Bon swa from Haiti,
Hope this finds its readers well. We have quite a lot going on here at the moment. After a relative peace for the last few weeks here in Ti Goave, we were awakened to the sound of gunfire this morning. It was very reminiscent of this time last year. This morning was the long anticipated showdown between the UN and the old Haitian army that have been in the old police station in Ti Goave for the last several months. I have written plenty about that in past newsletters so will not rehash the history there. Details are still muddy. We heard the shooting and the helicopters overhead all morning, but we did not see the action, though some of the gunfire was right out front of our house. The UN recorded it's first casualty of this mission which started in June of last year. A Sri Lankan soldier was killed and many wounded. At least two of the old Haitian army were killed and about 35 captured. The clash started this morning before dawn. By noon, most of the excitement was over and the helicopters gone. The old Police station has been retaken. There are a lot of guns in the streets here right now, mostly the UN forces and the Haitian Police. We now have the presence of Jordanians and Argentineans to add to our town. Don't know where things will go from here. The people for the most part here seem okay with the change. The old army was kind of fading anyway, though they did not want to fade quietly. We'll see.
As to other news here, there is just too much. We have had visitors with us for the last few weeks including Pastor Scott and Bobcat, the Goldsteins and Robertsons, an MVI women's medical team from Cananda, and Jane and Kathy who just left Friday. Our schools and food programs have all been going good.
Cite Soleil has been a little better. We plan to have our first kid from there stay over with us here at the Happy House next week. Right now we have a batch of kids from Marchasse and Mapou with us. The kids from Mapou lost their huts to horrible flooding that took place back in May. This flooding and the 3,000 lives it took have been out of the news for some time now, but what we saw there in February painfully reminded us that the needs there are still immense. Thousands of people are now living in small stick frames draped with Red Cross tarps. Needless to say, these "homes" are very temporary and most of these folks already lost everything and are in no position to rebuild. Most of them don't even have beds to sleep on. It is an eerie sight to see how the flooding has rearranged the landscape. Roads that no longer exist. Villages wiped off the map. Looking up from the valley and seeing the bare mountains and the huge trails that the water rushed down. Two huge lakes that did not exist before. Seeing whole hillsides covered with the white dots of tarps handed out as emergency housing. There are new towns now, or "see-tays". Even one called Cite Soleil. Mapou was a spread out village. Now thousands of people have converged in communities of these white tarps. Hearing the kids tell their stories is heartrending. They lost everything. It's only God's grace that they didn't lose their lives. They talk of the rocks that the water brought crashing into their doors. The water coming up to their chest. This was all taking place about 2:00 in the morning. The mats they slept on, their clothes, their livestock, pictures I had taken and given to them, chairs, chickens, everything just being torn out of their hands by a raging current. Yves, 12, escaped with a little cousin on his back. Roslen, also 12, said the water knocked her over and took the sandals right off of her feet. She cried as she related the story. Jevenson, 9, described bodies they saw in the water the next day. The smell over the next few days as bodies began to rot. The UN helicopters came right away with emergency supplies but there was no way to get it distributed to all the places it was needed. People were fighting for the rice. In some cases, even some of the older kids would steal the sacks of rice right out of the hands of the elderly. The day we were leaving Marchasse, we visited a teacher and a couple of the kids' tarp huts. They had related how when they were about to go under, a young man helped lift them up out of the water and passed them over a wall and up onto a roof of a concrete building. While we were walking among the tarp huts, they suddenly spotted the young man that had helped them. "That's him!", they said excitedly. I headed his direction and he looked at me with a puzzled face. He did not know me. "These kids said that you saved their lives. Great job brother". I put some money into his hand. He was shocked, but quite happily. "Thank you" he said wide eyed. "Thank you", I replied.
Now these very kids, along with a few others are spending the week with us at the Happy House and we are stocking them up with clothes, shoes, school supplies, goodies. They've been eating real good the last couple of days as well. This is one part of my job that I love. We couldn't prevent their suffering but we are helping balance the scales a little and they have been very happy kids since their arrival Friday afternoon. They'll be going back with a motherlode. Gonna go for now. Please keep us in your prayers. Also I can never say thank you enough to folks that pray for and support our work here. Anyone that wants to send an e-mail and say HI to the kids here over the next few days is welcome. I will explain e-mail to them and tell them that the messages are from people that love them and are praying for them.
NO pictures or Forwards. I am downloading through ancient Haitian phone lines at 9600 bps, so............
Please take care and Bon Dieu beni nou!!