As you may recall, I had an opportunity to do relief work in Port au Prince Haiti two months after the January 2010 earthquake which leveled the city and killed 250,000 Haitians. As you might expect, it has been a long hard process to rebuild. The first year there were no stores, no equipment and most of the work was done by hand, chisel and hammer.
I have had the pleasure to be connected with the missions team of the South Lewiston Baptist Church who have a 9 year partnership with Pastor Nathan of Bethany Baptist Church in the heart of Port au Prince. The good news is that the city is coming alive. There are still many tents but most streets are clear and some are actually paved. People are coming and going with a purpose. There is only one traffic light in a city of 980,000 people, so traffic is a nightmare, but with horns blowing, everyone seems to get around “safely.”
Here is a quick look at my 2014 nine day experience:
1. We arrived to Pastor Nathan’s home to no water or electricity. A pipe was broken when the road was paved. For 6 months, he had to bring water in by the buckets. So our team made the repair (almost) before getting fined for making the repair. Fine paid and water was connected. Neat system for the town.
2. Not many creature comforts. The electricity is portioned out by grids. One never knows when it will come on or go off. The norm is to have power 3 — 4 hours a day. So, we crank on the diesel gas generator we bought last year to keep the lights on and fans blowing all night.
3. Heat – it has been so cold this winter and spring that I thought I might enjoy a little heat. It was 98 every day and high 70s at night. Too much of a good thing for me.
4. We moved hundreds of cement blocks, sifted sand, moved rock piles by buckets and wheelbarrow several times, laid a cement floor — all in an effort to rebuild a school and church “temporarily” damaged by a quake. What a great feeling to know that you are making a difference in lives.
5. Sunday Services — my favorite moment of any trip is Sunday services. I don’t speak Creole and have no idea what is being said. All I know is that the entire congregation is full of faith, hope and song. The raw emotion combined with an entire congregation dressed in suits and white dresses is in sharp contrast with the lack of earthly possessions.
I could go on and on about my experience, but just want to remind everyone to keep the Haitians your thoughts and prayers and to encourage all of you to find ways to help those less fortunate than ourselves out in anyway you can. It’s a rewarding experience knowing that you’ve done your part – however big or small- to help fellow people out.
Haiti reminds me that where there is hope there is happiness. If you have visited Haiti, I’d love to hear your story.