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A chaplain's view - the Haiti earthquake

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 - 3:46 PM CST

Today AG News received a journal from the U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Department. It was the journal of Lt. Marlin L. Williams, CHC, USN. Chaplain Williams, an Assemblies of God endorsed chaplain, had written down a few of his experiences while serving at a clinic aiding the injured in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

Following are his journal reports. They are not about the masses in desperate need, but rather individuals in desperate need. They are amazing moments frozen in time - or at least forever captured in the mind of Chaplain Williams.

Some people may wonder how one person or one small gift (financial or otherwise) could ever make a difference in the sea of this kind of devastation. Chaplain Williams learned, even when language was a barrier, that one person - one act of kindness - can make the difference between someone grabbing and clinging to a lifeline and someone letting a lifeline slip through their fingers in hopelessness....

 -  

1) I was spending some time in the clinic trying to help wherever I could. I noticed the HM1 [medic] sort of stooping in the corner. I walked over to check on him - I thought something was wrong. When I got over to him, I saw that he was working on a precious little girl - about 4 years old and wearing a pretty white princess dress. Her injuries included a severely broken tibia and a pretty large abrasion wound on her arm. I began assisting HM1 with her treatment. The little girl was just darling and trying to be a trooper. She was quiet but you could tell she was in pain. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a Milky Way. I asked her if she liked chocolate - I think she got the point. After I gave it to her, you would have thought that she had never had a candy bar. I motioned to her that it was something to eat. She began to take a bite with the paper on. I opened it for her and again motioned to eat. She spent some time just looking at - turning it around and holding it up. Finally she sniffed it - licked it - and then took the tiniest nibble. You could literally pinpoint the moment that she tasted it. Her eyes lit up and the biggest grin came across her face. I continued to kid with her as HM1 finished up what he was doing. He had to move on the next patient and asked me to bring her to the helo. When I got outside - her parents were there waiting. I explained to them through the interpreter the process regarding the helo and that the doc wanted to send her to the hospital. It took about 30 minutes for them to agree - they were heartbroken that they couldn't accompany her. I did what I could to mark her with their information and comfort them. When the moment came to run out the helo - everyone was tear-filled. I let them get one last hug and kiss and then took off. When we got to the helo, the little girl was frightened and would not let go. She looked at me with tears in her eyes - I had them in mine, but I think she may have found comfort in that. I showed her (again) my cross on my collar and gave her the OK sign (it was so loud and windy). After that she let go and I placed her in the helo - I went to leave when she stuck out her fist (like I had taught her earlier) for a fist bump. After I ran back to the waiting area - I had a moment of prayer and hugs with the family.

 

Chaplain Williams comforting child
Chaplain Marlin Williams comforting and praying for a child found alive after being buried under corpses for seven days.

2) On the third day - I arrived at the clinic and found a little boy on one of the tables. He was about 5 or 6 - totally naked - and very scared. The story was that he was found (after 7 days) under a pile of corpses STILL ALIVE. It was very chaotic - and since he was 'relatively' ok - the docs were having his mom give him a sponge bath. She was obviously upset so I put my arm around her and offered help through an interpreter. She smiled and said, "merci merci." I helped her bathe her son. He wriggled in pain as he was very sore and emaciated (hadn't eaten or drank since the quake). When we rolled him over to wash his back - we noticed that half of his backside was covered in sores and open skin type infection. I called for a doc and they came over to treat. The poor little boy was shaking the whole time. He was reluctant with others - so I moved toward his head and cupped my hand under like a pillow. I made eye contact with him and began communicating to him through an interpreter (telling him that he was so brave - over and over) and through smiles. He was very receptive - I was the only one with my mask off and I think that helped (obviously - GOD's presence also). He began to calm down and I just stood there praying and petting him and holding his mother's hand - trying to keep them both calm. Around the time we finished I was called upon to help walk a severely injured (looked burned from head down to waist) to the helo. After I was done, I returned. By this time the boy and his mother were alone on the table that I had transported him to. I found her some Chapstick and gave her some baby wipes to help with his severely dry lips and skin. It was sort of funny trying to explain to her how to use Chapstick - but I think she eventually got it. As we were visiting - I got the word that our helo was about to land - I left him a roll of LIFESAVERS - which put a huge smile on his face. I was amazed how someone in so much pain could smile so big.

