A Blessed, dry Haitian Donkey trots home again

Hi All:
We are not doing so well with updates this time. I wrote most of another one, but somehow it is lost in the cloud or something like that and I am too technologically challenged to retrieve it. So, with Karen having a delay in getting the first one out, we have only great apologies to offer and I will try to rewrite this one and send it out myself (as Karen is visiting our daughter in Arkansas, where there is lots of rain also, though Rachel says the severe flooding is a bit north of them, in southern Missouri, etc, so I am left to my own devices, plus having to care for the cats!!!). Also, it appears that the cloud also has eaten up some of the contacts, so please let us know if you have friends that were getting the updates but are no longer getting them (at least someone give us the email and will try to correct it).

After the rocky start, most of the rest of the week went quite well. As mentioned, I followed a bit closely on the heels of my friend, Dr. Luke Channer, so the surgical load was a bit lighter, as expected. I could not go later as next weekend, I have my nephew marrying a nurse friend who has made a couple trips to Haiti and whose family has been very supportive of our work there, ie a great encouragement. So, missing that is not an option, although Karen had to miss the bridal shower last weekend to get my TPN pump to Indiana on time after our shaky takeoff. Jan Gutwein was gracious enough to carry it out on Monday, though he arrived after midnight also as the roads were still not in great shape and forward progress slow at best. I ran the fluids faster to get all the calories in I was supposed to for the week, though had done quite well orally also (just absorption is quite limited due to the short piping system that remains).

With the somewhat lighter surgical schedule, as planned, we have spent a fair amount of time in the administrative realm, setting up guidelines for the future of the hospital. We are trying to encourage a more friendly working atmosphere among all the staff as well as towards the patients. A lot of this is trying to change the way the authority structure at the hospital is functioning. As I John 2:7 reminds us, many times we forget the old principles God would have us live by, and He repeats them for our shortcoming’s sake. Thus the new interim administrator (Welser), Dan Boerman, Dr. Moise and I feel we made progress in this difficult area, dealing with considerably different cultural expectations than we feel, at times, are reasonable and consistent with Biblical ones. Continue to pray for much needed divine wisdom in this area.

We dug around in the storage spaces to find some supplies. As we did this with some generalized mumbling on our part, Miss (Nurse) Lisberthe, my head OR nurse, promised me she will organize them so well that I won’t believe it when Dan and I return next month. She is one of the the hardest working ladies around there, has a heart of gold, but her organizational skills are interesting, to say the least. I am sure Rod Wray, Duane VerKaik and Luke Channer’s mom, as well as others including myself, would agree that they are amazed and somewhat dismayed at how quickly their attempts to organize things in Haiti, and specifically in the OR, tend to run to disorder. Each of them has built nice cabinets, drawers, etc, or organized and labelled the products, only to rapidly find things racing towards disarray. I am still learning to pick my battles, not sure I always pick the right ones, but hoping that I am making the right cultural adjustments.

The last few months have had rather torrential rains and there have been pretty large puddles of water everywhere. This has caused a healthy growth of mosquitoes, who have taken occupation of the hospital compound. The bathroom in the OR area is tiny but had at least 300 mosquitos lying everywhere after we bombed it as it was uninhabitable and I try to prepare places before I need to use the facilities in a hurry. Dan figured that the shower drain had no trap in it (built before I arrived in 2004 and definitely would be a sore sight to any builder’s eyes, even I smile as I see the angles formed by the tile layer while spending the required down time there) and we put a plug in it and drastically reduced the exit of more critters. The new friend God arranged to join us, from Lowell, MI, Evert Bek, got his feet wet (literally also) quickly and put his talents to work helping Dan get the AC in the laboratory fixed, he diagnosed the OR AC’s problem and got a $14 part shipped from his contacts in Michigan on Agape air on Thursday and had it running before we left on Friday. We thank the Lord that it was this Thursday it flew, as it only flies every other week, delivering mail and supplies as possible, as well as parts to repair the new generator that has been struggling from the start, so we greatly appreciated his addition to the team.

One afternoon, Dan, Dr. Moise and I went to view the houses that have been repaired as well as the remaining ones, to plan what needs to be done while we are gone by the Haitian construction crew on them as well as the chaplain’s house. I am always humbled to realize how little they have to make do with compared to what God has blessed me with, starting with a non leaky roof over my head, walls that won’t fall down if I lean on them too hard, clean water in abundance, and the list goes on. The old song, “Count your many blessings, see what God has done” is another needful reminder that we often need attitude adjustments from His perspective.

I just found out today that Dr. Bartlett has read my CT scan, I called his office early this week to be sure the US mail system delivered it (it took 3 tries in the fall of 2015, so there is a history to rival the speed of the Pony Express) and he is pleased with my progress. I feel well and am blessed, as another acquaintance with this nasty cancer just passed away before we left for Haiti and it reminds us to “Redeem the time,” as Eph 5:16 encourages us to consider, and spend it wisely with the skills He has given us to use. Also Psalm 90:12 reminds us that God teaches us to number/count our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Among my daily blessings to thank the Lord for is you all, who support the work at CSL in Haiti and me personally with prayer and so many other encouragements and for that I/we are eternally grateful.

