Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lock Down Again

Around the 28th of November we were on lock down in the hospital compound, now we are again due to the election results being announced last night. To say the least people are upset and there is potential for some major problems. There is no clear winner since nobody got over 50% of the votes so there will be another election in Jan for the 2 people with the most votes. People are unhappy with the announcement of the 2 leading candidates because it definitely looks like there is fraud. There are going to be problems as long as the current president's candidate gets through. It seems like people don't really care who goes on to win, as long as its not Preval's candidate.

The sky is filled with smoke as people have been burning tires in different places. The airport is closed for at least the next 2 days and the hospital is pretty quiet since most people are not wanting to brave the streets to come out to the hospital. Most of the translators could not make it in today or have left early so that they are not caught in any unwanted chaos. We will see how this afternoon goes because we may be short staffed on the nursing front if the evening shift is not able to come in to work.

We will keep you updated on everything, but please continue to keep the whole situation here in your prayers. Haiti definitely needs the help, direction, and peace that only God can bring.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


Smiling Pretty before Thanksgiving dinner.
Starting from front left is Jessica, Me, Marc, Brian, Sam, Sarah, Terry,
Jeannie, Lynn, Audra, Junior, Azariah

In my last post on my rundown of what happened during November I forgot to mention some of the good things that have happened as well. Of course there was Thanksgiving and we actually took the afternoon off in order to celebrate. At that time we only had long term volunteers (about 11 of us) and so it was a little bit quieter and relaxing. I had the opportunity to try out my cooking skills by making pumpkin pancakes for all of us for breakfast and they seemd to be a hit. It gave us a little flavor of fall time in spite of it being 90 degrees.

For our Thanksgiving meal we transformed the hallway into a dining room and made it look as festive as possible. When Nathan and I last came back from the States we packed our suitcases full of Thanksgiving goodies. The TSA people were amused when they found all these canned goods in our luggage and had to run it through the x-ray machine a couple time, but it was worth it. It was quite the group effort to make a whole Thanksgiving meal on 3 hot plates. Although, since the prosthetics lab wasn't being used we were able to use their oven that bakes the prosthetics and instead baked our stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet yams in it. It worked out well and they didn't even turn out tasting like plastic! It was quite a treat to have all of us sitting around a table at one time and able to enjoy some quiet and fellowship together. It was certainly something to be thankful for. We finished off the day with cherry pie (also made in the prosthetics oven) and games. Perfect!
A week before Thanksgiving Jeannie and Terry Dietrich arrived at the hospital. Terry is an orthopedic surgeon and Jeannie is a nurse and they have committed to being here for the next year. We are thankful for their willing hearts to continue to help out here. It will be nice to have a long term orthopedic surgeon here who will be able to bring continuity to the ortho program instead of having to train in new people each week. We will still be having a few volunteers come, but having a couple long term volunteers in the OR will really help things run more smoothly. Certainly another thing to be thankful for.

There are many things to be thankful for, but I was reminded of it more as I walked down the street today. I went down the road to buy some fresh produce and Mac (one of our faithful translators) took me and Lynn (one of our long term RN's) down some alleys and across some crowded, dirtly living areas to where people were eagerly hoping to sell their goods. This market was right next to the community that lives in the middle of the main road in PAP. Its actually a community of people that have built their shelters in the median of one of the busiest roads in the city. The median is only about 6 feet across and it is lined with shelters made of tin and whatever else they could find. Most of these "houses" are about 6 ft by 5 ft or so. I stood in the middle of the median and was amazed that people would even dream of building there because large trucks and buses were rushing buy honking their horns and causing dust to fly through the air caking everything with a greyish dirt. But for many people that is their home and it has been for some time. Evidently these people were living there even before the earthquake. It boggles my mind, especially when I saw someone who lived there had a little 2 year old playing 6 inches from the road. Obviously they had nowhere else to go so that is how they ended up there. I can't even imagine what living like that is like.  I have no reason to complain about my sturdy room (even if it is inside the hospital still) because its 4 times the size of so many people's house. It certainly makes me appreciate what I have so much more and shows that I don't often need all the things that I think I do.
Digging in!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where did November go?

