Insights into these Shoes' Soul

Welcome to our blog! You'll get glimpses into the fabric of our lives... find out what is happening in our family, learn what our latest adjustment is to life in the US, find out what is going on in our minds, see what makes us smile, and hear what makes us tick. You'll also get ministry updates! We hope these insights into our souls will make you smile, keep you informed and challenge you to pray for us.



Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dan is in Haiti Again

Dan returned to Haiti today.  He flew in with a volunteer pilot via the Bahamas.  He will assist our RMI missionaries in delivering food aid as well as go to Port to see what he can do to find more medical and food aid from the myriad of agencies that already have supplies on the ground there.  He wants to let the “powers that be” know that supplies and aid are needed in the south.

The Ft. Myers NewsPress has a follow up article on RMI!  You can read it here.  We’re grateful for the continued coverage of RMI and it’s ministry. 

Things have been crazy around the office.  God has brought many, many new contacts and people who want to help.  Some have medical supplies they want to give, some have planes they are making available for our use, some have funds they want to send, some have doctors & medical people they want to connect us to.   Some great things are in the works to get 9,000 lbs. of medical supplies to Cayes!  It’s truly amazing to feel the heart of Americans all across the country.  Even in the midst of personal hardships, they are giving funds and are willing to help the Haitian people in any way possible.

A big thank you to RMI missionary, Amy Long, for designing this image.   Haiti Relief Facebook Image

Help raise awareness and support for RMI's Relief Fund by making this image your profile picture. Get the word out about what RMI's doing in Haiti!

Don’t forget the conference call tonight!  See the previous blog post for details.

Conference Call/Earthquake Relief Update for the Entire RMI Family

 

Dan Shoemaker, RMI President, will be hosting a conference call on Saturday night, January 30th, at 8pm EST.  Dan will be calling from Cayes, Haiti.  He will be giving an update on RMI's Earthquake Relief Effort (Progress so far, Current Issues, Observations, Short and Long Term Plans).

Everyone is invited to listen in!  Spread the word!

Instructions and notes...

  • How to access the call... On Saturday night, at 8 pm EST, dial (712) 432-0111.  You will be asked to enter an access code.  Please enter: 1007501#
  • Normal long distance fees apply.
  • Due to the large number of expected participants, all callers will be muted by default to avoid us talking over each other.
  • If you have a question that you would like Dan to consider addressing on the conference call, please email them to both Dan and Rob.

In addition, you can always visit RMI's website to donate to our relief effort or for access to constant updates via our Blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I am Haitian

An unexpected “side effect” if you will of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince and all the media attention there, is that all of a sudden everyone worldwide suddenly is aware of Haiti’s existence and of their poverty and need for help.  We have been ministering there for over 20 years and found that most people we encountered in the US didn’t even know where Haiti was, much less any details about it.  Haiti has never been the “hot topic” or trendy subject in missions.  Haiti was blamed for spreading AIDS in the 80’s.  The US government even refused to recognize Haiti as an independent country in 1804.  It was very far from people’s minds.  Haitians that are in the US, in general, haven’t wanted to admit that they were Haitians.  When we encountered them, in a store for instance, they’d say they were from the Caribbean or “the islands”.  They’d almost never say Haiti unless they heard us speak Creole to them.

Now, it seems, the earthquake has given them an identity, it has validated them as a people.  Haitians worldwide are proudly saying, “I’m a Haitian”.  From NFL football players, recording artists,  authors and artists, to the grocery store clerk or lawn care man, Haitians are coming forward and publically holding up the Haitian flag.  Never in the history of man has a mass effort been made to help Haiti.  The telethon that was recently held for Haiti was on 85 stations and was televised worldwide.  It was surreal to switch from channel to channel and see Haiti cared for.  Wow! 

These photos  were posted by a friend on Facebook.  They show that Haiti is on the minds of people as far away as Thailand and Asia.  It’s just so cool to see this.  But its heartwrenching that it took a major disaster to do it.

