The Haitian Donkey and friends enjoy working in warm Haitian weather

Hi All:
Well, maybe that applies more to the Donkey than friends. Karen told me Sunday afternoon that it was hotter and sweatier in Grand Rapids than here, where we have had some decent breezes and I am loving it. Duane looks ok, but son Mike, son in law Josh and 2 grandsons are a bit redder than they might like due to the sun. They have been working on moving the fence back a ways as someday, the government has plans to widen the road by the hospital and wanted us to move the fence back. I think they have that pretty much done except for what the Haitian men will do in the next couple of weeks to secure the fence bottom to the ground again. They are adding a roof by the Community Health (vaccinations, other USAID programs) building. Things seem to be progressing well for them as they leave Thursday morning back for the US.

Mike Ver Kaik is quite adept at mechanical things, such as car repairs, so he will take the Kia to Rod and Debbie’s tomorrow to replace the rear brakes and a few other items, as they have a real repair shop and likely more tools than we do. He also is good at making meals and we don’t suffer for our combined night meals. Last night we were doing the dishes together and I was finishing running my antibiotic in the self contained bulb and his curiosity got the better of him. He took the empty system apart with a serrated kitchen knife to figure out how it worked, it was a bit of a surprise to both of us how the rather simple mechanism works so very well.

Dave Weener, Kurt Kooienga and I came on Saturday and will leave next Saturday. We had a smooth trip in, both flights arrived early so we could truck and make it to our gate in Philadelphia despite the tight connection. It is getting very difficult to find a flight that goes all the way through on one day, as I need to keep my TPN (my “lunch”) cold and is reasonably affordable, etc. As the summer flights are always packed with missions teams from churches, etc, we expect that during that season, but I have been working on September and October and not getting much cooperation there either. I did email the airlines to ask them why they are getting rid of so many flights and got the standard answer that they constantly review finances and reduce flights to areas that are not profitable. Understandable but a bit discouraging for our plans.

Dave and Kurt are working with Caleb in construction, so he arranged for us to come in their vehicle. I thought it was their pickup, so when no one appeared to pick us up, I wandered the length of the rather large parking lot (compared to the volume run through Port au Prince airport), but couldn’t find Caleb’s truck. It appears that Jean Eddy had been sitting on the ground as we were late leaving Miami due to a thunderstorm holding up the works and missed us in the sea of white faces passing through. Fortunately, I have a number of acquaintances at the airport over the years and could borrow a phone and call Rod who made connections and we were on our way. Caleb had sent their car instead of the truck, a lot more nondescript and I went by it twice as didn’t have that vehicle as well ingrained in my mind, even if I was looking for the car, which I wasn’t. I certainly would not want to come to Haiti without connections!

Duane and company spent the weekend at Rod and Debbie’s, so I eating alone and was preparing my breakfast Sunday morning. Admittedly, my mind works best later in the day, but I was going to fry some eggs. We had some left over from last month and I thought I would use the older ones first. Allegedly, unwashed eggs don’t need to be refrigerated? Since undergoing chemotherapy, I often have some nausea in the morning and try to carefully fight it. The 3rd egg was a half grown chick that had died and rotted and I ended up tossing the entire 3 that I was preparing as the stench filled the room and then some. It also ended up terminating my desire to eat eggs that morning and I ended up eating rice and beans with fish from the night before instead.

Moise and I have been busy keeping the hospital, and specifically, surgery and ultrasound, going. The surgeries went well today, for which we are thankful. Of interest is that, normally, there are a number of family members hanging around the patient and the hospital, curious as to what is going on. Though we had a goodly number of patients to see and to treat, there was a significant reduction in onlookers. I also heard some noise down in the records room and went to investigate. There was a horde of off duty employees, friends and who knows who all crowded around a TV screen they had wired to the homemade antenna up on the roof, rooting for Brazil in the World Cup. Apparently the government cut off electricity during the soccer matches to punish the people for rioting last week, so we were running our generators to keep the hospital going and they were benefiting from our power supply, It appears the games go on for a while, but, hopefully they don’t all cause as much interest. I suppose, this is some entertainment for a country with so few causes for smiles and joy.

