Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in Haiti

Petit papa Noel
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers
N’oublie pas mon petit soulier
Mais avant de partir
Il faudra bien te couvrir
Dehors tu vas avoir si froid
C’est un peu a cause de moi

Little Santa Claus
When you come down from the sky With
thousands of toys
Don't forget my little stocking.
But before you leave
You should dress well
Outside you will be so cold
And it's kind of my fault.

I remember singing this French Christ-mas carol in Haiti as it was taught to us in school. I believe this was the school’s way of helping us join the rest of the world in this grand Christmas celebra-tion. I never quite understood what the words meant, but looking back now this song was clearly not written for a little girl who lived in a one room apartment with her three siblings and three other cousins. No, not for a girl in rural Haiti, for there was no Santa, no thousands of toys, no stockings and no winter.

The memory of this song jolted my thinking to ponder the question, “If we did not have all of the necessities that make Christmas, Christmas, how did we celebrate the birth of Jesus?” I have vivid memories: lots of fried everything to eat, pork, goat, chicken, plantains, rice and beans and, of course, lots of Haitian rum. Haitians make a drink called “Cremas”, a mixture of Haitian rum and lots of condensed milk and even the children were given a serving. Our Christmas gift would more than likely be a dress to wear for church or some other practical gift. It was a celebration that even non-believers joined.

I wonder if all of the “stuff” that makes us feel good about the Christmas season was removed, would our celebration of Christ’s birth be any different? I wonder, if receiving toys was not the focus of Christmas, would our children sing a new song for Christmas? There are millions of people all around the world, including many here in the US, celebrating Christmas this year with very little and yet, their celebration of Christ’s birth is just as meaningful. I recently listened to a song by Joy Williams “Hallelujah,” and in the song she describes the birth of Christ as a mystery. A mystery that God could be so small and his decrease in size was his way of reaching down to save the world.

I wonder if we can all join that symphony with the rest of the world whether you have much or very little and sing in celebration: Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Heaven’s love has reached down to save me through the birth of Jesus! So this Christmas, whichever way you celebrate, make sure it’s a celebration that shouts: Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, there’s hope! Jesus is here with us!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Black Women: Start with "Hello"

A few weeks ago in conversation with a good friend of mines, we identified a great problem in the black community: when black women are in the company of black men, they tend to avoid contact and not even acknowledge their presence. We laughed and joked about our theory. We even presented several reasons why this phenomenon may be occurring but we never thought there was any truth behind our laughter.

Walking away from our conversation, I was determined to a) find out if this theory of ours was in fact a reality and b) to shatter it if there’s any truth to it.

My “field research” began in the gym, 24Hour fitness, a place you will find a plethora of black men…single ladies please take note. I started out by making eye contact and saying hello, good morning and waved to all black men within my vicinity. Men that I’ve ignored for the past three months were all of the sudden subjects to my research.

Guess what their responses were black women? Usually a simple reciprocal hello or good morning! However this one morning the response was different. A good looking black man was walking toward me, our eyes met and continuing with my research I did as times before and said “good morning” and he responded with a typical reply: “good morning”. Two minutes later that same man approached me and said “in the two years I've attended this gym and in addition to two other locations, you are the only sistah that has ever spoken to me”. Ouch! Those were his exact words.

We talked and laughed a bit about the ridiculousness of this occurrence but once again I can’t mind my own business and leave well enough alone. Is this issue only specific to the black community or does it occur among all groups? The other question I've been grappling with is why? Why are black women apprehensive about approaching black men?

My girlfriend and I came to a number of conclusions of this phenomenon one is: black women are apprehensive about approaching black men they feel might have a chance at “sealing the deal”. That’s right, there’s a fear of rejection; a fear of not being fully accepted by black men. There’s also a fear of being disappointed once and if a relationship strikes. We've heard all the jokes about men being dogs and the Maury Povich baby mama drama and many of us have already been hurt by them; either by our own fathers or by an ex. Let’s face it; we have low expectations for the black man. The other reason we’re not willing to admit is the sexual tension that seems to exist as eyes of two perfect strangers meet; there’s an instant attraction, like physics’ potential energy waiting to be explored. That attraction forces us to look away and not even attempt a conversation. However, I think we can retrain ourselves to not allow this attraction to be sexual. We can admire a person without it being tied to sex.

