We are excited about the endless possibilities that become available when you step out in faith. The mystery of what lays ahead is an exciting adventure with endless opportunities to grow in your faith.
February 8th is our departure date for the Hurricane Dorian Mission Trip to Marsh Harbor Abaco, Bahamas. We will sail from Islamorada, Florida and we are looking to spend a total of three weeks in the Bahamas but have broken the trip up to best accommodate people and various schedules. Some people will sail over and fly back, fly in and sail back, or fly in and fly out. We are flexible and would love for you to join us whether it’s three days or three weeks!
Ted and I have spent four years in the Abaco Islands serving the Boy Scouts of America's High Adventure program based in Marsh Harbor. We believe it is time to encourage and lend our hands to the rebuilding efforts. Experiencing Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys, we know first-hand the struggles post hurricane. The media has stopped coverage and many organizations have pulled their relief efforts out of the Marsh Harbor area. The work has hardly begun and the spirit of the people is in need of rejuvenation.
The needs and avenues of relief work is great, we are excited to connect with passionate people like you to bring hope back to the Abaco Islands. The many needs are constantly changing so we are flexible in our mission vision.
We feel very moved to be spiritually present for the people. Their community is in shambles and many families are separated. The Spirit of God, expressed in love, is needed to strengthen and encourage the wonderful people.
Cleaning up hurricane debris and lending our hands to some construction projects will help bring hope that others care and those suffering from Hurricane Dorian are not forgotten.
On Dec 7, 2019 Ted and I flew in to Marsh Harbor Abaco three months after Hurricane Dorian ravished the community causing people to be displaced and separating families. Many homes are destroyed and those remaining are in a state of great disrepair. Businesses have been demolished as the storm decimated many areas of the community. The many challenges ahead are not without hope. There is an attitude of gratitude amongst the people knowing it could have been worse.
The Haitian population that remains is living in hiding or taking refuge in tent dwellings at the local church where they are protected from being deported. More people of the Haitian community have been found dead from Hurricane Dorian. They were recently found in underground dwelling places, just now being discovered by the authorities.
Despite the challenges ahead, business is starting to come to life. Taxi cabs with broken windshields, taped up windows, and windows of roofing paper are grateful to give you a ride. One truck passing by us had no windshield but was still operational!
Gas pumps are being rebuilt and Maxwells, the food store, is fully stocked. One Common Wealth bank has relocated inside Maxwells and is now open. The need for commerce and business to return is integral to the community’s well-being and rebuilding process. In Dundas Town just outside of Marsh Harbor, a barber shop has re-opened in a tent. The spirit and ingenuity of the Bahamas is coming forth. The government has contracted trucks and equipment for clean-up and employs many of the residents.
I asked a question while driving with Brenda our taxi driver who we have known through our time working in the Abaco Islands with the Boy Scouts of America. I asked, “If someone would walk up to you, what at this time would be the greatest gift you could receive?" Her answer was Ice & Water Shield, a quality peel-and-stick, waterproof roofing paper! She commented, "We don't need clothes. We need roofing material, shingles, plywood and beams because the plastic tarps are blowing off when the wind picks up. Families are separated but with the houses dried we would be able to camp in our homes as we put our lives back together."
Clean up is in process and progressing. At the airport the storage building has been organized and many containers are housing other goods. The roads are mainly clear while debris is being piled up on the side of the street. The schools are still closed but the government is at work repairing the structures so the children will be able to come home. I believe the greatest heartache is the separation of families. Michael the first person I met in September, when we were delivering Luci lights and other supplies after the storm, works at the airport. He escaped the storm during the eye of the hurricane and his home was completely destroyed. He was the first person I saw when landing in Marsh Harbor this time. Michael has been separated from his family the entire time. You can see in his eyes the pain he is feeling, yet his faith in God is strong. He takes life one day at a time.
The port is receiving containers but many containers are being help up in Freeport and Nassau making materials sparse for those who are able to rebuild. One hardware store is open but others remain as a pile of rubble stagnated. The marina district where the Mooring Charters fleet, the Boy Scouts of America operate, and home to the many seasonal cruisers is left untouched. It is a scattered lumber yard with boat parts, the remains of Keith’s dive shop, a dinghy or two, and a few green trees coming forth.
We met with Sandi the coordinator of World Central Kitchen while we were there. They are serving over 7,000 meals a day and delivering to strategic areas. They are partnering with many other organizations present. We have been welcomed to send volunteers to work with food preparation. Next we met Ki at All Hands and Hearts, an organization on the ground working to stabilize the community through clean-up. Their main mission is to rebuild the schools. With other organizations pulling out of Marsh Harbor, All Hands and Heart will continue in the community for another two years partaking in construction on homes in the community. We have also been welcomed to send a couple of day workers to join with them. Paperwork is required but can be filed onsite. For a large group to join there is a process of paperwork online that would need to be submitted. Water purification stations are set up around the island providing reverse osmosis drinking water. People are able to come with jugs and have them filled. Once a week there is a meeting with the government and the volunteer organizations to coordinate and plan the rebuilding efforts of the communities. The relief efforts of the large organizations are very impressive as they continue to work unified stabilizing the community.
The local church is very active. New Vision Church has been a rock to the community as a distribution station immediately after the storm and is still the headquarters and meeting center, ministering to the many needs. The effort is led by Lydia, a church member who weathered out the storm. The leadership is returning to the church and services are being held. They are also in the process of restarting Bible studies. The needs are constantly changing as rebuilding progresses and families slowly return. Lydia has been short-staffed and would love help restocking supplies at this time. The church facility has volunteered to be a school starting in January and the distribution center may no longer be in operation.
Flying into Marsh Harbor we were able to see the brown area caused by the hurricane slowly turn to green. To see the green of surviving plants is uplifting. Flying over the reef the water is now clear instead of the stirred up milky white post-storm. There is hope for the survival of the reef; some areas look alive while other areas look hurt and brown. Many of the boats that went aground during the storm are being salvaged and rebuilt while others remain on land and in the sea.
I would like to close with the words of a local. “God allowed this, so surely it will be for good.” The faith in a loving God who is good all the time continues to live in the Bahamas. Faith is what remains and faith is what is rebuilding.
You are invited to join us by faith to come along side our neighbors who are suffering from Hurricane Dorian. Our mission is one that will need to be flexible due to needs that are constantly changing so our faith will be our anchor.