GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - News of the devastation in Haiti has hit home for one local group who spent time working in an orphanage there last summer.
Jenny Smith and Michele Kenagy say a mission trip to Haiti last June changed their lives forever. "They have little over there," says Smith. "But those kids have the biggest hearts I've ever seen in my life."
"It just showed me that people with nothing have really everything," says Kenagy.
For 10 days, they and others from Canyon View Vineyard Church worked at an orphanage in the island's capital city of Port-Au-Prince. "Showing up there and having all these kids just run up and grab us, and just start hugging us was an incredible feeling," says Smith.
So when they turned on the news this week and saw that many of the places they went were completely leveled, their hearts sank. "All I want to do is just be there right now and be with those kids right now," says Kenagy. "Because I have no idea where they are and how they are."
A feeling that shot even deeper in their pastor, Kirk Yamaguchi, who is currently in the process of adopting a 10-year-old girl from that orphanage. "We were really shaken to the core," says Yamaguchi, senior pastor at Canyon View Vineyard Church.
Although he's unsure how they did it, Yamaguchi says the orphanage recently got word out that the kids are okay, their building is still intact, and the two staff members who were hurt only had minor injuries.
"Total relief," says Yamaguchi. "But then it turned to concern about, now seeing the magnitude of the devastation there, are the kids gonna be able to get food, water, the necessities?"
He says beyond the kids, providing relief to the poverty stricken nation is going to be an extremely difficult task. "It's the poorest, the dirtiest - the feeling of hopelessness is so prevalent there," says Yamaguchi. "Now having the destruction from the earthquake added on top of that, I just can't even imagine the suffering that people are experiencing right now."
That's why he and others who have experienced the country first-hand are asking the community to do what they can to help. "I would say the biggest thing for us as Americans is obviously to give if we can," says Yamaguchi. "But the second thing is, these people are in desperate need of prayer."
The American Red Cross has contributed an initial $1 million from the International Response Fund to support relief efforts in Haiti. People wanting to make donations can text "HAITI" to 90999 or visit the American Red Cross Web site.
Christian organization Convoy for Hope is already on the ground in Haiti, providing food, water, medicine, and other supplies to the people. They are currently accepting donations to send more supplies to the island country.
For more information on both organizations, click the links below.