Dear Colleagues,This past week, at the invitation of Bishop David Roller, a delegation of Bishop Roller, Dr. Art Brown (USA), Bishop Cecilio Osoria, Superintendent Fredy (Dominican Republic) Bishop Keith Elford and Mr. Grant Sigsworth (Canada) traveled to Port au Prince, Haiti via the Dominican Republic to meet with General Superintendent Clovis Momplasir, and the district superintendents and pastors of the areas most affected by the earthquake. We wanted to hear about the impact of the earthquake on the Free Methodist Church, about ways in which Free Methodists are responding presently to the huge disaster and to work together to develop plans for going forward.
It was a very moving experience for me to be with these Haitian leaders with whom I developed deep friendships during the time that I oversaw the church in Haiti. I have always admired the deep spirituality and courage of our Haitian people who, even in normal times, exuded genuine joy in the midst of oppressive poverty. Their poise and quiet steadiness in the face of the present widespread grief, suffering, and destruction is a powerful testimony to human resilience, deepened and strengthened by the mysterious underpinning of God’s grace.
We praise God that no pastors were killed, though two pastor’s wives were seriously injured and the daughter of one pastor died. It is unknown how many lay members died. Many schools and churches have collapsed and others cannot be used until further engineering assessments are done. We are pleased to report that there is a very competent team overseeing the logistics of the planning.
There are three phases of response to a disaster of this magnitude – the relief phase, the recovery phase, and the reconstruction phase. For the next 30 days the plan is to focus on distribution of water, food and medicine. The 90 day plan includes a focus on health, psychological welfare of children, continued food and water distribution, distribution of non-food items and hygiene kits, a retreat for pastoral families to help them spiritually and psychologically, the provision of back-to-school kits (clothes and school supplies), temporary shelters (tents), and the repair of repairable buildings. Because of the widespread destruction, there is some discussion by the government about relocating whole communities to new areas and abandoning the present neighborhoods. Reconstruction of buildings will therefore be delayed until the government’s intentions are known.
The planning group recognizes the importance of building both economic and competence capacities in this situation. To accomplish this, Haitians will be employed initially for demolition and rubble removal. In later stages, attempts are going to be made to train Haitians to practice trades with skill. It is believed that an approach that maximizes the involvement of indigenous people is the healthiest and most appropriate.
Dr. Brown informed the group that 15 countries have already responded with financial contributions. At the end of our meetings, District Superintendent Devariste said with deep emotion, “I wish that I had a microphone to speak loudly enough so that Free Methodists all around the world could hear me say ‘Thank you, we know that we are not alone!’”
We have agreed that the FMCiC wants to participate in this integrated plan and we are exploring the possibility of the Canadian church using its Bishop’s Relief Fund to provide shelter for pastors who are presently sleeping on the street or in school yards. Daily they go to their jobs to provide food for their families. After work they fulfill their pastoral responsibilities even as they themselves grieve and carry leadership responsibility for the distribution of aid. We are concerned that they be provided with a temporary shelter of substance to enable them to have a place where they can rest and stay physically and emotionally healthy. Research is being done to see what temporary structures (very durable tents) are available. I’ll tell you more about this once we have more information.
This is a summary of where we are at this point. Thanks so much for your prayer support and please continue to pray. There are pics in the Photo Gallery.
Below is a reflection piece written by Bishop Roller that gives you more of the prevailing atmosphere of our visit.
Seven Hours ago
We left Port-au-Prince seven hours ago. Now once again finishing up the cross-island trip from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.
Seven hours to think about what we saw, smelled; seven hours for our tears.
Without thinking we rub sanitizer well into our hands. We wonder at the strangeness of Haiti, 3 weeks post-quake. Strange because the streets look like they always have except the growing piles of tangled re-bar and rubble along the curbs.
Strange because the ladies are back selling tangerines and radio antennas along the road. The man with 20 hats on his head stands ready to sell at the intersection. But 20 feet behind them the 3rd floor of an apartment building is sitting at eye level, the lower two-stories reduced to 2 ribbons of what were balconies.
