The Rev. Steve Igo, pastor of Cedar Orthdox Presbyterian Church, Hudsonville, Michigan, was in Haiti on a mission trip when the recent earthquake struck. He filed the following reports.
January 12, 2010
I just wanted to send you a brief note to say that we are safe in Haiti. A few hours ago, Port au Prince suffered a 7.3 earthquake which collapsed a hospital and several buildings. We are still waiting on reports, but the cell phone network is completely down in Haiti. So we can only watch the news on the internet like you can.
When the earthquake hit, I was with missionary Ben Hopp 20 miles north of Port au Prince at his home. We were out swimming with his kids when the earthquake hit for about 20 seconds. At first, I thought I was just dizzy from playing "shark" with the Hopp kids, but then as we stood in the water and saw everything shaking, we stumbled out of the pool and stood together until it was over. Two aftershocks hit a few moments later, but now we are just feeling slight vibrations. Other than being scared a bit, we are OK.
Please pray for the people of Port au Prince. We expect to hear more news over the next day, but it may not be good. The buildings are very poorly constructed in Haiti, and they rarely get earthquakes, so it could be significant. Our fellow missionaries up in the Central Plateau reported shaking for 2 or 3 minutes, and the rural villages are in an uproar. Their huts and small homes can easily collapse, since many of them are slightly constructed. We will have to wait and see.
May the God of hope fill us with joy and peace as we trust in him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God bless you,
January 13, 2010
I am sad to say that the reports from Port-au-Prince get worse by the hour. On the positive side, all of our missionary friends and area pastors are reporting that they are unharmedso far! Praise the Lord! But the stories they send by email about injury, death and destruction is almost overwhelming. One missionary couple watched their three story school building in Port-au-Prince collapse to the ground. Praise God it occurred at 4:53 PM when all the children were gone. Another missionary couple has many injured and dead lying in their front yard, while they try to get some sleep on the bottom floor of their home with neighbors and a visiting mission teams tonight. A mission team of American doctors and nurses who "happened" to be in Haiti this week are busy working with the sick and injured. I am 15 miles north of this devastation with missionaries Ben and Heather Hopp, and I can only imagine how sleepless and distressing the night in Port-au-Prince will be. We were on pins and needles, especially when after-shocks began to intensify between 8 and 9 PM in the evening. Were people shouting and panicking in Port-au-Prince when the earth rumbled yet again?
Some missionaries are stopping by our compound tomorrow morning at 6 AM to pick up missionary Ben Hopp and me to join their team of disaster relief workers. One of them was in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake, helped as many as he could during the daylight hours, and then made his way back north to our community in the dark. He was soot and dust covered when he knocked on Ben and Heather’s door for a ride home. Since UN workers are limited and government services are in disarray, it really appears that the first stage of relief will only come from civilian and faith-based workers. So God willing, here we come!
Please pray for the many civilians, church workers and people of faith who will clearly have their work cut out for them during the daylight hours tomorrow. In God’s providence, our church sent me with a team of disaster relief workers to New Orleans five years agothree weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The church has also sent me on many disaster relief trips since then to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. That experience has taught me that God works powerfully among his people during times of disaster. No doubt, tomorrow we will dig people out of the debris and help transport people to places of help. But in the midst of the overwhelming physical work, the most important thing we will do for the people of Haiti is profoundly spiritual. We will pray with them. We will listen to their stories. We will weep when they weep, and rejoice when they rejoice. And we will urge every one we meet to lift up their eyes to the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Jesus Christ will be present with us tomorrow, and we fully expect him to make himself known among the people we serve in his name.
Thanking you in advance for your prayers,
Pastor Steve Igo