Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letting God fill the Gap...

Have you ever experienced God filling the gap in your life... you know when you feel God putting something on your heart but you don't really know what it is? When you need to do something, but don't really know what, why or how? It is such an incredible thing... following what God puts on your heart and letting him fill the gap. I've just experienced this first hand and I feel so incredibly blessed.

My plans were to work at the Heartline clinic on Saturday. During a break, I wondered how Carol Plamanns kids from Mother Theresa's were doing. Mother Theresa's had been trying to get her two kids along with 5 other orphans out of Haiti. The Sisters in Washington DC were trying to get a flight but were struggling. Over the last 4 days, promises and commitments for the flight came and went without success. I decided to go over to Mother Theresa's and check. Sr. Martine told me "no success"...they were unsuccessful getting the authorization for the flight. On a whim, I asked if I could go to the US Embassy and see what was needed to get them out. I had no idea about anything to do with adoption.

When I arrived at the Embassy on Saturday, there were long lines of people trying to get visas or passports. I went to a window on the other side and told them I was there on "Official Business" for Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity. I know I was stretching the truth, but they let me right in. Someone came to meet me and brought me to another building inside the compound and I quickly met with the person in charge of "Orphan Evacuations". She gave me a list of what I would need and I was out the door on my way back to Mother Theresa's. I wasn't planning to do this and really didn't know what I was doing but felt a need to ask the questions.

I was in a hurry to get back to Mother Theresa's to see if they had the needed paperwork... the only problem, my motorcycle wouldn't start... and I couldn't get ahold of Jean. So I decided to leave it at the embassy and tap tap back to Mother Theresa's. Sr. Martine brought out all the documents she had and we went through them one by one... the documents seem to line up. It appeared that we had everything they were asking for. I asked if I could take them and if she could go with me early Monday morning to present the documents and see if we could get the two children out and she said sure. Jean came to pick me up in his truck and we headed back down to the embassy to pickup my broken down motorcycle. As we drove through heavy traffic, I was thinking about everything and remembered hearing that because of the huge demand, the embassy was open 24 hours. Without much thought, when we arrived at the embassy, I headed to the guards window instead of my motorcycle. Little did I know that God was moving me and filling the gaps. I had know idea what I was doing but I knew I was doing something.

At the window, I claimed "I'm from Mother Theresa's Missionary of Charity" and I'm here to present and file some documents for adoption. The woman I met earlier was busy but a man who assisted her quickly looked over my papers and asked, "Can you be here tomorrow at 12pm? Without thinking I said "Yes!". He said bring your children and be ready to go... if you get the green light to go you have to leave immediately... but you're going to have to be patient. I was both excited and nervous... for the first time I thought to myself, "maybe I would have to leave Haiti tomorrow". I knew this was not my plan but for the first time thought maybe this is why I was here... maybe it was God's plan.

I called Sr. Martine, told her the news and asked if she could have the children ready at 10:30am. I asked if she would come with to help insure that that we could get this done. I got back to Troy and Tara Livesay's house late... and Troy was just getting home. He asked my what I had planned for tomorrow and I told him I might be going to the US with two orphans. I had already decided if this happened, I would return to Haiti after delivering the children to their adoptive parents. He told me about a 3 year old girl that had gone to the embassy the day before but was rejected because some papers were missing. He asked if I could bring her along and try to get her out along with the other two. I said, "Sure, I could bring her and present the documents, but God would have to do the rest!" We both knew what I meant.

I couldn't sleep at all that night. I dosed in and out and around 2:30am I finally gave up trying to sleep. I started thinking about what an incredible opportunity God had put before me. I wondered why he would choose me to do this... I didn't know anything about the adoption process. I felt totally inadequate and uneasy with the responsibility but also felt grateful for the opportunity to help these 3 little children.

I found out the following morning, Troy spent much of the night and early morning emailing and calling Naomi's adoptive parents to get the missing information and preparing her adoption papers. He worked so hard and really gave me everything I needed. The next morning, Tara brought Naomi over and we were off to Mother Theresa's. We picked up Guyvinscy (7 years old) and Evans (2 years old). I asked Johanna, a nurse who was staying at Troy and Tara's house, if she would come with us incase the two boys got to go but Naomi didn't. She would have the responsibility to bring Naomi home if she was rejected again... what a difficult job this would be.

