Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Know Him

We're ok. Why? How is that possible. This is why.

Therefore those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. Our hope does not in asking the question why but in knowing the character of a good, trustworthy, and gracious God. -1 Peter 4

 It's not ok here. Nothing is ok about the suffering in this place. It wasn't ok even before the quake.

But we're ok- for one reason. Not because we're comfy, not because we're happy- it's because we know the character of the one who's in charge, and he. is. good. Good to the core. Not safe, not predictable, not tame, but wild and good and true, and redeeming all things, making all things new, all the time.

He doesn't waste a thing.

So that's my spiritual state right now. Here's what we did today:

We spent the night at the Vervloets' home last night. Els and Stefan (one is an administrator, the other on the school's board) offered to let a few of us "young teachers" come over for a shower and sleeping in a bed. We also got to watch tv for the first time in three weeks. Good to see that Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta have the same feelings we had- the frustrations about the slowness of the aid distribution, the daaays of assessments/logistics/surveying before the aid starts moving to the people. It's slowly untangling - please pray for it to MOVE, FASTER and BETTER. Lives depend on it. On the way home we saw the tent cities for the first time in the light. The hundreds of thousands of homeless are camping out on every spare bit of land- mostly in city parks. No security, no water, no food, no toilets - just making homes out of whatever you can.

 These are more photos from our drive from the Verloets' home back to Quisqueya campus. The signs are hard to read. Epidor bakery is open again, gas stations are opening, cautiously. We hear two grocery stores were to open today. There are many, many people on the streets- a sign of safety. But... everyone keeps telling us it will get much worse. We'll see.

This is the rubble of the Caribbean Market- the nicest grocery store in the country. There were hundreds of people inside. Many rescue crews and news crews are focusing there. Imagine your local grocery store at 5 pm on a Tuesday - packet with moms, kids.... three stories of concrete falling on your head.

We saw probably six or seven of these homemade banners on the way home. They usually hang over the entrance to a sidestreet, where the neighborhoods are basically camping in the streets together. In English, they are sheets spray-painted with phrases like this one: "We need food water". Some mention needing lamps. Some give phone numbers- Haitian block captains?!

 We got back to the school and the US Army was rolling in. The Southern Command is placing some sort of command center here at Quisqueya for relief purposes and housing troops in our classrooms. Their advance team came today. There is a part of me that through "I did not come here to prep buildings for the Army", but then I quickly remembered- serving those Army guys really means serving the Haitians, because the quicker these soldiers can get set up and out on their mission, the quicker aid distribution can be secured. There are many groups - particularly food distribution, but also medical teams - who are here and ready to aid, but who are kept from distributing their goods and services because they are afraid of being mobbed. Just a few security personnel will greatly speed aid distribution, and of course just their presence in the area will also keep looting away.

They will be using the high school and administrative buildings, so we literally stripped the school of every single thing we would not trust a building full of grunts not to break or ruin (no offense to my brother, Lcpl Matt in Rota, Spain!). Do you have any idea what that means?! Every bulletin board, emptying 300 lockers of every textbook, notebook, novel, ruler, map.... we sweated and huffed and puffed and stored them all in the basement. It was really tough to do- after all that work to set up classrooms, gathering libraries and student resources, all those notebooks full of class notes.... just dumped in three basement rooms. Other priorities will come first for now. One day return to Romeo & Juliet.

This was our computer lab. 40 sets of monitors, mice, cables, cords, keyboards, webcams, routers, CPUs......all unplugged, untangled, boxed up, schlepped across the campus, out of the high school building and into the elementary building (where Quisqueya is setting up shop while the Army uses half the campus).

Now, on to the other stripping of the day: our house. We moved out our immediate necessities (including our gas tank and Culligan water jugs) yesterday because the school leaders have asked all the near-campus teachers to move on-campus so we're all together for security reasons. Looting is already happening elsewhere, and it may spread. Join with us to pray for peace. Today, our leaders asked to come get our inverter/battery system, because apparently it is expensive and the #1 target of looters because it is small and easy to rip off the wall. They sent Ben, me, and our friends Tony Kulpa and Sean Blesh (linked to his family's blog a few days BQ, before quake) with a car to strip the house, ready for "visitors".

Let me tell you- now I can add yet another experience to my "Haiti firsts" list - stripping my home in 10 minutes flat. Stripped to the fixtures. Every hanger, pillowcase, box of matches, tshirt, dirty sock, in a suitcase or trashbag and in the car within 10 minutes. I kind of felt like a looter myself- especially when we yanked the refrigerator down the stairs and stuffed it through the back window of an SUV.

