Whew. Today the team saw first hand how hard it is to be prepared for a situation like this. The big topic last night at the team meeting was “it will be overwhelming and chaotic”. And it was!
The day started with a little guy of 5 wandering into the guest house area from the hills with a deep and recent gash on his chin pouring blood. His face and shirt were soaked by the time someone saw him. He was alone. Typically, this kind of wound would be allowed to bleed out, and if it doesn’t get infected, he’s just left with a nasty scar. But since he wandered in to the guest house with multiple medical folks in residence, it took just a few minutes for them to get him settled on to a flat surface and get some stitches in. The little guy twitched his legs a few times, but never moved his head. You have to be tough to grow up in Haiti, and this precious little one exhibited that spirit today.
The medical team split in two so they could meet with the Cayes Hospital director to get set up to work there part of the time in order to help the community at large; this was arranged just yesterday. But that person never came today. So, without orientation or perhaps even official approval, they pitched in with the help of a Mexican doctor who sort of “knew the ropes”. By the end of the day, they had seen many people and literally saved two lives – people who would have died had they not received care today. In one case, two of our team members left the hospital to go to a “pharmacy” to buy a few needed supplies that neither the team nor the hospital had (right now in Cayes and probably most of Haiti, you are expected to bring your own medical equipment to the hospital for your procedures, but this patient had no one to buy for him and he was too sick/too poor to do it himself. For $20 of equipment and some care, his life was saved today.
The second part of the team stayed at the orphanage with a well laid out plan that had worked very well in previous trips. But not under these circumstances! The newly orphaned from PAP were anxious and could not wait patiently as the resident orphans had done in the past. Crowd control became as big an issue as providing care. However, at the end of the day, 200 kids had been seen (triage, washing station, new clothes, doctor check, meds given, and notes made) The team worked with a lot of tenacity in a tough, tough situation. Tomorrow – more crowd control by Philemon, who is an imposing presence as well as a Creole speaker!
And the teaching team? Forty men from as far away as PAP came for today’s seminar on “how Haiti will be rebuilt”. At the end of the day, one man shared his story through an interpreter. He had been in PAP; a pastor who lost his house and his church, and had to dig two of his children out of the rubble of the earthquake to save them. Now his whole family is living on the street in utter despair, ready to give up, and yet something told him to go to Cayes. He borrowed money and showed up on a bus yesterday morning, but not really knowing why or where to go. He was a stranger there. After talking to some people he was told “you need to go see Pastor Louis”. After meeting Louis he said “the Holy Spirit told me to come”; Louis told him “you must be here for the seminar” and gave him a bed to sleep in last night. Today, after being with the other pastors and the teaching team, his testimony through the interpreter was “ you’ve saved my ministry and my life”.
With all of the difficulties, there is a real sense that the team is witnessing the church as it must have been in the first century. No safety nets, no frills, just the gospel and its power, meeting needs as you find them with what you have available and a reliance on God to see you through.
One very cheerful scene – when the teaching team returned to the guest house, there were the kids in their new clothes and new crocs. Smiles all around!
Tomorrow – three teams. A smaller Cayes hospital team, a larger orphan team, and a small Cayes community team. All will have an interpreter; the orphans and community team will also have someone who speaks Creole doing crowd control.
Please pray for composure under difficult circumstances and that all will rely on God to see them through as they quickly see that their own resources are inadequate to the task. But praise God, His aren’t!