FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.
It started as simply providing a late-night meal to volunteer doctors and nurses headed to earthquake-damaged Haiti. It ended up directly blessing the hurting Haitians.
Anxious to do anything to help the Haitian relief effort, members of the Boca Raton Ward, Pompano Beach Florida Stake, heard that an 18-member LDS medical team would be passing through nearby Fort Lauderdale, en route from Salt Lake City and catching a chartered cargo flight to the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince.
The team was to arrive just before 12 a.m. Monday and leave another four hours later. Susan Puls, who coordinates medical volunteers for the Church, mentioned to ward members of the late arrival and the anticipated quick turn-around — and how a bagged lunch might be a welcome treat.
Members responded in kind, packing up sandwiches, chips, fruit, nuts and candy in portable personal coolers. Alan and Christiane Hawkshaw — self-described snowbirds who divide their time between Florida and Hertfordshire, England — delivered the lunches and bottled water well after midnight.
The delivery was made at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, after the team's early morning flight was delayed until later that night.
Inside each lunch box was a thank-you note from the ward. And attached to the handle outside was an appropriate scripture found in Mosiah 2:7: "And behold I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of you God."
"That was very sweet of them — they went above and beyond with that," said Brandon Hall, a doctor from Mapleton, Utah, who is among the Haiti-bound volunteers.
The gesture was welcome, the meal appreciated. And while the packaging may have seemed extreme when a simple brown bag would have sufficed, members of the medical team afterward collected the personal coolers and put them to use for their efforts in Haiti. During their Monday delay, the doctors repacked their bags — including some 20 large duffel bags of pharmaceuticals. They removed the supplied drugs, resorting and rearranging them and placing like kinds into each of the lunch boxes.
Several doctors spied the large plastic liners and determined additional benefits, using the small tubs for sterilizing instruments while working in the makeshift clinics housed in LDS meetinghouses in and around Port-Au-Prince.