This is what it looks like when you loot your own house!
We were joking to ourselves about starting a new business:
"Missionary Movers: God Yanking You All Around the Globe at a Moment's Notice!"
Missionary Movers: In a Natural Disaster, We'll Help You Loot your own House in 10 Minutes Flat!"

Let me introduce you to a Haitian Creoleism: The phrase Degaje. It means "make it work". It's used about every 4.6 minutes in Haitian life. We're just doing whatever the campus needs to serve the relief efforts being staged here (BTW, our campus was the staging point/housing location for 35 doctors serving at 7 different hospitals/clinics today). Today we got assigned to block the visibility through our main gate. As we prepare against possible unrest in the streets, we don't want any peepers seeing us holding water bottles, etc. Too humid for tape of any kind. Found some wire and some cardboard. Degaje.

A sad piece of today- Jaime decided to evacuate. Every day, a few more do. What a wonderful fast friend- I will miss her! I pray we're reunited here before long- her and all the others who I loved getting to know so much and have left.

A few thoughts about giving - several friends have asked about the best way to give. Here's what I know:

1. www.quisqueya.org has the link to the school relief fund. That fund will go to support medical/trauma (the docs staying at our school), helping our Haitian staff rebuild their destroyed homes, and other Haiti relief. I can 100% vouch for the people managing that money.

2. If you want to donate physical supplies, the quickest way (until the Port-au-Prince airport gets its act together) is to hook up with an organization who is flying items in to the DR and driving over. www.buckner.org (where I used to work pre-Haiti) is gathering items from the public in Dallas to send 4 shipping containers to Haiti also.

3. If you want to give to rebuild destroyed orphanages, Three Angels, HIS Home, and BRESMA are 3 homes I have been involved with here that are levelled. I don't know about their finances or leaders, but they are loving places that my Quisqueya coworkers trust (and have adopted from).

4. If you want to support us, Paypal is the way. Banks in Haiti will re-open in a week, we are told, and at that point we'll get access to the cash. No matter what happens with us (meaning, even if we were to have to evacuate at some point), all money given will go to support either Haiti relief or Haiti missionaries.

Shane & Shane is channeling my heart tonight:

Distant shores and islands will see Your light
That's the cry of my heart

Come let us return
He has torn us into pieces
He has injured us
come let us return to the Lord
He will heal us
He will bandage our wounds
in just a short time He'll restore us
in just a short time He'll restore His church
so we might live
we might live in His presence
in His presence

oh that we might know the Lord
oh that we might know the Lord
oh that we might know the Lord
let us press on to know Him
let us press hard into Him
then as surely as the coming of the dawn
He will respond



  1. My prayers are with you. God will continue to work in your lives - continue to seek and trust in Him. Please keep your sense of humor, even in the midst of such great tragedy. Laughter does not minimize the devastation, it energizes the spirit. Praying for both of you, and all of God's precious children in Haiti.
    Dia Sharbono
    Dallas, Texas

  2. What an amazing post...surely God has his strong hand on you, the both of you. I don't think I could do what you are doing. It seems absurd that you can find humor amidst such chaos and horror, but I think that sometimes that is God's gift to us. That bit about looting your own house made me laugh out loud, although the rest of the post is heartbreaking. I also thought the Haitian word/philosophy you shared was interesting...Degaje. It made me think of the scene in The Curious Case of Ben. Button, when the now old Daisy is speaking with her daughter. I think her daughter asks if she's okay or tells her she's sorry about the way things are, and she responds with a heavily accented, and very old ladyish,"Is what 'tis..." It has come to be a mental standby for me, for those times when I feel like I am out of control. I say to myself, in that same voice (which makes me laugh, yes I am a little nuts),"Is what 'tis..." You are making it work, and by his grace you will succeed. I pray for peace. For safety. That the Army presence will accomplish what it is there to do. I pray for the continuing arrival of supplies, that needs will be met. Thank you for sharing your story, and the story of those around you here. I am going to check out that buckner dot org...maybe it's something I could do with my kids, a way to get them involved? Anyway, I'm sure many are praying. Even though you don't know me, I am, too.

