Just spoke with Pam. Internet service continues to be down in Jacmel so I'm posting for her. Thanks for all your continued prayers and support. The team is doing amazing, life changing work. Here is a video clip of the team in the clinic from Oprah's web guy who is on the ground there with them. Enjoy.
It seems as if each day has its own set of extremes. Today wasn't any different.
There was extreme sadness as babies cried when they were seen, and extreme hope at the thought of new life possibly entering the world in our clinic by the end of the day.
There are extremes of noise in tent city and in the streets where we are staying, yet when we walked around Old Jacmel tonight, and many of the streets were deafly silent. Somber. So difficult to take in.
And then there was extreme illness and health. Yesterday the little girl pictured below was very ill. She spent hours on a bed in the clinic with a ridiculously high fever (I think at one point it reached 106 degrees) and Chris Marsi, and Melissa spent those hours pouring over her, trying to get her fever down and trying to figure out what was wrong. Eventually we sent her on her way with meds, and hope, that she would be better in a few days.
She came back today, with her parents, the entire family grinning ear to ear, full of joy at restored health. Ok, so I know they aren't grinning in the picture, but they really were in real life. They were thrilled at her restored health, dressed up in their finest, and came back to say thanks.
And we smiled too. Some of us to the point of tears.
This week we have been too. We have marveled at miracles, been in awe of generosity, and humbled by the measures of grace we have seen.
We have also been in awe of the devastation, the injuries, the wounds, the sickness and the improper treatment by those who came ahead of us.
We are changed. We are having a blast, and we grieve simultaneously. We will never know the depths of sorrow that is felt by our friends serving here or by the Haitian community, but we will commit to partner with them as they walk in discovery of what the "new normal" will be.
Clinic today was a great success! Yesterday we saw about 200 patients as we were learning our groove. Today we are pretty sure we doubled that. Please continue to pray for us.
(apologies for the limited photos, the internet is not cooperating.)
When we refer to "tent city" we are referring to what used to be a soccer field in Jacmel that has now become home to too many people, living in both make-shift tents, as well as some tents built by the Venezuelan Government. It's sad, because so many people are homeless and living in what we would consider to be substandard conditions, but at the same time, they have no where else to go, and they are making the best of it. Our Saturday photos were a glimpse of "tent city."
Today we took over a corner of tent city, and turned it into a medical clinic. It was awesome! Several of us arrived at 6:30 this morning to start clearing the land of trash, overgrown shrubs and also of things that you don't want to say out loud. The most awesome part, was that without any prompting or asking the residents living in tent city showed up in throngs to help. Together we turned a place of squalor into a place of healing.
Today we sang, listened, prayed and were humbled. Again, it is such a priviledge for us to be here. We have been afforded the opportunity to join the Haitian church, as they block off the road, and set up church under tarps in front of their church building.
Each of us were challenged today by the words of Nick Mangine as he preached. Many of us were brought to tears as Nick eloquently, and appropriately, led the church in taking another step forward in healing from the earthquake. This earthquake changed everyone's lives, and we get to be witnesses, and encouragers as they take steps towards healing.
I encourage you to ask your family members about today. Ask questions about what it was like, how they felt, what they saw. I know that I, myself, will never forget the face of an elderly Haitian woman weeping after being given permission to do so by Nick. Never. I don't know her story, I don't know how the earthquake changed her life, but what I do know, is that she was given the freedom this morning to let her heart break before God, and again, she is changed.
This is one of the many images we've gathered of "tent city" on Saturday. Today it was officially decided that our team will erect another tent here, this one 20" X 40" and create a clinic for those needing care. Set-up starts at 6am tomorrow morning. We hope to have the supplies set up in the tent in order to start by 8am.
A quick try for internet access proved successful! Thanks for being patient with us. Mostly wanted to post a quick update to assure the families that we are all here, safe and sound, and having some fun.
