About my serious side

Not to break the spell or spoil the fun, but you've probably figured out my real name isn't Dummy.

The CTD Diaries is my playground. No one tells the truth in their diaries anyway so I figured I should find another place to get real, where the head lights aren't so bright. I originally thought this would be a good place to post my creative writing, but I think this is just a good place to tell the truth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Letters from Haiti

These are the last two letters from Haiti. Craig, Steve, Gary and Chuck are home. DARNIT! I wish they never had to come home. I have so enjoyed seeing the happenings through their eyes.

FRIDAY, January 22, 2010

We are sleeping on the tarmac at the Port-au-Prince Airport. Not too much more I could say. We were evacuated--iit felt literal--from Leogane this morning at about ten. We had just enough time to talk to the Bishop and pass along a bunch of money, and say goodbye to all of our friends from Bavaria, Cuba and Menonite--I know its not a country. We had just given the Cubans all of our supplies in anticipation of having to get out quick with the helis and then Tim Mooney and Stan Phillips showed up with the helicopters. They are in for an adventure! We took a few minutes to orient them.

Just like everything else we have experienced here there were a number of small miracles that took place. Everything that the ward in Leogane has done for us to make us comfortable and safe. For instance, Frere Eddy has been our driver and computer provider and good friend for the past week. I really wanted to make sure that he knew that Stan and Tim were here and he was needed to pick them up tonight, etc., etc. I had just asked the young man from the ward that Bishop Pierre-Louis had assigned to us for the day, to go and let everyone (Bishop/Frere Eddy) know that there were guys there to replace us and they needed the same help and voila! Frere Eddy shows up.

The helis dropped us off at the heli landing zone at the @ Port-au-Prince airport, in other words, the tarmac.
I broke down a bit on the helicopter ride out because I am so grateful for the opportunity we have had to be here and help a few people. This has been such an incredible experience. Seeing the growth and maturity of the church has been extremely satisfying. Chuck gave one of his classic analogies. When he was Branch Pres in Leogane 20 years ago they planted a little mango tree in the front part of the grounds by the chapel. Now that tree is a beautiful 30+ foot Mango tree with 100s of mangos (unfortunately not yet ripe). That summarizes the growth we witnessed and were blessed by. I had to catch myself the other night when I met the Stake President. I thought he was a young man looking for church activities and then I met the mission president who looked even youger than his missionaries! I almost congratulated them on how self-sufficient the church is here. How there are no foreign missionaries (and there hasn't been for some time). They don't need us and its awesome and then I quickly realized that that was about me and the fact is it is about the church, that is the way Our Heavenly Father wants for things to go! He just needs good people to live the gospel and he will make it all work regardless of the place or the circumstances.

There are huge military transports landing and taking off every half hour or so. And there are tons of pallets and supplieshere at the airport--I hope they start to make it out to where they are most needed. The airport is a little city all by itself. After a few hours hanging here with Arthur Brice and Chris Roberts from CNN--yes we talked and yes they said they were going to do a story on us--they were waiting while their photographer went for a helicopter ride with Jeremy. Anyway, after just sitting here the choppers took us over to an orphanage--House of God Orphanage, I think its called. The doc from the orphanage flew down with us to Santo Domingo. They are buzzing right now because there is a good chance the kids will all be able to get out soon. In fact I just overheard one of the guys talking about all of us flying out tomorrow with the orphans in a military transport leaving around noon?! The orphanage was a blast. We just sat with the nannies and the kids came and jumped all over us. Gary has never been so worked over. He had a child on each knee one on his left shoulder and a cute little girl that combed every hair on his head. We had fun talking with the nannies. They have seen a lot of white people--adoptive families--but this is the first time they have seen white people speak their language. Most of the kids are spoken for, but it sure was hard to pry them off of us and return here to the airport.

Please pray that we can get a few hrs sleep tonight and please continue to pray for us to make it home soon! We can feel those prayers very easily and know that they have been answered to allow us just a little time away to help these incredible people. Hope to see you soon!

Craig, Gary, Steve and Chuck

SUNDAY, January 24, 2010

Well, I guess this is it. We are finally on US soil!!! I suppose we have to go back and start from the beginning. We slept on the tarmac. Maybe I can paint the picture a bit. We were unsure about our departure time (and our departure) so we decided to stay really really really really close by. We were across the tarmac from the big transport planes that were coming in and out all day and night. Chuck took one of the tarps off of a pallett of 'stuff' and rigged it up so there was space for 1 and 1/2 people and then Steve, Chuck and I jumped in and Gary eventually joined us down by our feet. Gary said I kicked him all night, I thought it was mosquitos biting me. The most suprising part of the whole night was that it was cold! Gary ended up putting on 2 surgical gowns to get warm!

