Questions about a lot of things

The news headlines are already changing. The initial wave of interest is fading and all the best pictures have been taken. How quickly the world moves on from something like this. It makes me sad, but on some levels I understand the need. We were overwhelmed with the onslaught of interest and need to know if we were okay. We literally spent about three days in front of our computers (at least one of us did while the other was off helping where possible) fielding emails, blog comments, interviews. Our blog got over 15,000 hits on Thursday alone. Now we’re down to less than 1000, and I’m kind of grateful. While I’m happy we could be a human voice in the midst of this I want to be able to talk about our kid, our family and life here and not necessarily have the eyes of the whole world watching. I can just hope that our words have helped people see and feel challenged.

As I drove into Port on Thursday to do the water distribution thing I was already seeing people trying to gain back some sense of normalcy where they could. I think it’s a coping mechanism. Yesterday I needed to do dishes and tidy my house even though I had been hit with some sort of stomach bug that was leaving me wiped out. The need to take care of our family became number one. I think we needed the rest and our daughter needed to know that her parents were still here for her.

Right now were sort of sitting in a holding pattern. Our dorms are ready to host a medical team, though we don’t know when they will arrive as communication has been limited. We know they are probably already at work in the city, just haven’t been able to take a break yet. I was contacted by a nurse friend from back home and she was able to connect with a medical team coming in this week as well that will be working in our area. She’ll be staying with us. Chris and I are just waiting to touch base with both groups to offer our translation services if needed. Two nights ago friends of ours arrived well after dark. They lived in Port au Prince and asked if they could spend the night. I’m glad we had the round house all set up for the Craigs because they were able to settle right in. The live on Delmas 33 and their stories of the night of the quake are horrific. When they arrived here they hadn’t slept in almost two days and looked close to collapsing themselves. They are still here and we are glad to be able to provide a safe place for them. As tension grows in the city it’s not a good place to be unless absolutely necessary.

We’ve had questions about the state of things now, things that people are wondering about. One of the big ones on people’s minds concerning our family is whether our adoption will be expedited. The long and short answer is we don’t know. We have contacted the Canadian Embassy here (2 days ago) and at that point they hadn’t received any info. Since then there have been news releases from Canada about immigration issues and that adoptions at the visa stage will be given priority. We weren’t there yet. We were/are still in IBESR, Haitian social services, waiting for approval. We have been in that stage for over a year. Because our family lives here in the country we would like to let the Embassy deal with those kids that need to get home to their families. Our daughter is already with us. In the coming weeks as things settle a bit and everyone gets their bearings we will be talking to our orphanage and seeing what strings we can pull or contacts we can use to get that approval, if any. From there we may be able to move forward. Everything is up in the air right now and we have to sit in that because there is no other choice. If you would like to pray for our adoption, pray that Haiti’s president and government will require adoptions in the IBESR phase to be expedited if families have no outstanding red flags. Ours was being held up because we had not been married for 10 years, that’s the only thing. We will pass on any information concerning our adoption as we have it.

As news reports of gas and food shortages have come out people have been expressing their concern for people like us in outlying areas. How does it affect us? We and other missionaries in the area that we’re in who have been here during other difficult times had the foresight to fill up diesel drums before supplies completely ran out in our area. By the time we went to get our last available containers filled on Friday they were rationing fuel. Roman and his wife were able to get some for us and Jean was able to get our last vehicle filled. By the time Jean got the truck filled they were rationing 5 gallons per person. We now have a stock pile to fill our generator when needed and all our vehicles, and to help other missionaries in the area if needed as they’re trying to help others.

We haven’t done a supply run for food yet as we’re pretty confident that we won’t be without. We did a grocery shop in Port the week before, at Caribbean Supermarket which is now flattened. We realize there are a lot of things that have been treats for us, like sour cream and cheese, that we will be going without for a long time, but that’s fine. We live in an area that still has access to produce and basics so we know we’ll be fine. Our Dominican neighbors that were staying in the house of a friend two doors down from us asked if we could keep their small freezer plugged in while they went back to the DR until things calmed down. We asked if we could buy the meat in it from them and they told us to just eat whatever we needed to, so we’re good for food. Our diet might change over the coming months, but we will be fine.

