An update from the Rudolphs…

It has been a long time since I have written an update for the Aid for Haiti blog! I am going to attempt to write at least a brief update concerning the past few months of our lives.

Mid December 2014, Michael came home to TN to help prepare for our wedding!  We were very happily married January 17, 2015. 🙂

January 17, 2015
January 17, 2015

We had a wonderful honeymoon in FL following our wedding!  We did quite a bit of traveling (TN, MO, IA) after our honeymoon, but we really enjoyed just being together. 🙂

Michael, Virginia and I arrived in Haiti on February 12.  We spent almost a week at home in Grand Fond unpacking, planting garden, and various other projects.  On February 18 we went to Port au Prince to do a variety of things that needed done since Michael’s long trip to the States.  One of the things we did was put away a shipping container of books for LIFE Literature.  We spent a full day moving many tons of literature and organizing the warehouse.  We also did shopping, bookwork and were able to weld the window bars and security door for our apartment.

February 25 we headed back home to the mountains planning to install the window bars, move into our apartment, and prepare for the 2 week medical team coming on March 10.  But God had other plans and we weren’t able to accomplish it all. On the way up the trail I began to have a fever and body aches.  Over the next couple of days I battled a fever off and on, it seemed like I had a virus. Gradually it won over and I was in a bed not moving much.  The sickness turned into a constant fever, nausea and vomiting.  I hadn’t been eating and was getting dehydrated. Michael gave me an IV and was able to get the vomiting to discontinue with some meds.  But for days after that I still wasn’t getting better, and when my eyes and skin started turning yellow and my whole body became severely itchy, we knew something was quite wrong.  We had done malaria and typhoid tests, both were negative.

Late Sunday Morning (March 8) we left the mountains and headed to Port au Prince to make arrangements for the medical team that would arrive in 2 days.  We also were thinking we’d get some lab work done for me while we were in town.  After arriving in PAP, I was doing worse.  Michael was in contact with his brother-in-law Dr. Philip Sutherland over the phone. As more symptoms became apparent, Michael decided we would skip doing testing in Haiti and go back to the States as they were narrowing the problem down it it probably being my gallbladder in which case surgery most likely would be required.  Thankfully, Michael was able to find tickets for both of us to fly out the next day.

To make a long story short, in less than 24 hours after purchasing tickets, we arrived in Chattanooga, TN at the Erlanger Hospital where I was able to have an ERCP and gallbladder surgery done less than two days after arrival and I am now recovering quite well.  We had a follow up visit with the gastroenterologist and surgeon a few days ago. The gastroenterologist said based on what the blood work showed, he believes I had Epstein Barr Virus, and the surgeon said my gallbladder was inflamed and definitely needed to be removed, so between the two that all made sense to us given the various symptoms.

The medical team came to Haiti as planned while Michael and I were in the States. We had so many friends pitch in and help make that work out.  It would have been a big deal to cancel all of the plane tickets and leave the patients hanging in Potino! Virginia went along with the team and did a wonderful job helping them out as she knows the system; she was able to do a lot of translating and run the pharmacy. We are so grateful to the Lord for what we believe was a miracle in making that team possible despite so many changes in our plans.

We are back in Haiti as of yesterday!  The medical team went home the day before we got here and Virginia was waiting for us at a mission here in Port au Prince.  We are in PAP for a few days before heading home to Grand Fond.  Over the next two weeks we have quite a bit of work to do on our house while we prepare for the medical team arriving April 17, Lord willing.  Today Michael made a brief trip to the mountains to do exams on hernia patients in preparation for the surgical team coming in July.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your continued prayers and support!  We love hearing from you.  We will try to keep this blog current with information and reports about the medical team, surgical team and pastors conferences coming up over the next few months.

We also recently started sending out personal updates by email.  If you would like to receive them, please email us at rudolphsinhaiti@gmail.com so we can add you to our list.

Breanna for us both

Report from Dou Bwa Rouge

DOU BWA ROUGE TRIP REPORT: AID FOR HAITI MEDICAL TRIP, MAY 2013

Dear Friends and Family who have been so faithful in praying for our AFH team, below is my journal of the trip if you’d like to read details from my perspective.  This is by no means comprehensive, but just what I remembered to write at the end of each long day.  Thank you for your faithful prayers.  We felt them and saw the results of them, and I personally know that my little family at home was saved from at least one tragedy because of your faithfully, persistent requests to God for us.  I was humbled to go and serve as I could and even more so to be brought home safely.  Sonja Everhart

 

May 18, 2013, am

Copied down a poem Dad wrote for me when I graduated college and started my first nursing job:

 

“For grit and grace in today’s workplace, I remember Him.

His face like flint to Jerusalem

His pure heart, the Father’s pleasure

His words of love, mine without measure,

Lord, I need You near.  To Thee I rise,

Whose name I bear, Whose ways I prize.

For grit and grace to reflect Thy Son

Till the day is over and the race is run. – Dad

 

On my way to Haiti.  Dad brought Sarah B. and I to the airport this morning, early.  I catnapped on the first flight, so now I’ve had 3 hrs. sleep.  Couldn’t sleep but an hour last night- too anxious to have everything ready and sad to leave my babies at home.  Deep breaths, a few tears, many prayers and ready for this adventure.  The Sovereign Lord who holds the galaxies in His hand, stretches that same hand down, down to earth and leads me, if I’ll follow.  He goes before, preparing a way, softening hearts to His gospel.  I pray that I live it out this week along with the team.  AFH. Aid for Haiti.  All for Him.

May 18th, pm

We arrived safely to Port Au Prince- very hot and humid as expected because of rainy season.  The airport exterior is nondescript with some brightly painted ramshackle buildings as well.  Spent too much time in the hot concrete baggage claim looking for a bag that never appeared.  We’ll see.  Michael Rudolph and Cindy Mast rescued us from baggage claim and the team was waiting out in the truck.  A mountain of camping gear and medical supplies with  us all standing in the back of the truck flying down the highway.  There is a cage structure on the truck bed.  Wonderful to be here and take in the noise, smells, exhaust, palm trees, mountains, ocean, brightly colored cars, buses, motor bikes everywhere – and people, people, people.  Reminds me of my reading in Matthew on the plane:  ” The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles- The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light and those who were sitting in the land and Shadow of death, Upon them a light dawned”  Matthew 4:15, 16 (quoting Is. 9:2, 60:1-3)

We are fortunate to stay tonight at a Christian guest home, CAM, run by reformed Menonites from Ohio.  They served a wonderful dinner and I drank so much ice water but still thirsty.  Team meeting and sorting of medical supplies followed.  Then a cool shower and now to sleep in a bed for the last time.  Driving up the mountain to Do Bwa Wouj tomorrow and camping at the clinic area.  Now for sleep.  God is good.

