by Ruth, aka Momma Frizzle
An email popped into my inbox yesterday reminding me of an anniversary I’m ashamed to say I’d forgotten.
The note was from a Haitian doctor friend who has known my husband and his family for over 30 years. Dr. Morquette asked us to join him in prayer for the lives broken two years ago by Haiti’s devastating earthquake.
Somehow I’d forgotten the date — January 12, 2010 — and the anniversary it marks. It seems so long ago. My top-of-mind concerns have drifted to other things.
But back then all I could think about was Haiti.
Little more than a week after the quake, my husband, father-in-law, and sister-in-law were on the island providing medical care to dozens of patients at a rural hospital. I was at home creating a website to share stories and spread information. (A move that would inspire me to start Frizzle Chicks!) Later, I’d coordinate patient airlifts and supply drops using my cell phone and computer. Meanwhile, those I loved were in the middle of dire and difficult realities on the scarred ground of their former homeland.
My husband Dan, fluent in Creole, medically capable and skilled at organizing, was returning to the country of his missionary kid upbringing. He’d gone back three other times. But not like this. His father, Dr. Fred, had moved his young family to Haiti in 1976, to serve as a chief surgeon and medical director at a missionary hospital in the tiny town of Bonne Fin. The hospital was called Hopital Lumiere — Hospital of Light. He’d been involved in the country ever since, returning numerous times to teach, train, and tend its people. But not like this. Delena, his youngest child, was only 6 months old when the family first moved to Haiti. Now she was a 30-something pediatric nurse, with two young kids of her own. But this was her first trip back to the place where she’d grown up.
The three were joining a hastily assembled 11-person medical team heading to Port-au-Prince, where our Haitian friend Dr. Morquette ran a newly built hospital. But things changed once they were on the ground, King’s Hospital, where they planned to serve, was suddenly inundated with medical personnel. They weren’t needed.
The team trucked around the fissured capital trying to decided where they could help. That’s when a call came in from 120 miles outside Port-au-Prince, from Hopital Lumiere, pleading for more medical staff.
Half the team decided to head out that very afternoon. Incredibly, for five of them it was a home-going and reunion. Dr. Fred had lived and worked at Hopital Lumiere, along with his children Dan and Delena, but so had nurses Steve Nelson and Helene Pearson, all of them had called Bonne Fin home in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And now they were returning together to help out once again.
While they cleaned festering wounds, operated on severe orthopedic injuries, and re-organized the once prospering, but now dilapidated, hospital, I waited back home in Florida for Dan’s random cell phone calls and immediately passed along the news, needs, and prayer requests via the website. It was exciting, and I was energized. So was Dan, although he was exhausted. It was incredible to be able to help so many who needed so much.
I wrote nearly 40 stories about Haiti in 2010. But still I forgot about today’s two-year mark. This fact bothers me. I needed a friend to remind me to care and to pray again. Perhaps you, like me, need reminding too.
For the next several days, I’ll be sharing stories from Haiti just after the earthquake. And I’ll be providing information about people who have been and continue to work in this troubled land, including how we can join them. In the meantime, we can all respond to my friend Dr. Morquette’s request.
He asked, “Please join us during the day in praying for us and for the country as we are still greatly emotionally affected.”