Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shake, rattle, and roll

At 6 am this morning we had a 6.0 magnitude aftershock. Over the last 8 days, there have been over 30 aftershocks measuring 4.0 or greater, and even more small ones. This morning's shock was the largest so far, and even though it seemed big, the Big One last Tuesdsay was FORTY times more powerful. I know disaster is disaster and pain is pain, but there's something incredibly creepy and psychologically upsetting about earthquakes, and aftershocks.... the GROUND is MOVING. I feel them all the time, even when they're not happening.

Many have asked where in Haiti we are. The best map I've seen is here, from CNN. If you look to the bottom right of this map, we're very near the red square titled "Supermarket Rescue". That's the Caribbean Market, where most missionaries shopped.
So one of the groups living on our campus are the Haitian staff members of Quisqueya Christian School whose homes were all destroyed. There are lots of kids with them, with nothing to do. We found them some crayons, etc, and today Ben made a new best friend. First she was curious about his measuring device (we were measuring furniture before moving it).

We found her a Tootsie Pop
They made fishy faces back and forth:)

Ben tried to steal the Tootsie Pop:)
She's victorious!

What a cutie.

Our lives here on campus are beginning (I say this cautiously) to have a routine. There are 4 of us "young teachers" left on campus. We're serving the school, so we can serve the doctors and US Army Southern Command (whose advance team is now here, preparing for a hundred or so soldiers to sleep here while serving in the relief effort), who are here to serve Haiti. We work all day, mostly moving, clearing, and organizing. Today I boxed up our guidance counselor, registrar, and school director's offices, then moved the boxes up some stairs, across campus, and into their new offices (in the elementary area), then re-set up the offices again. We also cleared all the elementary classrooms to make way for teams to sleep. Medical mission teams are arriving, meeting with our campus' leaders and CRI (Crisis Relief International - they're doing the logistics). The teams send their doctors' specialties, our leaders figure out where they're needed, get them there, and provide a place to sleep.

The school is prepping one meal a day, around 1 or 2. Our meal today:

Beans, rice, a bit of turkey, and a cup of Gatorade. NOBODY feel sorry for us- we're getting a hot meal with meat every day in a nation of starving.
Here's my handsome husband unloading a truck full of medical aid from the German group Humedica who are staying here- another team of 25 doctors arrived today on top of their first team that arrived just a day or so after the quake. Now over 10 locations being served by doctors sleeping at Quisqueya.

I keep having these reality-checks, especially in the visual contrasts of using our elementary classrooms for this massive relief effort. For instance:

Used to be a school. Now an aid center. Eight days ago sixth graders were learning from this Word Wall. Now, we're stacking portable cots and sterile IV saline drip bags there. You just never, EVER know what's coming - our comfort from five-year-plans, our feelings of being in control - an illusion. Not one of us would ever have predicted when we wrote "Tuesday, January 12th Homework Assignments" on our whiteboards eight days ago that those words would stay for weeks, ghosts of a past that is gone- those assignments rendered completely meaningless, our students fled from the country, our lesson plans thrown in a storage box in the basement of what is now an Army base?! It's a strange reality.

It's a "new normal". I was a professional fundraiser. Then I was a high school teacher. Now I am a laborer at a relief camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The transitions in my life in the last twenty months seem dizzying: First I was carefree, a college student playing in Waco. Then I was a professional, commuting on the train to corporate downtown Dallas. Then I was a married person, joined a new church. Then I nested into an apartment with a husband, acquired, searched for a home to buy. Then we whispered to God that we'd move overseas, anywhere He wanted. Then we sold everything we had, quit our jobs, moved in with my parents. Then I lived in Haiti, set up a new apartment, learned how to be a high school teacher. Then there was the largest natural disaster in the Western Hemisphere's memory- my apartment, job, and planned ministry gone again. Now we're living in an evacuated girl's bedroom, moving boxes, no idea what the next twenty four hours will bring, much less next week, month, or, heaven help us, the next year.

There is grief in the letting go of my plans, time and again, that is true. But. We are smack in the middle of God's will. We're really ok :) 
The contrasts - a few weeks ago Mrs. Etienne lovingly prepared nametags for her classroom and students. Now, her posters are covered up by signs telling which Germans are sleeping on her classroom floor.

  One task today was to tuck the elementary textbooks safely into a storage closet. After setting down one load of books, I noticed the ironic theme - natural disasters!
At the end of our work day Ben was called to join a group of men on a special mission tonight. They're driving to the Dominican Republic to find a group of Quisqueya people whose truck broke down while fetching supplies. Here he is loading up to depart.
In the midst of it all, we're together:) There are two choices in a time of stress and disaster- cleave together, or be torn apart. We're fighting for the former.



  1. My husband Sander found your blog because he used to go to church with Ben. I have been reading ever since and I am so touched by your posts. Each one is a new realization that the God we serve and love really IS powerful enough to give us what we need no matter the circumstance. Thank you for sharing this life-changing experience with us. I am so encouraged to just keep being obediant to whatever God wants for us, knowing no matter what the outcome, He will provide just like he is providing for you two. I'll keep praying for you and Haiti!

