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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mercy-receiving. Mercy-giving. Mercy-living.

I'm starting a "Mercy" blog. When you decide to look for something you usually find it! I've been looking for how mercy is being expressed around me, & I'm now seeing mercy all over the place! Here's a poem about mercy. Following the poem is a break-down of the poem, verse by verse. If there's a verse that you have a story or comment for, please share! Thanks to those of you who added your comments this week & gave me the reason to finally start the blog!

This is from a blog called Meetmeinthemeadow by Roy Lessin

(I know nothing about him. I'm just looking at the poem he posted.)

Mercy - Christ showed us the way

With a dead end before us, Christ showed us the way;

When we walked in the nighttime, Christ brought us the day.

With our faces all hidden, Christ carried our shame;

When we felt so unwanted, Christ called out our name.

With a cup that was empty, Christ brought us His well;

When facing destruction, Christ saved us from Hell.

With our fate like a leper, Christ reached out to heal;

When we lived like a phony, Christ brought what was real.

With our fists in defiance; Christ stretched out His hand;

When our footsteps were sinking, Christ helped us to stand.

With no hope of heaven, Christ came from above;

When our hearts were so empty, Christ poured out His love.


Mercy - Christ showed us the way

With a dead end before us, Christ showed us the way;

From Psalm 20:

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May He send you help…And grant you support…

May he remember…And accept…

May he give……the Lord saves…he answers…

…we trust in the name of the Lord our God……we rise up and stand firm.”

When we walked in the nighttime, Christ brought us the day.

A consideration:

When you are up against difficulties you are well aware of your powerlessness. You may only be able to see the darkness before you. Don’t look at your own experience. Look at God, whom you need.

When you are anxious, think on these truths:

· “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

(1 Peter 5:7) (That's different than "he cares ABOUT you.")

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”

Matthew 6:34).

When you are fearful, think on these truths:

* “He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

60 million Americans suffer from insomnia. (NPR)

“Yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime and in the night his song shall be with me and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8)

May the Lord’s love always be your night song!

With our faces all hidden, Christ carried our shame;

Shame is an intense feeling of angst that makes you wish you could evaporate. It is deeper than guilt. It is not based on having done something wrong so much as a soul ache of being wrong at the core.

When we come up against His pure goodness, what we wanted now makes us feel dirty. When goodness is laced with badness it is easier for us to deal with, but pure goodness is alien to us. We know God is powerful, but to experience that power brings our own insufficiency into the light. We tend to recoil from what we most want.

1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we felt so unwanted, Christ called out our name.

Isaiah 49:16 “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (NLT)

God will never abandon you. You are His image-bearer. You are a child of God, created by God, secured, accepted, and valued by God.

With a cup that was empty, Christ brought us His well;

…and His well is His Word…

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

When facing destruction, Christ saved us from Hell.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:9)

With our fate like a leper, Christ reached out to heal;

The image we so often have with regard to healing is of our own hands. In hope, we lift our hands to the Lord in desperation, crying out for healing. In prayer, we clasp our hands and beg humbly for His healing. In faithfulness to God, we lay hands on one another to claim the gift of healing. As Jesus walked through the crowds, people strained to reach forth their hands and touch a piece of His robe, in hopes of receiving healing as he passed by.

But this verse portrays the opposite. This verse portrays the true posture of our healing. Christ, is reaching out the Everlasting Hand toward us. Jesus is placing His Mighty Hand on us. The Skilled Hand of the Great Physician is penetrating precisely the area in need of His touch.

So at that point, our posture is to simply open our hands and receive that which He pours out.

When we lived like a phony, Christ brought what was real.

With our fists in defiance; Christ stretched out His hand;

When our footsteps were sinking, Christ helped us to stand.