We had a board meeting on Friday night which was good for Chris and I. The difficult thing was that we couldn’t provide answers to many questions. Will there be cement for us to keep producing filters? We don’t know. We don’t know if the cement factory is fine or if it’s functioning. There are other cement sources but the initial flood of goods coming across from the DR will be relief efforts. How is our van? Absolutely no idea. For all we know the mission van is under a pile of rubble. When things get calmed down we’ll go check, but right now it’s not a priority. Our blue truck is on it’s last legs. What are the chances that a couple weeks from now we might be able to get a status report on the new truck we want to buy? Um, no idea.

It’s hard to describe the level of destruction that has been caused here and what it will mean long term. Port au Prince is flattened. There are no government offices. Policing is going to be difficult. Banks in our area are non-functioning because they are all based out of Port au Prince. EVERYTHING is in Port. This is not a case of having one center down and others in other cities that can take over the overflow. Everything was in Port. The entire country is slowly grinding to a halt. It is going to take months to clean up the city. The initial wave will be continuing with rescue efforts, and then starting to remove the rubble. But then all the broken buildings will need to be leveled before businesses can rebuild and it’s anyones guess how many will actually rebuild. We don’t know what services will be available again. A friend of mine who has visited Haiti said that the best way he could think of to talk about the depth of the issue was to say that it’s like every major city in the US or Canada being flattened at the same time. Those centers that run the country would no longer be able to run the country. Think of what that would mean for you. You cannot renew insurance on your vehicle. You cannot get a birth certificate. You cannot get any documentation of any kind. There is no one to run the country. That’s just the way it is.

People have been asking about Peter and Sara. They were on a plane to Fort Lauderdale when the quake hit and didn’t know about it until after they touched down and got their phone turned on. They had a bunch of calls from family and friends to see if they were okay. They were planning on flying in from Fort Lauderdale the morning of the 13th. Instead they spent two days in their hotel. We talked back and forth and they talked to the airlines. They couldn’t offer any concrete info. They decided that it would be best to head back to Portland and wait until civilian flights were flying again. They’re looking at a couple of options for getting in if they can but we are all really just waiting to see what happens. We would love to have them here and they would love to be here if it works out. We don’t know where we will be helping out in the coming weeks but having extra hands around would be helpful. Until then they are focusing their energy on doing promotion for the mission. If you are in the Portland/Longview area and know of a school, church etc that would like to hear about the situation here and what Clean Water for Haiti does, please let me know and I can put you in touch with the Craigs.

The tremors are getting becoming fewer and less frequent, though it’s strange what your body will be sensitive to after something like this.

If you have any other questions about things now please don’t hesitate to ask. I know there will be many questions about life in Haiti now that the shock is wearing off. We would love to give you as much info as possible.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

15 thoughts on “Questions about a lot of things

  1. Leslie you are correct news is only news for so long, however, I do not think Haiti will be forgotten at all! We living in the Caribbean for many years know of the hardships that hurricanes bring in their aftermath and indeed the fear of earthquakes! You and Chris are doing a great job of bringing news of your personal struggles and those of the people of Haiti. Please keep us all informed this keeps Haiti and her struggle in real time.

    Let us all know if there are any real practical things we can actually do! Yes, we can donate money but if there is some way we can be of practical help other than physically being there I am sure we are all here for you.

    God bless you both and the people of Haiti.

  2. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date on whats going on …. this is an tragic situation …. I am happy to say that I will be working with Julie Beach here in Vernon on the benefit concert at the Prestidge Inn… you guys are so worth the effort and I know as a human being that I can not sit on my hands doing nothing when I have the grace of God to do something. Thank you for being there and I pray for you that the adoption process will happen easily and effortlessly …. prays to you and your extended family.

    • Yes, it’s in the Toyota dealer. Indoors. I’m not sure what condition it’s in now or if it survived or will survive the looting. We’ll worry about that at some future point.

