Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Haiti: Another Perspective

Sometimes it is helpful to get another person's perspective on a place like Haiti. What you often hear from me are the reports of our projects and the issues that we are often confronted with. Recently I was forwarded this account from Melissa Hedden Roper. Melissa just spent a week at our Cassamajor facility in the Les Cayes area. Here is her story (used with her permission.

Melissa and Stanley
On Thursday of our week in Haiti, the October team traveled to Cassamajor, a church plant and orphanage about 45 minutes away from our home base of Cambry. After negotiating a rather treacherous turn around a washed out creek bend, the old school bus we traveled in had to back up the final leg of the road to the village. Within minutes of arrival, the medical team began to set up for a full day of work, and our first patient, a teenage boy from the orphanage, arrived. As he sat alone on the bench outside the clinic in his neat blue checked school shirt waiting to be seen, I was drawn to him by his sweet, sincere face. I asked him, in one of the few creole phrases I knew, “What is your name?” The reply came back in English, “My name is Stanley”. I admit I had to suppress a chuckle at the decidedly un-Haitian sounding name. His English wasn’t perfect, but good enough to break down that frustrating barrier of language that plagued us during our trip. He told me how he and his sister had come to the orphanage after his parents died in the earthquake. As we chatted more, I discovered that his English skills were a result of a summer course the pastor, and orphanage director, had put together for the older orphans. When it was time for his exam, Stanley and I said goodbye, but he had an amazing request for me. It wasn’t the usual desire for my sunglasses or my watch or even candy. This precious boy asked if I could get him a French/English dictionary. The educator in me leapt for joy! “Yes, Stanley, of course I can get you one. I will send it back with the team coming in November.” He thanked me profusely and with a hug, left.

That wasn’t the end of Stanley that day. He found me again, excited to show me something. I couldn’t quite understand what it was, so he simply led me to the pastor, spoke for a moment in creole, and then we started off together towards the pastor’s home across the street. When I arrived, the pastor’s wife kindly seated me in a chair in the foyer. Stanley sat in a chair next to me and soon a guitar appeared. Stanley was also learning to play the guitar and he wanted to show me his progress! For the next 30 minutes, I listened and sang along as Stanley and the music director from the church played a range of recognizable hymns and choruses. It was a precious moment in time that I will never forget!

Stanley found me again later in the day, this time with his English teacher in tow. The teacher reiterated the need for French/English dictionaries and asked for one of the most basic of teaching tools- a world map. I was delighted to promise a delivery of 10 dictionaries and two maps in November.

My last encounter with Stanley came right as we left. I gave him a final hug and a smile and praised him for being such a kind and diligent boy. He very quietly and shyly asked for one more thing. He said, “Do you think you could get me an English Bible?” “Yes, Stanley, I can get you a Bible”.

Stanley has become for me a symbol of hope. Hope for the future of Haiti. Stanley epitomizes what I saw over and over among the children I met. He is bright, eager to learn, and loves the Lord. His pastor, or “Father” (as the children call him), has the foresight to understand that education is the key to a better future. He is using what limited resources he has to give opportunities to the young people in his care to learn skills such as English as a second language and music. And most importantly, Stanley is part of a community that prays. When we arrived in Cassamajor, a weekly prayer meeting was in progress. The church on campus was filled with men and women who commit to pray each Thursday from 6:00 am to noon. Six hours of nothing but prayer in a hot, sweaty, dark, building. Prayer to a God who knows. Who loves. Who is coming again. Yes, Stanley, there is hope for you.
It is through the loving actions of people like Melissa that the Stanley's of Haiti are getting a new hope in their lives. If you, your church, or civic group would like to participate in one of these trips let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Haiti Storm Update: October 2011

Dear Friends and Prayer Partners…

Please find below an update regarding the tropical storm that I reported in my last email. Please continue to keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.