Wow, it is already December and I never even posted a single thing in November. Here is a quick rundown of November. In the beginning of the month we had Hurricane Thomas, then we started seeing cholera patients at the hospital, ending the month with the presidential elections. Throw in all the regular daily crisis and you get a pretty busy month...which is not too out of the ordinary for Haiti. We keep thinking that there couldn't possibly be more hardship, but then the next thing comes up. You never know what to expect and our hearts just cry out for relief for the people of Haiti. Through it all they are strong and resilient, but it makes me wonder how much more they can really take.

Fortunately Hurricane Thomas didn't do as much damage as it could have. Yes, it certainly caused damage with flooding and some strong winds, but where we were at we just got a bunch of rain. It was earily quiet when Thomas was supposed to hit because we kept waiting for the strong winds, but it was still. Towns just a few miles to the west as well as the tip of Haiti sustained some damage, but we were ok. I truely believe that God kept moving the storm farther and farther west so that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. At one point it was projected to hit around Jacmel, but the eye of the storm went right between Cuba and Haiti. What a blessing.

In case your interested here is a picture to see how close it was to us.

As soon as cholera cases were confirmed in Haiti, we knew it would only be a matter of time before we would start seeing patients at the hospital. They started coming around the second week in November. Since Nathan and I were out the country when our first cases came, Marc Julmeisse  (one of our long term nurses) did an amzing job of helping to set up the cholera tent. At one point it was incredibly stressful for her because a patient at deaths door arrived at the tent and soon passed away. This brought on the difficulty of finding out how to dispose of the body since everyone in the area is terrified of anything having to do with cholera. The hospital staff took the body to the cemetery but word must have gone out that they were burying a cholera body and were chased out of the cemetary with rocks. Nobody was able to give direction on what to do with the body and so after hours of frustrating conversations with different people our medical director was ready to drop the body off on the mayors front door. Finally it was resolved amid much frustration and chaos.

Currently our cholera tent has between 5-20 patients, but we are more of a transitional treatment center for them to receive care until they can be transferred to a cholera treatment center (CTC) that is better equipped. However things have the potential of changing if the CTC gets too full and are unable to receive more patients, then I am sure we will start treating more patients. It has been projected that the worst of it will start hitting around the middle of December. I guess we will find out soon if things don't change quick and it doesn't seem like the help is going to be coming from the government. Nathan went to a health cluster meeting where the current president was in a forum and some cholera experts were saying that Haiti's water system needed to be fixed, but President Preval kind of skipped around the statement implying they simply couldn't fix the water because 60% of people in Haiti didn't have clean water and so it would just be too much for them to fix. He seemed to want to just treat the disease rather than preventing more people from getting cholera. If the root problem isn't fixed its only going to get worse and happen again. Nathan obviously came away from that meeting depressed and upset.

Talking about politics and government, the elecetions were this past Sunday but really don't know where everything stands with that. There was so much fraud that people are trying to throw that election out. Even with a new president in power it doesn't seem like anything will change for the better, but we can still hope. For the past 5 days we have been in a "lock down" at the hospital because we haven't known how much violence and demonstrations there could be. Fortunately we haven't had any truama patients and things have been rather quiet here, but out in the city we have heard different reports. Some of the translators said it was pretty bad by their houses and some of the polling stations. Every single translator that I talked to said they were not going to vote either because they felt like it was too dangerous to go to the polling station or they felt like it was going to be useless to vote. Nathan was getting between 10-20 secerity alerts and so he was determined to keep us all inside the hospital property. Now it looks like it is ok to venture out, but still being very careful. We will just have to take it one day at a time.

