All posts tagged “earthquake

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Haiti for the long haul

With the Haiti earthquake almost a month behind us, it’s natural to feel ready to think about something – anything – else. A lot of us have watched the news, given to organizations we believe in, and in some small sense have perhaps even grieved with our Haitian brothers and sisters in their time of need.

But we all know that it will take years to rebuild Haiti. So how do we ensure that, in our President’s words, Haiti will not be forsaken nor forgotten? For starters, by getting to know the context.

In the week just before the quake, ironically, I read a memoir called Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle by Kent Annan, co-founder of Haiti Partners. It had been highly recommended by Andy Crouch, who calls it “an unsparingly honest story of relocation to Haiti that captures the complexities of crossing differences of power, wealth, and culture in hopes of being part of God’s work of transformation, without and within. It’s funny, gritty, and strangely hopeful—just what a Christian memoir should be.”

So when I heard there had been a 7.0 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Port-au-Prince, I pictured the shacks on those steep hillsides Annan had described, and I knew they must have been destroyed. I thought of the real people described in the book, and I wondered if any were alive.

In the days that followed, I decided I wanted to learn more. I went to Busboys and Poets and picked up a copy of Mountains Beyond Mountains, which tells the remarkable true story of Paul Farmer, a Harvard doctor who has devoted his life to curing infectious diseases in the world’s most impoverished places – especially Haiti.

Both books are challenging, entertaining, informative, and inspiring, and if you want to learn more about Haiti they may be worth checking out. You might also be interested in this music video from Arcade Fire, a stellar rock band with one Haitian member. This video was filmed on location in Haiti, capturing its vibrancy of life before the devastation. As you watch, consider what it will take for Haitians to once again experience this vibrancy.

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Final Meeting, Census, and the Media

A lot has happened since I last wrote so I’ll get right into it with a brief recap. On Wednesday our group split up into two groups. A car-full of us headed into San Jose to meet with the consul from the Canadian embassy in the morning and a doctor from an open-access, private practice that charges patients based on the ability to pay. Both interviews provided us with unique perspectives and helpful information. While we were in San Jose, the rest of the group had a meeting with a representative from the National Emergency Commission, the government agency that rose to the forefront in the days following the earthquake.

Yesterday we stayed in San Rafael. In the morning a smaller group of us taught an art class for all the students in grades one through five. Another group began conducting surveys for a census of every home in the town, while the rest of the team helped to haul the rubble of the Catholic church across the street to where the school will hopefully be rebuilt in the near future.

Today most of the group headed into the provincial capital of Heredia – where we’d met with the mayor earlier in the week – this time for a meeting with the regional director from the ministry of education. Meanwhile, the survey team completed our census (woot woot!) just as it began to rain a little bit.

In very exciting news, as the census team was heading back to the house we came upon a reporter from the largest newspaper in Costa Rica, who after talking with us is now planning to publish the story of Teresa, our amazing cook whose family has still not been paid for the government’s use of their land for the new road through San Rafael after the old one was swept away in the landslide. The reporter is also interested in receiving the report from all of our findings, which might be the biggest and most unexpected answer to prayer we ever could have hoped for.

Currently our entire team has convened at a place renown for the most amazing strawberry milkshakes in the history of the universe (where there also happens to be free internet!). We’re going to do a little shopping this afternoon and will really begin bringing our findings together this evening, our last night at Casa Shalom.

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Team Contributions!

Yesterday I decided it would be nice to have different people from our team be able to say a little something on the blog in terms of highlights, lowlights, shout outs, prayer requests, or whatever else they’d like to say. So here are the few that participated (some of which might be more understandable than others). If your loved one didn’t say anything, you can post a comment on here in which you make them feel guilty for their silence and we’ll see what we can do about it. So here we go:

Jessica: 4:30am: Is that… a baby… outside our window? …. Jessica: I’m on it.  (5 min later)… Thanks to Elise, Courtney and I, several trusty stones, DBronk’s mini-maglite and Court’s headlamp, the two feisty cats who eminated sounds of birthing jaguars in low screeching moans hade left the premises.

