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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kim and Angelia, Volunteers with LCMS MMT, at Dinner

Maggie Karner talks with Dr. Lautenschlager

Focused on the Cross

Williamson looking at the crucifix at First Lutheran Church in Jacmel.

To Jacmel Haiti Aboard A Cessna 208B Caravan

We landed in Santo Domingo around 1 PM from Miami today. Once on the ground we discovered that Rev. Harrison's bag along with a box of medical supplies (plus the tent that didn't make it to Miami) did not arrive in the Dominican Republic with us. After retreiving the luggage that accompanied us, we made our way through customs, which was very helpful due to the fact that we were traveling to Haiti (although the Mercy Medical Team's experience was different since they had difficulties bringing medical supplies into the D.R.). We made our way to the information counter to contact Tradewind Aviation, LLC. We then went with an airport security person to get our luggage rescreened, etc. to enter into Haiti.

The Mercy Medical Team is safely on the ground and has begun to set up the field clinic.

Currently, we are flying at about 10,000 feet above the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In fact, we just recently crossed the border into Haiti. The pilots informed us that the descent would be rather steep and fast due to the terrain. The experience is similar to when we flew over Madagascar a few years ago.

There was some turbulance flying through the clouds over the plateau but nothing too exciting. We are approaching Jacmel, Haiti. The cliffs along the coast are rather steep; the photos cannot due justice to the view.

We made it safely to Jacmel. Canadian troops have secured the airport in Jacmel.

Besides the pilots, photos include Matthew Harrison, Al Collver, Carlos Hernandez, Glenn Merritt, John Lautenschlager, and John Edson (vice-chair of the Board for Human Care Ministry).

Miami International Security and Helpful Employees

Well, every trip is an adventure. We arrived at Miami International 2 hours before our flight, after catching a few hours of sleep. (We got into Miami at 1 am from Minneapolis with only one lost bag and a lost tent for Haiti. Still don't know where that is. Maybe Delta will find it). Once at the airport, we checked in only to find an extremely long line to check baggage. Took us almost an hour to get through the baggage line. However, once at the counter, we were informed that it was 5 minutes too late to make the flight.

The clerk at the counter reacted to two items on my person: 1) my clerical collar, and 2) the WR-HC ID pictured above. Next thing you know, she quickly checked out bags and had us follow her to the TSA baggage check point. Then she got us to the front of the security line, which no doubt would've taken almost another hour to get through. The TSA agents were also very helpful. Thanks to all who helped us make the flight.

So we're on the plane and off to Santo Domingo. From there we fly to Jacmel, Haiti. We heard that the Mercy Medical Team (MMT) is at the airport in Santiago and preparing to leave. We'll update as we are able . . . Hopefully, the spammer is done.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog Hacked!!






Well for some reason both my blog and Matt Harrison's blog has been hacked. We have changed passwords, email addresses, and taken other security measures but nonetheless -- posts about security software for Windows 7 (hint use a Mac or Linux, forget Windows -- that would be my post!!), or viagra, etc. are not from either Matt or myself. We also have an "editor" in the USA who will hopefully remove any offensive content until we sort this out... hang in there... tomorrow D.v. (deo volente -- God willing) a post from Haiti...

Haiti via Minneapolis/St. Paul for Elders' Retreat to Miami

Morning View of River, St. Paul, MN

This morning both Matt Harrison and I are in St. Paul, MN for an Elders' Retreat sponsored by Bethlehem Lutheran Church of St. Paul, MN. The retreat itself is held on the campus of Concordia University, St. Paul. About 150 to 170 men are in attendance. Right now the St. Paul Winter Carnival is taking place, hence the decorated trees in the photo above. It is mighty cold up here, especially when packed and dressed for the Caribbean. Both Matt and I presented last night. This morning there are four more hours of presentation. The last presentation is going to be about what transpired last week in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. By late afternoon, we should be on an airplane headed to Miami. Tomorrow morning, we should arrive in the Dominican Republic, and by tomorrow afternoon Jacmel, Haiti. A Mercy Medical Team should be on its way to Haiti now.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Faith Based Helped for Haiti -- PBS





KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At Miami International Airport this week, Cili Dubersaint anxiously awaited the arrival of her sister, an earthquake victim who had part of her leg amputated. On the same flight, a team from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) returned to the US after doing emergency relief assessments and providing medical and spiritual support in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Even the veterans among them were still reeling from the horror they had all just left behind.

REV. GLENN MERRITT (LCMS World Relief and Human Care): I’m experienced as a disaster responder and a first responder and also as a canine responder, and the things that I saw were almost unimaginable.

LAWTON: American faith-based groups continue to play an active role in getting emergency help into Haiti. They say while the situation remains chaotic, more food, water, and medical attention are making it to the people in need. For the next six to eight weeks, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod will be sending regular shipments to feeding centers being set up in Haitian churches. The logistical obstacles remain immense.

MERRITT: It’s often, in Dominican Republic, easy to find the food to go into Haiti, but it’s difficult to find a way to get it in there and that’s the challenge, and of course fuel is in short supply, too, so if you’re running a truck to Port au Prince you need to know that you can get the fuel to come back out again.
Rev. Glenn Merritt

LAWTON: In addition to providing food, water, and medicine, relief officials are now moving from the immediate emergency response to more long-term recovery planning. This week, Samaritan’s Purse, the humanitarian group led by evangelist Franklin Graham, sent a barge to Haiti loaded with 400 tons of machinery that was too heavy to fly in.

LUTHER HARRISON (Samaritan’s Purse): They need other equipment to continue their work as they’re coming out of the emergency phase and into the recovery phase. You can see we have everything—heavy equipment, dump trucks, bull dozers, excavators, skid steer loaders, things that we can get in and help start cleaning up this debris.

LAWTON: The group is also shipping in supplies for water purification and materials for building shelters. They say providing practical help is part of their religious mission.

HARRISON: No red tape. Show them the love of Jesus Christ as we go out and try to help them get back on their feet.

LAWTON: Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood is coordinating the Archdiocese of Miami’s response. Every day, volunteers sort and pack the donations that keep pouring in. Father Reginald Jean-Mary is also developing more long-range plans.

REV. REGINALD JEAN-MARY (Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church): In the next two months, the next three months, I think we need to start restoring the economy of the country to give people the sense of autonomy, the sense of dignity, and also I see a great need of trying to begin establishing structures that’s going to help the people in the future.

LAWTON: Father Reginald and other faith-based groups are also focusing efforts on helping Haitians here in the US—those who’ve recently arrived after surviving the earthquake and those who have been here and now can’t go back.

The US government has announced a new program that will allow undocumented Haitians who were living in the US, or those who were visiting here when the earthquake hit, to apply for Temporary Protected Status or TPS. That means they would be able to legally live and work here for the next 18 months. The US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services expects up to 200,000 Haitians to apply for TPS.

OSCAR RIVERA (Church World Service): Right now, the way the situation is in Haiti, it would be inhumane to send them back, so this is something very good that our government has done to be able to keep these folks here and assist them.

