Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers while this last team was in Haiti. Hurricane Tomas passed slightly west of the island to which we were all thankful, although we did experience howling winds and torrential downpour with lightning and thunder. I have never heard it rain like that in my life! At midnight Pastor Louinet (and the rest of us) was awakened to pounding and shouting. Someone’s house was flooded and they asked to be let into the church to sleep on the cement floors.
We were not able to make it into the mountains of Kawo due to the rains, but instead stayed in Nan wo and got them set up with several water filters, taught them how to use purification tablets, and painted some rooms. We also visited many of the children’s families who lived farther out in the country and gave each family a bar of antibacterial soap.
I would like to try to give you a picture of the homes that we visited. They are usually one to two rooms (about 10 x 10) and the skeletal structure is made of crooked poles, filled in with mud mixed with straw to bind it together. They may have one very small window with wooden shutters on it. The roof is either thatched palm fronds (which rats love) or old, rusty metal roofing. The floor is hard-packed dirt, except when the rains come; then as the water table rises in the ground it becomes damp.
They usually sleep in a pile together on the floor, although there may be one bed in the house reserved either for the parents or the Papa. They have miscellaneous items stacked all around, as there is no other storage. They may have their clothes piled over the rafters. Their cooking is done outside in another palm-frond shelter of sorts. They cook over a small charcoal fire with a pot balanced on three coconut sized rocks. A family of 10 may live in a house like this.
Yes, this is all they know. But as cholera creeps through Haiti, these conditions are horrible. There may be an outhouse (sort of), but toilet paper is rarely used. Even if they do wash their hands, it’s probably with dirty water. We visited several hospitals in the heart of the cholera epidemic; one in Dessalines and the other in St. Michelle. It was sobering to see the lines outside of the hospital of people waiting to get in. Inside were lines of benches with people shoulder to shoulder hooked up to IVs, then a room of beds for the most sick and again IVs. On the Sunday we were there I heard that six people died at the hospital.
Are we discouraged? Do we have hope? “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” Ps. 42:5 “Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Ps. 62:8 We woke to worship and prayer at 4:30 AM several mornings. Yes, there is hope and joy in our great Lord. During this Thanksgiving season, may we be thankful for what we have and out of our abundance give generously. I am so grateful for each one of you who is a part of HOPE in Haiti. Thank you for your continued giving always. “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18. Happy Thanksgiving!