Family Crisis in Haiti

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Anon

This is one blog that is hard to write—so hard that I can barely see the computer keys. It is a story from our time in Haiti based on a conversation that Doris had with our two children at a family birthday party for my 87th. I had not known all that happened so Doris filled in her side of the story that I had not experienced. Those days in Haiti were a most difficult time for our children and it still creates a hurt for Doris and myself. We shall not easily forget, nor should we.

The crisis happened in Haiti and it blew with a destroying force similar to the hurricane that we experience in Port au Prince. I had not felt well for a day or more but one morning I was sick, sick. Doris contacted our doctor who suggested it was Typhoid Fever. He put me in a hospital—not the best hospital in the city for the administrators did not want my infectious disease on their turf. Another of our team, Doreen Hawley ended in the same hospital with Typhoid Fever but in a worse ward than I. Precautions for a terrible disease were totally absent and meals were bad. Doris took the responsibility to provide meals for us both and check out our situation; that of course involved a drive all the way across the city of Port au Prince.

This would be a typical church shelter where the group team members ministered.

Since I was absent, both the administration and the finances for the mission fell to Doris. That included the responsibilities for the Haitian churches including their schools. That was a huge task at any time for I recall folks coming to our door as early as 6:30 in the morning asking for one thing or another. On top of that a group from the U.S.—perhaps twenty or more were coming to provide a DVBS at the mission and offer teaching helps for our many of our teachers in outlying areas. They all were descending on our mission and Doris had to sort those groups out and put the program together. She tried to cancel the U.S. group but that could not happen.

One of the tasks Doris had picked up was to train the Bible School boys into a great choir that then travelled to a number of our churches.








Since I was in the hospital I have no other pictures except of other groups that came to give us a hand. This VISA (Volunteers In Service Abroad) group is from the Kingston area.

My beautiful picture




The situation in the hospital was so grim that our doctor, Dr. Bonhomme told Doris that Doreen and I could return to our mission home—as long as our children were not there. Apparently he was afraid we might still be infectious. This was right after the U.S. team returned home so it was possible to have Doris look after–a miracle in itself. it was so much better for us and easier for her to make our home into a hospital ward than care for us the other side of Port au Prince.


But how would Doris care of our children who were then about ten and twelve? They could not stay in the mission home with us.The solution was to send them to her parents near Ottawa. So Doris bought the tickets, sent a cable to her parents about their plane’s arrival time, dressed our children in their Sunday best and instructed them to contact the Craig family when they landed at the airport. They both had flown alone from one country to another before but this option was different for communication with her parents was nearly impossible. Thank the good Lord, it worked out. Doris’ parents got the cablegram just in time, barely minutes before their plane landed.

Monica and Vernon are here helping with some office work shortly before they were shipped off to Canada.

Just days ago we found out from Monica that she and Vernon were able to take it all in stride. I had forgotten they had been allowed to visit me in the hospital, otherwise they might have wondered if I might not survive. Our home was a center of the mission resulting in it being the focus of confusion with Doris working out details of the U.S. group’s ministry, travel and hospitality issues. Then add on the Haitians that arrived to stay at the mission property. One day an interpreter did now show up for a class at the mission so Doris in desperation asked Monica if she thought she could interpret. Later Doris was told she did well with Creole even though we had been there for just over two years. Add to that she was taking care of two-year-old Myrna Hawley, carrying her around on her hip.

We asked Monica how she handled what for us was a huge crisis. She said that she expected her grandparents to be waiting for them at the Ottawa airport. And they were. About all the details of my sickness and the huge task at the mission our children simply expected everything would fit easily together as in a jigsaw puzzle. And with God’s grace it did.

Were our children suffering from stress? Of course for they left their dad sick in a hospital. And Doris was so swamped with the mission and the American visitors that her time to mother our children was limited. As well, Monica and Vernon must have wondered how everything would work out for them in Canada.

Doris leaned against my office doorway a few minutes ago as we discussed that situation and she added the words, “I wonder how in the world we ever got through it.” Those words included our children and their struggles during the more than two years we lived in Haiti. They had previously spoken both Portuguese and English, then moving to Haiti they had to pick up French and the Haitian Creole.

I thought of titling this blog, Failed Parenting but that would not be fair though Doris and I were caught up in a whirlwind of circumstances over which only God had control. I’ve known some children of missionaries who later in life have little attachment to their parents while others are alienated to their parent’s Christian faith. In our case our children have done well in life and our mutual connections are strong. But at times I still wonder; yes I wonder. A partial answer for me is a word from scripture that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Yes, that may have been an important and reasonable moment to leave Haiti. My understanding is not the science connection between cause and effect. I see us each on a pilgrimage between earth and heaven. In this world in which much pain exists, we only find complete answers for suffering in the life and death of Christ.






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