LAWTON: Oscar Rivera directs the Miami office of the ecumenical Christian group Church World Service (CWS). CWS has a long history of refugee assistance and has already begun a nationwide project helping Haitians wade through the regulations and fill out the paperwork to apply for TPS. The group is also offering legal advice to Haitian families with differing immigration statuses.

NANCY DENIS (Managing Attorney, Church World Service): This is a catastrophe of really epic proportions, and it’s going to take a kind of a comprehensive approach to deal with the various situations that people are being faced with.

LAWTON: And CWS is helping the Haitians who came here with family members who were seriously injured in the earthquake and medevacked to US hospitals. In all of these projects, the group is working with a network of affiliated local churches.

RIVERA: The churches are a key part that, with their help, with their time, with their donation, with their expertise that they have greatly helps us with making a difference in these peoples’ lives.

LAWTON: Reverend Joanem Floreal of Miami’s Shalom Community United Methodist Church says working within the churches builds community trust.

REV. JOANEM FLOREAL (Shalom Community United Methodist Church): As pastors, we are trusted voices. As men of God, as women of God, people really trust us.

LAWTON: Floreal is part of a South Florida pastors’ group that has come together to address the many dimensions of the crisis—comforting the grieving in their congregations here and strategizing about how to provide more aid to Haiti.

FLOREAL: There is a sense of solidarity. There is a sense of unity I have never experienced before. We have Baptist pastors, Pentecostal pastors, United Methodist pastors, Free Methodist pastors, nondenominational pastors, pastors across denominational lines getting together to help people in Haiti. This is a great thing. This is something for us to celebrate.

LAWTON: Reverend Matthew Harrison, director of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s World Relief and Human Care, says he found cause to celebrate in the strength of the Haitian people. He just returned from providing pastoral care to Haitian refugees at a Dominican Republic hospital.

REV. MATTHEW HARRISON (LCMS World Relief and Human Care): The strength of the people just absolutely impressed everybody—a woman who just had her arm guillotined with nothing but Tylenol being treated by our doctors, smiling and thanking them for the love. It was an experience that was just overwhelming for our people.

LAWTON: He believes spiritual and emotional counseling will be a necessary part of Haiti’s future.

HARRISON: It’s going to be very important for all the religious community in the United States to come along with their faith communities, their denominational partners in Haiti and walk together with them, but especially to realize the strength is there. The strength of the future is in Haiti, not the United States, and the answers to their future are there, not here.

LAWTON: At Notre Dame d’Haiti, Father Reginald says he and his congregation are exhausted by the trauma of the last two weeks. But, he says, he’s still preaching hope.

JEAN-MARY: It is not a time for them to continue mourning and crying. This is the time to lift up your head, look in the sunrise direction, because the light of God is not off in Haiti. The hope will continue to burn and to shine. Therefore keep your head up, keep your dignity, and continue to strive to stay alive, because once you lose it, you lose it all.

LAWTON: He says sustaining that hope is the only way to Haiti’s ultimate recovery.
I’m Kim Lawton in Miami.

Tags: Church World Service, Churches, earthquake, Faith-based, Florida, Haiti, Lutheran, Miami, Relief, Samaritan's Purse, United Methodist


Siberian Lutheran Church Leaders Visits St Louis

Pictured: Albert Collver, Timothy Quill, Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin, and Alexei Streltsov

The morning after returning from the Dominican Republic, my dear friends from Russia (and Fort Wayne) came to the International Center in Saint Louis for an official visit. Fortunately, for me, I had an opportunity to visit with them. Bishop Vsevolod Lyktin and Rector Alexei Streltsov from the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) came to discuss closer ties between their church body and the LCMS. It was great to see them and brought back fond memories from my last trip to Siberia, Russia in May 2009. More information about the SELC can be found at the SELC Home Page or at the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society.

 
Jason Collver in St. Petersburg (and me in St. Petersburg) in May 2009.


Jacmel Trip Plans


Although a Mercy Medical Team (MMT) and an assessment team and Pastoral Care Team just returned from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, LCMS World Relief and Human Care is preparing to send another two teams into Haiti this coming weekend. The teams will establish a medical clinic at the First Lutheran Church Compound in Jacmel, Haiti. The teams are coming at the request of President Marky Kessa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti. The Mercy Medical Team is scheduled to arrived on Saturday, 30 January 2010. The Pastoral Care Team is set to arrive on Sunday, 31 January 2010.

The LCMS World Relief and Human Care has been asked to provide both supplies and assistance for setting up a feeding station at the Lutheran Church Compound in Jacmel. We have arranged for shipments of food and water along with large tents suitable for the medical clinic and feeding stations to be shipped to Jacmel via sea from Santo Domingo to arrive on Saturday or Sunday. It is anticipated that more than 500 will be fed each evening.

We have been asked to offer pastoral care to the pastors and lay leaders in both Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. These highly dedicated men, whose own families are struggling, are committed to serving their congregations and communities. The task is to encourage them as they endeavour to minister the Gospel and bring mercy to thousands of tramatized fellow Haitians.

The Pastoral Care Team will provide training in "Christian Care" in time of disaster to ELCH leadership and lay leaders. This concise training reviews the importance of a "ministry of presence" in close proximity to Word and Sacrament.

The team also plans to obtain and transport emergency supplies including rice, beans, cooking oil, tents, and basic health supplies. We also hope to provide supplies to Port-au-Prince during the same time period. The local congregations of the ELCH will receive and distribute these items as they distribute food. We expect this relief effort to continue for four to six weeks. Total aid to Haiti is likely to continue for months to even a year or two.

The Mercy Medical Team is being led by Maggie Karner and Jacob Fiene. The Pastoral Care Team includes Rev. Glenn Merritt, Director of Disaster Response; Rev. Matthew Harrison, Executive Director; Rev. Carlos Hernandez, Director of Districts and Congregations; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Executive Pastoral Assistant; Al Dowbnia, Director of Communications; and John Edson, Vice-Chair, Board for Human Care Ministries.

We hope to provide on the ground updates on the blog. Official reports can be found here at the LCMS Website.

Haiti Relief



The Last Supper


24" x 34"
Florence Martinez
b. 1942, Jacmel, Haiti

Haiti: God is Still At Work

Original story here.

The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind., Kevin Leininger column: Haiti: 'God is still at work there'

By Kevin Leininger The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Publication: The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
Date: Tuesday, January 26 2010 


Jan. 26--Not even this city's poorest neighborhoods have much in common with what's happening in post-earthquake Haiti, except perhaps for one thing: Helping to revitalize one taught Matthew Harrison how to bring mercy to the other.

"Fort Wayne was absolutely vital by showing (me) how, after receiving God's gifts, we should show the love of Christ through community involvement and caring for the needs of our neighbor," Harrison said. He was senior pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, 2313 S. Hanna St., in 1997 when he and Father John Delaney of nearby St. Peter's Catholic Church planted the first seeds of a Hanna-Creighton neighborhood renewal that eventually yielded new and restored homes, a new library and other community buildings and, ultimately, the city's multimillion-dollar Renaissance Pointe project.
Largely because of the St. Peter's-Zion Project, Harrison was called four years later to head the 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's World Relief and Human Care organization -- a position that took him to Asia after the devastating 2004 tsunami and to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But neither prepared him for what he found in Haiti after arriving last Wednesday, barely a week after the earthquake reduced much of the already miserably poor country to rubble.