All in all, we are safe and God is taking care of us no matter what happens.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Wall

I hit it. The wall that is. Both literally and figuratively. Luckily, the literal part was just hitting the wall and not punching it or I would probably need our visiting orthopedic surgeon to look at a broken wrist or something.

I just got back from watching another baby die after life saving efforts that just weren’t enough. The staff all did a great job but it just wasn’t enough. I guess it took an experience harkening back to my day in Tchad working in a rural 45 bed hospital with one doctor and few supplies to remind me of the absolute frustration in not being able to save someone because of something as simple enough as having the supplies or personnel you need. We have some supplies in great excess (please don’t send anymore rubbing alcohol, crutches, or breast implants). Others, like micro tubing for peds suction is nearly absent. Staff we have too. Most of them don’t have the training they need to respond to this kind of situation. Most of the really qualified doctors and nurses are working with the international NGOs who can pay way more than we can. So what do we do? Bring in trainers and look for better ways to equip our staff, giving them the knowledge and physical resources they need to do their jobs. And that seems to be where I come back in to the equation.

My role here in Haiti is greatly different from that in Africa. In Africa, I was the one doing hands on medical care, bagging neonates, transfusing malaria babies with hemoglobin’s of 2, and being an extra set of hands on an emergency cesarean section because there was no one else around. Here in Haiti, I don’t even take anyone’s temperature. (If we do get slammed by cholera, I’m sure some of this may need to change). Here, I’m the one trying to make sure that all my doctors and nurses have what they need to do their job. And we don’t have it. Not by a long shot. And it’s driving me nuts. Sure, we were already running lean, but this week and over the over the next month or so, two MSF clinics and the German Red Cross are all shutting down. We’re getting referrals from places we didn’t know existed a few weeks ago. Our peds unit is overflowing and still reeks of urine and BO from before you even enter its doors. The suction machine is easily 40 years old and for some reason we still have trouble getting oxygen and all the parts that go with it. To top it off, because of foreign promises that still haven’t come through and because of culture and tradition, we still have a person designated as “key holder” who has to let us in to anything of value. Today that was simply opening the door for the ramp so I could wheel some oxygen to peds. When seconds count, I don’t have time to go looking for a key from a person I can’t seem to find half the time.

So where do we go? Well, even though it still makes me literally sick when I think about this newborn’s eyes rolling back in his head after the decision is made to stop intervening, I really think I needed to see this happen first hand. It happens multiple times a week already and I hear about it from all the medical staff and see how crushing it is for them and many of them are at the end of what they can endure. I didn’t realize how much this all could be avoided or at least given a huge shot in the arm. We need more stuff…

Please read the rest.

We don’t just need “stuff”. We have plenty of “stuff” (I wasn’t kidding earlier about the breast implants). We need basic equipment. We need steady supply chains of the same meds and materials (preferably in a language someone here can read). We need more storage areas. We need more space. We need more staff. We need better-trained staff. We need housing. We need more money to pay our staff and buy the oxygen that costs so much every week.  We need more money for                         . We need more money.

And at the end of it all and before it all we need more God. God has blessed this place is so many ways that I can’t begin to describe. There are so many amazing plans for this place for the future but the current situation is so bleak sometimes. Some things never seem to change.  I need to be reminded daily that “God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting”. It pains me to surrender my life to God that way. I so badly want to just “do” something. But really, if I did it all, I would be taking God’s job away from Him. Plus, we were never created to bear all this sinful world has to offer. He knows that and is why he asks to lay all these burdens on Him. If I truly hand everything over to Him, I will be able to do my job better because it will be Him directing me and not me trying to do everything. And even though I can rarely find the time to slow down long enough to admit this, it really is a great comfort to realize that the God who spoke the universe into existence is still here in Haiti and wants only the best for all of his children.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” – Jesus, Book of Matthew, 11:28-30.


