Haiti devastation and Convoy of Hope’s response

Tragedy. As you’ve heard, just over 24 hours ago, a massive earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I work with Convoy of Hope and wanted to share a bit about our response. It’s been a somber, yet focused day in the office.  We’ve been humbled by the response from caring people.

 

The impact:

Port-au-Prince is flat…flattened hospitals, schools, the UN Headquarters, and even a collapsed presidential palace. I read today where perhaps 30,000-100,000 people lost their lives. During Katrina, approximately 2,000 people died. Both tragic events, both too large to comprehend. Devastating.

 

haitie

 

Convoy of Hope is already in Haiti:

Our Haiti director is in the country and he is safe. I can’t imagine what he’s seen, heard and experienced. He said, “I heard screams for help from everywhere.  I’m seeing many dead and injured people. The need is beyond description.” I know God is walking with Him as he works to set up our command center, and begin the response. He’s working with other team members on the ground and at our headquarters to respond rapidly and intelligently. The response has begun.

 

Our Convoy of Hope warehouse in Haiti includes food and water: 

We feed 7,000 children like this little guy each day in Haiti. Our warehouse is full of food that can be part of

the solution. We’re checking on the schools and other distribution points, and will work to see this food distributed wisely. We are also sending containers with more food, water and supplies. 

The need for help will be ongoing for months and years to come.  Convoy of Hope has made a long term commitment to the country.

 

Our interns:

Our Convoy of Hope interns are scheduled to serve in Haiti this summer. As we plan the full Convoy of Hope response, I’ll be sure and let you know what our intern response will look like. 

 

What you can do:

Please consider a donation to Convoy of Hope . The people of this organization are wonderful stewards who see this not as a contribution to Convoy of Hope, but a contribution through Convoy of Hope. I can say with no reserve that the people here will work hard to see the money spent well.

Many have expressed interest in going. We’re waiting until we have a good idea of the security of the situation and the best strategy before we send teams, etc.

Please pray. I don’t think this is one of those events that we’ll easily forget. It’s too close to home. Let’s make sure we don’t forget it or the hurting people. Let’s pray for them.

As you read this, there are people crying out to God with voices that no one hears. I pray that He will make His presence known to them and show them life and truth and hope. I pray for those who today have held their dying children, wives or husbands. I pray for the survivors who will forever have memories of the death and decay they can see with their eyes right now as you read this. I pray that this country which knows violence and corruption will see peace and structure as this journey progresses. I pray for Christians who know truth, that they’ll be able to speak words of comfort in the midst of their grief. I pray for responding agencies that good stewardship of funds and resources will be the norm. I pray that evil intentions will cease and that help can get to those who need it most. I pray that people will find Jesus through this tragedy.

Thanks for caring for the people of Haiti.

I’ll note I got the photo from the flickr. Clicking on the photo will take you to the site.

Convoy of Hope…loving the impact

I love being a part of the Convoy of Hope team. Today our social media guy loaded our first official YouTube video. It’s a thank you to anyone who’s prayed for, contributed to, volunteered with, or encouraged Convoy of Hope and what’s happening around the world.

Here’s the video:

More and more people are seeing the needs around the world and I love that many are responding through Convoy of Hope.  Hal and the rest of the leadership are wonderful people who are full of integrity. I love it here…

waterpurification

A cool way to turn 50

I think life should get more exciting, adventurous, purposeful and more as we get older…

Most of our interns fall into the category often referred to as “young adults.”  Lola’s one of 2 over-40 interns we’ve had and she’s a great lady…and as far as I”m concerned, a young adult.  Last week, she became one of 2 “over-50” interns as she spent her birthday helping people in Picayune, MS.

Here she is on her birthday.

 

lolabday

 

Picayune, MS, is the site of the first Katrina response from Convoy of Hope.  The pastor and others in the city are wonderfully hospitable.  As we spent time in the city, we also saw extreme need…Lola is helping.

I love the story in Joshua 14 where Caleb, a man I picture as quite grizzled who’s the kind of guy that would eat beef jerkey for breakfast, tells Joshua what he thinks about his future,

10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Lola’s not Caleb’s age…she’s got a long way to go, but I love it when people get stronger, more determined and more adventurous as they age. I want to be that way.

God called her, she stepped out in faith, her church is supporting her dream, and it’ll be fun to see what’s next for her.  Happy Birthday Lola!

A bitterly sweet time with Sylvia and her family

manuelwalter1I can’t believe they killed her father.

Last summer, April and I had the immense privilege of spending time with a young lady my grandmother sponsors through Latin America Child Care.  Her name is Sylvia.  She attends a school in Santa Ana, El Salvador which is helped by Convoy of Hope.  We met her, her brother Walter, and their parents, spending time in their home and sharing a meal with them.  I blogged about it all, including my grandmother’s connection to her, last summer. http://bit.ly/iBSHr.

While there, among other things, we enjoyed taking Manual, her father and family to Pizza Hut for his 40th birthday.  It was a special day at the restaurant they’d always wanted to try.  Everything changed just one month later when violent gang members uselessly shot and killed her father…the man pictured here.  It happened about a month after I took this photo.  I can’t believe they killed him. 

We reconnected with Sylvia and her family while in El Salvador with our spring interns a few weeks ago.  We shared hugs and tears and prayers and we talked.  We returned to Pizza Hut.  We smiled.

sylviafam“Walter is the man of the house now,” Sylvia told us.  “(Walter) wakes up and asks why people have to be mean,” her mother explains.  They’re grieving but growing through their grief.

