Church members open up about Haiti earthquake experienceWhen 11 volunteers from Five Oaks Community Church landed in Haiti Jan. 9 for a mission trip to assist with the construction of All of God’s Children orphanage in Fedja — it was business as usual.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
When 11 volunteers from Five Oaks Community Church landed in Haiti Jan. 9 for a mission trip to assist with the construction of All of God’s Children orphanage in Fedja — it was business as usual.
Five Oaks Community Church has been sending its members to help construct the orphanage in the rural community on an ongoing basis since 2005.
The volunteers were tasked with finishing construction of the kitchen in the orphanage building and begin planning for vacation bible school for its students.
But on Jan. 12, what started out as an enjoyable mission trip quickly turned into an unsettling experience of a lifetime.
Jan Mularoni was standing on top of a retaining wall when she began to feel the ground wobble.
“I didn’t understand what was happening — I just thought ‘What’s going on with this retaining wall?’” said Mularoni, a Woodbury resident and volunteer at the orphanage, about the 7.0 earthquake that struck the Caribbean country without warning. “I didn’t have a clue what was happening because I’ve never experienced an earthquake before — then something just clicked in my mind.”
Because All of God’s Children orphanage is 45 miles north of the epicenter the orphanage sustained almost no damage, but the days that followed had Jeff Schwartz in a state of disbelief at the devastation the earthquake had caused elsewhere in Haiti.
“When people were telling me that we were in an earthquake, I was just ‘Ah come on,’” he said. “There was so much to take in, there was just so much happening at one time — it was incredible.”
For lead volunteer, Mike Mularoni, instead of being scared, he was just trying to watch everyone and take it all in.
“The Haitians had their hands up in the air like they were surfing — they were riding the ground,” he said.
Whereas Mike Mularoni was watching everyone his wife Jan was busy trying to comfort the orphans who were clinging to her side with frightened faces.
“The orphans were hugging every person,” she said, “And the kids who weren’t hugging someone, immediately ran into the building, so we all had to shoo them all out because that’s the last place you want to be.”
For the complete story see the Wednesday, Jan. 27 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.