Hi John, Really enjoying your journal entries! To the other forum members, I had the pleasure of working with John on this humanitarian mission to Haiti. The experience has impacted our team in a profound way. May God use our small efforts in Haiti for the good of the Haitian people. Looking forward to seeing you at the reunion John.... Kim
Likewise Kim, I had the wonderful pleasure to be able to journey with a kind & caring soul like yourself.. You're a great listener and was really there for me when I needed to share.. Thank you dear friend.. And we were all blessed to have such an awesome group that looked out for one another.
Welcome to Thy Daily Bread Kim!
"Love one another as I have loved you" .. This is the whole of Christianity..
Until We’ve Actually Seen It First Hand , It’s Very Difficult to Wrap The Mind Around It… And Even Then….
“As I reflect on our shared experience I am reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa....."we can do no great things, only small things with great love". Our days at the clinic in Cayes Jacmel were overwhelming, the need was so great. But God doesn't ask that we care for the whole world, but to care for one person at a time.” Nurse Kim, our newest member here on Thy Daily Bread commenting in a recent email about our trip to Haiti..
Nurse Amy with a young patient and mother.. Sometimes a smile makes all the world of a difference
I’ll apologize ahead of time if I seem like I’m jumping around in my reflections at times. While I am trying to share as events happened from January 12th until now, I’m also hopping, skipping, and jumping around as things come to mind that I feel called to be share ahead of time. So please bear with me and hopefully I’ll remain clear throughout these reflections as to what time frame I’m speaking about at any given time.
So before I go much further I really do want to take a moment again to thank everyone who made charitable contributions towards this trip and towards HTFH, to everyone who stood behind me and supported me, and especially for all of your continual prayers which have meant so much and were really felt. Our humanitarian efforts would not have been possible without all the help we received. Thank you..
Three of our Nurses Nancy, Kim & Sheila..
Our nurses and medical personnel on this trip were outstanding by the way! I want to take a moment and really applaud them because it was the combination of medical experience and expertise on this trip that worked so extraordinarily hand in hand with such great compassion and tender care that I believe is what made all the world of a difference while we were in Haiti. Everyone who came on this trip did so as a volunteer. There was no paycheck. Time was taken away from daily routines, jobs, and families to travel to Haiti wanting to help. And as a witness on this trip, a person myself who has no medical experience and sometimes felt extremely limited in what I had to offer, I also bear witness to the loving care and compassion that was shown by our nurses. They were awesome! I probably need not say much as the numerous pictures I will be posting throughout these reflections will tell it all… Although I will share much more on the wonderful work our nurses did during our time in Haiti in the post's to come.. But for now just wanted to take a moment to commend them on their wonderful efforts and rather large hearts!
From January 12th over the next few weeks until it was time to leave I joined thirteen other local volunteers who were beginning to prepare for this potential trip to Haiti. And when I say ‘began to prepare’ there is a lot to be said about this kind of planning… Not just physical planning but mental, emotional and spiritual planning just the same. And in so many ways I wasn’t even sure how to go about it except for the continual information coming in mostly via emails from our Coordinator Steve Mcdougall who we are all grateful for the tremendous help he offered us in taking the time to brief us both before and during the trip. Steve summoned several meetings in the basement of a local Church Jo-dee had arranged for us to meet at.
It was during these meetings the most that we would come to learn about what to expect when we reached Haiti. It was also during these meetings that we would begin to come to know one another and what we each had to offer... though I'm not sure anything could really prepare us for a lot of what we were about to witness.. And I must admit I felt inadequate during the first meeting as we went around the table and introduced ourselves taking a moment to share in brief our credentials for lack of a better word. Almost everyone in the group was offering some kind of medical experience. When it came to me I could offer experience in construction and experience in helping troubled teens. To me it wasn’t enough.. But to the rest of the group including our coordinator Steve and two other board members Keith & Marcia they felt I could be of help. So I thought, well, if they felt I could be of help then I will trust that and continue in preparations.
