McALISTERVILLE - When Lori King first heard about the earthquake in Haiti, she knew she had to do something.
The Juniata County woman said she felt God's call to go and minister with her nursing skills. The only problem was figuring out how to get there and who could go with her.
While listening to WGRC, a local Christian radio station, King said she heard an appeal from Dwight Rine for medical professionals to join God's Missionary Church to provide help in Haiti.
Once she had the OK to go, King began calling dozens of her medical friends to ask if they would join her.
Through God's will, everything came together, and a team of seven worked at the God's Missionary Church clinic in Port au Prince from Feb. 19 to March.
The Rev. John Gehman, pastor of Lauver's Mennonite Church near Evendale, said the most of the people in their group did not know each other before the trip.
Like King, felt called to use their skills in Haiti but had not found a team to travel with.
For Hannah McDowell, that calling was fulfilled just days after the earthquake hit.
On Jan. 17, she was one of several from God's Missionary Church to pack up medical, food and other supplies and take a plane to Haiti.
They traveled with U.S. Airlines, which did not charge them to carry their supplies, McDowell said. After her first trip, the Penns Creek woman felt called to go back. The Juniata County group being the last one scheduled to go, McDowell and her son Jeffrey decided to join them.
When they got to Haiti, the team found the church's half-acre compound filled with about 1,200 displaced Haitians, said Todd Taylor, a family physician with Family Health Associates in Juniata County.
Plus, between 400 and 500 Haitians passed through the clinic every day, McDowell said.
With the help of translators, the doctors and nurses did their best to provide medical help in a less than ideal atmosphere.
Gehman, who also is an emergency and family physician for Juniata Valley Occupational Health, said they tried to separate the seriously ill from those who had less critical problems.
Some of the most common issues they saw were pneumonia, urinary tract infections, parasites, malaria, anxiety, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The huge amount of dust from the rubble caused eye irritation and respiratory problems, Gehman added. He estimated that only about 5 percent of the injuries were directly caused by the earthquake.
During McDowell's first trip, most of the injuries were from the disaster - broken bones, fractures, burns, dislocations and chunks of flesh missing. Every hospital in the capital was destroyed, she said.
"There was a huge difference between the first trip and this one," McDowell said.
Along with the medical needs were the emotional problems with grief and anxiety.
One woman told McDowell that she pulled her 3-year-old daughter out of the rubble, dead. Five days later she found her 9-year-old son alive amid the trash. The child was taken to a hospital miles out of the city, and the woman hasn't seen him since, McDowell said.
"I felt inadequate to help her," McDowell said. "I prayed with her, and I hope she was touched by God."
Many Haitians were up front with their spiritual needs and often asked for prayer, King said.
Taylor noted that their medical work was so different from here in the U.S., because they could share their faith with their Haitians patients.
The group's next concern is for the estimated 1 million people who still live in tents across the city. When the rainy season begins this month, the homeless will sleep in the mud, McDowell said.
The night before the group left, the first hard rain hit, she said.
"People were laying on the muddy ground," McDowell said, with tears in her eyes. "I felt guilt because I was on the concrete floor."
Taylor added, "If we don't get them out (of the mud), disease will be rampant."
The big need now is for temporary housing, and some groups already are working on that, Gehman said.
The pastor said he is researching ways to return to Haiti with a local group who can build houses, and he hopes to capture local residents' support for the idea.
Haiti always has been a needy place, but the earthquake brought a new level of suffering to the impoverished nation, Gehman said.
Still life continues, McDowell noted, as she helped deliver several babies while she served there.
Taylor said he was touched by the Haitians' perseverance and faith during a tragedy.
Nurse Diane Kauffman added, "It was convicting to see how much praise and worship there was in the midst of devastation and loss."
McDowell also noted: "In the U.S., we have no concept of how rich we are. ... We consider it our due."
The Haitians made the most of what they had, and everyone was neat and clean when they came through the clinic, the group described.
Back in the U.S., the group members said they still talk with each other about the experience and the feelings of guilt, anger and sadness that it brought.
King said the Bible verse that God keeps reminding her of is Luke 12:48b: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Photos from the God's Missionary teams and more information are available online at gmcinhaiti.blogspot.com. Donations still are being collected to send medical teams and supplies to the clinic in Haiti. To donate, send a check to GMC World Missions, PO Box 69, Penns Creek, PA 17862.
Gehman also asked the community to pray for and consider donating or participating in a team to build houses in Haiti.