Sunday May 19th

Continuing my reading in Matthew and loving it.

‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread…deliver us from evil…for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen’  Matt. 6:9-13

Up at 6 am today to get ready, pack our bags, eat breakfast. Shannon and I made scrambled eggs for the team and the others sliced up the fresh mangos and made coffee.  Fresh mangos bring back good memories of my trip to Honduras in summer of ’97.  I can’t believe how long ago that’s been.  Almost half my life ago.  Another ride in the back of the luggage laden truck, standing, driving fast, bracing ourselves and having such a good time together.  The fellowship has been wonderful.  The warm sun, beautiful ocean and mountain views during the almost 3 hr. ride.  Made 2 stops for Michael, the ‘on the ground’ team member here in Haiti full time since the 2010 Earthquake, to put chains on the tires for the rocky, steep climb.  Took lots of pictures, hiked a bit during the stop for chains.  Beautiful mountain views, palms, banana trees, mango trees, corn.  There would/should be many more trees though – deforestation history.  Arrived here in village of Do-Bwa-Woug while church still going strong.  Vibrant singing, clapping, preaching, praying.  We were introdued and greeted with clapping, blessings, smiles.  A very warm, vibrant, loving group of believers.  Gorgeous people and I’m in love with all of the children- big brown eyes and shy smiles.

Set up tents inside concrete block structure with tarp roof – very thankful since it’s rainy season.  Lunch of noodles and sausage with sauce plus Louisiana style hot sauce.  I opted out of the mayo and sweet ketchup toppings.  (All meals cooked over open fire out back by Haitian church ladies who live on site.) Set up pharmacy station for tomorrow and reviewed diseases: malaria, typhoid, cholera, etc.  Dinner, hymn sing, back to tents, fun girl times, talking, laughing, reading, writing in journals, trying to learn some creole.  Lovely hike today too, through the village – though very muddy, red clay.  ‘But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.’

Monday May 20th

It rained very hard last night for a couple hrs and then consistently but lighter through the night.  I awoke many times and my headache from the day persisted.  Very sore today, but excited for the day.  Breakfast of spaghetti noodles with hot dog chunks.  I should’ve realized it was too early for hot sauce.  Ate some bites of cereal bar to settle my stomach.  Probably some unsettling was nerves for the first day.  Haitian villagers already lined up outside the chapel, which we have set up for clinic with curtains to separate exam rooms and a pharmacy.  Day spent triaging, taking vitals, filling prescriptions, teaching through interpreters.  The automatic/battery operated BP cuff was not working, so I taught Elijah and Sarah how to take manual blood pressures, etc.  They’re quick learners and will soon be experts.  It’s hot but not unbearable- rain in the afternoon but we kept on with short meal breaks, treating about 120 pts. today including malaria, typhoid, malnutrition, worms, etc.  Beautiful babies and children, broke my heart to see them so lethargic and weak.  Several children with club feet, lady with radial head fracture, splinted by Caleb and Jerry, I think.  Highlight of my day was assisting Caleb taking a bullet out of a woman’s thigh.  We wore camping headlights for light and he did a great job dissecting down and then let me close the fascia layer.  I did a running vicryl stitch.  My first time ever!  Then he closed the skin nicely and we dressed it .  Made my day.  After dinner we watched Michael debride a lady’s two thumbs – one partially bitten off and the other cut with a machete.  Wonderful how he is fluent in Creole and can communicate.  I forgot to mention a morning devotion, hymn sing and then late evening hike (group) up the road to attempt phone calls home- little reception and raining- not sure texts went through.  Cold bucket shower tonight – felt wonderful.  Bible reading, to bed.

Tuesday 21st

I didn’t sleep well last night- I couldn’t reach Doug by phone or text yesterday and felt uneasy.  I think this, and the roosters, woke me up in the night and being uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep for several hrs.  Very tired today, but God gave grace and we treated about 120 pts today – preop, clinic visit, lab, pharmacy, education, more procedures.  Such good fellowship and commraderie amongst the team and the Haitian believers and interpreters.  They serve so cheerfully.  One of the sweet cooks here is about 35 wks. pregnant and preeclamptic by vitals and urinalysis.  She was told that to save her and the baby, she needs to ride down the mountain and then on to a hospital in PAP and probably be delivered w/in 36hrs.  She was so sweet and hiding tears.  It breaks my heart to see the realities and dangers of third world jungle life.  ‘Lord, watch over Genovese and her baby’.   ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases’.  Isaiah 53:4

Last of all, what has been weighing on my heart today is a woman 9 mo pregnant wo came to clinic yesterday and was treated for heartburn.  I knew she was close to delivering, but she wasn’t in labor yet, was told that we would help if she called for us or came to us for delivery.  She wanted to birth at home with her midwife and gave birth to twins last night.  The first one died right away and the other one later.  We were told she didn’t want them and left them alone to die.  She has other children.  I have grieved for those babies all day and wonder at the sin-numbed soul.  But for the grace of God would I be one.   “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick…I desire compassion and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matt 9:12, 13  ( Side note: many mothers and grandmothers have offered their children to Cindy when she sees them in clinic – I think they are weary of seeing their children hungry, malnurished etc.  Cindy tells them that she would if allowed and has given out much protein powder for shakes, electrolytes, vitamins, toys, and even her own jar of peanut butter.  One return text from Konrad that came through says that he’s setting up bunkbeds – Cindy told him we’d try to sneak some babies home in our backpacks.  I wish.)

We hiked again after procedures and dinner – I climbed atop an old wall on an old building on the mountain with Elijah and Michael and found reception.  I resked my neck to call home, but only got voicemail.  I hope my family is not concerned and doing well and happy.  Doug is wonderful to take off work and be home with the kids.  The Lord has been so kind to allow me to do this.

Wed. May 22nd

Today was so long it feels like days since I got up this morning at 6:30am.  Breakfast of mango and my cereal bar with syrupy sweet coffee.  Then group devotions led by the guys – today was Caleb- ‘The Lord is our rock’ – very fitting for the day as it turns out.  Patients waiting in line outside the chapel as every day.  Jerry, an ED nurse, and I were seeing pts. this morning to give Caleb a break and consulting him when needed.  I was thrilled to find a baby’s heartbeat with fetal doppler and watch the lady hear the strong, fast heartbeat for the first time.  She had thought she was losing the baby.  Her eyes were wide and full of happy tears.  Cindy, pediatric PA, is again seeing all the children and most of their parents.  She has done a wonderful job.

