Urgent times, with more blessings

Dear Beloved in Christ:

My first full day in Haiti started with my first phone call at 6:30 a.m., from Bishop Duracin. Since so many of us lack electricity, our days end a bit earlier and start MUCH earlier, with the sun’s rising. There is so much to do we simply cannot wait for regular business hours. It is now well past dark, and the day is not yet done. Through the kindness of my friends at the hotel across the street, I was able to charge my iPhone, so it is possible to get more news out.

The good news: We were able to get some things done today, through a series of meetings. I met some structural engineers on the plane on Sunday (was that only yesterday?). Today they called and said they wanted to work with the Episcopal Church. Once I told them, on the plane, of the work we do in Haiti, of our 254 schools, of our clinics and hospitals, of our trade schools and community college, of St Vincent’s, of our churches that are also community centers, of our working of miracles here, they decided to partner with us. Thanks be to God that by the grace of God, a bunch of strangers met at 37,000 feet and talked together. How this new partnership will develop only God knows, but that is good enough for me.

We had no luck getting Bishop Duracin’s visa or his daughter’s, but we continue to work on that. Many are striving to make that happen, and we pray it will happen soon, so that Bishop can come to the U.S. to see his wife and to attend the House of Bishops meeting later this month. Your prayers are asked for this.

At the airport today, waiting to pick up The Rev. John Talbird of East Tennessee, who is the head of the Board for Hopital St. Croix in Leogane, I met a Turkish policeman who is with MINUSTAH, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti. He has been here since October, and brought his wife and now 8-month-old son with him. They all survived the quake, but he was able to send his wife and son home. Their home was damaged and he is now living in a tent near the U.S. Embassy. His devotion to his work here, his obvious care for the people of Haiti, his willingness to sacrifice a year of his life to live in a foreign land to help others in need, even his willingness to think about how to REALLY help the Haitians – “they need factories, they need jobs, then they can help themselves” – struck a deep chord in me. We truly are all related to each other, and when we work to help each other, at a cost to ourselves, we are building up the Kingdom of God.

I also met my porter from yesterday, who stood watch with me while I waited for my ride. “007” – that is his license number – got me inside the gate so that I could more closely watch for my friend, John. He remebered me from yesterday, and wanted to make sure I was cared for today.

At the same time, I met a woman who lost several of her children in the quake, now has nothing, and wants help with her remaining children, to feed, clothe them, give them shelter and send them to school. These are the times I repeat my cry to the Lord: I need more money! I dearly wish to help all I meet, and I try to do so, but the need here is so great. We all will have to sacrifice to help those in need.

But mixed in with the anguish is more joy, one person at a time. Today I found yet another friend on the street, the woman who sells me my fruit drinks every day. I don’t always need or even want them, but this is how she makes her living. She calls me “friend,” and I call her “friend,” and now we have found each other again, and I can only rejoice at this discovery. As yesterday, we laughed and hugged and stunned others on the street who do not know me and are amazed to see such joy between us. But always, even when they don’t know me, they rejoice as well, because they understand what it means to be reunited.

I cannot believe how blessed I am to find so many I feared lost to be found. I shall continue to look and rejoice, even as I know that I will not find everyone.

And we will continue to do our work, hoping that we can, each day, do a little more to help the people of Haiti, to rebuild this place bit by bit, to recover our dead and bury them with prayers and dignity, to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, cure the sick, make the lame (oh, Lord, we have ao many more of those now!) leap for joy, to give sight to the blind and speech to the mute and hearing to the deaf. These are still urgent times and the workload is enormous and there are so many decisions to make (are we making the right decisions at the right time?). But the people are people of faith, and they know that God is with them. They are doing their part, as God does God’s.

In addition to asking your prayers for the people of Haiti, I ask them as well for the people of Chile and of all those affected by the earthquake there on Saturday. More urgency, more need. My prayer is tha we can and will respond to all who need our help.

Blessings and peace,

Lauren

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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