A growing crowd of Haitians gathers behind Bob and Wanda Temple as they carefully count medication on a makeshift table of boxes somewhere outside of Port-au-Prince.
This scene is captured in a photograph from one of the Temple’s trips to Haiti last year. It shows the couple, both on-site coordinators for North Carolina Baptist Men, helping medical volunteers at a clinic. Medication and equipment are sprawled out on a couple of folding tables that rest on blue tarps.
Most of the Haitians lined up behind them are women. Some are holding small children – many of whom are anemic and malnourished. Those in line are suffering from various illnesses – some as simple as a common headache or diarrhea. Though many of their troubles can be treated with over-the-counter medication, finding such supplies in Haiti can be a difficult challenge.
“Even providing eye drops for dry eyes is a welcomed thing in Haiti, where most don’t have access to simple things,” said Wanda Temple, a 61-year-old grandmother with silver hair and a smile that can put about any troubled Haitian at ease.
“Here we are out in the dirty dusty roads and up against a tree [with volunteers] putting IVs in [a child],” Wanda said during a phone interview while on break back home in North Carolina.
“For the three to five hours we’re there that child is revived and … we know that child has been given another day.”
Wanda and Bob Temple sort medicine at a clinic in Haiti. The Temples, members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Creedmoor, have been overseeing vollunteer teams working in Haiti for N.C Baptist Men.
During most of last year the Temples, members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Creedmoor, helped coordinate volunteer efforts in Haiti – rebuilding homes and setting up medical clinics. The retired couple will rotate in for a month or so and then head back home for a short break before returning again.
The Temples shared some of the stories of hope they had encountered during their time in Haiti. Since the devastating earthquake in 2010, N.C. Baptist Men have helped build 46 homes, 800 temporary shelters and provided medical care for 130,000 patients.
But there is more to the story than those numbers, the Temples contend.
While reports of change and progress continue to trickle out of Haiti, the Temples believe most people are not seeing the faces and the changed lives behind the numbers and news reports.
“That’s the sad part to us is that we see the change because we’re there,” said Wanda, who noted most volunteers are only there for a week at a time.
“I feel bad for the volunteers who have worked in Haiti over the last few years. So few of them truly get to see the fruit of their work.”
“You can see results,” added her 65-year-old husband, Bobby. “People being healed, so many salvations … we have salvations every week.”
Since N.C. Baptist Men began rebuilding efforts in Haiti, there have been more than 1,300 salvations. The clinics that the Temples work with continue to see an average of 1,000 people a week. Though many of the rebuilding efforts since the earthquake are winding down, N.C. Baptists plan to open a new medical facility by the end of the year.
The couple also shared stories about how more businesses are starting to come back to Haiti. People are beginning to find more job opportunities.
Flour mills are expanding to produce noodles and other products. Cement factories are making a better quality product in the hopes that newly built structures can better withstand future earthquakes. Some of the tent cities in Haiti are gone – though others still remain.
“People have found housing in other places,” Bobby said. “The goal is to get everybody out of a tent but it’s going to take a while. They’re making progress on it.”
It’s smaller day-to-day victories, however, that encourage the Temples the most.
They recalled one woman who was nearly too weak to stand in line for treatment at one of the clinics.
“We gave her vitamins and [liquid] iron,” Wanda said. “We see her the next week with a bright smile and much more energy. She came back saying we had given her ‘miracle medicine.’”
One woman – a mother of six children – visited the clinic and discovered she was pregnant.
She asked for the clinic to help her have an abortion.
Instead, volunteers prayed with her and led her to Christ. The woman left the clinic saying she would depend on the Lord to provide for her children – including the one she was carrying.
One man – a former voodoo doctor – also accepted Christ.
Since making his decision to follow Jesus, he’s been kicked out of his home. No longer working in voodoo, he struggles to make a living. He continues to visit a clinic for support from other believers.
“He comes to the clinic quite often,” Wanda said. “And the doctors help him with getting food and things like that.
“To accept Christ is a sacrifice,” she added. “We think, ‘Oh accept Christ and your life will be changed.’ It will be changed … but in many places in the world it will be changed detrimentally. Here in America we have no idea how blessed we are.”
While preparing to return, Wanda shared what she looks forward to when she and Bobby return to Haiti – helping Haitians see better both physically and spiritually.
“We get our [eye] charts out for them to read, but most of the time they’ll pull their Bible out because that’s what they want to read,” she said.
A Haitian patient usually won’t leave the clinic without being prayed for or asked about their relationship with Jesus.
“They know right off the bat that we are there because God has sent us there,” she said.
Some Haitians will ask volunteers in Creole, “Do you know my Jesus?” Wanda added, explaining that the Haitians are also asking the question of others around them.