First thing today an apparently elderly, emaciated Haitian brought in on a stretcher.  Appeared to have cancer in his abdomen – hard and visibly bumpy.  Too far gone to send for surgery and too weak.  Turns out he was only 39 years old, and up until 3 mo ago was the strongest man in his village.  Caleb and Michael agreed on palliative care and gave him pain meds to send home with him.  Michael shared the gospel in Creole and the man said he was a believer in Jesus, had burned all of his voo doo charms, but didn’t know any of the Bible’s teachings.  Michael told me later that he gave one of the Creole audio Bibles to this family so they could listen to the N.T. in their home.  It solar charges so they can listen over and over.  What a blessing.  I know the Lord had something special in mind for the audio Bibles.

Next came many more of the same pt. problems as before, but a 4 yr old named Linda came back again.  She was diagnosed Monday with Typhoid and given meds and told to return today if worse.  Parents brought her in after turn for the worse, dehydrated, poor vital signs, lethargic, in her mom’s arms.  Held ouside in her mama’s lap in the shade under the palm trees while Jerry started an IV and I managed her fluid bolus of LR.  Later rocephin added for more antibiotic coverage.  Within a few minutes of IV fluids, she started to blink more and look better, by evening child rehydrated, more alert, hungry, able to void for urinalysis, and go home with family.  Another IV for a 20 something woman with persistent vomiting for 15 days.  Lab  results back, and pregnant- which she already knew and didn’t tell us and we suspected.  Michael talked with her to encourage her not to take an abortion pill.  3L of NS and anti nausea meds, vitamins, etc, later – Pt. smiling, feeling better.  Parents at her side.  Endless day of filling meds, etc, 12 hrs, then I assisted Caleb in removing a scarred mass on a lady’s backside that made it painful to sit down.  Very deep and difficult, considering limited instrumentation and tempermental hand-held cautery.  Fibrous tissue removed, so hopefully pt. can sit down without pain. Morphine injection during and sublingual zofran after with pain meds.  (Pt. came back next day for more antibiotics, smiling, very happy).

Truly the Lord is our rock.  A 15 hr workday amongst friends, bone tired but in good fellowship.  I was happy to hear the local Haitian pastor preaching to the waiting patients since massive rains have prevented people from coming out to evening Gospel meetings.  The Lord knows best.  We smile and work hard.  Reminds me of James chptr 2?  “Faith without workds is dead…show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.”  To God be the glory.

Friday May 24th

I’m on an airplane in Miami, heading home.  Whirlwind day yesterday and too tired to write.  After a short night’s sleep Wed, we were up at 6am TH -packing bags, tearing down tents, several hrs. of clinic.  Packed up all the medical supplies, loaded the vintage beast of a Land Cruiser – this time with all the buckets of meds/supplies under our baggage, tents-piled high, the team riding standing again in the bed of the caged truck.  Took two additional people down with us partway – so 13 people!  It’s more enjoyable in the back of the truck with the sun and wind, but b/c of limited space and my tendency for motion sickness when I can’t see over the load,  I was voted to ride up front.  Michael driving and Martalise and I sharing the other seat.  A fun surprise to discover that Martalise speaks Spanish as well as Creole so we could talk on the way down to her stop.  She and her husband, Brother Drakes, were heading to his mother’s home, then on to the Dominican Republic where they live now.  Marta is a phychologist who volunteers at her church counceling inner city youth and teens.

I fogot to mention the departure-it was difficult saying goodbye to such sweet people-so loving and little Veronica hugging me during the final prayer and farewell.  Her mother is Genovese, the pregnant woman with preeclampsia who had left that morning on the back of a mule, I believe, to head down the mountain, stopping overnight on the way to PAP to be hospitalized and deliver the baby early.  The truck ride would have been too bumpy and hard on her.  The night before, Genovese was up late with us watching over our post-surgical pt. We encouraged her to please rest and put her feet up.  In the states she would have been on strict bedrest.  She always smiled and was constantly serving.  Her three children are some favorites with our team-Leonardo, Veronica, Michael.  Her husband is brothers with Drakes and Olivier (one of our interpreters).

Also said goodbye to a little girl named Loveli, who gave me fruit for a going away gift.  Passed out candy and hugs all around as we said goodby.  Tears during the prayer -hard to leave a part of one’s heart behind in a farway place, but better than not having done so.  I think loving and letting go enlarges the heart.  “Freely you received, freely give.”  Matthew 10:8

The trip down the mountain to PAP was very enjoyable.  We stopped at a lookout ridge with a view of a beautiful waterfall.   Shannon and I hiked down to a mango tree and tried our hand at knocking mangos down with rocks like the locals.  It appears we would starve here on our own.  We hiked to the ridge and saw the others had hiked down into denser jungle grass/trees toward the waterfall but were unable to cross all the way to the falls.  If they had been swimming we would have hiked down gladly.  Turns out they had an adventure with cuts, scrapes, and snakes so we’re happy with our pictures from above.

I asked Michael a lot of questions about the Island seasons, vegetation, crops, his work here now and in the months following the earthquake when he came and stayed 3 yrs ago until now.  The physicians who came for earthquake aid told Michael, who was already a paramedic, that the experience he gained in 4 months of 20+ hr days of trauma and delivering babies, etc. was about the equivalent of 2 yrs of medical school residency in the states.  He continues to work part time in a medical clinic near the AFH land, as well as travel all over the country providing medical and spiritual assistance to different villages.  That clinic as well as the temporary one that we set up, both charge a small fee b/c the people are proud to be able to pay something for service and we don’t want to develop an even greater sense of dependence on handouts.  No one is ever turned away for lack of funds, though.  Having arrived a day late for the trip, I had missed some of this info, as well as the tour of the AFH land, and am happy to get some questions answered.

Beautiful island sunshine and breeze through open windows flying down the mountain now that we were off of the rocky trails and onto pavement.  Roads crowded with people walking, pulling carts, leading cows and pigs and goats, riding horses and mules laden with mangos, avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, etc.  Children walking along the road carrying machetes, same as their parents. People sitting in roadside stands selling produce, etc.  Gradeschool age children holding the younger ones by the hand, walking along the roads, or over mountain paths.  Sisters carrying younger siblings on their backs, though seemingly too small to do so.  Pregnant women hiking up the steep mountain roads with their load of produce in a bag or bucket on their head.  Everywhere little brown baby bottoms as toddlers run around without pants – probably for easy potty training as no one seems to use diapers.  Women carry their babies with towels around the babies.  The upside is we saw no diaper rash problems in clinic.

Still driving/flying down the mountain, weaving in and around trucks and motorcycles all laden with produce and people.  I am reminded of verses I’ve been reading in Matthew of Jesus in the villages- of simple ways of life and a slower tempo to the day – of life in its bare essentials- food, clothing, shelter, life, death, and looking beyond the temporal as life is known to be short and accepted as such.  “Jesus, going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'”

Safe arrival back to CAM where we spent the first night at the guest house.  Real beds and showers after 4 nights of sleeping on our thin mats in tents on hard clay floors and taking cold ‘bucket showers’.  Some of course chose not to try the bucket shower so this was their first shower in 5 days.  They will remain nameless.  I personally enjoyed the cold bucket shower while camping, especially after a sweaty day in clinic and assisting in a not-so-minor procedure.  Maybe I didn’t get the full camping experience.

