I have never seen anything close to this. Not where I grew up onboard a 40-foot yacht sailing to remote parts of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia. Not two years ago, on the hot, dusty streets of Kabul. Not last summer on my marathon train ride from Turkey, Romania, Hungary and Poland.
"Nice to meet you Pastor Luke. It's a tremendous honor." Pastor Luc St Felix is a gentle, kind-hearted minister whose total lost not only affected his intermediate family but his entire church family.
As we stand next to the mountain rubble that used to be the 3-story Port-au-Prince Pentecostal church, we are forever touched by the great attitude and amazing fortitude of his congregation.
One feisty jackhammer cranks away, smashing full-sized walls into a clump of bricks and large, jagged balls of concrete and rebar. But the main tool of the undertaking is not machine or automation but one rusted out wheelbarrow and a dozen shovels loading pile after pile of dirt and debris only to be dumped just 20 feet away.
Here at the church, everyone helps out. There is one lady wearing a night gown, a wide-brimmed hat and flip flops that had seen its last days, sometime over a year ago. Initially, there appeared that there was little for her to do to contribute. Yet, she methodically bent over and grabbled whatever pieces of rubble she could carry. Here in Haiti, people of all ages claw away with their own hands the debris -- anything they could do to make a small difference. In the back, several ladies helped out, concocting a nice pot of bean soup and stew. They were cooking on a large stainless pot over charcoal and wood. It didn't look good -- I wouldn't eat it. But if I was hungry like they were, anything that nourished my body was fine cuisine for me.
Already the church is on the second round of debris removal -- which was positive news, considering that the debris had already piled over rooftops, jagged pieces of rebar, so flexible that you could easily bend it 90 degrees with a quick flip of the wrist.
"Pastor Luke, what do you need the most? Would you like a team from the US to come down and assist with debris removal?"
"Yes, that would be great. I have a team of 20 plus coming from Alabama tomorrow. Some will be doing medical work."
"But I also need money to rebuild and my people need tent and flip flops. Pastor Luke had lost several of his congregation to the earthquake -- a few were still buried in buildings.
But he would not lose hope. He would keep his faith that his church will be able to clean up and rebuild.
"After all, "The church was too small anyways. We don't need to just rebuild. We need to grow."
Tomorrow, Pastor Luc will be heading up the mountains to visit three disparate villages. Some very remote, they are a stone's throw from the Dominican Republic. In the villages, Pastor Luc conducts a feeding program that feeds 43 villages. He provides three different feeding programs, church and school --something that is never taken for granted in this desolate country.