Friday, July 30, 2010

The End of The Most Memorable Experience...

Today has been a hard day....from the moment I woke up I was a bit weapy thinking about saying good-bye to some of the most amazing people I could ever meet. I had to fight back tears all day...our last day at clinic went really smoothly, praise the Lord! But then we(4 nurses) came back and debriefed with the chaplain and his wife which was really great and encouraging. And then got ready for our helicopter ride to the other compound, since that is closer to the airport. The Pilot was gracious enough to let me ride up front with him and he even took my picture!! It was an amazing experience! But when we lifted off, my heart just crumbled because so much of my heart has been left in Haiti...there have been life-changing experiences that have not only bonded a team of people together but hopefully in some way brought glory to the Lord.

It's really late and I need to get up at 5 to head to the airport, so I will write more tomorrow. Pray for safe travel for me and other team members...even some of the long term staff are leaving tomorrow too to head back to their homes and new adventures in life. I can't explain enough how thankful I am for peoples prayers...its been one of the hardest journeys I have been on but the most amazing as well!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

His Mercies Are New Every Morning...

After an extremely gut-wrenching day yesterday, this is the beautiful sky that the Lord blessed us with during dinner!
These are our wonderful interpreters that we worked with...Junior on the left, Charles in the back and Marc-Elie on the right.
This was a view of our clinic in the church building today...triage is the front area, then behind the curtain is where Dr Bourdes sees patients, and then pharmacy in the way back.
Me and 2 of our patients...

We were graced with another beautiful sunset tonight while we were eating dinner...

Praise the Lord for a new day! I have to admit that there was not a lot of motivation to go out and have a "normal" day ( a "normal" day in Haiti is very relative though!) My heart was just so heavy and it was hard to think clearly but then I was greeted by one of my interpreters, Marc-Elie-he told me how thankful he was for me and how I helped his haitian people...I definitely teared up a bit and just felt so humbled. When you work so hard to help give people a chance to live, even though it was slim, its just really difficult to not question if I should have done something different. One of the doctors I have had the privilege of working with reminded us that foreign medical missions is just a reminder of how NOT in control that we ultimately are and that our short time on earth is not what we were made for...we, as Christ-followers, are designed to live for eternity with Him. Back in the states, we are so blessed to have so many resources but its those resources that make us depend on ourselves and not on the Lord.

I was reminded of this scripture today ...

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on oura]">[a] behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Once again, the Lord reminded us that we have to rely on Him to make it through the day and that there are people out there that still need to understand the love of Christ.

And it warmed my heart to know that as were setting our hope on Him, that so many people were "helping us by their prayers." I can't thank all of you who have prayed, sent me encouraging messages, etc...your prayers have literally carried us through this.

Today we went to a new clinic in the mountains called Moyambe...the day went really smooth and we were graced to be able to set up our clinic in their church building instead of under a tarp. And I am so thankful for our amazing driver Harold...he is such a good driver and so caring. I felt so safe with him. And we made it back just as it had started raining and even a bit earlier than expected. It was a blessing to get our re-stocking done and our showers done before dinner. And then we got to once again enjoy an amazing meal overlooking the beach with a beautiful sunset!

Its so hard to believe that I will be leaving here soon...the simplicity of life and great community here has been an amazing gift. And so much of my heart has been permanently imprinted with the events of this trip. It has certainly been one of the hardest trips I have been on, but yet I was taught so much, which I am eternally grateful for. I am so thankful for all of you who have taken the time to just keep up with what is going on down here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Worst Tragedy I Have Ever Seen...

Today was by far, one of the worst experiences I have ever been a part of...the day started as normal as some of us were finishing up breakfast and getting ready for devo at 7:30am and then off to our clinic at 8am. During breakfast we were talking with a guy named Chuck, who just arrived...he is a training manager for SP and had just spent the day before with David, the main security guy for SP, at an all day disaster training. So as we were hearing about all the different scenarios that they endured during the training, David got a phone call- he said "there has been an accident, come with me now". We ran around frantically trying to figure out what supplies we could even bring with us and then we got in the truck and left...I was wondering this whole time where the accident could be and how far we would have to drive to get to it. Well, we didn't have to go very far... as soon as we pulled out of the SP driveway, it was right there.