Dinner was served to our whole team by the CAM folks who run the guest program-dinner at tables on their long front porch with expansive views of the port with the city lights twinkling on the far side.  Not very many city lights for such a massive crowd of people in huts and slums.  We met several Americans at dinner, one of whom has the job of overseeing many of the schools in Haiti-he travels 2 weeks of every month, visiting villages, schools, overseeing curriculum, teachers, outcomes, etc, and the subsidizing of much of the cost of books, etc.

After dinner, we all walked back to the main living quarters where we have our team meetings.  For the first time in 5 days, I was able to reach my family by phone and hear their happy chatter of the last day of school party etc.  The few times we found reception from Do-Bwa-Wouj, I had only reached Doug’s voicemail.  I am very thankful for a wonderful husband who cheerfully agreed to take time off of work to stay home with kids and run the house for me, as well as both of our moms and other siblings who stepped in to help.  I am acutely aware of all the details that come into focus and have to fall into place for a trip like this to happen.  Sacrifices by those close to me, gifts of supplies from my coworkers at LMH and mostly the prayers of so many that I cannot count – asking the Lord for grace, safety, wisdom, open hearts, strength for each day, unity for the team;  I feel that all of the prayers were answered and more that we did not think to ask for.

Our team meeting last night to wrap up the trip was a wonderful time of sharing best and most challenging times, what we’ve learned, and acknowledging that we have all felt the prayers lifting us up and giving unity and good harmony as a team.  We sang hymns together for the last time, as we have every night.  We are so thankful for the dear sister in Lawrence who thought to print off copies of our favorite hymns so we could sing together. We are also humbled to know that another sister has been fasting and praying for us and the work here every day until our return.

When I was tempted at times to be tired of filling meds and explaining the same things over and over through the interpreters, I was continuously reminded of the verse in Matthew 10:24 which says ‘ A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.’  If the God of all creation would humble Himself to be born as a human baby, grow, live among sinful mankind, serve them and then die on a cross made from a tree that He himself created, to pay the price for mine and all of mankind’s sins – how can I hold myself above even the most mundane tasks?

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give You rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest for Your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matt 11:28-30

Pastor Training Experience

In early January, I had the privilege of participating in AFH’s second “Pastor Training” seminar in Fond Doux, Haiti. The training included about 30 men who were pastors from communities around the town of Fond Doux (a little place west of Petit Goave on the HT-2) and 40 other men from those churches who also wanted to learn more about the Bible.

We spent five days from 8am to 4pm covering topics pertinent to men who lead in the local church. These topics included qualities of a church leader, dangers specific to those who lead, God’s design for the local church with Christ as the head of the Church, and an outline of basic church history. Each morning we provided breakfast, then began with roll call, a couple of songs and prayer. We commenced with the topics of the day, divided into hour and a half sessions. The topics were taught and translated real-time by one of our translators. We used an inter-linear Bible on our projector showing the Scriptural texts in English, French and Creole. We even had power-point presentations which included illustrations of prominent figures in church history.  We concluded each day with a question and answer session. During the day, our brothers had a book in which they could write questions about the topics. We reviewed this at the end of the day and would comment on some of their questions or have a chance to clarify our comments so we could make sure communication was clear.

Pastor training was conceived a couple of years ago in response to a need voiced by some of our Haitian  friends.  Many of the men who have the responsibility of preaching and teaching in the local churches possess fervor for the Lord, but they do not have many biblical resources or training opportunities. As a result, they are sometimes ill-equipped to serve the needs of the Body. To this end, we provided a notebook, a pen, and Haitian New Testaments to every man present for the training session. Additionally, we provided Creole concordances, Bible studies in Creole and complete Bibles in Creole to every pastor responsible for a local congregation. For the men who shepherd the local assemblies of believers, this was a welcome gift.

The week in Fond Doux was a refreshing work. I welcomed the privilege to pray and sing with my brothers in Christ, but to get to teach them was a unique experience. I loved seeing their faces, hearing their questions, and experiencing their growth throughout the week. At the end of the week, they thanked us for coming, asked us to come back (after we said we couldn’t stay), and even gave us a gift to give to our wives as a token of their appreciation for the sacrifice of their time.

This marked our second week of Biblical training for church leaders in Fond Doux and we already have plans for August of 2013.  We had 74 men who completed the training and received a certificate. Another AFH training seminar takes place each year in Potino in July. We provide these weeks of training at no cost to our Haitian brothers (other than their own travel and time). If you have an interest in helping make these events possible, consider the following: For $15, you can pay for a Haitian pastor to be further trained in God’s word for one day, including two of his meals and some printed material as well.  Would you join us in helping educate and equip some of the pastors and elders of Haitian churches? Please pray about how God could use you to help affect believers throughout Haiti.