Sarah: Tim is…a MAN.

Danielle: Driving back from Heredia, Jose pulls over and Tomas pulls something out of the trunk…�Hot coffee anyone?�  It was a steaming hot cup of coffee, a nice picker-upper after a long meeting with the mayor.  To my Mom, Dad, Caralyn and Michael…love you guys!  Cara, I wish you were here to help me with this Spanish!!  I took Mayor Reynolds suggestion and used the walking stick Mikki found me on today’s little hike through the jungle.

Katie: A highlight of the trip thus far, is driving up the mountain to see the steaming volcanic crater!  That’s a sight I will always remember!

Tomas: Enjoying the blessings of community, the diversity of thought, the uniqueness of gifts and skills, sharing with my son, the power of altogether for one, and dreams of how to transform. I miss you my dearest Sweetie, Nadia and Nathan.

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Meetings, Volcanoes, & Downpours

After writing yesterday’s post, our team reconvened on the other side of town in Heredia in the midst of a downpour. Some were more soaked than others. We headed back towards Casa Shalom for two meetings in Varablanca, where we had church the other morning. We met first with the school board and association about the educational situation in this area, and out of this we’re working on collaborating when we meet (hopefully) with a representative from the ministry of education on Thursday. You could pray for that.

The next meeting, a briefer one, was with two members of the local community development association, with whom we chatted about housing and other areas of concern in the area. We also hope that connections can be made between these community leaders and the powers-that-be in order to help the community rebuild.

Yesterday was a great day, but an exhausting one. After these meetings we debriefed until late into the evening. Today was a big blessing, then, because we mostly have had the day off. This morning the clouds cleared out enough for us to head up to visit the Poas volcano. We were able to look down into the crater, which was steaming and hissing. Then, after a walk through the jungle over to the older crater, we had our daily devotions overlooking the beautiful crater lake. After this the skies opened up and we decided to take it easy, reading books, drinking coffee, chatting, and catching up on work in Casa Shalom.

Please continue to pray for our transportation situation. Each day has brought adventures of its own; today we only had to jumpstart a car once. But God provides and we’ve always had enough seats (sort of) to get where we need to go. We’d also appreciate prayer for the meetings and surveys yet to be done, and for continued team unity and safety. Thanks so much.

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Sunday & Monday

Just after posting yesterday morning’s update we joined a small congregation for their weekly worship service. Since the earthquake they have had to re-locate to a side porch on a house in the town of Varablanca. The downside is that many people from the church are no longer able to travel the distance to attend. The pastor spoke of the God who makes a way when there is no way, and that we must trust him to work mightily even when we don’t understand how he might do it. After the sermon, our group offered to lead a bi-lingual rendition of “Shout to the Lord.� It was warmly received by the congregation. Speaking personally for a moment, I was touched when we got to the line, “Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name.� The way it translates into Spanish is “mountains fall down� and so it was a bit crazy to be singing this having just observed mountains that literally had fallen apart.

In the afternoon we met with a couple of local community groups – the development organization and the school committee. We got to know the men and women who serve the community of San Rafael in this way, and learned quite a bit about their situation. The (very wealthy) owner of a local dairy farm was present as well, and we hope that in the future he will continue to collaborate with the community to help rebuild.

Today we met with the mayor of Heredia, and the political system here is confusing enough to skip in this short blog entry, but suffice it to say that he has a lot of power to change things in the entire affected area we’ve been visiting. Some of his answers didn’t go as far as we would have liked, but we gained valuable insight into the way government structures operate and how he as mayor views his responsibility.

Currently I am several blocks away in Heredia, in the back corner of a small internet cafe, typing feverishly so as to outrun the impending deluge. In other words, it’s about to rain and I will need to run back to meet the group very soon.

Thanks again for following along, and thanks for your prayers. We’ve got a busy week ahead and we expect plans to change frequently.

It is now pouring outside.