During one of the initial conversations I had with Steve over the phone he told me that I would need to start on shots immediately. Mostly the Twinrix shot because I would need to have it in your system weeks in advance before going to Haiti. Well, for someone like me, this was the tell-all & end-all that would determine just how serious I actually was about making this trip. Anyone who knows me knows how extremely petrified I am of needles! I run the other way at the mere mention of shots.. I’ve been that way ever since I was a little kid and as an adult I’ve never seemed to overcome that fear. So if I was going to get shots in order to make this trip then I needed nothing short of a miracle, a tremendous outpouring of God’s graces. I went to a nearby clinic that same day and inquired about the Twinrix shot. No sense in procrastinating. They were ready right there on the spot to take me in and start me on the first of three doses but at the moment I didn’t have the money on me so I opted for an appointment the following day. A single Twinrix shot would cost $71.00.. I would need three before I left.
Also needed was an updated Tetanus shot. And according to the CDC’s website it wouldn’t hurt to get a shot to fight against typhoid as well although typhoid at that time was not of great concern. At the doctors blessing I skipped the typhoid shot but did eventually get the three Twinrix shots and the Tetanus shot. And upon getting the last of three Twinrix shots I also began taking Malaria pills. And at the suggestion of my doctor I took an oral dose of Dukoral, a medicine to fight against Diarrhea, a common occurrence among those travelling to 3rd world countries especially who are not accustomed to the foods and surrounding environment.
I went to my appointment as scheduled and when it came time for the shot I lifted my sleeve and like a good trooper turned my arm towards the nurse and the needle she held in her hand. “Okay, go for it!” I said with a smile… followed by, “Ouch! That hurt!” As the nurse gave me the shot I tensed up and moved a bit just as the needle went in.. Truth was though, I was still eager to get this shot… First time in my life I ever felt eager to have a shot. And despite the sharp bruising pain from accidentally moving I still had that eagerness on my next visits.. The eagerness was in wanting to see this through to go to Haiti.. Whatever it took.. Whatever I needed to do..
So the grace was certainly there! Remember, God tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would go to Haiti, it only made sense He wouldn’t abandon me in the process but make sure I was given the grace and strength needed to fulfill what He was asking of me… And it was this way for all of us who made this trip. Perhaps not in terms of getting shots so much but in so many other ways different for each individual. Getting time off work, pre-arranging things for while we would be gone… everything just seemed to fall into place for us as we continued to prepare. Even arranging for police clearances and updated passports at the last minute for a few individuals in the group fell into place in perfect timing.
Women lining up for food distribution in Port Au Prince
I do realize so many of the pictures are sad and can be difficult to look at.. And believe me, I’m not showing them to make anyone feel sad as almost unavoidable as that may be. In so many ways the whole journey to Haiti was sad and difficult for all of us who went to witness which is why I’m struggling a bit myself these past few days to try to write about our journey. I usually don’t have difficulty journaling about my experiences at least in the same manner I am right now. I usually don’t struggle to reflect as I live them…I can get writers block like anyone.. But this is different. I’ve pretty much written a book already over the past three years or so about my conversion journey even though it’s no where near its end… And I’ve written pretty much with ease about the joys of traveling to Medjugorje on two occasions.. But this is very different in so many aspects… But mostly, simply because of the inner sadness one is left with witnessing such devastation and how it has affected these poor people.
Yet for those of us who have been to Haiti… Well, we carry a message for the suffering soul… We made a promise to bring back home and share this message with the rest of the world in hopes of acquiring more help. Not just more help but continual help for years to come. We bring to our society here at home an S.O.S. if you will on the behalf of our new Haitian friends… and make no mistake about it, it’s a very legitimate and urgent one!
Nurses Ben & Jenny assisting Dr. Philippe in O.R.