I think it’s time black women; it’s time for us to put down our guards and look at these beautiful black men as created beings. They are created beings that have the same needs as every other human being; to be loved, cherished, respected and acknowledged. And, no they were not created to replace the father that could not love us as we needed to be loved or to compensate for the ex-boyfriend, fiancĂ© or husband that left a gaping hole in our hearts. They cannot carry the burdens of this world, there’s only one Man of which I know can do such a thing. So black women, I challenge you today: look deep into the eyes of these beautiful black men and pour dignity back into their souls; they are waiting for us and they do take notice.

Black women, start with a HELLO!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today my son was called an 'African booty scratcher'...

And my first reaction was: "they're still using that one?" because I remember vividly the day a kid from my predominantly black neighborhood called me the same name. And back then as a middle schooler with only a couple of years in the US, I had no clue what it meant and I still don't. But I think the goal of the kid who called my son that name as was in my case was to demean and make us feel less than and in both cases they succeeded. Self hatred sets in and immediately you start questioning whether the skin that clothes what we call the self is not good enough, as my son blurts out "but mom I'm the darkest one in the family".

Moments like these always force me to ask myself what I truly believe about race, color, diversity and of course God's view in all of this color confusion. Let's face it; we in America have issues with race, color and diversity. Every single day I have to remind myself "you are perfect just the way you are". There are often times when I wonder if my reality, my view of self and others around me would be different if I were a few shades lighter. I've wondered if my Children would be liked just a little bit more if they had that "perfect" caramel complexion that Americans pay millions of dollars to achieve in tanning salons or bi-racial children seem to have naturally.

Let's admit it, tell the truth and shame the devil, we have racial preferences. As CNN revealed over and over again as they repeated a study conducted over fifty years ago, blacks and whites alike seem to favor the white and lighter complexion. Yes I know the study was done amongst children but let's do a study of the heart; right now, right where you're sitting answer this question for me, your answers are of course anonymous: which do you prefer if education, knowledge and skills were the same across the board: the white or black doll; the white or black supermodel; the white or black music video dancer; the white or black doctor; the white or black surgeon, the white or black pilot, the white or black president? The children on CNN were not lying were they?

You're not in this alone even the people sitting on the pews at church answered like the children on CNN; of course according to your anonymous answers.

There's a perfect solution to this: Repent! Yes, repent! I'm black and I had to repent. You see we were all created in the image of God and God called his image good! That's great news! My dark skin is good! My nappy hair is good! My Children's dark skin is good! My nephew's bi-racial skin is good! My co-workers white skin is all good! I love diversity because God loves diversity! We need to repent and agree with God and call the races and diversity Good!

Six years ago when I repented and claimed that God created me in his image and that my dark skin was good, I did something radical, I cut the perm off my hair and claimed my natural beauty. Today you can't tell me I'm an African booty scratcher' hoping for me to feel belittled...remember I repented and very often I hum the line in the voice of Tupac "the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice". As for my son, he will be ok; this is his painful journey and I don't want to rob him of the joy of coming on the other side victorious, realizing, as I have, that God loves his dark skin. Until then I’ll keep singing to him “the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice”.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Motherless Boys of Haiti

As the evening sun began to set in Camp de la Grace in pignon, Haiti I parked a chair on the side of the courtyard to watch the group of students get ready for night fall. They were on a break from school which means: time to relax and have some fun. This group of students is fortunate to have a generator in this rural Pignon community that stays on until 9 at night; most of Haiti is covered by darkness when the sun sets.

