I have a great concern tonight for my Pastor. Pastor Jim Reimer and two of our worship team along with a group of teens from our local high school flew into Haiti around noon today. They were intending a two-week ministry trip, however, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti around 5 pm.
We are praying for Pastor Jim and the team not knowing what has happened to them and whether they are safe or not. Please join with me to pray for God’s protection on these members of the body of Christ during this very difficult time.
**Update Jan 13th 2010**The news media has reported that the team made it two hours away from the airport before the earthquake hit and everyone is safe. We will continue to pray for our pastor and the team that they will be greatly used in their mission and will make it home safely.
**Update January 15, 2010,** An email from Pastor Jim came through.
From Pastor Jim:
Today is January 15
We started the day with a large tremor at 4 am. It shook our shelter and sent the kids running. To be awakened in this manner was quite scary. It is now 8:40 am and as I was typing that sentence, another good quake came. It suddenly struck me as funny, I never even moved from my seat. It is amazing how quickly one adapts to the situation. We have been experiencing these tremors about one every 90 minutes. Each one is lesser or greater intensity. None though, with the force of the first one.
We are camped out under a tin roof, Poll barn type structure, which serves as their church building. It has no walls and is about 48 x100 feet in area. It has a ground floor. Kids are all sleeping in a row on the ground. We used sheets of plywood for ground cover. We risked entering the main house to retrieve mattresses and all our supplies on Wednesday.
They are asking no one to go back into the houses until the tremors stop. Each day since Wednesday they say “tomorrow” it will be safe. People are sleeping everywhere. Last night we had about a hundred stay on our compound. Not as many are here as in other places as this place has many trees and the locals are afraid of the trees falling on them in the event of another quake.
We went on a walk about today. Saw home after home levelled. The people had nothing, now they have even less. The proposed goat farm wall that was half built is all down. The wall around the compound is mostly down, and that what is standing has to be taken down and started over again. It would cost 50,000 dollars to rebuild the compound wall. The rebuilding of these walls is necessary to continue the mission here for safety and security reasons.
To see the devastation is one thing, to hear of the loss of life compounds the sense of loss exponentially. One can hardly imagine how these folks will have hope and courage to move forward. There is no employment to go out and make money. The little food they had is now gone as well. The kids were moved by the situation and immediately emptied their pockets to buy rice. We raised 2500 dollars with the group. It will purchase 4000 pounds of rice. We are going to distribute it to the families this afternoon.
The goat farm is only two acres, which mistakenly thought was 10 acres. This plot of land will house about fifty goats. It has its own well and will be irrigated from it. There is another plot of land adjacent to this plot for sale. It would be prudent to purchase it, but Marc did not know the cost.
There is a ten acre lot in another location dedicated for an orphanage. The need for an orphanage has increased dramatically now. The last report we heard that 700,000 people have died. We can not substantiate this amount, but constantly we hear of someone who lost a family member or a friend.
Carla Jadue and Veronica Bocca both from Chile arrived on Jan 10 to holiday here. They were rescued by the Chilean government on January 15 by helicopter. It was emotional to see them go.
We know have just returned from distributing food. One of the students said, “each day it is getting better for me, this experience has changed my life for ever. When I get home I am going to fund raise for these people.” This was said, as we were leaving from distributing rice, riding in the back of a police truck with fourteen of us piled in there. The line never ended; when the rice did, it broke our heart.
When we got back to Haiti Arise, we got more bad news. During the confusion of Tuesday night’s earthquake someone came into the unsecured house and stole 10,000 US. This was money set aside for food for our team and their staff.
It is hard to come to terms with the depravity of human nature in the light of a disaster. Suddenly the price of rice increased, diesel prices jump, the Haitian dollar is worth less, and neighbours loot neighbours houses. One man reported that people were stepping over his dead wife while they looted his house.
But then, we see the other side. In the community of Grand Goave people lives are being changed and impacted through the generosity of people like Marc and Lisa Honorat, founders of Haiti Arise and people all around the world supporting their ministry.
Information is so sketchy here. One of the individuals John Louis Meloche was in touch with is daughter who works for Air Canada. She contacted Mrs. L’heureux who is a Minster of Foreign Affairs in Quebec. She reported that Foreign Affairs did not know about us. We thought the information was out that we need to be evacuated.
Everyone is still healthy here, except for Sue. She is still in a lot of pain and should be seen by a doctor
Jim Reimer, Pastor of Kootenay Christian Fellowship.
**Update January 17th, 2010** The team has now been rescued from the mission’s compound and is in the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince Haiti. Latest news reported by Jorge Barrera, Canwest News Service on Canada.Com
**Update January 17, 2010,** The team is now on their way to Montreal and should arrive tonight. They will be flown back to BC on Monday.
