The Widow’s Mite

Dear Family and Friends; We trust that your summer is going well. We are doing well and have a lot to be thankful for. We were able to share soccer balls with many Haitians again this summer, thanks to you, who bring and send soccer balls to us each year.

It was great that we were able to have several camps this summer, and this group of older campers was very interested in the sawmill. Due to the riots in Haiti our other 2018 teams have had to cancel, so that means quite a few kids won’t have the opportunity to come to camp this year.

After camp there is a lot of work involved in getting everything cleaned and ready for the next camp. We are thankful that several of our “Angels” volleyball girls have become great workers and helpers for Deb.

We are finding many beautiful trees of several species that fell down in hurricane Matthew, which are still in good condition. Mainly this is because the entire tree was uprooted and the roots now hold the fallen tree up off the ground. Mango, Mahogany, Almond and several other hardwood trees are in great condition. The problem is often getting to them, so I rebuilt our old battery powered U.T.V. into a man powered skidder that we use to haul the logs out with.

This is Julane. She is a widow who lives in the village near us and last week we were shocked to learn of the poor conditions that she was living in.

We quickly got to work and built a home on the small property up the road that the camp well is on.


Deb, Katie and I were very shaken as we helped this widow and all the children she takes care of move to the new location. Their belongings were meager at best and we didn’t notice one food item in their possession. One trip with a half full truck was all it took.

Wendy and Windja (the two oldest children) are in our volleyball / youth group and we see them every week, but we had no idea of the conditions in which they lived.
We had a rental agreement written out and Julane signed with an “X”, but then she didn’t have the “widow’s mite” that she needed to pay the year’s rent. Thankfully Germain our friend was nearby and he gave Julane the 5 Gourde coin (about .10 cents) to cover the year’s rent.

Yesterday, Deb and Katie traveled to Orlando where they are enjoying a week together with the Yordys. Katie has missed her friends since they moved back to Illinois in April, so this is a special opportunity for the girls to get together.

We appreciate your prayers and hope that you have a great summer,

bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie

The Haitian Donkey and his friends enjoy warm and wet weather

Hi All:

Am waiting for Dr. Moise and the med student, Dubuisson, to complete a vaginal hysterectomy (not enough room for 3 people, so I am there ready to help out if needed but Dubuisson is tougher and younger and will let him assist Dr. Moise, as the surgery is really a one doctor case with an assistant to pass tools, hold retractors, etc).  So far, the week has promised to be busy all the way, so trying to be up for it. We had two hysterectomies yesterday, 5 today, plus a bunch of other cases and, if surgical clinic numbers have any indication, it will be a crazy time. Other than the volume, things are going well with one very sad exception. Yesterday, a young lady (ok, age is quite relative now) with a huge bunch of fibroids in her uterus was complaining the last few months that the pain was unbearable and she begged me to do a hysterectomy despite her young age. I scheduled her for yesterday, we did some young kids first thing, as always, as they can’t be trusted to not eat, given the chance. She complained to me when I brought up the little ones afterwards that the pain in her abdomen was unbearable and wanted me to do the surgery sooner. We brought her to the OR about noon, but then, even before we started, she complained of shortness of breath and rapidly went downhill and passed away, despite our attempts at CPR, etc. I wonder if she had a blood clot that traveled to her lungs, likely aggravated by the huge masses in her uterus? Her pastor had a lot of kind words to say about her afterwards, so trusting that she is in heaven, but it certainly was a major shock to us all and a reminder of how fragile life is, especially here.

The trip down was not quite uneventful, the plane to Philadelphia was only about 20% full?, to Miami was totally packed and that to Port au Prince was probably 20% full also, mostly Americans on mission trips. We assumed the last plane was empty (as was the waiting room in Port au Prince for the return trip) due to all the unrest in country reducing desire to travel. We had a 2+ hour layover in Miami, then they announced that a bracket on the outside of the plane was broken and the Miami mechanics were getting advice from the Dallas mechanics about how to fix it. Two hours later, it was fixed, but then the pilot was running out of time, so another crew had to be found. About then, American Airlines brought a cart to the jet bridge with sandwiches and drinks and chips to calm the passengers and we were ready to go. However, by now, we had lost our push back crew, then we had lost our place in the takeoff line, so we finally took off, knowing things were going from bad to worse, seemingly. Midflight, they announced that, to encourage the passengers, they were passing out free alcoholic drinks (Tom and I figured that might have been after they noticed that the majority of us on the plane were missionaries and unlikely to take them up on the offer).

