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:)
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.