Reported from Port-au-Prince by Delia Nüesch-Olver on behalf of the second response team.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
“Will we ever get over this trauma?” Gaity said. “I had an appointment with Pastor Jeanne but she was praying; so I went downstairs to wait for her to finish. Then the earthquake happened.”
“It was terrible, terrible; and now it is terribly sad, terribly sad. But this I know: God is in charge.” – Robenson Herman, Pastor Jeanne Acheson-Munos’ translator at the Bible Institute.
While Ken LaBelle and Larry Judy checked buildings for structural safety, Andy Yardy, Dr. Dale Woods and I visited schools and met and prayed with pastors and Free Methodist brothers and sisters. Some of those we prayed with are among the thousands and thousands living in “tents” made of sheets draped from poles.
There are deep cracks on the roads and hillsides that have slid into roads, making driving a nightmare. It takes hours and hours to get anywhere.
We have been in buildings where the destruction took our breath away, such as L’Eglise and School Rensberry Metodist Libre. We saw mile after mile of collapsed buildings; some looking like powder. And that was on the main roads. When we went into the communities we realized that many people – many of our people – are living in the midst of total destruction.
At the Fontamara FMC people told us what happened: a crowd was waiting for prayer meeting to start when the earthquake happened. Four died. The local pastor reports that many children have died in that neighborhood of Port-au-Prince – some of whom are “our” sponsored children through International Child Care Ministries. If schools had been in session, many more would have died. I walked into the site of a FM school and saw the blackboard: “January 12, 2010. Homework for tomorrow.” That school is no more.
Food and water are huge issues. We prayed for many people; we sang together and brought them words of encouragement. As we left, they often said: “But we still need food and water.” Heart wrenching.
We had the joy of finding some people whose friends in the States had asked us to check whether they had survived.
This is a dangerous place. Even if there are no more aftershocks there is still much physical danger. Precarious buildings that are still standing might not survive a thunderstorm. If the building is on a hillside, a mudslide will take other buildings with them.
Dr. Dale Woods and I did a training video for all VISA teams so they know what to expect if God calls them to come here. We strongly recommend that all FM VISA teams watch this video and discuss it with their spiritual leaders before coming to Haiti.
We understand a FM medical team arrived at the Dessalines Hospital (3 hours north of Port-au-Prince) today at 4 PM, but cell phone towers were knocked out, making communication a huge problem for everyone in Port-au-Prince throughout the day.
As we look to the future, there is a great need of small teams of structural engineers to determine the safety of all buildings – churches, schools and pastors’ homes. Many of our pastors are homeless, living in the streets with their families. Their homes need to be assessed for safety so they can be free to minister to others.
We saw people walking – just walking – with a completely vacant look in their eyes.
With the blessings of Bishop Roller and Dr. Art Brown we have asked Jean Marc to become Field Coordinator for FMWM response. He is a Haitian leader, qualified for this role. He will be assisted by Pastor Rick Ireland as his administrator. Pastor Jean Marc is assembling his team for this role.
Please continue to pray for us. Dr. Woods and I are both preaching tomorrow (Sunday) in different churches.
The Free Methodist Church in Haiti
- 73 full churches
- 28 church plants
- More than 8,900 children sponsored through International Child Care Ministries
- 117 primary schools / 22,122 students
- 20 secondary schools / 2,859 students