Sunday, January 31
Friday, January 29
The Palace of Justice was ENTIRELY destroyed, with dozens of judges and lawyers still buried.
This house was literally split in half, with the bathtub and shower exposed.
Thursday, January 28
By the time we were deep in the city, it was inky black, and the city that is usually brightly lit at night was black but for small piles of burning tires, burning this time for no reason other than for the clarity and comfort that light brings.
What an eerie feeling, knowing that there was disaster and death all around me, but being able to see none of it, though I was right at its center. My camera sat expectantly in my lap as it had for 8 hours, but there were no pictures to take.
I thought about those first nights after the quake, of all the people below the ruble spending the dark night alone, unable to be seen and unable to see. I prayed through days that had already come and gone that He had met them those nights.
We arrived at the Villa Ormiso, OMS’s guest house, after about an hour only to find dozens of people speaking several different languages, all medical people from around the globe. Dr. Gavin, his wife Julie, Dave Shafferly and a few other familiar faces were already there, and knowing not what the next day would hold, I ate as much cold rice as I could and asked if there was a room.
I was quite surprised and relieved to be led to a large open room, all to myself, on the bottom floor of a three story building. Despite the fact that there were dozens of people milling about, the room was unoccupied, as were all the other rooms around it. I had just stepped in the door, thankful for my beautiful room, when someone behind me said, “I’d sleep with your door open, if I was you.”
I turned to find a large man with a flashlight peering at a crack on the side of the building.
“Why?” I asked, clearly ‘new’.
“They’re calling for a 6.4 in the next 24-48 hours,” he said, still ignoring me and staring intently at the crack. “Why you think you have no neighbors? Sleep with your door open so you can get out when you need to.”
Just a few days before, I had griped to Matt about our student’s unwillingness to sleep in their brand-new dorm, due to the fact that it was a two-story building. And yet suddenly, it didn’t matter if I didn’t think “they” could predict another earthquake, or if many of the guests said the man was crazy, or if I was exhausted. I trust the Lord implicitly, but I could barely brush my teeth in that room.
An hour later some exhausted saints tied down the last stake of a large tent with flashlights strapped to their foreheads, and I slept the deep and weary sleep of one who knew they were safe. I slept in middle of the yard in the middle of Port, my beautiful room abandoned, Psalm 46 on my lips…
You are my refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore, I will not fear,
Though the earth should tremble
Though the mountains will slip into the heart of the sea.
The Lord had already answered a prayer Matt and I had lifted for someone to come alongside me and make it possible for me to travel throughout the city safely and thoroughly. A man 3 weeks my elder had ridden down with me the day before to be a translator for a medical clinic, but was free until Monday morning. He quickly agreed to be my companion for the day, and together we set out at 6:30 Sunday morning, feeling the first slight tremor of the day, only for a few seconds, even as we shut the gate behind us.
All that I had been blinded to the night before fell upon me at once.
I turned the corner coming out of the Villa only to see a gas station, just like the ones we have in the States, completely void of cars but packed with dozens of faded sheet tents, teeming with dozens of families beginning their days. Small piles of charcoal boiled pots of black-sludge coffee, and I walked past the sleeping frames of tiny ones, huddled against each other on the oil-spotted concrete slab, oblivious to their ring-eyed parents starting the day around them.
"Family of Tony is Alive with Jesus!" this house says. Many broken homes are marked with the status and whereabouts of families so that loved ones will know how and where they are.
In just a moment, they were everywhere, tents of cardboard, shoestrings, plywood, sheets, scraps of clothing, tape. Lining the main street, cramming the median, spilling over the park, replacing the sidewalks, thousands of tents. All around me, Haiti was waking up and stretching its stiff backs from a long night on cold cement, wondering how to face the day.
At first, I thought everyone was homeless. But after a few moments, I realized that while many of them were, most were just like me, sleeping in less-than-desirable places…SAFE places. As I looked deep into the sleepy dark eyes around me, I realized that these eyes had SEEN. They had seen their children crushed beneath homes they had built with their own hands. They had seen strong fortresses crumble, had seen the impossible take place in 35 seconds.
The median, lined by streams of sewage and smack in the middle of four lanes of blaring traffic, was entirely safe from falling ANYTHING, and so there I found thousands sleeping. I would have slept there, too, the night before had it been my only choice other than that first story spacious room, and I hadn’t just barely survived anything, hadn’t seen anything.
I tried not to stare as we walked past thousands of huts, catching glimpses of drooling babies and little ones sucking on pieces of bread, men lying awake, staring at nothing, women smoothing down wild braids and sending children clutching coins out for an egg, for water…catching glimpses of life. Poor people, rich people, young people, old people, Christian, non-Christian…everyone was living in the same filthy tents and everyone was the same. Everyone was afraid.
I gasped and grabbed a woman’s arm as another tremor shook the earth and the tent-village filled with short screams…
I don’t know when the fear will fade.
UPDATE: Right now there are 6 students, staff members and graduates from Emmaus Seminary in Port, working alongside of OMS's makeshift clinic there to evangelize the hundreds of people coming to seek medical attention. Please be praying for Lucner, Ben, Jasmine, Junior, Blaise and Janiel as they are overwhelmed by the extreme physical and spiritual need. Yesterday, 51 people came to know the Lord as these 6 shared Him...