We arrived at the embassy before 12pm... all of us, Naomi, Guyvinscy, Evans, Joanna, Sr. Martine and me. After checking in we were led to a waiting room containing over 120 children. It was complete chaos with children running and playing and sleeping on the floor. While the children looked happy, the adults looked tired and weary. Many had been there for over 48 hours... waiting to get their children out of Haiti. We quickly found out how they were feeling as we too were forced to wait... and wait... and wait.

Finally around 7pm, a woman behind bullet proof glass started calling out names and handing out "Humanitarian Parole Visas" for orphans in the room. And then it happened... God showed up. One by one we heard the names called out... Guyvinscy Pierre... Evans Pierra... Naomi Joseph... I was so incredibly relieved... and thankful, and grateful... for a faithful God. I said to the others "Praise God... Praise God!!!" You cannot imagine the joy that I felt. It's like nothing I've ever felt before and I thought to myself "This is why I'm here... this is God's plan for my life... God chose me to change the trajectory of these children's lives". I felt honored that he would choose me and for the first time I felt humbled by the trust that he put in me. God was not only filling the "gap" in the lives of these children, but he was filling the "gap" in my life.. I was humbled.

As we prepared to leave, there was a 15 year old boy named Jefthe that had received a "Humanitarian Parole Visa" but was unable to leave because he did not have a guardian to accompany him. His pastor who had raised him since he was 2 years old was there but was unable to leave the other orphans he had. The woman behind the bullet proof glass looked at me and said, "You need to take him, you cannot leave him behind". And she was right, I could not leave him behind... God must have thought 2 or 3 was not enough so now there were four.

Later that evening, by the Grace of God and only God, we left Haiti. The younger children could not have known how their lives had changed as they fell asleep but the two older boys looked intently out the window as the wheels left the ground. I think they understood. I again wondered why God would choose me for this but felt honored and grateful that he did.

The next two days were spent going through immigration... a grueling and sometimes painful experience. One of the other parents reassured me this too would pass... and it did. One by one I was able to release these children that God had entrusted me with to their new adoptive parents. It was incredible to see and to be a part of. I told my wife I thought this is one of the things I was put here on earth to do... I just felt it in my core... God was working though me to fulfill His purpose for my life. I could not help but cry... My wish is for everyone to experience this for themselves and to realize God has a purpose for our lives... each and everyone of us were put here for a reason. It is God's plan for our lives that we should seek, not our own... and in doing so, we will find true joy, peace and fulfillment that we all so desperately desire. I found my little piece of heaven... right here on earth.

Thank you Lord Jesus for revealing yourself to me, for revealing your purpose for my life. I ask that you watch over these four children, Guyvinscy, Evans, Naomi and Jefthe... protect them and let them experience the joy of having a loving mother and father that will care for them and raise them to know you. I pray that they will seek you and as they grow seek your will for their lives. Thank you Father for using me, for giving me the opportunity to love these children. I am so honored and grateful for this experience and know that all Glory goes to you... for it is only through you that miracles truly happen.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Broken Houses, Broken Homes and Broken Hearts...

The damage is easy to see. Everywhere you look there are broken houses. What is harder to see is the broken homes.

Late last night we found an older man with severe injury to his hand. He had lost one finger and two others were severely crushed along with a deep cut in the palm of his hand. His bandages were makeshift and old. Dried blood covered the rag. When we told him we wanted to take him to a Doctor, he followed us to our truck. He must have thought the Doctor was at the truck. When we asked him to climb on to go to the clinic he told us he didn't want to go. He said he was waiting for his wife to come back and if he left, she might not find him. We asked how long she had been gone. He told us he hadn't seen her since the earthquake. It was heartbreaking... he still had hope... and he was willing to suffer to keep it alive. We begged him to go, promised him we would bring him back... the neighbors at the refugee camp said they would tell her where he was when she comes... after a while, he climbed on board. It is heartbreaking to think he may never see her again.