  3. Where is the cement factory located with respect to Port? I’m guessing that if it was damaged, it would be high on the priority list of national infrastructure to repair, being as how it seems to be the preferred (re)building material in the country.

    Now would be a good time for the country to enforce some strict building codes for earth quake survivability. But I wonder if they are (or ever where) organized enough to do that. And of course in a country driven by corruption, I’m sure a well placed bribe can get around building codes.

    Chris’ comments about Hatian corruption were very interesting. I think he’s spot on that it’s hard for a young person to learn to be righteous when corruption comes from the top. I think that is one of the great miracles of America — that we had some of the most selfless founding fathers. Would that it were so today.

    Just now they pulled a 54 year old FL woman out alive from a shopping mall in Port. Apparently she was in a grocery store in the mall when it hit and was able to get some amount of fluids from store items. I wonder if that was the grocery store you shop at. Remarkable that she survived 5 days like that. And they say there are more voices coming from that rubble.

  4. We have been following your blog this past week. Thankful that you and the staff are safe. Can’t imagine what life has been like for you! God certainly knew that Chris needed to be where he was at the time of the quake and that he needed to get home to bring help the next day. May God continue to protect and provide for you during this crisis. In the past we have supported the Van der Fliers when they served with CMOM along with the Clean Water for Haiti when it first began. We have recommited our support for your ministry that is now even more desperatly needed.
    Sharon and Jay
    Vernon, BC

  5. Hey Leslie, our church wants me to do a little presentation next sunday about you guys and CWH. I can pull some stuff from your site but if there is anything else that you have that you can send via e-mail that would be great. We are sending a couple of containers to haiti to where Rod and Debbie Wray are (about an hour from you guys….they run an orphanage) and people just want to know where they can help and where their donations will be going. We thought that CWH would be good mission to highlight as well. This last post was great and answered so many questions! We are so thankful for your ministry and trust that God will provide answers to all your questions and provide for all your needs!

  6. Oh yeah, and any specific prayer requests that you guys have (other than the obvious) I’ll do up a list so that we can pray for them! Thanks again!

  7. Hi Leslie,
    I just wanted to mention that, as luck would have it, we’re in a pretty good location for reaching most people in western Washington and Oregon for presentations. If anyone between Seattle and Eugene would like to talk about having a presentation, they should feel free to contact us.

  8. It IS odd how people get caught up in something like this massive tragedy the first days and then seem to forget about it. At least it has gotten far more attention than the earthquake in China where more than 70,000 people were killed. I saw hardly a blip on the screen about that and heard not anything about American aid other than from the charities that were started by China adoptive parents like me. I am so glad Haiti got as much attention as it has and is getting a lot of aid at the moment, though it sure seems to take too much time for the medical and search teams to get there. CNN is still running almost totally Haiti coverage, so that is good. I can’t seem to tear myself away and have cried so much my eyes are burning incessantly. It was heartwarming to see Pres. Bush and Pres. Clinton united together to plead for aid. Take care good folks in Haiti and I am glad you have what you need to survive. I will pray things do not become dangerous as desperation grows and that the aid will continue in force.

  9. I just stumbled across your blog. I can not begin to imagine how your life has changed in just a matter of days. So thankful that your family is safe and fine. You are doing good work in Haiti and I hope you are able to continue. God be with all of you and with all of Haiti. Prayers and hugs…

  10. Glad To hear that u guys are still doing well. And getting back to some sort of normalcy may be a good thing. Especially for Olivia. Kids always need that stability. I know I have tried for months now to give that to Aliana.

    We went to church this morning. VAC took an offering to go to Clean Water for Haiti and 2 other organizations. And Chris August was standing behind a table selling coffee from Haiti to go to that as well. Just wanted u guys to know that we all are here, thinking of u and praying for all on your end. Hopefully u guys can really get the ball rolling and finalize the adoption. And Les, when u make it back here with Liv, we’ll have to get the girls together for a play date :)

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