Four years ago today, 80% of the town I live in was broken, destroyed, damaged in 35 seconds. Between 100,000 and 150,000 people died and countless others were injured or debilitated. Cell phones did not work and people did not know what had happened to their loved ones for days or weeks. Four years later, and the effects are still obvious. I have many friends who live in tin roof houses because their families are afraid of concrete roofs. Many more still live in temporary structures, in ruins of their old homes, or under tarps because they do not have the money to rebuild. Many schools are still plywood and tin-roof squares open to the elements with no sound barriers between classrooms. Cholera, which came to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, still affects hundreds per year. Most people in this region live without a mother or a father or a sister or a best friend. As someone coming in from the outside, it is impossible for me to understand just how much life has changed.
And yet the Haitians I have spoken to see hope. There were silver linings to the earthquake, though they are sometimes hard to see. When thousands suddenly became cripples, a society that had formerly seen those with physical deformities as the work of the devil was forced to start accepting them. Greater international attention and millions of dollars were brought to a country already desperately in need. There is a palpable stress in the air today and a real feeling of loss. But in church, we heard remember the fallen but realize that you are still here. You still have a life to live and you are here for a reason.
Today we pray for Haiti, for the hundreds of thousands lost and those whose lives were forever changed. We pray that she may be rebuilt, better and stronger than ever. We pray for wisdom for her leaders and the strength of her people. And we pray for the indefatigable and faith-filled spirit of the Haitian people, that they may heal and work towards a greater future.