Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thoughts since my last Haiti Medical Missions Trip in July 2012

It's been a while since I have last posted & since have been back to Haiti in July 2012....but wanted to share what I recently shared at a Church when I spoke about Haiti. Some thoughts from my journal that I have to remind myself of,especially when I am back continuing my studies and waiting to get to return to Haiti. 
     My Journal-- We quickly realize how truly privileged we are where we live.  Most of the world lives in poverty, and is much more impoverished than even our homeless people, for they do not even have clean water to drink.  They have not chosen this life, but are here just like us for a purpose!  We are the ones that are sheltered, we need to get out into the world and share with others about the God that saves, that died for us to have eternal life with Him.  We get so caught up in our busy day to day lives, our jobs, our sometimes selfish ways to find happiness, to search for contentment, for more money, for love from others, for acceptance, yet we loose sight of the whole reason we are here on this earth for this momentary time, to serve others, to share the gospel, to worship, to love others as our selves, and live as Christ did.  This puts in perspective our true need for Jesus, and basic needs to live.... of water, food, medicine, and shelter.  Our life is really not any better than theirs, we do not need so much, and in many ways these people are more strong in their faith, having to place all their trust and hope in Christ to live each day.
"The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet"- Fredrick Buechner

   I have been extremely blessed and learned much from the Haitians. 
Psalm 13 9:10: "Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
-Praying the Lord will provide and Guide me where & how to serve this Summer in Haiti 2013.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Saturday, December 17th, 2011 came all too fast and it was time to leave……

……such a sad day for me as always.  We arrived early to the airport, so there were no problems getting through and onto our flight. I always enjoy meeting others in the airport in Port-au-prince hearing and learning about what they did while in Haiti. I met one gentleman, who volunteers with Florida Baptist Men, he had come for two weeks to oversee the construction projects that they sponsor. They have employed Haitian workers to construct new homes for families whose home was destroyed by the earthquake.  It was not long before our group was called to board, and in about one hour and 45 minutes we were in Miami. It always amazes me stepping back into the busy airport, in the air conditioning.  Often sad to me seeing how different people are living only a few hours apart. 