"It's the sheer volume of people in one place who are suffering," said Harrison, pastor at Zion from 1995 to 2001. "But I have no doubt that God is still at work there."

At work through people like Harrison and countless others working to bring comfort to the chaos.
Some of Harrison's team went to the hardest-hit area around Port-au-Prince, while he spent most of the past week near Jimani on Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic, where doctors -- some of whom arrived with Harrison -- did their best to cope with injuries, shortages and aftershocks.

"The (aftershocks) caused patients to relive what had occurred days earlier. Some were trying to flee, others were tearing their bandages off, and at least one jumped off a second-story balcony, fracturing his pelvis," Harrison said. "The second (aftershock) seemed to affect the doctors, nurses and caregivers more than it affected the Haitians."

Harrison's team brought with it $20,000 worth of food, water and other supplies, and his organization has already raised more than $1 million for Haitian relief efforts. His team met Monday to assess Haiti's needs and, after returning to the U.S. today, Harrison will begin in earnest the fund-raising efforts he knows Haiti will need in the years to come -- a skill he honed while seeking contributors to help rebuild a Fort Wayne neighborhood whose very name was once synonymous with "blight."
You may ask: How can someone who has seen and worked to ease so much human suffering still believe in a loving God? An even better question might be: How do the actual victims of earthquakes and other disasters not lose their faith?

Harrison addressed that age-old question this week on his Internet site, "Mercy Journeys":
"'Pastor, I don't know how to cope with this,' (a doctor) told me. 'Patients where I work complain about everything. I just treated a woman who had her arm guillotined with nothing but Tylenol as pain reliever, and she was smiling at me, thanking me. I couldn't believe it. These people have lost everything, and they are so thankful.'

"In the midst of all this, the Haitians have shown amazing faith, regularly singing hymns to Jesus as they huddle with their lone surviving child or a new friend on the ground or in the next bed ... The Lord does not bring the cross to hurt you. He brings the cross and suffering to create faith ... We can only face tomorrow with the knowledge that the outpouring of love and blessing in the wake of this disaster is and will be one of the most phenomenal acts of mercy in our time together on this Earth."
As a Zion member who heard Harrison preach for years, I'm intimately familiar with Lutheran doctrine: We are saved by faith in Christ alone, through God's grace, not by our works. But the Bible also says that true faith cannot be contained by the walls of a church but will manifest itself in acts of love toward neighbors we have never even met.

And in those acts, God is present -- even in the worst of times. Especially in the worst of times.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel

To see more of The News-Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.FortWayne.com . Copyright (c) 2010, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com , call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kirkwood Relief Team Back from Haiti


KTVI -- Fox 2, St. Louis, MO

Photos from Good Samaritan Hospital in Jimani

















Streets of Santiago -- Reflections Rev. Carlos Hernandez



Although we are back in the United States now, with teams preparing to leave for Haiti again, we still have some reflections from our time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Rev. Carlos Hernandez wrote the piece below while still in the Dominican Republic. Enjoy.

abc3+
--

REFLECTIONS by Rev. Carlos Hernandez, Director, Districts and Congregations, LCMS World Relief and Human Care

"The renewing, restoring Gospel for EQ victims, Caregivers, the Team and on the streets of Santiago!"

Santiago, Dominican Republic, January 24, 2010 - Our Assessment/Pastoral care team reunited at early evening at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Jimani and arrived here in two passemger vans late last night from the Haitian/Dominican border after a grueling seven hour trek by our drivers, Pastors Ryes and Krey.

The intensity of the work of the last several days - the Pastoral care work of the team that stayed behind with Haitian Earthquake victims, who on one day were jumping off the second story floor of Hospital wards after two Earthquake tremors and, the the on-site assessment of the team that went deep into Haiti seeing "things no human beings should ever have to see" (words of Rev. Glenn Merritt) has extracted an emotional, spiritual and physical toll on our team.

However, our constant source of renewing strength has been our steady and clear focus on the Gospel, proclaimed in our daily devotions by team pastors, and in private confidential Pastoral care conversations by which the Holy restores and renews both proclaimer and hearer.

What powerful words Luther writes in explaining the Third Article: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but that the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlighten me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the one true faith..." (Luther's Small Catechism, explanation, Third Article).

So in all of our de-briefings in these trying and exhausting days of Haitian Earthquake
Assessment, and of providing access to Pastoral care to earthquake victims and caregivers, the Gospel is front and center!

Even as we fanned out this morning after breakfast to relax and see a bit of historic, downtown Santiago, the sweet, renewing and restoring words of the Gospel were on our lips and in our hearts as a young "shoe shine" boy (They are everywhere!) - Jesus Imael Fante - noticed our clerical collars and asked,

"Son Padres?" (Are you Priests?)

This open a converation in which the Spirit moves me to ask,

"Creyes en Jesucristo?" (Do you believe in Jesus?) After sharing my faith with him - the forgiveness, life and salvation Jesus won for us through his suffering, death and resurrection, he asked me to bless him.

"Bendigame!" (Bless me!)

I placed my hand on his head and said, "En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo, Amen." (In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen) He crossed himself and went his way to continue his work.

And both Gospel proclaimer and hearer were renewed, restored and strengthen!

Pastor Hernandez may be reached by cell phone (314-956-2005) or by email, even while in the Dominican Republic)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Safely Home

The team that went to the Dominican Republic and Haiti is safely home.

Some of the same team members are planning to return to Haiti on Saturday/Sunday.

The ongoing care and aid will continue for months if not years in the future.

There is more to come -- photos and descriptions of what was experienced, as well as, new posts based on the team leaving Saturday and Sunday.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fifth LWR Post--Critical Issues in Haiti




It’s Tuesday afternoon, the 26th of January, and I’m somewhere over the Caribbean en route to Miami. I’m tired. I’m filled with anxiety as we move toward the next phase of disaster relief for Haiti.

The assessment team was present with the Haitian Lutherans. The team listened. The team saw what needed to be seen. Those of us who remained working in Jimani at the hospital have a very clear understanding of the medical issues that will be faced as we move to establish a temporary hospital in Jamal, which is the heart of the Lutheran area in Haiti and the heart of an area underserved. Working with the Dominican World Mission team, we have a boat contracted to bring tents specifically requested by the partner church, including larger tents for hospitals, examination rooms, etc. A second Mercy Medical Team (MMT) will hit the ground in Jacmel on Sunday. They will immediately begin treating wounds related to trauma, especially orthopedic issues. We know from our medical teams and from the consultation provided by Jimani MMT member, Dr. William Maloney (from whose report I am borrowing liberally), that there is a four- to six-week period to properly treat broken bones, reset poorly treated breaks, and treat infections and infected amputations in order to avoid longer term complications.