The Hurricane on Mt. Patmos

On the 22nd of October, Michael and I flew into  Haiti and headed directly into the mountains after picking up the bags we left here.  We drove for 5-6 hours till we came to the end of the vehicle road way up in the mountains behind Port Au Prince.  We had traversed a paved road with 200+ curves, a riverbed that took around 4 hours and 20+ river crossings, and a dirt road along the mountain side so steep at places you wonder how you can drive on it.  At the end of the road we unloaded the 36 buckets that contain our clinic, the luggage the team needed for staying in the mountains for 5 days, and all the food we would eat during that time.  Yes, it was quite a load, and sometimes I get embarrassed at how much stuff we can come up with.  But we don’t want to be a burden to the community, so we take our sleeping mats and all the food we need.  Anyway, the Haitian’s from the mountain we were going to, all chose what they could carry and headed off.  By the time the time the trucks were empty, it was 5.  The last group of us started off on the 2-3 hour hike with three rivers to cross and hour of daylight.  We ended up hiking in the dark, the last half of the way, which I don’t really mind.  Everything went well, we all arrived safely, had some supper and went to bed.  Tuesday I set up the pharmacy while the sheets were being hung to form consultation rooms.   We had 4 consultation rooms, and soon got rolling.  There was the normal aches and pains, gas and acid, and quite a few clogged ears.  I had some good help in the pharmacy and we had fun giving out packages with hygiene items and a dress to all the girls under the age 14.  CAM had quite a few donated, and it was so special to see a little girls eyes light up when she realized that this “kado” was for her!  Wednesday we had around 120 people and the wind was blowing pretty hard by the evening.  We knew there was a tropical storm coming, but what could we do about it?  Wednesday was my birthday, what an odd place and time to turn 25 – on top of a mountain in a brewing hurricane!   I thought it was fine, I love the work here and the people of Haiti.  By Thursday it was raining and blowing, and not many people came.  Friday was a full-blown hurricane and every one stayed inside.  It was an adventure to go to the outhouse, the wind would rip the door out of your hands.  The wind eventually did rip off the doors, oh well, it is all in a mountain trip.  We got cabin bound and passed the time singing and playing games of Dictionary and Pictionary and Confusion.  We made that church on the mountain ring with song after song, most from memory.  I was so glad that the team consisted of people who love to sing.  We had no electric, and no lamps or candles; when darkness fell, we had only our flashlights.  One evening we played with hand shadows, and the doctor was really good with making his shadow talk!  We always went to bed early, what else is there to do?  The next morning we woke up to RAIN and WIND again.  At various times and places you could find someone (a lot of the time it was me) staring out into the storm.  I was SO grateful we were on top of the mountain top instead of in the valley.  If I have visual elbow room, I don’t mind not being able to go somewhere nearly as much.  Saturday was the day the team was to have flown out, but we weren’t going anywhere.  The hurricane had lingered over our particular spot in Haiti as if wanting to wash us into the ocean.  Finally the thing moved on, but to our dismay and blank amazement, part of it broke off the main storm and sat directly above us, dumping the rain!  Now you have to realize that we couldn’t just leave when the rain stopped.  We were trapped by the rivers, one on each side of the mountain, roaring and foaming so loud you could hear it at the top.  Saturday the rain basically stopped and were we ever GLAD to see the sun.  We started trying to find a way out as it would be days before the river went down enough to get to the trucks, to say nothing of the big river going down enough to drive out through.  We actually called the UN and other various organizations to see if we could get a helicopter to come get the team out, but we finally were told that there were only two helicopters in Haiti.  They were both occupied doing rescue operations in life threatening situations, and our situation wasn’t life threatening.  There were some of our team who HAD to get home, even if they had to walk out.  So early Sunday morning one of our Haitian translators set out to a mountain top that was six miles away, as the crow flies.  That mountain top was accessible by vehicles.  He finally got to his destination around four in the afternoon, and by that time most of the team decided they wanted to hike out.  Michael volunteered to go as escort, and with a few Haitians for guides and three mules, they set out.  They left around 2 in the afternoon, and hiked till 10:30 pm.  They stayed in the house of the mayor for that region, and finished the hike the next morning in 45 min.  A man from CAM picked up the team, and Michael hiked all the way back to Patmos.  He was so tired and footsore when he got back.  We did clinic a few more days, and five days after we were supposed to have left, we finally packed up to head out.  Horror of horrors, it started clouding up and thundering the afternoon before we were to leave.  We couldn’t just head out, we needed people to carry out the stuff, and they wouldn’t come before morning.  Thank God, He made the clouds dissipate, and there wasn’t a drop of rain!  At 4:30 the next morning, the Pastor with us started hollering on the microphone he had brought along, calling the people of the mountains to come and help us get out.   They showed up one at a time till we left around 7 am.

We hiked out Wednesday morning, the 31st, and it was such a beautiful day!  After 30+ inches of rain, all the dust and loose dirt was washed away, leaving all the colors bright and clean.  Of course the trees and plants were wind battered, but the air and earth were so clean and bright.  I saw colors in the rocks that I never thought existed there, great streaks of red rock that were normally covered in dusty dirty brown.  I fancied that those big red streaks were where a dinosaur was squashed in the flood and fossilized!  Not really, but it was something to laugh about!  We loaded up the trucks and headed out, Jeriah and Michael driving.  They have both driven over everything that is passable with a vehicle (and some that weren’t), so I wasn’t nervous about the trip out.  A couple of the others were nervous- to a degree!  We had had men fix the two washed out places in the road to the riverbed, and the one place was so steep that I could not see the hood of the truck (I was standing in the bed, right behind the cab).  It was interesting to say the least.  We arrived at the river, and there it was roaring away through a long S shape, fairly deep, and very bouldery.  I know that is not a word, but “rocky” doesn’t describe it.  We had hired 6 men to come with us and walk ahead of the trucks, clearing boulders away and making a place to drive.  We had to cross the S part four times in two or three hundred yards, and each crossing was difficult.  The first one, just needed rocks moved.  The second was deeper, and had even bigger rocks.  I’m really surprised that the men were able to keep their feet while rolling rocks away!    The first truck roared through the water, but the second got hung very firmly on a rock.  There was no going anywhere.  The water was up to the bottom of the doors, so you can imagine how it was with a whole bunch of men trying to push the truck off the rock.  It didn’t work.  We finally backed up the other truck and try to pull it off.  No go.  So we backed up farther, and pushed it bumper to bumper, yay!  This time it worked!  But oh no! now the first truck spun out, it’s wheels just sinking into the loose gravel of the river bottom.  All the men got behind and pushed, and out it went, towing along the second truck too.  That was only the second crossing.  The third wasn’t so bad, but the second truck again spun out in a gravel bed and had to be pulled out.  All this time, we had been crossing the river pretty much straight across, but the fourth time was a DEEP narrower spot.  No driving straight across this one!  Before each of these crossings, the men all stood at the edge surveying the area and talking over the best place to try.  They finally decided to drive with the flow for a short way, and gunning the engines both trucks pulled safely out the other side.  The rest of the way, was talked over, cleared, crossed, and repeated more times than I remember.  The water kept getting deeper little by little, till we were hearing reports of it being muddy and deeper and uncross-able close to Jacmel.  We reached the road Michael hiked up over the mountain, and decided to try getting out that way and not risk being stopped by the river father down.  The road was steep, and it had a few places to fix before we could proceed, but we finally made it to the top.  It was SO wonderful to finally be on the top of another mountain looking back over the swollen river.  The rest of the trip was uneventful as far as Haiti traveling goes.

And that dear friends, concludes my tale.   Here are some pictures that hopefully are like the proverbial “thousand words”!

Exam rooms right, pharmacy left, sleeping rooms up front

See the donkey’s tail, the trees and the tarp? That takes some wind!

Kind of dreary…

Beautiful sunshine!

Full moon behind the highest mountain in Haiti.

The sunsets were gorgeous!

This is where I couldn’t see the hood of the truck.

Clearing away the boulders

Stuck on a rock

This place was deep and swift

The water was getting deeper

Looking back to where we came from!

 

A Mother’s Heart

I am ashamed to admit that I did not really want to go on the recent trip with Aid For Haiti.  I have been before and knew full well what I was getting into.  Long days of travel over rocky terrain, steep mountain passes and endless days seeing patients in between sleeping on the floor and using a smelly outhouse.  To be honest, I would have rather stayed at my parents’ house sleeping in a warm bed and going Christmas shopping.  And what about my two boys, ages 2 and 4?  What kind of mother would I be to leave them for a whole week?  But God had other plans for me, and despite my excuses, God’s word assured me, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).  The confirmation is clear and I answer God’s call to serve in Haiti with a “Yes”.

