A little more than two months after being crushed under the weight of his own home, Patrick Lataillade returned to Haiti this past week. Though he nearly died in the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed some 230,000 people, the missionary who suffered an amputated arm, kidney failure, and respiratory arrest wanted to go back as soon as possible to help his suffering country.
"I'm getting stronger, getting my muscle back," Lataillade said prior to his return, as he recuperated in Florida, quickly adding, "I'm not counting on my own health and strength, but on God."
His wife, Barb, reported on their blog, "Patrick did very well health-wise during the days in Haiti. So many people wanted to visit him, he hardly had time for meetings."
While in Haiti, Patrick and his son Agape met with the pastors of his five church plants to see how Living Word Ministries-a Haiti-based ministry the Lataillades founded 29 years ago-could continue to help meet the needs of quake survivors.
Among the most pressing needs: how to help the people in the rural countryside taking in family and friends who lost their homes during the quake. Some families are suddenly caring for as many as 30 people crammed into two-room huts, with little food and water to go around. The reverse migration is overwhelming rural regions with already-limited resources.
Though Patrick was eager to return to help, he still deals with the effects his own trauma. The missionary and his wife were in their Port-au-Prince home when the 7.0-magnitude quake struck. The concrete roof fell on Patrick, crushing his arm and submerging him in darkness for 18 hours. He spent the long hours singing "God is so good," while praying that God would end his misery and take him home. Instead, the next morning rescuers dug through the rubble and took him out.
Barb was in a separate room when pieces of concrete crushed her foot. When she crawled out of the rubble, passersby transported her to a large hospital where she would lay bleeding in the parking lot for more than 18 hours. She waited with 2,500 other quake survivors for the care of one doctor, only to be told that she couldn't be helped.
The two were reunited the next day and were able to return to the United States on a Canadian military plane. They immediately went to a hospital in Florida for dramatic surgeries: Doctors amputated Patrick's right arm, while surgeons amputated Barb's right leg below the knee.
After two weeks in intensive care, under heavy sedation, and breathing through a ventilator, Patrick slowly started improving. "When my dad woke up, it was very emotional," said his daughter Rachel. "He was himself again, only 10 times better.
In the hospital Patrick started crying and the nurses reassured him that he'd [be OK], but he said 'I'm not crying for myself, I'm crying for all people the Haiti who died without hearing the gospel.'"
After being released from the hospital nearly a month after the quake, the Lataillades returned to their kingdom work as they recovered. The couple visited churches in Florida, telling congregations about their passion for Haiti and their experience with the earthquake.
Despite all that was lost in the quake-lives, jobs, schools, and limbs-the missionaries still find good news in the disaster. "In spite of the catastrophe and much suffering since the quake, the church in Haiti is growing," Barb wrote on their blog. "Patrick remembers 10 years ago when we planted a church in Mayette [a village in Haiti], that he claimed every soul for Jesus. Not every soul has come to Jesus, but yesterday morning they baptized 48 new believers!"
As the couple deals with lost limbs and a painful recovery, including phantom pains-a sensation of pain in missing limbs-they are also finding Christ in their own suffering. "Let us not waste our pain," Barb wrote on the blog. "I want to learn from it. We have prayed often for God to heal us from the pain, but He has chosen to let us experience it yet."
Already, their pain has been a witness to others, as their upbeat attitudes caused nurses and doctors to ask how they could have such joy despite their circumstances. This gave them a chance to share their stories and Christ.
The quake also brought a new outlook on life to the Lataillades. "I used to collect tea cups, but after the quake our tea cup collection is gone," Barb said. "But it's not important anymore. It's OK, I don't need that, instead I just want to have a fulfilled life, to love people and do what's important in the Lord. We know everything can be destroyed but our faith in God is something that can't be taken away."