I found out tonight that 2 tap-taps ( that is their main mode of transportation in which a TON of people pile in or even on top) were speeding and one was trying to pass the other and then they ran into another truck head on. When we arrived on the scene, there were bodies everywhere, many bleeding, some dead. We just tried to find the most critical patients and take care of them with our very limited supplies...we didn't even have gauze!! The first guy I cam upon was bleeding from his head and I pulled off his hat and he had 2 HUGE lacerations on top of his head. So I tried to apply some sort of make-shift pressure dressing. I knew that he had to get to the hospital because he was losing a lot of blood. There was a lady at his feet that was already dead. I was thankful for Marc-Elie, one of my interpreters, who was in the middle of everything and doing whatever we needed him to do.

We got some people loaded up into the back of pick-up trucks (yes, no back boards, no neck collars, nothing)...we had 3 people in ours. These poor people had lacerations, back problems, etc and they had to lay in the back of a truck and travel some of the most horrible roads ever. At one point, my guy who had the head lacerations was actively bleeding more so I have to lean out the back window and apply pressure to his head. When we arrived at the hospital we had to unload several cars of people...we ended up transporting around 24 people. One guy that I helped unload was in really bad shape-he ended up have a genital laceration, his left lower leg was barely hanging on-bone and flesh sticking out, peeing blood, coughing up blood- we kept pumping him with fluids and frustrated because we knew he needed to go to the OR.

After we left him, one of my fellow teammates was helping a little girl that she miraculously found in the weeds...she was probably 2 or 3 and had a broken leg, bleeding internally, crushed chest wall. Kelly, my teammate, was suctioning blood out of her nose too. Thankfully, they finally decided to take her to the OR...this was great but if she went, then I knew that the other guy who desperately needed it was going to have to wait even longer. So I picked up this precious little girl and carried her to the OR...and then we left, hoping and praying that these people would survive. Unfortunately, we found out later in the day that both of these people had died. I can only hope and pray that the little girl felt the arms of Jesus getting ready to welcome her home as I carried her to the OR.

When we got back to the compound, SP pretty much canceled most things and we had a time of debriefing where each individual went around and expressed what they experienced and how they felt. It was so needed and I was so thankful that SP was so intentional with that.

This has been emotionally draining on the whole compound and especially on the nurses...its hard to feel like you did anything effective or worthwhile but we have been reminded that we did all we could with what we had. And when things like this happen here, there is usually not such a quick response. It was God's grace that it happened right outside our compound and we had vehicles available to transport people. And the amazing staff of SP came out amidst the chaos and jumped into help, despite not having medical training.

I must trust in God's sovereignty in all of this and know that He is still in control...and continue to focus on the many graces throughout this experience and how He literally carried us through.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corin. 1:3-7)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Life in Haiti is simple but not always easy...

This was the group that went to the fun!
This was us piling on the boat!!
This was the beautiful view of the beach as we were coming up on it.
Our boat that we took is on the right....I, of course, would have much rather had the one on the left! : )
I feel like there are just not words for this pic....expect just plain cool! Many of the staffers have these hammocks and they are awesome! SO getting one!
This is our crazy jimmy-rigged tent for our clinic today...praise the Lord we made it work!
This is an amazing view from where we had clinic today-Papa Tombre (same place we went last Monday)
This is our room (our room also holds the stock of meds) the end of every day we have to go through and re-stock all of our meds in our totes that we bring out to clinic. This involves counting pills and writing their names on little plastic bags. I, at one point in my life, had wanted to become a pharmacist....after this experience, let's just say that counting pills is not my thing!!

The title of this post is a quote from one of the staff girls as we got off our boat yesterday...our time at the beach was amazing and relaxing but the boat ride to and from it was quite the adventure!! We had a boat that was supposed to seat about 10 people but here in Haiti, things are not as they are supposed to be...let's just say they like to cram as many on their boats as they do their "tap-taps" (their main mode of transportation). Instead of 10 people we crammed on 25!!! And then of course they couldn't get the boat started and then once they did we couldn't even get a good enough speed to get any airflow going!! : ) ( I can't imagine why-I am sure it had nothing to do with the amount of weight that was on it!

Well once we finally got there it was breathtaking...clear water and palm trees and white sand! Despite the beauty you still had the reality of Haitian life....may kids running around with barely any clothes on or some not at all. Its amazing to see the physical beauty of the mountains, ocean, etc and yet still see devastation and destruction and tent cities everywhere. We spent the whole day at the beach and I definitely got some sun...everyone at dinner that night kept asking me if I wanted to borrow aloe! : ) The ride home in the boat was a bit more exciting because the they decided to add 3 more people...I mean, why not, right? Once you have totally gone overboard (no pun intended!) then why not just go all the way! And yes, of course it took us even longer this time to get it started and when it finally did, we had to breathe in a lot of smoky fumes!! Praise the Lord we finally got back!

