Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dominican Rebublic - A Welcome of a Lifetime

As we walked onto the aircraft, we began seeing familiar faces that we had seen the day before at the embassy and it was like we were united with old friends. I remember one group had told me their story of how they had just arrived at the guesthouse they were staying at, and decided to go swimming. One young lady had forgotten her towel and ran in to get it when the earthquake started; the guesthouse came crashing down and she never came out. The young coastguard lady started handing out MRE's and Brandon and Bailee could not eat it fast enough. I was so exhausted that I couldn't even think about eating it. Landing in the DR was a sight for sore eyes. We were greeted by a dignified man in a 3 piece suit, telling us how happy he was to see us and how sorry for any losses we may have had. I couldn't help but think that even though it was the right choice to evacuate, I didn't want to be where I had just landed. It just didn't seem right to leave all those precious people in such a devastating state. We entered a Dominican army hanger and were bombarded with people willing to help us in any way possible. There were phones for calling family, food and drinks, clothes, and hygiene products. There were stations set up for paperwork and greivance counsellors. As soon as we were done filling out all of the required forms, we headed to a chartered bus which took us to a hotel and in the hotel was a room set up for travel agents to book our flights to our final destination. On the ride to the motel, I was amazed to look around and realize that I was on the same exact island. I had never been to the DR before now and was shocked at the differences I was seeing. Highways and overpasses, malls, and even an IKEA! But all the while, my mind was still wondering about the millions of people we had left in our home, HAITI. We were greeted by familiar faces at the motel. Missionary Josh Wesson andBrandon's brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Samantha Jordan (who was on their survey trip at the time). What a joy and comfort to see familiar faces. We booked our flight for that Saturday and headed to get some food. We then made our way to missionary Stu and Donna Scheper's home where we stayed until our departure.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Evacuation - Part 2

As we arrived at our home, to lock up and clean out our fridge, we remembered the children. Bailee and Kylee had already started crying because they did not want to go in the house, but they didn't want to stay out in the car either. It was so emotional and so hard to stay strong for them. As we began thinking about things that were necessary to bring, we were overwhelmed because we were not allowed any baggage. We were only taking a backpack and diaper bag. We packed a few changes of clothes for the kids and medicines for the diaper bag. We packed all our food in the car to take over to some friends of ours with whom we were staying with for the night. We drove to their home, unloaded everything, and got the girls and kofee settled in with a sandwich. Brandon left to finish getting the house in order and locked up tight. After a rough night of sleep from aftershocks and people hollering still in search of loved ones, we left for the airport. We all were so sad to be leaving our precious people in the most horrible time, but yet we felt we had to do what was best for our precious children, who were all so scared. Arriving at the airport, my heart went into my throat when I began to see the masses of people. Those who had tickets to fly out, those injured, both Haitian and American. I never thought in my naive mind that it would have been this way. We made our way through the people and got as close to the front doors of the condemned airport as we could. News reporters started asking for interviews. The first to interview us was a very liberal reporter from, I think BBC. He started asking questions and Brandon started talking about the fact that our prayer was that the haitian people would turn toward God through this devastation and not away from Him. the Liberal reporter looked at Brandon and asked, "Doesn't something like this shake your faith in God?" Wrong thing to say buddy! I just put my head down and began to shake it back and forth and Brandon started preaching at the guy. he cut him off really quick and went on his way! There was a group there of 50 americans, who had arrived the day of the quake. They ended up doing things that they never thought they would do medically. One dear lady from their group began talking to us and took us under her wing, the whole group did in fact. I don't think we would have made it through this long and stressful day without them. Our children were such troopers from using the restroom behind trees and in corners to sleeping with the diaper bag as their pillow on the ground, we trudged through the hot and tiring day. Hours of empty promises of a plane arriving became very nerve wracking. We were placed in lines of children, injured, and elderly. Towards the end, they said they would only be able to take the injured. I was so tired and hot; I had a sling and had held kofee in it as he slept, nursed, and played. I was so emotionally drained that I started crying and asked Brandon if we could just go home and come back tomorrow. He encouraged me and helped me to go on! Nearly 10 hours later, their was a shout from one of the main embassy workers for a family with kids, I began crying at as loud as I could shout it, I said, "We have kids!!!" We were taken to a US coast guard airplane and the journey to the DR began.

