By Leann Chong, Director, Missions & Travel
When people find out about my experience in Haiti 10 years ago, they often describe it as a miracle. I wholeheartedly agree! Our mission group from Lynn University had experienced impactful days in the field, visiting our Canteen where we served meals to hungry families, and playing with children at a school in Cite Soleil and at a FFP-supported girl’s home. The powerful earthquake that struck close to 5 p.m. on January 12 forever changed the lives of so many people.
While I was buried alive for almost 17 hours, unable to move, I experienced peace that surpassed all understanding. Those 17 hours were spent talking and singing to God. I tried to stay positive, praising my miracle-working God and thanking Him that I was alive. I proclaimed over my situation that I have the faith the size of a mustard seed, so I expect this mountain of debris (or whatever was on top of me) to be moved.
Never underestimate the power of prayer. The Lord sent three men to rescue me. I spent the next four days in a hospital in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I then continued my recovery in Florida, where I finally returned to work two months after the ordeal. I have traveled to Haiti many times since the earthquake. Despite the tragedy that occurred, Haiti is a country that captures your heart. One FFP Haiti staff member asked me why I return to Haiti. My answer is, “Why wouldn’t I?”
I give thanks to the awesome God that I serve. I admit that many of the details of that day and the recovery period have faded a bit over the years. So I welcome any opportunity to share my story with others. It keeps the memories alive. I figure it is part of the reason my life was spared.
I continue to ask myself, “Why?” That is a question many of us ask God as we try to figure out why bad things happen to good people. Why did we have to lose six members of our mission group? Why so much loss of life? Why was I rescued and others not? Since I do not have the answers, I have to rely on my faith. I have to believe that our sovereign God is in total control. My ways are not His ways, and there are just some things that I will never understand. And that is OK.
Whether buried under rubble or just going through life’s daily routines, what remains the same 10 years later, is that Jesus is my constant companion. To God be the glory!
In memory of Lynn University students Stephanie Crispinelli, Britney Gengel, Christine Gianacaci, Courtney Hayes and Professors Patrick Hartwick and Richard Bruno.