A few days before we left to return home, a few young Haitian boys who had been working around the clinic as translators came to me with a plea. Actually it was an idea. One that I thought was brilliant and rather commendable coming from 16 year olds. They wanted to know if I could get them some early level school exercise books in English… Simple grammar books at an elementary level… perhaps grade 1 or 2 level. Having began to learn English themselves they want to take what they are learning and teach English to the younger children in their village. Many of the children are not in school right now and there is no immediate sign that they will be attending school any time soon. In some cases it’s a result of the Jan 12th earthquake but in other instances school is just not available especially to the younger children. The intent of these young boys is to give the children of their village a head start.
Every young Haitian wants to learn English because they know in the end this opens the door to a better life… A life they can only dream of… Yet all they desire is a fair chance in life to crawl out of the impoverished life they’ve had no choice but to cope with and live thus far. I thought, “How noble of them!” to want to give back to their community what they are being blessed with. I suggested they make a list of what they might be looking for and I would look into it once home. Well, the next day they returned with a list of items that they felt would be beneficial to their efforts and in big letters across the top of the paper it read “DON’T FORGET US JOHN”
I am looking into getting them what I can on that list. The greatest challenge though is not so much acquiring the items themselves but rather getting them to Haiti. The cost’s for shipping are astronomical! But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, the plea is for basic school books and learning tools that can help these young students to help the younger ones within their own community have a chance to better themselves. This is just one of many examples or ongoing issues the Haitians face. Lack of food.. Lack of clean water.. Lack of medicine.. And a lack of education and jobs… And when you have such simple and basic necessities missing in a society compounded with disease and illness, there has to be a sense of hope for the suffering people of that society.
The thing is, being forgotten is the Haitians greatest worry when it comes to trying to survive by relying on foreign aid... It’s a potential nightmare for them. It’s not a matter of Haitians asking for the world. It’s a matter of asking that the world not forget about them… simply because in being forgotten naturally comes the feeling of abandonment which leads to hopelessness.. When we feel abandoned it only goes to reason we feel hopeless.. It’s about having nothing or very little and trying to cope with the little you have with no light shining on the future.
Garbage was a common scene throughout the city of Port Au Prince.. It’s not as easy as summonsing garbage trucks right now. There simply are none. In most cases the local people are raking and seeping the garbage into piles along the streets and burning it which creates a horrible smell I can only describe as similar to burnt hair… But what else can they really do at the moment.
Another tent city in Port Au Prince.. There are so many of them.. They are everywhere..
When we visited one of the tent cities in Jacmal, a population of 955 families, we were escorted around the grounds by one of several young Haitian men working as a security guard. He told me of how some other humanitarian aid workers had come through the tent promising help but they never heard from them again. One thing a humanitarian aid or group does not want to do is make a promise they cannot keep. Because of the dire needs Haitians are coping with even saying, “I’ll see what I can do.” is a promise to them. When you are down and out and struggling to survive all the help you can get is extremely vital to your very existence. There can be nothing worse than to be promised help and the promise be an empty one. So for reasons such as this it is extremely important to the Haitian people that they are not forgotten. And it is for this reason that for those of us who traveled to Haiti our mission did not end the last day of our trip. Our mission continues to be a mission that bears witness to the suffering we have seen and to bring what we have experienced to the rest of the world so that aid to this poor nation will continue as needed. It’s one step at a time... One task at a time… One effort at a time.
WOW, John!! What can one say. I really had to smile at Nathaniel's response though. What a kid...I could hear him saying that. I love the line about going from one Don Bosco to another, that is just another confirmation about you being there. Thanks for sharing.
Once plans began for myself and the others mid January towards preparations for this upcoming trip to Haiti I also continued to struggle with the horror and devastation of what I kept seeing over and over again on the television and internet news services. In many instances the pictures were very graphic and extremely difficult to look at… Not to mention just completely heart wrenching. Like the young mother searching frantically for her children only to discover they had perished in a toppled building as she cried out to the CNN reporter, “I don’t even have a photo of them to remember them!” My own heart crushed at the mere thought as tears began to swell… And often, I would have to get up from my seat and just walk away teary eyed… and I would turn in prayer wanting to grasp it all. The reality was so difficult to grasp even for us in our world.. But what these poor victims must have been going through was just completely incomprehensible!