Childhood mortality from infectious disease will be on the increase due to the weakened state of many children who were already in a situation of compromised health before the quake. This will require an immediate vaccination effort. A mortality rate of as high as 30% can result in such situations. There is an immediate need for vitamin supplementation for at-risk children. Cholera, measles, and meningitis outbreaks are likely and will need to be treated immediately. Acute malnutrition is likely for many, particularly due to the rapid increase in the number of orphans, loss of income, family disruptions, etc. LCMS World Relief will assist the local Hatian church in establishing food distribution in cooperation and coordination with the local congregations, and in proximity to the clinic(s). By the way, from all indications there is an abundance of available food in the Dominican, and every dollar saved on shipping costs buys another dollar of rice or beans while contributing to the local economies of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. At the suggestion of President Kessa, and with the help of Ted Krey, we have secured a boat for regular food shipment from Santiago to Jacmel.

Over the period of 2-6 months there will be an overwhelming need for physical therapy, pastoral care and counseling, prosthetics, rehab, etc. The high number of amputations will require an aggressive prosthetics program. Traveling to developing countries (and this is especially true of Haiti) one notices many individuals who have been handicapped by injury or birth defect, who live life begging and in squalor, having little or usually no recourse to prosthetics and other treatment we take for granted in the U.S. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling and training will be widely needed, particularly for Haitian Lutheran clergy, health workers, aid workers, and others.

Vocational assistance and housing will be long-term issues. It remains to be seen whether and what housing solutions come to the fore. There will no doubt be a large hodgepodge of housing solutions, most driven by the ingenuity and need of locals, but likely with relatively few dwellings being built with materials and methods meant to withstand future quakes. I well recall tent cities in many areas affected by the great Asian Tsunami that lasted for years. Micro-loan programs have been operated by LWR, LCMS World Relief, and many partners for decades and will be especially necessary in this situation. We must make every effort to train, serve, and encourage talented and eager Haitians, of which there is no shortage. They themselves are now, and will be, the key force behind this effort at recovery. And these very talented individuals will arise from unlikely and very surprising places. It is they who hold the key to the future recovery and long-term improvement in their own country. LWR school and medical kits will be vital treasures for months and months to come.

I noticed something while studying Jesus’ actions to assist those in need. When the text uses the great word for “compassion” (
splachnizesthai) of Jesus, his concern for the needy never stops a mere empathy. Jesus always acts. He never fails to act. So shall American Lutherans. Help us come alongside our old and soon to be new Haitian friends. Thrivent is offering matching dollars for gifts to LCMS World Relief, and to LWR. The Lutheran Foundation in St. Louis is now matching gifts to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, offering to match up to $6,000 in donations from each of its 65 member congregations!

Pastor Matthew Harrison
Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care
Board Member, LWR



Rev. Ted Krey, nephew of an LWR Board Member, distributes food in Jimani.

Juan Pablo Duarte Birthday Parade Dominican Republic



This morning, while sitting by the road and drinking coffee, a parade came marching down the street. I asked the clerk at the desk the reason for the parade, and she told me that it was for Juan Pablo Duarte. Duarte is considered the architect of the Dominican Republic's independence from Haiti in 1844. You can read more about him in English translation here via Google Translate, or here in Spanish. In the meantime, enjoy the parade!

-- abc3+

Rev. Harrison's Fourth LWR Post








Leave it to a New Yorker.

In an earlier post, I described briefly the chaos that ensued at the hospital compound in Jimani on, I believe, the 23rd of January when a significant tremor struck the area. Some 1500 patients and family members, doctors, nurses, children, locals, expatriates all ran for their lives and out of the buildings. One poor man jumped from the second story of the large orphanage turned hospital. His leg had been amputated, but now his pelvis was fractured also.

Rev. Ted Krey, who had been ministering to these people one-on-one for days (along with his incredibly capable team), said, “Just walk among the people and calm them.” We went about praying, sitting, talking, singing, reassuring--being present. After about twenty minutes, a man stood up and began to lead the people in Creole hymns. The African style singing was a stark, faith-filled contrast and antidote to the terror, weeping, and fright now beginning to ebb. Another fifteen minutes or so later, a man stood from the second floor balcony with a bullhorn. He began shouting and telling the people to have courage--it is the end of the world. While I’d be hard pressed to reject the content of his eschatology (“When all these things begin to take place, look up for your redemption draweth nigh . . .” Luke 21:28), his preaching did anything but calm the crowd. And calm was what was called for as all the patients now needed to be re-triaged, having pulled loose bandages, I.V.s, damaged treated wounds, etc. scrambling out of the building.

Pastor Ted immediately suggested that we begin handing out meals to calm the crowd. It worked. One of the first ones to whom I offered the styrofoam container was an older Haitian man in a wheel chair, stout with a majestic countenance. He sat next to his relatives more seriously hurt than himself, head in hand, weeping. As I extended the tray to him, he shook his head, “no.” The crowd was completely calm again when a man (whether the same "prophet" as the earlier, I do not know) climbed on top of a trailer, bullhorn in hand, and began to try to stir up the crowd again. Neither do I know if he was intent on the same eschatological rant. In any case, the wheel-chaired Haitian immediately shouted to the young zealot in Creole. Not knowing a lick of Creole, I’ll offer a conjectured translation: “Shut up and sit down, you fool! These people don’t need this now!” His deep authoritative voice immediately accomplished its goal.

After all the meals had gone out and the truck had run to get more, I sat on the sand in front of his wheel chair. I apologized, speaking only the few words of Spanish and French I know--(If only I’d paid more attention to my French-speaking grandmother when she was alive…)--telling him I could not converse in those languages, much less Creole. He responded in crystal clear English. “No problem, we can speak in English.” My eyes opened wide and a smile marked my face. “Where did you learn such good English?” “I live in New York, I was just down here vacationing, visiting my relatives.” “Some vacation” I responded! We had a nice chat about life, about God, about family. He hoped that he and his injured wife (I believe) would be able to leave for Long Island the next day.

Even in the chaos of international disaster, it takes a New Yorker to get the job done. “Shut up and sit down!”

The larger point of all this is that the Haitians themselves and their Dominican neighbors will be the most significant leaders in responding to this disaster. Any long-term and lasting improvement of lives will happen only from the capacity built by accompanying--by coming along side the thousands upon thousands of still healthy, bright, effective Haitians who know their culture and will be the key to a better future.

That’s what LWR is about.

Pastor Matthew Harrison
Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care
Board Member, LWR

Monday, January 25, 2010

Team Debriefing, Update, and Reflections


Pictured (in no particular order): Rev. Matthew Harrison (WR-HC), Rev. Glenn Merritt (WR-HC), Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Danelle Putnam (WM), Rev. Ted Krey (WM), Rev. Dr. Jorge Groh (WM), Olga Groh (WM), James Neundorf (WM), Sherie Auger (WM Caymen Islands), Rev. Ed Auger (WM Caymen Islands), Rev. Walter Ries Jr (Missionary from Brazil), Kisayrio Gebhart (WM Administrative Support), Rev. Carlos Hernandez (WR-HC), Jacob Fiene (WR-HC), Rev. Steve Lee (LCMS Pastor), Matthew Schlanger (WR-HC), and probably a few other people I forgot.


