Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nothing Left to Give

Empty…drained…used up…burned out... That is how I feel at this moment. Typically when you hear mission stories they all seem to be about great success, saving lives, excitement, adventure, heroic feats and victory against all odds; but what you don’t often hear about is the discouragement, failure, doubt and frustrations that are often a more constant reality of this type of work.  One reason I believe these accounts are not shared as much is because it can’t be packaged into a feel good story that can be neatly tied up and presented as the “mission spotlight” at church. It’s hard to talk about what is uncomfortable, and feelings of uncertainty and failure definitely fall into that category, but even so I am going to share a little of those feelings now because that is the reality of what really happens.

To be completely honest, it is the middle of a weekday and I am at home, curled up on my bed not able to go out to work at the hospital because I have nothing left in me to give. If one person asks me to help solve a problem (even a little one) I might crumble onto the floor and burst into tears. I can’t seem to muster up the strength anywhere inside of me…its just not there. I feel bone dry.

If I go up to the hospital I will be peppered with questions that may not be simple to answer. A volunteer will ask me why they can’t do 12 surgeries when we only have bed space for 8. Another volunteer will be searching for me to find out why the air-conditioner in the OR isn’t working. A patient might tell me they are hungry and I don’t have anything to give. A boy might catch me in the parking lot asking for help to get tuition for school. Another volunteer will search me out because a patient is saying that they can’t afford to buy the medicine even though we just did his whole surgery for free (and then the volunteer will get upset at me because everything isn’t free even though the hospital has to buy the medicine). Another person might stop me to see if I can help sponsor their new business. Someone tells me the C-arm is broken and of course it needs to be fixed immediately even though we might not be able to get the parts from the States for weeks or more. Then I might be informed of planned demonstration in the streets and have to warn the volunteers not to venture outside of the gates. And the list goes on, but I don’t need to bore with the minutia. Most of the questions aren’t difficult or overwhelming in and of themselves, but after constantly being bombarded time after time  it has definitely worn me down.

Looking at everything at the hospital and Haiti in general I am overwhelmed and depressed. The problems are endless and the solutions are slim. Every project that we have on the "to do" list is extremely important to get done in order help the hospital come to a functional level, it needs to have been done yesterday, and yet all projects seems to be stalled out. Every project anywhere in the world is always guaranteed to come across difficulties and setbacks, but here it seems like you have to multiply everything at least by 10 in order to come up with an accurate time-line of when something should be complete.  In fact I just recently learned that Haiti is about 179 out of 185 most difficult countries to do business in. I sure believe that and even though it helps explain some of the difficulties here, it doesn’t make it any less discouraging.

Its discouraging because it doesn’t feel like we are making headway. Its discouraging because we have put time, energy, sweat and sleepless nights trying to “fix” things and yet there is always another problem that turns into an emergency situation. When visiting volunteer teams come down many of them have no idea of what the reality of the situation is here and complain because things aren’t working perfectly. I want to just tell them, “Yah, no kidding, its Haiti, what did you expect?” And then tell them to stop complaining and be flexible. In general I can almost guarantee that a visiting surgery team will experience at least 1-2 if not all of the following: the generator will go out, the air-conditioners in the OR will quit working, the anesthesia machines might not be functioning, the C-arm will brake, the digital x-ray will quit, or the water will go out. Those are just the ordinary things but every now and then a new dilemma will arise throwing everyone into a frenzy.  Then of course there are the added daily frustrations of not enough patient bed space, not enough medicine, slow OR turnover etc. Some teams are great and flow with the difficulties while other individuals get upset when our Internet is spotty or we can’t make lots of photocopies because we are almost out of ink and paper.

It is discouraging on the one hand having visiting teams not understand the situation and make their opinions and suggestions on how things should run differently here (even though they come to these conclusions after and hour or 2 of being here). On the other hand it can be discouraging working with the local staff and realizing that many don’t have the vision to make anything different or better. That many are content to have things stay the way they are because it is comfortable rather than moving forward, making the necessary changes and actually fulfilling the mission of the hospital.

Its times like these that make me wonder what the point is? What is our purpose for being here and are things ever going to get any better? I hope there is hope, but right now its hard to find it.

Through it all, I guess it is teaching me not to put my worth on man’s praise or disproval because it is so fleeting. What I need to focus on is doing the best that I can in every situation regardless of what people think, knowing that I am working for God and not man. That is easier said than done because I want to look on our time here and feel like we have made a difference, that we have accomplished the goals, and made a good impact. Deep down I want people to look at our time in Haiti and feel like we were an asset to them, but honestly I don’t want that to be what is driving me to do good. If that is the case then I will be happy or depressed based off of what people think of me rather than my worth as a child of God.

I want to be able to say with Paul “I have learned to be content in every situation.” I know I am not there yet, but maybe that is our whole purpose of being here... to learn what it means to be content in all situations.

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."   Galations 6:9



  1. I understand completely. My prayers are with you and Nathan.

  2. Our prayers are with you both Amy - We love you dearly and are so very proud of all your hard and very difficult work you have been doing. We want you to know that even though you have both been through so much and things have been sooo discouraging You both HAVE most DEFINITELY made a difference! You both affect all of us, when ever we are together in incredibly positive ways, every time we are blessed to see each other. So KNOW deep in your very SOULS, YOU ARE EACH INCREDIBLE BLESSINGS and GIFTS FROM GOD to ALL who are around you !!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HONESTY here MY DEAR - GOD IS using you and as you put so well He teaches us through the fire we have to walk through as well. Continue to Trust HIM as you already are - There is Light at the end of this darkness and it will be so very sweet to enjoy! :) Love you Dearly and see you soon!!! :)

  3. Amy, u and i only met once, at Kim n Dannons wedding, but I was really touched by ur willingness to dedicate urself to the people of Haiti. Ur blog brought me to tears, bcuz I know what it is to give ur all for ur patients, to want to make a difference, and despite everything u do, very little seems to change. When I was in that place, what I clung to was the story about the little boy who ran up and down the beach, throwing dying starfish back into the sea, one by one....u do make a world of difference to each person u treat, each one u heal....their world is forever changed because of you. My heart goes out to you - God bless u and Nathan and THANK YOU for your- service.

  4. So, I definitely just wrote you a long note encouraging you and I lost it!!! boo!
    Well, to summarize what I said...
    I appreciate your honesty, it makes you and the situation more real. I have not been any where near as immersed in the situation as you have and I have felt serious frustration with how to go about best helping them also.

    I know my opinion of you should not matter, as you said your worth should come from the Lord. However, I do want to say I have seen the difference you have made and I have been impacted by your work myself. You are a constant source of encouragement to me through the mere knowledge of your dedication (constant dedication) to a place that is in such need and means so much to me. You have also been a huge source of help and encouragement as I was one of the ones running to you asking you for help (while I was there and even when I was not).
    Thank you for your service, commitment, and impact you have made. I trust God that He will continue to use the work you have done to impact the lives of the people of Haiti and at HAH.
    I miss you and the time I spent with you at HAH.

  5. I wrote a comment on this blog post when you first posted it, but i guess it never went through! The gist of my message was this, though. First, thank you for taking the time and the energy to be honest and to share the realness of this and thank you for the work you have done in Haiti and the work you continue to do. And also, that I love you very much, as do many other people. I am so proud of you guys and the work you have done. God has worked through you and you have passed on his blessing.

    1. Oh, and this is Jana. I am not sure where simplyamazing came from... haha. Although, you are!