A local testimony:

There were darker times early on in my Christian walk, when everything seemed to be shifting around me and the shaky foundations on which I'd been relying for so long were suddenly caving in (a spiritual "earthquake" if you will). It was then that I learned to stand on God's promises:

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." (Is. 54:10)

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Ps. 16:8)

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide, your right hand will hold me fast." (Ps. 139:9-10)

A testimony from Haiti:

Haitians sleeping outside after the earthquake were singing "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

With no hope of heaven, Christ came from above;

The flame of hope that is Christ comes to us, out of our pain & out of our deepest misery and sorrow.

There is something beyond us that transcends all of our greatest struggles and pain. This has given me the greatest hope and joy.

When our hearts were so empty, Christ poured out His love.

It is at the times when we feel most defeated, lost and abandoned that we are shown the beauty and hope of His love in a new way. But, sometimes we must pour out ourselves so that we are empty and can let God in. When we are trapped by other desires, other thoughts, other concerns, there is no room for God. We shut Him out of our lives and we are full of the very things which are poisoning us. It is only when we consciously Let Go and Let God that we find freedom.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

AQ 17 - 04.15.10

Haiti, 2010
Friends are gone. Students & teachers, artists & musicians, philosophers & leaders – young & old are no more. Whole families are gone. Homes are lost, businesses, government buildings, churches, schools, as well. Jobs & dreams will all be newly defined.


Jerry Rosembert is the graffiti artist who, on January 12, spray-painted the map of Haiti crying. It is now an icon in Haiti.

He has sprayed about 20 more of those paintings on walls around Port-au-Prince. He says it’s not “witty” like his pre-earthquake paintings but that it might be too soon for “cleverness.” His first one was spontaneous & from the soul – his response to the tragedy, while thousands of his fellow countrymen & women wept & prayed in the plaza of Champs de Mars.

Jerry’s pre-earthquake paintings survived the destruction. Street walls of Port-au-Prince display some of his work. “Tet Anba” shows a man upside down. It depicts Haiti as a topsy-turvy country. Another of his paintings is of a man speaking into his hand & biting a cement block, pretending he owns a cell phone & has food to eat. This is how things were before the earthquake, crippled & impoverished, & even more so today.


In the Haiti earthquake 220,000 died; 310,000 were injured; 1.5 million are now homeless; & there may be 150,000 amputees by the end of the year.

In hospitals, patients wait days to be seen. My name is on the record books of three doctors & one physical therapist here in the US. I even get phone calls from pleasant-sounding women, reminding me of appointments I have with these doctors. They say my name. It’s nice to hear my name.

Doctors in Haiti have coined a new phrase, “Haitian up” meaning “toughen up.” The Haitian population has proven to be a people of strength & endurance through their history of pain. This year they suffer more deeply still, but they remain strong in spirit, strong in character.


Trevor spoke to students at Biola University in California. He showed some slides. There was a photo of the Hotel Montana where he had eaten a gourmet breakfast on Sunday, two days before the massive historic landmark was destroyed.

He showed a photo of a young man walking through the ravine community where Trevor was working with six other Americans on Tuesday, two hours before the earthquake. That young man did not survive. His young bride & his brother flew home on the same cargo plane with us.

Trevor was in the UN building where, one hour after he left, 300 of the 314 employees died. The surviving 14 were seriously injured.

Trevor shared that, at first, it didn’t make sense to him that we three girls climbed a tree as the aftershocks continued. He later decided it had been the safest place for us. Though the earth split open during the quake, he hadn’t seen any felled trees.

Everyone in Haiti today is a walking miracle, he says, & he quotes Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you & not to harm you, to give you a future & a hope,” says the Lord.

At school Pria was asked what she didn’t lose in the earthquake. She said, “my family & my relationship with the Lord.” Her teacher said, “Pria’s spiritual life is deeper than any other first grader I have ever taught. She has taught the other children many things in her short time with us.”

Dawn said it’s scary to think that solid ground isn’t really solid or safe. And, she thinks about how easy it really is to die.


It’s been three months. I cook more. We laugh more. I just finished physical therapy & we’re all having emotional therapy…our dog, Latte. We’ve all had hair cuts, even the dog. We have been in the US long enough to celebrate all three grandparent’s birthdays & Grandparent’s Day at school in Connecticut.