Friday, June 25, 2010


After a night of aftershocks and sleeping outside, we prepared for another day of the unexpected. As a mother, I stayed with my friend Karen and kept the children entertained to keep all of our minds off of the tragedy beyond the walls of the house. Brandon loaded up as much supplies as he could and headed to find our church people and make sure they were ok and to find out their immediate needs. Karen's husband, Kim, and their board members set out to check on their school children and to find one of their boys that never made it home the night before. I can remember, as we sat their and I finally got Kofee down for a nap, their was a huge aftershock, and one of Randy and Karen's haitian boys, who was very shook up from everything, ran inside and was screaming , "KOFEE, KOFEE! He is inside, we have to get him out!" I remember crying as I saw the concern and fear in his eyes that Kofee was in the house. The day wore on and Karen and I became very stir crazy as we waited for our husbands to return with some kind of news as to what was happening. As they began to arrive, we began hearing how the outside world was, and it was very sad. Tears were shed as we found out that the haitian boy that Randy was in search for, was killed in his school that collapsed. Brandon told of all our church families who had lost everything, but was safe. Randoy left again, and the second time he returned, he was ready to take his wife, staff members and baby girl to the Canadian embassy so that they could be evacuated. I remember how in control I was while knowing we were surrounded by people, but when I heard that we would be left, I was in complete devastation. I looked up at my husband with tears in my eyes, and he knew his only choice was to take us to the embassy. On the way to the embassy, there was no talking just crying. I praise the Lord that he allowed the girls to sleep all the way there. I would never want them to remember what is forever etched in my mind. Bodies upon bodies lined the streets and the ground of hospitals. Buildings that we frequented often, were gone. We arrived at the embassy and told the woman at the desk that we were just checking in and wanted to let family know we were ok, but she took one look at how small our children were, and told us that we would be on the next flight out. We stressed the fact that we lived in Haiti and were just not visiting and we would have to return to secure our home. She gave us approval for that, and placed us on a priority list and told us to be at the airport the next day for 7 am. Little did we know what we were in for.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"A Night Under the Stars"

As we began to gather our thoughts, I just couldn't make myself go upstairs, and my children wanted me very close to them. Our Canadian neighbors made it back to our house and we started making plans for the evening. I knew we would not sleep in our home; we felt so trapped and if the earth started to shake again, we had no way out. As the men, talked it over, we moms, gave baths in a kivet (a large tub used for washing clothes) and put them in their pjs. The men decided it was best to stay over at Randy and Karen's to conserve as much as possible. Brandon gathered blankets, air mattress, and pillows and we walked over to their house. As we began making our way over, we could see that our haitain neighbors were working on getting the body of the mother who saved her children, but didn't make it out of the home before it collapsed on her. I began to think of all of our church people and could not help but wonder if they were doing the same. These questions would have to wait to be answered until morning. As the men worked on Randy's wall that had collapsed, we began preparing beds and sleeping arrangements. We finally were able to settle down. I remember Kofee was sooo hyper and not a care in the world. It was like a big slumber party to him; he would crawl from matress to matress and thought it was so great that we were on his level. When we finally laid our heads down that night, I prayed myself to sleep. Prayed for safety for our people we had not heard from; prayed for safety through the night; praised God for keeping us safe and our dear friends safe. Around 11 pm, we were sleeping soundly, but an hour later, we awoke terrified as everything began to shake around us. We jumped up grabbed the nearest child and ran outdoors. Before we could say anything to our husbands, they began dragging our mattress outside. It was such a feeling of helplessness. I felt like I needed to be so strong for the kids, but yet, I ran at any shake or loud sound. We finally settled everyone down again, but it was not the last aftershock of the night, and there began a long restless night under the stars.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our eyes see the catastrophe

