Best Friends, Worst Situation

Eric and Jennifer Lotz in Haiti

Eric and Jennifer Lotz have a heart for Haiti.  From the first time I met them, they talked about the Haitians and their desire to return to the country and serve.  Before returning to serve Haiti Eric and Jennifer served me, and so many others, as campus ministers to the Wesley Foundation at Missouri Southern State University.  Eric was a mentor, friend and was the closest thing to a brother I’ve ever had.  They always opened their home and their hearts to the lives of so many of us poor college kids.  Some of the best times of my life were spent either in the Lotz home, on some road trip or working with Eric on one of the many Wesley Foundation service projects.

Eric was the one who pushed us all to experience missions.  He has the heart of a missionary and it was thanks to him I was able to experience Haiti.  It was an experience that changed my life.  When Eric and Jennifer chose to take their family and return to Haiti I was sad.  It was a selfish sadness, because I was losing face-to-face access to one of my best friends.  That sadness was replaced with pride and humility; proud that I was able to share so much time with such incredible people and humble because I knew I was not spiritually prepared to take on such a journey.

When I first heard about an earthquake in Haiti, my first thought was to my friends who had just moved their family into Port-au-Prince.  There was no word for hours.  Just prayers, thoughts and hopes bouncing from friend to friend across the internet.  Then news came.  They were alive, safe and already helping others.  Here is a link to a blog by one of Operation Blessing International’s directors about Eric on “The day the earth shook.”

To facilitate friends without all the connections, I have put together a timeline of sorts…pieced together from Facebook updates by friends and family members.   Scroll to the bottom to see the progression of updates:

Eric Lotz:  Dear earthquake, I hate you, but you will never get the best of us. We will rebuild a new Haiti and spite you. What do you think of that? (11/14/2010 10:01p CT)
Eric Lotz:  Dear earthquake, (11/14/2010 10:oop CT)
  • Eric Mattson:  Earthquakes only listen to people with showers and clean undies. (11/14/2010 10:0op CT)
Eric Lotz: also going to get a shower. Haven’t had one since Tuesday morning. Still wearing the same pants. Don’t ask about the undies, please. (11/14/2010 7:06p CT)
Eric Lotz: going to go arrange transportation for a group of 11 men and 4 canine search and rescue specialists from Spain. They will be working at the collased Ministry of Education building. (11/14/2010 7:05p CT)
Susan Salamun: Eric just posted that Operation Blessing’s disaster response team is to arrive tomorrow morning. Great news! Now he can go to work. (1/14/2010 6:22p CT)
Eric Lotz: Operation Blessing disaster response team gets here tomorrow at 8:00 am. Really looking forward to going from survivor to aid worker. Have felt so helpless these last few days. (1/14/2010 6:07p CT)
  • Jennifer Salamun Lotz: does that mean you are on the way back to the orphanage? Your oldest child is worried about you! (1/14/2010 6:27 CT)
Susan Salamun: Here are some pictures of the New Hope Haiti Mission orphanage where Jennifer and Eric and family are staying. (1/14/2010 4:30p CT)  {editor’s note: Click here to see pictures}
Eric Lotz: we’re doing well, trying to get a game plan. Day to day right now as to what we are going to do. So thankful for all the prayers and notes. Love you all! (1/14/2010)
Jim Hamilton: Just got tweet that Scott Salvant made it to Dominican Republic and is traveling with a caravan into Haiti with supplies. Reports of aid and relief workers being robbed by gangs. Pray for their safety. (1/14/2010 3:18p CT)
Susan Salamun: Another update. 2 of NHHM board members are in the Dominican Republic and heading for Haiti. There are some employees of the orphanage that have not been heard from yet. It was reported that all the orphanage employees have lost their homes. Jean Claubert had just bought food for the orphanage so they have a good supply for now. Please continue to pray. God is so faithful. (1/14/2010 2:29p CT)
(In response to question about what/where to send aid)  Eric Lotz: Yes!! Please collect whatever you can money-wise and we’ll try to get a list of items that would really help.
Our new house is not stable enough to live in, so we’re at the orphanage now. It’s going to be difficult to find a place permanently, though; everything is damaged.
Eric  (1/14/2010)
Eric Lotz: phones have been down since last night, just found some wi-fi to connect to. (1/14/2010 2:09 CT)
Susan Salamun: Father, May your glory shine through all that is happening in Haiti!! (1/14/2010 12:28p CT)
Christine Lotz: We were able to Skype our daughter-in-law this morning. She couldn’t see or hear us but we could see and hear her and it was wonderful to see her smiling face. Our eight year old granddaughter told us that they were outside when the earthquake hit doing Bible study and singing “Jesus Loves The Little Children.” The laid on the ground and kept singing. They are all so brave and we are so blessed. (1/14/2010 12:30p CT)
Susan Salamun: Skype is such a blessing from God. We just talked to Jennifer and the children. They all are doing well. She had all the children outside doing a Bible study when the earthquake hit. She said that she kept thinking she should do Bible with them and finally got all the children together and brought them outside. Now wasn’t that a GOD THING!!! He is so amazing and takes care of his own. (1/14/2010 12:27p CT)
Jennifer Salamun Lotz: Completely humbled and overwhelmed with the love and prayers of my family and friends. Thanks to all of you for your prayers during this time. Our family is back at the orphanage for the time being as our house is unstable. Praising God for taking care of us and New Hope Kids. Still waiting to hear from many of the staff, though. Keep praying! (1/14/2010 12:20p CT)
Susan Salamun: Scott, one of the board members of NHHM is on his way to Santo Domingo with plans of meeting Eric and Jean Clabert at the border. Please pray for Scott’s safety and that he will be able to purchase supplies for the orphanage. We put them in God’s hands. (1/14/2010 11:26a CT)
Jim Hamilton: Scott from New Hope is attempting to fly into Dominican Republic today and will meet Eric and Jean Claubert at the border. They will procure fuel and supplies hopefully in the Dominican to take back to the orphanage. This all depends however on the condition of the roads and Eric/Jean Claubert’s ability to get to him… in the DR. Please pray! Also please give all you can: (1/14/2010 10:17a CT)
  • Jim Hamilton:  Chatting with Jennifer right now. Eric is over trying to secure their belongings since there has been so much damage to their home. She and the kids are at the orphanage. Still mostly staying and sleeping outside due to aftershocks. Everyone there is as well as they can be. Still no word on many of the staffs’ and kids’ families tho. (1/14/2010 11:17a CT)
Susan Salamun: Just wanted to share these pictures. I have been to some of these places and driven down this street. It is so sad and I can’t believe what I see, but I know it is for real. Please keep praying for Haiti. (1/13/2010 11:54p CT)
Christine Lotz: We finally heard from Eric himself that he and his family and everyone at the orphanage are fine. Thank you so much to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Their house is probably a total loss so God truly wrapped his arms around them and protected them. I am so extremely grateful. Please continue to pray for the safety and well being of all of them. God bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart. (1/13/2010 2:54p CT)
Eric Lotz: looks like a war zone here, so many buildings pancaked, so many corpses on the streets. (1/13/2010 2:33 CT)
Eric Lotz: overwhelmed by the love and support coming from you all. My most sincere thanks. (1/13/2010 1:43pm CT)
Keri Duncan: Eric just reported that his family will be staying with the folks at the orphanage so they are all together. He thinks his home is a total loss. Jean Claubert reports that the back wall of the orphanage is down and stairs to upstairs are down and supplies inside destroyed. Keep praying! (1/14/2010 11:44a CT)
Eric Lotz: 12:25 eastern time. we are fine, orphanage is fine, Pastor Leonel and family are fine. Our (new) house suffered some pretty major damage. I estimate the house will be a total loss. We’re going to stay at the orphanage for now. thank you for the prayers; they mean so much. Keep lifting up the people of Haiti. God Bless. Eric (1/13/2010 11:29a CT)
Melinda Wilson: We have heard through friends and family on facebook that Eric, Jennifer and their 5 kids are ok. The orphanage is badly damaged but everyone is ok. If you know of an agency that is going to provide relief, please contribute. Eri is with Operation Blessing (part of the 700 club), they are accepting donations for the…ir relief efforts. Food and water will be a must in a few days. (1/13/2010 8:26a CT)
Jim Hamilton: Scott from New Hope who runs the orphanage is going to try to get into Haiti tomorrow with cash for supplies for the orphanage. If you would like to donate to this you can do so thru their website: (1/13/2010 7:59a CT)
Susan Salamun: Thank you everyone for all the calls and prayers. There is wonderful news! All the children at the orphanage are ok and Pastor Leonel and his family are ok also. So much to be done so please keep the prayers going. Haiti is really hurting. Thank you God for watching over our loved ones! (1/13/2010 7:45a CT)
Jim Hamilton: I’m sure they will all get together in a safe place and “hunker down”. They’re all very resourceful. They need prayers! Today is Jameson’s 7th birthday! (1/13/2010 7:39a CT)
Jim Hamilton: Just spoke with Scott from NHHM and he just spoke with Jean Claubert at the orphanage and everyone is safe!!!! The orphanage is damaged, supplies and food ruined or inaccessible slept outside due to aftershocks but everyone well. Scott said Eric and Pastor Leonel both showed up at the orphanage while he was talking to Jean Claubert. (1/13/2010 7:37a CT)
Christine Lotz: Thanks be to God and to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. I just got a call that Eric and his family are all safe. Please continue to pray for them and for the children and staff at the orphanage and all the people in Haiti. This disaster could not have happened in a worse place. They are totally unequipped for anything like this. They need all our prayers. (1/12/2010 10:58p CT)
Susan Salamun: We just had a call from Dr. Hamilton who was able to get through to Eric and they are all ok. Eric was working at the hospital and Jennifer was home with the children. Eric was able to call her and started walking home. He saw some awful thing. Please pray for the people of Haiti. Eric did not know anything about the orphanage. (1/12/2010 10:37p CT)
Jim Hamilton: Eric said the devastation is worse than anything you can imagine. He left the hospital to walk home to his family with thousands of people seeking care in the lawn and the hospital has no supplies. Please pray for the people of Haiti tonight. (1/12/2010 10:36 CT)
Jim Hamilton: He was working at general hospital of port au prince when the quake hit. the hospital has sustained severe damage. He is walking home from there but has talked to Jennifer and the kids and they are well with only some damage to their home. Eric has not been able to reach anyone at the orphanage but states that it is… farther from the epicenter than their home is so hopefully that means everyone is well there too. (1/12/2010 10:35 CT)
Jim Hamilton: I just got off the telephone with Eric and he and Jennifer and the kids are all safe and well! God is good! (1/12/2010 10:32 CT)
Susan Salamun: I left my name with the state department and they are to call me back to take Jennifer and Eric’s name to put them on the list. It is such a comfort to know they belong to God and He has them in His hands no matter the outcome. (1/12/2010 9:29p CT)
Christine Lotz: Please pray for Eric, Jennifer, Christa, Hannah, Wilson, Jett and Callie who are in Haiti. We are waiting for some word from them. We love them all so very much. (1/12/2010 7:19p CT)
Susan Salamun: Thank you for all the calls. We don’t know anything yet. Please keep the whole country of Haiti in your prayers especially Jennifer and Eric and the children. (1/12/2010 7:09p CT)