I'll try to post more pictures and stories if internet allows, but for now, rest in the knowledge that we are all safe, we are all together, and we are all doing well. We are ready and eager to start clinic tomorrow, and are overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity that has been given to us as a group representing Crosspointe Church.
It is an honor to be here. We recognize that this trip isn't just about medicine, but that it is about healing in many ways. It's about encouraging our friends the Pye's and the Mangine's, and their kids, it's about reminding them that even when crisis hits, as a church we are here for them, that we love them, that we are committed to them, and we will help them move forward.
This morning it's about worshipping in the street with the church here, praising the God we all know and love, and reminding them, that He is here. God has never left them, and He never will.
(for our families watching this blog for updates...if the blog is quiet, please don't worry about us, it mostly means that internet isn't allowing for us to post. The phone allows for almost continual twitter updates, so watch the sidebar to the right.)
This is not Pam sorry if I disappoint but she asked me (Rick Smith) to get this quick update out.
9 of the team are now on the way to Jacmel, Haiti from Santiago. One of the airplanes that they were scheduled to use had mechanical issues in Jacmel earlier so not all of them could get on the plane.
The 9 that are on the way to Jacmel right now are Angela Kline, Trish Koslowsky, Kris Stoner, Jennie Kowaleski, Brad Carlson, Chris McDaniels, Cecile Noel, Marslyn Clark and Melanie Mangum.
The remaining 6 are still hopeful to get out yet today depending on the availability of another plane. Worst case is that they will travel to Jacmel first thing in the morning. Accommodations have already been arranged if they need to spend the night in the DR.
Updates will continue to be posted here as soon as they are available.
What a week! It really has been an army of people behind this venture. For the last 4 days vehicle after vehicle after vehicle after vehicle (yet get my point) has shown up at the church with supplies for our team. It was AWESOME how much God provided, and after packing our 30 bags last night, we have the wonderful dilemma of figuring out how to get the leftover supplies to Haiti in the coming months. Thanks to American Airlines, we were able to overpack 5 of our bags, without cost. We have 25 bags at the regular 50lbs mark, and 5 at 70lbs. It's a bit crazy.
In addition to supplies, there have been loads of people at the church helping to count, sort, and prepare for last nights packing event, as well as some kiddos from different classes bringing in meds, and money for relief items. It really has been fun to watch God do his thing in our lives.
This time tomorrow we will be in the air! We admit, we are excited, and we also admit, there are some butterflies in our stomachs! We appreciate the prayers, and your willingness to support us in this journey.
We will do our best to update you on how things are going, when internet and time allows, but we are also committed to our task at hand, bringing relief. If you want to follow the stories, this is the place to be, in times where I can't update the blog, I will try to update via Twitter, and you can follow those updates to the right.
I mentioned in a previous post the hoops we had to jump through to move forward with plans to head to Haiti this weekend and the assistance that G.O! Ministries is providing us to get to Jacmel, Haiti.
Last week I contacted them, hoping, that just maybe someone would be able to give us some direction, little did I know that they would be so thorough, and committed to getting us there.
The original plan as mentioned before:
Fly into Santiago
Drive to Pedernales (9 hour drive)
Spend the night in Pedernales
Get on a Dominican Navy Boat to Haiti.
I mean really. They were going to arrange ALL of it. And to be honest, the adventurer in me was looking forward to it, even though I knew our team would be EXHAUSTED before we had done any work in Haiti.
But G.O! Ministries didn't stop there. They have found a way to fly us directly into Jacmel, the day we land in the Dominican Republic. How awesome is that! They had already found a solution, but kept looking for a better one, and have been so awesome in the ENTIRE process. I know we aren't the only group seeking their help.
I honestly don't know when it started. I know packing for this trip began a good month ago. There is so much packaging waste with medications that we often break down the packaging, combine what can be combined, and this year, we added an extra step. Counting out the prescriptions that would be handed out and putting them in bags for easier distribution.
We have been so incredibly blessed by so many people who desire to see this trip a success. Most of the prescription medication, pain reliever, vitamins, and supplies were donated to our team, and every time a load shows up, we rejoice, and wonder, can we get it all in?
