Once again, Duane Verkaik and his Haitian Donkey friend have made the trip back home safely, though mostly by separate routes. We both found considerably more to do than we had planned, at least I certainly didn’t get done all that I had hoped to do, though that is neither a surprise nor out of the ordinary, but we are thankful that the Lord helped us with what we could accomplish. So, we are back with our families and the jobs the Lord has for us here on this side of the pond, with thankfulness for His travelling mercies and your prayers for our tasks to have been done in Haiti to the best of our abilities.
After a good running start to the week, as mentioned, we have continued to keep a healthy pace for even a stumbling Haitian Donkey. Duane has repaired several other things at the hospital, including the Xray machine (a great thank you for that) and has put more work into trying to figure out what is wrong with the black smoke belching John Deere generator we so desperately need to keep going with the lack of government power and little hope for more for at least the rest of the year. Who knows what will happen with the new administration and their direction next year, of course. With his American consultants (Dan, Jeff and Kevin (Harlett)), the decision seems that there are leaks that cause the oil to slide over into places it should not be, but at least the expert’s opinion is that we can run the generator without hurting it for the time being, though repair possibilities are being considered. In his usual organized fashion, he has made a list of things that should be done, should be considered and a number of thoughts to debate. I continually thank the Lord for my friends who help make the ministry possible.
After doing a number of major cases the first 3 days, Dr. William, Jean Eddy and I headed up north at 3 am on Thursday morning for our meeting with the heads of the residency program in Cap Haitian. Dr. Zephyr was very cordial and informative, giving us what I feel was a straight scoop on the changing political climate in the Haitian medical care system, which, obviously may change again in a few months with new leadership in the general government bringing in new leaders in the Health Department and thus possible new decisions for where they want to go. He did give us a specific person to contact who should be able to make the decision, though how open he may be is anyone’s guess at this point. So, I will ask him for an interview/appointment when I return during the week of the 22nd of August. At least that will be in Port au Prince and only take up one day of my time there, hopefully. We would covet your prayers that Dr. Georges DuBuche would be willing to meet with me and at least consider my request to allow Drs. William and Adulte to enter into the residency program up in Cap Haitian in the fall of 2015. If I get the appointment, that I would have God’s wisdom and direction in what to say and how to say it. I will also take a letter with me, again in flowery French, such as I cannot produce, to present our request formally. I also am praying that Pastor Chavannes Jeune, the former vice president of the mission who is involved in politics now but is supportive of our causes, will be able to accompany me and be the intermediary for that meeting as well as a continuing connection in Port for our cause. Needless to say, I am way out of my comfort zone, but I know that if God would have this to happen, He can and will help me do my best for His glory and the furtherance of our work at Centre de Sante Lumiere.
The gunshot wound finally stabilized, though we had to insert a chest tube to drain out a significant volume of blood from his chest. The appendixes were doing well, though the 8 yr old with several quarts of pus in her belly continued to spike fevers to 104 degrees and had accompanying febrile seizures, surely a frightening thing to her Aunt who has taken charge of her care in the abandonment of her father. I never did figure out where the mother fit into the picture, if she still is alive and what side of the parents the caring Aunt is on. We managed to control the seizures and get the temperature down and am praying that she recovers fully. So far, everyone else is doing well, including the mastectomy for far advanced disease (trying to at least control the necrotic tissue development, no hope for cure, unfortunately) and the diabetic with foot gangrene who came in to ask me to cut it off, always a painful decision for us all. However, a missionary pastor I met on a flight about a year ago, working with some orphanages and schools with the local churches in Port had contacted me about a large cancer growing on the scalp of an elderly Haitian pastor that had gone unchecked for 2 years and was sapping his strength and life to the point that he no longer could walk, eat and was wasting away. He asked, via email with a troubling picture that showed that almost all of his scalp was involved in this fungating tumor, if I could do anything to help him. He came soon after my arrival, his Hematocrit was only 11 (normal is 35 to 45) so terribly anemic and just skin and bones. We were able to give him 3 units of blood over 3 days to perk him up some and he was eager to try the surgery, understandably. It was difficult but seemed to go well, though only gave him tiny doses of anesthesia to accomplish it, a good and prudent thing to do, but in retrospect, probably an indicator of the debilitated state he was in. We prayed before surgery together, as we always do, and he seemed very happy that we would try this and was praising the Lord during my prayer. When we finished the operation, we took him back to the ward and went back to the OR to do another case, leaving him in the care of our nursing staff for whom CPR is still something I need to teach, though the logistics of this are daunting, to say the least, during which he suddenly arrested and passed away, a definite discouragement for us all. At times, the neglect, use of voodoo instead of more traditional medical care, and other extremely limiting factors involved in our attempts to provide quality care for our patients bring a lot of sadness to us all. As I traveled back to Port from Cap Haitian on Friday, we were in a much more hopeful mood due to our meeting with Hopital Justinian leaders of the residency program, but we made a couple wrong turns in the town of Gonaives (there is NO identifying marker anywhere on the entire Route National 1 (there are 3 or 4 main roads traversing the country, just for reference), so one has to stop and ask lots of friendly people for directions, given free and sometimes well intentioned but worth what we pay for it). Since I am notorious for getting lost in my own back yard, I was of little help in that category, but we had enough delay that we were not able to get to Port soon enough to try once again to get Duane’s luggage. Thus Duane and I met each other in the airport the next morning and, when the counter lady asked him if he had any luggage to take back to the US, in his usual boisterous fashion, he had to inform her that he had not yet received the luggage he brought down there! We are hopeful that Jean Eddy was able to get his luggage and some for Olga’s friends, all of which have been delayed in arrival.
I know of some people who love to sing in the shower, including our son, James. However, in all my years overseas, where we have always had showers in the wards and have encouraged our patients to use the facilities, I never remember anyone singing in the shower, maybe because this is a more public situation. However, the other morning I was making rounds and someone was going on for the entire time I made rounds (well over 1/2 hour) at a rather significant decibel level, to the point that it was hard to listen to bowel sounds, etc. However, I really didn’t know how to resolve the situation properly so we just enjoyed the free concert as we visited and treated our patients. On that pleasant note, we will sign off and again remind you of our appreciation for your prayers and support of our service for Him in Haiti.
Bill and Duane (and crew)