We had a great dinner and then the Sunday night devo/discussion time...we sang a couple worship songs, talked about James and then broke up into smaller groups to discuss James 1:19-27. It was good discussion and the big point that seemed to keep repeating itself was having a constant attitude of humility and meekness.

Today was the first day that I was on my own in Pharmacy...I certainly prayed a lot and asked for many back home to pray. And I am thankful that I could feel those prayers! Our tent that was supposed to be already set up was NOT set up so we gad to take the time to do that which involved moving some heavy stones. We were exhausted before we even began!! We then saw around 60 patients or so and even got back a little earlier than expected! And praise the Lord, as hot as it was, the Lord still provided some breeze! Unfortunately, our drivers, interpreter and dr all had to sit around for over 2 hours and wait for our medical leader to get back so she could pay them. And Dr Bourdes drives every day 2.5 hrs to come help us and then has to drive home 2.5 hrs in the same day...not to mention he sees patients at his home AND sometimes has to be at the hospital.

I am truly so blessed to get to work with Charles, one of our interpreters...please pray for him. He is asking lots of questions and trying to understand the Lord in many ways....He is enabling us to have great conversations.

I have spent a lot of time this evening counting meds and trying to reorganize some things...I hope all this made sense because I am really tired. Another blessing of the day was going to dinner and seeing the beautiful sunset on the beach with a nice breeze! And then it was weird, right after dinner I went to take a shower and it seemed like it was really muggy again and not as nice as it was for dinner. The Lord blessed us with an amazing dinner experience!

I was reminded of this chapter in Isaiah during our time together on Sun evening...and then there was a great verse that carried me through today....

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blessings and Relaxation...

This is me, one of the other nurses and one of the most wonderful haitian drs-Dr Bourde.
This was our crowd that awaited us on Friday at the clinic.
This is me in pharmacy at our Ft Liberty location.
This is the helicopter coming to pick up Deb and Dr Kara-Deb was flying out on Sat to go home and Dr Kara, who is here long term was heading back to the other compound.

After the intensity of our clinic site on Thurs, the Lord blessed us with a site on Friday that provided some amazing breezes. What a praise! We were once again in a new location called Ft Liberty and we were not aware that a food distribution was going on at the same time we were supposed to be there. So let's just say when we arrived, it was complete chaos with people everywhere and already a line of people sitting and waiting for us to arrive. I spent the day doing pharmacy stuff so I could learn as much as I could before being on my own next week. It was non-stop action all day but once again I was so thankful for our interpreter Charles who helped me so much! We had some great laughter and it was a blessing to get to work with Deb and Dr Kara one last time before they were heading out.

I think one of my struggles is feeling like I am just providing medical care alone and not spiritual care too...we have had some opportunities to pray for people but my prayer for this week is that I would be more diligent in doing that, no matter how long the line is that is standing in front of me. And I appreciate the willingness of Tiffany to encourage us to do that as well. We are hoping to use one of our interpreters, Marc-Elie, to go around and minister to people while they are waiting whether its praying for them or telling them stories about Jesus.

Friday evening was dinner and then a meeting with the staff concerning disaster training including what to do in different situations like robbery, kidnapping, abduction, hurricane, etc. It was very informative and very good for anyone who travels. I so appreciate SP's intentionality with having specific rules and guidelines in place in case of any of these events.

Today, I was excited to get up and NOT have to put on scrubs (they are SO hot!). But we did have to go through and organize meds, re-stock things and even re-do some things that would be helpful for the next teams. I also printed off an eye chart for them to use for the drivers...they thought it would be good to make sure all their drivers can see! ! : ) That is probably a good thing! And then we got to lounge around, had another amazing dinner and then played some volleyball on the beach, with the huge generator providing us light. The sand here is black and covered in rocks so one of the staffers had payed some boys to clear all the rocks so they could set up a volleyball court. SO FUN!! I am so thankful for great community here and an amazing diversity of people from all over the world as well as people with a mile long list of missions experience. Then after the volleyball game, I showered under a full moon! I so love it!

Tomorrow is everyone's day off so we are headed as a group to an island to hang out and veg all day which will be amazing!