                Getting through the airport ended up being quite comical with my team….still very weak I rode with Mrs. Doris on the driven handicap cart to customs.  As we rode my boarding pass flew out of my passport and under the back motor of the cart. We stopped and looked under the motor and all around but could not find it.  We would later find out, through a translator, that the Haitian couple sitting on the back of the cart saw my boarding pass fly out as soon as we had gotten back in the cart and began riding again. Oh well, our driver promised I could get another one printed.   We got to an area where all of the handicapped people sat in wheelchairs all waiting on an airport staff to wheel them through customs according to their flight time.  We were matched with a young man, volunteer that would push Mrs. Doris and guide us to get our luggage.  It was great to get to talk with this young man as we had a long walk through the airport.  He was born in Haiti, and now studies at the University of Florida, a second year student studying Biology, with plans to go to medical school.  I shared with him I had graduated with the same major and am in Physician Assistant School now. 
                As we were talking one of the ladies in our groups thought she had lost her car keys, so in the middle of the floor we helped her go through her entire luggage.  After several minutes of searching, I thought to ask her to check her fanny pack, and behold there where the keys!! She was so happy, and I was glad to help, we packed up the suitcase and began heading towards customs when I realized I did not have my passport!  Oh my….I searched all through my bag, and went back to retrace my steps.  The ladies had made it up to customs already… I thankfully caught back up with them and figured that my passport must have gotten in Mrs. Joy’s suitcase when I was searching for her keys.  We had to pull out of the long line, and as I opened her suitcase I found my passport in the pocket book in her luggage!  I felt so bad….I think we were all losing it haha, but I just had to laugh.  It made me feel better that our airport volunteer, well call him “C” (Chatom) said he had had worse things happen to teams before.  “C” was great to get me a new boarding pass, and guide us quickly through the handicap line to drop off our luggage and go through customs. 
                When we finally arrived to our terminal, thankfully we had a six and a half hour layover, so there was no running involved.  Then the neatest thing happened, right as we were giving our new friend “C” tips, I am not sure what exactly happened but the Lord took over.  I am not sure what one of the ladies said to him, “God bless or will be praying for you”, or what, but he began to ask questions to the ladies.  Apparently he had become a Christian when he was younger and had gone to church, yet now being in school he had stopped going to church.  Learning about science in school was making him question the validity of the bible, and question God’s existence.  It was in the midst of the busy airport we stood in a circle, and it seemed as if the world paused for us to share with “C”.  Mrs. Clara had her bible with her and as he shot out question after question, the ladies knew where to find the answers.  They read him scriptures, and talked with him for several minutes about his deep questions.  I stood by his side, and shared with him… being a science major I know what he is learning, what he is going through. He said he had many doubts and had been praying but did not feel like God was answering his questions or revealing Himself.  I told “C” though that God did answer his prayer today, he did not realize but out of the thousands of people here in this airport today God sent us to help answer his questions.  I told him, this was an answer to your prayers, God is listening, and continue to seek him having faith he will answer.  I was amazed at how God matched us up that day, using Doris’s handicap to need this gentleman, (getting volunteer hours for school) to be able to bring the answers he needed to hear from God.  I gave the young man my email address, and told him I would mail him a book I had. For some reason I remembered getting a book when I was in school by a Christian speaker who had written about how God and the bible are true, and proving it analytically, through science. I am praying when I get back to school to find the book, and plan on mailing that and a bible to him.  I was so thankful that day that God continued to use us even in the airport of Miami. Our long layover had been exactly what God had planned. 
                Though I would remain in some pain, and have nausea that entire day throughout the flight God answered my prayers and gave me just the strength I needed to get through the flights and airports that day.  After boarding our plane for Charlotte around 10pm we waited on another team coming from Port-au-prince.  We soon learned that shortly after we had left Port-au-prince the airport system shut down, and they were not able to print boarding passes.  This delayed the passengers for over two and a half hours.  Wow, just to think if we had been stuck in Port-au-prince we would not have had the chance to talk to “C”.  God is good and he did get that team to make it on our last flight to Charlotte.  I did not go to bed that night till a little after 3 am, but was thankful we made it home safe. I learned later the other three lady’s flight had been delayed, and they did not get home till 4am! I am so thankful for God’s protection on them.                    
                 I was able to sleep a few hours and my body’s  clock woke me up early. I was able to get ready for church, and was so blessed to have the energy just enough to go to worship. My pastor asked me if I would share a brief word to the congregation before the sermon. I had not prepared anything but was so thankful for the opportunity that I briefly shared my thanks and gratitude for their support and prayers for the people of Haiti.  How we saw over a 1000 patients that week, and had 4 salvations.  How I was able to see the impacts of the medications, clothes, toothpaste and glasses on the people’s lives in Haiti. I also was able to visit with the Runk Family, a couple and their two young children who are working with Global outreach and staying in Haiti for two months.  They have to raise their own support, and are learning about all of the operations that Global outreach conducts in Haiti (with their school, orphan ministry, running a burn clinic, and more.) I was able to hear their testimony of their children being able to give out Samaritan’s Christmas shoe boxes to the children at the school, and how excited they were for toothpaste, and the small items hidden inside.  This is what Christmas is truly about….in Haiti there are no lights, no Christmas trees, no presents, no Santa.  But there is love for the Lord, thankfulness for this Son sent to earth as a baby, who would grow and later die for our sins so that we may have eternal life in Christ Jesus.
                 I really had wanted to stay in Haiti another week, but our coordinators and all the workers were on Christmas break for two weeks.  It was exciting the last night helping Mrs. Wanda make packages of needed items for each of our worker’s families.  They would receive this gift the next day at the Christmas party; Wanda had been cooking and preparing to have for them.   This is the true meaning of Christmas… and as I think about the Runk family spending this Christmas in Haiti, I think what an honor is would be to serve their during this special time of year. 
As I have been home these last few days, I have been tired which is expected, but I have also been sad.  It’s sad to leave a people so in need, leave a place where you feel called to be…. to serve each day.  It’s hard to come back knowing how much suffering is going on in Haiti. Yes in many ways life is easier here, there is air conditioning and heat when it is cold, there is electricity, and a bed, yet I can only think about the children and people I have left.  When I got back Sterling sent me an email saying, “I would like to tell you how special you are, I always wanted to compare you with Jesus, who left his throne to come to this cursed earth to support, save and help people. I congratulate you for your courage. You left your beautiful country, and house to come in a dusty, and dirty country like Haiti where the heat is really exaggerated. It’s really nice of you! That’s also gorgeous! With all my heart I love you, and may God bless you!”  I told Sterling, “It is nothing to leave my country, I love Haiti, and the beautiful people God has called me to serve there.  I cannot wait to return, I miss the heat, for it is too cold here for me lol.  The material things in this world are nothing, I despise how many are so greedy and about things, but things never satisfy, and they never bring joy.  I put my faith and hope in the One who will never leave us or forsake us.  I would absolutely leave my home and things here to serve, hoping to serve God more long term, and cannot wait to return to Haiti in at the end of July. “ 
I continue to keep the Haitian workers in my prayers for the struggles they are facing and the encouragement they need in their lives.  For "Ste" and her children, for Dr. F now living away from her sister, for Dr. M and Dr. V now living their new life together as husband and wife, for "Mic" and his fianc√©, for "Sta" and his family with the recent death of his grandmother, for "Mik" and his application for a college scholarship, for "To" and "Tha" in school and their mother, for "Ma", for "Wil", his schooling and his family, for "Ju" and family, for "Inn", his new baby and wife, for "Pi" and family, for "Fr" and his school and car wash, for "Rom" for work and his fianc√©, for "Rol" and her family, for "Jor", for "Sop", and my little Venia, her family, and baby Rachel and her mother, and others.  I pray that the Lord bless them and keep them safe, and give them strength, and purpose in each day.  I thank you for each of them, their hearts of service to you Lord, and their gifts, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of their lives!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Totals for team 102: Total patients seen that week= 1704, and 4 people accepted Christ!!

