Return From Haiti
I am breaking my Lenten fast from blogging for this news update.
Deborah and I returned from Haiti this past Friday night. Thank you all for your prayers.
We were able to see almost 400 patients in 5 days and we were able to visit Fr. Andrew's parish of Saint Simon Jude and do a small clinic there on Sunday as well as one in his rectory when we got back. Through the generosity of you at home through CD sales, coffee sales and fund-raising, we were able to give Father a financial gift of 2700 dollars.
He is feeding 600 people twice a week operating a soup kitchen out of his home(rectory) and can really use the money as the food-aid is starting to dry up. The Missionaries of the Poor (Father Ho Lung's order) were with Fr. Andrew for the past month helping him distribute food and supplies to the poor. We had a great time with the brothers (MOP) and prayed the liturgy of the hours with them. We all slept in tents at the rectory as no one is sleeping inside, though structurally the rectory held up ok.
The earthquake hit as Fr. Andrew was consecrating the Precious Blood. As he held the chalice up in the air, the ground started to shake and he planted his feet firmly on the ground and knew he had to finish the consecration. As he finished, he watched the walls of the parish perimeter collapse in front of him and the houses and buildings beyond the Church crumble to the ground. By a great miracle, the Church building still under construction did not get damaged and everyone at Mass was safe. He quickly ended the Mass and told everyone to get home to check on their loved ones. Soon after he returned to the rectory, families of the parish as well as others started to stream through the broken walls of his rectory compound. In a few short days, the garbage dump near the Church became a tent city and Fr. coordinated the food and water and tent distribution. He then began coordinating the food kitchen back at his rectory which is still distributing food and water twice a week to all in his neighborhood, not just Catholics in his parish. He is also giving out meds that had been left with him from our last mission in November in between medical team mission trips. A small team led by Tom Kardish from OLMC Doylestown helped with this effort a week or so before we got there.
The city of PAP is a mess. Piles of rubble and collapsed houses and buildings are everywhere. The destruction is random though, as some structures are left untouched standing next to others that are flattened. Many streets are blocked off and the people are living in the streets in tents or makeshift structures of tarps, ropes and scrap tin. The buses and taxis are running and people are buying and selling along the roadways as usual.
We spent most of our time at Shiloh Baptist where I worked with a team from New Covenant Christian Community in Bethlehem. Most of the people we saw had the usual hypertension, worms, diabetes, anemia, acid stomach, headaches, vaginitis, skin infections plus post traumatic stress. Several people had poorly healing wounds from injuries suffered in the quake. One young girl came on crutches with one ankle crushed and only a strap-on cast for over two months!
Despite the devastation and suffering continually experienced by the Haitian people, they manifested a joy and confidence in God that is absolutely supernatural. At mass on Sunday, it was packed and the congregation sung their hearts out and lifted their hands in praise to the Lord. God is close to the poor and truly in "the least of these" we experienced His presence and were privileged to have the opportunity to minister to Him in his people.
On a much sadder note, we received word mid-week while we were in Haiti that my father-in-law passed away. He had been battling pancreatic cancer heroically but it was time for the
Lord to call him home. It was hard to be away from the family at this time and not be there for my children who were very close to him. I had known him since I was 14 years old and he was like a father to me, in some ways more than my own. I am thankful that we did get home in time for his memorial service. I rejoice that he is re-united with my late wife Sue. Please keep them in your prayers.