Today, from 9:00 a.m. until just after noon, the "team," minus the LCMS WR-HC Medical Medical Team (which returned yesterday), met to debrief and discuss the best way to pool resources to move forward to provide relief to the people in Haiti. The meeting was productive and offered time for the team to reflect and debrief on their experiences over the past few days. One thing that became apparent was that there were two distinct sets of experiences--the experiences of those who went into Haiti, to Port-au-Prince and Jacmel; and the experiences of those who stayed behind in Jimani at the Good Samaritan Hospital.

In summary, those who went into Haiti saw mass destruction of buildings and property, as well as evidence of the loss of human life. (Many bodies are still left buried in in the rubble, etc.) The destruction was great. However, apart from a few encounters with people on the ground, they were dealing mostly with assessing the situation, observing the conditions of the roads and buildings, and formulating logistically how further aid could be provided. They also noted that there were three basic needs: medical, food and nutritional, and spiritual and pastoral care.

On the other hand, those who remained behind at Jimani had a different experience altogether. There was the activity of the hospital and critical patients being flown in and out. Perhaps the most defining moment of their experience was the occurrence of two earthquakes/tremors that shook the compound. The first earthquake/tremor happened late afternoon/early evening just before dinner. In fact, I was sitting on the roof fiddling with "technology" to get an Internet connection for my laptop when the first quake/tremor hit. One thing I knew for certain was that I wasn't going to remain on the roof, and I quickly made my way down the stairs to terra firma. After that, I returned to the house where the doctors, volunteers, and caregivers were staying to relax some and reflect on what had just occurred. Mere moments after I "settled in," a nurse came running into the house saying, "We need a pastor! We need a pastor!" Carlos Hernandez and I responded and followed her to the hospital grounds. Meanwhile, Rev. Ted Krey and Rev. Walter Ryes (Ries) were at a different part of the hospital grounds, near the orphanage trying to assist there. The earthquake/tremor/aftershock caused the patients to relive what had occurred days earlier. Some were trying to flee, others were tearing their bandages off, and at least one jumped off a second story balcony, fracturing his pelvis. Once the situation settled a bit, it was time to help distribute the meals to the patients (and their families) for the evening. One Haitian climbed up to a high place and started shouting that the end of the world was near, etc. The situation over all was rather chaotic.

The second tremor occurred after many of the relief workers had fallen asleep and indeed felt stronger than the first one. The second tremor seemed to affect the doctors, nurses, and caregivers more than it affected the Haitians. One of the doctors panicked and tried to jump off the second story balcony. (Fortunately, he was persuaded to come down the stairs quickly instead.) A large number of the caregivers (including yours truly) slept outside that night.

The point being: the team that remained in Jimani was much more involved in the care to patients and caregivers alike than the assessment team that went into Haiti. Because the Lutheran pastors wore clerical collars, the Haitians, who are predominately Roman Catholic, took comfort knowing that a "priest" was praying for them--even if, the "priest" couldn't speak their language. The other protestant ministers (e.g., few Baptists) tended to blend in with the other volunteers and relief workers because they were not readily identifiable as clergy.

These two different sets of experiences were helpful in the team debriefing for the planning of the next stage of relief.

Currently, LCMS World Relief and Human Care is in the planning stages to deploy a Mercy Medical Team (MMT) to Jacmel, Haiti, very soon. Such a team comes at the request of President Kessa. Of course, over the next few days the situation could change, as it is rather fluid, but currently that is the plan. Further plans are being made on how to best provide relief for the next stage. The debriefing experience was good and allowed the team to express gratitude to each other and to look forward to the future.

- abc3+


Rev. Thomas Bernard Talks About Why the Earthquake Came to Haiti



Rev. Thomas Bernard of the ELCH talks about why the earthquake came to Haiti. He gives a good perspective and overview. The video was recorded by Rev. Dr. Doug Rutt of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.

Rev. Harrison's Third LWR Post -- "Thank You."




"Thank you."

The team of LCMS docs just debriefed, packed themselves into two vans here in Jimani, Dominican Republic, and headed off on the six hour trip to the capital and back home. What an amazing group!

Not a half hour ago, we were all together on the back porch of the large home, which has been the erstwhile dorm for medical teams. The stories of who was with us, how they were assembled within hours, and then put on the ground is amazing. The docs and nurses where high-level professionals, university instructors, emergency room doctors, and nurses--experts in numerous disciplines. As we talked, they were thankful, traumatized, joyous, exhausted, and emotional. They expressed profound struggle in dealing with the carnage they had just walked into; and yet at the same time, profound faith in Jesus.

As the first tremor struck last night, and as the LCMS missionaries delivered trucks full of meals, I was asked to guard the load until the word was given to disperse the precious cargo. I leaned against the tailgate, and a tall, mustached gentleman with an easy southern accent struck up a conversation. He was in his scrubs watching the chaos of 1500 Haitians who not ten minutes earlier had scrambled for their lives out of the orphanage converted to a hospital. "Where ya from?", I asked. "Georgia." "Who ya with," I continued. "I'm with a group called the L.C.M.S. I never even knew they existed, had no idea what they did, but a friend of mine called and asked me to go. I've never been so impressed with a group of people in my life." "That¹s great to hear," I said. "I'm with the L.C.M.S. too."

One of the seasoned emergency room docs struggled to get hold of what she'd just seen. She wept as she recounted the story of stepping off the bus late at night this past Tuesday and jumping into the operating room. Her first patient was a young woman who lay bleeding to death on the floor. The team worked and tried everything, but life was quickly ebbing. The woman had lost her entire family. "What should I say to her?" the doc asked others in the room? "Tell her it's o.k. . . . to go be with her family." She did so.

"Pastor, I don¹t know how to cope with this," she told me. I helped her begin to process the matter in the context of the cross of Jesus. "Pastor, I'm going back home now. The people I work with will not understand this. Patients where I work complain about everything. I just treated a woman who had her arm guillotined with nothing but Tylenol as pain reliever, and she was smiling at me, thanking me. I couldn't believe it. These people have lost everything, and they are so thankful."

As I was writing this, a doctor just appeared behind the building where I am sitting, moaning in anguish and pain about what he'd just experienced. One of our pastors was with him. He's just come from Port au Prince, is exhausted, overwhelmed, hasn't slept in days. The volume of trauma is infinite. He feels great need to return.

In the midst of all this, the Haitians have shown amazing faith, regularly singing hymns to Jesus as they huddle with their lone surviving child or a new friend on the ground or in the next bed over.

O blessed Jesus, have mercy upon your people. Cause this affliction to cease. Comfort the dying, the sick, and the traumatized. Uphold the faith, hearts, and hands of all those many who are were unharmed but now are assisting the needy, and also those who have come as angels of mercy. Amen.

No mind can comprehend this. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33).

We can only face tomorrow with the knowledge that the outpouring of love and blessing in the wake of this disaster is and will be one of the most phenomenal acts of mercy in our time together on this earth.