  2. We love you, Katie and Ben, and you are ever present in our thoughts and prayers.
    Aunt Steffie

  3. You guys are precious! CLEAVE TOGETHER! I'm praying, praying, praying! Love you both!

  4. ben's new best friend is so precious!! children can always bring a smile, what a blessing that you are surrounded by them!! always on my mind, in my prayers, and on my heart!!

    love you!!

  5. Katie & Ben,
    I am still following your blog & praying for you. I'm glad to see all the amazing ways God is using you. My daughter just submitted a grant proposal that's been in progress to go to Bangledesh next summer. Your blog inspired me to recommend she include using a blog as a communication tool. Your posts link us in ways that make praying for you so much more powerful. In Christ's Love, Vicky

  6. I hope you know how much power your words have to those of us lurkers reading your blog. People you don't even know are praying for you!

  7. Started following your blog after the DMN story. Thank you for your service, your faith and your reporting. We pray for you and for the people in Haiti. I pray that you have peace about your future plans and find comfort in knowing that God has you right where you need to be right now. peace.

  8. Good to read your update after the aftershock.

  9. Praying for moments of cleaving! We love you and miss you. Praise the Lord that he is using you both as His hands and His feet in Haiti.

  10. Saw your blog on Taylor's.
    God is shining through you, just wanted to let you know.

  11. I found your blog via someone's link on Twitter. Thanks for sending your husband to rescue my husband, Wade Isaacs with CRI, in the Dominican Republic. We are from the Dallas, Tx area but live in Kansas City, MO at the International House of Prayer. My husband is with the 2nd CRI team and, yes, their truck broke down. I love seeing these photos. I'm going to love following your blog and will pass in onto other CRI people back here. @melbisaacs

  12. you guys have been constantly on my mind and i'm amazed at the work you are doing. im so thankful that you have each other and stay strong and together throughout the uncertainty that is ahead

  13. Dear Katie and Ben,
    Found your section on the reality of having a 5 year plan vs God's plan very inspiring. Accepting and embracing God's plan is probably the best witness a Christian can do. Keep the faith.

  14. Brian and Amy WheatJanuary 21, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Work for Jimmie Guy & Lavonne Lewis' Family,wanted you to know, my husband & I are praying for you and rejoicing inthe fact that you are covered in the peace of knowing you are right where He wants you!

  15. I get choked up every time I read your blog. Not because I feel sorry for you guys but because how amazing the God we serve truly is. I had the pleasure of getting to know you for a short time and I know that God has placed the right people in the right situation. Thank you for constantly being an encouragement for us back home. We miss you and continue to pray for you daily!!!

  16. Katie,
    I read your blog everyday! it's amazing what you and ben are doing! much love

    Margaux Gonzalez

  17. so appreciate your blog and your updates. sounds like you're a Baylor girl - I am too, and it makes the world a little smaller to think of you right there in Haiti, as you said, "smack dab in the middle of God's will." loved the insight into all your transitions - the Lord BLESS you and keep you today, one minute at a time. Praying -

  18. I know you don't know me, but can you please please let us know if you hear anything about my friend's missing cousin in Haiti, an American young man named Brendan Beck? He arrived in Haiti the day of the first quake. I am Debbie Langenegger Cowles on facebook. We are praying. Thank you. (I heard of your blog thru a friend who is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary; My family and I are missionaries in England.)

  19. Thank you guys for your updates!! I am so encouraged every time I read them! There is a huge army of believers praying for you!!! When I read your blog I just know that God has given you such peace and joy and I am thankful that you are there to be a light to the people of Haiti! God Bless!

  20. another day of amazing experiences. thank you thank you thank you for continuing to share your stories here. It makes us feel more connected to what is going on there, as we continue to pray!
    Love you guys!

  21. Debbie, Fox News reported today on Brendan's mother's attempt to get information about him.,2933,583514,00.html

    My son is a young engineer, too.

    I think there will be many prayers from the visitors here.

  22. Ben and Katie,

    We talked to Heather yesterday and she is following your blog. Reading everything everyday and you are doing a fantastic job keeping everyone informed with what is going on down there. Don't know how you do it, but we continue to pray for you daily.

    Bill & Betsy

  23. Love to hear how you are going with God's plan for your life! What a testimony. Thanks for sharing so we can keep praying for your needs.

  24. I got this blog from a friend who is a paralegal in Dallas. I have not read every post but try to check in a couple times a week to stay updated. The two of you are the midst of all the pain and suffering you both seem to find comfort in God's will and the simple fact that you are together on this journey. I absolutely loved you last line as it brought tears to my eyes..."In the midst of it all, we're together:) There are two choices in a time of stress and disaster- cleave together, or be torn apart. We're fighting for the former."

    Powerful and touching...I am praying for you and Haiti.

    Dianna Bacon
    Frisco, TX

  25. Hi Guys:
    Thanks again so very much for what you are doing. And thanks for the poignant/inspiring/convicting reminder that God's Plan (the capital "P" type) is always perfect. Our life is indeed a vapor and the very best we can hope for is to live, as you said, right smack dab in the center of His Perfect Will. Thanks for your insight and your courage. Know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of us all and that there is indeed a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on.



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