In His Service, with thanksgiving,

Bill, Dan, Evert, Kelly and Paul

The Haitian Donkey enjoys a warm and wet return

 

 

Hi All:

One would have thought that it was a first time trip for Dan Boerman and myself as we left Grand Rapids. We arrived at the airport at 4:45 or so for the 6:51 flight with our baggage. I took the two passports and checked myself in with my two bags of medical supplies. The agent then asked me for Dan’s passport and I told him it was there on the counter. He smiled and said it was a lady on the passport. Dan lives about 45 minutes north of the airport and it was about 90 minutes before departure. He and Kim took off and their son met them halfway and we thanked God that that would work out. As they left with their baggage (in case they didn’t make it back) we noted that Dan had loaded a carry on at the last moment with lots of heavy plumbing parts that were needed, so we had an extra carry on, as I always need to use my trip mate’s carry on to fit all my TPN in, as it has to remain cold. I won’t ask how quickly we traveled, but he made it back in good time.

While he was gone, I tried to send the carry on as an extra piece, paying the extra charge, as my two bags were gone and I couldn’t easily put it in his suitcases (plus he had them with him). Apparently, there is a new rule that you cannot purchase a 3rd bag at any cost. Fortunately, the Grifhorsts who were going with us and were already at the gate had only two carry-ons for three people and we escaped that scrape. When we took off, I prepared to switch from my TPN to the regular fluids but started thinking that, as we checked our TPN carryons, I hadn’t noted the spare pump and charger. On arrival in Charlotte, I confirmed with Karen that the pump was plugged into the charger at home! She and our transportation specialist daughter in law, Jenn, spent the next hours trying to find some way to get these to Haiti in the next couple days as FedEx, etc, for all practical purposes, doesn’t exist in Haiti. (Nor does the mail system- a Women’s Missionary Group from the Kalamazoo, MI area wrote me several years ago and mailed it to the hospital; it took 18 months to get here and I am sure they didn’t believe my response as I never heard back from her and presumed I was stretching the truth). Karen also emailed people in Haiti and called Olga, our friend who runs the center for women, and Olga and her husband Caleb sent an emergency email to everyone they could think of. Karen was about to leave for American Airlines with a tiny package to send for a not tiny price when she got a phone call from Val Gutwein, saying that her husband, Jan, was leaving at 4 a.m. on Monday for Haiti. So Karen and Kathy Sytsma, our friend who is always seemingly game to help out, took off with the parts to Indiana and I am praying they will catch up with me tonight and I can return to my normal schedule of IV food and fluids. Last I heard, Kim had to undergo some “retail therapy” at the stores to restore her emotional status. I think we both taxed our wives’ levels of patience and frustration without intending to. We are both blessed with special friends as spouses and we thank God daily for them.

The flights in were good and we arrived in Port at Prince pretty much on time at 5:40 pm. We had heard that there has been considerable flooding in Haiti, especially in Cayes. Travel to the hospital was challenging as the roads were flooded and one has no idea where the huge potholes and speed bumps are under the mud and water.  Forward progress thus was quite slow, plus we had rather vigorous winds that soaked Dan and Dudu in the back of the truck as well as much of the luggage, despite tarps wrapped around them and the baggage. We arrived after midnight and slept like logs.  Evert is a talented HVAC and other skills man who was “recruited”  by the Lord during our last trip to Haiti as he sat next to me on the way down to Haiti and sat next to Tom Failing on the way back; Tom had a totally different itinerary from me! During our time there last time, Evert was up north with a water purification project but was interested in helping us with our broken down OR air conditioning and the equipment for that arrived in a container while we were in Haiti. The Lord engineered that one perfectly and Evert seems to fit in well. He is my age and came from the Netherlands at 25, so we talked about our love for Indonesian food among many other topics as we slogged home in the pelting rain at a snail’s pace.

Today was Labor Day for a good segment of the world, which I had forgotten, thus we ran the clinic and hospital, as well as the OR, on a skeleton crew. We only did 8 surgeries as Dr. Moise and I took off from the OR for several hours to work the clinic and help them see the number of patients who took advantage of the holiday to get checked out. Tomorrow, we should be back to full staff again. Evert and Dan have been working on one of the generators (we carried 2 alternators in our suitcases for the brand new generator that had a defective one), repairing the leak in the water line to the hostels and the dental clinic, trying to fix some more roof leakage, though how much is due to the high winds and deluges of water remains to be seen. They are also going to work on a couple other houses of employees that need some more adjusting, so, as usual, they will not be sitting around looking for work.