On arrival to Port, a number of our small group of passengers were unable to find our luggage, so that prompted another delay while we filed all the paperwork needed (you have to have all your boarding passes to be able to qualify for this, but I knew that from previous mishaps and always hang on to them) and we headed out without any luggage, arriving at the hospital about 1 am. Poor Jean Eddy and Dudu went back the next day as Jean Eddy has done this many times and was afraid the suitcases would be empty if we didn’t jump on it as soon as it came in, likely he is right. Only 2 made it that day and 2 the next day, but we appear to not have lost anything, a real reason to thank the Lord (and those of you who were aware and prayed for this to occur). I must admit I was wiped out, as had my Immunotherapy on Monday and the last 2 sessions have been tougher. They increase the dose each time til I can no longer tolerate it and these were #s 6 and 7. Basically, no appetite, some nausea, all over body aches, low grade fever and no energy. Other than that, tolerable. I do think that I was able to adjust my schedule for the rest of the year so that I don’t leave for Haiti on the weekend after treatment, it still is not fun if I am home, but not getting much sleep for a couple days enroute here doesn’t help fight the situation.

I have not yet heard back from Dr. Bartlett regarding my latest CT scan 10 days ago (the Spectrum reading says maybe 10% advancement in the cancer, but they also state my nonexistent spleen is normal, so one has to take that with a grain of salt). I continue to be thankful that, although I am slower than I would like to be, I am still able to work pretty much normally and Karen and my coworkers, friends and family are super supportive and I consider myself very blessed of God. When I see all the frustration and discouragement of so many of our Haitian brothers and sisters, especially those who don’t know the Lord and are trapped in the voodoo problems, I really am appreciative of His care of me through you all and your prayers. I just finished reading Job on the plane ride in and couldn’t imagine scraping myself with a broken piece of pottery all by my lonesome, seemingly abandoned by all, including God (we know better but poor Job didn’t).

Tom has repaired some things in the hospital as well as in the place we stay, again a blessing greatly appreciated. The employees thanked the Lord this morning in chapel for the downpour we had last night, I briefly woke up with the lightening bolts and thunderclaps, but the rain beating on the roof is very soothing. The dependence on God for our daily bread is so much more obvious when they have so little and one does not go to the grocery store to get rations. Not a bad reminder for us to go to Him for all our needs regularly. Continue to pray for wisdom, strength and endurance for the rest of the week.

In His Service,

Tom and Bill

Sawing Logs

Dear family and friends;

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support. We really enjoy hearing from you!

We are very excited to have completed the construction of our sawmill area. Many thanks to Duane and Dan from Grand Rapids for all the building materials that they sent.

The Woodmizer sawmill works great and saves so much wood as compared to cutting by hand, which they still do here in Haiti.

Thanks so much to our friend Verlon Thompson from Missouri who came down for the week to help me set up and show me how to use the sawmill. Verlon is 75 yrs old and runs his own Woodmizer sawmill.

We started showing some of our Haitian staff how to use the sawmill. They were all amazed at the beautiful straight, uniform boards that it produces.

Lord willing, we plan to begin building wood items with the boards that we cut.

Here is a mango wood slab that should make a beautiful live edge coffee table.

We have been busy here at Camp Mahanaim hosting numerous groups which come to the camp for a day of activities and a meal.

All of the groups are enjoying the water slides and water activity area. Many people have mentioned that they are so thankful for a fun place that they can enjoy right here in Haiti.

There are 41 steps to reach the top of the water slides, and some of the kids climb those steps over and over without stopping for hours on end.

Deb does an amazing job of organizing all the kitchen staff and helping them serve beautiful meals to our visitors. Many of our Angels volleyball girls work for Deb on a regular basis.

We never get tired of watching the kids have fun.

We would really appreciate your prayers as we head into the very busy camp time these next two months. Please pray for safety for all the campers and that God would work in the hearts and lives of the children and young people who come here. Please pray also for Deb, Katie and I and for the teams that will be coming to help with camp, that the Lord would use us all and keep us healthy and strong. Thanks, so much,
bye for now,

Love Rod, Debbie and Katie

The Haitian Donkey arrives back home in time for further treatment of his cancer

Hello All:
We are back in warm Michigan, having had a pretty uneventful trip home except that we were delayed a while in Port au Prince as the police and the newly organized army are working on cutting down on crime by stopping vehicles, checking paperwork and things transported and generally making their presence known. A good idea, but it totally stopped traffic on our way into Port, so that we moved 2 miles in as many hours, often not creeping forward for a while as motorcycles weaved their way through the stopped traffic and several vehicles went on the opposite side of the barrier (a common practice even the police can be guilty of) but this time, they did stop at least one that we saw, so maybe there is hope for a wee bit more orderly driving practices). They don’t seem to crack down on other violations, such as running lights, headlights, blinkers, brake lights or any such nonessential accessories, so it will be a while before we come up to US standards of driving. We also were hung up for a while in Chicago as they didn’t load us with enough fuel to get home, so had to wait quite a while to have more added. That, too, I suppose, would be a desirable goal to be achieved for safe travel.

