The Haitian Donkey Visits Another Home Away from Home Again


Hi All:
This weekend, the Haitian Donkey will make his monthly trek to Pittsburgh for another course of experimental therapy (thus has to be done in Pittsburgh, under their strict control as it is a study and everything has to be just so).  Karen, of course, will go with to keep me headed in the right direction, as the triple treatment leaves the Donkey a bit weak in the knees (and the stomach). Over the years, I have heard stories of Interferon, that it is not the greatest stuff to tolerate, and I guess they were correct, one aches in places he didn’t know a Donkey had places, as the saying goes. The Rintatolamod (who comes up with these interesting names anyway) is tough on the stomach, despite the premedication with anti nausea meds. But, though the week is nothing to look forward to, it seems that a few days later, I have really perked back up this time and able to stuff my face with an amazing array of foodstuffs and enjoying every minute of that part. My Hemoglobin took a major hit and it is struggling to get back to “my normal,” at about 2/3 of normal donkey levels, but even my strength seems better.

As Karen and I head to Pittsburgh, Tom Failing and John Cushman from BCBC will head south to Haiti, where they will be joined by Dr. Fred Brown for the week we are gone.  John will follow up on Duane’s work on the generator (Rod serviced it for us, thankfully, in the interim) and hopefully we will have some stability there, as it seems the electrical situation in Haiti remains sporadic at best. Pray for wisdom and strength for the 3 men as they try to make repairs on both the physical structure and the Haitian bodies for the week. Dr. William has been coming to Cayes to help do surgeries with Dr. Moise when the surgeons come, but, thankfully, the strike is over and he is back at the residency program for the normal 90 plus hours of work each week. However, he needs our prayers as he is a bit discouraged with the pressure of the work (Luke, Jose, Jim, Fred and I did our surgical residencies in our 20s, William is in his 40s and more than just maturity comes with age, I fear). Also, having an active family he is away from adds to the stress, undoubtedly. These men are the future of the hospital, so we want to pray for them that they will have God’s guidance and strengthening for the tasks before them.

We have not heard any more about the political situation, but are praying that things will get settled in the scheduled month for elections, October and that the situation will improve. As we mentioned, Dr. Luke, Karen, Tabitha, Micah and myself hope to go in early November, to avoid the political unrest and get the ball rolling at the hospital again. In that same vein, it is almost October already and I would like to ask if you all would be willing to donate to the Rice and Goats Fund again, as I hope to be able to encourage our employees with these. Last year, one of our more sensitive donors was worried that the donated goat would be the center of the Christmas Feast, so I checked it out with Dr. William. He assured me that this would be unlikely, as without refrigeration, the whole goat has to be eaten in a couple days and that is too much money to consume in a couple days. The goat is more like a financial investment, to be grown and hopefully multiply and then to be sold if a medical procedure needs to be done or repairs to the house, etc. Yes, eventually, the little one will become someone’s meal, but hopefully not in the near future. Thus, mostly likely the gift will live to say “baa” another day.

If you would like to contribute to the fund, you can send the money to either Centre de Sante Lumiere, US,  c/o Dan Boerman at PVI Industrial Washing, 2886 Clydon, S.W., Wyoming, MI  49519 or Byron Center Bible Church, 8855 Byron Center Ave, Byron Center, MI, 49315 and label it the “Rice and Goats Fund” at either establishment and it will go in the proper designation.  Thanks from both the Haiti Team and the employees at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Fred, Tom and John

Ups and Downs

Dear family and friends;

We are thankful for God’s continued faithfulness even through difficult times. There have been several roadblocks in Haiti recently, and last week Deb and Katie had to go 4X4ing through corn fields and muddy back trails in order to make it home. Deb did a great job and the Toyota once again proved it’s worth.

We had another big windstorm last week and the roof on the old shop blew off again. I (Rod) climbed the ladder and was going to flip the tin back in place, but as soon as I grabbed it, the tin started sliding and it pulled me off the roof. We are so thankful for God’s protection as I ended up jumping 12 feet to the ground and landing on my feet, with only a sore lower back.

Last Sunday afternoon, we learned that our good friend Marv had passed away of a heart attack. Marv and Sharon (from Grand Rapids, Michigan) have been great partners and friends with us and we truly will miss Marv.

There has been almost no electricity given by the Haitian electric company, so thanks to our solar panels, we have been sharing electricity and water with the people of the village. Katie mentioned to us that she prays for Wendy (the boy with cerebral palsy) and she decided to start a small business so that he can earn some money. Katie and Wendy sell coconuts and small bags of ice for about 1 hour each week day.

Edna is a nice girl who has quite a history already in her young life. (she is 16 now) Her dad died before the earthquake and our son Tim and I rescued Edna and her mom from a tent village in Port au Prince after the earthquake. Edna’s mom had been injured and couldn’t walk. Edna and her mom lived in our village of Ti-verny until about 4 years ago when Edna’s mom died. Edna was able to move in with her brother’s family and she became very close to them.
This past week her brother’s wife died of a heart attack at 34 years old.
It is as if Edna has lost her mother again and she is very sad.

We continue to pray and seek God’s direction regarding the Sunday school at Renault. Last week we took measurements as we consider enlarging the building and putting a new roof on. Every Sunday we are having large amounts of children coming and our existing space is obviously too small.

