BIC volunteers return from Haiti

A volunteer at Mission of Hope holds hands with a patient in the hospital. (Courtesy of Mission of Hope: Haiti)

—The BIC Church in North America learned this morning that the 56-person volunteer team that was in Haiti at the time of last week's devastating earthquake has returned to Canada. The report comes from Carole Phillips, executive assistant for the Canadian Conference of the BIC Church, who communicated with the General Church offices via e-mail. "The team members are all safe in Montreal waiting for a plane to get them to Toronto," reports Phillips. Four of the team members had the opportunity to fly on the Prime Minister's jet.

The team, which was comprised of people from several Canadian BIC churches as well as non-BIC volunteers, was serving at Mission of Hope, an organization that runs an orphanage, hospital, church, and school north of the Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince. Another team scheduled to travel to Haiti this week has postponed their trip, according to Phillips. "Mission of Hope has asked that this team not come at this time" due to a lack of food and water, as well as other factors, she added.

A mother and her son wait for medical treatment at the Mission of Hope hospital. Members of several BIC congregations have been serving at Mission of Hope since last week, and are currently assisting with earthquake relief efforts. (Courtesy of Mission of Hope: Haiti)

__________________

— Vivian Pengelly, wife of Richard Pengelly, a Riverside Community Church (Fort Erie, ON) member who was in Haiti with the team when the earthquake struck, has this update:

The latest news from the Mission of Hope is that although all their North American staff and volunteers are safe and accounted for, they have not been able to contact many of their Haitian staff members. They are the only place to come for medical help and food in the area, and their clinic is overwhelmed. They are running low on medical supplies and water. They have enough food to distribute for the time being, but the need is great.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive them.

__________________

—BIC volunteers on a short-term mission trip to Haiti are safe, according to reports from the Canadian Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church.

This report comes following news of a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked the island nation of Haiti on Tuesday afternoon, causing widespread damage and affecting approximately one-third of the country's 6 million-person population.

Twenty-eight people from Sauble Christian Fellowship (Sauble Beach, ON) arrived in Haiti last week, along with six from The Dwelling Place (Springvale, ON), one from The Gathering Place (Caledonia, ON), and members from other non-BIC churches, making a total team of 56. The team plans to stay in Haiti until January 20.

Additionally, members of The Meeting House BIC (Toronto, ON), Wainfleet (ON) BIC, and Falls View BIC (Niagara Falls, ON) serve as full-time missionaries in Haiti, and are partnering with the short-term team.

"All are safe," reports Carole Phillips, executive assistant to the Canadian Conference of the BIC.

The team is stationed at Mission of Hope, an organization that operates a school, hospital, church, and orphanage in Aubry, a suburb of the Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince. Three members of the team are working at a nearby orphanage in Tytoo.

"There have been 14 after shocks in the area, one measuring 5.9," says Phillips, who spoke to staff at Sauble Christian Fellowship earlier this morning. She also reports that the "Mission of Hope hospital is running at capacity," responding to the great need for medical support..

Fortunately, reports Phillips, "Some of the 56 from Ontario have medical and construction experience—talk about God's timing!

"We encourage the Church to be in prayer for the people of Haiti," adds Phillips. "Our love and support are with all the people affected by this disaster."

More information about the situation is forthcoming.

The World Hunger Fund is currently accepting donations for Haiti disaster relief efforts, to be distributed through Mennonite Central Committee, the relief organization of Brethren in Christ and Mennonite congregations.

In the U.S., donations can be made online (please designate "World Hunger Fund—Haiti relief ") or by sending checks to the Brethren in Christ Church Offices at 431 Grantham Rd, PO Box A, Grantham, PA 17027. If giving by check, please make it out to "General Conference of the Brethren in Christ, Inc.," and mark "World Hunger Fund—Haiti relief " on the memo line of the check.

In Canada, cheques should be made out to the “Canadian Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church ” and sent directly to the Canadian Conference of the BIC Church: 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville, ON L6H 6E1. Please specify “World Hunger Fund—Haiti relief.”