So while my boys happily play with their grandparents for the week, I embark on a long journey into the rural Haitian mountains with my husband Caleb (yes, this whole thing was his idea!).  So this physician -pharmacist couple joined a fantastic Aid For Haiti support staff and translators, settled into our grass hut with dirt floor, separated into our consultation rooms divided by a thin curtain, and began a 4 day mission of medicine and ministry.

My prayer for this trip was that God would open my eyes to the hearts and lives of these impoverished people.  The vision He revealed to me centered around the hearts of the women and the burdens they bear in life.  Mothers know a universal language.  In the consultation room I saw their concern first hand, and the evidence in their children of infections, worms, and malnutrition.  I had a conversation in Spanish with a woman from the Dominican Republic whose greatest desire is to have a child, but is struggling with infertility.  A Haitian woman has had seven children, but lost three of them to starvation.  “They just got skinner and skinnier and then they died,” she explained.  Now a fourth child is sick and she has brought her to us.  I prescribe her nutritional supplementation in the form of vitamins and formula, but how can I heal this woman’s heart?  I cannot begin to imagine the grief she has experienced, the helplessness of watching her children suffer and die, over and over again.

Another woman brought her 4 month old son to us who could not urinate without screaming and crying in pain.  Caleb was able to perform a simple procedure to alleviate his problem while I sat outside with the mother.  Despite the language barrier, I could sense her agony and she waited through the procedure, not really understanding and grieving for her suffering son.  All mothers weep in the same language.

The next day started early and I could tell the emotional burden of this experience was weighing on me.  I sat in my consultation chair as the translator ushered in an elderly woman with an infant son.  A grandmother with her grandson.  The mother is 15 years old and wants nothing to do with the baby.  The grandmother has no money to take care of him.  She sold the tin roof off her house to make money to care for the child.  She has nothing left to give.  She asks me plainly, “Will I take her precious grandson?”

 

I need a moment to breathe.  I don’t have the capacity to process what this woman is saying to me.  But God.

 

Yes, I would take the child, but I might have trouble getting him through customs.  He was so beautiful to me.  All smiles, with bright eyes and curious little hands.  He grabs at the chart I am holding.  I hold him in my arms.

After much discussion with the team and the area pastor we decide the best option is to support the woman financially and follow up at a later time.  So a couple days later we met with her privately, gave her money to encourage her in the work she was already doing for this child and prayed with her.  “Thank you Jesus.” She says it in Creole, but I  understood.  I understand.  Mothers thank God in the same language.

That night at chapel I heard these women singing.  They praise in their own words, which are foreign to me, but some of the tunes are familiar and one cannot mistake their passion.  The pastor reads from Isaiah 61:

 

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…

To bring good news to the afflicted;

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…

To comfort all who mourn

Giving them a garland instead of ashes

The oil of gladness instead of mourning,

The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting…

That He may be glorified.

God sent me to Haiti to show His love to a hurting people…  to show them Christ, who alone can heal their broken hearts.  God showed me how big and wonderful and compassionate He is, and how He longs to use me in His plan if only I am willing.  As the Haitian voices echo around me, I humbly thank God for the opportunity to come and serve with Him.  I thank Him for opening my eyes and my heart.  I praise Him. 

Mothers praise God in the same language.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…”  Ephesians 2:4

Earthquake Effects Linger On

During the morning hours of a recent clinic day in Port au Prince, a young man limped up. “Im 15 years old now” he told us with a shy smile. As he conveyed his story, he told us of the day of the earthquake when the roof of the house he was staying in came down on top of him. “It landed on my leg” he said. He told the story of the terror and pain of being without treatment for many days. “One day we found an American team, who told me I had a broken leg” he conveyed. “It was a blessing from God, I think.” In a mobile clinic on the streets of the city they inserted an external fixator, a device that consists of two long screws inserted into the bone and connected by a metal rod outside of the skin. The only trouble was, no one had a plan for its removal.

Amidst the chaos after the earthquake, many people came to help and almost all soon left. This left the people of Haiti in the same condition that they were before, only now caring for major injuries.  “From clinic to clinic, all around the city” this young man and his mother had traveled for months looking for help. Afraid to touch something that had been in so long, time and time again everyone told him the same thing: “tell whoever put it in to take it out, not me”. Now nine months later, still having a device inserted into his bones that should have been removed after only a few weeks, his leg muscles were stiff to the touch and contracted. It was apparent that he would need surgery soon.

Seeing the need of this young man we took him to one of the largest facilities in Port au Prince, the Medishare/University of Miami Hospital to locate a orthopedic surgeon. Here, was one of only three places in a city of two million people effected by the earthquake which had orthopedic surgeons left in the country. Unfortunately, we also discovered another reason that this family was unable to have this metal tool removed from his bone. In Haiti today the average wage stands at 300 US dollars per year, making it difficult to keep a family fed. To have this procedure done, this aid hospital required over 200 US dollars, an amount that was impossible for this poor family to raise. Due to generosity of people just like yourself, we were able to cover the entire hospital fees for this young man. At the time the clinic was over, he was scheduled for surgery and was grateful most of all to God who made a way for him to get care.

Please continue to pray for this young man, as surgery will only be the beginning of the long struggle of rehab that will need to take place to allow him full use of a leg that had remained immobile for 9 months. Please also pray for the hundreds left in Haiti like this young boy who need orthopedic care now that all of the major aid has left the country. The needs are still as great as ever in Haiti.

Experience with Haiti

Here are some more pictures from our trip to Haiti. The first couple days we packed medications and medical supplies (we had to bring everything with us as there was no clinic where we were going) and then packed the truck for the big trip. We traveled from sun-up to sun-down, spending hours in the truck driving as far as we could, then hiking the last three hours by foot as the sun began to set. I much preferred the hiking to bouncing around in the back of the truck! There were three people in the cab and 5-7 in the back, with all the gear.

The girls… me, Sarah, and Virginia. 

