Every person has his or her own story of trials and struggles and how to face them. Liz Howell, the only female among an LDS Church-sponsored team of doctors and nurses in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, is no different. Not many years ago, Howell found herself enjoying life with a blossoming career and happy marriage. But her life was drastically changed when her husband became one of the victims in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
As the years have passed, Howell has found revolutionary ways to face and conquer the feeling of pain that she carries with her.
“I realized there are other people in the world who are suffering, and while I by no means am an expert on grief or trial, I'm acquainted with grief,” she said. “I just realized at that point that I wanted to serve others with all my heart, with everything that I had, and I realized that I had been blessed so much after the loss of my husband and comforted so much.”
Through medical training and further education, Howell searched to find ways to comfort others. Over time she found herself back in Salt Lake City, working with a team of LDS humanitarian aid specialists.
Howell helps gather and coordinate teams of doctors and specialists who travel throughout the world to train individuals, who in turn train others, on techniques to improve newborn mortality rates.
In January 2010, after a devastating 7.0–magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Howell joined the team of medical experts to provide relief in makeshift medical clinics in the city’s LDS Church meetinghouses. She gave her love and care to one injured or ailing patient at a time. In her search for people to care for, she found one baby in critical condition. He had lacerations on each side of his torso and chunks missing from his scalp, and his left ear was hanging. He was scared and in pain; he was dirty and crying. She knew she had to get him to a hospital as soon as possible. Howell bandaged him, cleaned all of his wounds, and gave him antibiotics.
She took him into the pediatric ward at the University Hospital, where she was met by Swiss doctors who then took over the procedures and left Liz to go and find others who needed the love only she could give.
“When you’re of service, you lose yourself,” Howell said. “All of a sudden your trials don’t seem nearly as big because everybody else is going through something. It puts it in perspective, and it’s very, very healing.”
Howell still has her struggles, but she has truly allowed the peace of humanitarian service to heal her broken heart.