You have seen Haiti on the news as it is now.  Here is a link to the side of  Haiti that is never shown.  Most of the photos are of Port-au-Prince as it was, but is now gone.  They are beautiful.   I’ve never seen a collection like it.  It is well worth your time to check them out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dan is back

Saturday was another jam-packed day for Dan.  He spent the day with a journalist from the Panhandle of Florida, a doctor and a pilot.  He took them on a tour of the general hospital, a tent city and the mission hospital.  Dan was interviewed on camera by the journalist and was able to share the needs of Haiti.

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Dr. Bill, Medical Director of the mission hospital, and a 15 year old amputee patient.

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Visiting the mission hospital.  The patient has one leg in a cast and one that is pinned.  The hospital has no orthopedic pins, so the missionary doctor, Dr. Bill, improvised and made what he needed with rebar (construction rebar!).

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A young patient at the mission hospital.

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Visiting the general hospital in Cayes.  It is so crowded that they are using a catholic eyes, ears, nose, throat clinic to house additional patients. 

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Dan and Dr. Leger (in the red shirt) explaining things to a visiting doctor who is also a pilot and had flown himself in to work for a week.

He was also on the phone a lot!  Plans for the team from Southwest Florida didn’t come together as needed for Monday, today, but things are still being worked on for them to get to Cayes soon. 

Communications are so difficult in Haiti.  Calls were going back and forth here in the US as arrangements were discussed.  When Dan or Dr. Bill, were needed, we would contact Amy, Gary or Marilyn by Instant Messenger (they have satellite internet).  One of them would then send someone after Dan and/or Dr. Bill who would go to Gary’s house to use their Vonage phone.  Sometimes the phone would work, sometimes it wouldn’t.  Just communicating with the states can be a full time job!

Sunday Dan flew to Nassau and then on to Ft. Lauderdale.  He was, in his words, “one tired puppy”! 

Today he met with an international aid organization in Ft. Lauderdale to explore partnering with them. 

Then he came home!  Wow, what a trip – and there’s so much more to do in Haiti.  Keep up those prayers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Update

Today has been another busy day as we have fielded calls from many different corners of the US.  Here are some things that we are working on:

*  A Orthopedic and Trauma team from a Ft. Myers hospital is ready to leave for Cayes on Monday.  We are joining our efforts with a local church, the local hospital and a couple of other ministries to make this happen.  They sent a plane and Doctor team to Port last week and another one left today.  This is yet another one, but it will be going to Cayes.

*  US Sister Church, CrossRoads United Methodist of Jacksonville, FL is putting a team of doctors together as well as gathering medical supplies to send in.

*  A longtime friend of RMI and her father drove a huge U-Haul truck to Ft. Lauderdale packed with medical supplies.  Herb and Shirley Shoemaker met them there where they had to unload it, weigh everything, repack it onto pallets and prepare it for shipping to Cayes.  9,000 lbs. of supplies will be flown in via Methodist Habitat of Bahamas, the same planes that Dan went into Cayes with on Wednesday.

*  A company in Pennsylvania who manufactures trauma equipment has already flown into Port with doctors and supplies and is now working on putting together supplies for Cayes.

*  A number of churches have taken up special offerings for Haiti relief and those monies are starting to come in.

Wow!  The list could go on and on.  We are excited to see God supplying Haiti’s needs through so many different avenues.

Dan has been busy in Haiti as well.  Through the relief funds, RMI has :

*  given food to a AIDS patient feeding program

* sent food to the MEBSH churches in Port-au-Prince

* given food to local Cayes MEBSH churches who are feeding refugees who are now living in their buildings.

* given food to the local Rotary Club who are feeding patients at the local government hospital (2 meals a day!)

* given food to 30 local families who have taken in extended family & friends who are refugees.

Here are some pictures from this morning:

Dan with the hospital director and some of the hospital staff at the government hospital in Cayes.

At the general hospital.  The lady in the foreground grimaces as her incision is cleaned.  She lost a leg as a result of the earthquake.

Gary McLaughlin takes time to comfort another lady who lost a leg in the earthquake.

A makeshift stretcher – talk about uncomfortable!!

Dan helps a Rotarian unload a bag of rice.  Beans and oil were also a part of the food aid.