That week the patients were educated about HIV/AIDS, dental hygiene, cholera, and told about Christmas J.  This week we saw many patients following up for high blood pressure (many BP’s I took in the 200’s/100’s), as well as many Diabetics for blood sugar checks.  We saw many sick younger children with colds & viruses (bronchitis, cough, rhinorrhea, fevers, and diarrhea). Many with skin infections (Tinea capitis, Tinea dermitis, Impetigo, scabies, other fungal infections, and I even saw one lady with shingles).   Several children and a few young adolescents had fevers (from upper respiratory infections, possible malaria, or typhoid).  Others with UTI’s, pains and aches, acid reflux/gastric ulcers, malnutrition, almost all with anemia, and some with worms.
                Since NCBM responded to help the people of Haiti after the earthquake, we have seen 124,847 patients, and had 1519 salvations!! Wow praise God, and I pray for this upcoming year 2012 that God may do even more amazing works through the NCBM teams and Haitian medical teams serving at the mobile medical clinics!!
Market Day
o          NCBM, have some of the most amazing Haitian employees, Christian men and women serving their Lord and their people with such humble hearts.  They are dear friends and I am so thankful to serve with them through NCBM.  One worker writes: "I live in Port-au-prince I work and NCBM in pharmacy and as a translator (I learned english at school). I appreciate the things NCBM is doing in Haiti for about two years, helping the homeless and the sick people after the earthquake.  It's the first time in my life I have been employed, I pray God to bless all of you, thank you for coming to help my people and me. I have a reason to pray for all of you, I’m so glad to work with NCBM, and for my first time it's a good experience in my life ,God bless you."- Michel

Clinic Day 4: Tent City & Minoterie/Lafiteau Clinics = 260 patients..Clinic Day 5: Luly & Archaie clinics = 272 patients.I was unable to go to these clinics due to sickness

