"He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand." -Psalm 40:2
She said she thought Jesus was coming back…when Miss Italienne saw light coming in through cracks in the walls, she thought it was Jesus returning. What a disappointment when instead she realized that what she first took to be the greatest thing possible was actually a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that would devastate her home, family and country.
Italienne quickly realized that the light was coming in her home because an earthquake was happening. She woke her father, gathered her children, parents, sisters, niece and nephew and headed towards a nearby field. They would camp out there to stay away from buildings during the aftershock.
Italienne’s husband works in a different city, so she has a large burden looking out for all of these family members, but that’s not all. She is also a trained nurse, so when the earthquake hit and many of the hospitals were filled with earthquake victims, Italienne was providing aid to the people in her area. She even delivered four babies in this field.
After getting to the field, it became more and more obvious that they would be stuck there for some time, so Italienne started building a shelter out of a sheet. After two or three days in this sheet shelter, they needed something new, so Italienne and her sister used tin from her sister’s roof to construct a more stable structure.
“There were eight people sleeping in this small space,” Italienne said. “I was crammed up in the corner. We realized we’d have to stay in the field even longer because of the aftershocks, so we found tarps and made the shelter a little bigger. But when it rained, it would all fall and everything would get wet.”
Hurricane season was approaching, and around this time Samaritan’s Purse came with temporary homes. Miss Italienne went to get one of these tents several times, but there were never any left by the time she got there, so she thought of a new plan…she would build a temporary home out of wood and palm fronds. She never got to make this home, because this was when she heard she would be receiving the first home in the OMS Homes for Haiti project.
OMS started the Homes for Haiti project as a way to provide long-term relief for Haitians after the January 2010 earthquake. After sending relief and medical teams and supplies in response to the earthquake, OMS wanted to find a more permanent way to help. OMS plans to build at least 20 more homes through this project.
“After our house fell, I had hoped God could do something, but I didn’t realize he could do something like this,” she said, her face filled with excitement as she motioned to the three-room, cement home behind her.
Italienne said the home has been so much more comfortable and that she is so thankful that she is able to sleep better now and provide a shelter for her family from the sun and the cold.
“A lot of people ask questions (about the home)—they want ones like this, and the people in the church are very anxious for the (Homes for Haiti) project to get started. I don’t know of any other organizations that are making good houses like this…THIS is a house!”
The thing that struck me most about Miss Italienne was the joy that she had even in the midst of living such a hard life and her readiness to give God thanks and credit for what she did have.
“I knew God would take care of us, but His plan was way more than I can imagine,” she said with tears in her eyes and a huge smile on her face. “It demonstrated His faithfulness. I don’t want to call this my house—I want to put a sign up and call it the faithfulness of God.”
Please pray for Miss Italienne and her family! If you’d like to learn more about Homes for Haiti go to http://www.onemissionsociety.org/our-one-mission/homes-for-haiti
|This is an OMS-related church in Gressier. Miss Italienne is an active part of this church body. This is the view of the church from the front of Miss Italienne's home.|
|Miss Italienne took me behind her new home to see her old home and where her sister lives.|
|This is where Miss Italienne's sister lives and one of the places the family shared before receiving a new home.|
|This is inside the ruins of Miss Italienne's old home. During the earthquake, this dresser fell onto the bed where Italienne's father had been sleeping. Had she not woken him and moved the family, he would have likely lost his legs when it fell.|
|This is part of Italienne's old home, which still sits behind her new house.|
|Italienne enjoying her new home!|
|The main room in the new house.|
|The other bedroom in the new house. Nine people share this home.|