Saturday, October 30, 2010


Today was the first day since we arrived that I had an overwhelming desire to adopt a little girl. Coming down here I knew that there would be many kids with needs, but I told myself that I couldn't let myself get attached to any kids because there is so much need. Up until this point the thought has been far from my mind. Then I held a little girl in my arms today and my heart simply exploded. It was so unexpected that I didn't know what to do. This sweet girls daddy came to us with tears streaming down his face and in anguish because he doesn't know how he is going to take care of her. He can't find work and he can hardly take care of himself, let alone be responsible for a child.

I think what made this situation hit me so hard was at the same moment that this scenario was going on we were in the process of saying goodbye to one of our return volunteers who had decided to adopt a wonderful little boy. I looked over as they were getting into the car and saw the excitement and happiness. Hope was all over their faces. Then I look over at this little girl and her dad and see the turmoil and despair. Its just not fare.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Therepy Session

Sometimes a little therepy is just what you need in order to keep sane. It is amazing how a little time removed from the constant hub-bub while interacting with some furry friend can bring a little bit of normalcy back into existence. Soon after Jessica came somebody brought her this frightened little kitty. She has been named Mianah, but Nathan just calls her Snickelfritz and it just fits because she is such a spaz. She is kind of like a dog in that she follows us around and comes when we call her. She is actually really fun to have around and truely therepy for us. I can definitely see why there are different programs that train animals to help with sick people. She has certainly brought smiles to our faces on many occasions.


We found these kittens back in July and didn't know what
happened to them. But it is obvious that the white one is her.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bassin Bleu

Its been a couple months since we took our little excursion to Bassin-Bleu in Jacmel, but I still wanted to write about it. This was our second trip outside of Port-au-Prince and it was great to get out of the city and cross some mountains to a new area. It took us about 2 hours or so to get there.

Once we arrived at Jacmel it took us a little while to find Bassin-Bleu (the blue bassin), but with the help of a local we were able to find it. We went through some back roads, crossed a big river that looked like it was too deep to cross, and then we kept going further and further into the country and up in the mountains to where we found a little village. This village was in the middle of nowhere, but there was actually even a little gift shop of sorts. It seemed rather out of place, but this little village gets some income off of it.

Walking through the trees and out in nature was so refreshing. It was so good to get out of the city and even get a little much needed exercise. Arriving at the water we soon saw that the river was true to its name and really is blue. It was neat seeing the contrast of the blue water against all the green foliage. We even got to jump from some rocks into the water, but 1 jump was enough for me because it actually was a really long ways. I had to do it because once I had climbed up the rocks there wasn't really another way down, so I did it, but don't really have to ever do it again. Swimming around in the water was good enough for me. It was absolutely wonderful being surrounded by nature again. Being out in God's creation really is soothing for the soul.




Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Hatian Wedding

This last Saturday, Jeanty, one of our translators got married. We were not sure what to expect and since there were several of us going from the hospital we didn't want to be late and cause a commotion. Well, we certainly did not have to worry about that. We arrived when it was supposed to start at 2:30, but it actually didn't really begin until 3:30, and even then, the church was only have full because people just kind of trickled in over the next hour or two.

I started to see why people were not super concerned about arriving when it started because it kept going and going. It was beautiful, but certainly not short. It was a good thing that the bridal party had special seats that they were able to sit at during most of the service. There was singing, then preaching, then more singing by one choral group after another. Most of the music was very beautiful (minus one group of ladies that just kept singing verse after verse that seemed never ending). I really enjoyed all the other choral groups, and even the bride and groom sang in several different songs.

Some things that I found interesting was that the bridal party was announced as they walked in, there were several junior brides, and people crowded around the couple during the middle of the ceremony to get pictures of them. Also, Jeanty had us sit up close to where the ceremony was. For awhile we were the only people sitting there until people arrived part way through the ceremony.

I wish that I could have understood more of what was actually said during the ceremony. I got bits and pieces here and there, but I am curious about what was actually said. Maybe one day I will be able to understand Creole better.


The proud groom

Jessica, Jean Kelly, Brooke, and Albert

They played the accordion!

