A letter to Deep Water from Carl and Maya Gilles following their emergency evacuation of Haiti:
Deep Water Wesleyan,
Today February 15th, marks Day 9 of lockdown. Travel Advisory went to 4 (the highest level - DO NOT TRAVEL TO HAIT DUE TO CRIME AND CIVIL UNREST). The President's speech aggravated the protestors. They were rioting at midnight and through the night last night. This morning we drove safely to the airport and we are now waiting to board our plane to the USA.
When I first heard we were being evacuated, i cried. My voice trembled and I riposted : “No. Not us. We can’t leave. We are safe, we have supplies, we have to stay! Evacuate all the others, but not us!“ I was in disbelief! I wanted to believe that those protests will quiet down, just like the hundreds of those we’ve experienced previoulsy. For hours, I debated that decision …until I realized, it wasn’t ours to make.
Evacuation is not pleasant. It’s confusing. It’s unsettling. It’s disrupting. It’s frightening. It interrupts our lives and hits our very core! Yet, that decision is made for our protection. At times, when we are so close to a situation, we can’t see clearly. Someone objective needs to come in… and speak responsibly. We are thankful for Global Partners for being so proactive in seeing this coming.
When the decision finally settled in my mind, my brain went a million directions a minute. Should Carl stay? Should he fly with us? I booked a flight, canceled it. I re-booked, canceled it again. Then we were asked to re-book it to expedite our departure… But, Where do we go? Are we returning in a week, a month? How do we pack? Summer clothes for Florida. Winter clothes for Canada? Or both? Is a back pack enough? Do i bring all of our important papers, pictures, precious treasures we’ve accumulated in our 10 years in-country? Will the girls return to their school? Should we register them in Canada? Will we make it to the airport with the barricaded roads? Will our airline cancel the flight? Should we have a 2nd one just in case? How do we leave our house? Will we return to a house damaged by a civil war? What will happen to our dog? Is he safe, should we bring this 120 pound mastiff with us? How can the girls say proper goodbyes to their friends? How do we even prepare them for what’s ahead?
Then there is:
How can we leave our friends who have “no way out”, Who live on a day-to-day basis? They have no appliances to keep supplies for those lockdown days. No electricity, no propane to cook, no water to drink or bathe, no food. No open bank to get some cash! Wait, they don’t have savings anyway! No way to get in the hospital in the event of an accident or illness. How are T-H-E-Y going to survive? Then guilt sets in. I could make a difference staying here! I want to go through the hard and the ugly with the people i’ve come (and been called) to love and serve. I want to bear witness of the Great Love God has for them, despite the corruption shown by their government, the violence made by opposition groups or peers, and the poor living conditions they have to endure each and every day. I want to hug them, feed them, reassure them of God’s faithfulness and shower them with God’s promises. I want to tell them: Let’s just wait, pray and be faithful and show them one small act of kindness at a time. I know God will redeem this beautiful country that was once called "the jewel of the Caribbean". He will come through! But how do I communicate this message when I’m not even there…
Evacuation is hard. Hopelessness is harder. Will you pray for this nation that has already suffered so much from poor leadership, corruption and from power hungry people? Will you pray that somehow, God will expand His grace and show each and everyone of them (deserving or not) His undeniable and unconditional love? May all find the courage to surrender and may they find freedom & hope in the One and Only God.
Continue to pray for us as we process the last few weeks,
Thankful for you!
Carl and Maya