 

3) When I arrived on the first day things were very chaotic - they were really a "hot mess." We were immediately connected with the HS1 (USCG equivalent of a HM1) that had been there from day 1. He gave us a brief on what was going on. After he finished, he came up to me and gave me a big hug and thanked me for being there. He showed me the other corpsman that had been there with him from the beginning. They both expressed interest in talking later. He also mentioned to me that there was another chaplain and that I should connect with him. I began walking around and found the other chaplain - turns out he is from the same denomination (AG) as I, and we knew each other from previous training and meetings. He told me that there was another chaplain that I might know outside. When I found the other chaplain I was surprised to see that he was a buddy from seminary - also an AG chaplain. As the day carried on I continued to feel somewhat overwhelmed - but stayed people- and mission-focused. Another chaplain showed up at the end of the day. He was another AG chaplain and another buddy from seminary. God has a funny way of doing things. Knowing that out of all that chaplains that could have been there - mixed with the fact that we only have about 25 or 30 AG chaplains in the Navy - the only four that made it to the Haitian Coast Guard following the most devastating earthquake that they have experienced - all four of them were AG chaplains who were buddies (not to mention - all former USMC enlisted). This being the first time I have ever experienced anything close to this magnitude - I really needed something. God provided in a miraculously way through old friends and colleagues. This really gave me the extra boost, confidence and encouragement that I needed to carry out the plan of the day.

 

4) Everyone there thought that all of us were doctors. When I was approached - which was about every minute - I made sure that I let them know either through translator or my broken French and their broken English that I was a pastor not a doctor. For most this proved to be a positive thing. As word spread, people began to remember and recognize the chaplains or 'pastors' and would approach us for prayer either for themselves or for their injured family/friend. There were times where the person being prayed for seemed almost lifeless - however, wanting to facilitate regardless - I would always pray. There was one particular instance that I remember when I was outside. An elderly man approached me to pray for his wife. As I approached her I noticed that she was one of these who seemed almost lifeless - definitely unresponsive. As I knelt to pray, I began to feel God place words to pray - I had no interpreter but I didn't let that stop me. As I began to pray, I placed my hands on the lady. Others around bowed their head and listened silently. About half way through the prayer I was about to stop - thinking that she really couldn't understand me and I wanted to be able to move on to the next person. About that time, her hands began to rise toward the sky as she began to mutter what I only assume was her own prayer. When this happened I couldn't help but to keep praying. When we finished she opened her eyes and I gave her a hug. As I got up to leave her husband cornered me and happily shook my hand and patted me on the back saying, "Thank you, thank you." As I walked away I felt God speak to my heart telling me to never give up and to always let my prayers be heard.

 

5) As [AG] Chaplain Jerry Durham and I were walking around outside - Jerry pointed out an elderly woman that he had seen the day before lying under a tree. Her story was that she was the lone survivor of a nursing home that had collapsed. She had no one there to care for her. He told me that the day before he had asked them to IV her, but evidently it didn't happen. As we approached her I was taken aback. She was very old - probably the most frail person that I have ever seen. She was wearing a paper-thin pink nightgown. The only sign of life was her faint breathing. I knelt down to pray and as I did she grabbed my hand. This startled me a bit - but as I gently rolled her over - we made eye contact. I immediately began to pray. After I was done I tried to communicate with her to let her know that I would be back with help. I found a corpsman and had him bring IV fluid. We moved her up on the porch and into the shade by picking up the blanket that she was on. As doc worked on getting her IV, I knelt down to hold her hand. As he worked I was saying simple prayers - and again she made eye contact. I gently cupped her head with my hand and began 'petting' her and praying. In this moment I felt all alone with her, and even though I know she couldn't understand me, I felt as if she could.

 

 

Chaplain Williams and our other AG chaplains on location in Haiti are making a difference, as Williams' accounts show. Perhaps he's not impacting thousands of lives at a time, but each life he touches, one at a time, are lives touched with the love and care of Christ. It may seem like something "small," but for the individuals touched with this kind of compassion and care, nothing could be more significant.

To assist with the AG relief effort, click here.

