Striking Haiti’s south-western coast on Oct. 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew left behind a trail of devastation.
Enormous trees uprooted. Homes toppled to their foundation. Bridges collapsed. Streets flooded. It was nearly a week until some of the most remote mountain communities were accessible. Six months later, many families are still putting the pieces of their life back together.
“When the rains and wind came, we were sleeping. A loud crack woke us up, as winds broke apart a large palm tree behind our house,” recalled Ivanese Joseph, who lives in a small community in the mountains of Haiti’s southern peninsula.
For Ivanese and her children, the morning was filled with terror. Being awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of a palm tree collapsing and the deafening drumming of rain on their home’s metal roof, they feared for their life. It soon became apparent to Ivanese that the wind and rains would not spare their home.
But less than 100 meters away stood the community’s church – a sturdy concrete building. Ivanese and her family braved the wind and the rain as they dashed from their battered home into the church. Along with many others in their community, this family took shelter from the storm in the church.
The wind blew the rain into the church’s unfinished windows, but families remained safe.
Hour after excruciating hour passed, without the storm dissipating, and families began to wonder when this torrent would stop. Slowly, the winds did begin to subside, though the rains continued for the next few days.
The writer of Psalm 91 begins by saying that “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
The image of Ivanese and dozens of others taking refuge from the storm in God’s house – the church – is an incredible picture of the faithfulness and protection of our loving Heavenly Father.
Yet, what Ivanese and her neighbours discovered as they stepped outside of the church for the first time was devastating: dozens of homes left in piles of rubble, trees strewn across the road, and crops completely wiped out.