Memories from January 12, 2010 and beyond

In my previous post, I tried to put together some thoughts and feelings about the anniversary of the earthquake.    This post is going to be different – it’s going to be a random collection of “snip-its” of my memories from the blur that first month was after the quake.   (Note – it’s totally from my perspective and things were happening so quickly, much of it might not be totally accurate).

It started at 5:03 PM while sitting at my computer.   In the upper right hand corner of my screen, my twitter feed flashed a tweet from the Los Angeles Times – “7.5 Earthquake hits Port Au Prince Haiti.”   Right away I knew it was bad, I just didn’t know how bad.

The rest of that night quickly became a blur.   A blur of phone calls with panicked adoptive parents, e-mails from friends, family, frantic searching the web for more info.

Late on in the evening, I remember FB’ing with one of the volunteers who was outside with her computer and all of the kids and she could barely get wifi  – amazingly the satellite dish hadn’t gotten knocked down.

Tweeting (that is what you do on Twitter after all) with Ann Curry (yes, that Ann Curry) trying to arrange for them to talk to someone at GLA.  

Talking to one of our adoptive parents at 2:00 the next morning about how to set up an emergency fundraising plan that we could implement by 7:00 that morning.    Collapsing into bed at 4:00 only to get up at 6:00 to get my kids off to school.

Trying to get my kids off to school while watching Dixie Bickel talk to Matt Lauer on the Today Show.   Dixie had been at our house only 2 months before for a fundraiser, so they remembered her voice well.

Non-stop phone calls from adoptive parents.   Normally my blue tooth headset would last almost an entire day.   I was having to recharge it three times a day.

Discovering how many voicemails my phone could hold – and not because I was ignoring them.

Getting e-mails while I was on the phone – “I just tried to leave you a voice mail but……”

Having doctors stop by our house and drop off medical supplies – some of them traveling a couple of hours to drop them off so my wife could take the supplies to Haiti.

Getting a call from “The Jamaican Water Truck Lady.”   Long story short – she heard Dixie on Larry King and solved our emergency water crisis.

Getting a text message in church the next morning – “the water is here.”

As our senior pastor is walking down the aisle in church at the Sunday morning service, he stops at my seat – “Hey Tom, we’re going to do an extra offering for GLA – and I’d like you to come up and give the church an update.”

Talking to the church as my wife was flying down to Miami to join a medical team flying in to help at GLA.

Getting a call from someone at Bethany while having Sunday dinner at my folks – that the evacuation plans were getting closer.

That nervous time between when my wife’s plane left Miami and when they got in to GLA (only time I’ve ever been nervous while she’s traveled there.)

Did I mention the countless phone calls from adoptive parents.   Some calm, some frustrated, some sobbing, all cooperative and supportive.    The pain and frustration they lived with for those 10 days still sticks with me.

Finding out that a private plane had been donated to help adoptive parents fly from West Michigan to Miami quickly should that become necessary.

Seeing an instant message from Dixie on my computer at 4:30 AM,  “Tom, are you there?”   I had gone to bed about 2 hours earlier.

Finding out on Wednesday (8 days post quake) that the evacuation was going to happen.

Hearing one mom scream into her phone in the middle of Target when I finally tracked her down and told her she had to be at the airport the next morning to fly to Miami.

Waking one adoptive dad at 1:30 in the morning with the same news – and knowing he was never so glad to get woken up during the night.

Finding out that the charter air pilots had arm wrestled over who would get to make the flight down to Miami.

Getting a text from a volunteer in Haiti, “Tom, your wife is on the plane bringing the kids to Miami.”

20 seconds later, talking to my daughter on FB – “Hey Dad, Mom’s on the plane going to Miami – I saw her scrubs in the back of someone else’s selfie they posted on their blog.”

Knowing a Bethany employee flew from Pennsacola to Miami “just to be there in case he could help.”   And he did.  

Standing by four local TV reporters and their cameramen as the plane rolls up to the hangar in Grand Rapids and one of the reporters says to me,  “I don’t know how you worked it, but your timing is perfect.”    The plane rolled into the hangar at 5:59 PM.  

“It wasn’t me, but thank you.”

Walking out of the homecoming and saying to my daughter, “That photographer and her husband, what’s their names?   I have a feeling God has much bigger plans for them.”   (They now have a Haitian daughter)

Talking with an aunt before the plane landed and then telling mom,  “You better get your daughter to the hospital, my wife, the  nurse, and your pediatrician think she’s really sick.”

She was.

The drug rep from San Francisco who took two days off to personally deliver 2,000 tetanus vaccines to Miami so we could get them in to Haiti.

5 minutes – 5 minutes after the need was put on the blog, the need for a new computer for Mike – a security person who helped GLA – was met.

Matching a hospital in New Hampshire with an organization out of California who had need for crutches.

Getting a timid and obviously nervous e-mail from a lady in Kentucky who has since become a very good friend and a very active supporter of kids in Haiti.

I could tell stories for hours and hours and hours…….

But none of us has time for that.

Thank you for reading my memories of January 12 and beyond.

Don’t forget to remember Haiti.


and going forward.


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