We received word Saturday night that Hurricane Matthew was on its way. On Sunday morning, most of the congregation had no idea what was coming! After informing our church, we sent people out into town and to the fishing villages to warn everybody and give them time to prepare. We even paid for an announcement to be made on the radio.
Then the preparations began. This included brining inside anything that could blow away, buying extra food, and filling all our containers with drinking water. We picked things up off the floor in case of flooding and boarded windows. We even moved our kids to the dorm above the clinic thinking it would be drier. Then there was nothing left to do but wait. We were confident that we were as prepared as we could be. Waiting for the storm to hit seemed to drag for days on end. An overwhelming amount of messages were coming in from concerned family and friends, but we had no news to share. To try and keep busy, some friends and I ran around campus in the pouring rain to get everything needed to show the kids a movie. That joy only lasted about 10 minutes as the power kept cutting in and out. Just when I started thinking that maybe the worst missed us and we were going to get away with just some rain, the hurricane rolled in.
I sat cooped up inside, as it was not safe to be out, and again waited. I waited while listening to the rain pound on the roof and the wind tearing through campus. It was such a helpless feeling. Just sitting and praying for my tiny town as the hurricane ripped through it – realizing that all the preparations in the world would not be enough for many of my Haitian friends and families. I passed the time trying not to dwell on the disaster happening outside. I played cards, napped, and wore a fake smile to not scare the kids around me, all while praying that the super slow storm would pick up and leave us alone. Many times throughout the night, I thought the storm was letting up, only to have it come raging back again.
When the storm finally passed, we went into town to assess the damages along with many others in the community. This is how I spent the next few days. I walked all over town and into the mountain checking on friends. Some people lost animals and belongings while others lost walls and roofs. Some families returned home to find their home was no longer there, and some only flooded. As I visited each home, I thought that I could pray with them and offer some kind of encouragement. What I soon realized is that I was learning more from them than they were from me. My friends are resilient! My friends persevere! My friends trust in the lord! This is the way it is here. Disaster struck and as soon as it was over, everyone started putting their lives back together. If you didn’t stop by within those first two days after the storm, you would have no idea the damage left behind. They already cleaned it up. They are already rebuilding.
One family I visited had all the debris and ruin piled up to burn in the corner of the yard only two days after the storm. Their home flooded and they had everything washed and hung up to dry. The family wasn’t sitting there angry or upset but instead said they prayed as a family and got to work.
I came across another friend sitting on a porch. I had just come from seeing her own house that sits right on the bay. When the water raised, it took out her walls and the roof came crashing in. I had heard that she lost all of her documents and most of her belongings out to sea. I asked her what her plan was from here. She preceded to tell me of her various options, yet ended saying she will go wherever the Lord wants her to.
In one more instance, we were on our way to visit a friend and she greeted us on the way to what was once her house. When she saw me she threw her arms around me and gave me the biggest hug. Then she pulled back and said, “We can go to my house, but it is all broken.” Then she smiled wide. I was taken aback and couldn’t help but ask her why she seemed happy and her response was so simple. “Because I’m not dead!” I laughed with her and she explained that during the storm, she was sure God was going to take her and her family then and there, but her whole family is alive and for that she is thankful.
We are still dealing with the effects of hurricane Matthew, and I imagine it will take a bit to get everyone back on their feet. However, we can put our trust in our God, and we know he will provide. Many families will be able to help themselves, and others will do their best. If you would like to help a family here in the Mole recover from storm, please click the link below.