Me, Brooke Beck, and Jessic Scott. Probably one of the only times
 that you will see all three of us dressed up and wearing make-up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hiding Place

This last week I have found that I just want to hide more and more. I have attempted to do as much work as I can from our room since it is less likely to get a knock on the door, but of course people still find me. Its not a horrible thing to be needed, its just there isn't much escape from everything when we live in the hospital. There is no separation between work and home.

There are always people that need something or things that break. For example, today the water filtration system went out because there was too much silt in the water from the heavy amounts of rain that we received. Because of that we don't have any drinking water. We just busted out our back-up water system and I think it will be ok. However when we were setting up the water system we got word that water was leaking into one of the circuit breakers by the OR and one of our nurses had gotten shocked. Fortunately Ken, our volunteer maintenance man, found the leak and it should be ok for the time being.

Some things are big things, some are little but over time the constant questions and problems all seem to add up. I know its horrible (and I don't always feel this way) but just this last little bit it has come to the point where I walk as quickly as I can between rooms in hopes that people may not see me. There seems to be no escape and no quiet place just to get away to think. The closest place that I have found is the roof of the hospital, but when its pouring rain with thunder and lightning its not the best place to be.

Wishing that I had a secret hiding place, like when I was a kid, reminds me of the Psalm that talks about God being our hiding place. Its comforting because I definitely need that peaceful spot.

Here are the lyrics to a song referencing Psalm 37:2 and God being the hiding place.

You are my hiding place,
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
I will trust in You.
Let the weak say I am strong in the strength of my Lord.

I think that I would change some of the words just a little to better fit our current situation. Instead of "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you," I would write "Whenever I am afraid, overwhelmed, tired, and uncertain (along with any other emotion I may face during the day), I will trust in You."

Thank you God, that you are willing and eager to be a secure hiding place for us!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Beds Arrive!

Finally! The shipment container full of 44 beds arrived a couple weeks ago. Up until now patients have been sleeping on army cots. It was quite a momentous occassion for Nathan because he has spent the last 3 months trying to get the beds out of port. He jumped over one hurdle after another trying to get them released. The process was quite tedious and certainly not straight forward. Everyone seemed to be waiting on paperwork from someone else. Finally Nathan thought that he had every piece of paperwork signed and went back in to find out why they weren't released and the guy at the desk handed him another piece of paper stating that they had changed 1 word on the other copy that he had already got signed, so he would have to go back and get everyone's signature again! Of course Nathan was more than ticked, but he had to do it anyway.

No wonder the rebuilding process here in Haiti is going so slow. There are valuable things just waiting in port to get to people in need, yet they just sit there. The longer they sit there, the more storage fees are acrued, so of course the port won't release them if they can get more money out of the deal.

What a mess it all is! It makes me realize more and more every day just how bad this world can be. Now more than ever I see why God sent a flood and why He will have to start over again. Not to be negative about everything, but this world can't be fixed. We can make it a little better here and there and make a difference for people that we interact with, but this whole world is a mess. Sin is completely destructive and its effects are devestating. The universe has concrete evidence that life apart from God ultimately leads to death.

Thank God that we have hope for the future. I saw a rainbow the other day and was reminded that God is faithful and that He will come through on His promises in spite of whatever circumstances we face. I think a good text that is a reminder of that is Revelation 21:1-5.

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
And there was no more sea.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem,
Coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared  as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be
His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Then He who sat on the throne said,
"Behold, I make all things new."


Thursday, October 14, 2010


At least for the first 6 weeks after we moved to Haiti in June we did not see anything outside of Port-au-Prince. In all honesty we hardly set foot outside of the hospital compound (and still don't often get out much) because there is so much to keep us busy right where we are at. I was beginning to wonder if there was any beauty left in Haiti until we were able to take our first big venture out of the city to Wahoo Bay. A friend of ours, Phil Hudson from CURE, had credit at a hotel a couple hours away and kindly offered to let us stay there. It was life-saving! We hadn't had a break in 6 weeks, literally working through most weekends and for the most part puting in over 12 hour days. No, we weren't doing surgeries, but there is always something going on that needs to be taken care of and it had certainly started to take its toll on us.

