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More Information on the Situation in Haiti: Interview with Head of LCMS World Relief and Human Care

January 23rd, 2010
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Rev. Matt Harrison describes the pastoral care and support given by a team of LCMS folks in Jimani, a Dominican Republic town on the Haitian border. This pastoral care team is working alongside of the LCMS World Relief and Human Care Mercy Medical Team at the hospital in the same town. It reiterates the point that the single best thing to give at this time to help out the Haitians is money, not material goods, but money. This is the most effective way of getting help as quickly as possible into the situation. You can donate here.

Here is the link to the interview with Rev. Harrison.

And here is a note from Rev. Harrison, who went into Haiti to visit with the president of our partner church there:

I have been having trouble updating my blog for the past day or two. In fact, as I was trying to update my blog a few moments ago, we had an aftershock tremor that shook the building and I lost Internet again but was able to link the account to a phone. Very briefly we went into Haiti today to meet President Kessa. We gave him an emergency grant for $30,000 as well as a few other items like the French version of LSB.  Six members of our assessment team accompanied President Kessa to Port-au-Prince. President Kessa asked me, Revs. Collver and Hernandez also to come to Port-au-Prince, but we declined so as to not complicate the logistics of the trip. President Kessa expressed gratitude to the LCMS for assisting his church and for sending people on the ground. Tomorrow we will travel to Haiti to retrieve the rest of our team and to distribute food stuffs (rice, oil, etc.) to President Kessa. Meanwhile, the Medical Mercy Team has been warmly recieved and provided much needed assistance when the hospital was most in need. Of the 500 or so critical patients treated over the first two days, only four died at the hospital. This demonstrates the great skill of the entire volunteer hospital staff.  The need is great, but the Lord contines to bless. I hope to update this again tomorrow. MCH

Here is a report from Rev. Carlos Hernandez, who is also in Jimani, via Rev. Harrison’s blog site.

Reflections. By Rev Carlos Hernandez, Director, Districts and Congregations, LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

Jimani, Dominican Republic, January 22, 2010 -

Today was our first full day on the ground responding to the emergency/crisis/”life or death” needs of the victims of the forceful and destructive Haitian earthquake that has decimated this already poverty-ridden Caribbean country. Our initial response, which is part and parcel of our LCMS World Relief and Human Care disaster relief plan, began very early this morning on the Haitian side of the Dominican Republic/Haitian border where a grant $30,000 was given to President Marky Kessa to begin to address the most basic survival needs of the earthquake victims of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti and the communities they serve, most of them already barely surviving before the earthquake.

Another emergency grant is in the planning stage to bring in much needed food to Jacmel. After an on-sight assessment this afternoon in the Port-au-Prince, Haiti area, Rev Glenn Merritt called our temporary WR-HC administrative base for the Haitian earthquake here in Jimani, Dominican Republic, to alert our Executive Director, Rev. Matthew Harrison that food and water is still a crisis, urgent need among President Kessa’s pastors, their congregations and the communities they serve!

Our whole team ceremoniously witnessed his signing of our grant agreement which insures a high level of accountability. In my brief conversation with President Kessa, I wanted to impress upon him that we at LMCS WR-HC are in it with him for the long term, as we move from the emergency, to relief, to transition, to recovery, and rebuilding stages. “Good. Good,” he smiled, “That’s what we need!”

At this point, though President Kessa invited us all to come (“you have to see the need with your own eyes,” he said pleadingly to all of us), We split into two teams in accordance with an administrative agreement with those of us staying behind – Pastors Hernandez, Collver and Harrison – providing urgently needed pastoral care along with Pastors Ted Krey and Walter Ries at ‘hospital samaritano’ where many have been airlifted from Haiti by two helicopter (donated by two wealthy donors) for what one surgeon said was the best medical care they can receive. Top surgeons from all over have come to donate their time and skill, including Helen, Glenn Merritt’s daughter.

And our pastoral skills were mightily used!

About mid-afternoon, a earthquake tremor shook the buildings in the hospital compound including the building where we are sleeping on mattresses.

We were taking a brief break drinking water to recoup from the exhausting and draining heat when a nurse ran to call us back to pastoral care duty. She said: “The situation has turned chaotic and dangerous! Please come and calm them! Some are jumping from the second story building fearful that another tremor might kill them! ”

In their post traumatic stress, they were re-living the original Haitian earthquake. it was dinner time. So as we distributed meals, we shared gospel words of comfort.

Wait! We just had another tremor!!

All of us – nurses, doctors, pastors sleeping on mattresses in the empty house near the hospital just ran out!

This one was worse than the earlier one!

We’re sleeping outside tonight!

Suffice it to say, we are in the middle of crisis – caring for victims and fearing we might become victims ourselves.

One final reflection. It has been gratifying for me as a Latino how neighboring Latin American countries, with a lot of impoverished conditions of their own, are coming to the aid if their Haitian neighbors. The Dominican Republic, of course, Haiti’s nearest neighbor, but also Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico, whose governor accompanied a caravan of supplies and volunteers to ‘el hospital samaritani’ – good samaritans all indeed!

There is also a lot of concern among Latinos in the U.S. About the victims of the Haitian earthquake. I have had three interviews in Spanish since coming here by a national bilingual station – Metro News in Phoenix. I am happy to tell them that the LCMS shares the gospel with both comforting words and compassionate and merciful actions. In the face of this terrible tragedy that will occupy our time and energies for some time.

Another $30,000 is desperately needed for a first shipment of much needed food, water and medicine.

Sent from my Windows Mobile phone

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