Please continue to pray for the Lord to prepare me for this next week...I have some anxiety about it but I know that I need to trust that the Lord has given me everything I need for life and godliness! Here is a good word from the Lord... (Isaiah 42:5-9)

This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

8 "I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.

9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pics From 7/21 and 7/22

This is one of our nurses, Kelly, praying for a patient.
This was our clinic from yesterday (7/21)...we had both teams working together on this day because our team was not going to be able to make it back up the mountain, where we were scheduled to be, after the previous days festivities! This is the triage area

This was one of my youngest patients today...a one month old.
This was our clinic today in Petit Guave...this is a pic I took from the triage area as everyone is sitting and waiting to be seen.
Dr Kara and one my most favorite interpreters, love them both!
Dr Kara seeing a very young patient, with our interpreter Marc-Elie.
The beautiful sunset from the beach at our compound! So beautiful!
This is most of my great teammates...from the left, Dr Kara...Nurse Miriam from PA...Tiffany, who is the nurse and head over the medical area here at this compound....myself (this was my "best hair in Haiti" night according to the staffers!!...Nurse Kelly from Michigan...Nurse Gloria from FL....and we are missing Nurse Deb in this pic.

A Day of Answered Prayers...

We were blessed to have Roger, one of the chaplains here, lead us in devotion this morning...he reminded us of the story of how Jesus healed the ten lepers but only one came back praising and thanking Him. And how we need to be more diligent in just simply thanking those that help us in any little way. We then shared in some communion together in the half done shelter overlooking the ocean (since I have been here the other half of the roof is on as well as some screen on the outside!)

We weren't sure if we would even be able to go to our site today because there was talk of riots all over Haiti protesting the president. The tap-taps weren't running (which is a big truck that holds a lot of people) and that is their main way of transportation. But thankfully, by God's grace, all of our drivers and translators made it in! And we prayed before we left that we would not have any problems with violence and once again God answered our prayers!

Our site today was in Petit Guave, which was close to the epicenter of the earthquake...we did a mobile clinic again at a new location. The SP people went ahead of us and set up our tent (the organization of SP is amazing!) When we arrived there were tons of people sitting and waiting for us. We hurriedly got things set up and started in...I was able to do triage for the first half and then did pharmacy for the second half...I will be honest, I was having a hard time today because the heat in the tent was intense and when I was trying to do vitals, I had mosquitoes flying all around me in my face. After getting a bit dehydrated yesterday, I was trying to be mindful of my fluid intake, but things just get so crazy and there are so many people to be seen that you try to push through. I finally had to stop and take a break. Even after eating and drinking something I was still struggling with not getting irritated while I was in pharmacy. But I kept reminding myself that no matter how much sweat, mosquitoes, dehydration and heat that I had to endure, its nothing in comparison to what these people deal with everyday of their lives.

Once again after getting back from the day we have to recount all our meds and re-stock for the next day. And then I was able to get a shower without rain this evening-Praise the Lord! And Edith, our wonderful cook, blessed us again with a fabulous meal...I have heard that this compound is known for their incredible food and they are so right! I have eaten better here than I do at home!! I also got some amazing pics of the sunset tonight too.

And I can't help but laugh, but after showering I actually took some time to blow dry my hair for the first time all week and you would have thought I went out and got the most amazing hair style done in the entire world!! I came to dinner and everyone was saying how I had the best hair in Haiti!! : ) Well praise the Lord, that certainly was an unexpected encouragement! : )

Another amazing thing is that as you all saw, my computer was literally would not turn on at all. Well, one of my amazing teammates, told me this evening that I should try my computer again...I looked at her and shook my head and said its completely dead. But I still got it out anyway and it came on and is working!!! She then told me when she was working with another missionary, who really needed his computer to stay in touch with people, she decided to lay hands on it and pray for it. She then told me she did the same thing to mine last night when we were all out of the room!! Praise God!!

One thing I am being even more mindful of is my words and even "little" back has been hurting terribly at night and sometimes I don't sleep the best. But then, I am quickly convicted, when one of our interpreters or drivers is with us or directly asks how my night was...and knowing that they all sleep in tents with multiple other people and sometimes have to endure pouring rain all night, I am suddenly reminded how unbelievably blessed that I am. We think that we have so many hardships and complain about so many things on a daily eyes have been opened even more to true hurting people that can still have joy amidst the daily hardships that they endure.

God bless you all for reading this...I will hope fully get some more pics posted soon! Pray for joy and compassion amidst the intense, hot conditions. And pray that the love of Christ would be evident in our actions and words!