In Connecticut it is spring time. I’m encouraged daily by the sweet sound of birds in the morning. They’re building nests for their new families. Sunshine bounces off of daffodils & forsythia bushes. Warm yellows & warm weather meld.

It looks like someone has taken a green highlighter & colored a path along the roads, showing us the way to go. Green is scribbled throughout the dead winter branches in the woods. The air smells fresh. The flowers smell sweet. There’s new life everywhere.

Haiti is still dusted in cement powder, piled with rubble, & stacked with broken rebar. Four-story buildings are collapsed in to one. Someone said that Port-au-Prince looks like layer cakes stomped on by the boots of giants.

Haiti is not being blessed with an east coast spring time. It is not bursting forth with new life. But it is not without newness or hope. In the Caribbean, there is always a sense of newness & hope. There is no winter. If one looks for bright new blossoms & aqua blue waters, one will find them, on any day of the year, somewhere on the west side of the island of Hispaniola.

There is, again, a constant, subtle, sweet breeze of hope blowing in the air. There is a gentle wave of newness of life swirling around the island. A fresh start is on the horizon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

AQ 16 - 3.27.10

Desensitization…The range of motion in my legs & feet is improving, but the physical therapist said “we” need to desensitize the right foot. We rubbed cotton balls over the foot. Cotton balls hurt. With repeated tries over a span of several days, my brain was finally able to communicate with my foot. “Only cotton balls here, not concrete,” & my foot believed. Now we’re applying other textures & reminding my foot that everything that touches it will not hurt it.

I’ll consider this as I weigh the non-physical issues of each day. I’ll choose what else needs desensitizing in my life & apply the cotton balls ….


On March 13 the weather changed in southern Connecticut. The bright, snowy winter turned dark & bleak. Strong winds forced trees to snap or be uprooted. I watched from a doorway in my parent’s house as three trees fell. One fell across the road. Two cars were traveling in each direction. Men got out of their cars & tried to swing the huge pine to one side. They made a path just big enough for the four cars to pass through. My brain was screaming, “Don’t get out of your cars in this wind!” Desensitization needed.

I didn’t leave the doorway between my parent’s dining room & den. I hated the sound of the wind &, of course, the cracking of trees. I braced myself for another earthquake-like experience. I was a little more afraid than I needed to be, maybe. Desensitization needed.

I saw a tree fall in our neighbor’s yard & on the wooded hill across the street. None of our trees fell, but large limbs broke off, &, the power in that wind tossed them like spears deep in the ground. We heard that some people were killed during this storm, by falling limbs & falling trees.

Dawn was in play practice at school where the electricity was never lost. Pria was at a friend’s house where the power lines went down. So did ours.

It was too dangerous to be out & driving. The girls stayed where they were until the following day.

Retrieving the girls was tricky. To the right of us a tree had fallen across one road, & a telephone pole, with multiple wires, had fallen on a car that then blocked the other road. To the left of us a tree had fallen across one road, & we were able to drive through five flood zones that covered a second road. A fifteen minute trip became a one & a half hour trip as we tried alternate routes coming home with the girls. This was not fun for Pria. She let us know that she’d had enough adventure for 2010.

No running water or electricity. We’d lived like this many times in tropical climates, but not in the freezing temperatures of the north east U.S. Sleeping through the cold nights that week gave me headaches. After two days & nights of romantic fire light my eyes & sinuses had had enough of fires in the fireplace. But, the raging winter winds did not care. They continued.

One hundred trees fell at the golf course. The hundred year old stone walls throughout the area remained intact while the fashionable new fences adorning the tops of the walls were torn from their hinges. It was hard to recognize the water fall, because the water table was so high it just looked like a bump in the river. Trees that lined the river bank lost their unique identity as their nobby & twisted bark was covered by the rising water. It reminded me of the earthquake when my landmarks were lost. Everything looked the same, flattened, & I didn’t know where we were. Trevor had the same problem from the air when he was helping to direct a pilot to a food distribution point.