I asked God tonight, how many times can my heart break... cause it's breaking all the time.

I've been staying at Troy and Tara Livesay's house. A missionary family from Minnesota. They have been not only gracious to let me stay but have also taken in other children from other missionaries that have returned to the US. Two little boys have been staying in my room. The youngest Amis, about 5 years old wakes up every morning around 3AM and climbs into bed with me. It is so precious and at the same time heartbreaking to know that this little child of God has no one other than me to hold and comfort him in the middle of the night.
Tara told me today that the boys were flying to the US. One was going to his adoptive family in Houston Texas, the other to a family in Dallas. When I got back from my days work, the boys were all dressed in their very best to meet their new families. They were so excited. I was so excited for them. It was hard to watch them go.

Later in the evening after dinner, the truck returned from the airport where 27 children were flying to meet their new parents. In the front seat of the truck was Ronel, the 6-7 year old that was staying in my room. I asked why he was still here and Tara told me it was because they needed one more paper for him. The other children got to go. She said she hoped they could get the needed paperwork tomorrow. I would never wish for you to see the disappointment on Ronel's face because it would crush your heart... it did mine. It was dark and the power was off. He went into our room, laid down on the bed, pulled the sheets up and sobbed. It was so sad. Tara came in and talked to him in Kreole... I'm not sure what she said but I know she was trying to comfort him. After a time she got up and left as I sat across the room. I could not leave him by himself. I went over and motioned for him to move over and I laid down next to him. The tears were pouring out of him. He was still in his new clothes as he fell asleep. Here is a picture of him as he slept.
As you read this this evening, or tomorrow morning, please keep Ronel in your prayers. Pray that God will provide the necessary documentation that will allow him to go home to his new family... pray that God will grant him peace and comfort until that happens. Heavenly Father, we need you now. My heart is breaking. You are our hope.

Ronel loved to play with my digital camera. Here are a few of his pictures he took.

A Water Truck Day...

When we went to Enel's refugee camp last night to drop off patients that had been treated and released, we were brought from tent to tent and shown babies that were running high fevers. The paramedics from New York said the children were dehydrated and needed water badly. We had brought some water with us for the team and gave it to Enel to give to the parents... we knew this would not be enough but it was all we could do. The paramedics from NY knew I had a water truck and asked me if I could get our water truck there first thing in the morning.

This morning, bright and early, we showed up at the camp. It is incomprehensible, how many people are living in makeshift tents and how they can live there. The camps are everywhere. They have absolutely no services... no water, no food, no sanitary... nothing The conditions are horrible. The tents are hot, dust everywhere, flies everywhere. I saw a plate of garbage put out in the isle between tents... it was meant to attract the flies so they did not land on the people as they slept.

I was only able to get a few photos because I was needed to deliver water.

Later in the day, we made an emergency water run deep into the capital. There is a small clinic a few blocks from the Palace that Kevin had promised water. The drive downtown was overwhelming. The damage was everywhere... there's so much of it. I think I'm becoming numb... there's just too much.

Buildings precariously close to tipping over...
Vintage 100 year old buildings made from brick and wood... completely destroyed.
The Haitian Justice Ministry...
Cars and trucks were crushed and quickly scavenged for parts...
The National Palace where President Preval worked...
There are many people with simple tools like sludge hammers and hack saws trying to cut their way through layers of rubble to find those who were killed... family, friends and coworkers. They have no skill, they put themselves in danger... but if they don't do it, who will?

And when they find their loved one, they wrap them up and put them on the sidewalk for some stranger to bury.
Dear Father, hear the cries from Haiti, send your angles of mercy to give them comfort. Move your armies of believers to be your hands and feet and fight for the poor, the injured, the dying and the dead. Let it be us that gives them dignity, a dignity that they have never known. Let this weigh heavily on our hearts, that it may be etch in our minds, that we are the miracle that Haiti is seeking and miracles only happen if we are obedient to your call. The Lord asks, "Whom shall I send, who will go for me?"... let it be us that say, "Here I am... send me!".

