First of all, allow me to apologize for not posting more while I was in Haiti...I was really hoping to blog with pictures as well as words but as things would turn out I ended up losing my camera during the middle of the trip and that coupled with the fact that the internet down there is really slow ment I didn't blog at all.
Please count this as the first of many blog entries about my time in Haiti and when I get the pictures I took on a friend's camera the last two days I was down there I will post them and the stories behind them :)
The person who blessed me by allowing me to use her camera for the last couple of days was my sister and co-laborer in Christ, Joyce. Joyce has been working with GLA for the past six years as the "lead teacher" for the Toddler House (for the children btw the ages of 2 years to 10 years old). Joyce has a wonderful outgoing personality and love for not only all the children we work with but for all the Haitian people that our paths crossed anytime I was with her.
Below is her story of events that happened during the earthquake and right after the earthquake and how you can help bless her with the opportunity to go visit her "children" who are now with their Forever Families around the world.
Now, without further introduction, here is Joyce Trainer’s Story…….
This is my story…. Not just my story, but the story of Haiti – the story of devastation – the story of life By Joyce Trainer
January 12, 2010 – I had just finished off my school day and was upstairs working on lessons for the next morning. It was 4:53 pm, just minutes before we were planning on heading to the main house for dinner. The earthquake started. We had felt a few earthquakes before in Haiti but they hit softly and we just continued on with our day. This one was different. About ten seconds into it the shaking was hard enough for me to know we weren’t safe inside. I jumped out of my chair and ran toward the door. I opened it, struggling to stand and ran right into the wall. I headed down the stairs with Molly right there next to me. When we got downstairs we hopped over broken baby food jars that covered the gallery floor. I remember stepping on pieces and feeling nothing. We gathered the children outside and sometime during all this the shaking stopped. The children sat down in the yard as we spoke with the nannies about where to place the kids since the car in the yard had been moving back and forth. I jumped up on the side of our wall and looked at the quarry on the next mountain over. It was pure smoke. My first thought was that the quarry caved in and that’s what caused all the shaking. I was assured that it was not the quarry when the next shake came. Looking over after the dust settled, I remembered where the back hoe always sat. It was no longer sitting in its spot. Then I prayed for the man who worked the machine. Reality set in.
A few minutes later Molly and I went back upstairs to try and make contact with people since the phone lines were down. As soon as we reached the top of the stairs the shaking started again. We ran back outside and sat with the children. We began to pray – we talked with the kids and asked them if they would sing with us. They closed their eyes, raised their hands and began to pray and sing through the shaking. Every two to five minutes there would be more. Our nannies held the children tight – not yet knowing the fate of their own children, their husbands, their mothers and fathers, or their brothers and sisters. They took turns walking out the gate to desperately reach a family member. Sonson, our yard worker, was the first to hear news. His big brother was killed as his house collapsed. Sonson took time to grieve quietly for a few minutes but he knew what needed to be done. He walked over to the yard of kids and picked up one of our smallest children and held them close. The child hung on, relieved to be in his arms and to feel safe. We continued our singing and praising throughout the evening while more phone calls were made and more nannies learned the fate of their families.
I remember a knock at the gate; it was Nicole’s (a nanny) brother standing there. I saw relief in Nicole’s eyes but when he turned to her and said “You need to prepare yourself for some news” she braced herself. Nicole’s sister-in-law was crushed under her home. She left a four month old child behind. Nicole grieved and called out to God outside the gate where the kids couldn’t see. She took the time she needed, came in and finished preparing the meal for the children. The night continued with prayer and singing. The younger children calmed down and were able to carry on like a normal day. Our oldest children were scared. They wanted to be held. They wanted to feel secure. They wanted it to stop. We wanted to make their lives as normal as possible so we stuck to routine as much as we could. The kids were bathed and put into bed. They slept hard through the night, waking up to shakes here and there but able to go back to bed. The nannies spent the night in prayer and songs and continued to try to reach loved ones. Gwo manman (head nanny) was concerned about her daughter who was in Port au Prince at school during the quake. She prayed though the night and told me she wouldn’t be able to live if she got the news that her daughter didn’t make it. Gwo manman had the phone up to her ear while praying all night. Finally the song she had been singing stopped. It was early morning by this point and we looked over at her. She listened for a moment and finally yelled into the phone “Carine!” It was her daughter on the other end. Tears began to roll down Gwo manman’s cheeks. She knew her daughter was alive. For the next few days our biggest concerns were getting a hold of our nannies. Each time the bell rang, we all ran to see who was on the other side. We joyfully welcomed our incredible staff as each one came in.
