September Trip

Duane, Evert and I left for the first trip to Haiti since the middle of February. We talk about our trips there always being an adventure, sure enough our adventure this time started on Saturday morning leaving Miami. Of course there are all the Covid precautions that must be followed… so after boarding the plane which was completely full, not an empty seat. We were informed the plane was overweight, so we sat while they ran the engines for a time to burn fuel, then must of thought more needed to be removed so they literally drove the plane around the airport. That must not of worked to their satisfaction so we returned to the terminal to remove four passengers, The process of asking for volunteers, to paying people to get off, was stressful for all. There were a bit of chuckles as four small people left the plane. Guess what….. now we don’t have enough fuel for the trip, so we wait for fuel. It just kept getting better, we are then informed that we needed new pilots because they will run out of time they can fly, so we wait… Finally leaving two and a half hours late. We arrive in Port Au Prince after five hours sitting like sardines, shoulder to shoulder, so the logic of loading row by row to maintain social distancing made all kinds of sense. Well it continues… because of all the unrest in Haiti, we have been flying to Cayes. Our pilot had left to fly someone else by the time we got to that terminal. We realized that there is no night flying in Haiti our time to get on a plane and not have to find somewhere to send the night in port, was pretty short. We were assured the plane would be back and we would get to Cayes (the pilot would have to stay in Cayes and fly back in the morning). The plane will be here in 5 minutes, a little fuel and you will be on your way. Yea, right we thought. We were happy to see the plane land a few minutes later. Guess what they couldn’t find the fuel truck, now there was a little panic…. After a couple minutes, here it came from the international terminal, we might just make it. Not yet, they could not get it to pump fuel, at one point two men were under the truck trying…. After a few minutes, we saw the hose just and fuel flowed. We ended up landing in Cayes a little past dusk. So much for a easy short travel day.. Evert did enjoy being able to fly the plane most of the way….

We haven’t been able to get to Haiti for over 6 months, so we were very happy with the condition of the hospital; there is a growing pride in the Mission at CSL. This is a little of the fruit of several years of trying to cultivate that attitude. As a whole they have done a very good job during this trying time. We stayed open during this whole Covid time. When a lot of services were not available, our staff showed up and served the people. We are so Thankful to them.

Dr William is back after almost 6 years doing his Surgical residency, ( he needs to complete a research project by the end of the year) everyone is excited to have him back. We are excited to be able to offer services we couldn’t before. He will be putting a lot of focus on training. We are looking forward to lot of changes in how we operate.

We must acknowledge the staff that has had to handle additional work load during this time. Dr. Moise and Welser have handled the bulk of the load… Thank You.

Duane, Evert and our Haitian construction team were very busy preparing for several work teams who will be coming to CSL in the next 4 months, to remodel our Dental building into offices for the USAID program, Replace and reinforce the roof on the in-patient area to support future Solar panels, replace most if not all the doors in the whole facility with steel ones. (Despite our efforts to control the termites they have had a feast on a lot of the door jambs.) and to prepare the electric supply for Solar system as well. It was HOT, it took a toll on them.. Of course the list of normal repairs was large and was worked on everyday as well.

The week was filled with meetings discussing many aspects of the Ministry. Our goal is that everyone who enters our gates will see and hear the good news. We continue to encourage our staff to show that love. In a country where life is as hard as it is in Haiti, we are encouraged with the progress being made.

Times are always hard in Haiti, but they are extremely hard now. We are seeing an increasing need for use of our Poor fund. We appreciate all of you who support the work we do in Haiti, and hope you continue.

Thanks for your support.
Dan, Duane and Evert

The Haitian Donkey is back in the Hospital


This is Bill’s son James sending this message to all of the prayer warriors for Dad. We wanted to let you know that my wife Jenn took him back to St. Mary’s hospital early this morning. He has a fever that has spiked as high as 103, likely from another infection. Pray that the hospital staff will be able to get his temperature down, and get him stable again. His condition does seem to be quite serious, but it is a little early to say how much so. We will update you as to any significant changes. If you do have any questions, I will try to monitor Dad’s email and reply if possible. Pray also for Jenn as she is the only one currently allowed at the hospital. 

We appreciate the support all of you have given to the Haiti mission, and to our family, over the years, and look forward to that work continuing far into the future.