As we began to think of what to do next, we began calling those in haiti and in the states. Brandon started calling our boy John, who was away from the house and I began calling anyone I could get in touch with. I finally got through to our song leader and I can remember his voice sounding like that was an every day occurrence but he would let everyone know. It hadn't set in you could tell until my pastor, who was standing right next to him, started receiving frantic phone calls to see if we were ok. I, then, called our neighbors who we are very close to; they were not home and I knew they were at a basketball tournament at their haitian school and when I finally reached Karen she was crying hysterically telling me their school had collapsed and they were all sitting out in a big open field. By this time, we have had a huge aftershock. I then called another friend of ours, who works with Randy and Karen (our neighbors). She was so frantic and could not stop talking about how she was cleaning her house and had water everywhere from a busted toilet. I told her to leave it all and come to my house. As she arrived, we were out in the street due to another big aftershock. By now, the kids are beging to become very scared every time an aftershock occurs. It was hard to keep them inside, but to see the sights outside our wall was just as horrible. Men and women running frantically in search of family members. Injured people bleeding running to find help. As we saw clouds of dust fill the sky, we knew it was going to be devastation everywhere.

The Day our World "SHOOOK"

It was January 12, 2010, a very busy day for us. Brandon had bible college until noon and I had a ladies' bible study to go to with missionary ladies. That Sunday night we had discussed our grocery shopping for the week as we usually do it on Tuesday morning while Bailee is doing school with her teacher Kerline. However, I knew our schedule was super busy and would not get to the store until after supper on Tuesday evening. We discussed it and decided to have supper early on Monday evening and go then. I really didn't like the idea because it is usually very unstocked from the busy weekend but I decided to let my husband make that call and went with it. To take you back just a little bit, we had only been back in Haiti for six months after being home on furlough, and the birth of our baby boy for a year. We had been struggling with the next step in our ministry as the church we had been working in had been given over to the national pastor who was doing a wonderful job. We had been praying so hard for a clear leading, and the start of January had felt like a start for us as we had assurance of where and who we should begin our ministry. We had also been discussing the need of a bigger house. That Tuesday morning, I sat with Brandon and said, "I want you to know that I want our ministry to come first, and house second. I love my home and, even though it is a tad too small, and we have no yard, I am happy and content to stay for another year so we can find a rental building to start our work." To make it official, we took out paint and started painting Kofee's room! I was soo excited. I don't know if it was age or knowing I was done having kids or just God giving me that perfect peace in my heart; I was so content and happy to be in Haiti and in God's perfect will! I went to Bible study and had a wonderful time with all the ladies, some of whom was the last time I saw them before the earthquake separated us to different parts of the states. I returned home and started painting with Brandon and then headed downstairs to fix supper. We all enjoyed supper together and I washed all the dishes and we were headed back up to try to finish Kofee's room, but got sidetracked by playing with the kids and having a good time. I started hearing a noise like our big iron gate was opening, and then the ground underneath our feet started hopping, it was like someone was jacking up our house and dropping it straight down. Glass was shattering all around us and we could hear things crumbling outside our walls. It was the most terrifying 45 seconds of my entire life. It is hard to type this for tears that cloud my eyes. It took a little while to even think what it could be and head for outside, but because our wall has been moved in, it is right up against our house and the only way out was next to the car. Brandon stopped before any one of us could exit and told us we would have to stay indoors. Our car was hopping all around and he didn't want us to be trapped by our car. I remember hovering over my precious children and praying that God would protect us. After the longest 45 seconds of my life, I layed out flat on the floor and just screamed and screamed and screamed. I can remember looking up from the floor with Brandon and the girls standing over me with the expression of "what in the world are you doing??" I quickly recovered and jumped up. This part of the quake was over but we had yet to see what awaited us outside of our walls.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Our World Was Shaken

Many of you ladies have asked for a view into my experiences from the earthquake that devastated the country of Haiti on January 12, 2010. As, this is easy for me to talk about, it is hard to put into words but I will try my best to portray it as it happened. My prayer is that you who read this blog do not feel sorry for us; I am not doing it for that reason. I pray that you see the burden we have for this, our, people and that it will give you a stronger burden for the need to reach them NOW. For the harvest in Haiti truly is white at this time, and the coming of Christ in nearer than ever before. We must reach them while there is still time and while their hearts are open to the gospel.