 

 

 

 


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Today AG News received a journal from the U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Department. It was the journal of Lt. Marlin L. Williams, CHC, USN. Chaplain Williams, an Assemblies of God endorsed chaplain, had written down a few of his experiences while serving at a clinic aiding the injured in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

Following are his journal reports. They are not about the masses in desperate need, but rather individuals in desperate need. They are amazing moments frozen in time - or at least forever captured in the mind of Chaplain Williams.

Some people may wonder how one person or one small gift (financial or otherwise) could ever make a difference in the sea of this kind of devastation. Chaplain Williams learned, even when language was a barrier, that one person - one act of kindness - can make the difference between someone grabbing and clinging to a lifeline and someone letting a lifeline slip through their fingers in hopelessness....

 -  

1) I was spending some time in the clinic trying to help wherever I could. I noticed the HM1 [medic] sort of stooping in the corner. I walked over to check on him - I thought something was wrong. When I got over to him, I saw that he was working on a precious little girl - about 4 years old and wearing a pretty white princess dress. Her injuries included a severely broken tibia and a pretty large abrasion wound on her arm. I began assisting HM1 with her treatment. The little girl was just darling and trying to be a trooper. She was quiet but you could tell she was in pain. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a Milky Way. I asked her if she liked chocolate - I think she got the point. After I gave it to her, you would have thought that she had never had a candy bar. I motioned to her that it was something to eat. She began to take a bite with the paper on. I opened it for her and again motioned to eat. She spent some time just looking at - turning it around and holding it up. Finally she sniffed it - licked it - and then took the tiniest nibble. You could literally pinpoint the moment that she tasted it. Her eyes lit up and the biggest grin came across her face. I continued to kid with her as HM1 finished up what he was doing. He had to move on the next patient and asked me to bring her to the helo. When I got outside - her parents were there waiting. I explained to them through the interpreter the process regarding the helo and that the doc wanted to send her to the hospital. It took about 30 minutes for them to agree - they were heartbroken that they couldn't accompany her. I did what I could to mark her with their information and comfort them. When the moment came to run out the helo - everyone was tear-filled. I let them get one last hug and kiss and then took off. When we got to the helo, the little girl was frightened and would not let go. She looked at me with tears in her eyes - I had them in mine, but I think she may have found comfort in that. I showed her (again) my cross on my collar and gave her the OK sign (it was so loud and windy). After that she let go and I placed her in the helo - I went to leave when she stuck out her fist (like I had taught her earlier) for a fist bump. After I ran back to the waiting area - I had a moment of prayer and hugs with the family.

 

Chaplain Williams comforting child
Chaplain Marlin Williams comforting and praying for a child found alive after being buried under corpses for seven days.

2) On the third day - I arrived at the clinic and found a little boy on one of the tables. He was about 5 or 6 - totally naked - and very scared. The story was that he was found (after 7 days) under a pile of corpses STILL ALIVE. It was very chaotic - and since he was 'relatively' ok - the docs were having his mom give him a sponge bath. She was obviously upset so I put my arm around her and offered help through an interpreter. She smiled and said, "merci merci." I helped her bathe her son. He wriggled in pain as he was very sore and emaciated (hadn't eaten or drank since the quake). When we rolled him over to wash his back - we noticed that half of his backside was covered in sores and open skin type infection. I called for a doc and they came over to treat. The poor little boy was shaking the whole time. He was reluctant with others - so I moved toward his head and cupped my hand under like a pillow. I made eye contact with him and began communicating to him through an interpreter (telling him that he was so brave - over and over) and through smiles. He was very receptive - I was the only one with my mask off and I think that helped (obviously - GOD's presence also). He began to calm down and I just stood there praying and petting him and holding his mother's hand - trying to keep them both calm. Around the time we finished I was called upon to help walk a severely injured (looked burned from head down to waist) to the helo. After I was done, I returned. By this time the boy and his mother were alone on the table that I had transported him to. I found her some Chapstick and gave her some baby wipes to help with his severely dry lips and skin. It was sort of funny trying to explain to her how to use Chapstick - but I think she eventually got it. As we were visiting - I got the word that our helo was about to land - I left him a roll of LIFESAVERS - which put a huge smile on his face. I was amazed how someone in so much pain could smile so big.