The week of the storm, Dawn stayed with friends who hadn’t lost power. She was able to get to school on time as though nothing was amiss. I sure wanted to be a classmate of Dawn’s that week or have an opportunity to go to her play practices. They used blow dryers & curling irons & their makeup was perfect. I wore my knit hat all week, even to bed, & washing my face in icy water was torture.

Electricians & tree men worked around the clock. Some homes had power by the second day. We were without electricity & water for six long days. There was no motivated to do anything but stay warm. We hauled water from the river & ventured out to take a shower at a friend’s house & then eat at a Greek restaurant. Heavenly!

The storm is over, but the effects of it are not. There are weeks of clearing to be done. In Haiti there are years of clearing to be done. Here, debris has been turned in to wood chips & spread as fertilizer. In Haiti, rubble is being taken to the sea to build retaining walls against hurricanes. I drive through the streets well aware of the dangerously leaning trees here. I drove through the streets of Haiti well aware of the dangerously leaning buildings. They all need to come down. My eyes & heart are more keenly aware & concerned about these truths. My gut pushes me to respond in ways I’ve never yet responded.


Frank arrived from Haiti this week. I knew of his trip; the girls were happily surprised; & Latte showed her excitement in ways that would fascinate any dog lover. Frank looks far more handsome than he should for someone with his intense schedule of orchestrating numerous pieces & players. And, he has far too much energy for someone who’s had trouble finding clean water to drink & who’s been eating MREs in a mildewed apartment.

You may have noticed that I haven’t talked much about Frank. Now that he’s here to give me accurate details about him & World Vision, you will hear more from me shortly….


Answers to your questions:

I haven’t finished the AQs yet. You didn’t hear from me because the week-long storm slowed me down.

After I finish the AQs I’ll be writing some STs (from Surviving to Thriving).

Yes, you may share AQs with others. Thanks for asking.

Latte’s story will be one of the AQs. It’s almost finished.


Thank you all for your responses. You keep me writing. Thank you all for your prayers & well wishes. My hope is that you will see yourself in these writings & take the time to care for yourself & your loved ones more deeply & more often.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AQ 15 - 3.25.10

We were flown from Haiti to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey on Friday, January 15. The base is three hours from my parent’s house in Connecticut, which is where we four girls have lived (puppy now included) for the past two months.

Dawn took over my father’s office, though he does get to keep regular office hours while she’s at school. His standing lamp is now adorned with fashionable hats & scarves. The office supply shelves in the little closet house neatly stacked shirts & pants. The fold out futon is permanently folded out, & underneath is home for multiple pairs of very colorful shoes.

Above the garage is where Pria, Latte & I live. It’s been a good place to practice toning down our hyper sensitivity. The sound of tree limbs brushing against the wall next to our beds, & the shaking caused by the garage door opening & closing is helping to reprogram our internal levels of alarm. That’s a good thing. (I know you’re reading this, Mom & Dad.)

Latte is litter box trained, so there’s a litter box in my parent’s guest bathroom shower. Next to the wood stove in the dining room is a green dog bed with chewy toys, & in the corner of the kitchen there’s a water bowl & food dish. These spaces were previously bare & needed to be filled. A baby gate blocks the entrance to the living room, & high-heeled guests must now climb in for a visit with my parents.

The table in the Den is now a craft table for Pria. I think it formerly displayed family heirlooms & vases of flowers. Beside the front door is a mat with pink bunny boots, a dog leash & a jump rope. The glass doors have nose prints on them: higher Pria prints & lower Latte prints. On the porch is a purple bike & a row of favorite stones from the driveway.

I started driving again this week. Yay! But, until now, my dad has kept all the school carpool appointment times, through rain, snow & sleet. And, yes, we’ve had all three. My mom has done all the shopping for groceries & school supplies. And, she’s prepared most of the meals. Once a month Dad takes Pria to the children’s concert, & Mom has gone ice skating with Pria twice!