Oil, rice, beans and sugar was also delivered to an MEBSH old folks home.

Keep praying – the need has only begun.  We appreciate all of you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another newspaper interview!

This so cool!  I just got a call from a local spanish newspaper. They are coming tomorrow for a face to face interview, take pictures and everything. They want to know all about RMI and what we are doing there. Guess I'd better be on my best behavior!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another earthquake, Dan makes it to Haiti and RMI in the local newspaper

This is a day of updates!

Haiti was awakened with another earthquake this morning at 6. The 6.1 quake toppled many structures that had been severely damaged a week ago. This one was centered about half way between Cayes and Port...closer to Cayes than last week's quake. It would have been felt at several sister churches. Pray that the earth would quit moving & shifting!

Dan has arrived in Cayes! He was able to go in via the Bahamas and Bahamas Methodist Habitat who are flying small 4 & 6 seater planes into Cayes with medical relief supplies.  He is there to assess the situation, meet with our missionaries & Haitian staff and help them organize for the massive relief aid that will be coming in. 

The reports are that there is a crush of refugees flooding the southern peninsula.  Since fuel is gone, they are piling 4 on motorcycle taxis or walking.  Many are people that are going back to their hometowns, but there are also many that just had to get away from the capital.  School has been cancelled in the country.  Many churches are using their school buildings to house refugees.  Soccer fields and many empty flat pieces of land are becoming tent cities.  Food is already scarce in the Cayes area.  The sick and injured have overwhelmed the one government hospital, 2 mission hospitals and the one Haitian doctor (in private practice) in Cayes.  The medical supplies that are being flown in from the Bahamas are going to these 4 places and being used up in just 2 days.

MEBSH is reporting that none of it’s pastors were killed, however, a number of them have lost children who were studying in Port-au-Prince.  It is safe to say that every person in the country has lost a family member or friend in this disaster.

We are excited to see the response of God’s people.  One US Sister Church has given over $30,000!  We’ve had calls from all over the country, from Canada and Jamaica expressing care and concern for RMI, their Sister Churches and Haiti.  We’ve already been given 100 lbs. of medical and surgical supplies and Dan took that with him to Haiti today.  Another huge load of medical supplies is on its way here in a U-Haul truck from Arkansas!  Wow, we are overwhelmed at what has been happening.

We have gotten some medical volunteers, but not enough to form a team yet.  Do you know of anyone who would be interested?  Spread the word!!!

Also, check out the latest article from the Ft. Myers NewsPress that was just posted! It's great to get RMI's name some public exposure locally. Pray that God will use it to bring in more funds.  You can read it here.

Former President Bush said it best the other day, “Just give money, that’s the best thing, that’s what is needed.”  I’m glad he just came out and said it.  He’s right.  Relief aid can’t happen without money.  Please pray that God will continue to work in people’s hearts and the funds will come in so we can meet these enormous needs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

News Flash!

Dan is on his way to Nassau, Bahamas tonight then will fly to Haiti tomorrow @ 6 a.m. on a relief flight to Cayes. He is taking 2 full suitcases of medical supplies. The group of 4 planes is also carrying medical supplies for the hospitals in Cayes. Pray as he assesses the situation, meets with RMI staff & missionaries & the MEBSH leadership.

He will be able to see the refugee situation firsthand.  We are being told that refugees are flooding the Cayes area.  Fuel is out, food is getting scarce, stores are reluctant to open due to fear of being looted.  The hospitals are standing room only.  They are getting a few medical supplies in via the planes that Dan is going in on.  Those supplies run out in just a day or two due to the overwhelming crush of injured. 

RMI is in a unique situation.  With an established presence there, we will have opportunity to help in so many ways.  Donations are starting to come in, medical people are starting to volunteer and medical supplies are being donated.  The need is so great!!  Shortly the press will tire of Haiti and leave, but the needs will not be over….not for a very long time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

RMI is in the newspaper & team gets home!

RMI is one of the feature articles in the Sunday Ft. Myers News-Press! Check it out here.  Already today Dan has talked with someone from NBC Nightly News looking for missionaries to talk to. It's great to get this coverage. Hopefully it'll bring awareness to what we are doing and thus more help. 

