If you are interested in hearing about Haiti from people who live there, but have no connections, you may be interested in today's post. Here are two long emails straight from the country:
An Email from Jared Nikkel - our missionary friend at the Pignon Hospital and our library
I am writing with a heavy and anxious heart. I returned from Port au Prince last evening around 7 pm after spending a little over 24 hours there. I travelled with Pastor Caleb Lucien and Dr. Batsch to find the families of Dr. Batsch and several other doctors that work in Pignon but live in Port au Prince. We also planned to assess how we could help so that we could coordinate our assistance in Pignon. I must say that the leadership and compassion of Pastor Caleb and Dr. Batsch was a tremendous blessing to me and the people of Haiti. We carried some medical supplies, water, and tents and were able to help several neighborhoods with the few supplies we had. Thankfully and by the grace of God we found Dr. Batsch’s wife and seven year old son and the other doctors that we travelled with were able to find their families alive although some were injured.
I saw first hand the destruction and loss of life and it is incredible. I cannot fully describe the scene and I am still trying to process it all myself. I wept this morning as we continued our 40 days of prayer. It is simply very hard to experience. Imagine over 3 million people displaced, hundreds of thousands of dead bodies, no power, no water, no shelter, no fuel, no food All of this is unimaginable in a developed country let alone a country like Haiti. From what I saw the city is for all practical purposes destroyed. I was able to see all of the government buildings, finance, justice, health, mayors office, palace, all destroyed. Four large hospitals destroyed, and all hospitals damaged. Nearly all the major businesses were destroyed or severly damaged and commerce has stopped. I saw two working gas stations but each had run out of fuel by the time we left. I saw dead bodies everywhere, lining streets, lying in rubble, piled on street corners and being slowly carried away by men with carts. I saw people erupting in joy at the news their loved ones survived and I saw families erupting with grief as they learned of the loss of their family, the scene repeated itself thousands of times all over the city. I saw thousands upon thousands of people sitting and lying in the streets unable or too scared to enter the shelter of the buildings left standing. I slept outside with many people and listened to the sweet sound of relief planes arriving and carrying hope more than anything else. I listened as thousands of people cried out to God and even praised him. I felt ashamed at my lack of faith as they sang “tout bagay déjà byen” “all things are already good”. Unbelievable. I counted people as we stood and waited along the road out of Port au Prince. The average was 81 people per minute heading north, with that average over 14,000 people passed by me on there way out, many unsure where they will go. I’m sure you have all seen pictures and heard the news stories but the reality is astonishing and will worsen in these first days of this tragedy.
I returned to Pignon with Dr. Batsch and his family and 9 others whose homes were destroyed. We had the business of seeing the Fargo, North Dakota team off, graciously arranged by Pastor Caleb and we will be planning how we can provide for victims in the next few days. They announced on the radio today that patients can be taken to the our hospital here in Pignon so we will see what happens. The patient load here is heavier than normal and I suspect will continue to increase. We will begin planning how we can accommodate any refugees that come to Pignon. We have talked briefly about areas we can use to set up tents and will plan further as we know more.
The needs are enormous. I wondered this morning how you take nothing from nothing. Someone said yesterday “if Port au Prince is broken, Haiti is broken” and that is correct. This tragedy has deeply affected all of Haiti. The availability of all supplies here is decreasing or gone and the means to get supplies here is crippled. Diesel fuel is nearly gone and the price has nearly doubled. Diesel is $5 a gallon and a gallon of gasoline is now $12.50 in many places. I know the town of Hinche is out but this morning when I went to find fuel I was fortunate to get some of the last diesel in Pignon. Dr. Guy said that he had tried to buy as much diesel as possible in Cap Haitian, I don’t know at this time if we have found that fuel. Without diesel fuel we have no electricity, no transportation and no water at the hospital. Most of the rice, flour, sugar here in Pignon is gone or disappearing fast. Many vendors hoped they would have more tomorrow from Cap Haitian so we will see. We could find a little rice, and could only buy sugar in small quantities and could not find flour. We purchased enough supplies this morning to last about a month. Food, water, medical supplies and fuel will be the main concern all over Haiti. Dr. Batsch is preparing a list of medical supplies we will need here at the hospital and will email that soon to our supporters. If we have connections to money and supplies now is the time to use them.
We are working on improving our communication by getting some Voila phones. Digicel service isn’t working but Voila is intermittently so we hope to get some cell phones up and running. We are still trying to figure out how we will get Stacey's parents home next week.
Thanks to all of you who have sent or left supplies with us we will be able to use much of the clothes and medicine and other items that have been left with us. Thanks to everyone who has shown so much concern for us and the people of Haiti. I’m sure we have forgotten some things and we’ll try and keep updates coming. Please forward this on and we'll try to post it on the blog as well. Keep Praying and God Bless.
An Email from JeanJean & Kristie Mompremier of United Christians International, Pignon,Haiti
We feel so blessed right now. Our family has all made it up here to Bohoc (Pignon area)
JeanJean spent the whole day trying to get to Port-au-Prince so that he could evacuate his family. He was stopped in Hinche where he could not find even one gallon of gas. Our truck didn't have enough to go on to Port. JeanJean found 2 trucks that did have enough gas and sent the drivers with instructions on how to find family. Then JeanJean loaded up the Ford with refugees heading to our community and Pignon. There were so many people needing a ride that had no money at all, he paid for a large truck to transport another big bunch of people. Even though it was great to help those people, we were all disappointed that our family wasn't coming home. At 9:00, we received word that JeanJean's brother had found a truck and was transporting all of our family and many others from the area. They arrived at midnight. Praise the Lord!
We spent hours talking about their experiences. They are still in shock and they are sore. They haven't eaten, bathed or slept since the quake. My nephew that was buried under the rubble is experiencing respiratory problems and is so sad for many of his classmates. I was told by his dad that as soon as he left the building, he tried to go back in and help get more people out. Others had to force him to stop and rest.All of them talk about all the friends they have lost. They can't even describe what it was like to see and hear dying people and not be able to do anything about it. They also don't see how they can return to Port. There is no where to live; no where to build.
The thing that strikes me is that all of my family that was sitting in my house for New Years is back with us again--we didn't lose even one of JeanJean's immediate family. We feel so blessed but we also found out tonight that 3 of our cousins did perish. All 3 are from the same grandmother, JeanJean's aunt.
Thank you for your prayers--I can't say that enough.
Pray for JeanJean as he has 4 funerals to conduct today--probably the first of many. He wants to give a message of hope even now--especially now.
We love you all,
JeanJean and Kristie and Tana and Kerri Mompremier