Need I explain how we feel about our parents-grandparents! They have been wonderful.


When you hear the same thing twice in one day, you take heed…

Both Dawn & Pria commented on “stuff” yesterday. So, it’s time to tell you about stuff.

Pria was going to be interviewed at school. “They’ll ask you to tell about a time in your life that was difficult.”

Pria said, “Earthquake, of course. And, I realized that stuff doesn’t matter. Without it, I didn’t even realize I had it. With it, I didn’t even want to share it.”

Dawn was not in on that conversation. Later that day she said, “I’m glad all of our stuff was gone in 30 seconds. I didn’t have to spend my time thinking about it.”

Did you notice all the stuff with which we have adorned my parent’s house. Our basic needs have been met by so many of you. You have sent clothing, shoes, & winter coats. You have helped with the girls’ schooling. Thank you all sooo much! And, by living with my parents right now, we don’t yet have to buy kitchen ware & bedding.

Beyond stuff:

When you hear the same thing twice in one day, you take heed…

On a Saturday night I posted an AQ & mentioned that I’d put my earrings on again. Sunday morning I went to church & a friend said she had some earrings for me. I thought she had read my AQ, but she hadn’t. In prayer it was clear to her that a pair of turquoise earrings was to be a gift to me.

On Sunday afternoon I picked up Dawn from another town where she had spent the weekend with a friend. She told me that her teacher had been praying & it was clear to her that a turquoise necklace was to be a gift to Dawn.

Jewelry is a layer beyond the basic needs layer. Since ancient days turquoise has been a symbol of protection, of healing, & of victory. As I was talking to the friend who gave me the earrings, & I said there is meaning in this beyond the very nice gesture of blessing me with jewelry, she thought of the walls in Isaiah 54. The chapter was fresh in my mind, but not because of walls. I remembered the message about mountains. Verse 10 is the scripture we three girls were singing in the tree, & Trevor & the orphans were singing outside after the earthquake: “”For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.”

Usually I read whole thoughts, whole articles, what comes before & after a poignant comment. How had I missed the next sentence, the next verse: “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, I will rebuild you on a foundation of sapphires & make the walls of your houses from precious jewels. I will make your towers of sparkling agate, & your gates & walls of shining gems.”

This, to me, is a reminder that our God is lavish as He rebuilds & restores. You will probably be hearing more from me about this passage.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

AQ 14 - 3.13.10

I was the first one to board the Air Force C17 cargo jet to McGuire AF Base. Mike took over Trevor’s duties & carried me aboard. The crew quickly changed gears from delivering relief supplies to delivering earthquake evacuees. They came to me. “Passport, please.” No passport. “ID of any kind.” No ID. Hmmm. A crew member left & then returned with a piece of paper & pen. “Would you write your name & address and social security number, please.” I wrote my name. “Good enough,” he said.

The crew flipped down all the seats on the sides of the aircraft & bolted down some seats in the belly of the craft to accomodate about 90 of us. A blanket was offered to me. “We don’t have enough for everyone. But you need one for sure.” I had been given a sleeveless shirt & skirt & flip-flops, & I was now headed to New Jersey in the dead of winter. A few of the men conferred & then started looking for more blankets. They gave some to Dawn & Pria. One man stripped the two patches off his flight uniform & gave them to the girls. Another invited them to see the cockpit, which involved a climb up a ten-foot ladder.

It was a short trip, but not short enough for my aching body. Most people rested. I had my head down & was trying to rock the pain away. A crew member opened my hand & pressed two Tylenol capsules in to it. “This is all I have. I’m sorry.”