Three days after the quake Claudette came in and headed upstairs in a daze. I followed her up and told her how happy I was to see her. She smiled at me and said “Joyce I can’t find my mother and brothers.” Claudette had walked to Carrefour (near the epicenter of the quake) to her mother’s house to find it flattened to the ground. She asked neighbors and no one could tell her if there were people inside. She couldn’t stand not knowing so she walked to the nearby morgue and began the unimaginable – sifting through the bodies trying to find her family. Claudette explained to me how she picked up bodies off of each other to see the ones underneath. She found nothing. She sat next to me, crying, asking what she should do. I had no answer. I didn’t know what to say. She had left the morgue to walk back up to work because the kids needed her. Edlyne, who works with Claudette in the same care group, came up and told Claudette to go home and find her family. Edlyne was willing to stay and work for her and take care of the kids. Claudette thankfully took off looking for her family. She found them close by in a tent city trying to find a place to call “home.” God answered Claudette’s prayers.
Two days after the quake Laurie, Molly and I drove volunteers to the airport to try and get them evacuated. The sights stunned me. I heard things that were going on but I was not prepared for what I saw. I was not prepared to see homes crumbled to the ground, bodies lying on the side of the road waiting for trucks to pick them up, no one knowing who they were. I was not prepared to see the country I love and the people I am here to serve broken.
The exact death toll will never be known but it is said to be over 230,000.
Just a week after the quake we heard news that the kids in the adoption process going to Holland and Luxemburg were approved to leave. With all the government buildings in Port Au Prince destroyed all of our children’s adoption papers were lost. The embassy agreed to allow the children to go but it was on their terms. It was planned that the children would go on a military plane that evening and the parents would meet them on the other side. We gathered 42 of our children, had them say goodbye to their nannies and headed to the airport. Traffic was horrible but we spent the trip singing and distracting the children from the horrible sights. We sat in the field next to the airstrip for several hours until it was time to say goodbye. We lined up our children and they got on the bus one by one that was taking them to the airplane. We were told we couldn’t go any farther than that with them. Although we prepared the children as well as we could, they were still standing in lines – frightened. Most of them went willing with tears in their eyes and some went with a fight calling for us to come and take them home. We said goodbye to 42 of our outstanding children.
A week later it was time for our 83 “American” children to go home. This trip was much larger. Again they said their goodbyes to the nannies, but with plans to set them personally in the arms of their new moms and dads. We flew into Miami and spent just under eight hours in customs with all the children. Although they were tired, and ready to be done with the trip, they were excited about what waited on the other side of customs. We took them to a meeting room where all 83 families were waiting! Three children at a time, we united them with their forever families in the next room. They ran and jumped into their parent’s arms. We spent the day walking around the meeting rooms telling the parents everything we thought they needed to know. Then, one at a time we said our goodbye’s to these precious children who we have been caring for, loving on, teaching and living with for years.