"After the rain comes the good weather." After the heavy rains that have swept the whole country, calm returned on afternoon of Wednesday, October 12th. The five days of rain has caused much turmoil in the Les Cayes area of Haiti. The Southern Department was the most affected. The damage amounted to millions of dollars and the loss of four lives was recorded.

ESMI had multiple emergency calls come in from our churches all over the area.
  • Les Anglais Church, Pastor Lajoie: The Christians had taken refuge in the mountains. The waters flooded the city and it was not possible to stay safe in the home. Many animals were lost, plantations flooded, and there was chaos everywhere. Also according to Pastor Lajoie after the disaster, many of the homes and streets were filled with mud. The lack of tools (pick and shovels) makes it difficult, or impossible in some cases, to do any clean up. Unfortunately, the bike Pasteur Lajoie owned to get around was washed away. He finally found it, but it no longer has any value. It is completely destroyed by rocks carried by the water current. 
  • Cherette, Pastor Nerva: Pastor Nerva called with tears in his eyes. The panic was at its highest point. The riverbed has degraded further and continuing to move toward the church. Prayer is essential because of the imminent danger of losing the church. The river has already prevailed in less than two years over 25 meters of land on which houses the church and other buildings in the village. The smaller children were placed in safe places and the older people who were able to swim remain on alert for any possible overflows. Damage after the disaster is enormous: a pregnant cow, three pigs, other animals and clothes were washed away. There is always the risk of infectious diseases in the upcoming days, which is a threat to the children. The presence of a medical team is necessary for children and the region. 
  • Savannes, Pastor Mongerard: The waters have invaded the field around the property and entered several houses. The church has become a place of refuge. Over 70 families are seeking refuge. After the passage of the tropical depression, the damage of the community was much: loss of mud houses and property, loss of animals and other possessions. The church did not receive damage due to the flooding directly, but it has indirectly. Among the people who took refuge in the church, there were people with bad intentions. We have had several things stolen including a mixer and an electric generator. More than a dozen chairs were also taken away. Pastor Mongerard's house is flooded. He lost all his books. There was water at the back of his house. Until this morning there was more water in his house from four water springs gushing up from the floor. 
  • Darivager, Pasteur Mongerard: The waters have not penetrated into the houses, but the animals at this site have died. 
  • Pelerin, Pasteur Louisy: There has been no access to the church due to the flooding. The water has invaded the whole field around the church. Fortunately the church is equipped with a foundation high enough, this is what prevents the water from getting inside the building. The people of the region have sought refuge inside the church. They made their home until morning. A plantation of maize, peas and other crops was completely destroyed by the flood. Pelerin has approximately 1 square of land. 
  • Picot, Pasteur Amazan: There is no current access to Picot. The road is cut. Pasteur Amazan almost lost his life and his family. He was returning from a church service when the waters of the river flooded the streets. He rushed to take refuge in a safe house not too far. He was released unharmed. 
  • Fonfrede, Pastor Raphael: The church is flooded. The pews are wet and shaky. 
  • Carpentier, Pastor Joseph: a lot of damage, we do not have all of the details. 
  • Bigarouse, Pastor Elysee: a lot of damage, we do not have all of the details. 
  • Casa Major, Pastor Renaud: a lot of damage. Praise God that the water has not penetrated into the church. They lost a horse, two goats and a several poultry. 
  • LaHatte, Pastor Pierre: The Pastor lost his bike. His life was miraculously spared. Part of the church was flooded. The children’s’ homes had no damage. 
  • Cavaillon, Pastor Leon: The children are on an alert status. Water has entered the rooms. Mattresses, bedding and food has been damaged. We now need to put everything back into a usable status. 
  • Cambry, John Franklin Director of the orphanage: The house of the girls is completely flooded. This house was built by our partner, Spanish River Church. Unfortunately the roof is cracked from the earthquake of January 12, 2010. The children were so scared. They were in a panic. Their books and mattresses were damaged in the flooding. We estimate that it will cost $4,500 to fix the roof and remedy this situation 
From Pastor Louis St. Germain, Haiti Field Director: “During difficult times, we realized the depth of the power of the bond of love that unites us all. Each of us was watching over the welfare of the other. We could not sleep without knowing how is someone who is in a vulnerable place. We cannot forget to glorify God for the blessings of the cell phone. It is this tool that keeps us connected to each other during the disaster.”

General Notes: After the floods, we expect a major contamination at a different level. Most people in the mountains await the arrival of the rain to clean their homes. They take advantage during this period for discharge into floodwater waste of all kinds. That's why last August we had 17 cases of cholera after the passage of a hurricane the hit the Cherette area hard. And also, given that the waters are contaminated, there could be additional epidemics of typhoid and other bacterial diseases. We will need some water filters for the people in these regions. A medical team is also needed to provide real help to the people in these areas.

Many of you have asked how you can help. First and foremost is to keep Haiti in your thoughts and prayers. With the infrastructure there continuing to be inadequate the needs of the people remain very high. If you would like to assist in a more tangible way then financial donations are the most effective. It is still very difficult and expensive to get physical donations into Haiti. Financial donations can be wired directly from our account here in the United States to our account in Haiti and put directly to work to those areas of most need. All donations are 100% tax deductible and 100% of the funds go to work in Haiti. If you wish to make a donation please go to our website at http://www.esmihome.org/donate/sponsor-a-project/disaster-relief/. We would also love to host medical teams in the most affected areas.

Thank you for you continued support of ESMI...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haiti Update: September 2011

Immediate Prayer Request

Louis St. Germain, our Haiti Field Director, informed us yesterday that since Friday the western peninsula of Haiti has been inundated with heavy rain. This is a tropical depression that is moving through the area and that should pass by Wednesday. This much rain causes the rivers to swell quickly and the surrounding areas to flood.

Here is a list of areas and churches that are flooded at this time:

  • Downtown Les Cayes is totally flooded. 
  • The road to the Pelerin church is flooded.

  • The road to the Picot church is flooded. 

  • The Torbeck church is flooded. 

  • Our Cherette facility (church, school, and orphanage) is Flooded. All the children have been removed from the site. The river is in a fury. We have water inside the church and in the orphanage. We are praying because the pastor doesn't know what to do. He had just called Louis and was in panic and tears. 

  • Our Casa Major facility (church, school, orphanage, and medical clinic) is on alert now as the level of the river is rising. 

Please lift our brothers and sisters in these areas up in your prayers. There are already reports of fatalities coming out of the area and the resources to help in the recovery are very limited.

Projects Update

I do not have a lot of new updates for you since the last email went out in September. My work has been focused on working with potential donors to secure funding for upcoming projects and developing detailed design documents for new structures that we are targeting over the next few months.

Here are some of the projects that we are working on and/or trying to raise funds for:
A new church plant in BonBon in the Grand-Anse Department.
  • The Administration Building at the Jeremie University. 
  • The School of Joy in Maniche in the Sud Department. 
  • New children’s homes at the Mapou facility in the Artibonite Department. 
  • Developing a solar power solution for the Jeremie University. 
  • Working with the city of Gonaives to run a water line to our Fayeton Facility. 
  • Securing funding partners to establish various micro-businesses at several of our facilities throughout the country. 
  • Working with our partners that have been sending short-term teams to work with our brothers and sisters in Haiti as they plan for their trips next year. 
  • Putting together pastor training classes and seminars to be taught at the Jeremie University. 
Continuing to host short-term teams to our facilities. Please be praying for us as we work through these and many other projects. There is so much work to be done and we need God’s guidance to be prioritizing our time and resources effectively.

In Closing…

It continues to be exciting to be a part of this work that is going on in Haiti. The people there have such great need and yet they have so much to offer each of us. I would encourage you to consider joining us at some time on a short-term trip so that you can meet the people that we are serving and get to know them personally. Your life will be changed forever.