It appears that the Gentamycin is helping fight my strange infection again. It seems that “Rosie,”as we have named this troublesome critter, is back for the third round. We cannot grow it in the lab, so it is somewhat of a guessing game as to what antibiotic to use. I want to get it under control so I can undergo the next cancer treatment on Monday when I get back, as they have strict regulations and I don’t want to get removed from the study. So, would appreciate your prayers for all of the above, both in thanksgiving for His kindness to us as well as asking Him for wisdom, strength and guidance as we serve Him here in warm, comfortable, at least for donkeys, Haiti at Centre de Sante Lumiere.

In His Service,

Ben, Dave, Duane, Josh, Kurt, Michael, Mike, and The Haitian Donkey

The Haitian Donkey and Friends are back home in Haitian style weather

Hi All:
Once again, we are thankful to be home and healthy and praising the Lord for His guidance in helping us navigate a difficult administrative issue to what we feel is a reasonable solution to a chronic problem. It definitely brought an encouraging end to 6 months of struggles in trying to resolve the situation. Again, I am immensely thankful to Pastor Johannes and Dan in their invaluable help (plus all your prayers and intercession to our Great Lord) in achieving this needful goal in a fashion acceptable to the Haitian Labor Guidelines, considerably different than US ones.

We had a good trip home except that Tom and I ended up stuck in the plane for a couple hours in Philadelphia, as we got the passengers on board but there was a thunderstorm in the vicinity, so we were unable to load baggage or fuel for several hours??? The storm hit us for maybe 15 minutes, but I suppose others had higher priorities to be serviced. However, even with the extra time, they couldn’t get our baggage into the plane, so all 4 bags came back late on Sunday, well scoured through and messed up.

While travelling the roads of Haiti, one always has to keep his eyes open for stray people, animals and trash. The roads are littered with junk, just tossed from the vehicles as well as dropped by pedestrians, as well as wandering people, critters etc, who don’t seem to look before they leap onto the road. We were driving back to Port and someone on the truck in front of us (there usually are at least a dozen people hanging on to the top of the baggage or the back bumper) tossed a plastic bottle off that I didn’t see. We hit it with a tire and a loud pop startled us all, it sounded like a mini explosion. I know there are laws in the US that can bug us, but certainly the anti-littering law keeps the environment looking decent and safer. Dan and Tom went to the Sunday School program at Renault, the road to the site runs along the river for a ways. They informed me that there is a trash pile 15 feet high x 100 ft long in the river, waiting for a healthy rain to fill the river and wash it all away to sea. This is the Haitian version of trash disposal, a river to ocean fill rather than a landfill. This way, they never have to look for new sites to dispose of their waste.

On a personal health note, my May CT scan seems stable so far, I ended up skipping a treatment for # 3 cycle (I am on 3 week cycles) due to the infection, but will get # 4/5 on Monday. I do have increased nausea, diarrhea and fatigue with it, but can adjust life to tolerate it. However, what I have found more troubling is that my hemoglobin continues to drift down, as well as my weight. I was a bit of Karen’s “chubby hubby” in December and clothing was tight as my meshed belly doesn’t tolerate stretching much, so backed down a bit on my TPN feedings. That has helped reduce the nasty side effects of the full speed TPN, but I have continued to drift down and have now lost 25 lbs despite doing my best to eat both donkey and human food whenever and however I can find it, considering the tolerances my short and rewired pipes will allow. I can up the TPN to 3/4 speed again, but am not excited about the undesirable and uncomfortable side effects. Enjoy stuffing my face whenever possible but wish I could gain weight without extra grief. Likely the new treatment has something to do with it, but would like to keep the guinea pig aspect of my mosaic composition going on the chance that it may slow down the growth of the cancer. Would appreciate your prayers for wisdom as to proceeding in this category, also for Duane, Ruth (and grand kids) plus Dave and Kurt as we hope to be in Haiti in 2 weeks again (a bit quicker turnaround, but trying to fit my Haiti schedule around my immunotherapy schedule and health needs). As always, your prayers and support is most thankfully appreciated.