God bless,

James for Dr. Bill, Jenn, Rachel, and our dear friend Tabitha

The Haitian Donkey Faces A Fork In The Road Again

Hi All:

Since I last updated the situations, the protruding tumors out of my ostomy site have continued to grow, making it a struggle to contain them and the intestinal output the colostomy and ileostomy contribute to the bag.  We have looked into various options, they make larger bags, but they don’t have fasteners on them as the ones I presently use have loops that I can attach a belt to and thus encourage sticking to my skin.  The larger bags are made for patients who are pretty much bedridden for the time, so we are still looking into options.  

One thought I had was to consider radiation therapy, somewhat risky for intestinal tumors as the intestines, bladder and lungs are especially sensitive to the radiation, while the tumors may not be.  I thought I would contact Dr. Bartlett at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as he has done over 1000 of these surgeries and likely had some experience to comment on.  I called his nurse, the recording mentioned to push various buttons for a number of different surgeons, but no Bartlett.  Searching on the internet showed that, after 19 years at University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Bartlett had been enticed by the other powerhouse in the Pittsburgh medical realm, Allegheny General Hospital System, a promotion to head up all their cancer research and work 3 months ago.  The internet stated that he would be busy with administrative duties for several months and then restart clinical practice and research.  The donkey decided that my chances for getting through to him in a new, unfamiliar system would be unlikely. Dr. De Cook thought that radiation might help shrink the growths sticking out of my abdomen and give us some relief in the way of controlling the output.  I made an appt with a radiation oncologist and saw him last Thursday.  He was very nice (I knew him a bit from surgical residency, he is 75 but loves his work and thus still doing it), examined me well, but finally felt that he figured he would do more harm than good.  

With this news, Rachel decided the donkey gave up too easily and contacted Allegheny General and was able to connect with Dr. Bartlett’s new nurse navigator.  The nurse promised that she would have Dr. Bartlett call me this week when he returned from vacation.  I was skeptical, but was amazed when he called me at 9 am this morning and we discussed options for a bit.  He wants a repeat CT scan sent to him, he will get my records from UPMC and consider the case.  One option he presented was to repeat the surgery he has done 3 times on me already, an extensive, 15 hr marathon with a lot of risk, needless to say.  It carries a greater than 5% mortality, as hours under anesthesia, lots of scar tissue, etc, make this a land mine infested territory to travel through.  However, I am not sure what reasonable options remain, other than just watching the tumors grow, leaking bags to try to control the outgoing intestinal contents and always smelling a bit off due to the situation.  

Dr. William called last weekend, he hopes to be done by August 31, though still has to write and defend his thesis by the end of the year.  Dr. Luke Channer has been helping him with getting access to information via the internet, as I am out of my element in that area.  Thus, I am excited about arriving at the end of this long struggle to be able to provide 24/7 surgical coverage for the hospital, our dream for the last 17 years.  He already has done an evangelistic campaign during the summer with a pastor and they have a group of about 60 new believers who are meeting under a borrowed tent until they can arrange for a bit more permanent accommodation.  I am excited that he and Dr. Moise do this in the summers and a new church is being formed in the area.  It will also be good to have him back home with his 5 active sons, undoubtedly a relief for his poor wife after all these years.  Pray for a good adjustment as he reintegrates back to the hospital.  Overall, the hospital seems to be functioning well, Covid doesn’t seem to have hit Haiti anywhere nearly as hard as it has been reported to strike the US and other countries, how to interpret that is unclear.  I have not been able to contact Dr. Moise since we talked on Saturday, so not sure how they survived the hurricane on Sunday yet.  

So, would appreciate prayer for wisdom for the Donkey as he considers the alternatives before us.  The huge repeat surgery would be risky and difficult, but I must admit I don’t enjoy much having the tumors on my belly either.  So, will get the repeat CT scan and see what Dr. Bartlett suggests and go from there.  As always, thanks so much for praying for us, supporting us in that way and so many other encouragements.  Will update you as we get more information.

In HIs Service,

Bill, Dan, Duane, James, Jenn and Rachel

Treading Water

Dear Family and Friends;     Thank you so much for watching, praying and asking about us as Tropical storm Laura passed through Haiti yesterday.   We are very thankful for the Lord’s care and that the river wall held firm through the flood.    The yard was full of water, but other than banana plants, there was no damage done. 

Our Sunday school helpers have faithfully delivered “Manna Packs” for 4 months now going from home to home on both sides of the Ravine.   These young men have delivered about  100 boxes (3,600) manna packs per week  to the poorest most needy people. 

