Thursday….Wow the week is flying.
The team headed up the hill, into Marshall, to the same area we installed the latrines in May to help with the transitional shelters. The material for the transitional shelters have been provided by Samaritan’s Purse and is a 12X12 structure that includes a low table, three 12 foot shelves that are assembled like a bunk bed and can serve as places to sleep and/or to store food and other belongings. The shelters are made of treated lumber, to last better in the damp climate, a tin roof and a blue tarp that wraps then entire building to provide the external wall. Samaritan’s Purse has a compound where they assemble the four walls and this “kit” is picked up by teams and assembled on site.
The EFCA Crisis Response team has developed strong relationships with local pastors and with the local community and work through one of the local community leaders to identify those in most need of the shelters. The EFCA team has worked with Samaritan’s Purse and the local community to train a number of local Haitian teams to assemble the shelters and then the EFCA Crisis Response team comes and puts on the tin roof. After the roof is installed another Haitian team will come around and install the blue tarp wall.
Since June the EFCA Crisis Response team has assembled some 375 shelters and will has plans to assemble around 1,000 shelters working with local ministries in communities in the areas relatively near the Haitian Queen.
We drove to an area the EFCA team named the “sports bar”, due to the TV that was brought out and placed under a tree to play the “football” matches during the world cup, parked the car. We met several of Haitian’s friends and then split into two “roofing” teams to work on the shelters in the area. The shelters we were working on were a bit off the road so we loaded up our supplies and walked to the first area. Our team had a Haitian man named Kenz leading our installation effort and he showed us how the tin is attached to the structure. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to assemble a roof. The sun was shining brightly and most of the shelters were in mostly sunny areas. We began work on the first shelter around 10:30 and we had 9 assembled by 12:30 when we walked back to the car and drove back to the Haitian Queen for lunch which was a great treat (normally we have energy bars for lunch along with water or a sports drink mix). Part of the team was going with Garret into Port au Prince for the conference and the rest of us would be working on additional shelters in the afternoon.
After lunch the team split into two groups with one group going into Port au Prince for Garret to lead a counseling time with Pastors and church leaders and the rest would be working on transitional shelters. Garret had to drive about 2 hours each way to get to the place where he was speaking. He was speaking on helping pastors and church leaders to better lead their flock through teaching on counseling and the importance of equipping ministry leaders. The conference was organized by Pastor Joseph Absalom, whom we met when we were here in May. Absalom shepherds two Baptist churches in Port au Prince, including one congregation of 350 – this is large for Haiti. The EFCA Crisis Response team has been working with Pastor Absalom since shortly after the earthquake to help him deliver aid to the community and also identify additional areas where the EFCA Crisis Response team might be able to work with local pastors to help them minister to their congregations. This conference was a direct result of Pastor Absalom’s desire to provide counseling training to leaders of the churches in the area.
The other part of the team returned to the same area and hiked in about half a mile from the main road to work on more shelters. We built four additional shelters in the afternoon and spent time visiting with some of the local community that had come to watch. At one of the shelters we had maybe thirty or forty people watching us.
After we built each shelter we would gather with the family that was going to live in the shelter and pray with them and dedicate their shelter. We took turns praying for the family’s and it was very touching to see how the family’s responded to us. Many of them had very poor shelters consisting of small tents, tarps over polls, tarps over partially destroyed buildings or other types of temporary structures. The shelters are designed to be temporary in nature but given the situation in Haiti many of these shelters may have to last for several years for these families. We finished 11 shelters today which will house over 110 people. This brings the total number of shelters assembled by the EFCA Crisis Response team to approximately 390 and housing approximately 3,000 people.
Continue to pray for the EFCA team; for wisdom on working with the church and community leaders. The shelter project is hugely successful but is not designed to provide new shelter for those that have adequate shelter already. As you can probably imagine it is difficult to determine who will receive shelters and who will not. The team will be finishing the shelter project in the Marshall area within the next week or two and moving to other areas, including Leogone, which was the epicenter of the earthquake, where families desperately need help. Pray for strength and wisdom for the church leaders and community leaders that are developing the lists of the neediest families. Pray for continued strength and wisdom of the EFCA team in working with these leaders and pray for the future teams that continue to support the shelter project and other efforts to help restore these communities physically and spiritually.
From Garret: The team is excited at the multitude of promising ministry opportunities – not only in the area of compassion and mercy, but in the ministry of the Word to encourage and assist in the equipping of local pastors. Earthquakes don’t discriminate by profession; because pastors are seeing their roles expanding in the crisis aftermath, their time and resources are being spread thin – particularly in regard to their time with family since they are now looked to as community leaders.
One of the highlights of this week for me was the moment I prepared to speak before our brothers and sisters in Port au Prince. Absalom came up and lead the group in the hymn “Be Still My Soul” – in French understandably. To hear the sound of their voices was so beautiful to me – knowing that the Lord is at work in his people across the world. I love the church in Haiti, and it is my prayer that God might continue to use resources from our church to edify his church there – for the glory of God alone!