It was a short trip, but there still wasn’t enough time for my mind to catch up with the fact that we’d just been through an earthquake in Haiti, with concrete, dust & screaming people all around us, & we were now on a clean air force jet with passengers resting quietly. We weren’t on a boat to La Gonave. We weren’t on our way to school & work. I would not be giving my presentation. We hadn’t eaten the elaborate Haitian meal I’d spent all day preparing. I hadn’t turned off the stove or computer or picked up the dog from our friend’s house. We hadn’t returned the blow up mattresses or tool kit to our friends across town. I was wearing someone else’s clothes. I didn’t have my purse., & I was strapped in a military seat, like a paratrooper. We weren’t flying to the Dominican Republic or Guantanamo. We were flying to New Jersey, just a few hours from my parent’s house. Trevor wasn’t with us. Mike & Angie were with us, & it would be their first trip to the north east. A new adventure. Like we needed a new adventure.

When we arrived in NJ the commanding officer and some high ranking military men boarded the plane with a camera man. They all looked quite surprised. Then they decided to take me off the plane first on a stretcher. Mike stayed with me. In the ambulance we were met by two EMTs. They also looked quite surprised. “We were just informed (a nice way of saying “awaken in the middle of the night”) two hours ago that a plane was arriving from Haiti. And, more would follow.”

I looked out the window on the way to the hospital. It was bleak & cold, & there were patches of snow on bolders that lined the roads. Where was I?! Three hours prior I had been in the balmy Caribbean.

At the hospital I looked up at the doctor. “Please don’t touch anything,” I said.
“I’m going to send you for x-rays,” he answered.
He asked me when I had last eaten.
“Eaten what? Eaten anything? Or eaten protein? Why are you asking me.”
“I’d like to give you a Percoset but not on an empty stomach.”
“Well then I need something to eat.”

He looked at me curiously. “When did you last eat a meal?”
“This is Friday.”
“Well I had a hotdog & a marshmallow one day, & a granola bar another day.” I was trying to remember how many days were between Monday & Friday. “And an MRE (military “Meal Ready to Eat”) on Thursday.”

We’d arrived at the hospital before breakfast, so nurses headed for the staff lounge to retrieve any food they could find. I tried to share with Mike, but he said no. One nurse went to tell the kitchen staff to hurry up the meal preparations. She was pleased to deliver the first meals of the day to Mike & me.

The doctor came back. “These x-rays don’t show any breakage, but there’s so much swelling of your arms & legs. I’ll give you something to reduce the swelling.”

We were then transported to the base recreation center where they had unloaded our family & the rest of the passengers from our flight & a flight that followed. One office was now the baby care room. The snack shop was doling out sandwiches, fruit & drinks. A hundred passengers were standing in the hall way. Air force personnel & spouses were filing in the doors with clothing. Some dropped off bags & headed out the doors for more. Others stayed in the gym sorting clothes by gender & size.

I was on a cot in the baby care room. Pria was sitting by the floor-length window with five of her new “friends.” Two men came in smiling. One dropped a pile of legos. The other dropped a pile of baby dolls & action figure dolls. I noticed that he had a puzzled look on his face. He later returned with some dark skinned baby dolls.

The children were happily playing on the floor with their “new” toys as the sun was rising. Pria began to sing: “Oh come all ye faithful, joyful & triumphant.” The Haitian children joined in, humming. A man in uniform came in the room with a bag of shoes. He held up a foot of one of the children & found a shoe to match, & he continued on to the next child. Another man came in the room. He was on a cell phone. He looked at one little girl. “She’s about the size of Lily. Well maybe in between Lily & Rachel.” It wasn’t long before a woman arrived with little girl’s clothes. I was pretty sure the clothes had formerly belonged to Lily & Rachel.

A young mother washed her baby in the office sink. We’d all been given Red Cross packets of shampoo, baby powder, tooth brush & toothpaste. A few other women were on phones trying to figure out transportation to U.S. destinations where they had relatives.

A woman came in the room. She looked around. She looked quite surprised. She came over to my cot. “Usually, I’m the secretary here.” She looked around “her” office which fifteen of us were now quite comfortably occupying. “But, today everything has changed, & that’s okay, of course…….Usually I make coffee. But, we don’t have to today… Just give me a minute to think about this.”