Beth Newton is packing up some of her stuff and will return with us, plus we will carry a couple suitcases of stuff home for her, as well as some for Olga’s Women’s Ministry. Jo Marturano, the psychiatrist who comes for a couple of weeks twice yearly, will fly in as we leave on Saturday, as we try to economize on trips to and from Port and we are trying to set up some supplies for her work. Dan and I hope to work on some administrative issues to help set that on proper footing with the changes that have taken place. Please pray for wisdom for all of us, that we may make decisions that are just and God honoring for the work and testimony we want to maintain for Him here in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan, Evert, Kelly and Paul

April Showers

Dear family and friends;

We seem to live in the land of adversity, as again, we are receiving huge amounts of rainfall. This morning we measured that more than 30 inches of rain has fallen in the past 48 hours.

  

  

It’s been nice to have our son Tim here for the past 5 weeks doing one of his physiotherapy placements in Les Cayes.  While here, Tim produced and filmed our first Creole bible lesson and we are really happy with the 16 minute film that we plan to use at Renault Sunday school.

  

Myrlande, who has been our long time partner in ministry, was married last weekend. She seems very happy and assures us that her ministry with us will continue.

  

It has been a very productive past two weeks as we have had a small team of semi-retired friends from Grand Rapids here, who have done a ton of work. They put an extension on the Renault Sunday school and they put two large roofs on at the camp. This pretty much completes the repairs since hurricane Matthew.

  

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We totally depend upon God’s care and guidance each day.

Thanks, bye for now,

Love Rod, Debbie, Katie and Tim

Update from Haiti

 

Our plane to Haiti was delayed 5 hours so we did not get to the hospital until 9:30pm.  Luke has done many surgeries so far and referrals for future doctor’s. Many unexpected maintenance issues as always, but almost all fixed and preventive list completed. I have 8 Haitians working on various projects, one we are adding a 16 foot extension onto the Renault Sunday school today so we pre-cut everything for Duane’s group so they can construct it today. I also have 3 big projects here at the hospital and hopefully will be completing them today. If you’re wondering why I’m sending this in the morning it’s because last night was quite interesting for me. I was talking to my wife and son on Google chat and had an itch on my leg, touched it and blood sprayed across the room. A varicose vein ruptured! I managed to put pressure on it and found a first aid kit in the other room. The next hour I cleaned up blood that sprayed everywhere. Luke came back from his walk and decided to wait till today to do surgery on it so he had help, I will go last making sure the Haitians are taken care of first. In the states they would do Laser, but here they will cut and rip them out, looking forward to that; NOT. So, I am on light duty for the rest of my trip, pray my surgery goes well. I’m going to scrub in and help, they said I could do some stitches.

Bye for now

Jeff & Dr. Luke

Meaningful Easter celebrations again this year

 

Hi All:
It is a bit longer break between trips to Haiti, as Dr. Luke and Jeff, along with Beth Newton, arrived last night at Cayes after a delayed trip in to Haiti yesterday morning.  All seems well from Luke’s report today (Easter Sunday), so thought I would just give a brief update of several fronts.

Needless to say, I appreciate the team working at the hospital. Luke saw a bunch of pediatric hernias and feels he will be busy with this load, something that will make likely a few less surgeries for Dan and I when we go in a couple weeks. He has been there twice yearly now since the earthquake and, between his work as well as that from Jose Dominguez, Jim Webb and Fred Brown they have made my load very doable, despite the interruptions made by the 3 surgeries so far and have kept the hospital and surgical department running smoothly. It is hard to believe that it has been already 4 years and 3 months since I received my aggressive cancer diagnosis, now a year since the last 15 hour procedure. I am very thankful that the Lord has seen fit to restore me to health, with a few minor speed bumps that remain, and that I can continue to work pretty much full time here in the US and fairly well in my times in Haiti. This is, as “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Although I greatly appreciate the excellent work done by the surgical team of Dr. David Bartlett and the University of Pittsburgh, there is no question in my mind that the Lord has blessed me beyond our expectations and we praise Him for that in this special season.

I will get a repeat CT scan this Wednesday, I think about the 27th one I have had since the start of this all, and will await the reading by Dr. Bartlett regarding future treatments, if there are any to be offered. The TPN continues to be a lifesaver as it keeps meat on my bones and gives me strength to do the work before me, both in the US and in Haiti.  Thank you all again for all your prayers and support of my health and our work for Him in Haiti at CSL.

One of the major tasks Dan and I will work on is to restructure the administrative and medical committee functioning to make it more efficient but also more employee friendly, to reduce the stress on the employees who were, for the most part, afraid of the administration, not a workable situation. I will never fully understand Haitian logic and thinking, but will try our best to create a sustainable environment. We also lost another employee to the US, as a second OR nurse left to marry her fiancé in the US, but will leave a hole in our OR crew. It seems that, despite the noise about reduced immigration, there seems to be a large number of Haitians who migrate, legally, to the US.  So, we have to work on filling the holes with solid Christians who also are capable of doing the job and have a good work ethic, yikes.

Thanks again for your encouragement for our health and service for our Risen Savior in Haiti for His glory.

In Him,
Bill and the Haiti Crew