200sylvia

The day after we reconnected, the family joined us for an outreach in a village about 30 minutes from their home.  There, Sylvia shared her testimony, starting by quoting Psalm 23.  She sang with our team in ministry for the people of the village and she and her family handed out groceries to those who had gathered.  The woman here is quite happy with what Sylvia shared.

Afterwards, her mother (pictured in yellow in the group photo above) said, “This has been the best thing for helping us heal…serving others.”

I’ll see her and her family again this summer and look forward to keeping in touch with the family for years to come. 

waltertruckOne final note…last summer we asked 9-year-old Walter about his school.  He didn’t attend “we don’t have enough money,” his parents said.  God touched a team member’s heart who decided to work with Latin America Child Care in sponsoring Walter.  He’d never been to school.  He couldn’t read.  It took time for Walter and extra money for his sponsor, but last fall, even as the family went through this tragedy, Walter had a personal tutor.  This January, he was able to start school with his class.  At Pizza Hut, he read me the menu…didn’t struggle with a single word.  God’s got a plan for the young man…who’s now the head of his home.sylviamatt

Sara’s story

2008-0717-el-salvador-24Today, the Springfield News-Leader covered the story of one of our summer ’08 interns.  Sara Perez worked hard in both El Salvador and Nicaragua.  Her father had dreams of playing basketball in El Salvador but was forced to make the decision to move to the USA during El Salvador’s civil war. 

On a missions trip with Convoy of Hope, Kenton Moody and Rick Ryan, from our staff, saw her skills and encouraged her to come to Evangel to play ball.  It worked out and she’s here with a scholarship.  She returned to do the summer internship and hopes to serve in El Salvador after college.   We were thrilled at the interpreting skills (and laughter and energy and love of coffee and more) she brought to the team.  Kudos to Rick Ryan and Kenton Moody for the impact they’ve  made in her life…

Check out the story here.

This photo of Sara hangs on our intern wall here at Convoy of Hope.200perez1

How this can work…

At Convoy of Hope we talk often about meeting physical and spiritual needs.  Here’s a great example of how it works.  Our interns are in Haiti (I’ll soon join them in Cuba).  Here’s a portion of a note I got from Bethany this week…

“This morning, we will be doing a short Bible skit about the 4 soils and passing out seed kits to 50 students.  Those 50 students will be responsible for planting their seeds at home and caring for their garden.  After harvest time, the students will be required to bring back a certain number of seeds to give back to the program!!!!! The students will be learning about growing and sharing… being good stewards of their resources!!!  Also, we will be cultivating a garden for only the school’s use. “

That’s how it can work…a good combination of meeting physical and spiritual needs.  Here’s Bethany with a couple of little guys in Haiti.

200haitiseeds

OneHope

Today at our Convoy of Hope offices, many on our staff met to discuss the various ways we seek to share hope with people around the world. We were all pretty excited and awe struck as the opportunity God is providing grew in clarity and sank in even more. People around the world are facing a really, really hard time and we have the privilege to work with others in sharing hope with them.

Though my five years on staff with Book of Hope International are over, I still see myself as part of the family. Today, I got an email from the president of the organization who mentioned they’ve changed their name to OneHope. I like it…it does a good job emphasizing “hope” and not so much just “book”. You can see more at http://www.bookofhope.net/.

It all reminds me of a billboard I saw in Bangalore, India a few years ago,

In case you can’t read it, it states,

“1 billion people

4200 communities

1625 dialects

29 states

18 official languages

9 major religions

1 HOPE
Sonia Ghandi”

Now I certainly have no interest in getting into the politics of India. However, if there’s one hope for India or anywhere else in the world, it’s not a person…not even a politician type person.

There’s a whole lotta hope being placed in a whole lotta places. I like Hebrews 6:19 which speaks of the hope we have in Christ as an “anchor of the soul.”

My friend Travis is in Honduras now with the newly named OneHope. Read about his travels at www.the1814project.com. Also, our Convoy of Hope interns are in Haiti and doing well. They head out for ministry in the morning…I’ll keep in touch about how things are going with them, and will join them in the region soon.

onehope1

Not quite the first day of school, but…

On my first day of kindergarten, Mom walked with me much of the way to school…and then as she stopped just short of the destination, she took a photo of me walking the rest of the way by myself (carrying a gift wrapped fancy hanky for Mrs. Harper). I’m pretty sure she cried.
Perhaps it’s hyperbole to compare the two events, but this morning I watched the spring ’09 intern team head to Galveston, Tx. They’re on the road now…sans fancy hankies. They’ve worked hard during our training time, gotten to know each other, discussed a ton of issues related to missions and compassion work in our country and around the world, learned about water filters, relief/development, AIDS, appropriate technologies and more…and now they’re off to help. Here’s my view from the Convoy of Hope porch.

They’ll be in Galveston then the Caribbean, then Georgia (the Atlanta one, not the Tbilisi one like last time).
I’ll join them in Dallas next week before they head out internationally.

Here’s the last photo before they headed out. Most slept little last night as they packed and cleaned, but they’re likely asleep now (except for Karen, the driver).

Please keep them in prayer as they’ll be gutting homes in Galveston, Tx, while working with local churches to help those in the community. It’s still a devasted area.

 

invan