Next to leave were our “Canadian” children. We arrived back to Haiti just to pack up our next group – less than 24 hours later. Our “Canadian” children said goodbye and we headed off to Ottawa. On the plane we had people walking around offering us boots, hats, mittens and even a few snow suits. There was no jet way so when we got off the plane the bitter cold hit us. I had Mustafa in my right arm and Gaelle walking next to me. When that door opened Moustafa thought he was going to die. He screamed as the cold wind hit his face. Never in his five years had he ever felt cold like that. I had to laugh as I wrapped a blanket around his face to shield the awful feeling. Again we said goodbye to 20 children who have changed my life. We watched as the kids began to bond with their new families. After spending the afternoon with them, it was time for goodbyes. We held the children that God so mercifully allowed us to care for and let them go to the families that God planned for them before they were even born.
In February we welcomed 31 new children from an orphanage in Port Au Prince that collapsed. The children from BRESMA joined our orphanage after spending six weeks living outside in their compound. It has been wonderful having the house full of kids again.
The night Molly and I got back from Canada we had three children that were waiting to be united with their families in France. It was hard and unusual coming home and walking through empty bedrooms. I felt alone as I looked at their empty beds. Then suddenly I had an overflowing joy when I thought about the beds our kids were sleeping in that night. None of them were sitting in their beds here, wondering when the next shake was going to hit. And then it hit me, total and complete peace and it was the kind of peace that could only come from one place – our Father.
Forward 3 months later…….
An adoption agency offered to fly Dixie, Laurie, Molly and myself to Europe and visit all the children we said goodbye to so fast. On May 18th the four of us are off to Holland, France, Luxemburg and Belgium to see children, those who recently left and children we said goodbye to years ago. We are so thrilled about this opportunity and cannot wait to see them all! I think about seeing Ronalson, who thought it was funny to pinch me when I wasn’t looking, Fabien who sang louder than anyone I’ve ever met, Cindy Love who never stopped talking, Woody who continuously asked if he could help, and so many more.
This August there is a gathering of children adopted from GLA being held in Michigan. Molly and I are hoping to attend and make a small road trip and see other children in different states. I think about seeing Rose Mitha and Rose Michelle again. They came to GLA six years ago at seven and five years old. They were too weak to even hold their eyelids open. They crouched in the corner hanging on to each other, refusing to allow us to touch them. Now at 13 and 11 these girls have grown up to be amazing children that love the Lord. We said good bye to them in the US group. The “Roses” have been at GLA the longest of any children. Molly, the nannies and I have lived with these girls for six years and now they are where God planned for them to be. They live in Tennessee with their amazing mother, father and two brothers.
I think about seeing my Sammy boo boo. Four years ago Sammy came to GLA just under two years old and near death. Dixie told me he was my special project. Where I went, he went. What I did, he did. He sat in school with me as I taught. He was my boy. Sammy refused to eat. He refused to sit. He couldn’t walk. He didn’t care to live. God put him in my heart and I desired to help him get well. Sammy would get strong for a while then get sick. One evening Dixie came and warned me he might not make it through the night. I held Sammy and asked God to save him. I asked God not to take him. God heard our prayers and strengthen Sammy. Not only did Sammy get well but he got fat! He had so much meat on him that he waddled when he walked. Sammy went home to his family in Tennessee three months ago with the other children. I think about being able to see him again, to hold him and to love on him.
Because I do not receive a salary from GLA, I need to raise funds to make this trip possible. I will be reporting on the success of adoptions from Haiti and how it is a vital part of saving the children of the world! We need a rental car, fuel, food and funds for some hotel nights. If you would like to designate funds to make this dream a possibility, you can donate through Trainer Ministries International
They accept all major credit cards or cheque. If you give by credit card, you can call the information to Barb Trainer or e-mail your information.
The card number, expiry and amount is all that is needed.
Thank you so much for participating and being part of our humanitarian work.
Joyce Trainer – Petionville, Haiti
c/o Trainer Ministries International
13353 Woodcrest Drive
Surrey, BC V4P 1W4
604-538-6530 or toll free 1-866-538-6530
FOLLOWING THE SON FROM MY LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD :)