February 17, 2010
Clint Haynes and Colton Shannon just returned from Haiti where they helped Roberta Edwards of Son Light Children’s Home and Nutrition Center. She is a key worker in the distribution of goods overseen by the Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tennessee. You may remember that one 15 year old young man in this orphanage lost his life in the earthquake. The other 29 children in the orphanage are doing very well.
To the left you see two pictures which produce opposing emotions. The picture of the hillside of rubble where homes used to be pierces our hearts. So much was lost. The second picture shows Daniel and Joseph napping in the children’s home. Their needs are provided, their stomachs are full, and Sunday they were sitting quietly in church. The help of Christians long before the earthquake created the lower picture. Let’s pray and work so the help of Christians can change the upper picture too! Colton Shannon wrote a short article about one particular night in Haiti that is posted online at ww.mtjuliet.org under “Haiti Update.” He also wrote the article below to give us an update.
Eye Witness Report from Haiti
by Colton Shannon
Words that adequately communicate the need for help among Haitian people we saw are unattainable. As we watch the news, we may try to convince ourselves that it is not as bad as these anchors make it sound; bending the truth as they often do.
It really is that bad.
Driving in downtown Port-au-Prince last Wednesday was life changing. As we were driving through, I kept thinking about how it seems these people have nothing going for them. I hoped they were holding onto what faith they had left.
Clint Haynes and I had the opportunity to work for Roberta at the Son Light Children’s home. We busted and moved the downed wall that fell on her neighbor’s property. We moved the busted concrete and rocks to the road where trucks and our sledgehammers leveled them. At night we helped pack food in plastic bags to take to other orphanages and tent cities in the area. These bags consisted of rice, noodles, tomato paste, oil, and beans.
It was amazing to see starving people mob around us as we handed out the bags of food. It was sickening to run out of bags and leave some of the desperate Haitians with no food. I tried to imagine being them: watching my only substantial source of food leave and me not getting any.
The Estes Church has raised over a million dollars to help Roberta hand out food, tents and other resources. That sounds like a lot, but when you factor in the cost of transportation, it isn’t. The magnitude of this disaster is unfathomable. I hope you feel confident in giving to this work over others that are helping in Haiti. I saw other organizations there that have more resources, money, and manpower, but they were so unorganized that supplies just sat at the airport wasting. Roberta is organized, she is led by an all-powerful Spirit, and I witnessed her doing extraordinary things that nobody else is doing. Not only is she helping orphans and children, she is bringing a community together while meeting hundreds maybe thousands of people’s basic needs.
I beg you as time passes not to forget about these people. Don’t forget about the Church, which is overflowing its meeting place, as you meet on Sundays and Wednesdays. Don’t forget about the starving as you pray for your food. Don’t forget about those sleeping in cloth tents in the rain as you sleep in your bed. These are the “least of these” that Jesus mentioned. Keep praying and keep helping. By Colton Shannon
“Merci” from Haiti
by Colton Shannon
I stood in the back of a 1995 GMC pick-up truck on a hot February night. I was with some of my best friends in the world. It was dark. I felt hands tugging at my shorts and I was having to hold them up. Trying to hand food to a hungry crowd while holding your clothes on can be scary.
As I went through the all-you-can-eat food line in Gano dining hall at Freed last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about my shorts.
Roberta feeds these people who live in “tent cities” twice a week. She and her boys hand out black grocery bags of food filled with rice, noodles, oil, tomato paste, and beans. The Haitians make this bag last as long as three days. In this city of Santo, in this tent city, this is probably the only substantial food they get for the week.
But there isn’t enough for everyone.
It was strange to be handing out black bags of food to desperate hands, knowing that many wouldn’t get any. The people were pushed against the truck with hands held high, pleading in Creole for food.
They were polite. Even with all the pushing and yelling, they were somehow polite. “Thank you, thank you, Merci.” Desperation was in the air, yet these people still looked out for each other. One man went to Roberta and asked if a woman with four kids could get a bag because she couldn’t feed her kids, before trying to get a bag for himself.
Even though these tent dwellers are desperate, they were thankful, so thankful. I tried to imagine what it was like for those who didn’t get any food to watch as their only source of food drove away.
Thanking God for our food should mean so much more to us. Don’t forget to thank him for what you need, and all He gives us that we don’t need.
February 11, 2010: Clint Haynes and Colton Shannon are waiting to board a military transport to return to the U.S. Commercial flights are all full. They have completed a week of working on the wall and supporting the distribution of aid. The team mentioned in the report below is relieving their team which is trying to return today (pending their place on the transport). Let’s continue praying for the people of Haiti and the spiritual growth that is taking place amid this destruction. To God be the glory at all times!
The Estes Church of Christ had a booth set up with the vendors and missions groups at the lectureship on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University. We have had a wonderful opportunity to speak to many of those good folks about Roberta and the Son Light Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. They have been overwhelmed by the magnificent response to their efforts for relief and rebuilding, especially for the work Roberta Edwards is undertaking. They agree that the Providence of God has been at work and gives much of the credit to the timing of the article in Christian Woman about Roberta and the Son Light Orphanage. The magazine article has drawn attention worldwide to the needs there. Hold on to your hat: as of Wednesday of this week, 1.3 million dollars has been donated through the Estes church for the relief effort! As great as that is, one of the Estes elders told me that they have already used over $600,000.00 in aid and sending workers. This effort is not a short-term one, it will go on for months, even years to rebuild and stabilize the lives of so many affected by the earthquake. There have been several baptisms since the earthquake through the works of Christians partnering with Estes and the benevolent spirit of Roberta.
Here is the latest update directly from the Son Light Orphanage blog:
“Today Team 4 is on its way to Port au Prince. Roberta reports that she has already distributed about 50,000 lbs of food, and has several more tons at her house waiting to be packaged for families. The security walls have been closed to a height of about six feet, and gates have been installed at the group house. The church is receiving compliments on its show of Christian generosity, and worship is standing room only. For the next few weeks we will focus on keeping some helpers on hand to facilitate food distribution.”
God is at work in Haiti through the aftermath of this terrible disaster. I’ve yet to hear Roberta or anyone connected with her, blame God for what happened in Haiti. They are giving praise to God for all the opportunities to share His love with their neighbors.
Feb. 4, 2010
The Santo Church of Christ met yesterday on the grounds of the Sonlight Children’s Home. There were 6 baptisms and the members handed out 200 family packs of food after worship.
The wall rebuilding project at the group home and at the children’s home continues. Two walls are up at the group house and the walls at the children’s home are well on their way.
Here’s a note from Roberta describing some of their work:
“Members of Son Light Children’s Home, Santo Nutrition Center, Santo Church of Christ, and Aiport Church of Christ in Cap Haitien, work the assembly line making family relief bags to be handed out to refugees and needy persons in and around Port au Prince. The contents of the bags include: 5 lbs of rice, 2 lbs of beans, two cans of fish, 1 can of tomato paste, 1 bar of soap, a washcloth, salt, 16 oz bottle of oil, matches and two lbs of spaghetti.
We have had success distributing bags to tent cities around the Santo area. Over two hundred bags were distributed after worship on Sunday evening. Area congregations have received bags to share with members and neighbors in need. During a recent distribution from Son Light Children’s Home, the crowd became rowdy and actually pushed our gate off of its hinges. It is repaired and our next distribution went without a hitch. The crowd was very sorry for the destructive behavior and showed that in the when we handed out over 200 bags from our home a few days later.”
Another truckload of food will be delivered to Roberta today. Relief team 2 is there in Haiti – they are keeping busy! The medical personnel with them set up a mini-clinic and treated 100 patients. Others are helping with the wall re-building, transport, and the food distribution.
Jesse Robertson sent a message to the members of Son Light Orphanage, Port au Prince, Haiti.
Subject: Plans ramp up
“Our security and logistics are now coming into place so that we can purchase and distribute basic food items at a substantial level through the Sonlight Children’s Home and the Santo Church of Christ, as well as other congregations. Food kits for families are being assembled in a combined effort from Roberta’s kids, Santo church members, and mission teams.
The food distribution takes place at several locations, which are a network of sister congregations and orphanages. Through these the food flows out to church members and their neighbors. These goals amount to about 11,000 family-meal kits, which total over 150,000 lbs. of food each month. Donations sent to Estes will continue to provide for these devastated families for the next several months. We have also been able to provide some basic medical care, and we are hoping to be able to partner with local church leaders when they are ready to rebuild.”