 

Here we are with the other truck (with the 3 translators and the pastor, who added to our team of eight) that was broken down in the riverbed as we were heading up into the mountains. The terrain was so rough I’m surprised the whole truck didn’t fly apart! (Grace!) Below are the beautiful mountains we hiked through to get to the final destination, a mountain village 6 hours from the nearest city. The Haitians were very hospitable and offered us this display of food after our long journey. The bowl contains a goat head- a special delicacy! Our accomodations involved a small shack nestled in the hillside, with a separate outhouse. There was no running water, electricity or refridgeration system. We filtered our own water that was carried up from the river in the valley below us. Caleb and I shared a narrow cot in a small room with three other people. Although we were a bit uncomfortable, I knew these people were giving us the best that they had! div>

As soon as the roosters started crowing at 4:30 in the morning on the first clinic day, I began to wake up. We got up shortly after 5:30 or 6:00am and I walked outside our shack, expecting to have a few moments to myself before starting the day. To my surprise, I was greeted by Haitians lined up ready to be seen by the American doctors! They had traveled early and waited patiently, some for hours, as we registered them and treated them as fast as we were able. We held clinic for 3 days in a row and saw 450 patients. We treated countless women and children for iodine insufficiency and handed out vitamins to everyone. Caleb and Elliott could do some minor surgical procedures and I dispensed medications for blood pressure, acid reflux, infections (bacterial, fungal and worm), skin problems and eye infirmities to name a few. My pharmacy!This view is looking back toward the mountians we hiked through to get to this village. 

 

How these mountain people wash dishes… 

 

and cook food. 

 

This is a woman (below) who had a goiter from iodine insufficiency. Since our last visit to Haiti, this team had successfully treated her iodine levels and significantly reduced the size of her goiter, to the point where it is nearly gone altogether! The people are so grateful for this treatment and some even walked 12 hours to get the medication. Before we came, they had no hope of treatment. It was an amazing privilege to be able to contribute to this project and help these desperate people. I enjoyed working alongside my husband and am so glad we got to experience this together! 

 

– Anna

 

 

What Shall I Say

What shall I say?  What words can describe the growth of a soul, what mind can find adequate expression for infinite power and might?  During the time I was in Haiti in March, we saw many people in the clinic and many new lives were brought into the world, but the most significant things were the outright miracles God did!  I will try to relate a few of them; try to share with you some of the awesomeness and power of our God.

 

A girl was brought in by her family, but her problem was spiritual, not physical.  This girl definitely was under the power of an evil spirit, and several of our team members started praying for her to be delivered from it.  I had never seen anyone who was possessed, much less freed from the power of an evil spirit, so I was a little skeptical about “casting out the devil” though I do believe that people can be possessed by an evil spirit.  But I did not doubt the power of God to free this girl, so I decided I would stay and pray that God would do what He alone can do.  We prayed and prayed for hours, and the struggle in the girl was fierce.  The pastors from her church came and joined us in prayer.  Finally, something happened in the girl, and the power of God triumphed once again over the devil!  It was amazing!  I could see a change the girl’s face, and when she was told what had gone on, she broke out crying.  The work of God did not stop there; when the gospel was presented to her, she gave her life to Christ!  One our translators saw the power of God and gave his life to Christ as well!  My own faith was increased and strengthened, and God filled my heart with joy!  What an amazing God we serve!

 

There are miracles that happen every day all over the world, though I had not fully realized just what a miracle birth really is!  As the hospital was closed, the pregnant ladies came to us when they gave birth.  I got to assist in a dozen births and I loved it! There’s nothing quite like standing by a mother’s side and helping bring a baby into the world!  I asked one of the mothers what she was going to name her son, and she said, you name him.  So I named him Caleb, and prayed that he would grow up into a man of God like Caleb in the Bible! 

“Baby Caleb”

 

God did a few miracles in my own life.  The second day we were there, Timothy’s, Jonathan’s, and my luggage was stolen.  Thankfully they left our passports!  We talked to the people on the compound, and over the next two days our clothes were returned but my Bible and journal were not with them.  The miracle was the fact that God gave me peace about the whole situation.  I kept praying and praying that He would give them back to me, but nothing happened.  The morning we had to leave, I looked around the clinic and was a little disappointed that neither of them had showed up.  I thought “Oh well, I’ll just have to go home with out them.”  We had to leave for the airport at 11:00 am, and thirty minutes before we left I walked into the clinic.  There lying in the open was my Bible!  I was so surprised and overjoyed!  I have no idea who bought it back; as far as I’m concerned it came straight from God Himself!  My journal never did show up, but through it all I’ve learned that He truly is enough for me.  I don’t need “stuff” to live.  I only need a willing heart to serve Him and to bring glory to His name.  I do believe though that at anytime, anywhere, He could give it back to me, even twenty years down the road!

 

We serve an amazing and powerful God, and I ask that you pray with me that His light and gospel will spread throughout the land of Haiti!

Post Earthquake

Haiti-  March 2010

Having been to Haiti previously I was not quite sure what to expect post- earthquake. The first change I noticed was when I arrived in the Nashville, International Airport. There was an aid group checking in that had a “mountain” of totes that were on their way to Port-Au-Prince. The entire trip down I met people along the way that were bound for Haiti. It was encouraging to see other NGOs putting so much into the relief efforts. Once I arrived, it was interesting to see who was really getting the work done. Not to fault the efforts of large organizations, but many of them seem to have gotten hung up in “red tape”, and many of them were stuck in the immediate area around the capitol. Upon arriving at the PAP airport we were shuttled from the plane to a large new warehouse structure where we picked up our baggage and worked our way through customs.  Outside we found the driver that was to take us to Petit Goave, where we would be working on the Wesleyan Compound at our clinic. After fighting the traffic and the heat in Port-Au-Prince we spent the next several hours driving through the countryside. Along the way we saw evidence of the devastation. At one place there were the ruins of a four story building, now flattened like a stack of pancakes to a height of less than six feet. All along the way, the road was unexpectedly broken by cracks and fissures. The area of Petit Goave where our clinic was set up is nearby the ocean. That whole section of the town had shifted in the quake and dropped several feet. Every street going into the area had several places where they had to dump dirt to form a ramp to smooth out the drop off. The Wesleyan Compound was beautiful with its location by the ocean facilitating a cool breeze off the water. The building that we were using for our clinic was mainly being used for a pharmacy, with one end set up for OB and neonatal care. Surrounding the clinic building was an assortment of canopies, tarps and benches where we treated patients. We also had one wooden outbuilding that The U.S. Marines built us, which we were using as an ICU for patients that needed more than walk-in and walk-out care. After we dropped our luggage in the various tents where we were to sleep, we quickly got started helping with the patient load. The first several days passed with a flurry of activity. Emergencies and mothers coming in to deliver their babies continued 24 hours a day. The first evening there we devised a plan of primary and secondary OB and trauma teams to manage through the nights that would allow for those who were already there to get some much needed rest. Being an EMT-IV, I was assigned to Trauma team 1. The first night we spent most of the night taking care of various injuries that came in. Over the next several nights we had motor vehicle accident injuries, a gunshot wound (the result of a “cited” intervention by the police in a robbery???), a security guard who was assaulted with a machete, and various other trauma cases. Following the earthquake our clinic was providing the only medical care to the area. The Notre Dame hospital in Petit Goave had stopped operations for a number of weeks due to staffing problems and other issues. One of the goals for our time there was to gradually shift the medical care back over to the hospital without overwhelming them with a sudden transfer of all fields of patient care. One area of care that we were providing was OB and delivery. Several nights we had 2 or 3 mothers walking the compound between contractions, waiting for imminent delivery. There were so many deliveries that everyone got to assist in as many as they cared to and there were still plenty more to deliver. We had many patients for whom we provided the best care we had available and prayed for them, trusting the healing power of God. There were several cases in which it was very obvious that it was the healing hand of God that made them well. One of those cases was a young girl that presented with cerebral malaria. She came in already in the coma stage of the disease. At this point it is very critical to get IV treatment started immediately. We were able to get an IV started and started the medication. The problem was that we were not sure if she had been brought to us soon enough for the treatment to take effect before it was too late. We spent hours praying over her and finally she became responsive and definitely took a turn for the better. We cared for her through the night and the next morning she was well enough to go home. Even though we spent many nights with very little sleep, God gave us the strength to continue in our efforts and we were able to help many people. By the end of our time there we had accomplished a complete shift of all aspects of the local medical care except OB and some of the nighttime emergencies. These were to continue to be phased out over the next several weeks until the hospital was able to handle everything. We were blessed by many volunteers that worked alongside us in our efforts, and also with monetary support that was and still is a vital need to our continued ministry. Also as we were shifting the care back to the local hospital, we were preparing to move to a new location several kilometers away in the small town of La’Cule. We spent hours sorting through our supplies, packing them in boxes, and trucking them to the new location. Our work continues there as we provide medical care to that location and also use it as a base for our mobile clinic. We continue to make trips into the mountains, taking along our buckets filled with meds and hiking, sometimes several hours, to reach the remote villages. We treasure each of your prayers and other support in any way God lays it on your heart to help. We recognize that even our best efforts without the blessing of God and the support of His people would amount to very little. Please continue to pray for the work in Haiti, that God would continue to give us guidance in directing us to the areas where we are most needed. Also that God would continue to work in the hearts of the people as we share the good news of the Gospel, that souls would be saved and that the power of Satan would be vanquished across the country of Haiti.