Here's a glimpse at what has been going on in the Crosspointe Community:
Thanks MAP, Kidspointe North, Medwish, Science with a Mission, Walmart, Ward Drug and I'm sure there are more of you that I am unaware of! Thanks for giving, and thanks to all of you who spent hours counting and sorting!
Flexibility: refers to the ability to bend without breaking, whether or not it returns to its original shape.
There are two phrases I use often when training our short term teams to serve in Haiti or Kenya. The first one, flexibility is the key to missions, has been said about 100 times a day since the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010.
That night whether or not we were going to go to Haiti became a huge, difficult to answer question. We had a group of Doctors, PA's, Nurses and support people who for the last 9 months had been preparing to take medical care to the community of Jacmel, Haiti. This is an annual trip led by Crosspointe church in partnership with Joy in Hope. We had been planning for months, gathering supplies, meds, food, etc. We had NOT been planning on an earthquake.
Flexibility is key.
There were several things to take into consideration for this team. Was it safe? Could we get there (after all the Port au Prince airport was closed?) Could they still host us? Would they? What was best for them with all the work they were doing? It would seem that of course a team of medical professionals would be helpful, but given the pace the missionaries had been keeping...was it a good idea for 3 weeks later to have a team of non-Creole speaking Americans show up?
So we remained flexible. And I found myself saying or typing regularly, "this is the plan, things could change."
Then last thursday we got the go ahead. Joy in Hope wanted us, and they knew that housing would not be an issue, and basically, if we could get to Jacmel, they wanted us. Which started a beautiful journey of watching God provide, again and again.
American Airlines wouldn't let us fly into Haiti. But they were willing to fly us anywhere else. So... how about the Dominican Republic? It's a bordering country, why not? After about 2 hours on the phone with them, we managed to get all 15 of us on a flight to Santiago, Dominican Republic. On the same flight, no less. Not a small feat. We would have to leave a day earlier, but, none of us were really bothered by it! Now to figure out how to get us from Santiago to Jacmel. The plan, fly to the DR on the 5th, and out the 13th. This was the plan, it could change.
A little face book post goes a long way. Who knew people read status updates so frequently?
Within hours we had gears turning and I was filling out forms to apply for assistance in getting from Santiago to Jacmel, which, really isn't that close. Same island, but still not that close. On Friday morning I received a phone call from GO! Ministries working in Santiago. They were willing to help us get to Haiti.
The plan: Arrive in Santiago, DR around 4pm thanks to American Airlines (who by the way reimbursed part of our fare, in travel vouchers no less, but they did reimburse some of it. way cool.) GO! Ministries would meet us at the Santiago airport, help us get food, and then they would drive us (15 people, 15ish carryons, and 30 checked bags of medical supplies (5olbs each) to Pedernales, on the border of Haiti and the DR. It would be a 9 hour drive, so we would collapse into beds of a hotel that GO! Ministries suggested and recommended. Then early on the 6th, we would rise, and be transported to a Dominican Republic Navy boat, and the DR Navy would transport us to the port in Jacmel. This was the plan, it could change.
Crazy. It sounded a bit exhausting, but, honestly the adventurer in me was pretty stoked.
So I emailed the team, this is the plan. It could change. Be prepared for anything. Adjust your carry-on bags accordingly.
And then last night I received word again, the plan changed. They would be flying us into Jacmel, Haiti!
Still an adventure, a much shorter traveling one. This is the plan, it could change.
So this week, the people below are preparing to head to Haiti. That's the plan, we hope it doesn't change. Please commit to praying for them. Our travel dates of Feb 5 - 13, 2010, but as we have learned, things change. We don't anticipate changing them or our plans of how we hope to be helpful and effective, but, things change. They've changed almost by the hour for the last 20 days. I am excited about the journey ahead, and mostly about serving with this group of people. They have proven themselves to be flexible, beyond the breaking point as far as logistics and such were up in the air or changing by the minute.