As a believer I found my faith really being tested last January! I struggled so much with the “whys” of how God could actually allow such a horrible tragedy to befall this little peaceful 3rd world nation already struggling to survive in existence. I struggled because I couldn’t help in those moments but to see it as a lack of mercy from a God Who is supposed to be “all merciful”… No, I just couldn’t wrap my tiny mind around it all… It seemed so cruel.. These are our brothers and sisters. They are children of God no different than each and every one of us and they were already suffering tremendously as a result of a continual world crisis called poverty long before the earthquake. Where was God’s mercy in all of this?
And yet, when I arrived in Haiti I met some of the most faithful people I've ever met! It truly humbled me...
This was not the first of tragedies to befall the Haiti people… Only a couple of years have passed since torrential rains caused an unexpected mudslide catching suddenly nearly 2000 Haitians by total surprise during the night literally washing them into the ocean as they slept quietly in their beds. That horror was still fresh on my own mind when I learned of this sudden earthquake last month. Not to mention Haiti has certainly had its share of hurricanes as well.
I sat during Mass this past weekend and listened to the Gospel and the following words of Christ spoke very direct to me, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all the other Galileans? By no means!... Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them -do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means!” Luke 13: 2-5 The Galileans in Scripture Jesus speaks of in this case are our Haitian brothers and sisters who are no more deserving of this horrible tragedy than any of us are. No one deserved this! Despite the extremely insulting and ludicrous remarks of Pat Robertson. Good hearted God fearing people suffering at the hands of labor pains as the earth went through more changes. A chastisement? Hard pill to swallow especially having just returned from there meeting not an evil people but a beautiful God loving peoples.
Some things in life are simply not able to be comprehended or understood. Tragedy is just one of those things. Whether it be a devastating earthquake that leaves almost a quarter million dead and millions homeless or a mother grieving over the sudden loss of her child. Personal tragedy is just a very horrible, undeserving and unwarranted experience to have to go through. We don’t know why… And naturally we are going to struggle especially to accept that somehow God is there through it all…
As a believer I feel that one thing that is for certain is that God gives us freewill and in that freewill we have responsibilities to live up to. Freewill does not mean do whatever you want. It means take responsibility to do what’s right without being made to do it. And it is not God who has divided this world into different rooms.. God has not separated one part of this world to remain in poverty and the other part to enjoy the benefits of wealth. This separation of peoples into separate rooms is the result of humanity and the course humanity has taken. Abundance vs. poverty..
In 2006 Pope Benedict while making the Stations of the Cross during Lent as the Holy Father traditionally always does spoke profoundly about the world poverty crisis. And during this one particular journey along the Way of the Cross the Holy Father made a plea to the world to help those in need and he beseeched God’s mercy upon all children of God. It was during the ninth Station, Jesus Falls a Third Time that the Holy Father stopped before that station and began,
"Where is Jesus in agony in our own time? In the division of our world into belts of prosperity and belts of poverty ... this is Christ’s agony today. Our world is made of two rooms: in one room, things go to waste, in the other, people are wasting away; in one room, people die from surfeit, in the other, they die from indigence; in one room, they are concerned about obesity, in the other, they are begging for charity.
Why don’t we open a door? Who don’t we sit at one table? Why don’t we realize that the poor can help the rich? Why? Why? Why are we so blind?[/color]
Those words, words I remember well from way back then, once again struck my heart in a very profound way as we entered into 2010.. During the time Pope Benedict had said this in the spring of 2006 I was working on the streets of Windsor trying to help a homeless lady named Cathy to get her off the streets. So these words had a great impact on me personally then, just as they were grabbing my attention once again in this recent moment of agony…
During the first week after the Haiti earthquake I sat down at the piano and began to express my heart in a prayerful plea in song. I’m not much of a song writer but it didn’t matter. This wasn’t about winning a Grammy, it was about offering a heartfelt prayer for my brothers and sisters in a far away land in their own struggles and agony.. This was about calling out to the God of Mercy to have mercy upon these poor souls in their dire need and moment of great tribulation and peril… My heart ached tremendously at what I was seeing and the more I saw it the more I wanted to reach out and help. So one evening shortly after I had contacted Steve McDougal about volunteering with Hearts Together For Haiti I sat down at the piano and this song came to me literally in a matter of a few minutes. It was a prayer, a plea to God to help these poor suffering souls..
I went to Haiti feeling as though God wanted to show me something.. I went to Haiti with the question What will I see? ………….. and now that I have been there I am left asking myself What can I now do to make a difference?”… This is what God is showing me.. what He is showing us… That His precious children, our dear brothers and sisters in a far away land truly need our help… The worlds help… Our help…
John, I am really enjoying reading about your experinces in Haiti, please God it will inspire others to also help, have you thought about submitting some of your journal to your local paper, they may well be interested in the story?
Our Lord dictated this prayer to St. Gertrude the Great promising to release 1000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said.
Eternal Father I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus in union with the masses said throughout the world today for all the holy souls in Purgatory for sinners everywhere for sinners in the universal church those in my own home and within my family.Amen
notforgotten: "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you." -St. Augustine of Hippo
Sept 14, 2018 12:09:35 GMT -5
notforgotten: "To love God is something greater than to know Him." -St. Thomas Aquinas
Sept 19, 2018 13:26:24 GMT -5
notforgotten: "The dress of the body should not discredit the good of the soul." St. Cyprian
Oct 9, 2018 15:14:45 GMT -5
notforgotten: "The purpose of clothing is to keep warm in winter and to cover your nakedness, not to serve your vanity." St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Oct 17, 2018 11:38:34 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Patience is the companion of wisdom." –St. Augustine
Jan 20, 2019 13:03:34 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Be kind to all and severe to thyself." –St. Teresa of Avila
Jan 30, 2019 14:08:44 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Joy is very infectious; therefore, be always full of joy." – Mother Teresa
Feb 12, 2019 11:42:03 GMT -5
notforgotten: "It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey." -St. Ignatius of Loyola
Mar 4, 2019 14:44:11 GMT -5
notforgotten: "If you would rise, shun luxury, for luxury lowers and degrades." -St John Chrysostom
Mar 23, 2019 20:01:21 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Do not say that you have chaste minds if you have unchaste eyes, because an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart." –St. Augustine
Apr 1, 2019 16:25:53 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry" -St. Pio of Pietrelcino
Apr 30, 2019 12:15:24 GMT -5
notforgotten: "This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections." -St. Augustine
May 29, 2019 12:14:04 GMT -5
notforgotten: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" -St. Catherine of Sienna
Jun 23, 2019 10:19:03 GMT -5
notforgotten: "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." -St. Thomas Aquinas
Jun 30, 2019 10:39:38 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Do not say that you have chaste minds if you have unchaste eyes, because an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart." –St. Augustine
Jul 15, 2019 8:09:36 GMT -5
notforgotten: "He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows." –St. Gregory of Nissa
Jul 21, 2019 9:17:38 GMT -5
notforgotten: "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." -Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman
Aug 2, 2019 16:29:17 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Devotion is a certain act of the will by which man gives himself promptly to divine service." –St. Thomas Aquinas
Mar 19, 2020 14:04:06 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."-St. Augustine
May 28, 2020 14:52:14 GMT -5
notforgotten: "Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry" -St. Pio of Pietrelcino
Jun 23, 2020 14:23:15 GMT -5