March 3, 2010

‘Pastor Bob’ buoys spirits as relief ship is kept at bay

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Sea Hunter volunteer Rick Woodbury of Scarborough, right, watches as Haitian officials depart the ship Friday morning. The deep-water dock in Miragoane is in sight, but is stillunattainable.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

But by late in the day, no word had come back. And it appeared that, as has happened so many times since Sea Hunter left Portland Harbor, a one-day delay was about to become three days, or four – or more.

Enter Pastor Bob.

He arrived in Miragoane late Friday afternoon from the Light and Peace Mission in Bon Repos, a community just outside Port-au-Prince.

His goal: to claim the water desalinator donated to his church and orphanage by New Jersey-based WorldWater & Solar Technologies.

The 6,000-pound device came to Sea Hunter via Cross International, a Florida-based charity that also filled the 20 containers with supplies for Hope Village.

“I come to you!” Pastor Bob boomed over the radio after confirming from the nearby dock that the desalinator was aboard.

The rowboat returned. Aboard this time was a local customs official, two immigration officers (who also had come and gone earlier in the day) and, smiling and waving from the tiny vessel’s stern, Pastor Bob.

Upon hearing that Sea Hunter – and, in particular, his solar-powered water desalinator – were stuck in bureaucratic limbo, Pastor Bob turned and spoke in Creole with the customs officer.

The customs officer nodded, punched a number into his cell phone and retreated to a quiet spot for several minutes.

Meanwhile, back on Sea Hunter’s stern, more commotion:

Felix Vital, an employee and close friend of Brooks and the ship’s crew from past visits to Haiti, arrived via bus and sailboat from Les

Cayes with his girlfriend, Milouse Pieerre.

It was more than just a joyful reunion. Vital, fluent in both Creole and English, will provide much-needed translation services for the rest of Sea Hunter’s mission.

“It’s a great thing (Brooks and his crew) are doing,” said Vital, who has visited Maine and last saw his friends three years ago. “I did not believe it when I heard they were coming, but I know Greg has Haiti in his heart.”

Back to Pastor Bob.

After the customs officer finished his cell phone call, he huddled again with the pastor.

Pastor Bob then explained that they had the national customs director’s cell phone number but, alas, were unable to reach him to get immediate clearance.

“But it’s OK – I go back to Port-au-Prince,” Pastor Bob said. “You will be at the dock by tomorrow, Sunday latest.”

By Friday evening, the mood aboard Sea Hunter had brightened noticeably.

Pastor Bob, after all, wants his desalinator.

And hope, even in Haiti, springs eternal.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

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