It was amazing, as soon as we were in the car away from people and questions I started to be able to relax just a little. Then as we started driving through the city farther away from the hospital seeing new parts of the city, I relaxed a little more. As we passed through the city and the countryside opened up I suddenly felt like I could finally breath normal again. It was as if I had been holding my breath for the last few weeks and was finally able to let it all out and take in a full invigorating breath. The open space, untainted land, and quiet countryside was so inviting. We were driving into a dream that just kept getting better.

When we arrived at the hotel I was spellbound by the beauty of the countryside and ocean. I finally was able to see for myself that there is plenty of Beauty left in Haiti. In a span of about 3 hours after arriving at Wahoo Bay we had taken a nap, eaten some fries, and splashed around in the crystal clear water and were totally relaxed. Those moments were absolutely priceless. Not that we would have wanted to leave after only 3 hours, but we realized that if that had been all the time that we were able to spend, it would have been worth the drive.

It just seemed so unreal. Plus God had a special surprise for us. After the evening rain and the beautiful sunset that it caused, we enjoyed the stillness as the sun disapeared over the ocean. Once it had turned dark and we were getting  about ready to leave we saw something shining in the water...then we saw more and more. They were bioluminescent jellyfish that were coming into this rocky area near the shore. There were dozens of them and it was fascinating to watch them move. It was so fun to experience that the next evening we made it a point to go out at the same time and see if they would come out again. And they did at exactly the same time. They were very punctual jellyfish. I have never seen anything like that so I felt very blessed to experience it.

Our time there was short but wonderful. Having the time to step back and get away always helps to refocus and bring life back into perspective again.



Arial View

A couple months ago a pilot friend of ours, Joe Hurston, stopped by and when we found out that he had two extra seats in his little plane to fly back to Florida for the weekend, we jumped on the offer. Joe has been flying back and forth to Haiti for years. Every now and then when he comes over he brings us little goodies from the States, like lettuce, grapes, and even some peaches. It is such a treat! I never thought that I would miss vegetables so much but often I just crave a big crisp salad.

Flying in a little plane over Haiti was such a neat experience. Like all things in life its great to see things from a new perspective. Being able to fly low over Port-au-Prince and the countryside definitely helped us see the bigger picture.


Some tent cities are organized, orthers are certainly more haphazard. The first picture of the spread out tent city is further into the country where there is more space. In the city, space is definitely limited to the point that some people have taken to building their shelters in the mediun of the road with the crzy traffic jostling by on either side of their "house."


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

13 Month Anniversary

I never got a chance to post about our 1st anniversary, so I will now on our 13 month annviersary. I never thought that we would be celebrating our first anniversary in Haiti, but it is the Caribbean, so I can say that we were on an island just to celebrate.  We actually did get to take a little break from work and Nathan surprised me by taking me out to dinner all the way across town.  He even found some tropical flowers to give me. It was the first time that I dressed up and actually wore make-up, so some of the translators were surprised that it was me. They thought I was someone visiting from another place.
It was wonderful to get away. As soon as we stepped in to the restaurant it was as if we had been transported to a different country. There was a nice calm atmosphere, with a garden, fountain and outside eating area. It was amazing and the food was tasty. It was actually a Mediterranean restaurant as well, so we were delighted to have a different variety of food. I found it amusing that were ordered Mediterranean food in French and were eating it in Haiti.
It is amazing what a little time away can do for our sanity. Nathan did an excellent job of surprising me with such a beautiful place.

Our waiter found out that it was our first anniversay,
so he surprised us with this tasty creation!