Pastor Matthew Harrison
Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care
Board Member, LWR

Sunday, January 24, 2010

President Kessa Welcomes LCMS Group in Haiti



President Kessa welcomes the LCMS group just past the border in Haiti on the morning of 22 January 2010. Present from the LCMS for President Kessa's greeting: Rev. Matthew Harrison (WR-HC), Rev. Dr. Jorge Groh (WM), Rev. Glenn Merritt (WR-HC), Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (WR-HC), Rev. Carlos Hernandez (WR-HC), Rev. Steve Lee, Dr. John Lautenschlager, Rev. Dr. Doug Rutt (CTSFW), James Neuendorf (WM), Matthew Schlanger (WR-HC).

Matthew Harrison's 2nd LWR Post

I’ve never been so proud and humbled to be a member of the LCMS. When the LCMS assessment team arrived in Jimani on the southern Dominican/Haiti border, it was late. It was early morning before we got into bed for a very short night of sleep. Rev. Ted Krey, Rev. Walter, and Danelle Putnam greeted us with joy, laboring under the fatigue masked by adrenalin--just enough to sustain for days on end with little or no sleep. The LCMS WM team in the Dominican is incredible in any case, but in the past week they’ve shone with a compassion and determination under the most severe trials. We are at a hospital, which has performed some 500 major surgeries in the past four days, victims helicoptered in from Haiti. Ted Krey and his team have been a force for mercy and the Gospel, with real compassion.

Ted immediately figured out the logistics and delivery necessities of food and water for all patients and their families--1500 of them at distribution time. (That’s finding a need and filling it!). The Civil Defense Corps (a Dominican, mostly voluntary, organization) quickly assembled cooking facilities in the nearby town. Daily, Pastor Krey personally oversees and himself distributes water to everyone at every meal, and personally assists in the distribution of meals to all. Ready, young Haitians bunch behind the truck to disperse the Styrofoam containers of rice, beans, spaghetti, etc. in stacks of five or six. Between meals, Krey and his staff are tending to a hundred issues, questions, pastoral care concerns. In down time, they are speaking with people about Christ and bearing witness graciously through it all, consoling consciences wounded and sorrowful and hurting over mistakes and tensions and failings and weaknesses so prevalent in time of catastrophe. Make no mistake, food and water to victims of this tragedy are a critical, life-and-death issue. The initial mortality rate was high and fell dramatically when the LCMS medical team hit the ground with Pastor Krey at their side, though pastoral tasks have also included the purchase of caskets and transport of the deceased to the morgue and cemetery.

Ted moves through the crowds, completely understated, black collar with tab. He kneels, converses in fluent Spanish, and consoles, answers questions, finds aid, and solves problems. Last night, when a tremor threw everything into chaos, Ted was on the spot as 1500 patients and their families emptied the buildings. It’s vital for clergy to wear clericals in such times. The cross dangling from my neck has been the source of consolation, grasped in hands by those who do not understand my prayers to Jesus for them, yet understood fully. A protestant pastor in street clothes pulled me aside as I worked through the crowd alongside Ted and Walter. “Hey! I’m a ____ pastor! If you need some help, come and get me.” A well meaning and pious Christian to be sure, and God bless him for coming . . . but he was quickly lost in the crowd, and to me.

This is an amazing example of fidelity in word and deed in the midst of a chaotic, often crazy situation with the broadest representation of faiths--Christians and non-Christians (including the emergency workers). It is once again the strongest affirmation that there is no substitute for Lutheran accompaniment. Be present, act, love, serve. That’s the Jesus route in time of disaster.

Give generously. There is a whole lot of accompaniment coming.

LCMS.org, LWR.org

Matt Harrison
Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care
LWR Board Member


Christ in the Ruins Port-au-Prince

This morning we were able to obtain some photos from Rev. Dr. Doug Rutt, who was a part of the assessment team that went into Haiti. He documented the destruction in photos. The picture here is of Christ in the midst of the ruins. The photo is of a Roman Catholic Church in Port-au-Prince.


Boys Shinning Shoes for Clothing and to Help Mother


The two boys, Joyabe and Jesús, shine our shoes. When the boys learned we were pastors, they said Jesus died and rose and hoped one day to be baptized. We directed them to seek the local church. Interesting situation. (BTW, they were good business men.)

Monument to the Heroes of the Resistance--Santo Domingo

Update and Reflections

Last night the entire team arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Pictured are Revs. Collver and Hernandez and Dr. Indira Rodriquez. Below are some reflections by Carlos Hernandez.
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Reflections by Rev. Carlos Hernandez, Director, Districts and Congregations, LCMS WR-HC


"Care for the Caregiver"

Jimani, Dominican Republic, January 23, 2010 -
Today we refocused our pastoral care attention from only Haitian earthquake victim to also include earthquake care providers--doctors, nurses and other medical providers coming in from night shifts and needing to debrief emotionally and spiritually.

Pastor Matthew Harrison used the "interview" process for making these medical staff folks feel more comfortable in sharing deeply felt issues. Several doctors cried as they vented feelings they had been holding back.

I turned my attention to Spanish-speaking doctors and nurses. One doctor, Indira Rodriquez, wanted us to remember the long-term needs of those who lost legs and/or arms and legs and will need prothesis.

She also wanted to know how to reunite her adopted daughter, Rosalina, with her nartural mother and also how to obtain a birth certificate for her so she can attend the university. While this was her way of opening doors to a debriefing, pastoral, conversation ("So many adults and children lost limbs!" she cried explaining the need for prothesis), nonetheless I also received her concerns at face value and connected her with Pastors Krey and Ryes who saw no problem making that happen.

Our cumulative total of 44 years as parish pastors (the three of us who stayed behind to provide pastoral care) was again heavily used by the medical staff--those caregivers who are only as good at giving care as they themselves are given access to self-care, including pastoral care.

Pastor Hernandez can be reached by cell phone (314-956-2005) and receive email (carlos.hernandez@lcms.org) even while in Haiti/Dominican Republic.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Interview CBC and Update


First, we are happy to report that Glenn Merritt and his team have reached the border of the Dominican Republic safely. He and the rest, including Revs. Harrison and Krey, should be back shortly. From there we will have several hours of travel for our overnight lodging.

Second, while we were waiting to hear news of Glenn, Carlos and I met a reporter, Dumeetha Luthra, from the Canadian Broadcasting Coperation (CBC). She interviewed me. Hopefully, she will find it helpful to her piece and the interview will make it in. Good luck Dumeetha Luthra with your endeavours in Jimani and Haiti!

Jimani and Brief Update


Matthew Harrison and Ted Krey with a few others have left for the border of Haiti with a van loaded with medical supplies and a pickup truck loaded with over 2,000 pounds of rice. Meanwhile, Glenn Merritt is reporting that they are still in Port-au-Prince. The situation is chaotic, but the team is safe. The governmental agencies and large NGOs have reached the city, and heavy machinery is moving debris, slowing the teams progress to reach Jimani.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share a little about what has transpired over the past few hours. The Mercy Medical Team (MMT) has departed after a debriefing. The compound has a different feel now that the LCMS people have departe--in some measure because of a lack of familiarity with the new teams coming in.