A Medical Mission

I'm currently staying with Tara and Troy Livesay. Tara and Troy are working with John and Beth McHoul at a small clinic that the setup last week to receive doctors, nurses and medical staff to respond to those wounded in the earthquake. Joanna, one of the nurses from the twin cities asked for my help and so I went... Alyn will testify what a commitment this was for me.

When I arrived, it was quite chaotic, doctors, nurses and patients spread throughout a private house. Patients lying or sitting outside within the walled yard. Patients in almost each room with one room becoming the pre-op, another the operating room and still another post-op.

I was asked to go with two paramedics from New York City that had arrived that morning. This was their first time to Haiti and their first ambulance run to the "Brothers or Charity" a small hospital in Simon Pele across from Cite Soleil and to the refugee camps. I think they were glad there was someone who had Haiti experience with them. I know I was glad there was someone with medical experience with me.

Our first stop was Brother's of Charity hospital. There was a triage room setup for patients that had severe injury that was beyond what this small hospital could handle. One by one we loaded the people into a large Tap Tap style truck. One many had multiple crush injury and was on the verge of going into shock. A woman was cooking when the earthquake struck and she fell into a large pot of boiling oil burning her arm and back. Many had broken limbs... some that just flopped from side to side.
Our makeshift ambulance.
Rhona and Chris, treating children onsite at the refugee camp.
Rhona setting up an IV for a man with a badly broken leg.

A concrete block had fallen on this little girl's face cutting her all the way down her forehead into her eyelid and below her eye. The paramedics said whoever had stitched her up did not do a very good job.
She will be scared for life.

When the paramedics unwrapped the bandage from this little girl's finger, they found he finger almost totally amputated... only held on by the skin. They gave her a small doll to play with while they completed the amputation on the truck. It is amazing how brave she was.

One by one, trip after trip we loaded people onto the truck... most had crushed or broken limbs or victims of severe burns.
This is a sign on the front of the clinic
This is the clinic. The lady on the right had multiple complete breaks in her upper leg. It was decided to leave he in the wheelbarrow that she was brought to us in to be taken to the clinic. This is the courtyard of the house/clinic that was setup within the last 5 days.
These are some of the tools that are used for the worst crush victims. Many many limbs, hands and fingers had to be amputated each day.
Tragically, the earthquake effected every age from young to old.

The very best part of my job...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inside a Haitian Refugee Camp

At the end of the day, I had to take Enel home. He asked earlier if he could have a bucket of rice from the container and I told him of course. He told me his house had crashed and he was living in a refugee camp across from Pure Water. As we pulled into Bobby Duvall's soccer field where we keep our two water trucks and containers he held tightly to the corrugated box he had found that he was going to use to sleep on. As I opened the container he asked if I had a blanket or something else to sleep on. We searched and found a blanket and sheet that he quickly packed into his backpack. He picked up plastic banding material outside the trailer and told me he would use it to hold up the top of his tent. I too was sleeping outside and I grabbed a blanket also... but my conditions are much better than his.

As we drove to his "camp" he asked me to pull over a block away so that I would not be mobbed by the other refugees at the camp. It's amazing that in the midst of all this he is concerned for my safety. I told him no... I want to see where he lived and see his mother and children... we continued to argue as I pulled the motorcycle into the camp.

The sign on the wall outside the camp read "USA Refugees Camp - your help is very important for us" written in charcoal.

Here is a video of one of the many spontaneous refugee camps that are all too common in Port au Prince. So many people have been displaced from their 1 or 2 room concrete shacks. They either have crumbled and collapsed or they have so many cracks that the people are scared to stay in them. They beg for food, for water, for help, for someone to care. Today we will bring a truckload of water to the camp.

Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. Ask God for mercy, for comfort, for relief for those suffering from this tragic event. Ask God to awaken the world to the plight of Haiti and it's people and to move them to sacrifice for those in need. We pray that God will use all that is good to respond to those in need.

Plea's for Help

The plea's for help speak for themselves...