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Familiar Faces

 Volunteers come and go, patients come and go, but not all can leave right away.  There are patients that have been at the hospital for months. Others are discharged but may return with bad infections. Then there are still others that just stay because they don’t have a home or family to go to.

A few of our long termers got to go home over the last few weeks. Mia, a happy little girl that had to have her leg amputated after an NGO car ran into her, was here when we arrived in June and got to go home in Sept. I hardly ever remember her being upset. She always had a smile on her face as she hopped around the hospital. I could often hear her calling to me “madame Nathan” from way down the hall.
Miranda also got to finally go home a couple weeks ago. As far as I know she had been here at least since April, maybe even before. Seven months is a long time to be in the hospital. She kept getting infections in her leg, but seems to be doing good now. She had a little harder time than Mia even though she was lucky enough to keep her leg.  When we first got here she would scream late into the night until Brooke (one of the long term nurses who is now working across town but held this place together for months) went in and had a heart to heart talk with her. She wasn’t necessarily in pain, just anxious about her leg and I am sure other things. But after Brooke said something to the effect of, “at least you are able to still have your leg, Mia wasn’t as fortunate” then she quieted down from then on.  It seems like one of the greatest fears that many patients have is that they will have to have an amputation. 
Andre did some  crafts with volunteers
that put on a program for kids
Andre hasn’t been quite as fortunate. He also has been here since we arrived, but doesn’t really have a place to go. Evidently the only family he has is abusive and so not a safe place for him to be.  We don’t know what to do, and so he just sleeps here at the hospital…but he can’t do that forever. There doesn’t seem like a whole lot of options for him, at least not at this time.
Another person that we don’t know what to do with is a baby David and his mom. They have been sleeping in a tent at the hospital, but now that the hospital is trying to move people off of the grounds, she has nowhere to go. She is a teenage mother that was sent away from home because she had a baby.  She wants to give David up for adoption, but all the orphanages are full. It’s a complicated situation for many reasons. It just makes me realize that I certainly don’t have the answers to know how to help her. 

Baby David and his mom

Like so many times during the day I feel at a loss to know what is the best solution for so many people or situations that arise during the day. Need is so great everywhere that it can be overwhelming to know how to deal with it on a daily basis. Several times a day people ask us for stuff or money or to sponsor their kid to go to school, but we simply can’t and I hate having to tell them no. Whether this is good or bad, I feel like I’m becoming numb to it so that it doesn’t hurt as bad when people cry out for help and there seems to be nothing that I can do.

Miranda getting a dressing change
              Nathan and Mia right before
             she left the hospital.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Treasured Trash-Reflections from Sorting Supplies in July

