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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

photo by Rick Loomis, L.A. Times

The title of this post is a lyric from the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  We sung it in church this morning, and I found it particularly moving in light of the past week’s events.

I had been following the devastation in Haiti as best I could (I don’t have television, so I relied on Internet news, Facebook, and Twitter) since the earthquake hit, and several hours in, I realized I knew someone who was there—and missing.

Dan Woolley was the webmaster at Azusa Pacific University when I was an intern in the school’s marketing department. My job was to fact-check and update the many academic pages on the site, and while he wasn’t my direct supervisor, Dan and I crossed paths often. I kept in contact with the marketing staff for many years following graduation as a freelance writer for the website and alumni magazine.  And it was from them I heard that Dan was in Haiti, gathering footage of children in need for Compassion International.

From what I’ve been told, he wasn’t feeling well the day of the quake, so he and a colleague returned to their room at the Hotel Montana, a popular hotel for tourists and dignitaries in Port-au-Prince. They would have been in the lobby or on their way to the room when the 7.0 earthquake struck. Tragically, like most buildings in the Haitian capital, the five-floor hotel collapsed.

Friends and family of those missing at Hotel Montana came together on Facebook through a “Haiti Earthquake Hotel Montana” fan page.  They posted photos and information on their missing loved ones, linked to the latest news articles, and supported each other with prayers, candlelight vigils, and words of encouragement. It was heartbreaking reading through the posts as the hours and days passed. With the airport crowded and roads destroyed, aid was slow in coming, and there was little these people could do but sit and wait for news—and in the chaos, sometimes that news wasn’t reliable. Twelve students were missing from a Lynn University outreach team, and for a full day people thought that all had been found, only to learn that the reports were erronious, and four were still unaccounted for.

People can only live so long without food, and especially water, so rescues after a couple days were nothing short of miraculous.  An astounding 65 hours after the quake, Dan Woolley was pulled from an elevator shaft. I was floored. I was overwhelmed with joy for all those who knew him—especially his wife and two young boys.  And I was so thankful to God for his mercy and grace.  Incredible.  There really are no words to describe the weight of this miracle.

His story gave hope to many, and it was picked up by many media outlets.  You might be interested in reading the coverage by The Gazette, Dan’s local paper, as well as the Los Angeles Times, which featured the photo above. NPR has some audio, and this French video captures Dan’s rescue (about halfway through the video).  To get a sense of the scene, the Palm Beach Post has an interesting, detailed story from a reporter who was allowed into the collapsed hotel with a rescue team.

I wish this happy ending could have been for everyone. Dan’s colleague, David Hames, is still missing, as well as hundreds more in Hotel Montana. In the end, tens of thousands of people will have perished in the Haiti earthquake. I ask that you support the recovery effort by donating money or time to a charitable organization. Compassion International and World Vision are Christian organizations that already have people on the ground in Haiti, so your money will reach recovery efforts in a timely and organized manner.  I’d recommend them.  And I’d encourage you to check in with these organizations over the next few years, as recovery will take some time and the needs will only increase.

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Writing Stories

“My feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.”  —Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time.

I’ve been reading L’Engle’s Walking on Water while setting up my new blog home.  She has so many lovely things to say about the artistic process—especially the profound truth that we yearn to create because we are created.  I love this quote in particular, and I thought it a fitting first post on Art. Faith. Love.  I hope you will enjoy my stories, and I hope to hear a few of yours, too.

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