The Patient Faith of Marsh Harbor

It’s a long road to recovery in the Abaco Islands in The Bahamas, and many obstacles lie in the way

All photos are my own

The Damage

As our plane was descending into the Marsh Harbor airport, I noticed from the air that almost all the trees had been blown down. On the ride to the volunteer base, I saw the extent of the damage and it was clear that this area was still very much a disaster zone. The destruction was almost total here in Marsh Harbor; no building was untouched.

Newly repaired roof. This was part of a small shopping center.

The Work

My first day on the job was spent helping prepare food with World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit founded by Chef Jose Andres that provides meals after natural disasters. I was definitely glad to work for them for a day, because I’d received one of their meals in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2017 after Hurricane Maria smashed us. But God is so good, not only did I get through that, but now thanks to Him almost three years later I got the chance to repay World Central Kitchen too.

The World Central Kitchen Bahamas feeding map and numbers (as of the day this was taken)
A sanitation project in progress
I’m ready to spray
The remains of the house, piled up

The Faith

When I first saw all the destruction, I wondered if there was even a church in operation that I could go to. Well there were quite a few, actually. But I’m glad I went to New Rehoboth Ministries International.

New Rehoboth Ministries International
A child’s artwork remained in one of the homes we worked in. Psalms 27:14 and 23:1.

The Slow Pace of Recovery

But faith alone won’t rebuild Marsh Harbor and Great Abaco Island. What’s being done to rebuild the island? What’s being done to help the residents? Is the pace of recovery going to speed up? Because the storm was on September 1, 2019, so it’s now (as of this writing) been five months since then.

A classroom at Central Abaco Primary School, ready to be worked on

Abandoned Beauty

If you visit, you’ll quickly see that the Abaco Islands are a beautiful place in The Bahamas. It’s visually jarring to drive down the coast and see total destruction juxtaposed against that stunning natural beauty. We were working six days a week, so I didn’t have many days off to fully explore the island. Abaco Tourist spots such as Hope Town and Sandy Point are back in business, though I didn’t make it to those. Since we spent all our workdays in groups, and since the AHAH volunteer base was a communal living situation (really not my thing), every time I had a day off, I really needed to go off by myself to have some alone time. The place I found to go to was Mermaid Reef, a 25-minute walk from where we were based.

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