     I am unsure what I actually had, or how I got it but I was violently ill, having to have 5 bags of IV fluids, IV antiobiotcs, and dextrose for the large amounts of fluid I was loosing.  It would be some of the longest hours of my life being in such pain, but God was so faithful and I was able to get better for the plane ride home.  Although this was not at all what I had planned, God taught me new things during that time. During my time of pain I tried to  think about the sick patients in Haiti whom are outside, sick and lying on the dirt, no bathroom, no IV, no doctor, I tried to think of the little child whom I may have gotten this illness from, and it broke my heart to think that even if we gave that child antibiotics, without IV fluids, they probably will not make it this night. That Friday,  for the first time I did not have the nauseating pain in my stomach, finally the antibiotics were working!! PRAISE THE LORD….I was so thankful!!!  I was able to stand, I was able to walk over to the front screen door, and listen to the team as they gathered circled, hand-in-hand to sing a morning hymn, and pray for the day.  It was a praise to stand and sing with them from the door. I hated not being able to help at clinic, but was just so thankful to be getting better.  I progressed to sitting in a chair with my IV I recounted the devotional I had lead Tuesday night. The verse was from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  In this passage Paul is praying to God to remove the “thorn in his flesh”, which was causing him constant pain.  It was such a deep difficulty that Paul pleading with God to have his suffering taken away.  Although God did not remove the painful burden Paul had, He answered his prayer promising something more….His grace.  God not only gave him his grace for this particular difficulty but promised his grace throughout life, in every trial.  Though Paul would suffer, he was still able to exalt the name of Christ.   When we are helpless….God’s strength and power is even more evident and able to shine through.  “These struggles we face are opportunities to fulfill God’s purpose as a Christian, more than we ever could in a pain-free life.”  This week I did not believe that this devotional would manifest in my life, so readily, but God’s power was an answer to my prayers this week.  I originally presented this devotional thinking only of the Haitian patience and what they endure in their daily struggles and pain, but God taught me first hand I needed his grace too this week. 
 When I was weak on my knees and in pain, all I could do was look up to the only one that saved me, and could be my stronghold to heal me. 

               That afternoon I could not wait till the workers and team returned. It was great to visit and fellowship with everyone.  It was so hard for me to stay at the house, wishing I could be helping the patients.  I felt so bad not being able to triage, knowing it took them a lot longer to see the patients.   But I knew that God still had purpose for me even through my sickness. I was able to talk more and get to know better the Haitian house keeper.  I also was able to be used to help one of the Haitian workers "Mik".  "Mik" is one of our translators, and he works week after week with new teams of volunteers to work all aspects of the clinic from triage, to the pharmacy.  He is a very hard worker at clinic and in his studies.  He has worked hard to win two certificates in an English program, and is striving to get a scholarship to go to college.  I have been able to be in contact with him some from the U.S., lifting him up in prayer as he has taken a test and been in the process of filling out an application for a scholarship to a college in the U.S..                                          
           The last clinic day "Mik" shared with me that one of his references fell through and that he would need one more reference. I told him I would be honored to write him a reference letter. Late that night I began to write the letter for "Mik".  Still with the IV in my arm, I got very good at typing with one hand on the computer.   "Mik" would then come the next morning all the way back from Port-au-prince to get the letter, and have me fill out one more form.  I am amazed by his dedication, and determination to want to go to college even though he does not have the money to afford it.  I told "Mik" I would read over his narrative essay for him. As I sat at the table reading over his life’s story I was so humbled by what he had gone through and endured.  He is one of nine children; his dad was mentally unstable, and had left his mother and family when "Mik" was younger.  "Mik" recalls the struggles his mother went through to provide for them.  He remembers many times going without food….his mother would place a salt cube under their tongue at night to sleep.  Yet through it all "Mik"’s faith in Christ has carried him and his family through.  "Mik" and his brother "Sch" have worked so hard in school, learning English proficiently, as well as other languages of Spanish, and French in order to find jobs.  "Sch" now runs his own business as a travel agent/guide, using his skills of translating, and selling internet access from his router.   "Mik" has such a powerful testimony, and it was evident as I read through his narrative that God has been at work in his life, and is providing for his needs.
 I am almost ashamed at how education in the States comes much more easily to us compared to education in Haiti.  School is Haiti consists of a teacher (sometimes not even paid) using chalk and a board to teach the children.  The children in all matching handmade uniforms sit in the hot weather some on only wooden benches absorbing every piece of information they can.  I know "Mik" has worked so very hard for the chance to go to a college, his family only makes a few hundred dollars a year, yet he says if it’s God’s will he will make a way for him to go to college.  "Mik" also makes it clear that he is dedicated to his people in Haiti, when he finishes his studies he will return to Haiti to use his skills to make Haiti better, to serve the people in the name of Jesus.   Every time I think about the struggles and worries I have with completing my schooling, I stop and think of those like "Mik" who would give anything to have my spot in a University. He loves to learn, and would work so very hard.  Please join me in praying for "Mik" as he begins to apply for a visa, and that God’s hand would be on his application for school. May the Lord provide for him this scholarship and opportunity to continue his education! 

