I wasn't there.
I was preparing to be there. I had all my bags packed. I had dropped off my kids at my folks home in Detroit. I had money. I had supplies. I had a team ready to go. I was driving on the interstate through downtown Chicago with Rachel, the other leader of the team and fellow board member of the Haiti Mission Project. We got the call from our friend Andy.
There's been a 7.2 earthquake in Haiti.
I thought I didn't hear him right. You meant a Hurricane right?
We had no details right away. All we knew is that we had a dear friend and fellow board member on the ground in there. We have friends, long time friends that have become family to us down there. We have compassion children there. We have partners there. We have a history there. We have a life there.
Two years almost to the month previous, Rachel and I were leading a team and I was driving down the same interstate when Andy called then to report massive rioting in the streets due to no food. Our trip was cancelled then. I had dread in my heart. I had fear in my mind. I had anxiety running through every cell of my body.
I couldn't drive us fast enough to Rachel's apartment where we could turn on the TV. And that is where we sat for the next four days. We sat glued to our TV. We sat, both of us with computers in our laps. Sitting next to each other, not really talking. Just looking. Watching. Waiting. And then we would cry. We would hold hands and we would cry. We would ask empty questions. We wondered. We prayed. We hoped. And then we read more. We watched more.
(I have to give a wonderful shout out to my parents who kept the kids for the next few days so we could figure out a plan. Because she had them, I was able to immerse myself in the news. I could dedicated all of my attention to what was happening. Thank you Mom and Dad for that gift.)
That night of the earthquake we knew in our hearts that our trip was cancelled. First you go through the mental shift of, can we get in? What do we do if we get in? What do we bring supply wise? And can I still go even though I am seven months pregnant.
We spent that first night trying to locate our people down in Haiti. Are they alive? Are they OK? We were reassured they were. We were fielding all sorts of question, emails, voice mails about if people we knew, contacts we had. We spent days answering everyone we could and finding and delivering information as best we could.
After we knew that first night that our people were alive, we then needed to call airlines, Embassy's, churches, team members, family members all to figure out if our team was still going in.
The airlines and government said no. Not for weeks.
Some team members really struggled and claimed that we were being cowards by walking away and not going when Haiti needed us the most. This was probably the hardest part to digest because it voiced my inner fear. I know what that felt like. I wanted to find a way in. I was hearing of other groups chartering planes in. Going in through the DR. Getting military planes, even getting to the DR with a plan of just walking across the boarder and hitching a ride. People were finding any way possible to go and help. And we were staying put. It was SO HARD to sit by and not help.
But we had to stop and think things through. There was rubble everywhere. Millions were lost and homeless. What they needed was medical care, fluent creole speakers, bulldozers and cranes with machine workers, Counselors. They didn't need us taking up space and supplies with very little training and aid.
The best way to help Haiti was to stay put. The hardest part of helping Haiti, was staying put.
So we didn't. The Haiti Mission Project (HMP) got fire under our feet and in one week we put together the Haiti Relief Benefit concert. We were one of the very first relief organizations to put a fundraiser together. We had inside venues to deliver money. We could bypass large organizations where money gets stuck to red tape and we could gather funds and deliver. And so we did.
I was proud of the HMP in that moment, and how much money we raised. I was excited to see how the funds were supporting building projects, medical relief and individual families in the years after the quake. But this post isn't about that.
Life changed forever that day. For the country of Haiti. For all those who didn't know she existed and now do. And for all of those who have loved her for a long time.
I wasn't there that day, but it changed me. It made me aware that we can't measure what God does in just one moment, because even in one moment, he is doing many different things. I have learned to be thankful in all circumstances and trust that God is faithful to his creation. He is faithful to deliver. He is faithful to listen. He is faithful in love. He is faithful in compassion. He is faithful in healing.
My story in this is not powerful. But there are many stories worth reading and I hope you will take the time to read these stories and maybe continue reading about their ongoing dedication to Haiti and her people.
We can't forget.
Joanna serves with the HMP and was in country when the earthquake happened. This was her blog. January 2010 On the side of her site is her calendar. Click back to Jan. or forward to Feb. and read more about her thoughts post quake.
The Livesays are a family living down in Haiti and I hope you can take the time to read their account of the Earthquake. Their voice and their pictures will capture your heart.
Dr. Jen worked with Joanna and the Livesays after the quake and still. Here is her account.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for praying.
Thank you for giving generously.
Please remember that our lives can be apart of the restoration meant for all mankind if we live intentionally. Living intentionally means to not forget. Do not forget the hardships that others live in and the blessings we live with. To live with a heart for others rooted in Christ. To learn to be moved by the Spirit where he is leading us to care for others.
To the people of Haiti, I love you. Your spirit and dedication of strength in struggle is an inspiration. You have little and yet your spirit is strong. You remain in my prayers. You remain in my conversations that advocate for better living conditions. You remain in my heart and soul. You are not forgotten.