Even though most of the LCMS people have departed or are away from the compound, we still find work to do (rather, some work has come to us). Occasionally, a physican or medical professional comes to the house seeking a chaplain or pastor. Some of the medical professionals (who come from different backgrounds) have not slept in three days. Some need to talk, vent, or cry about what they have seen. Pastors Ted Krey and Walther Ryes also have been attending to the medical professionals in between attending to other duties. It is not always apparent, but those who come to volunteer or to help in a crisis or disaster also suffer in some measure with the people they came to help.

Every so often, the sound of choppers fill the air. There are at least two or three places nearby where choppers frequently take off and land, including the Good Samaritan Hospital. Seeing the doctors and nurses run to the choppers is reminiscent of M*A*S*H.

The picture above is the view just to the North of the Good Samartian Hospital. A lot of beauty to be seen. A pack of dogs (semi-tame) frolick behind the vacant house. A few moments ago they were playing chase with each other... All of them look relatively young. The electricity in Jimani under normal circumstances only runs 3 to 5 hours a day. Right now, except when there is an outage, it is on 24 hours. The stream of water that is flowing constantly out front is also not normally there.

Carlos and I sitting out back reflecting on the past few days have just met a reporter from the Canadian Broadcasting Company... We'll see where that goes...

Update from Assessment Team in Haiti

RRev. Glenn Meritt just sent me the following text message from Haiti outside of Jacmel:

"Merritt, Glenn (2:06 PM):
Made it safely down the mountain from Jacmel even though there was new slides and cracks in the road. We are in Leogane where some of the worst damage occurred. US Navy helicopters landing beside the highway unloading food and supplies. Perimeter protected, no chaos or disorder. People are patience and courteous given the situation. Trying to get back through the streets of Port-Au-Prince. Very crowded. Assessment team debriefed this morning to begin formulating a plan with the ELCK for a comprehensive Lutheran ministry of presence amd mercy. LCMS World Mission and World Relief & Human Care are working cooperatively with the ELCH to provide immediate and intermediate care to as many needy as possible as quickly as possible. Even though the governmental, military and NGOs are working day and night, many needs remain unmet with our Lutheran churches in Haiiti."
--
We expect to rendezvous with Glenn and his team across the border in a few hours. At that time we will distribute the food stuffs to President Kessa and his team for distribution in Jacmel.

Devotion to Departing Mercy Medical Team

After lunch, Rev. Matthew Harrison gave a devotion based on John 11:14-15 (in English and in Spanish, translated by Rev. Ted Krey) to the departing Mercy Medical Team: "Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly,'Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.'"

This is a troubling passage in Scripture; it is a mystery. Jesus rejoices because Lazarus is dead. This is not the remark of a callous, uncaring man. We know that Jesus loved Lazarus. When He heard that Lazarus had died, Jesus wept. Now this is a strange word in Greek; it literally means the sound a horse makes when it is sucking air through his mouth. You know it is the sound a family makes when he gasps for air upon learning the death of a loved one. Jesus wept for Lazarus but he rejoiced... Note He didn't rejoice because Lazarus no longer was in pain or suffering, or becuase he was in heaven. He rejoiced at Lazarus' death because suffering and the cross create faith. Because Lazarus died, Jesus spoke these words, "I am the resurrection and the life." Do you believe this? Jesus brings life from death.

This past week you have seen death. You have seen suffering. You have seen the cross. The Lord does not bring the cross to hurt you. He brings the cross and suffering to create faith. He drives you to Jesus who is the resurrection and the life. He has forgiven you all your sins.

This past week you made mistakes; Jesus forgives you. You have been short-tempered, irritated, and angry at times; Jesus forgives you. In fact, Jesus has forgiven you so that you can be Jesus to your neighbor--just as you have been this past week, serving people in need from Haiti.

May Christ grant you who are going home to Santo Domingo and the United States peace and safe travels. Those of you going into Haiti late this afternoon, may Christ keep protect you and bring you back safely.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Loading Truck Full of Rice

We are loading the truck with rice for emergency relief in Jacmel, Haiti. The truck is loaded with a little more than 2,000 pounds of rice.

Load of Rice for Haiti

Pastor Walther Ryes from Brazil ( whose first call was to the Dominican Republic) and I (with a little help) loaded 10 bags of rice from Jimani, each weighing 125 pounds, into a van for relief in Haiti. Late this afternoon we will take them across the border. How great it is that the LCMS and Brazilan Lutheran churches can partner this way.

Rev Harrison's LWR Blog Post

John Nunes of LWR asked me to blog for LWR... Here is my first post.

-MCH

--
John, Friends of LWR, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Already last Tuesday, a team of a dozen triage and emergency medical specialists hit the ground here in Jimani, in the far southwest Dominican. This LCMS World Relief and Human Care medical mercy team arrived late in the evening after a six-hour drive from Santo Domingo. A team of helicopters, financed by a generous individual, had been flying and continues to fly in victims of the quake. Port au Prince is some 50 miles distant, across the Haitian Border. I write this morning at 8:30 a.m. from the veranda of a large vacant home, which now houses forty or fifty medical professionals, including the LCMS team. The hospital runs on two shifts and performs about 40 surgeries per shift. About one third of the procedures have been amputations.

Large relief agencies are beginning to arrive on the scene from Puerto Rico and other places, and the LCMS team will exit later today. It's amazing how God times things. They came at a moment of burgeoning numbers of casualties arriving and fatalities taking place at a very high rate. For two critical nights, the LCMS team staffed much of and ran the operation. I am in awe of these faithful folks.

As I remained in Jimani, an assessment team from the LCMS entered Haiti with LCMS partners who met us at the border, and proceeded to Jacmel and Port au Prince. Seasoned disaster man, Glenn Merritt, who is in Jacmel as I write, expressed his thoughts briefly but ominously. "I have seen things today that no person should ever have to see."

Last night was traumatic for the 1500 Haitians here at the medical compound.

Around 6:00 p.m. a tremor shook the area. Everyone fled for their lives into the yard in front of the buildings. There was widespread mourning and weeping, fear in the eyes of little children, and old men looking skyward and shaking their heads. All the patients had to be re-triaged because they had pulled the I.V.s from their arms.

Amputees crawled out of a makeshift recovery ward in an open-air chapel. It was pandemonium. LCMS Missionary Ted Krey (nephew of LWR Board member Phil Krey), quickly urged all of us clergy to make our way among the large crowd, comforting and praying with the people. The three languages among the people are Creole, French, and Spanish. I came upon a little girl and her mother. The child was but five or so, with a pelvic body cast that extended down both legs, as well as an arm cast. She was terrified. I reached down to touch her and bless her in the name of Jesus (it's so important to have one's clericals and crucifix on), and she grabbed my hand, and pulled on my arm, pleading with me. I sat with her for twenty minutes. I prayed, I tried to speak comfort to her and her mother. I sang "I am Jesus Little Lamb" and her breathing slowed. Finally Brazilian Missionary Pastor Walter chanced by in the melee. "Walther, what does she want." "She is asking if you have
some way to take her and her mother away from here." I did not.

But she had been cared for, her life spared. Many others have not been so fortunate.

Thankfully there has as yet been little or no incidence of Typhoid or other infectious diseases. But as I've talked with the surgeons in between shifts, there has been great concern over secondary infections, particularly with amputees, and with the inevitable absence of physical therapy and prosthetics, much less care, in the wake of the trauma which will accompany these dear people for the rest of their days.