Under the gazebo, the students started setting up for the evening's activities. First came a set of speakers and followed was the radio. You then saw the group of students, one by one, started to gather as if they were following orders. That night's entertainment seemed to be a variety of my favorite music; kompa (Haitian dance music), I had never heard Haitian rap music until that night and my all time favorites are the Haitian love songs sung in French. The entertainment continued with R&B, I could not believe they were listening to Beyonce, Chris Brown and Neyo; just a reminder that the world is becoming more of a global community. They played many reggae hits especially Bob Marley, they loved his music, they sang along as they listened to the sobering “redemption song”. Once the music started I could no longer sit on the sidelines observing, I stood up and made my way by the gazebo.

I was instantly surrounded by none other than a group of boys. There seemed to be an abundance of boys in this particular community in pignon. As a mom of boys I know far too well how to handle myself around boys. If they want to dance, dance with them, and I gladly did as “Pouchy” taught me some new reggae dance steps. If they want to have silly conversations about bugs and slimy things join them and pretend you can handle it, which I did. They had many questions about life in the US, my children and Christianity. They could not believe I was Haitian. They would often laugh at my English accented kreol. They were proud of me that I came back to serve.

My interaction with the boys disturbed my thinking about boys all over Haiti growing up without mothers. Drawing from my relationship with my own boys, boys tend to have this intimate relationship with their mothers; no matter how badly they can behave, they know their mothers loved them deeply and unconditionally. Boys tend to look to their mothers for confidence; always asking non-verbally “can I make it? Can I do it? Will I be ok?” Boys seem to know that their mothers know their intentions; which sometimes does not work in their favor.

Looking at Haiti in its current state there are thousands of boys growing up on the streets, alone without a mother’s touch and love. Most of the crimes committed in Haiti are by young boys who grew up on the streets, again without mothers. Boys are abused just as frequently, if not more than girls, why, because boys have more freedom to roam about than girls and drug and human traffickers’ prey on them. I know with the many problems the children in Haiti are faced with, not having a mother may not be on our top five lists but my challenge is for us to not forget about the motherless boys in Haiti.

In the words of Bob Marley and in the spirit of those students who strive and struggle to move forward even in the midst of such chaos, we shall continue to sing songs of freedom, redemption song.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Haiti Six Months Later…

Ou saint ou saint ou saint ou saint
Se tou patout sou la te map di jan ou saint...

You’re Holy, You’re Holy, You’re Holy, You’re Holy
It is all over the world that I will tell of your Holiness…

A couple weeks ago I stood in a fairly large church in Haiti listening to a group worshipping Jesus with these words and while I sang along I couldn’t help but thinking “this was one of the purest worships I have ever been a part of”. You see these people singing “you’re holy” all had been affected by the earthquake and other atrocities; many of which were probably going home to live in a tent; some had lost children, church members, classmates and so on but this was the same group singing “you’re holy”.

It has been six months since the devastating earthquake ravaged through Haiti. And many people call the Haitians strong with the ability to persevere but I propose a different theory. Strength and perseverance could not have been possible if the Holy Spirit was not amongst these sufferers. You see suffering is common to everyone on this side of heaven; however suffering while still having the ability to call God Holy, like these Haitian sufferers, is unique. This is where pure worship happens! When one have the ability to say: “I may have lost everything dear to me, my home, children, family members and close friends but I will sing your praises anyhow”. It is not contingent material wealth or lack thereof. It is looking life in the face and realizing that this place is not home and our full confidence is in Christ Jesus, the maker of heaven and earth. This is where true joy in the midst of devastation happens.

So on this six month anniversary of the earthquake, I want to remember those who have passed. For those who are left behind, I want to thank them for teaching me the meaning of true worship. Let us not forget the people of Haiti; they will continue to need our help and us theirs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Green, Yellow and Red-Hope in Haiti

Green, Yellow and Red -- Hope in Haiti

To the average person, these colors might not mean much. But in Port au Prince, Haiti, these colors are signs of improvement. If you drive around PAP, you will notice one of these three colors stamped with some letters on all of the buildings. A structure with a green stamp means the building is structurally sound and is livable. Yellow means repairs need to be made before a family can move back in. Red means these buildings will eventually come down and be rebuilt.

After spending a week in Haiti, you become desperate for any signs of hope because some of what you see can leave you thinking, “Things will never get better for this country.” When you walk around the tent cities, you get a sense that these families have resolved themselves to the fact that living in tents is their new permanent reality. You can find everything from a hot plate of food in a tent “restaurant”, to a barbershop, a movie theater, and vendors selling goods. We call them resilient fighters, but I could not help thinking, “No! These tents were not supposed to be permanent. Families should not have to live under the constant threat of rain, not to mention the hot sun with no trees for shade. Children should not be abused due to a lack of security in these tent cities. Women should not give birth in a tent without any medical assistance.” But this is the new reality of the people of Haiti. So we look for hope in a place that seems hopeless.

Signs of hope came in a two-day conference teaching women leaders about trauma and how to run small groups for trauma victims in their communities. What I thought was a trauma conference for earthquake victims, ended up being a healing experience for many women who have not allowed themselves to recover from a number of other horrors. We laughed, we cried, and hope was restored among this group.

“God please let me never come back to Haiti,” is what Fresnel said after his first night in Haiti. I must admit, the airport scene in PAP alone will have you wishing you had never entered Haiti. But God heard Fresnel and instantly started changing his heart towards Haiti. That same evening, Fresnel and the medical team we were with walked through the community setting up mosquito nets for several families. When he came back, Fresnel had several stories about families in the community. One was of the mother who had just given birth that same day and flies were making the baby’s face their landing spot. The mosquito net was very timely, and Fresnel knew he was at the right place at the right time.

If Fresnel was not yet convinced that he was needed in Haiti, maybe meeting his biological sister for the second time in his life sealed the deal. The big reunion took place at 7a.m. Be mindful that 7a.m. Haiti time is like 10 a.m. US time. He was finally reunited with his sister whose name is “Renese.” I don’t think he realized until that moment that she and our oldest son shared the same root name after their father’s name. When she told Fresnel, “We are the only ones left, you’re my only sibling, and you’re all I have,” I knew God had definitely changed Fresnel’s mind about Haiti.

My favorite moment was while visiting an orphanage outside of PAP. That place reeked of urine, and I secretly told myself not to touch any of those beautiful babies because I wanted to go back home healthy. I guess Fresnel did not have that same concern, because before I knew it, I found him holding and rocking a little baby girl whose nose was covered with mucus. I think God has given Fresnel several irrefutable reasons to go back to Haiti.

Haiti is still in desperate need of our attention and help. The needs continue to be great. But it was encouraging to see the people holding on to hope as they celebrated over the World Cup. Streets were decorated in either Brazilian or Argentinean colors. Conversations about “football” went on from morning to night. The World Cup gave the people a distraction; it gave them hope. There are many reasons to hope for a better Haiti. Sometimes it may come in something as simple as colors stamped on buildings, or a group of women healing from trauma right before your eyes. It could be watching a man getting connected to his roots and realizing it wasn’t as bad as he thought. Or it might be a woman connecting to her only sibling and big brother. We call them glimpses of hope. I call them God’s grace in helping us cope with whatever life may bring.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On the Road Again to Haiti...

If you had told me two years ago that God would take me on such a journey back to Haiti I would have said "no way" because I had serious trusting issues with God. And God, knowing all things, knew if we were going to have any relationship at all, I needed to trust Him. I don't think my journey has as much to do with me ministering to Haitians in Haiti as it does with me learning to trust God. I haven't gotten it all figured out yet, I don't know if I ever will but I'm on the journey.

So I am on the road again to Haiti, this time my mission is two-fold. The first part of my trip will be focused on bringing healing to women leaders who were affected by the earthquake. I and a group of other Haitian professionals with backgrounds in counseling will teach these leaders about trauma and how to overcome the wounds of trauma.

The second part of my trip is to help lead a medical team mostly from UT southwestern. This team is made up of medical students, doctors, nurses and a woman trained in PT.

