Haiti Day 4-5

Chris is blogging occasionally here if you want to read some from his perspective, he’s much more eloquent than I.

Nurse: “How is Johnny.” Pastor #1: “Johnny is dead.” Pastor #2: “God is good.”  I don’t write that  to be crass.  We were sitting there at dinner with some new guests and they had just found out that one of their friends  that they knew from the first time were here had died in the earth quake.  We were all talking about the earthquake, and then Pastor Lopez responded with a story of his own and finished his statement with “God is good.”  Horror, unfortunate circumstances, death….yet God is still good.  I am baffled, yet it gives me hope.  How else do you handle such a great tragedy?  Haitians choose to put their faith in God, I am personally having a harder time doing this; and it’s not even me who is suffering.

Today started off like yesterday but ended much better.  There is a tent city outside of the pastors house that we are living with, where there are quite a few hundred people living because it is unsafe to go into their homes or their homes are no longer there.  So a number of bags were put together.  As soon as the community got word there was food, they rushed to the gate and tried to start pushing their way through.  It is a very sad thing to do to have to hold a gate back, trying not to hurt anyone, while they storm the gate, only allowing 5 in at a time, knowing that we are going to run out of food before they run out of hunger.

This was the most unorganized distribution of the two, because we were at the pastors house where a lot of people were making decisions.  People had different ideas of what door they were going to come in and out of, how we were going to order them and how we were going to register them.  Eventually it was done and over with, with a good hundred or so people that had to go without.  The only positive thing that this session gave us was good insight on how to do the distribution from here on in.

The key for us is separating the people from the actual food.  The more space between everyone, we think, the more opportunity we have to organize people before they can see the food.  The second thing we did is hand pick a bunch of volunteers ahead of time, put their food aside and get them to run the show.  So we explained the process to the volunteers ahead of time so they knew what to expect.  This worked much better than us knowing what to do and explaining it to everyone on the go through a translator.  The other part that worked great today was that we lined everyone up in a church building 50 yards away from the building that held the food.  Everyone sat in the pews and we got five people at a time to move to the front, gave them cards and then sent them to get their food.  It was a hundred times better than anything we did before and we were able to get food to around 1000 people this afternoon alone using this system and collecting the necessary information to record.  It was extra special today because the site this afternoon was located at an orphanage, so I have some cute photos I’ll have to upload when I get home of some of the children there.

There is a team of 16 medical professionals coming tomorrow for 4 days.  We found out that if we can get a truck, then we can probably get free food from the airport or the UN.  So we also found out that we might be able to get a truck.  Tomorrow is a day for church, rest and to get ready for Monday.  Monday I think is going to be the start of a much bigger picture for us in what we can do while we were here.  The first few days we looked into the eyes of the Haitians who were hungry and in need.  The next little while will be doing the same, but this time hopefully be able to get all these same Hatians access to a continual flow of aid until it’s not needed anymore.  Pray that we get this truck.  The Canadian government is still doubling all donations, so if you can send some money to help with this truck or more supplies for this area, please click here and do that.

Going to sleep now, and onto day 5.

Day 5 was a day of church, and a brief drive-thru tour of downtown where the palace is.  It was quite disheartening to see the thousands of people all in tents all waiting for something, anything really.  Church services were great.  Voices rang in my head all day as they belted out their songs in French.  I recognized This is My Story, This is my Song and Great is thy Faithfulness.  They sing so beautifully, it really makes you never want to use instruments again.  In these churches, there is no such thing as a kids program.  There are more children than adults, and they sit there quietly and listen, and sing as loudly as anyone else.  We have so much to learn from others about how we pass along our faith to our children.

After the second service (I have been to two church services in one day in a long time) we went back to the house and Chris, Robert (the mechanic), Richard and Daniel (son of Pastor Martinez, but lives in Toronto currently) got into a great discussion about international development.  I have a lot to learn about this field, and the stories they tell about the history of the practice along with the history of Haiti is fascinating.  Bridges out of Poverty, a workshop I sat through in Sarnia is surprisingly a good tool for preparing me for what to expect.  There is so much going on in a country like this.  Everyone has their own ideas, and hopes and dreams.  It is a fascinating area of study that I am watching first hand the positives and negatives of foreign aid, international political involvement and missionaries.

We are offering a temporary band-aid approach right now, but the goal is to create a sustainable system that will keep going once we leave.  Pray that this happens.

Tomorrow we head to the Canadian Embassy to register, and also try to build relationships with the right people that can point us in the right direction to get more aid.  We are hoping it is a productive trip to finding out a lot of information about the logistics about how everything is working here.  We are also going to look for a new vehicle that Canadian donors are going to cover the expenses for, so we hope there is something in the country that we can purchase and get using quickly.

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