What a wonderful ending for all their loved ones here. We will be very happy to get back our pastor and several of our worship team. Thank you, LORD!
**Update January 18** The Kootenay team was unable to all get on the same plan leaving Haiti so Pastor Jim and worship team will take a plane home to BC tomorrow with all the team together.
**Update January 19th** Pastor, Jim and the team, are on a flight from Montreal.
As of 9 pm BC time they are all home safe. Praise the Lord!
**One final update on January 21, 2010 – below is Pastor Jim’s letter regarding his time in Haiti during the earthquake:
I want to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the many calls, emails, prayers and expressions of love towards me and my family while the team was in Haiti. I am humbled and give praise to God that our team of 24 people was spared death and serious injury in light of the earthquake we experienced.
It is good to be home, but I feel undeserving considering how much I have and how little so many people in the world have, especially in Haiti right now.
As you know, Kootenay Christian Fellowship (KCF) initiated a mission to Haiti which was supported by the Nelson Daybreak Rotary Club and Mount Sentinel School. Our Haiti team was made up of two groups. One was from the school, directed by Don Warthe, teacher at Mount Sentinel, two adult chaperones, and seventeen students from the Quest for Community. The second group was made up of one couple from KCF and two Pastors; Doug Middlebrook from Kootenay Lake Community Church and Jim Reimer from KCF. Together we formed the group of 24.
We went to Haiti with the intention to drill a well for the community, build a goat farm, to teach in the technical school, participate in the graduating ceremonies of this year’s graduates, and to be a blessing generally to the Haitian people by giving out clothes, school and dental supplies. With great anticipation of what we were going to accomplish, we arrived at Haiti Arise on Tuesday, January 12, at 4 pm. We eagerly filed into the house with our 20 containers of gifts, materials and luggage. Then just 53 minutes later we experienced the most life changing event of our lives; a 7.0 earthquake. The building rocked, sending all of us to the floor. Miraculously the house did not collapse like every other home in the area. Not only were we spared death, but despite falling articles in the house only one of us experienced injury. Sue, one of the adult chaperones, suffered a cracked rib from a falling mirror.
We escaped the mission house and sought higher ground. Just imagine the trauma the students and adults felt – strange land, no orientation to our surroundings, can’t understand the language, hundreds of people streaming into the field, with darkness closing in on us. We spent the night in that open field with aftershocks of various degrees rocking the earth every twenty minutes. Adding to our misery, a light rain descending upon us. The Haitian people sharing our space sent up a chorus of prayers, shouts of praise, and cries of anguish with each aftershock experienced. They would sing, clap and shout their petitions to the God of heaven until the sun broke through. It was both comforting and disquieting.
When morning finally came, we were comforted somewhat by the warmth of the sun. We decided to go back to the compound of Haiti Arise. There we set up our refuge camp and lived until our rescue by the Canadian Army. As the days continued, more and more people joined our makeshift camp. We were happy to share our food and water supplies with our new guests.
Communication was difficult and accurate information was hard to obtain. But eyewitness evidence was clear – almost every house in the rural area we occupied was flattened. Many locals reported deaths in the family. Devastation was everywhere.
The timing of the earthquake (4:53 pm) was fortunate in that most people in the rural area where not in their homes. Had it happened in the middle of the night, the death toll could easily have been tripled.
While in Haiti, the students helped clear roads, bought rice and distributed it to over 500 families, and assisted in the refuge camp with various chores. In addition, our group offered prayers of comfort and a listening ear to those suffering human and physical loss.
Haiti Arise is to be commended. As a mission they have a commitment to excellence. The mission house we were in withstood the quake and thus we were all spared death. This is a testimony to the quality of work Haiti Arise is committed to. They have a goal to help Haitians become self-sufficient and a spiritually and physically healthy community of people. Haiti Arise supports students in their quest for education by operating a technical school for 400 students and a Bible school. They also provide medical and dental help for locals. Their recent project to create a goat farm was just one more example of their programs to offer sustainability for locals. Future goals included an orphanage and elementary school. The latter goal is even more urgent now than ever before.
Haiti Arise is a registered charity in Canada and thus donations to this ministry are eligible for the matched dollars by the Canadian Government. Donations to local groups, like Haiti Arise, will be an efficient method to bring immediate help to the locals. Immediate needs are to develop security, distribute food and water to the locals, and then the creation of a plan to help the locals achieve suitable housing again. We need to have a qualified engineer to ascertain the damage to the buildings at Haiti Arise to see if they have been compromised.
Tomorrow, Friday, January 22, Marc and Lisa, founders of Haiti Arise, will be interviewed on the CTV morning show at 7:15am across Canada in every province.
Once again to all those who have donated to KCF to help Haitians, offered prayers, and called our home to offer support, a heartfelt, huge and thunderous thanks. We love you all.
Pastor Jim, humbled and grateful earthquake survivor.