Please pray for traveling mercies, endurance and patience. Pray that as we serve, we may learn to trust Jesus just a little bit more. Because as we see the multi-levels of need in Haiti, we may see that apart from Jesus we can do nothing to help the Haitian people. And that is exactly the perspective Jesus wants from us.

Our help comes from the Lord...Psalms 121

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Update on Rood

My journey back to Haiti began last year and since then I’ve made some very special friends mostly children. Like Wendy Williams would say these friendships are mostly in my mind but I often think of them, pray for them and wonder if things are well for them. When I become overwhelmed by these thoughts I would picture myself handing them over one by one to Jesus. Like the little girl I met last year in Pignon whose parents had migrated north after a devastating hurricane hit their hometown, Gonaives, destroying thousands of homes and lives, I wonder if they’ve recovered. I can’t forget the wedding ceremony I witnessed by a group of little girls, they even had a veil; I wonder if they’re dreaming of a beautiful wedding where someday they will be the honored bride. Earlier this year I met another little girl. After describing her to many of my friends, they’ve named her my “hell no” friend. And there’s a reason for that name, she takes no mess from anyone including her uncle’s wife who wanted to make her a child slave of their home. Did I mention she was only nine?

And then there’s Rood Lapointe Junior, my hero. I met Rood after the earthquake and during the earthquake Rood lost everyone in his household and his left arm. It’s always interesting when you meet people who fall on the receiving end of service; they always end up blessing you far more than you bless them. It’s almost as if the encounter was more for our own good than their well being. They change your relationship with God, your perspective on life and the way you look at your role in this world. Since meeting Rood, my faith has been more grounded on eternal things than earthly things. I’ve asked God some really hard questions and I’m learning to be ok not receiving all the answers and having little understanding to comprehend his ways of reigning on the Earth. Now don’t get me wrong I still like a starbuck’s coffee and I would love own a pair of Milano Blahnic shoes (if I can bring myself to buying a $600 pair of shoes). But since meeting Rood I’ve grappled with Job’s statement in Job 1:21 “The Lord gives, the Lord takes blessed be the name of the Lord.” I want to be able to say “God everything I own belongs to you, if you take any of it away; your name is still blessed”. I don’t want to hold on to anything Jesus wants me to give to him. That’s exactly what Rood has learned to say.

A few weeks after meeting Rood, I learned that he would be adopted by a family in TX, I promised him to come and visit him if the adoption went through. Well, Rood was not granted humanitarian parole, the adoption fell through. Months went by and I hadn’t heard anything. I sent emails, attempted phone calls and nothing. Finally, I facebooked one of the interpreters from the team I traveled with asking him to go back to the orphanage and let me know if Rood is still there and how he was doing. Two weeks later, I received a phone call from him telling me Rood was still at the orphanage. He went on to say, Rood was laughing and playing with the rest of the children, he has found a community of people who love him and friends he can play with.

I am on my way back to Haiti to make more friends; the countdown begins, 17 days until I enter Haiti once again. Blessed Be the name of the Lord!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Perspective on Immigration

I know, I know, I jumped on the bandwagon and I'm blogging about immigration. In light of everything that's happened with Arizona taking a strong stance on enforcing immigration laws which by the way is in desperate need of reforming nationally, I thought I'd take my opportunity to give a perspective. To preface this blog, I think it's fair to warn you that I am a child of immigratted parents. If you haven't read my previous blogs, I was born and raised in Haiti; English is my second language.

I remember growing up in Haiti without parents but with the knowledge that I had parents who loved me so much that they would leave me and my three older sisters in search of a better future for our immediate family and generations to come. The funny thing is everyone in our community understood that, they got it and it's interesting that many people living in America don't understand why is that a worthy sacrifice. Many foreign families risk their own lives and sacrifice their own happiness and well being to break what seems to be a generational curse. Many survive but countless others don't.