  3. Katie,
    You speak wisdom from a heart of devotion to our Lord, who above all LOVES us so! What an amazing thing to have been called to this place that has become a relief command center, giving you the chance to serve in the most direct "Matthew 25 way" one can imagine! Hold all of these moments, all of these images, all of these people in your hearts. Journal everything you can, because this is HUGE and there is no way you can really take it all in.

    By God's grace and provision you both continue on with His strength - as we support you by praying fervently, and by spreading the word, and by giving funds and supplies.

    We pray that it does NOT get worse there before it gets better, but we pray for miracles no matter what!

    We love you! Keep your sense of humor, your sense of reality, and your godly perspective about you. Thanks so much for these updates!

    PS: Several of my facebook friends who don't know you guys are now following your blog and being moved by it all. Your work there is reaching so many more hearts than you may have ever imagined! :)

  4. I have been following your blog and thank you for doing all that you have for the people of Haiti.

    Please stay safe and don't hesitate to evacuate if things get much worse than they are now.

    {{{{{BIG HUGS}}}}}

    ~Another Texan

  5. Ben and Katie,

    I am friends with Rich and Stacy Lubbers (Rich is the youth minister at NorthHaven Church in Norman, Oklahoma where I am the music director). I have been following your blog and am thankful you are there to help and am praying for you both, and the people of Haiti.

    Stay safe and know there are many of us who are thinking of you.


    Mark Lucas

  6. Praying for your needs.... in awe of the testimony you have already given during all of this... this post brought me to tears .... I don't know you but you are my brother & sister in Christ... & therefore I care deeply for your needs... praying for you from Longview TX

    -Suzanne S.

  7. Katie - my dad (who live in Dallas, and saw your blog on the front page of the Dallas News), sent me your link. I live in Washington state and have been reading it faithfully since I discovered it. We had friends who were in Haiti working at Quisqueya school 15 years ago (the Roots), so she was also so happy to get the link to your blog. Thank you so much for the efforts you have put into writing to keep people updated, and the heart you so obviously have for the people there and for serving the Lord. Blessings to you, and we are praying. Sharon P.

  8. Praying praying praying for you both! God is using you in a big TEXAN way even though you may not realize it as you haul notebooks and loot your own house! Don't diss the grunts since I feel a big relief that they are near you !!!!!(and the doctors too!) May the Holy Spirit continue to let your light shine brightly in this dark world!

  9. I don't know you but am thinking about you and praying for you constantly. I received a link to your blog from my mom's sister who knows a McIlveene in Richardson.

    I know my God is with you and He knows your every need. You are doing His work by serving the soldiers and doctors, no matter how "degaje"-ish it is! God will be glorified by your suffering and the suffering of those around you. Cling fast to Him and to the promises in His word.

    Heather McKelvey
    Altus, Oklahoma

  10. We continue to pray for you daily and I know the Lord hears our prayers. Praise God for being sufficient!!! We will continue to lift our prayers to Him and know that He has placed you in Haiti to do His work. We love you!!!

  11. Gary Finally took my laptop and read everything. It was amazing to watch his face change as he read your stories. Keep sharing. You are changing the hearts of God's people.

  12. Hi Katie and Ben,
    I am John Thornton's mom- met you two at Jake and Aburie's wedding. I have been following your blog The minute I heard of the earthquake- I called john to see if he had heard of your safety. I am praying daily that the God we serve and adore will sustain you and protect you. I am amazed at the account of what is occuring there. My heart breaks for the people of Haiti. Please know that we will continue to pray for you and for the people you are serving. Blessings!!

  13. Thank you for the truth, Katie. Love y'all and of course, I am still praying.

  14. praying for you and the rest of the country from dallas, tx

  15. You both are so precious and I cherish you very much. You are such faithful, authentic warriors for the only good there is in the world. Many, including myself, are holding you up in prayer. Love you more then I can say.
    Your sister in Him,
    Amanda North

  16. I hope you guys are okay after that 6.1 earthquake this morning! As soon as I heard about it I immediately thought of you guys and the school. Worried a bit.

    ~Another Texan

  17. I wept (and I'm still weeping) as I read this beautiful post, Katie. You are absolutely right. Nothing is okay in Haiti right now. I, obviously, can't even begin to imagine the chaos, hurt, pain, and destruction present there. However, it is encouraging beyond words to see how you're clinging to God's sufficiency alone. More and more prayers coming your way. I love you guys!

  18. He. is. good.

    I love seeing Gods work. :)

    praying for you both and your Haitian friends



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