Stephanie Webster's Trip Journal 2012
January 17-18 - Arrival and Thoman
Five of us from PPC flew to Miami with 10 duffle bags full of meds and hygiene items, plus our carry-ons. We met up with four folks from two churches in the Easton, Maryland area. Our group included 2 nurses, 2 doctors, an Episcopal minister and a professional photographer. After overnighting in the Miami airport hotel, we flew early to Port-au-Prince and were met by Pastor Luc. We had 17 bags plus carry-ons. We went immediately to our "Happy Bus", a school bus body attached to a truck front, a very used vehicle. It was loaded with our bags, many bags of rice, soap and five of Pastor Luc's men, several of whom were our interpreters.
Photos tell the story; words are inadequate to capture the essence of PAP.... the markets, the garbage, the many tent cities, the damaged buildings, crowded streets, tap-taps chock full of people (a converted small pickup truck with seats, used as a public mode of transportation), the skinny dogs, people carrying large parcels on their heads, the bumpy roads, the uniformed school children.
We drove a few hours NE to the village of Thoman, which is rural and off a long, dirt, bumpy road. Pastor Luc's Harmony Ministries has a school and church building. We unloaded and set up for the next day's medical clinic. We took a long walk and saw lots of very small concrete homes. There was no electricity and little water. There were many donkeys, pigs, chickens, dogs, goats. In fact, we had goat for supper with beans and rice and vegetables. That evening we attended the church service. The generator provided the light overhead from a few bulbs. The music was great and the people sang with gusto. We slept on the concrete floor with mats and sleeping bags that we had brought.
January 19 - Clinic in Thoman
The next morning we were up early and running the clinic. People came into the small school area and had their blood pressure checked and were given a card with their name and other information. Then they came into one of the three stations with a doctor or nurse and an interpreter. We had set up the meds in a small area. So all day long, with a short lunch break, we saw people and retrieved medicine and gave out toothbrushes and vitamins and rice to all. Then we loaded up the bus and were on our way by 3:45 p.m. We had several people from Thoman on the bus; they were all jolly and talkative. It was dark when we drove through PAP... a maze of humanity, selling items in the streets. We were in bed early after eating a supper that Pastor Luc's people had prepared, then brought to the hotel patio.
January 20 - Leogane
Up at 6 the next day to go to Leogane, a town to the west of PAP. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Leogane, so we saw more damage. We went through an area that is miles of markets with people selling goods and food items. There had been rain and there were lots of big puddles and trash everywhere. Cars move quickly and the horns honk constantly.
In Leogane we set up under a tent. Luc's church was destroyed and there is just the concrete slab left. The school is a small tin-roofed structure. We brought benches under the tent and set up the "pharmacy" and doctor stations. We worked all day with another quick break for a PB&J sandwich. Because we had done this the day prior, today went more smoothly, and there was more light. We loaded up and were off by 5 pm. On the way back the air was very hazy. People cook outside. Our driver was amazing. We drove with inches to spare sometimes! The roads are very crowded. After supper at the hotel by 8 pm, we repacked the meds for Luc's PAP "pharmacy".
January 21 - Port-au-Prince
Saturday morning we drove to Pastor Luc's church in Port-au-Prince, which is in the middle of a very poor area. The temporary church is a huge tent. Next to that, where the original church stood, the new church is being built and is well underway. Rubble was used to be part of the foundation, so it is slightly raised. The walls are going up.
Linda Jenkins gave a health seminar with Luc translating for the women. There were a few hundred in attendance. She talked about women's health and there were many questions. Dr. Mike Fisher from Maryland then spoke to the women. We handed out soap bars and rice. We then took a tour of an orphanage that is sponsored by a Haitian relief organization in Phoenix. There were about a dozen children in a clean, well-kept home.
We then drove way up the mountain to a Baptist Mission which has been in Haiti since 1943. We went from slums to areas with large homes. However, trash including styrofoam food containers were everywhere. At the mission there was a cafeteria style restaurant and several other mission groups were there. We ate and then drove down the other side of the mountain. There were spectacular views of lush green mountain areas where you could see the farming plots. We stopped at a lookout and we could see almost all of Port-au-Prince. Although there are several million people in PAP, we saw only two tall buildings. The rest is just areas of tents or tiny concrete homes. We could see the ocean and the port, but one of the interpreters told us it makes him sad to look out and see how it looks now compared to before the earthquake. The air is not good. Fires burn, cars emit fumes continuously. Today's devotional really said it for me: "God of the City, your spirit moves through the crowded streets and honking horns. It weaves through the paint of a tap-tap and the basket of a hopeful entrepreneur sitting on a curb. It moves through the quiet alleys and busy intersections. It enters a small rusty tin home, a tent, a roaring market. Have mercy on Port-au-Prince, dear God."
Sunday, January 22 - Port-au-Prince
While boarding the bus to go to Pastor Luc's church, we saw so many people dressed in their Sunday best, off to some place of worship. Once at Cite Militaire (site of Harmony Ministries) I was aware of every woman and child dressed in their Sunday best, clean and pressed! The men all wore shirts and ties and some wore suits. If they did not have a tie, ties were available to them and passed out by the Elders. The men's shoes were shined. I did see a small shoe shine area to the right of the entry. There were male and female scouts dressed in their clean, pressed uniforms. They acted as ushers. When we arrived, people were singing. Later in the service, there was more music with a keyboard, drum and guitar. One of our interpreters played the guitar! The service was long (3 hours) but so inspirational... just to watch the people as they sang. They closed their eyes and raised their hands and swayed and smiled. They felt and lived the music and the Lord. They held nothing back. They stood and rocked and hummed and sang. Pastor Luc spoke and so did one of his Elders. Then Father Jim, from our trip group, spoke and Pastor Luc translated. There were lots of verbal "Amens". The people came up, row by row, to drop coins in big baskets. After the service a group stayed in one area for some marriage counseling. We stayed and took photos and people milled around. The tent holds 1500, and I noticed more chairs in the aisles and outside the sides!
We flew out late Sunday afternoon to Miami and overnighted at the airport hotel. Took long showers! Back to PHX on Monday.