When I tell people about our family, in their ignorance they would ask "why did your parents leave Haiti?" And my answer, sometimes in frustration that they don't understand is "Most foreigners living in places like Haiti live for the day when they might have a chance at a better life". A better life means a quality education, healthcare, enough food for everyone to eat, clean water; in other words an opportunity at living to the highest potential that God has created every last one of us with.

As a foreigner, I can't understand why a nation which was built by the hands of immigrants would be so against modern day immigrants? I can't understand a nation which is predominantly christian cannot understand the plight of immigrants when the Bible is plagued with examples of God Himself commissioning groups of people out of their land and into another, whether the reason was due to famine, religious persecution or war?

Yes I do understand that we have to keep the murderers and the strange and questionable looking people out of "our" country. I do understand we need to keep the drug dealers and all the craziness out of "our" country, I get it, I really do. I do understand we need laws, borders and boundaries in order to protect the hard working people of this country. I get it, I really do! However there has to be a better way to talk about these people. There has to be a better way to treat them. There has to be a better model for grace. There has to be a better model for love. You mean to tell me I can go to jail if I feed an illegal immigrant? I can't even show kindness and mercy to an illegal immigrant? Where's the 80% Christian of this nation?

Ok, I'm off my soapbox, last thought: Jesus was born in a stable and guess what he was at birth: an immigrant! Shocking! What do we do with that? Embrace the tension!!!! This issue is very gray, not as black and white as many think. That's just my perspective.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18th Haiti Independence

Growing up in Haiti, we were always taught the rich history of Haiti. From Kindergarden to higher grades, we were taught to be proud of our rich heritage. To learn the big history textbook, we would sometimes memorize our lessons in songs. I can still remember some of the lines of those lessons starting with Christopher Columbus descovering Haiti to the Haitian Revolution and Beyond. Those history lessons have given my life depth and meaning because I am the descendant of hard working slaves who survived the middle passage during the transatlantic slave trade and who stood up for equality for all. For their sacrifices, I will be eternally grateful and pray that I can live out their legacy.

In honor of Haitian Flag Day on this day of May 18th, I wanted to share with you all some quotes from a book I've been reading "Avengers of the New World: The story of the Haitian Revolution". "In 1791 the colony's slaves began a massive uprising. It became the largest slave revolt in the history of the world and the only one that succeeded." After hundreds of years of being enslaved, hundreds of failed attempts of a revolution, these African slaves finally gained their freedom. "Through years of struggle, brutal violence, and imperial war, slaves became citizens in the empire that had enslaved them."

I'm not sure if you understand the significance of this revolution not just for Haiti but globally so let me give you some perspective. The only big event in our day I can compare the successful Haiti slave revolution to is a black man being the president of the United States. "The revolution began as a challenge to French imperial authority by colonial whites, but it soon became a battle over racial inequality, and then over the existence of slavery itself." In other words, the civil rights movement was only possible because of the Haitian Revolution. The end of Apartheid in South Africa was only possible because of the Haitian Revolution. "If we live in a world in which democracy is meant to exclude no one, it is in no small part because of the actions of those slaves in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) who insisted that human rights were theirs too."

The slave revolution lasted 12 years and on May 18th 1804, Haiti was declared a free nation!

So, to all of my Haitian, black and white friends, take some time and ponder the democracy that we are now enjoying in the USA and elsewhere, think of the sacrifices that were made and the millions of lives slaughtered for what we now take for granted. I'm not just proud to be Haitian on this day but I'm proud to be a human being who like my ancestors must stand for justice and equality for all. That's our God given right!

Happy Haitian Independence Day

Friday, May 14, 2010

Taking Chances

After months of contemplating and years of writing in my journal, I've taken the plunge to start a new blog. I don't know if you all are ready for me to share my deep and innermost thoughts as I freely write in my journal but you'll get a synopsis of it. I was born and raised in Haiti up until the fifth grade and since then I've been living a complicated life as a foreigner, sometimes American but all of the time Haitian. You probably can pick it up from my accent or maybe not; some say I don't but it's here especially when I'm upset.

