsburgh and had a very nice flight to Florida but our gate to catch the PAP plane was not announced and we wondered but of course, knew we could go to the monitor and see what gate we were to board the plane. When we looked at PAP, everything was cancelled. We got to the ticket counter and were told not to even book a flight because everything was backlogged and they didn't know when the PAP airport would open again. They said they had just gotten caught up and this was throwing them way behind. We found Dan and a new friend Nancy at the baggage claim. They were booked to fly to Haiti on Saturday (today). So, after getting our bags and our getting a guarantee voucher for a room at Red Roof Inn we all decided to take that room rather than sleep on the floor at the airport (which Nancy did the night before). At least there would be a clean bed and a hot shower. We found a gas station two blocks from the motel that served food so we had a nice sandwich. Later that evening we decided to just try calling American airlines and found they were flying on Wednesday and that we could have a seat. Actually, they put three planes back to back to handle the stranded travelers.

There was enough of a window from Hannah that allowed the planes to fly. Mike Painter was there to pick us up in a very old truck but said his wouldn't do well on the roads because they were such a mess and they were! Gary and Dan were rained on during the time it took to get us to St Marc. We had to cross the Montrouis bidge over a raging river which describes all the rivers we crossed. Water rushing through them and in some where they'd been dried up for years. Got to St Marc, saw Barbara out on the highway at that bridge which had a huge hunk of it broken off. She began to tell us everything that happened on Tuesday night. Homes washed away, flooding so high it was unbelieveable. We had noticed as we entered St Marc, that banana trees were down and we thought perhaps it was wind but found the river had so exceeded it's banks it flooded the highway and everything around. The river is thirty feet down so you can imagine how much water poured into it to bring it over the highway several feet. YWAM had four foot of water in their low lying compound.

Driving through St Marc was shocking, and when we got to the bridge in the middle of town, water was rushing over it, we had to take another route. (Water is still rushing over that bridge as something is blocking the water from going under the bridge).

Our house was wet, quite wet, but we managed to get in and drop in bed after being beaten up in the truck that brought us home. Before Mike left his wife called to say the Montrouis bridge (which we'd just crossed ) was about to fall down. Now what you have to do is drive to the bridge, park, walk across it and be picked up on the other side if you want to go to Port, which is what Gary and Dan will do today in order to get our mail.

Jessica is stranded in Ft Lauderdale, flying Spirit Airlines and won't come in until Monday.

Our staff did well, didn't lose anything except Yvesner lost his church and Antonio lost his roof. So many houses swept away though and several deaths. We are so thankful they are all okay.

We don't know what the next hurricane will bring but with Gonaives underwater and hungry people everywhere, we know that any more rain will really make things harder, so please pray that Ike stays very far north and does no damage here or in the US.

The little boy at the top of the blog is homeless now. His house was right on the ocean and is gone. Actually, it fell down before the high winds and rain so they weren't there when the flood rushed through which saved his life.

Our orphanage is not finished. They didn't put floors in nor did they put doors on. It's going to take money to get it going as now we have much to do there structurally to get it ready to live in. Rice is up to over 600 H dollars a bag which means nearly 100 USD. Feeding is going to cut way into our budget this year. Cement is up. Everything is extremely expensive. We lean hard on the Lord to provide finances to do all that is necessary to be done. School should start on the 15th as planned although there is lots of work there to get it ready. One classroom took a pretty hard hit with wind and rain.

We will keep you posted as we go along. Continue to pray for us!
Gary and Carolyn