In His Service,

Dan, Tom and Bill

The Haitian Donkey and friends rejoice in God’s marvelous mercies at Centre de Sante Lumiere

Hi All:

I know I have said this before, but it never ceases to amaze me that the Lord continues to give us people with talents I cannot comprehend to help us in His service here. As many of you know from previous updates, the little Kia that could has been struggling to be able to climb the mountains in Haiti for several years and we are looking into alternatives. Jean Eddy brought it to the dealership 2 months ago and they replaced a part in the fuel system, but it didn’t run any better, so Dan and Evert worked on it last month, as it was clear the fuel was not getting to the engine and it couldn’t go. The Kia dealership said they could order and install one for $4900 but it might be a while and who knows what might happen. We found one for less than 1/5th the price in Australia but, although we had all the right numbers, even I can see that the part is considerably smaller and not the right one (and a Donkey has very limited skills in the automotive realm, as he relies on his somewhat sturdy feet to keep going). Dan told me Tuesday that he has very limited automotive skills (though I know him to be quite modest) but he would look things over. He researched it on the internet and crawled under the vehicle, looking for a tiny screen the internet told him should be inside the fuel pump. I did a hysterectomy and came up to see his progress. He crawled out, covered with diesel fuel and cleaned himself off and then returned to the job. I did yet another hysterectomy and checked on him again and he had found a tiny screen in the fuel pump that was totally plugged. It was cleaned and the truck runs like it is brand new (at least the motor) and Jean Eddy was able to bring Dr. Jo Marturano to Port to return to the US yesterday. He came back grinning from ear to ear as it works wonderfully.

Speaking of Dr. Jo, she is a psychiatrist who comes twice yearly for 2 weeks and has a growing population of patients. Sadly, they have considerable struggles with understanding that they need to take the meds on any sort of regular basis and sometimes get a bit upset about things. One was wailing for hours yesterday morning in the wee hours, we first thought someone had passed away at the hospital, though I didn’t know of any candidates, but, after we were fully awake and could navigate ourselves to investigate, she was walking all over the grounds sharing her sadness with everyone, whether they wanted to listen or not. We also did an albino patient in his 40s with a huge cancer growing on his face. We managed to get all the visible cancer off and close the incision under considerable tension, but I fear that it has invaded into the bone as we scraped it off his cheek bone. To balance the sadness that abounds here, we did a difficult hysterectomy today, tons of adhesions in a 43 year old lady who had a bunch of painful pelvic masses. Since she had no children, I was reluctant to do it, explaining to her that I would put a definite end to her even remote possibility of having children. There was a younger man with her, I asked him what relation he was, as all decisions are a family matter, rarely does one make a decision alone. He said he was her son, but adopted. I told her that I was proud that she had raised an orphan, as that is not so common here in Haiti. He enthusiastically told me she was the greatest mother that ever could be and with that assurance, I could safely proceed with the surgery.

Another talented person we are greatly blessed to have help us regularly is Johannes Schuerer (and his wonderful wife, Luise). They have been invaluable in helping us navigate several administrative issues in a way that is acceptable to the Haitian culture as well as in a Biblical fashion. After over 40 years of service in the Bible Institute, they are able to guide us and the Executive Committee of MEBSH through some of the quagmires that we find in our work here. Once again, with their help, we feel that a major difficulty has been resolved (hopefully the last one for quite a while, Lord willing).

As usual, Dan and Tom have done a number of repairs and improvements to the facility, including repairing the toilet in my bedroom so that it does a better job of removing semisolid waste and the offending odors that accompany it. Overall, surgery has gone well, though I ended up having to transfer a perforated typhoid patient that was 5 days down the road at government hospital and I fear struggling for his life. If he had come earlier in the week, I would have done it, but it is not a wise surgical practice to do a huge surgery with a good chance of complications and then leave Dr. Moise alone when he is not yet considered a full fledged surgeon by Haitian standards. He likely would get a lot of unfair criticism and I need to be cautious with doing things that most likely will have negative results in our small facility.

Although it is rainy season, we have not had a lot of rain in the daytime and we have been able to pour several slabs of cement, one around the community health department to keep things clean and Duane hopefully will put a roof on the waiting area for the patients to be protected from the beating sun and pounding rain. We also have some Haitian style toilets that have been installed there, fairly interesting. I have loved the weather, especially the gentle warmth that abounds, though do resort to having my sweatshirt available from time to time. We are not hurting for food and are doing an admirable job of keeping our youthful figures in order.

Once again, many thanks for your prayers and support for the ministry we are able to do here for God’s glory.

In His Service,

Dan, Tom and Bill

Bursting at the seams

Dear family and friends;

Thank you for your support and prayers for us and for the Renault Sunday school. We had over 2,000 children attend this past Sunday (56 boxes of Manna Packs with 36 packs in a box) and we feel that the Sunday school is bursting.

