The desperation in Haiti continues on a daily basis here. Much of Port-au-Prince still looks like the remnants of a war zone. Hundreds of thousands of people still live under tents/tarps/sheets (including us (more on that below). We commonly see people with limbs that have been amputated. We hear people’s true stories of horror on a daily basis and it continues wears on our hearts.
 
Recently, some of our American friends here told us they needed a lot of help handling, storing, distributing, and keeping up with all of the aid they are trying to use to help this country. The organization that these friends work for has distributed, among other things, over 4 million meals since the earthquake. And they desperately need help to continue helping the hundreds of thousands of Haitians in need of help. We wanted to help, and were very aware that our experiences here and understanding of Creole could be very helpful, BUT we also did not want to move away from the orphans we have been living with. After much prayer, and seeing that the orphanage we were working in is now running well (which was our ultimate goal when we moved here), we felt like we had to go help with the immediate pressing need of earthquake relief in this collapsed country. So, late last week, we moved 15 minutes down the road to fill some much needed roles. We were very sad to leave the orphans, but we still go visit them and go to church there each Sunday, and we know they are well taken care of. 

We will continue to be involved in those orphans’ lives, and we are now busier than ever working on earthquake relief. Time has been flying here. Jeremy and I (Jay) have been building a 3500 sq. ft. tent (See pictures on Jeremy's sweet blog) that will be the medical supply hub for hospitals throughout the country. Right now they cannot even sort through the supplies because they have no place to unload them. We are hoping to have the tent finished tomorrow and then begin distributing medical supplies throughout the country. Diana has been working for the hospital on site here that has seen about 15,000 patients since the earthquake. There are many American doctors coming in, but these doctors do not speak Creole, and there are few people in this country who speak English and Creole as well as Diana, so her help is greatly needed there.

Where we are working right now does not have enough room for everyone to stay because they have volunteer teams that are coming in to help. This means that they need some resilient volunteers to move into tents. We volunteered and it is hard to sleep sometimes with the wind and rain at night, but we have some good neighbors that we are grateful for... [see pictures of our tent and our favorite neighbor's tent below]  Still, living in a tent makes us very acutely aware of the innumerable Haitians that are living under cardboard and do not have a (marketed as, but still not completely) waterproof Coleman tent like we do.

The location we live in has steel fencing and security guards (it’s very safe, Mom and Dad) but the overall compound with the warehouse and such is not yet fenced in. We have are 2 Mexican foreman running the fencing crew here. They were working on the US/Mexican border, as US employees, and then got deported back to Mexico. So their boss sent them here instead. They are good fencemakers. And really nice guys too.

We feel grateful that we get to be in Haiti and that Jesus continues to provide means for us to be a part of His work. We will blog again soon about the status of the fence, tents, and life here in this beautiful and desolate country.
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our tent lodge. with front porch open to visitors
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Jeremy's tent sign reads 'jeremy's batchlor padd'... the marked off grass says 'Private Lawn KEEP OFF'... the mailbox sternly says 'NO BILLS'
 
 
Friday afternoon, we flew back into a different Haiti than I (Jay) have ever seen before. It is hard to explain, because so much of it is still so similar to the pre-quake Haiti. For example, the smells are the exact same – still some striking combination of burning trash, deserted land, and human survival – and these smells still immediately remind me that I am standing in a real place.

But so much has changed.

There are now tents. Everywhere. From the air, I could spot countless tent cities. On the ground, they seem to go on forever. Some people have tarps. Some have a Coleman camping tent. Some tents have a giant Red Cross emblem on them. But thousands upon thousands of them are made of cardboard and bedsheets. And driving by them, we all ask the question aloud, “how do people fit in there?” Some of the tents cover only maybe 4 square feet of earth, providing maybe one person with 50% body coverage at night. The tents are a sight that I had no way of preparing for. I had seen them on the news, but I realized I couldn’t grasp the numbers when my eyes and heart tried to process them. There are even about 90 church members still sleeping in Taiwanese Red Cross tents (Thanks Taiwan!) in our yard. They are nice tents. But they are a constant reminder of the hundreds of thousands of people living under a bedsheet.

The roads have also changed. There is now rubble piled up at frequent intervals, causing traffic back up and long travel times to grow even longer. I have noticed more military/UN/police vehicles on the road. And there are new cities that have popped up along the road in previously abandoned land, where tents now cover certain patches of barren hillsides. We don’t sense any danger, and the military presence here is vast, but we do see decades and decades of restoration that are needed.

My heart has changed as well. I knew my heart would never be the same after we survived the earthquake. But I am reminded of that fact being back here. This country of Haiti, which was broken before, is now filled with a spirit of despair and haunting acceptance of such despair. It breaks me, and I see even more the need for God to bring healing to this country, and to my own heart as well. I feel burdened by the despair around me. I feel incapable of changing it. I see how it penetrates the very core of Haitian life. I see how my broken heart is not too different than the broken hearts of Haitians. And I am again freshly grateful that Jesus came to bring healing, hope, and redemption to this undeniably broken world. He is my only hope. He is Haiti’s only hope.