So, I am thankful to be back home, able to work today around a trip to the oncology office. By God’s grace, we were able to undergo the next (6th) round of immunotherapy. I think I am tolerating it well, just spending more time in my favorite little office of rest, so glad that I can squeeze the rest visits between patients in the larger office scene. I think the routine has been established and I only have to get blood drawn 2 out of 3 Mondays now, so hoping my blood counts will recover and creep back up to more close to normal, along with more energy? Maybe wishful thinking but keep trying to be positive. In a few weeks, we will repeat the CT scan and get an idea if the therapy is doing anything to the cancer. So, praying for a positive result from Dr. Bartlett, whose reading is the most reliable in my opinion, as he knows what he left behind inside and has done over 1,000 of these operations over the years.

Dr. William couldn’t connect up with us, but we did visit with his wife and the 5 sons as I passed over the 18 pounds of surgical text to her to give to him (I did buy the 2 volume set as lugging 18 pounds of book around could get a bit tiring). He soon will start the 3rd year, should give him more free time and a chance to see the kids, etc. They do farm the surgical residents off to various destinations for further training, hopefully it will be close to home, in country and affordable. Dr. Moise seems to be doing well, he is looking into trying to obtain a vehicle and we appreciated the advice of Mike VerKaik as to how to look into a used vehicle’s condition when purchasing them. The hospital itself is running well, thankfully, and so starting to work on rebuilding the physical therapy department, then need to find a Christian dentist who would be willing to do something similar to what I do for the hospital for the dental department, help establish good practices, find and train Christian staff and help us obtain reasonable used equipment.  We are open to any willing and suitable candidates.

Am looking into tickets for future trips but it appears that the airlines are considering Haiti an “unprofitable destination” and reducing availability of flights there, a bummer, as I need to fly straight through with my cold packed TPN and other fluids to get to the hospital before they get too warm to remain safe for infusion. So, appreciate prayer as buying tickets for September, October and December at this point.

As always, many thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement.

In His Service,

Ben, Dave, Duane, Josh, Kurt, Mike, MIchael and Bill

The Haitian Donkey and friends are wrapping up the work in the homeland

Hi All:

As usual, it seems like life flies by a lot faster than we would like it as we stumble along our pathway.  It is hard to believe that it is Thursday already and time to think about tying up loose ends before departure on Saturday morning. Duane and his group of 5 relatives are at the airport for their return today. Hopefully they (at least the two grandsons) will be able to smooth out their youthful pranks and regain favor with the traumatized moms and grandmother. Duane and their fathers have taken good care of these ambitious young men and done well until yesterday, when they decided to text mom that one of them had fallen off the hospital roof and broken a leg. This did not go well with nurse mom, nor grandmother. They thought it was quite funny, but meeting face to face with mom and grandma today might make them realize it was certainly not a kind joke to stress them with. Sometimes the games our minds play with ourselves and others need a bit of reflection before they are acted upon.

Dave and Kurt are seeing their share of the Haitian sun as they stopped by last night to use the phone and contact their families and looked considerably darker and redder than several days ago. They seem to be making good progress on the repairs, which I likely will see tonight as I have dinner with them at Caleb and Olga’s house, if I get done with work in time. They seem to be doing well, thankfully. Less drama than Duane has had to put up with.

The hospital work is doing well. I have had a standing rule that we don’t do more than 6 hysterectomies in a day, just to not stress the staff and myself as they can be tougher to do than in the US with less adequate anesthesia and thus less relaxation for the abdominal wall muscles, etc. Each day, when we arrive at the hospital, the patients for the day trickle in as they gather their families, funds and supplies for the surgery, we never have much of an idea who, what sort of cases or how many may come. Yesterday, 8 hysterectomies came and I told them I was too old and decrepit to do that much, but we took the cases one at a time and ended up doing all 8, plus a few extras, including a ruptured ectopic (tubal) pregnancy we saw on Monday and it wasn’t ruptured yet, so we tried to encourage her to let us do the surgery when it was still easier and less risky for her. She went home to think about it, against our advice, of course, and returned yesterday with no blood pressure, unresponsive and with a belly full of blood. Fortunately, we had talked firmly enough to her family about the risks, etc, that they came with several members willing to donate 2 units of blood and we added her to the list of surgeries to be done. I saw her on rounds today and she seemed quite open to our discussion about the fragility of life as I shared gospel tracts with her. She should do well from a medical standpoint and will encourage consideration of how close she came to eternity and to take appropriate steps to ensure her future.

By God’s grace, the infection seems to be responding well to the IV antibiotics and I feel good and sleeping like a log. I have not suffered for the availability of food and have enjoyed the variety of meals prepared for multiple sources, our usual Haitian meals made by Moise’s sister at lunch, plus those made by Mike VerKaik and his brother in law, Josh, with help from their kids for dinner with them. They made homemade crepes yesterday that I had for breakfast this morning as got home too late to bother eating last night, just wanted to head for bed and get ready for today, which promises to be more gentle? Others may not agree, but I think the weather is most wonderful here and I enjoy running around in just my scrub clothes, no long underwear, socks, etc and feeling fine. But then, a Donkey likes to keep his life simple.


In His Service, with Thanksgiving,

Ben, Dave, Duane, Josh, Kurt, Mike, Michael and Bill