In the Basement, it was a dank and dreary place.
 My job for the week was to sort supplies…boxes and boxes of supplies which were stashed in all corners and crevices of the hospital. Fortunately I did not have to tackle this alone. With the help of the wonderful SIMS team from Loma Linda, Kenny-a premed student who helped out for several weeks, David Harris (who unfortunately has had to go back to school now, but was a great person to have around) and the local staff we got a lot done. Most of the boxes that we sorted contained disaster relief supplies ranging from medical supplies to personal hygiene items, tents, and flashlights. Then there were the many other random pieces of old medical equipment, outdated computers, and mangled beds. Unfortunately all these boxes and old equipment were intermingled in a heap reaching almost to the ceiling in many parts of the storage room making it impossible to get to anything. It was an absolute mess and very overwhelming; however, our clean-up crew soon found that if you just focus on one box at a time eventually a cleared area would start to appear. It was a long and tedious process because in these boxes we normally found a random assortment of band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, gauze and anything else you can imagine. So it was our job to sort out the contents of the boxes and put like items together so that we could at least have an idea of what supplies we had.
It was about the 3rd day of sorting supplies in a dingy storeroom, without lights and certainly no air conditioning, with sweat literally flowing off of my forehead that I started to get sick of all this extra stuff in the storeroom. I just wanted to throw everything away. There were so many random things, a lot of it that was just old machinery that was only good for scrap metal at this point, yet for some reason the hospital was very unwilling to let it go. I thought to myself more than once, if only the local staff could see that this stuff is junk and that by holding onto it they are creating clutter and making it difficult to organize the good supplies that we do need to keep. We even told them that we had good supplies waiting to be sent to the hospital from the US but in order to make room for the new supplies the old had to go. It is physically impossible to have both the new and the old at the same time. It seemed like the hospital staff would rather hold onto what they knew they had even if they couldn’t use it and just let it rust in storage and take up valuable space, rather than trust that something better would arrive if they would just be willing to let the junk go.
In my mind the solution was so obvious and at times I was flabbergasted at the slow progress. Then the overwhelming thought hit me-- my heart is just like this dingy storage shed. There certainly are some valuable supplies in it, but there is also A LOT of things that I am treasuring that really are junk and by holding onto them I am hurting myself. God is offering me some of his beautiful gifts and I can just hear Him saying, “If you just let Me clean up this stuff I have some amazing gifts that I want to fill your heart and life with, just trust me.” Unfortunately it seems that more often than not I would rather hold on to my trash because it is familiar to me, rather than trusting that God has something special for me.
I know that often when people think of the dark dingy parts of their hearts they think of the sins that nobody knows about. When I think about God cleaning up our heart I definitely agree that He wants to purify us completely, but I think he also wants to take the baggage of fear, anxiety, lack of peace, distrust, and sorrow out of our lives as well and replace that type of junk with the fruits of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience etc.  It’s a way bigger heart overhaul than just the secret sins in our lives. God wants to give us an abundant life. It is not just about cleaning up our past, but it’s also about daily living joyfully in Jesus. Sometimes it can be hard to have that joy if we have the foul odor of trash permeating all parts of our hearts and cluttering up our life.
A good Bible text that comes to mind is Ezekial 36:26 which states, “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.” With this verse in mind there are a couple lessons that can be applied to the analogy of the shed and my heart. First of all the shed can’t clean out itself, someone else has to do it for it. In the same way, I can try all I want to physically remove the junk out of my heart but I simply can’t because I can’t do heart surgery on myself. What I can do is give God the ok to work in my heart so that He can change me. But this whole process boils down to trust. Do I really truly trust that God is going to take care of me? Do I trust that he does have my best interest in mind, or do I cling to my clutter of what I can see, even if it is junk and harmful to me, instead of allowing Him to take out the bad and bring in the new?
From an outside perspective it is obvious that the junk needs to be removed, but I just pray that I am not so attached and comfortable with it that I’ll stubbornly hold onto it when God is anxiously waiting to clean up the mess and show me how to truly live. I want to trust him with every “box” in my life and be able to wholeheartedly say like David said in Psalm 31:14, “I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God.’ My future is in Your hands.”
Here are pictures of the different parts of the hospital that we began to organize.
The Red Container, full of relief supplies that have not been touched since the earthquake.

David quickly moving boxes as fast as he can. This room was filled to the roof full of random boxes. But it wasn't just this room, it was this whole building (the aids clinic).

Claudy and me taking a moment to rest after a long day of working in the basement. We had to be careful cause there was mold, mice, and wild cats down here.

Jeanty, one of the translators, helping take supplies from the external storage to the hospital. This building was crammed pack full of mice eaten food, old beds and equipment, and everything else you can imagine.

Julie and the assembly line taking boxes out of the aids clinic.

The pharmacie. SIMS helped get that place whipped into shape.

The spiral stairwell was yet another area where boxes were stashed. It was cleared for awhile, but now more boxes have been put there. So sad.

The tent storage area-yet another secret hiding place for stuff.

And finally, the little closet that was absolutely stuffed full. It was amazing pulling things out of here becuase it just kept on coming. It was like a puzzle trying to get everything out, and when it was removed it was stuff that had probably been stowed in there from when it was first built. We saw some very rustic looking polio braces and other odd things.