Thank you for your calls and e-mails telling us that you have been praying for us. In fact, these contacts have pushed me to provide you with an update on what Ellen and I have been doing lately. And, let me say we have been v-e-r-y busy.
As we sat at our computers in the diocesan Office, we felt the earthquake. As usual I thought it was a truck driver who had pushed too hard on its brakes. That night Bishop Julio Holguin was hosting Fr. Paul Head, a priest from the diocese of Northern North Carolina. When we arrived at the apartment of the Bishop and Milagros, they were listening to CNN reports on what had happened in Haiti. We knew at that very moment that all our lives would become more complicated. Bishop Holguin was already thinking about how our diocese would respond.
Shortly thereafter, the diocese began receiving calls and information from our many friends in the United States and Latin America, asking if we were okay and in most cases indicating they were willing to help. We once again experienced what it is like to be part of Christian family that has no borders.
In very short order, the Bishop determined that none of our facilities were damaged. He was particularly concerned about Fr. Jesus Mosquea, our young priest in Jimani which is just two hours by bad roads from the Haitian capital city. We have a new church in Jimani which is less than ten minutes from the Haitian and Dominican border.
Epiphany Church where I serve has many Haitians. We also have two young Haitians who work for Ellen and I. Sunday after the earthquake was extremely emotional in both our Spanish and English services. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully among us as we prayed for our Haitian brothers and sisters. For me the experience equaled the emotion of the service we had after 9/11.
I served as deacon to Fr. Jean Monique Bruno. We knew he was in Haiti at the time and were concerned about him and members of his family who were working in northern Haiti at their school and clinic. Fortunately, they were not injured and their program was not impacted. You can read about his experience on our diocesan web page under Haiti.
We were equally concerned about our two other Haitian priests and their family. The son and daughter of Fr. Samuel and Deacon Aurianne work with us at the diocese. We are very fond of this family. Fr. Nephtaly Desir is our other Haitian priest and a priest we frequently work with in Barahona which is only 90 minutes from the border.
As you might expect, all our Haitian priests traveled into Haiti to locate their friends and family members. Nearly all those living in Puerto Principe lost their homes and each had extended family members who died in the earthquake.
Ellen and I were impressed with the immediate response of Episcopal Relief and Development. They were quickly on the ground in the Dominican Republic, and left for Haiti a short time afterwards.
Water Missions International also responded very quickly. This mission service provides water purification plants in areas of tragedy and in areas where there is no purified water. We have had a relationship with them for a long time and three of their plants have been installed at diocesan properties.
Most of our time has been spent helping with logistical matters. Ellen and I will be supporting our Haiti efforts in anyway we can, while continuing our ministry to those coming to the DR to assist us with diocesan projects.
Right now, we are not accepting teams who want to go into Haiti. It is still too early to determine how we can help with the Haitian diocesan response. We have helped other mission organizations figure out how to get into Haiti. This past Thursday, we met with other missionaries to hear about what they are doing and to determine how we might work together. We received several good suggestions.
My friends I could go on and on, and I promise to update this blog in the very near future. However, I want to leave you with this final thought and prayer request.
A Haitian priest, who works in their diocesan office, clearly indicated that there is hope for Haiti. I would take it another step further and say from the ashes will rise a better Haiti. They will demonstrate how our Lord Jesus Christ works to bring victory out of chaos.
Again, thank you for your prayers.
In His Service
Bob and Ellen