Saturday, September 6, 2008

haiti update - september 6, 2008

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Psalm 57:1

Hi! This week Dieuna Philippe returned from the United States after receiving 2 surgeries for her hydrocephalus. Vanessa of Angel Missions accompanied her back to Haiti. She is still on a feeding tube but is starting to eat and drink better. Thank you for everyone’s prayers for her because in the last couple of weeks she has made some major strides in her recovery. She is following people with her eyes more and is starting to make sounds. She was in a coma for 4 months and when the doctors figured that they couldn’t do anymore for her they told Vanessa that she could make plans to bring her back to Haiti so that she could die with her family. Continue to pray for improvement for her so that she can return to her family. Her family lives in Cite Soleil in the Soleil 17 area. Right now Dieuna is staying at Angel Missions temporarily. Next week we hope to be able to get a visa for John Charles and also for Chrisno Jeudi, who both have hydrocephalus. Vanessa hopes to return to the United States with both of them.
Francois, our gatekeeper who works during the day from Monday to Friday came to work one day and told us about his experience with thieves. He had gone downtown and was heading back to his home in the Village Solidarite area located off of Airport Road. 3 thieves stopped the tap-tap on the “piste” road near Airport Road. They all had guns in hand and shot in the air to show everyone that they meant business. They were fussy thieves, as they only wanted cell phones and watches. They didn’t want any money. Francois didn’t say anything and just handed over what they wanted. Another man who had an expensive cell phone didn’t want to hand it over and tried to make some comments and the one thief threatened to kill him. The other thieves stopped him. These 3 thieves were young and the youngest and meanest was only about 14 years of age. Pray for our workers as they travel the streets of Port-au-Prince.
Another of the shooting victims from last week’s incident at Food for the Poor died in the hospital. This person had been shot through the eye. The people of Cite Jeremie caught the security guard who shot the people. The security guard had hidden in the compound of Food for the Poor and later managed to get off the property. The people in the area had kept a watch around the Food for the Poor property and got him. They handed him over to the police to put in jail. This week Food for the Poor was not distributing cooked meals to the people. This is a shame because a lot of families relied on this assistance to help to feed their families.
This year’s hurricane season is turning out to be a bad one for Haiti. Tropical Storm Hannah caused trouble throughout the week. The weather forecasters had said that the storm would pass to the north of Haiti but it hit Haiti hard on Monday night. People in Gonaives weren’t prepared and didn’t have time to flee. John Charles’ mother has a sister living in the Casoleil area of Gonaives. The city of Gonaives sits in a valley area with mountains all around it and water from everywhere rushed in and surprised everyone. Junie and her family managed to get out of their house and climbed up onto the roof. The water levels quickly rose as the river overflowed and pretty soon they were standing in water up to their knees on top of the roof. Some parts of Gonaives had flooding of 2 meters of water. Junie has a young child of only 16 months. His name is Nichley. She spent the next couple of days holding onto her son on the roof along with some neighbors who had taken refuge on her roof. She also had a cell phone and was able to call John Charles mother, Mirlene. We tried to get into contact with people in Gonaives to see if they could help evacuate them but the entire city was flooded and nobody could do anything. The floodwaters were too high and the area inaccessible. The UN helicopters were not flying because of the stormy weather. Nobody had any food. Throughout the day on Tuesday we kept in contact with Junie and encouraging her to stand strong and to tell her that people knew where she was. By later afternoon the floodwaters showed no sign of going down. People were scared and screaming for help in the area where Junie was. You could hear these background sounds on the cell phone. It was at this time that Junie told her sister that she was standing face to face with death. Mirlene told her sister to stand strong and to hold on tight to her son. She told her to tie him around her stomach so that if she got tired of holding onto him he would not fall into the flood waters and be swept away. Nighttime came and the rain started to pour here in Port-au-Prince. We called again in the night but Mirlene was too upset to talk to her sister. Her husband talked with Junie and Junie told him to not to worry. She had resigned herself to whatever happens would happen. We told her that there were people praying for her. We were listening to radio broadcasts on the situation in Gonaives and it didn’t sound good. The waters would rise and fall periodically and one of the journalists saw that before one of these surges he saw 7 people on a roof and that after a surge he saw nobody. Morning arrived and we called Junie and she answered. The rain had stopped and the waters were starting to recede. They managed to get off of their roof and onto the roof of a 3-story school. Later in the day they were able to wade out of the area and headed for the hills and higher ground. The family is now staying with people in the mountains. They have nothing but the clothes on their back. Pray for Gonaives. Nobody really knows yet how many people died but there is a lot of destruction. People are hungry as no food was able to get into the city until yesterday.
The rains have affected the entire country. Even in Port-au-Prince there was some damage. We had gusts of wind on Wednesday and there were a lot of trees and branches blown down. Some houses were destroyed here as well. Christella Marcelin is a young Down syndrome child with a heart problem. Her mother called me last night to say that her house was destroyed by the winds. John Charles’ father whose nickname is “Boukie” received a cell phone call from his mother that she just barely made it out of her house before it collapsed in the winds. She lives in the north part of the country. Lukner has family living in the Duvivier section on Route 9 of Port-au-Prince. The river that passes through the area rose with floodwaters and ate sections of land. We were able to take photos of the sections that were eaten. First the river attacked one side and took out about 50 meters of land. Than it changed its course and attacked the other side, which is the side where Lukner’s family lives. 8 of his relatives lost their family homes. He had spent several of his younger years being raised by his aunt and he looks to her as his mother. The people heard the river rising and just had enough time to flee with only the clothes on their back. Their houses and land collapsed into the river. Lukner’s father’s gravesite was also lost to the river. There was a broken down loader tractor near the property and there is now no sign of it. I asked his aunt where her home was and she pointed to the middle of the river. She threw a stone into the river to show where her house was. Water is a very destructive force. Throughout the country homes were flooded, damaged or destroyed and many crops were lost. Roads and bridges are damaged and transportation is difficult. Pastor Pierre’s other church, which is close to Kenscoff, was completely destroyed by the winds. Please pray for Haiti and all those who lost family members, homes and crops. It is going to take awhile for the country to recover and it won’t be anytime soon as there is another couple of hurricane/tropical storms coming. Hurricane Ike is passing off the north coast of Haiti this weekend. Pray for those especially in the north and Gonaives. In the last month this means 4 storms, Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike. Hurricane season is still for another couple of months. In the midst of these storms is God and He is in control of all. Below is a poem on faith:

The Eye of the Storm

“Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, his love shall make thine,
Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.

The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,
And God himself takes thee for safety within;
The tempest with him passeth into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm.”


That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

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