School has now restarted in Haiti and also we have a very low supply of Manna Packs, so this month we have stopped the distributions.    We are hoping to be able to begin Sunday school in the very near future again, Lord willing.  

We have had a  summer full of volleyball ministry this year, which has mainly focused on the children in our village.   We had several 30 team ongoing tournaments, plus 2 on 2 tournaments when social distancing was required.  

Katie led a week long training session on setting which went really well. 

Also, Katie organized and hosted a wrap up party for her volleyball team; the Angels.    9 years ago we began playing volleyball with this group of young girls from our village.    They are now young ladies and although we never made it to the Olympics with them, they are great volleyball players and they all serve the Lord.

Katie and a few of the Angels were able to participate in the Canadian;  Athlete’s in Action total athlete online volleyball camp this month.   It was a great opportunity for the girls and they had fun. 

Rod turned 60 this month.   He enjoyed working with his friend the Bobcat on his birthday.

Deb is always organizing and caring for all the different young people that work with us.   These young people helped us run the volleyball tournaments this summer.

This is our friend Wendy, who is growing up.   4 years ago, before hurricane Matthew, we gave Wendy a job selling coconuts and bags of ice to the people of the village.   Due to the extreme heat that we have been having this summer, our neighbors asked if Wendy could begin selling ice again, so he comes during the week and does a great job and all the proceeds go to him. 

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers and for sending things.   We are able to give out food, clothes and even prizes, thanks to those of you who continue to send.    Thanks also for your prayers  for our Harvest director;  Mr. Danny Thomas.   We are very thankful that his open heart surgery went well and he is back on the job.   
bye for now, 

Love Rod, Deb and Katie 

The Haitian Donkey Is Back In The Hospital

We were stumbling along pretty well on our own, not necessarily doing great but stable.  The last week the donkey started losing steam again.  Some chills, nausea, vomiting and feeling out of sorts.  The temps remained low grade so started on low grade prophylaxis with Sulfa, one daily, per Dr. De Cook but  it didn’t seem to help.  The chills got more intense, the donkey’ wobbly legs were struggling to hold him up and my temp went up to 103.  I tried to hold on for a few more days, the donkey loves his stall at home so much more than the hospital accommodations.  To be fair, they have been great and gracious, the straw on the ground is clean and renewed daily, but they have no idea of thermostat control for a Haitian type.  We have it turned up full blast but it is only 71 in the hospital, while I keep it close to 80 in my stable.  They have drawn multiple sets of labs to the point they gave me a unit back yesterday and I will try to wiggle out another.  Have had 4 chest xrays, 2 CT angiograms, a TEE (transthoracic echocardiogram) and many other tests they could dream up. Some were encouraging, others troubling, but so far, none definitive.

They first decided I had a pulmonary embolism,  fairly scary diagnosis, thus the 2 CT angiograms, then decided it was pneumonia (not Covid) and put me on antibiotics and now have decided it is clotting on my PICC line and yanked that yesterday.  They started me on blood thinners,(scary to me as my ostomy has the 2 golf ball size cancer masses protruding from it and they bleed plenty easily on their own, they don’t need any help).  So, I have two more shots to give myself daily.  At least Rachel and Jenn are experts at it, James declines the adventure.  Rachel made it home yesterday and is with me in the hospital, giving Jenn a break, thankfully.  Jenn had taken the week off in hopes of doing something with her mother, but that got rerouted.  Due to line concerns, they have not given me any TPN and I have not taken in anything orally, so the legs are more scrawny to behold.

Dan, Duane and the Dutch Donkey are planning on heading back to Haiti on September 11 through 19, our first trip since Dan, Duane and I went in February.  They will have administrative work to do, organize the start of various construction projects, including the peds ward in Karen’s memory, starting prep work for the solar project, moving USAID to a centralized location and do the usual multitude of repair projects, the list has undoubtedly grown considerably.  We are looking for 6 or so carpenters and 6 or so electricians to help with the projects if that would be possible.  The dates are a bit flexible still at present as we are trying to flesh out more of the details and finances needed to prepare Centre de Sante Lumiere for the future.  Also, if you will, continue to pray for an ultrasound tech to come out and train William in ultrasound technique and a dentist part time to help out that department.  If you have skills in any of these departments, please contact Dan (616-901-6104) or Duane (616-299-3454). 

Once again, thank you for your prayers, friendship and support..

In His Service,

Bill, Dan, Duane, James, Jenn and Rachel