May 6, 2010

Tent City

Ghost Town
   We ministered this week in a tent community.  On Monday as we walked to the field where the tents were, we passed through the neighborhood where most of the people living in the tent city, used to have homes.  It was very green and private, low walls were present covered by vines and flowers.  It was a Caribbean ghost town.  Some houses stood, while others were leveled.  There was the faint outline of three walls with a cracked sign in the front reading "Baptist Church" in Creole.  In this community there was an elementary school that was still standing, in the field nearby was rows of tents.  I was nervous to go in at first, after all, the people we were about to personally encounter had been homeless for the last four months, and I knew the spoiled life that I live.  My nerves were soon put to rest, the Haitian people were warm and welcoming.

   We brought a soccer ball and some other games for the children.  We brought our prayers and support for the adults.  Adam, a few other members of our team, and I walked around the community with a translator, talking with people about the earthquake and their lives since.  We heard dramatic stories of life and death.  Many heroic stories of mothers saving the lives of their children while suffering great injury themselves.  Over the next several days, I found myself laughing and crying with my new Haitian friends.  I couldn't hide my sadness as I listened to tales of hunger, loneliness, and physical pain.  Several teenagers and young adults expressed their need for schools to be rebuilt, and education to be started again.
   As the week progressed, our AIM team compiled our skills into a fairly organized visit each day.  Members of our team constructed a VBS (children's teaching time) each day and the children watched Bible stories being dramatically acted out, learned scriptures and made crafts.  At the same time, Adam delivered a word of hope and encouragement, with the help of an interpreter, to the adults under a large tree at the entrance to the community.  In the midst of our language barrier, our relationships deepened and we became very close the people in this community.

Meeting Needs
One day we brought loads of medical supplies and set up a tent at the entrance of their tent city.  We created a make shift clinic where we met the physical needs of nearly 100 people in this community.  We brought simple tools like band aids, antibiotic ointment, baby wipes, pepto, aspirin, ace bandages, crutches, aloe vera, etc.  One of our team members is a physical therapist and she worked hard diagnosing issues and giving people exercises to help them heal. After we "doctored" them, we gave each family a bag filled with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and similar things.  For those we could not help with the tools we had, we prayed for God's healing. 
   As we prayed, we saw some pretty amazing things happen.  There was a man who had been suffering from severe stomach pain for 4 months.  He was laying on the ground and his wife told us that he was rarely able to move from that position.  We prayed for him and went on our way.  When we came back the next day, he was sitting on the ground talking and laughing with his friends.  I almost didn't recognize him.  When our interpreter asked him how he was feeling, he said he felt great, God had touched him.  While we were praying for needs, a young man approached me.  His name was Sanon.  He explained to my translator, Dorly, that his soul had been sold to a voodoo priest and now he had been marked for human sacrifice.  I worked hard not to show my shock at what Dorly was translating to me. I held my composer, but I saw the fear and vulnerability in Sanon's eyes as he waited patiently for my prayer.  I asked Dorly if this was common and he said no, but he was aware of the practice.  He also shared that outside of the safety of Jesus Christ, there was no escape for Sanon.  After I prayed with Sanon, it was hard to move on.  My heart was broken for this young man living in fear, but I was (am) confident that God would rescue him.
   One day we were surprised by a visit from UN Military.  Apparently, one of their helicopters had flown by our tent city and saw a large mob gathered (in line for medical care), so they sent troops to check it out.  They walked around our community for a bit with their large guns and ammo, but left when they were satisfied that we were holding a peaceful gathering.  It was nerve racking having so many soldiers from all over the world so close with such dangerous weapons.  That was the ONLY time in Haiti that I was fearful for my safety.  And they were the good guys.

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