We drove up the street for sub sandwiches and strangely they have them. Stranger still because around the corner everyone scurries past the flattened supermarket covering their noses with shirt tails.
Strange as we sat for 4 hours with pastors trying to imagine the future: houses that wouldn’t crush children who even now need to play, their laughter making the surreal normal.
We argued and laughed, cried and convinced each other. We have to rebuild houses, schools and churches, but it would be foolish to rebuild now. We must create jobs, we must serve those beyond the family of faith, we must follow Haitian leadership; we must and we will.
The meeting ended and the pastors left to sleep on concrete, again.
Everything is a Dali painting-normal splashed on strange.
I stared at one of the tent cities, a kaleidoscope of sheets, tarps and random fabric tied together. Without latrines or water, thousands of people living from meal to meal. A fluttering in the sky caught my eye. A crude kite struggled for air. It purchased some altitude, slipped, then caught its breath.
Above the crazy randomness of hopelessness the kite drifted on the Caribbean breeze. I traced the string down to two boys, barefoot and filthy, eyes trained upward. The string danced through their fingers, tied off on a plastic coke bottle so it couldn’t escape them.
Life lived by survivors. Futures planned by the fortunate. Kites every one.
Haiti assessment team – Feb 4-7, 2010
Chad Vankoughnett – May 2, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at First FM Church, Moose Jaw, SK.
ANNUAL REPORT – Due February 15. Please file your report through our website—www.fmc-canada.org—you will find it on the top banner of the home page, or at this link: http://www.formsite.com/reports/form70742026/index.html
Network Leader Evaluation – all who attend Network meetings regularly should file (The Lead Pastor’s evaluation will be included with the Annual Report; all others can file through this link.) http://www.formsite.com/reports/form775276147/index.html
CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
St Joseph Island Free Methodist Church, Hilton Beach, ON
Whitby FMC, Whitby, ON (Vic & Joan Stonehouse, Interim)
Profiles available / Director of Personnel receiving resumes
Surrey FMC, Surrey, BC DOP receiving resumes until February 12
Wawota FMC, Wawota, SK DoP receiving resumes until February 15, 2010
Asbury FMC, Perth, ON (Alan Adams, Interim)
Avonlea FMC, Avonlea, SK
Bramalea FMC, Brampton, ON
Charlemont FMC, Wallaceburg, ON
Eastern Koinonia, Toronto, ON
Queensway FMC, Niagara Falls, ON
Trulls Road FMC, Courtice, ON
Vennachar FMC, Vennachar, ON
Functioning with approved local arrangements
Butternut Creek, Kingston, ON
Campbell’s Bay FMC, Campbell’s Bay, QC
Enterprise FMC, Enterprise, ON
Killarney FMC, Killarney, MB
Mainstreet Community Church, Kelowna, BC
Malvern Chinese, Toronto, ON
Marmora FMC, Marmora, ON
Mississippi FMC, Mississippi, ON
Richmond Hill Chinese & English Churches, Richmond Hill, ON
Roblin FMC, Roblin, MB
The FreeWay, Oshawa, ON
Timmins FMC, Timmins, ON
Wyevale FMC, Wyevale, ON
Yarker FMC, Yarker, ON
PASTORS IN TRANSITION
– Executive Director – Arlington Beach Camp
– Associate Pastor of Mission and Ministry– Arlington Woods FMC, Ottawa, ON
2010 Regional Gatherings
March 20 – Montreal – Rosemont
March 27 – Wesley Chapel
April 17 – Brantford – Freedom Christian Community
May 1 – Arlington Beach Camp
May 8 – Dryden
May 15 – Athens
May 29 – Sault Ste Marie
June 5 – Ellice
June 12 – Merritt
2010 FMCiC Ministers Conferences
September 28-30 – Wesley Acres
October 5-7 – Entheos Retreat Centre (near Calgary)