After the service we visited the Haitian mass grave site memorial. On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm Mother Nature delivered another devastating blow to the resilient Haitian people. An earthquake of 7.2 on the Richter scale hit the northern end of the country which includes the biggest city, Port-Au-Prince. The epicenter was 17 miles east of the city (inland). The damage was cataclysmic. 250,000 people died, 300,000 plus were injured. 1.5 million were left homeless. The infrastructure in Haiti is not as developed as we are used to in the US, so the damage left them without the ability to respond. Without equipment to remove rubble, the heart aches were many as families were helpless in rescuing those trapped inside collapsed buildings. Over the following days dump trucks were used to haul the many bodies to the mass grave sites. The memorial built on the site of the mass grave overlooking the Caribbean pays tribute to those that lost their lives, and underscores the seemingly endless challenges this country faces. While the visit is sobering, the Haitians we worked with through the week told us things are much better, and they are still in the process of rebuilding. These resilient people don’t give up. Some of the people we encountered during our work with Healing Haiti are headed south during their “time off” to help the people affected by the recent hurricane.
After the grave site visit we drove through Port-Au-Prince up to the highest parts of the city. Once we began ascending the mountain, the air cooled and we could smell the lush vegetation. Brightly colored homes are built on the face of the mountain in a manner that makes them look almost stacked on one another. These homes are also much nicer than some of what we saw during in the lower levels of the city all week. It was refreshing to see that not everyone in Haiti lives in such challenging conditions. We ended our ascent at a terrace restaurant that overlooked the city. It was a picture postcard view of tropical city. One element of the picturesque view was the smoke we could see rising from Cite Soleil, where we delivered water earlier in the week. After taking in the view, we took a moment to bond and reflect on our week together and talk about how we’d continue our service at home and in Haiti once we get back to Minnesota.
This drive up the hill was an intentional close to our week in Haiti so we could see the different parts of the city we served over the week. It’s sure to add more fuel to the fire of our evening devotions which are led by Pastor Gary. The sessions have gotten tougher through the week as we are challenged to find God and his plan for us to serve all his children through expectant living. It’s been interesting to see the smoldering fires in Haiti as a metaphor for our own smoldering of service and talents. There are some signs of open flame. If you are taking the time to read this blog there is probably something smoldering inside of you, and the team in Haiti would like to challenge you to fan your own flames. Feed My Starving Children, Healing Haiti, and Incarnation put us on an indescribable journey that we’ll never come back from, nor would we want to. We hope you get a chance to join this journey too.