Greetings from Port au Prince, Haiti.
Yesterday, I arrived at 2:30 PM with the help of Missionary Flights International and AHVID [Association Haitiens Vivant a l’Etranger pour le Developpement]. I was accompanied by Patrick Tomeny – an SOS DRS volunteer who is an emergeny medical tech and pre-med student, the son of two friends and long-time supporters of the CTF – Dr. Patrick and Nelly Tomeny of Tampa, Florida.
As the plane touched down in Haiti, Patrick and I were praying the most recent intentions for the World Mission Rosary. In fact, we were praying the intention for the decade dedicated to the continent of America; this particular decade is currently devoted to the crisis in Haiti:
America (Red Beads)
Intention – That the Lord Jesus through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Patron Saint of Haiti, may come to the aid of those affected by the earthquake in that country. May the Lord help all those affected by man-made and natural disasters in America.
That we were praying for this intention as we landed in Port au Prince is a positive omen. The Lord is good – all the time!
I am happy to be back in Haiti after my experience in Goniaves in 2004 – despite the present circumstances. Arriving here from the Philippines was not easy, nor was departing from the airport in Port au Prince. Many thanks to my Camillian confreres and several in the US who facilitated our arrival – in particular D’Ann Fisher and the Krasula and Solomon families in Jupiter, Florida. These families have been great supporters since we first met when I made a CTF fundraising appeal at St. Peter’s Church in 2006.
Thank God my Camillian confrere, Fr. Marius [Burkina Faso], came to the airport in Port au Prince, i.e to our rescue, after Patrick and I arrived. I did not want to walk to the Camillian community or take a cab: the group outside the airport gate in the streets did not look too friendly. Fr. Marius waited patiently at the international airport, while our plane arrived, more than an hour late, at the airport for domestic flights.
Communication during disasters is a challenge!
As Patrick and I sat in the hangar prior to our departure from Florida, I had spoken with the superior in Haiti, Fr. Crescenzo Mazzella, by SKYPE. In the end, we arrived safely in Haiti, where Fr. Marius came to meet us. Thank God.
The sight of the poverty of Haiti and the groups of young men loitering in the streets slapped me in the face as we drove back to the Camillian community. I was somewhat accustomed to the former because I had spent a month in Haiti previously. But the groups of young men with seemingly no purposeful activity created a sense of unease and sadness within me.
Patrick, Fr. Marius and I made our way back to the Camillian community. We wandered through the streets and followed detours. Traffic was heavy and and the bridge on a major street had been closed down. The street markets were bustling with people selling fruits, corn, sugar cane, etc. The only Catholic parish I saw on the way – the Mission of the Cross – was totally destroyed.
Upon arriving, Patrick and I cleaned up a bit and headed to the chapel. There, we adored the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, prayed the WMR and then celebrated mass for those who had suffered because of the earthquake. Praise the Lord for this opportunity to worship! May He bring greater good out of the tragedy than the suffering that the people are obviously experiencing.
OK. It is now morning here – another day – the sun is rising. Or should I say, the Son is rising – in His people here in Haiti and elsewhere. And there is hope because of that. We will see what this new day brings. Stay tuned, and please keep praying.