Ever mull something while asleep? When I woke up this morning, I realized I’d been pondering most of the night. It’s hard, in our culture, to understand theirs. If you want to sorta kinda slightly approach fathoming what some Haitians are experiencing… right this moment… imagine. Imagine what we are living, but from their first experience. There’s a massive storm approaching… no one calls it a monster, exactly, but you realize it’s gonna be bad. You consider your options and literally there are none. If you move from the tiny spot you’ve carved out as your own, it will be usurped. Everything you own will be taken and your shelter and livelihood will vanish. You decide it’s better to stay; you’ve survived worse, right? Even if you desperately want to leave, there. is. nowhere. to. go. Ok but wait, we’re imagining this as us, so there are resources. We can lock our homes, batten down the hatches thanks to a quick run to Home Depot, evacuate in torturously long traffic in our, darn it, just-washed SUVs. Only think now, think if you’re stuck and can’t leave. Maybe you’ve been camping and you’re stranded, with nearly no news or wifi… and the monster hits. It redefines what you knew to be horror. What begins as a heavy rainstorm shifts to a surge and then you watch, feel the world upend. I can’t even pretend to conceive the terror I’d feel if my children were ripped from my arms by raging torrents of debris-filled sea waters. The desperation to move myself and the frail and the terrified to higher ground, though it was too late and the “higher ground” was mudsliding down a mountain back toward me. In it is all I hold dear.
I’m truly not trying to sensationalize. Every bit of this has happened to them this week, but what follows is surely worse. Imagine we survive… and then nothing. The occasional murmur of a plane, perhaps. (Thank you, Michael Broyles, a friend who the moment skies permitted lifted his plane for reconnaissance. It wasn’t without its dangers, but his images shed first light for so many of us!)
Imagine no rescue, no outside acknowledgement that we’re alive. Forget hours, I mean days. Many are racing, doing all they can to reach you, but you can’t see them. The roads are devastated and impassable, shelter is nonexistent, food and clean water… none.
Today is Friday and thus far no word has reached us of the plight of Kalapa, a community our student team served this summer in southwest Haiti. It has been unreachable… so no matter what they managed to survive, there has been no one to doctor, feed or comfort them since Monday night. The “campground,” if you will, is a total loss… only it’s the only home they have. The same is true for many more villages. I haven’t slept knowing they’re still in danger and I know the same is true for my humanitarian friends, especially the precious students who joined us in Haiti these past two summers. Their eyes are opened, hearts enlarged; they totally get it. The
pain agony of wanting to rescue and comfort friends we love is real.
My heartfelt prayers go out to those in our southern states the next few days. Be safe! The predictions are dire and even all the resources at our disposal won’t guarantee safety if you stay and are vulnerable. As for those a bit farther to the south, just two hours from our own shores, my heart is with you… hold on. Help is on its way!!