Why taking chances? It's simple, life is not worth living outside of taking chances. Don't you get tired of playing it safe and always wondering what's on the other side of the door? Plunging is hard and sometimes debilitating but it is very important that you take that chance, go through the open door that God has opened for you.

Update on Haiti-February Visit

This blog was written over two months ago right when I came back from Haiti in February.

Someone asked me in the airport on my way back from Haiti “What is the greatest need in Haiti right now?” I wanted to say, “They’re all great”. But I went through a litany of needs and their importance; she probably regretted ever asking me what seems to be a simple question. Nothing in Haiti is simple right now. Before I discuss the needs of Haiti, I want to describe, or attempt to describe, the extent of the damages in Haiti.

Let’s put it this way, from my assessment, every area within a 30 mile radius of Port Au Prince was affected by the earthquake in some shape or form. Tremors w ere felt by neighboring countries like DR, Jamaica and Cuba. Some areas were affected more than others. In some areas every other home seemed to be destroyed as if the tenth plague was upon those communities. In some areas it was the entire block or the entire town that seemed to have been heavily destroyed. It almost seems as if the earth regurgitated Haiti from its belly. At first I was very doubtful that 250 thousand people might have died in the quake. But as we drove around PAP and the surrounding towns we started to understand how that number might be accurate or heartbreakingly, higher.

We drove through PAP visiting some of the places that were most affected; the palace, the cathedral, town hall, businesses, schools, residential properties and churches. The earthquake did not discriminate. Whether you were rich, poor, government officials or the lowest in society, there was nowhere to run from the wrath of the earthquake. My first thought after noticing the huge blocks of concrete on the streets of PAP was, “These people had no chance of survival.” It’s ironic, but homes in the Caribbean are designed with huge concrete to be able to withstand hurricanes and it was these same structures that devastated the country during another natural disaster. Homes were flattened and the people on the streets would report to us how many dead bodies still remained inside the different properties. The stronger the smell on certain streets, the more bodies remained dead in the buildings. I wish I could fully describe to you what I saw and experienced in Haiti; but time and space only allow me to give you snapshots.

The stories that moved me the most were the stories of the survivors. They all had one testimony, “God saved me.” I made the mistake of asking one survivor how he got out; he corrected me and said, “No, No, No; it’s how God brought me out.” I wonder if God wants us to walk around telling our testimony of how He saved us from whatever. These people will have that testimony for the rest of their lives. It is mind boggling that God is glorified in such devastation. The most moving testimony came from a young man named Rood Junior Lapointe. Rood is 13 years old and if you saw his smile, you would never think that out of a family of 11 he was the only survivor. He speaks French and Kreol fluently, and a little bit of English and Spanish. He was not too confident telling his story in English, he said he would only tell his story if I translated for him. I gladly agreed. Before we started the interview, Rood told us he wanted to be a doctor and a pastor. “Why?” I asked. So he can testify to what God has done for him. Rood watched his entire family die in the earthquake, but he insists that God deserves to be glorified and praised. All week long, my prayer was that God would remove the veil between Him and me; that I might worship Him like those survivors; that my testimony of His saving grace in my life would bring glory to His name. He’s still working on me.

The needs in Haiti are tremendous on every level. Many people are living in tents; some out of necessity and some out of fear that another earthquake is imminent and I don’t blame them as they have experienced over fifty aftershocks since Jan 12th. The problem with tents is that they are a temporary fix until permanent housing is in place and there is no sign of permanent housing. Hurricane season has arrived and tents will not be able to withstand the strong winds and heavy rains that come with hurricanes. Even worse, people who were not able to receive tents built their own tents out of sheets. This could be a big problem in terms of diseases if the government does not act soon.

Secondly, aid is being distributed, but only the fittest are able to stand in line for 8 hours a day and fight for a voucher and then turn around to stand in another line to redeem the vouchers. So that leaves out the elderly, the sick and children (especially orphans), the people who are most in need of aid.