 

3) When I arrived on the first day things were very chaotic - they were really a "hot mess." We were immediately connected with the HS1 (USCG equivalent of a HM1) that had been there from day 1. He gave us a brief on what was going on. After he finished, he came up to me and gave me a big hug and thanked me for being there. He showed me the other corpsman that had been there with him from the beginning. They both expressed interest in talking later. He also mentioned to me that there was another chaplain and that I should connect with him. I began walking around and found the other chaplain - turns out he is from the same denomination (AG) as I, and we knew each other from previous training and meetings. He told me that there was another chaplain that I might know outside. When I found the other chaplain I was surprised to see that he was a buddy from seminary - also an AG chaplain. As the day carried on I continued to feel somewhat overwhelmed - but stayed people- and mission-focused. Another chaplain showed up at the end of the day. He was another AG chaplain and another buddy from seminary. God has a funny way of doing things. Knowing that out of all that chaplains that could have been there - mixed with the fact that we only have about 25 or 30 AG chaplains in the Navy - the only four that made it to the Haitian Coast Guard following the most devastating earthquake that they have experienced - all four of them were AG chaplains who were buddies (not to mention - all former USMC enlisted). This being the first time I have ever experienced anything close to this magnitude - I really needed something. God provided in a miraculously way through old friends and colleagues. This really gave me the extra boost, confidence and encouragement that I needed to carry out the plan of the day.

 

4) Everyone there thought that all of us were doctors. When I was approached - which was about every minute - I made sure that I let them know either through translator or my broken French and their broken English that I was a pastor not a doctor. For most this proved to be a positive thing. As word spread, people began to remember and recognize the chaplains or 'pastors' and would approach us for prayer either for themselves or for their injured family/friend. There were times where the person being prayed for seemed almost lifeless - however, wanting to facilitate regardless - I would always pray. There was one particular instance that I remember when I was outside. An elderly man approached me to pray for his wife. As I approached her I noticed that she was one of these who seemed almost lifeless - definitely unresponsive. As I knelt to pray, I began to feel God place words to pray - I had no interpreter but I didn't let that stop me. As I began to pray, I placed my hands on the lady. Others around bowed their head and listened silently. About half way through the prayer I was about to stop - thinking that she really couldn't understand me and I wanted to be able to move on to the next person. About that time, her hands began to rise toward the sky as she began to mutter what I only assume was her own prayer. When this happened I couldn't help but to keep praying. When we finished she opened her eyes and I gave her a hug. As I got up to leave her husband cornered me and happily shook my hand and patted me on the back saying, "Thank you, thank you." As I walked away I felt God speak to my heart telling me to never give up and to always let my prayers be heard.

 

5) As [AG] Chaplain Jerry Durham and I were walking around outside - Jerry pointed out an elderly woman that he had seen the day before lying under a tree. Her story was that she was the lone survivor of a nursing home that had collapsed. She had no one there to care for her. He told me that the day before he had asked them to IV her, but evidently it didn't happen. As we approached her I was taken aback. She was very old - probably the most frail person that I have ever seen. She was wearing a paper-thin pink nightgown. The only sign of life was her faint breathing. I knelt down to pray and as I did she grabbed my hand. This startled me a bit - but as I gently rolled her over - we made eye contact. I immediately began to pray. After I was done I tried to communicate with her to let her know that I would be back with help. I found a corpsman and had him bring IV fluid. We moved her up on the porch and into the shade by picking up the blanket that she was on. As doc worked on getting her IV, I knelt down to hold her hand. As he worked I was saying simple prayers - and again she made eye contact. I gently cupped her head with my hand and began 'petting' her and praying. In this moment I felt all alone with her, and even though I know she couldn't understand me, I felt as if she could.

 

 

Chaplain Williams and our other AG chaplains on location in Haiti are making a difference, as Williams' accounts show. Perhaps he's not impacting thousands of lives at a time, but each life he touches, one at a time, are lives touched with the love and care of Christ. It may seem like something "small," but for the individuals touched with this kind of compassion and care, nothing could be more significant.

To assist with the AG relief effort, click here.

 

 

 

 


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Coins for Kids Giving Sees Results in Alaska

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 - 5:04 PM CST

Jim and Linda Schulz
Missionaries Jim and Linda Schulz.

