As the death toll mounts and the situation in Haiti deteriorates following the 7.0 earthquake that hit the island nation Jan. 12, one local woman is remembering both better times and the people she knew there last year.

Vanessa Rodriguez, 20, was a missionary in Haiti in 2009, and remembers a friendly, hard working people.

“At first they would be shy,” Rodriguez said. “In general the people I was around were very happy. They are a very grateful people and hard working.”

She went on the mission trip with First Baptist Church of Cherokee during Spring Break last year.

Rodriguez, a Spanish, cross cultural ministries and teaching English as a second language student at Oklahoma Baptist University in Oklahoma City said she was struck by the poverty of the country.

“We were driving through Port-au-Prince and I thought it would be beautiful and glorious like other capitals,” she said. “But it was horrible. Every time we stopped people would jump on our cars and want money and stuff.

“Every village we went to was impoverished, it was really sad.”

She said looking at the images of the devastation she just wants to go help.

“I would actually love to go back,” she said. “Pictures of the little kids I worked with kept popping up in my head. It’s really horrible.

“It’s like Haiti’s never going to get a break.”

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.

It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people died in the earthquake.