Immediately, I began trying to call the dozens of friends in Haiti trying to make contact. I was admittedly worried, even knowing nothing of detail. As the hours rolled by, my worry turned to panic and fear. Finally, I got one call from a friend on the ground. Peter described the scene as complete carnage, something he imagined Armageddon would be! He said as he moved through the street of Port au Prince he had counted hundreds, maybe thousands of bodies. I truly thought he was just exaggerating and in shock. But, as we know, he was not!
It would be late evening before I was able to hear from most of the friends and colleagues on the ground. The range of emotion during that time was wild. During the time of waiting and anticipation, the motion of getting involved in the relief was set. After many phone calls with Matt Chambers of Safe World Nexus and many others, it was set....I was headed into Haiti.
Over the course of the next 5 days the prep and hard work began. Through Grace Church, Safe World Nexus and Impact Haiti we began raising support, collecting supplies and debriefing the growing team. Through the local news, local papers, websites, twitter, radio and eventually a few national platforms the road was well paved.
Six days after the earthquake we had secured nearly $100k in donations(which were barely enough!), a private jet for transport and the supplies necessary to effectively reach out and help those hurting and devastated in Haiti. Needless to say, it was a wild adventure getting from the Dominican Republic into Haiti once we landed on the Island of Hispanola. But, we successfully reach ground zero.
I'm not sure in my wildest imagination that I could have ever prepared myself for what I would experience. The country I loved so much had literally been shaken. The smell, and even taste, of death was in the air. That alone is something that will never leave me. The look of desperation in the eyes of the Haitian people is beyond description. Frankly, as I look back, there are some details I wish I could forget. But, it is the power of the human spirit that drove our team through a week of HARD work, major grief and selfless serving.
During our time there, we heard miracle stories...literally! We heard of the things that only God can do. We heard the stories of loss, the stories of fear and the stories of determination. We experienced the thrill of seeing people pulled from the rubble alive, and the grief of the ones who were not so lucky.
It might be the scene of a few orphanages that I came upon on my 3rd day that made the biggest impact on me. I saw truckloads of dead babies. I saw children who would surely not survive. In my heart I wanted to be Superman and save these children. I could not think of anything more than what I would do for my own kids. It is the most helpless I have ever felt. But, God spoke clearly to my heart that day. He said, "Don't doubt me, I love these children far more than you ever could. Whether they live or die, they are in my hands." Psalm 46 has never been more real to me than last January. The earth had shaken, mountains had fallen; and yet, God was still God. I had to be still and realize that.
In the midst of the worst, there were the amazing stories of hope. The best of them was seeing kids waiting for their adoptive families get home. I had the honor of personally helping over 300 waiting children reach US or Canadian soil during the 30 days following the earthquake. I even had the honor of personally delivering 2 of those kids into the arks of their waiting families. There will never be words to describe just how great that experience was.
All in all, January 12, 2010 changed my life and millions of others. But, it was just the beginning. God used that experience to refocus my love and dedication to the people of Haiti. During 2010 Grace Church, Impact Haiti and Safe World Nexus helped to get dozens of teams on the ground to serve. We were able to ship 300k pounds of food and supplies into the country. Impact Haiti secured 18 acres for the future development of a Family Preservation and Ministry Center. The way was paved for a long lasting impact in Haiti.
This next year will be an incredible year of serving, mission and building in Haiti. Please join me in praying for the thousands who will give of their time, talents and resources to impact Haiti. Pray about the possibility of serving with us in Haiti. Or, considering giving to mission work that is on-going in Haiti.
You can get more info on getting involved through Impact Haiti by CLICKING HERE.
How did the Earthquake in Haiti impact your life?
Images courtesy of our team member Esther Havens