Medical needs are still great, there are thousands of amputees, and thousands more injured. All of the survivors have some kind of injury. Many were seen by a medical team once and have not seen any other medical professional. Wounds are becoming infected and some people are self medicating due to a lack of resources; my aunt became one of them. Now you all know I’m far from being a medical professional, I can’t even stand around my children when they’re getting their yearly shots but after this week you can call me nurse Dieula as I was able to change the dressing on my aunt’s wound. Yes, I know it’s only one procedure, but if I had stayed longer I would be well qualified. A medical team was setting up the day I was leaving and the line was in the hundreds. I am not even sure they were able to see all the people lined up.

Although the psychological needs in Haiti are enormous, they are not the most pressing. People are afraid to go back to work in tall buildings. Children are afraid to go back to school. Schools are still closed mostly due to fear. Churches are not meeting in their usual locations. All of this is due to the trauma. Many buildings are cracked from the earthquake and the government is not allowing certain buildings to reopen. People are trying to hold on to the life they had prior to the earthquake, but this is the new normal and many don’t know how to move on. Many have pitched their tents right next to their destroyed homes. Some are still living on the fragile mountains that can crumble in the gust of heavy hurricane winds. All because they don’t know where else to go; they can’t go back to the villages where many are from because there’s nothing there– no schools, no hospitals, no work and no technology. So, many decide to remain in PAP in tents with the illusion that things will change soon. But if you drive around PAP, you know that things will not change overnight.

My purpose for going to Haiti was to join a team called Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT), a team initiated by World Orphan leaders in addition to leaders from Watermark, Bent Tree and other organization leaders around the US to assess the needs of the orphans. The vision for this team was to visit churches in Haiti as they would be the key people that can help manage Orphan care. We visited churches and orphanages that were already involved with orphan care prior to the earthquake to see if the churches in the US can partner with a church in Haiti to bring relief to orphans. What we found is that orphan care in Haiti is a very complicated issue. If you need more information of its complexity, let’s talk in person. We have not yet debriefed about the trip as a team to discuss next steps, I will keep you updated.

As for me I’m doing ok, and slowly recovering. I spent many nights in tears crying out to God trying to understand how this happened and how he was going to make it right again. But then in the morning I would see a group of believers congregating in the open air praising and worshipping; their faith in God kept me strengthened.

Mahatma Ghandi once said “whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it”. It has been very difficult trying to figure out how to help my people knowing that whatever help I can bring will be like a drop in a bucket but I am reminded that filling up a bucket requires the first drop and the drop of many others.

The question now is, “what can we do?”

Stay engaged and pray
If you have even a little bit of medical training, there are several medical teams going each week, find out how you can go. And if you can’t go, give towards those who are going.
Vaccinations and medical supplies are in highly demand. If you know of a company providing medical supplies please let me know.
There are thousands of amputees with no one to visit them because their families have died. Consider going to be of encouragement to them.
Orphan care is a major problem right now, adoptions are closed and these children are on the streets, parents are willingly giving up their children because they cannot take care of them; find an organization providing orphan care and ask them their strategy.Don’t feel helpless and whatever you do, don’t be apathetic. We can’t do anything for those who have died, so let’s help take care of the survivors.
Our drivers and translators are all students and all of them have dropped everything to provide relief. One was studying in the DR and he speaks Spanish, English, French and kreol, he’s doing his degree in management. The other is a linguist who speaks English, Spanish, French, kreol and is now studying Portuguese. Since the earthquake, he says he’s translated for so many doctors that now he can perform many medical procedures. The third is in university and wants to be a cardiologist. There are only two cardiologists in Haiti, she would be the third. These students all need laptops to further their studies. If you would like to contribute towards that need please let me know.
Lastly, we are continuing our partnership with HIM (Hosean International Ministries) through Caleb Lucien and with his guidance we will help rebuild Haiti.

And finally, I am reminded of the words of Job in 42:2-3 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted…But I have declared without understanding things too wonderful for me to know”.

May we all remember that the Lord in whom we trust is always faithful, always loving, and always at his good work even in the midst of the earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis.

With a hopeful and grateful heart,