We woke up not knowing if we were going to spend a few more days (weeks, months) in Haiti or flying out on any one of 5-6 different options.

Gary and I hopped in the helicopter fairly early on and headed back out to Leogane. Gary has this ability to 'have stuff find him,' and we had procured a bunch of really needed supplies. We jumped out of the helicopter and delivered the casting stuff to the Cubans--even at the Univ of Miami hospital located at the airport, casting supplies are scarce.

When we talked with the Cuban general surgeon we learned that they still had not been able to get their x-ray machine working. The holdup is a box, a simple plastic box where the film gets dipped into the exposure fluid--antiquated system but incredibly crucial. Rest assured that Gary and I almost missed our flight out because we were on the helicopter again going back out to Leogane to take an x-ray fluid box. The box was delivered while we were on the plane thanks to Jeremy.

The first evac option was with the orphans from Maison des Enfants de Dieu--featured a bunch on CNN. Their doc flew in with us last Sunday and we spent the afternoon at the orphanage yesterday (friday). We were waiting for any word that the kids were on a bus headed to the airport. Gary and I had just taken off for the return trip to Leogane when we were called back because the bus was on its way! From what we know or heard there was a lot of politics involved but just over half of the kids received approval to be flown to the US and go to either adoptive families--best guess is that 90 percent plus had already been promised or adopted--it is just a very lengthy process. By now you have all seen the pictures and videos of all of us carrying the kids from the bus to the transport plane. It is almost impossible to describe our feelings about the opportunity to put a lifetime event like that in perspective or in writing. What a way to end our trip! We were so overwhelmed by those kids. I think there were 83 orphans that got out. Each of us, including all of the St George team that we flew in with - Bryce, Jan (nurse who delivered baby in Leogane) Keoni, Kurt Troy, Boyd and James and Marc Martial (team leader for church's Haitian Creole translation and good family friend who was down in Haiti with the lds church's official group), had kids crawling on us, wetting their pants on us etc etc. Steve said the little girl on his left knee was so scared to get on the plane that she instantly wet her pants and he just let her because he didn't want to make her feel bad.

The plane was awesome - while it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride in an Air Force C17, that was not even close to the story. Right after we got on and I sat down next to Chuck and the two kids crawling on him I noticed that Youmilde, the 7yr old little girl I held for about an hour yesterday at the orphanage, was crying and there were a bunch of little ones crying so I jumped up and put her and another baby on my lap. While the kids were all very excited they were also extremely afraid of flying and all the other unknowns ahead of them. After loading and buckling all the kids and escorts they opened the plane up to the line of Haitians and others with U.S. passports, the majority sitting on the floor. Once we were completely loaded they tried to get a count that would match the manifest so we could take off. It became a huge mess when the numbers didn't match up and we sat there for at least 2 hours until Chuck jumped up and grabbed the microphone and read each name so they could match names to people. Needless to say he captivated the audience with his jokes and the way he spoke their language fluently, yes he put on a show. The problem was, there were a number of people put on the list as escorts for the orphans that didn't end up going with us. Anyway, we finally took off and the light in their eyes and the curiosity about flying was really fun to watch. The flight took about 2 hours but felt a bit longer with the smells and the diaper changing and the kids running around! After helping drop them off at customs in the military airport here in Orlando we were on our way!

The hotel and everything else is nice. It is hard to maintain perspective. We spent a little time talking to Marc Martial about the team that went down from the church to replace us. They had some struggles including lack of organization and too many chiefs - this is the first time the church has sent a team of medical pros into a disaster--they are learning as they go just like we did.

Probably the most lasting memory I will have, and I think Gary and Chuck and Steve agree, is of a humble Bishop doing his job, magnifying his calling and being magnified by his calling as he cared for everyone he could, including us.

The opportunity to spend time with a few of the best men I know was a huge side benefit.

We are all a bit intrepid about the attention and excitement we have generated--iit is fun to poke at each other about the misquotes and pictures. Gary crying on the front page of CNN is classic classic stuff. Steve and Chuck and I were on the verge of tears every minute while there, but it is Gary that gets the story! Our goal from day one was to help Haitians and we were able to do a bit of that. Thank you so much for your patience and prayers and for letting us come. I am starting to cry sitting here at Dennys so I gotta stop.

See you in a few hours.


Steve, Gary. Chuck and Craig


Amanda said...

I've been so touched reading these letters. Thanks Steve, Gary, Chuck and Craig and of course, Crash!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Amen, Amanda. These letters have impressed me deeply too.