She returned with a wheelchair. “ It’s winter here. You look cold. They’re bringing warm clothes to the gym. Let’s go get something for you.”

My family was on the way from the gym to get me. We thanked the shell-shocked woman for her help & then went to work on our wardrobe. We all laughed as we chose things that erased our former creative identities & any suggestion that we had just come from the tropics.

Frank had been in touch with my parents, who would soon arrive on base. So we headed for the shuttle bus in our “new” sweats & jackets as another plane-load of passengers came in the door.

AQ 13 - 03.10.10

There was no Tsunami during the second evening after the earthquake. On Day Three the missionary couple went with the pilot family. And, the Williams family headed for the U.S. Embassy by way of the orphanage where Mike & Angie had been since the night of the earthquake.

When we arrived I stayed in the front seat of the truck where I could elevate my leg. The teen girls from the orphanage came to me. Some of them are in my weekly small group. Today they were different. We were all different. They approached me so slowly, so carefully. I smiled. They didn’t. Tears streamed down my face. Tears streamed down their faces. They rubbed my hand. It hurt so much. I was glad they didn’t touch my arm.

What did they need to hear? I said, “I realize that you can believe in God & still be terrified.” They seemed to need permission to feel this way, too. The tears flowed. The stories followed. Then it was time to leave. In December we held a youth sleep over. We had 180 wonderful, fun teens participate. On that night I had encouraged five of the girls who stood before me now. I had named character qualities in each of them & had said it would strengthen them in difficult times. I reminded them of that night & of who they’ve chosen to be, so beautiful & strong. I held their hands & prayed for them. It hurt to move, so I didn’t reach out to hug them. I kissed each hand & rubbed each cheek. (Many of the orphans from this orphanage have been adopted in to families since January.)

One of Dawn’s best friends came in the gate. She lived in the neighborhood. She was solemn. She stretched out her arms to Dawn but did not make eye contact. She paced. She was so anxious. She did not talk.

The littlest boys & girls of the orphanage were hanging on Trevor, Mike & Angie, as if they were trees with long branches. The children were excited just to have playmates for a few more moments. Then it was time to go.

The orphanage “parents” came out with an orthopedic boot. “A team was just here. Someone insisted we keep one of these on hand. It must be for you,” they said to me. Hugs & goodbyes followed, but for all we knew we’d be spending the night on the driveway of the orphanage.

We had no problems getting to the U.S. Embassy. The streets were fairly clear. We had been warned that there would be long lines outside the Embassy, & it would probably be days of waiting for planes once we were inside. We left our vehicle on the street, & Frank called the World Vision office with details on where to retrieve it. I put two of our few granola bars in the glove compartment. Food was difficult for any of us to find.

We were relieved to find a short line outside the Embassy. They waved Trevor & me through since he was carrying me. I asked him to put me down next to a young American couple sitting on a low wall of the inner court. The young lady looked like she needed more than a hug. Their heads were down, & they were quiet. I talked to her. Three of them had come to Haiti. One of them didn’t make it, she said. I held her till security moved us on. “We can’t just leave them alone,” I said to our family. I kept an eye on them through the big windows of the Embassy. They could have entered the building, but they didn’t want to yet.

Trevor said he knew them. They had been together a few hours before the earthquake. He said that the one who hadn’t made it was her new husband & the brother of the young man she was with. (Trevor has photos & video clips of their time together. He will send them soon, but not too soon.)

The Embassy worker at the window had lived in our apartment building. We were so happy to see that she had made it out. She was on the top floor. The roof caved in to her apartment, & she slid down the roof to the outside. She assured us we would get to the U.S. without passports. Hers was missing, too.

There were two available seats in the waiting area. Frank & I began filling out forms. A nurse came to me right away. She was in Haiti on a working vacation. She checked my vital signs & then sent a doctor over. The doctor was also in Haiti on a working vacation. They had not come together. They’d just met each other at the Embassy on Wednesday. It was now Thursday.

The doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory drugs & some pain killers. I asked her how long she thought it would be before I reached the U.S. She hesitated. “I’m anticipating a week,” I said. She smiled. “I was afraid you were hoping for today. I don’t think it will be more than four days. But, we really don’t know anything.” I said, “Just give me enough for four days. Others will need this.” She cried, hugged me & moved on.

The other U.S. Embassy worker from our apartment building heard that we had showed up, & she came over. “They’re not telling us anything, but we’re pretty sure we can get you to the Dominican Republic (DR) or Guantanamo with those injuries. We’re so glad you’re alive.”

We moved along with everyone from one waiting room to the next. Trevor sat me in a teller’s window, so I could prop up my leg. The couple I was concerned about had been adopted by a small group. They stuck together for the rest of the day. Trevor saw that a group of fire fighters from the LA Fire Dept. had congregated in the court yard. He went out to talk with them, hoping to join them in the relief effort. They said they couldn’t hire him, because they had been hired & were accountable to another organization.

The Embassy set up some tables with peanut butter & spoons, & personnel rotated monitoring the tables. Later they brought out paper cups & provided a water dispenser. Others donated snacks. Mostly we all stared at the tables & each other. None of us knew what was to come.

Trevor gave Pria her eye drops regularly & checked my blood pressure. He carried me to the women’s bathroom once: “Excuse me. Coming through with a woman who can’t walk. Thank you.” This was a new mother/son experience for us.

A man came out to make an announcement. “Two planes came in yesterday & left with passengers. We were expecting two more planes today, so we shuttled people to the airport. One plane cancelled. There’s already a tarmac full of people. We will give you updates as we have them.”

An hour later a woman came in to the room. “I want healthy men, with passports & no luggage. You must meet all three criteria.” These men ended up standing on a cargo plane half way to the DR before it was called back to Haiti. There was some concern about the safety of the plane. So, those men were standing on the tarmac of the Haiti Airport, too. I was very happy to have my teller window & some peanut butter.

Trevor’s friends kept appearing. He was having a wonderful reunion with high school buddies. Most were heading for Miami. After a few more hours & no more news about aircrafts, some of his Haitian friends headed out of the Embassy to eat at the homes of relatives & arrange a caravan of vehicles to drive to the DR.

We were told that MREs (Military dehydrated “Meals Ready to Eat”) had been donated. Mike had had his share of them in the AF & was willing to demonstrate how to activate the heat & not burn yourself. He & Trevor helped set up the meals for each person as they lined up in the court yard.

The meals were a fun diversion. There must have been a hundred different meal options in those brown pouches. Many of the guests dining at the Embassy that evening had fun trading food & stories. Others were just thankful for food.

Close friends of ours had given up their seats on the planes the previous day & now offered to share their blanket with me as we all bedded down in the grass. We three ladies tried to think of things to say but couldn’t. They were worried about their two husbands who planned on being inside the Embassy compound before dark. It was now dark.

A few hours passed & I was in more pain than I could handle & I began to cry. Trevor tried to relieve pressure from my legs from different angles. I smiled & joked. I hope that eased his pain. It eased mine. Medics appeared from some back room in the Embassy where they were treating a few people. They put me on a stretcher & carried me to the newly designated doctor’s office. Two doctors determined that I possibly had breaks in my arms & legs, but they couldn’t know without equipment. They gave me a Percoset.

Soon our Embassy friend from our apartment building came in & talked to the doctors. They turned to me. “If you can sit up for 3 hrs we can get you on a cargo plane to the U.S. right now.” Of course I said I could! But, I wouldn’t go without the whole family, including Mike & Angie. The Embassy personnel took us all out the side door.

Trevor said, “You know I need to stay.” And, yes, it was clear to us all that Trevor would stay. Frank called World Vision to pick him up, & Mike turned over his own backpack to Trevor.

A group of us was transported in the middle of the night to a surprised cargo crew who had just been informed that they would not be returning to the U.S. for supplies with an empty craft!