We arrived in Port-au-Prince around two p.m. Thursday after the 8½ hour drive from Santo Domingo. We visited the FOHO (Friends of Haiti Organization) building ruins and prayed near the “cave of life” site in which the Lord protected Jack Munos and Katie Zook until they could be rescued. We prayed with thanksgiving for their rescue and in grief for the families of Jeanne, Merle, Gene and Erlin. Next we visited the family next door whose home was destroyed by the FOHO collapse and from which two bodies are also yet to be retrieved. We shared our sorrow for them and prayed together.
On Friday we traveled through Port-au-Prince and were amazed at how commerce has returned to the streets. These are a very resilient people. As we drove to the city center, we grieved anew. The main government buildings are in shambles. The historic palace has collapsed; the judicial building is rubble.
We had two important meetings. One was with the Haiti superintendent’s team, missionary Rick Ireland and Haitian pastor Jean Marc Zamor. We confirmed the major outline of our response efforts and a structure for making decisions going forward under their leadership. The Spirit of God provided a wonderful atmosphere as we grieved, expressed mutual support and prayed together. Each of the bishops – Bishop Cecilio (Dominican Republic), Bishop Roller (U.S.) and Bishop Elford (Canada) – expressed sorrow for the tragedy, solidarity with the Haitian people and a commitment to stand with them as we go forward.
Next we met with the western district pastors – their churches took the brunt of the devastation. We wept, prayed and shared together. Bishop Roller and Jean Marc explained to them the response plan, and we dialogued together. Each of them has lost their home. Most are living under temporary tarps where they can find a place. When I asked one pastor where he was living, he said in a neighbor’s yard. “Do you have a tent?” I asked. “No,” he responded, “just a cover.”
We visited the yard where between 12 and 15 families from our Delmas 53 church live in tents. It is a block from their destroyed church and a half block from a school where three of their member’s bodies are still under the rubble. The ladies’ church choir was practicing in one corner; tents covered nearly every square foot; school benches were along the wall; and dinner was being cooked. An amazing sense of calm and peace prevailed in spite of the very difficult circumstances. The church was living together and sharing both their need and their resources.
Lord, help us know how to be extravagantly generous as we stand with our church in Haiti!