Missionaries in Venezuela, South Africa, Alaska, Belgium, India, Bolivia, Romania and more have benefitted greatly from the $200,000 the annual national Girls Ministries Coins for Kids missions giving program typically raises each year.

Yet, with new annual focuses every year, past years' projects can sometimes be forgotten. But in the land of the midnight sun, Alaska, the Coins for Kids 2012 giving project to help build a permanent building at a camp for children, has come to pass.

But it was more of a miracle in the making than anyone ever imagined.

The creation of Camp "Agaiutim Nune," which means "The Place of God," and is also known as Camp AN, began with a miracle. The pristine property was donated to AG missionaries Jim and Linda Shulz to create a camp for children.

Camp AN David Huff
Volunteer David Huff with wood beams traveling up the Yukon River to Camp AN.

However, Camp AN may also be a dictionary's definition of "middle of nowhere." Located on the banks of the Yukon River in Western Alaska, with no roads in or out, and accessible only by boat, Camp AN's nearest neighbor is a small village 17 miles away . . . the nearest city is 500 miles away.

But not to be detoured, the Schulzes have been operating the annual camp since 1996. Their focus is on demonstrating God's love and compassion to girls and boys, who are mostly from the Yupik Eskimo tribe, and introducing them to Christ.  However, with limited resources, the camp has had to utilize tents for church services, cooking, eating and sleeping, which had to be shipped in, set up, taken down, and stored every year.

Middle of Nowhere
Where is the "middle of nowhere"? How about Western Alaska, on the Yukon River, 500 miles from the nearest city with the only access being by boat? That is Camp AN!

In a more temperate zone, tents may be the ideal camp experience. But at Camp AN, the daily average temperature during camp is about 38 degrees. The building of a permanent multipurpose building that would protect campers and staff from nature seemed like the best of plans.

Yet even the best of plans hit roadblocks. After the strong giving effort through Coins for Kids to make the building possible, the Schulzes learned that barges couldn't navigate the river to their remote location — there was no way to transport the large, heavy steal beams or other equipment and supplies necessary to the building site.

But where barges failed, God prevailed.

"The very logistics of this projected indicated that it was impossible," Jim Schulz admits, "but God gave us wisdom, creativity, and sheer manpower to move and handle extremely heavy pieces of building materials without the use of heavy equipment."

Steel floor supports
Wood beams and steal floor supports are in place, awaiting layers of decking.

Schulz says that with the help of many volunteers and using their two relatively small camp boats, they transported 80 tons of building materials to the project site. From the ground to the locked doors, it took just 32 days to put the building up.

"Many men and church groups from both Alaska and the 'Lower 48' worked extremely long hours to accomplish the task," Schulz says. "So many miracles happened before and during construction that a brief statement like this could never begin to enumerate."

Volunteer David Huff, who attends Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, learned about the Camp AN project through a Pentecostal Evangel article. He agrees with Schulz, stating that the miracles that took place for the building to be completed are too numerous to name.

Nearing completion of building
The building nearly enclosed.

"Even though I have a background in carpentry, this project was very unlike anything I had ever done, due to the remote location and lack of equipment," Huff recalls. "There were lots of challenges that seemed insurmountable, but God provided solutions at just the right time.  

"We had 10 very large and heavy beams and 26 large red iron trusses that we had to move by boat, and unload them without equipment," Huff explains. "At one time it seemed completely impossible, but God gave the answer how to move them." 

Huff even praises God for the weather, explaining that typically August is a very wet month in Western Alaska, but during the two weeks he was there, the building effort was blessed by only two short periods of rain. "It was really amazing and incredibly unusual," he says.

Enclosed building at Camp AN
Through the efforts of missionaries and many volunteers, the Camp AN camp building is built in just 32 days.

Schulz says that the new building will house the chapel, dining hall and kitchen. 

"We have used the tents for 19 years and they show much wear," Schulz says. "Now we will be able to continue with a safe, dry, warm facility to continue reaching and disciplining souls for Christ. Next summer we have some 'finish' work to complete — outside steps, windows, two side doors, electrical work and insulate. We are confident God will continue to help us with this as well."

To view additional pictures of the building project in different stages of completion, see the Schulzes' Facebook page. To learn more about Coins for Kids, click here.

 

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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