Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 2 - People from all Nations and tongues

It is Monday, February 1st, 2010; I still cannot believe it is already the year 2010. Today some of the team will be working on the compound and staying here at the clinic while the others will be going on a mobile medical clinic to an orphanage. My son Matthew is going to the orphanage with my Brother-in-Law Brad and others while I will be staying back and working at the Emergency room among other duties.

The American military are passing out giant bags of rice and handling the situation extremely well. We need to give the Haitian people credit for being calm and respectful. From my vantage point, they have an unbelievably good attitude overall. I have not seen the craziness that is always shown on CNN.

Here at the compound at the Policia Nacional is a conglomeration of people from all around the world. The awesome thing is, that it is not just a one denominational deal here. There are Baptists, working with Pentecostals, Four Square churches working with Catholics, who are working with non-christians who are all here only to help the Haitian people - and they do need the help. Omey, a Dominican lady from YWAM, is the de facto leader here and is doing a great job facilitating all the Doctors and other type A personalities that have gathered here. My good friend Abner St. Gilles is a Doctor and a native Haitian (he speaks great English, comes to our house on Thanksgiving and watches American football) and here at the compound he is the right hand man of Omey - basically 2nd in command and doing a fantastic job as a Doctor and administrator. I am working alongside people from Brazil, England, the Honduras, Netherlands, Chicago, the DR, and Canada - it is incredible to see people from all over the globe reaching out to their neighbor in need.

A funny aside - (2 United Nation peacekeepers ask to exchange money with Paul, employee of Brookwood Church, and I. I give them some Dominican pesos and they give me a 10 rupee bill that I pass along to my son Isaiah. Well, Paul is trying to give them a dollar but they keep speaking slower and louder in their "English" saying they want his "South Carolina money" - we finally surmise they think S.C. is its own country. These guys from India come and work for the UN for 1 year and they have been here for 4 months so far and now are in the middle of some action.

The start of my day consists of carrying bags of water in bulk in the morning (that is how they distribute them here, cheaper, in small individual plastic bags) to different areas of the compound followed by being "promoted" to head of security at the entrance to the emergency room. Haitians were not listening to the Dominican YWAM workers and were barging into the emergency room waiting area even though they were not "emergencies" (basically trying to get out of standing in the long line at the next door clinic). I was the designated tall, white guy and had to do the one thing in the world I do not like to do - look serious and tell people "No" all day (unless they were an emergency). The emergency room started to regain efficiency a little after lunch but I was starting to panic. My Trooper was supposed to be returned first thing in the morning so after lunch I found my YWAM buddy who called his mechanic and .... the mechanic with my keys did not pick up his cell phone. He told me not to worry, that the mechanic was his friend. I decided to think how I would tell Melynda. Well honey, the car broke down, I pushed it into a yard, gave the keys to a guy I just met, never saw it again. That probably would not make sense to her, huh.

Around 1:40 in the afternoon, my '99 Trooper actually arrives and I thank my Lord in Heaven. The mechanic leaves it running, lets me check it out, and everything looks good. He was a good guy (I sensed it, though I admit to wavering). Later in the week we are standing beside each other at the nightly Worship service, singing and praising God together. I knew it would all work out, kind of.

The mobile team returns from the orphanage and it was good to see Matt back inside the safety of the compound so I understood how he felt the night before. Brad, his friends Matt and Dave, all had a great time helping the kids and the patients they were able to see. I was pulled aside by the Dentist Ben on the team who told me what a great son I had in Matt. Andy had brought some Haitians that lived in Santo Domingo who knew Creole and Spanish and were having some trouble communicating to the Americans in English. Matt was able to listen to the Haitians in Spanish and then translate that to English. Ben and a couple of the other ladies also wanted to let me know how hard working, respectful, and helpful Matt was and to let me know what a great teenager I had. He is a great guy and was turning into a man.

Our first night we slept on cots on top of the Police station. The second night it seemed everyone else decided to join us up there and in my opinion there were way too many people in tents up there walking around on the only building around that had not collapsed. Matt and I were able to commandeer a tent and moved down to the ground and set up camp in the parking lot. The view was not nearly as good but we felt safer and wiser than the others (although they were correct in that the building never collapsed).

Before we retired for the night, the team had a meeting to discuss the day. Dave, a retired Navy SEAL (I believe), said he noticed on the way back to the compound - a saying that was spray painted on the side of the Presidential Palace that was translated to us that said, "Satan is finished." (seems like not a very "Christian" thing to do but I liked it) Haiti has a lot of Christians but also has a lot of followers of voodoo, even high up in their government, and it was cool to see the Christians standing up for what they believe.

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