This week, we had a special visitor stop by at the camp and he offered for us to purchase a large, very nice piece of land in the Renault area. Actually, it turns out that it is the exact piece of land where we started the Sunday school more than 8 years ago, when we set up tents on the open land. Please pray with us that God would show us His will for the future of the Renault Sunday school ministry.

We continue to enjoy volleyball and we had a big 13 team tournament here at the camp on Saturday. This afternoon, the Haitian volleyball federation brought “Mireya Luis” to visit Camp Mahanaim. Mireya was a famous Cuban volleyball player who is rated as one of the best female volleyball players of all time.
It was very special for Katie to meet and visit with her.

Thanks so much for your support and prayers.
bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie

The Haitian Donkey has one round under his saddle, two to go

Hi All:
Wanted to give you a brief update on several matters. Concerning this recent week of chemotherapy, I am most glad it is finished. Round two will be in 3 weeks again, at least I know what to expect, though that may not necessarily be a great thing. Karen and I got home yesterday and are unpacking by putting anything that doesn’t need washing from one suitcase to another so we don’t forget anything needful, no sense in reinventing the wheel. We will then do round 3 another 3 weeks after that, come home for a week and we are planning on going to Haiti a week after coming back from chemo, to catch up a bit in the office and also let my body recuperate before departure. So far, the side effects have not been fun, but tolerable, but am thankful for the TPN as my capacity to eat more than maybe 20 mouthfuls maximum a day would not keep even a skinny Haitian donkey alive. With all the chemicals and side effects, the fluid intake leaves a bit to be desired, so have restarted my Lactated Ringers during the day. Both the Interferon and the Rintatolomod seem to make me nauseated and I keep my small dishpan around. The nurses and I decided that the small “kidney basins” used by hospitals for the purposes of catching what we bring up are more for show than use, as what comes out of me has enough force to fly in and out of those cute basins without much slowing down.

However, as Dan Boerman put it in his note to us to pass on, it is with a heavy heart that we need to let you know that another vital member of our Haiti team went to glory yesterday, possibly of a heart attack. It hasn’t been that many months since Betty Bellmer passed away and another shock when Lloyd Oosterink, another regular (who also was our cousin) had likely a sudden cardiovascular event and passed away April 1. Marv Owen helped us out time and again with obtaining parts and tools we needed for repairs, equipment, etc, and also he and Sharon repeatedly would relieve Rod and Debbie Wray if they took a vacation or needed to be away from the camp for a bit. Needless to say, he will be sorely missed by us all. Please pray for Sharon, for God’s strength and encouragement during the days, weeks and months ahead as she makes this great adjustment in her life.

I believe that I am not jumping the gun in giving you this update, but I spoke to Dr. William last night and it appears that the staffs of the 20 plus Haitian Socialized Medicine Hospitals (ie, not the private ones, like ours) are meeting with their respective administrative staffs tomorrow (their “Labor Day” is May 1) regarding the government concessions and we are all praying hard that the strike may be lifted. He said that they have had almost 24/7 electricity for the last week, something unheard of, the patients have been flocking to the hospital in droves and they have been taking care of them, though nothing is officially settled, though he is hoping it will be. What the outcome for the time they have missed will be, ie, if they have to repeat the whole year, etc, is anybody’s guess, but will pray that things improve for them and the work situation for the hospital staff and patients, who also suffer from such governmental care that lacks. Please pray that the seemingly positive promised improvements will really be carried out and sustained, especially as elections are scheduled for later this year.

The Grand Rapids based container, sent on August 8, has already arrived and been emptied a couple weeks ago, the IDA one, also 40 foot, is in Port and hopefully will be emptied this week, so pray for Dr. Moise and his staff as he tries to do these extra jobs in addition to being a doctor and the extra work of being my Assistant Medical Director. I am thankful that he has been very faithful in keeping the hospital going this past year despite some extra difficulties, but he also surely needs our prayers for God’s wisdom and enablement to continue to serve Him well there.

In Him, With Thanksgiving and Sadness,

Bill, Karen and The Haiti Team

More fun for the Haitian Donkey in Pittsburgh

Hi All
Just wanted to let you all know that we have had some more experimentation done on the Donkey, he is now a full fledged Guinea Pig also. After the vaccine on Monday, which went well, we had the Interferon on Tuesday, that went well but soon thereafter had fevers, chills, ached all over (the getting “run over by a Mack truck syndrome”) with some help with anti nausea and Tylenol medication. Today, Wednesday, it was a repeat of the Interferon but, afterwards, the addition of Rintatolomod. Within 20 minutes of the Rintatolomod, I began vomiting, so it was stopped, a more potent antinausea med given IV and the rest run in. Now am recuperating at the Family House, can’t get warm, despite my heating blanket and long johns, coat and stocking cap in the middle of the summer. Oh well, hopefully this too, will pass.

I am running IVs continuously for now to keep hydrated and trying to flush the poisons out. Thankfully, we prepared for this eventuality with extra IV bottles and tubing and are able to keep fluids going. Am thankful that Karen is so faithful at caring for me, keeping food I can keep down available and encouraging me in so many ways, as well as all of you who care, pray and support us. Thank you very much.

In His Service,

Bill and Karen