This post will go online sometime in the early hours EST of February 14th—Valentine’s Day; also Pam’s due date. No baby yet! In Haiti, our midwife said 2/19 and the ultrasound showed 2/14. So, any time now. While in Miami we are assessing the long-term opportunities that have emerged from our role in the relief & recovery effort. Although Haiti has been on everyone’s heart for the past month, the devastation and onslaught of aid is only the tip of the iceberg. We are encouraged by how many people have expressed a commitment not only to the relief, but to the recovery and rebuilding as well.
Earlier this week we debriefed with the Miami crew along with the guys from New Orleans, and started reading through e-mail conversations between our team and the ministries we have been serving. From all accounts, the rapid-response “operation” was highly successful. As we compared notes, it’s tough trying to explain precisely who we are and what we did—yet that’s the beauty of it. Our non-traditional approach (no organization, no stated mission) enabled us to be quick and nimble, networked and relevant. Through this effort alone, dozens of people put their lives on hold to volunteer; thousands committed funds and prayed. In other words: those who love God are serving those who God loves. It’s bread-and-butter Gospel (Philippians 2). Since there is no organization to describe who we are, and no mission statement to detail what we did, let me defer to stories and pictures to illustrate how God is using us for such a time as this.
Within days of the earthquake we scraped up $10K and sent 2000 gallons of diesel fuel to a PAP hospital. Due to security concerns (hijacking), we lined the floors of city buses with fuel in 30-liter containers (pictured above) and made runs to PAP during the night. From the outside looking in, you would never guess this bus was carrying 800 gallons of fuel. At the peak, we were sending a convoy of three buses every other night. We worked in cooperation with the director of public transportation in Fort-Liberte. Each bus had two drivers, two mechanics, and two police officers on board. Only Haitians were allowed to ride so we wouldn’t blow our cover. On the return trip, the buses evacuated hundreds of refugees.
These folks oversee the hospital at the Baptist Haiti Mission—where we sent a lot of the fuel. Chris Lieb (pictured left) wrote us, “I just wanted to thank you for your hard work in getting us out of a fuel crisis here at Baptist Haiti Mission. You literally saved lives at our hospital and it allowed us to be able to distribute much needed relief. May God continue to bless your efforts. It is great to see the body of Christ working together.” Chris, Kyrk, and Rob told us that when they got the first shipment of fuel they split it among several other ministries including orphanages and MAF.
In 2001, Jeff Fogle and I played collegiate soccer together. Jeff was key to us winning a national championship—the man can flat out play. Now, Jeff is the chaplain for the 82nd Airborne, 173rd Cavalry. Jeff’s squadron was the first to arrive in PAP. Although the phones had been down, he found a way to get a call through. I remember it well, “We’re staying at some sort of country club. We have helicopters—a lot people are critically injured. Do you know of any hospitals?” At the time we didn’t know which hospitals had been destroyed, so we gave him a few names. It turned out that he met Chris, Kyrk and Rob (previous picture) and the army began airlifting patients there.
It didn’t take long for our supply line to earn credibility. Although ground transport was the most risky means of moving supplies into PAP, it was effective early on. We avoided bottlenecks and delivered supplies to PAP ministries quickly. Pictured are: Cameron, Francisco, Jay and Kyle.
Our Miami central command office began fielding hundreds of e-mails and calls. Requests came in for everything imaginable. One hospital asked for vinyl mattresses to handle the patient surge. Within hours, our guys in Santiago found a mattress factory (above) that could make anything we wanted overnight! From Miami, our team hunted down and delivered things like bone saws and cauterization equipment for PAP clinics.
To streamline the movement of supplies, we used a transshipment point just north of PAP. Since it was a remote location, drop-off and pick-up was safe and easy. Dennis and Jarod are loading sacks of rice and beans for a school and orphanage. This location also happened to be where Samaritan’s Purse set up their base.
News from the frontline was encouraging. I spoke with people from Christianville Mission as we loaded food into their truck—they were feeding 5000-6000 each day. Julie Scott from Haiti Child Sponsorship wrote, “Please extend our gratitude to all who helped Jenn-Vi (Young Life) and the Good Shepherd School receive supplies! Your ministry was really the only open door for us as we struggled to get supplies to them. Thanks for all you do and will continue to do in Haiti! May God continue to bless your efforts!” What wasn’t mentioned is that Good Shepherd School is in Cite Soleil. Google it.
Samaritan’s Purse hand delivered 1.5 million pesos (36 to the dollar) to the hotel where we were staying in Santiago. They needed helicopter fuel urgently—plus a semi-truck full of rice. No problem. Santiago immediately dispatched a truck with ten 55-gallon drums of fuel. However, the border closed at 5:00 PM and we snapped this picture…oh, 90-minutes later. Adam and Mike (pictured) and I asked officials on both sides if we could pay everyone overtime to keep the border open. The picture above was taken on the bridge over the River Massacre, the divide between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Gerald, Jacques and James are rolling the drums from a Dominican truck to a Haitian truck. The truck drove through the night to deliver the fuel by morning.
For many of the “big” loads, MINUSTAH, the peacekeeping arm of the UN, offered our trucks armed escort. The Uruguayan battalion was great, from the commanders to the soldiers! It was a pleasure serving with them.
Besides transporting supplies to PAP, we worked directly with the mayor’s office in the city where we live. At last count, Fort-Liberte took in almost 2500 refugees. Here, Luis is pumping 1500 gallons of fuel into the city’s tanks to help keep utilities and public services (like the police) operational.
For more pictures, click here.
All of us still struggle to comprehend the earthquake. I remember staring at the headlines of the DrudgeReport on January 13th: “Hell Came Up”. If that’s what happened, then this is God at work.
Soli Deo Gloria