The team that was stuck in Haiti was able to get out on several relief aid planes that came in from the Bahamas Sunday morning. They were able to get home to South Carolina by the evening. This is great news!

Our Haitian staff went to Port to see the situation for themselves and to see if the road to the airport was open.  Here are some of the pictures that they took:

This is the wharf in Port-au-Prince.

 

 

The National Palace – it used to be 3 stories!

This was a 2 story home.

A landslide that has covered half the road.

Pray for Haiti!  Not only are most of the buildings in Port destroyed, but what little infrastructure there was is now gone.  What government there was is now gone – the president is alive, but many government leaders are dead.  Many government buildings are rubble.  Commerce has been dealt a huge blow.  Communication is almost nonexistent.  There is no electricity nor clean water.  And fuel has almost run out.  This is a catastrophe that affects not only the capital, but the ENTIRE country.  Refugees are now flooding the countryside.  And the news has not even reported on the fact that there are quite a number of towns, large and small, that were also flattened.  No aid is being given there.

One phenomenon that reporters couldn’t figure out Sunday was how Haitians could go to the rubble site that used to be their church and praise God for His faithfulness.  They thought they should be asking “why God?”, not “Thank you God”.  The reporters just didn’t grasp how Christian Haitians had their priorities right.

Things are shaping up and falling into place as RMI is receiving relief funds and medical supplies and putting together medical surgical teams.  We are working to partner with Samaritans Purse and hope to be their distribution center for Southern Haiti.  Dan is trying to fly into Cayes on a relief plane Wednesday, going through the Bahamas.  He will try to give some directions and organization to our missionaries there.  It’s not sure how long he’ll stay, but we’ll keep you posted. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

RMI’s Relief Plan for Haiti

Our hearts just ache and break as we watch the images of a country that is so dear to us. The magnitude of the devastation of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is unimaginable. It is hard to wrap our minds around what has happened.

clip_image002There is a 2nd wave of tragedy that is currently unfolding – and it has not been mentioned in the news yet. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian refugees are flooding the countryside as they flee the devastation and lack of the most basic of needs in Port-au-Prince. They are leaving with just the clothes on their back and maybe a few personal items in a bundle on their head, some carrying their injured or even dead family members. Many communities will find themselves doubling or tripling their population almost overnight. They are descending on family, friends, and churches with nothing but what they could carry out with them.

Les Cayes, where RMI is headquartered, is already beginning to feel this crush. The few hospitals that are there, including the 2 mission hospitals in the area, are already overwhelmed by wounded with more pouring in by the hour. Our Sister Church medical team that is on the ground right now has been helping as much as they can with the overwhelming need at our mission hospital. The MEBSH (the Haitian church association that we have partnered with for over 30 years) churches in the area are beginning to feel the rush from Port as refugees are flooding the area beginning to seek aid and help since they have NOTHING. Since many of these folks have been a part of the MEBSH church association, they will flock to the MEBSH churches as they have no where else to go or turn to.

clip_image004GREAT NEEDS are rapidly developing in the Cayes area. Hospitals are already out of medicine and supplies to treat the wounded who keep pouring in. RMI already has lists of medical needs from our mission hospitals and others in the area.

Since the earthquake we have wondered how we could help - our headquarters is in Les Cayes, 120 miles from Port. We don’t have a presence in Port. But this wave of refugees brings the needy right to our door step! It seems that we didn’t need to go to Port, Port is coming to us!

RMI is UNIQUELY positioned to help these refugees. With our extensive base of operations, our staff on site, our network of contacts in the communities around the south of Haiti, and you, our Sister Churches, and many friends, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!!

Our strategy is to concentrate on the masses of refugees pouring into southern Haiti:

Provide desperately needed medical supplies

Provide short term medical teams to help in the hospitals

Provide food and basic necessities for the refugees

Provide short term housing as possible

Provide spiritual encouragement and witness

We cannot do any of this without your help!

How can you as a church or individual help?

1. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ so impacted by this tragedy. Everyone in Haiti has been impacted by the earthquake, even if they weren’t in Port-au-Prince.

2. DONATE FUNDS – THIS IS THE GREATEST WAY TO HELP INITIALLY. RMI has already provided $20,000 Haitian dollars to the national church leadership to help their churches in Port as well as we have purchased basic food for distribution. One US Sister Church has committed $10,000 US right away with more to come.

3. Put together a medical team or volunteer for a team. Email rob.thompson@rminet.org if you are a medical person that could volunteer for a team or you can put a team together to minister in Haiti for a week. Time frames and transportation are being worked out.

GOD has placed RMI in this situation for this time! Help us make the most of the opportunities that God is placing right at our feet. All of our resources, staff, and time will be focused on accomplishing these goals. We need $250,000 to accomplish these things. It is crucial to purchase and transport the URGENTLY needed supplies immediately. But it cannot happen without the money in hand. To facilitate donations, you can donate online or send a check to RMI. Please donate now with a goal of helping out monthly as we focus together on meeting these great needs. Thank you for your partnership with us, the MEBSH churches, and the Haitian people.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Earthquake!!!

As you are aware, the unimaginable happened on January 12 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  A 7.0 earthquake hit the capital shortly before 5 p.m.  There have been more than 30 aftershocks.  What little infrastructure that was there has been destroyed:  many government buildings, hospitals, businesses, hotels, homes, schools and churches have been turned to dust.  Roads have cracked, fallen away or are blocked with rubble from fallen buildings.  CNN has reported that the human toll could be up to 100,000 people!   We are deeply saddened and heavy hearted as we watch the news and see the scenes of places that we once knew, but are rubble today.

We wanted you to know that all of RMI’s missionaries & Haitian staff are fine. We have a team in-country (Main St. United Methodist, Abbeyville, SC) right now; they are at RMI’s Guesthouse at the mission center in Cayes and are fine as well. RMI’s ministries, missionaries and Sister Churches are in the southern peninsula, 120 miles from the capital, in the city of Les Cayes.  They felt the earthquake and a number of aftershocks.  It shook buildings and rocked parked vehicles, but there was very little damage, and only a few people were injured when they fell running out of buildings.

A big challenge that we face is getting the team out of Haiti and back home.  Port-au-Prince’s airport is operational, but only relief aid is being allowed to take off and land.   There is only one runway and no place to put planes.  There is no aviation fuel.  As I write this there are 10 planes circling Port waiting to land.  The FAA has grounded all flights to Haiti because of the bottleneck, at least until tomorrow.   

We are working hard, through as many avenues as possible, to make arrangements for the team to leave.  In the meantime, they are safe and sound at the mission center.  Today they joined another short term team that is also stranded at the mission center.  They are both medical teams, so they ministered together, holding a medical clinic in a nearby community.

How can YOU help this desperate situation?  As in any disaster, giving financially is the best way to help right now.  We are partnering with MEBSH (the Haitian church association with whom we’ve partnered with for over 25 years) to determine how we can best help their churches that were devastated in Port-a-Prince. You can contribute online here (choose the “relief” category) or send a check to RMI at the address below.  We anticipate sending a team in to help in the rebuilding efforts, but are not sure when that will be.

We’ve received many, many phone calls from all over the US, all wanting to know how they can help make a difference, as well as if the team, RMI’s missionaries and their Sister Churches are ok.  We have appreciated the outpouring of concern, thoughts and prayers on behalf of the Haitian people and RMI.   

Regular updates are being posted to RMI’s Facebook page as well as RMI’s blog.  Again, thank you for your prayers for Haiti. 

Dan Shoemaker
Reciprocal Ministries International
5475 Lee St. Suite 301
Lehigh Acres, FL  33971
239-368-8390

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dan’s December Trip to Haiti: Food for Widows

Dan made a very quick trip to Haiti in December.  Click here to see pictures and the full report.  He helped hand out food for some very needy widows, widowers and families.  It was an exciting experience. IMG_0135

Besides this church where Dan was, 4 other churches received food for their most needy families.  What a practical, tangible way to minister to some hurting brothers and sisters.