The work of unburying and rebuilding Haiti continues. In an interview with the Associated Press, Haiti's President Rene Preval said, "It will take 1,000 trucks moving rubble for 1,000 days, so that's three years. And until we move out rubble, we cannot really build." This unimaginable task has left its impression on the LCMS World Relief and Human Care teams that have been in Haiti.
This morning I received a message from Jacob Fiene, Manager of the Mercy Medical Teams (MMT) for LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Jacob arrived on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti a few days before my first trip; we overlapped on another trip. Now Jacob has returned to Haiti to run a clinic in Port-au-Prince.
Impressions of Haiti by Jacob Fiene
Today was the first day of clinics in Port of Prince. This is our fourth team and the third that I have led.
As we drove into the city, the level of destruction soon became clear. First is was every few structures that had crumbled to the ground. As we drew closer into the city, entire blocks lay in ruins.
As the scale of destruction dawned on me, I began thinking back on the patients at the hospital in Jimani. I had seen in their eyes the trama they were experiencing. I had seen open fractures and severed limbs and had thought, "What a horror this must have been for these people!" I knew then and still know now that I will never understand the tragedy they had endured, but now I was a step closer to gaining a glimpse of the pain of those who remain alive on this earth.
Driving into the city, nothing could have prepared any of us for these sights. No number of photographs or hours of news coverage would ever be able to demonstrate the sights, sounds, and smells in this city. No matter how hard I tried to focus on the coming clinics, the same word continued to dominate my thoughts:"Hopeless.... hopeless."
I had to take a step back in my mind and remind myself of why we had come here. "One person at a time," I told myself.
As the shock wore away and the discussions with patients and Haitian pastors began, I realized that the situation here in Haiti is not hopeless. This event will never be forgotten, and the course of history in Haiti and the rest of the world will be forever changed. However, the spirit of the Haitian people will not be broken. They will continue to morn the loss of life, yet their faith in God has been strengthened.
As each patient recieves treatment, as each family recieves a bag of food and the decades go by and life transitions back into some resemblance of normalcy, let us never forget the strength and faith of the Christians in Haiti. No one knows the pains and hardships of this earth better than they, yet they have demonstrated a profound understanding of God's peace.
That is what I will take home with me when I return to the United States--not stories of brave and caring Americans, nor the narrative of a hopeless future. I will take home with me a lesson from the
people of Haiti: that no pain or loss on this earth can ever outweigh God's mercy.