When Bruce announced that he and his wife Amy were moving to Haiti with their children to become missionaries with Starfysh I don’t think anyone was too surprised. Bruce is a paramedic supervisor at AMR where I used to work with him, and on the tactical team (which means that he has special training to intervene in dangerous situations). Between his skill, fearlessness, and his heart of gold, it’s no surprise that Bruce has relocated his family to serve in the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere.
When they left for Haiti in the late spring of 2016, I’m sure they knew that would likely face a hurricane eventually, but Matthew, a category 4 hurricane is about to strike, just months after their arrival.
I was able to contact Bruce today, and he’s his usual, cheerful self, however, the situation is serious. Over the weekend the family moved from their home at the base of the mountain to the WISH headquarters (a partner mission with Starfysh), which will provide them a place less likely to be destroyed by landslides, and with a somewhat better roof, though they fully expect to lose the roof during the storm. They have bags packed in case they need to flee the flooding, and are planning to use mattress forts for shelter after the roof is gone.
Bruce, Amy and the other missionaries have done what they can to prepare, and are currently supporting their partners efforts to get the local people who live at sea level into makeshift refuges housed in churches. Many Haitians live in shanties made of sticks on the shoreline where they are at risk of being swept out to sea. The missionaries are realistic about the potential for massive loss of life, and are preparing their children for the horrors they will encounter, including mass destruction and dead bodies. While Bruce is being entirely pragmatic about all the ways they must prepare, I don’t know if any parent, even one with the vast experience he has after 20 years of EMS experience, has the wherewithal to prepare their kids for that. But what really hit home was the conversation he and his wife plan to have with their youngest daughter to ensure that she have accepted Christ. It wasn’t said, but the reality is that they are have to be prepared for the loss of any life during the storm, even a child’s.
During the clean up, Bruce is part of a team that is made up of former police, National Guard, physicians and nurses, and their plan is to participate in rescue and aid as soon as possible after the storm clears. I know that my prayers will be with all of the Haitians today.
Storm from the south side of the island, they’re on the north side and just getting hit this morning.