Jeriah

 

Blessings to you! I wanted to write a small update about a project I was privileged to be involved with last week. There was a group of medical students from a University in Memphis, TN that has picked up a vision for helping a group of people in the south (near Jacmel) that have goiters. This area is a 2 hour walk from a very remote and almost impassable road, the closest main road would be a 4 hour walk from this area. We left Monday morning and headed out that direction. First we went to T-Goave and dropped some things off that we wouldn’t be needing until later. Secondly, we were supposed to meet another Brother that would be going with us in his own vehicle. Well, his vehicle broke down so we ended up piling his stuff and all the people that were with him, into our vehicle, this made for 16 people plus all our things and medicine in one vehicle! Thankfully, we had a good 4 wheel drive truck that could handle the weight and we were able to get within 2 hours of our destination, from there we huffed and sweated our way up the mountain trails. The natives very kindly carried our many supplies and medicines on their heads.
As we climbed, we started to climb into the shadow of “Mon La Selle” the highest mountain range in Haiti, topping over 8000’ high. Oh no, I hope we don’t have to go all the way up there! No, no the natives said, we will only go part way up into the shadow of that mountain. Wow, maybe we will be able to make it after all!
After 2 ½ hours of walking we arrived at a small church house perched up on the side of the mountain, this was our destination. We were graciously received by a very eager and excited group of people that had been waiting on us almost all day long. They already had a meal prepared for us, so after resting for awhile, we had a nice time sitting around eating and rehearsing our little trip up the mountain. That evening we had a church service there, a brother from our group preached the message, the church house was well filled with people and it was a blessing to hear them fervently singing and praising God. After service we passed through the icy cold shower and laid down to try to sleep.
The next morning we began seeing goiter patients at around 7:00am, we had a few other interesting cases come in that morning. One was a 10 year old boy that had an abscess in his one finger that was causing his whole hand to swell up and giving him lots of pain. I had the privilege of trying to hold him as we numbed his finger and lacerated the abscess, needless to say it was exciting! We worked hard that day and did end up seeing quite a few patients but there were some that we had to send home to wait until the next day. That evening we held another service, again the house was well filled with people eagerly waiting to hear the word.
This is now Wed. morning and we are needing to leave by noon today to head out to Fon Doux where we will be spending the rest of our time, the problem is that we have about 80 people sitting here in the church waiting to be seen! Oh boy, this spells trouble! The doctors all tried to work as fast as they possibly could so we could see all these people, in spite of working until noon, we still had to send about 25 people home without being seen.
As soon as we could, we packed up the remaining medicines, ate lunch and got ready to leave. But alas, it started to rain… and rain it did! We waited for a short time but then the natives said that we may as well go because it isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so we launched out into the rain.
Within 5 minutes we were soaked and the trail conditions were rapidly deteriorating. We slipped and slid down the mountain trying to stay right side up and keep from falling over the edge of the cliffs. For those that have been here, you can fully understand how hard that can be on these steep mountain trails! Thanks be to God, everyone finally arrived safely at the truck, some took a few small tumbles a few times, others went up the mountain trails on hands and knees when they couldn’t walk up because of the goopy, slimy mud. The rest of the trip went fairly smoothly as worked our way back across the curvy mountain road towards T-Goave and finally Fon Doux.
We arrived at Fon Doux in the dark and were greeted by a small group of people waiting for us. They had a room all fixed up for us there in the school, it was a wonderful sight after a long day of travel. We arranged our things and laid down to sleep…but, the rain began to fall and it came right through the roof onto us and our nice dry beds making for very uncomfortable sleeping conditions. We finally ended up moving many of the beds and luggage in order to try to stay out of the waterfalls cascading from the roof above us. We survived the night and thankfully had a nice sunny day the next day and were able to get everything dry again.
During the day Thurs., Bruce had some guys put tarps on the roof so that in case rain fell again that night we wouldn’t get all wet. It was a great idea except that the tarps were about 3 feet too short and so when it rained the next night almost the same thing happened. It wasn’t quite as bad but still created mini lakes in the rooms.
I thank God that all of the team members suffered with a glad heart and no one got upset at me for getting them into such a situation. It was indeed a trial for our patience as we would get soaked during the night and didn’t get much sleep but still needed to see many, many patients during the day.
Friday afternoon after seeing over 200 people during our time in Fon Doux, we packed up and headed for Port-au-Prince. On the way we drove through a bad down pour of rain so everyone got to get a little more moisture on their skin. No problems with dry skin on this trip!!!
God was good, the whole trip was a blessing and we trust we were able to be a blessing to others as well. I am thankful for God’s protection over us each step of the way, there are many dangers when traveling here in Haiti, whether by foot, by vehicle, or by mule. -Jeriah Mast