As I finish, the helicopters are up again, and there are reports of completely insufficient aid into Jamal (where most of our Lutherans live). Water of course is a critical issue after just two or three days, food after two weeks. Those who have been on the ground here repeatedly express how each day the chaos has become a little more controlled, and that reality is going on throughout Haiti. It will be vital for LWR to carry out its invaluable mission, particularly in the area of its forte, material goods
(school kits, medical kits) as the crisis enters its intermediate phase. And LWR's tremendous capacity for building and assisting communities in obtaining economic capacity and security long term will be a vital mission for year to come.

Last week Pat Robertson suggested that Haiti had some deep dark sin in its past which brought this curse. In God's inverted, cruciform economy, were a sinless Son of God suffers for the unrighteous, I rather think this is God's shaking of us sinners in the U.S., for ignoring our impoverished brothers and sisters, also brothers and sisters in the faith in Haiti. Lord, have mercy.

Matt Harrison

Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care Board Member LWR

Technology and the Field

Here is a picture of the technology we brought with us: a HNS9201 BGAN unit, a Thinkpad T500, and two Macbook Pros, plus a variety of video and still cameras, etc. The equipment is both synodically and personally owned, etc. Especially for this disaster, the Synod's IT department has been incredibly helpful and were able to respond to our needs quickly. Special thanks to Myron Koehn and his staff!

On this trip, the fancy technology (i.e., BGAN unit etc.) proved less than helpful. Almost exclusively, both in the Dominican Republic and across the border in Haiti, we found cell phones much more helpful and reliable. It is truly amazing how one can goto a country that does not have some of the basic services people in the USA are accustomed to--like high speed Internet universially available, running water, functioning sewers, etc.--and yet we found a reliable cell phone network. In some ways, the future of Internet is connected to mobile devices (iPhones, smartphones, tablets, etc.) as some agencies have demonstrated how to receive donations via text message. Something we can learn.

We awoke under the rising of the sun, since most of our team slept outside due to the tremors yesterday. Some of our team awoke to stray dogs staring at them... As soon as one member rose from bed, four stray dogs climbed on his matress and curled up for a nap... Too bad i didn't get a photo of that.

The MMT is packing up to return to Santo Domingo this afternoon. We are waiting for Rev. Glenn Merritt and his team to return this afternoon as well.

More later.

Brief Update and Reflections

Last evening, Rev. Glenn Merritt phoned me via satellite phone from Jacmel, another city afflicted by the earthquake and the location of some of our sister Lutheran congregations. After just finishing touring Port-au-Prince, he reported Jacmel is in just as much in need or even more so than Port-au-Prince. He said the destruction from the earthquake is something no human should have to witness... The level of devastation made a deep impression on this former homicide police investigator and rescue response worker. He also asked Matthew Harrison and me to coordinate a food shipment with our sister church in Haiti a soon as possible. Ms. Barb Below, Director of Social Ministry Organizations, has been hard at work in cooperations with partners in the Dominican Republic to purchase food here and ship it to the Jacmel in Haiti. We hope to have emergency aid there in less than a week.

Last night Rev. Carlos Heranandez, assessment team member and interpreter/translater here in the Dominican Republic, keyed in some "Reflections" on his cell phone last night about the earthquake in Haiti and the LCMS' response. I thought I'd share these with you this morning.

abc3+

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Reflections. By Rev Carlos Hernandez, Director, Districts and Congregations, LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

Jimani, Dominican Republic, January 22, 2010 -

Today was our first full day on the ground responding to the emergency/crisis/"life or death" needs of the victims of the forceful and destructive haitian earthquake that has decimated this already poverty-ridden carribean country.

Our initial response, which is part and parcel of our LCMS World Relief and Human Care disaster relief plan, began very early this morning on the Haitian side of the Dominican Republic/Haitian border where a grant $30,000 was given to President Marky Kessa to begin to address the most basic survival needs of the earthquake victims of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti and the communities they serve, most of them already barely surviving before the earthquake.

Another emergency grant is in the planning stage to bring in much needed food to Jacmel. After an on-sight assessement this afternoon in the Port-au-Prince, Haiti area, Rev Glenn Merritt called our temporary WR-HC administrative base for the Haitian earthquake here in Jimani, Dominican Republic, to alert our Executive Director, Rev. Matthew Harrison that food and water is still a crisis, urgent need among President Kessa's pastors, their congregations and the communuties they serve!

Our whole team ceremoniously witnessed his signing of our grant agreement which insures a high level of accountability. In my brief conversation with President Kessa, I wanted to impress upon him that we at LMCS WR-HC are in it with him for the long term, as we move from the emergency, to relief, to transition, to recovery, and rebuilding stages. "Good. Good," he smiled, "That's what we need!"

At this point, though President Kessa invited us all to come ("you have to see the need with your own eyes," he said pleadingly to all of us), We split into two teams in accordance with an administrative agreeement with those of us staying behind - Pastors Hernandez, Collver and Harrison - providing urgently needed pastoral care along with Pastors Ted Krey and Walter Ries at 'hospital samaritano' where many have been airlifted from haiti by two helicopter (donated by two wealthy donors) for what one surgeon said was the best medical care they can receive. Top surgeons from all over have come to donate their time and skill, including Helen, Glenn Merritt's daughter.

And our pastoral skills were mightily used!

About mid-afternoon, a earthquake tremor shook the buildings in the hospital compound including the building where we are sleeping on mattresses.

We were taking a brief break, drinking water to recoup from the exhausting and draining heat, when a nurse ran to call us back to pastoral care duty. She said: "The sitution has turned chaotic and dangerous! Please come and calm them! Some are jumping from the second story building fearful that another tremor might kill them! "

In their post traumatic stress, they were re-living the original haitian earthquake. it was dinner time. So as we distributed meals, we shared gospel words of comfort.

Wait! We just had another tremblor!!

All of us - nurses, doctors, pastors sleeping on mattresses in the empty house near the hospital just ran out!

This one was worse than the earlier one!

We're sleeping outside tonight!

Suffice it to say, we are in the middle of crisis - caring for victims and fearing we might become victims ourselves.

One final reflection. It has been gratifying for me as a Latino to see how neighboring Latin American countries, with a lot of impoverished conditions of their own, are coming to the aid of their Haitian neighbors. The Dominican Republic, of course, Haiti's nearest neighbor, but also Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico, whose governor accompanied a caravan of supplies and volunteers to 'el hospital samaritano' - good samaritans all indeed!

There is also a lot of concern among Latinos in the U.S. About the victims of the haitian earthquake. I have had three interviews in Spanish since coming here by a national bilingual station--Metro News in Phoenix. I am happy to tell them that the LCMS shares the gospel with both comforting words and compassionate and merciful actions in the face of this terrible tragedy that will occupy our time and energies for some time.

Pastor Hernandez can be reached even while in the Dominican Republic/Haitian border by cell phone (314-956-2005) and by email (carlos.hernandez@lcms.org)

Another $30,000 is desperately needed for a first shipment of much needed food and water.