Hurricane Matthew came through southern Haiti the first days of October. We were able to follow the approach quite closely via websites. The eye went over the extreme tip of southern Haiti. I figure it to have been about 70 miles from Pasbwadòm. The difference in damage was dramatic. Our town had minimal damage to homes and no loss of life. Banana trees were destroyed, and the river gushed across the road breaking the village into two distinct parts. But 70 miles west was such a difference. It will be a long time before those folks get some kind of normalcy back in their lives.
The winds of Matthew began kicking up on Monday night around 10:00. We had wisely spent Sunday preparing for the storm…shutters, drainage ditches, removing everything that could fly away. Then the storm slowed down and gave us all day Monday to sit and wait. Many folks began doubting the severity of the storm. But at 10:00 it was clear something big was coming. The first hour was the worst, from my perspective. I doubted the shutters. I doubted the tin roofs on my steel buildings. I thought about trees, about neighbors, about flying objects. As the first big gusts whipped around my house, I couldn’t sleep. Every gust sounded like a train. The guys at my house, in typical Haitian fashion, slept through almost all of it. Around midnight I began adjusting to the gusts. I was able to rest from time to time. The rest of the night was like that…rest…gusting…rest…gusting. I imagined hearing neighbor in need. I imaged hearing things rattle. I did in reality hear a branch fall behind my house. About 4:00 a.m. I began to anticipate daylight. I knew it was close and felt much better. According to information on my phone, the worst was yet to come. BUT, I felt better…for a while. Thirty minutes passed and there was no sign of daylight. I grabbed my guitar and enjoyed some peaceful songs about the peace that God offers in the midst of storms. Another thirty minutes passed. And then, finally, there were hints of light in the sky. The house was boarded up so tightly, we had to open the door to check how light it was outside. Around 5:30 we could see the whole yard. I ventured outside to look around. Leaves were everywhere and everything movable was moving. BUT, I felt better. There is something about light that brings peace. Flying things, rain, and noise are all worse when you can’t see. Now, in daylight the storm, though bigger, seemed smaller. It’s like that in this life, too. Jesus is the light of the world. In His presence, the storms may rage. They may be huge, but we’re always in a better position if He is with us. I came to appreciate the declaration Jesus made, “ I am the light of the world. “ It’s full of meaning to me. The grace and the peace that daylight brought to storm survivors is only a taste of the grace and peace Jesus offers us in this life.
Missionary in Haiti.