GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Eight years ago, Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left millions homeless.
Aid quickly flooded in from countries all over the globe, including the United States.
While the 2010 disaster has faded from the world's memory, the focus remains crystal clear for at least one Coast church and the mission it supports.
"You see in the Haitian people, at least the ones we met, great hope, great generosity and certainly a realism in recognizing the challenges of their own context," said the Rev. Will Shurley, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport.
He and several members of the church visited the country this month to witness what their mission money was helping to do. The team was in the city of Léogâne , located near the earthquake's epicenter.
The church supports the Medical Benevolence Foundation that does outreach work in Haiti and other countries. The purpose of this trip was to understand more about the people.
"We wanted to get a real sense for their lives, their work and how they're going about taking care of their own population," he said.
Shurley said a lot of the rubble has been cleaned up, but the void left behind is obvious.
"The presidential palace, which a lot of us will remember was the beautiful building that just collapsed on itself in Port-Au-Prince, that lot has been cleared, but certainly there's nothing in its place."
It's a representation of a country still recovering from an unfortunate circumstance.
"It's just a reminder that the landscape has been scarred by these natural disasters," Shurley said. "I think we were able to witness a country that's still coming to grips with that."
The team visited a family clinic, nursing school and Hospital Sainte Croix, operated by the Episcopal Church of Haiti. At the neonatal intensive care unit was a scene he won't soon forget.
Shurley recalled, "There was a nurse holding a premature little girl who had been essentially abandoned by her parents because they couldn't afford to take care of her."
"You recognize the devastation in those moments," he said, "but at the same time, there's this great hope, a great willingness to try to make things better."