We would  appreciate your continued prayers for the Renault Sunday school as even the addition is overflowing and we are having to turn children away on some Sundays.

We have a visiting team from Alabama here and it was fun to do a wedding for 20 Haitian couples today.

Deb does a great job of coordinating these weddings.

The local kids that live near us at Camp Mahanaim love it whenever we do weddings, as they usually get a leftover sandwich every time we return from doing a wedding. We have trained them to line up nicely.

This dear lady and her husband were the oldest couple married today, and they had many, many grandchildren. She was so thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to finally be married.

We are making progress on projects around the camp. We are just about ready to put the roof on the new sawmill area.

Our faithful young workers; Roro and Nadair are doing a great job of building a gazebo on the Island near the watersides.

Thanks again for your prayers and support. We have some openings for teams in July and early August, if you would like to bring a team and help us do camps for the Renault Sunday school kids this summer.

bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie

The Chilled Haitian Donkey is enjoying the spring warmup in Michigan

Hello All:
I left a lot of loose ends unwrapped last time, still have not gathered them all but will give you an update on how things are going for the straggling Haitian Donkey. As promised, the blood cultures followed an elevated blood count, both lines had a low number but still positive cultures for Staph Aureus, not sensitive to any oral antibiotics except for Sulfa, which I am allergic to, unfortunately. So, started an IV antibiotic 10 days ago and have perked up considerably, to the point that we were able to do some yard work yesterday and make some progress on spring projects that yearn to be done after being frozen so long this lengthy winter. I will check another blood count tomorrow and see what it brings, as it affects future plans for work at Georgetown Med Center and Centre de Sante Lumiere. Tentatively, Dr. Lakhani has planned to skip cycle # 3 and just move it into cycle # 4, ie push everything back 3 weeks and step back into the routine. However, that presumes the line cultures come back negative, the infection goes away, and a number of other factors, some of which I likely don’t know about. I must admit that I feel better off the poison, less nausea in the mornings and more energy, but if that is the price to slow down the nasty cancer, I will put up with the grief if that is the Lord’s will.

The suitcases for Centre Lumiere arrived late Monday night, thankfully, so that is on the way to the destination of the handiwork of the ladies at the Center. Several people lately have asked me the difference between the titles, so will briefly try to clear them up. The hospital site we work at is called Centre de Sante Lumiere (Health Center of Light) and is located on a property owned by MEBSH (foreigners cannot own land in Haiti, if I understand it correctly) called Cite Lumiere (City of Light), where RMI and other mission agencies have their offices and a bunch of missionaries with various groups have their homes and bases of operations. Centre Lumiere (Center of Light) is the work that Caleb and Olga (and Luise Schurer in the past) do teaching ladies to do handwork, learning trades, etc, and where we have materials that we bring back to the US for sale to support the ministry. Finally, Hospital Lumiere is our sister hospital up in the hills, a 120 bed hospital run by the ACC group that utilizes a number of specialty groups from the US that come on a regular basis to do more complicated surgeries as possible. Many of those groups come through Lumiere Medical Ministries, a North Carolina group that organizes details of these groups going to Haiti to a number of different ministries to serve. I likely, in my usual fashion, only muddied the waters, but I promised I would try.

We still need prayer for another administrative decision in progress in Haiti, we are hoping that things will continue to smooth out there and we will continue to see progress in the overall situation at the hospital.  We also have received word that the fuel pump has come from Australia and that Ed Sanders and crew are planning on installing it, so hopefully the little Kia will be in operation soon. The Haitian climate is very hard on the vehicles, the fuel, the roads, the heat and the loads, so we are praying about another vehicle that possibly could come from the US, as we could get parts regularly and reasonably, impossible in Haiti. Who knows how many years the tires may have been in the hot warehouse before we buy it, they certainly don’t seem to last very long on the vehicle despite careful drivers.

So, we are setting up trips for the months to come, I have to organize the medical parts and my partners will handle the technical aspects, of course. I wish I could see into the future and how well my health will hold up under the treatments planned for me, but will prayerfully make plans for myself and my colleagues. Being of the Dutch persuasion, I hate to part with an extra $200 per ticket just to change tickets when the plans fall through. Continue to pray also for Drs William and Moise as well as Welser, the administrator, as they have pivotal roles in the future of the hospital and we try to work together to keep God’s Work in Haiti going for His Glory.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf and Crew