'Still in shock' | Haiti is hit by a massive earthquake followed by aftershocks, with an epicenter near the capital, Port-au-Prince | Mindy Belz and Jamie Dean | Jan. 12, 2010
Helping Haiti | WORLD provides a list of relief organizations accepting donations to assist earthquake victims in Haiti | The Editors | Jan. 13, 2010
Search and rescue | U.S. disaster experts, the U.S. military, and private relief groups head to earthquake-devastated Haiti | Mindy Belz | Jan. 13, 2010
In the dark | Haitian-Americans hope to contact loved ones and quickly send aid back home to family and friends | Alisa Harris | Jan. 13, 2010
Weeping and waiting | Haitian earthquake victims await help, but obstacles slow relief efforts | Jamie Dean | Jan. 14, 2010
Desperation | Too many Haitians are in a holding pattern awaiting aid, as relief organizations try to make progress | Jamie Dean | Jan. 15, 2010
Long night | With tens of thousands of casualties, Haitians weep and wait for morning | Jamie Dean | Jan. 15, 2010
Deliverance | A group of orphans arrive safely in Pittsburgh while relief organizations report progress in Haiti | Mindy Belz | Jan. 19, 2010
Crying for help | Hard-pressed Haitians seek assistance as aid groups face logistical challenges | Jamie Dean | Jan. 21, 2010
Leaving Port | Beyond the capital city are rural communities equally devastated by the quake and in need of help | Jamie Dean | Jan. 22, 2010
The new normal | As life and death continue their morbid mingling, relief groups forge ahead to help | Jamie Dean | Jan. 22, 2010
Finding home | Now that search-and-rescue efforts have been called off, attention turns to providing shelter for survivors | Jamie Dean | Jan. 23, 2010
Chaotic aid | Relief groups attempt to help Haitians despite murky rules, government interference, and the lack of a cohesive plan | Jamie Dean | Jan. 28, 2010
Aftershock | Caregivers predict a second wave of death, as Haitians find moments of deliverance amid days of devastation from one of the modern world's worst natural disasters | Jamie Dean | Jan. 29, 2010
Homecoming | For Haitians orphaned before the quake, it means leaving home and starting over | Alisa Harris | Jan. 29, 2010
Crisis giving | Instant need calls for long-term strategy | Rusty Leonard | Jan. 29, 2010
An indecent grief | First lamentations, then comfort that strengthens more than soothes | Mindy Belz | Jan. 29, 2010
Hope for Haiti? (audio file) | Hear WORLD news editor Jamie Dean discuss her visit to the earthquake-ravaged country | Nick Eicher | Feb. 1, 2010
Despair and salvation | While the UN grapples with unruly crowds, The Salvation Army peacefully distributes food | Jamie Dean | Feb. 2, 2010
Crossing lines | Failing to heed sound advice, 10 Americans now find themselves facing kidnapping charges in Haiti | Jamie Dean | Feb. 4, 2010
Haiti's plight (audio file) | A discussion of the country's days of devastation and moments of deliverance | Jamie Dean | Feb. 5, 2010
Stress management | Helping Haitians recover takes zeal-with wisdom | Jamie Dean | Feb. 12, 2010
Taking charge | In quake aftermath, build new cities, says Haitian ambassador (and Bible translator) Raymond Joseph | Mindy Belz | Feb. 12, 2010
Houses of God | Grand-Goave, Haiti | The Editors| Feb. 12, 2010
Living water | Water Missions International offers long-term solutions for clean, drinkable water | Angela Lu | Feb. 13, 2010
Building blocks | While Christian Aid Ministries provides for the immediate needs of quake victims, it looks ahead to helping the country rebuild | Angela Lu | Feb. 16, 2010
Close quarters | ActionAid helps homeless Haitians deal with sanitation and security issues at camps set up in Port-au-Prince | Angela Lu | Feb. 23, 2010
Hardest hit | With nearly half a million orphaned children before the quake, Haiti's challenge to parent them just got bigger | Jamie Dean | Feb. 26, 2010
The search for miracles | Port-au-Prince is a city desperately seeking turnaround-and that's before the earthquake | Jamie Dean | March 12, 2010
Hope in the darkness | World Hope International offers Haitians practical assistance and spiritual guidance | Angela Lu | March 24, 2010
Night crawlers | A new disaster threatens defenseless women and children in Haitian tent cities: rape | Jamie Dean | March 25, 2010
Hashing out Haiti | As the UN makes recovery plans, Haitians struggle for the basic necessities for survival | Jamie Dean | March 31, 2010