Six members of Grace Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, arrived in Haiti just in time to feel the earth move on Jan. 12. Thankfully, they were far enough away from the epicenter to escape harm.
The team was 25 miles from Port-au-Prince, ministering to students with hearing impairments through Global Vision Citadelle Ministries.
Shelly DeRuiter said that at first the quake sounded like a big tractor coming down the road. But, having experienced an earthquake before in California, she soon realized what was really happening.
“I was grabbing kids to get them out [of the building], because they wanted to run inside because they were afraid,” she said.
The school did incur some cracks in the walls, but remained structurally sound. DeRuiter said the team didn’t learn of the earthquake’s full impact until they saw footage on CNN. Team members then contacted folks back home to assure them they were fine.
The group was scheduled to leave Haiti on Jan. 19, but their departure was moved up to Jan. 14. They were one of the first groups allowed to leave the country.
Before they departed, some group members were able to teach lessons and do activities with the children while others repaired the building’s roof.
They believe they left with unfinished business. “We are all ready to go back,” DeRuiter said. “We feel that we abandoned the kids.”