Post-Hurricane Update #8 – Thursday Oct 27

Post-Hurricane Update #8- Thursday Oct 27 – 11:30 pm

Today was a good day… Exhausting? Naturally. Full of “Haiti” extras? As expected. Overwhelming? Not surprisingly. Blessed? Most definitely, without a doubt, YES.

But I’m getting a head of myself…

As many of you already know, I’m back in Haiti after a whirlwind week in Pennsylvania. As busy as it was, it was a much needed breather from the overwhelming ride that the past few weeks since the hurricane have been. While I was greatly encouraged by the response of people wanting and willing to help us help those in Haiti, I’ll admit I was also a little terrified. You see, people often ask us, “how do you support yourselves in Haiti?” and my answer most often has simply been, “Jehovah Jireh. God provides. He will keep us going for as long as He has work for us to do.” And that has been true for me ever since I came to Haiti almost six years ago now. God has continued to provide for our every need (even if it hasn’t always been what, how, or even when we expected it to happen). He has kept us going. And now, as we’ve been working on hurricane relief and I see God answering our prayers above and beyond what I had initially expected, I can’t help thinking that He’s got more on His mind for us to do than I could have even imagined. And that is both an exciting and a scary thought all at once. A thought that I’m still processing, day by day…

But speaking of today…

Our first, full day in Savannette with the team from Johnstown (made up of my brother Josh, Sean McCool, Jeremy Barclay and Matt Trent) got off to a good start. The chainsaw crew, headed by Josh and Waly are doing a fantastic job, and Gayly has been great overseeing the teams clearing big trees around the area. This week we’ve also had two men from the church in Jacmel, sent by Pastor Pierre, join our usual gang, which has been a wonderful addition as they’ve been taking time ministering to the people in this community. Yesterday afternoon, as we went around distributing tarps, I lost count of how many times we prayed with people as we actually took some time to stop and talk with each of them.

Josh Cutting Trees

My brother Josh on the hard working tree cutting crew

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Temporary Tarp House

Building a makeshift tarp house

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All in all, we’ve already distributed about 30 tarps, and we also finished building our first makeshift house for a man whose home had been completely reduced to rubble. The best part of the day, however, came when we heard from one of Pastor Pierre’s guys that this man, and another guy from his area had accepted Christ! We could hardly contain our joy at the news. Who am I kidding? We couldn’t contain it. 🙂

So that was the highlight of the day…then came a bit of a low light…

Three of the local guys we had hired for the machete crew had kept asking us to come and see their community and the damage done to their houses there, so finally this afternoon Sean, Anderson and I agreed to take a walk with them. They took us down a small road and soon we were coming across houses that we hadn’t seen before. Broken houses. More homes without roofs and families in need of help.

All in all we saw about 20 houses (though there were many more), and even stopped to measure seven of them, but eventually had to draw a line somewhere. I admitted to the people that I felt heavy, because I could see so much need around me, and yet there was only so much that I could do to help and I didn’t want to promise them anything I couldn’t deliver…and incredibly, they understood. To be honest, most of them looked genuinely surprised to see strangers showing up in their zone in the first place, and completely unaware that anyone had even been trying to help in that area.

Now, from the beginning, I had defined a specific region on the Savannette stretch (from the intersection in the north to the church on the south) to focus on, but hadn’t quite realized that the whole area I saw tonight for the first time ever, was still in that zone. Most of the 100 houses we had surveyed a couple weeks ago, you can see from the main road. And now I was finally becoming aware of the fact that if you head either east or west of that big road, there are so many more houses unseen, and thus far, unreached. And I feel bad, because there’s even some elderly people who need tarps that are right outside the borders of this zone, but we just can’t stretch the perimeter right now until I know there’s more tarps to give. That said, I will admit that I did give away one tarp outside of that zone today….

A man on a motorcycle stopped to talk to me on the road this afternoon. He was coming from higher up the mountain, to the north, and had been heading to town when he spotted us. As he was talking to us, part of me kept wanting to say, “I’m sorry, but you’re outside of our zone. We can’t help you right now. You’re outside the zone,” but as he shared about having twin babies that were being rained on, I thought, “We have to check in on this.” So I called Paul, one of the local men in the area to check the man’s story for me. Turns out that this man lived over half an hour up the mountain. As Paul said “from way up there”, and there was no time to go investigating as it was already late afternoon. Sean and I looked at each other and agreed…maybe this man was just telling us a story, or perhaps he really does have twin babies waiting for him at home. Either way, the thought of them being exposed to the open sky was enough to give him the benefit of any doubts in our minds, and so we sent him on his way with a tarp in hand.

And while we’re still on the topic of tarps, I have to say that as I take a closer look around me at the houses that have attempted to do repair work themselves, I’m seeing a lot of makeshift fixes with cheap roofing. Many of these people are reusing scraps of tin that had been pulled off roofs during the hurricane, so they have holes in them, meaning that it blocks the sun somewhat, but does not keep the rain out of their homes. I know that in the past I mentioned that 90% or so of the houses in this community need roofs, but in reality it’s more like 99% of them. Needless to say it’s overwhelming. This is so big and there are so many, and we’re small, and but a few. But you have to start somewhere…

And at the end of the day, despite the ups and downs in between, I choose to lift my eyes off the temporary struggles and remember those two men whose lives were eternally changed today. And tomorrow, we’ll continue to do what we can, with what we have, where God has placed us, trusting that He will supply our needs.

5 Comments »

  1. Denise Goodale Said,

    October 28, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

    Thank you Travis for the updates and your faithfulness.

  2. Karen Said,

    October 28, 2016 @ 6:12 pm

    Thank you for what you do Travis

  3. Gretchen Burket Said,

    October 28, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the update. Can’t imagine what you are seeing and dealing with. May God continue to give you the wisdom and guidance you need. I also pray you continue to keep your focus on the eternal( the two who came to the Lord) trusting He will supply all your needs and the needs of the Haitians.Will continue to pray. If there’s anything I can do here, please let me know.

  4. Sue Leatherman Said,

    October 28, 2016 @ 9:28 pm

    Thank you Travis!

  5. Ken Said,

    October 28, 2016 @ 11:09 pm

    Thanks for the update.

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