This is the story. Not my story alone, but the story of 26 Americans and thousands of Haitians that walked through the darkest hours of our lives, seeking the light that only comes through Jesus.
Just hours before the chaos, we were face to face with the reality of pre-earthquake Haiti, which was not that great to begin with. Most of the preaching team, and a few others, took an afternoon trip to a place called Val’s orphanage. Val’s was about a 30 minute drive from where we were staying at Christianville.
Riding anywhere in Haiti is rough. Roads are not really roads in Haiti. Sure, there are a few good ones, but most of them are glorified dirt paths. The trees are cleared, but the rocks aren’t. Needless to say, it is a bumpy, jarring ride.
The orphanage was not a real pretty sight, when looking at it with American eyes. Cement walls, dormitory style sleeping arrangements, dirty feet and floors. But when looking through Haitian eyes, this was AWESOME for parent-less children who had nothing. Here they had food to eat, a roof to sleep under, clean water from a deep well, actual mattresses to sleep on and four amazing ladies who cared deeply for them. For the 28 children who lived here, this was paradise.
My miniature HD video camera was my friend as I interviewed child after child. My Creole is pretty weak, but I could ask most of them there name and exchange a few other pleasantries. They showed me their rooms, their well and their goats and chickens.
I had the blessing of watching and recording as other members of my team distributed Christmas gifts to these beautiful children. We left, promising to return on Saturday and see them again.
Just down the road from the orphanage, around the corner really, is a football field. (What Americans call soccer.) We had a soccer ball in the truck, so we tossed it out and one of our guys jumped out to kick it around with some of the Haitian for a few minutes. We had no idea that when we saw that field 10 minutes later, that instead of laughter and play, we would hear wails of distress and panic.
Just down the road a little further was when the earth began to shake. It wasn’t as noticeable in the back of the truck, but the driver told us later that he began to lose control of the vehicle. Driving on Haitian roads already that day, we were accustomed to “out of control”.
We noticed a roof first. It was a metal roof on a house just off the road. It was shaking violently. In fact, it was shaking so hard it seemed as if some screaming child was throwing a tantrum and jostling a toy around.
Our first thought was wind, but we didn’t feel ANY wind, much less wind that strong. As we noticed dust rising, the word earthquake came to mind.
(to be continued….)