Clinic Day 3: Both teams together in the Mountains of Tapio= 327 patients

    I was so excited today to go to the mountains for clinic, we did not get to see my baby Rachel, as I had hoped…but still it was such a blessed day. The weather was just beautiful, and a cool breeze uplifted us throughout the entire day. Under the large tree we saw the patients.  Hundreds as usual had gathered and were waiting lined up long down the mountain. We carried the tables, chairs and supplies up the mountain. I was so excited to see my little friend, a young boy maybe six years old wearing the same red incredibles shirt I see him wearing every trip. He always stays all day at the clinic helping us unpack and carry our things back down the mountain at the end of clinic. He was excited to see me, his eye lite up, as I gave him a hug, and reminded him of my name. His name is Gregorge.  He has beautiful bright eyes, and such a caring little boy, so helpful, I wonder though he must not be in school.  I was so excited to get a picture with him, and give him a new shirt, which he ran back to his house up the mountain (however I am still thinking he will continue to wear his beloved incredible shirt J ).
When we arrived to clinic they always send the most sickly up first to see us, one woman had brought her sick baby boy, I was not sure why everyone had gathered around him to pray, until I walked over and saw that the baby had a very large hemangioma on the side of his face, that had involved his ear and even his lips. It looked infected around his mouth, and ear, and Dr. Vlad was not sure how long he would make it without surgery, even with antibiotics.  It was so sad to see, but we prayed over him, and pray that the medications heal the infection.
               We also saw one little girl her entire face and lips swollen due to bad allergic reaction, I will not forget her precious face, may the medications heal her as well.  I held many infants that day. We did not have a baby scale so I had to weigh the mom and baby, or myself and the baby and subtract our weights.  There was one baby with severe scabies all over her little body, I was amazed that the baby was sleeping, I could not imagine the itching and discomfort she had to be in.  


Clinic Day 2: We had clinic in Titanyen Baptist Church (other team in Cabaret)= 400 patients total

I was so excited to return to this special church, for this is where last time we delivered baby Rachel. It was great to see two boys whom makes bracelets for us, when they entered the church their eyes widened when they saw I had returned, they were excited to see me J 
 It was great to share with the patients that morning scripture from Colossians 9:1-12 “For this reason, since the day I heard about you, I have not stopped praying for you, and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding….so that you may be strengthened.”  I shared with them that they are so special to me that I pray for them and have not forgotten about them. I am was so happy to serve them that day in the name of Jesus I told them.  Today we had many babies (well actually at all the clinics we had many babies).
  But today I met a grandmother and women who had brought two twin infants to clinic. They shared with me that their mother had died giving birth to them. It was so sad to see they beautiful babies with no mother, what a sacrifice the mother made, her own life for her babies.  Now the grandmother is left to care for them.