Home with lots of questions?

Hi All:

On the last quick update, we had just survived a course of undesired Haitian Happiness, the only member of our team to not participate was Teri Pols, as Dan informed us that he also joined us on his way home on Wednesday and was unable to work on Thursday due to the aftereffects. Of interest is that I have only had this trouble three times in my 13 years in Haiti, the last 2 being when I was on Chemotherapy and thus had a weaker immune system than normal and the last 2 times it was with a team consisting of several members of my family, all of which participated in the fun. However, we survived and Friday was a good day to wrap up projects. Butch, with his team of Haitian cement workers, poured the cap on the floor of the waiting room (it is the roof of the physical therapy, so was never finished as was just a roof), he said his arms and legs ached as we flew home the next day as running the bull float and smoothing the final finish on his knees all day was a bit much after being down for a couple days, but it looked great as we departed.

Dave and Paul fixed up a number of other repair jobs, including doors that don’t close well, some plumbing work and other greatly appreciated work as maintenance is not a well understood concept in the Haitian culture. The rest of the crew did a number of organization items to get us ready to go the next day and all went pretty well. After surgery, I had another meeting with the USAID/Pathfinder employees, not a fun thing as the well meaning USAID creates unrest and unfair salary differences between their employees and those of CSL, yet they want to work within our system and not create their own, understandably, and so the differences are laid out in the open for all to see. Grumbling about such things as the fact that the Christians don’t pay as well as the non Christians makes for problems I have to deal with continually, as well funded NGOs like USAID, Doctors without Borders, the UN and other groups come in for a short period of time with lots of cash, pay their employees much beyond what we can afford to pay and still try to build a sustainable organization that will endure beyond our presence.

As you may know, the elections were delayed and that only brought out more rioting, such foolishness, but what is to be done. We got to the airport in plenty of time, checked in through American Airlines and got in the longest line I have ever seen in the airport to go through security. We had longer lines outside after the earthquake just to get in, but this was a surprise. Dan had similar problems on Wednesday, so not sure what is going on but we finally had American Airlines personnel take us to the front of the line as our plane was boarding after standing in line for 1.5 hours and going nowhere in a hurry. We got through immigration and a second AA security checkpoint and raced onto the plane just before the doors closed. No one seems to know what the problem was, there were no people in the waiting lounge for the Miami flight due to leave an hour later so presume the problem was fairly complex, but who ever knows. Flights home for the other 7 members of our group went well, Butch has gone with me the last 4 Januarys and the last 3 we have had snow storms mess us up and this was no exception. With much finagling, I was able to reroute us through Ft Lauderdale to Charlotte, then to Phoenix, back to Chicago and home by noon on Sunday. We couldn’t find a pilot in Lauderdale to fly for an hour, another delay, then at 3 am in Phoenix, couldn’t find a flight attendant and thus were not able to leave for an hour and a half, so that had to reschedule out of Chicago. Apparently some grumbling there escalated to the point that suddenly armed police showed up to quell the disturbance (they looked a bit bewildered as Butch and I also didn’t see anything other than the normal grumbling one expects when a flight is delayed in the wee hours of the morning). But, we made it home, by the grace of God and were thankful.

So, back home to work and to chemo, which has NOT been a bunch of fun this time, not that it ever is. Normally, I only drink clear liquids for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the chemo running in, as anything more brings visits to the ceramic bowl to relieve the nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. This time, it has been about 5 times worse with severe dehydration and my nurse Theresa came out on Saturday and put an IV in me that still is running 2 days later after 8 quarts have run in. I am now able to drink some water and hope that I can be able to return to work tomorrow as will back up my clinic here also further. Today, the first of February, I am waiting to hear if Dr. William and Adulte will be able to start their residencies in the midst of all the political turmoil in Haiti. They probably will have extra work to do with all the casualties from the rioting. Once they have established their residency rules, they will look for a place to live, as one has to pay the whole year’s rent in advance and you can’t find ads for much in Port, you just ask the street vendors close to where you might want to stay if they know of any places for rent in the area. They have to be within walking distance of the hospital as traffic is horrendous in Port au Prince, no rules, just craziness. So, pray for my two colleagues as they begin this 4 year phase in their lives, for strength, encouragement and God’s grace to prevail. Also for their families as they put up with their prolonged absences and for the finances we need to help them make up the differences in salaries between our hospital and the salary the government pays.

In His Service,

Bill for Brianna, Butch, Dan, Dave, Marge, Paul, Tabitha, Teri, and Tia

The Haitian Donkey’s Hectic Life

Hi All:
As most of you know, I like being busy, don’t do all that well sitting around. However, maybe it has been a bit crazy even for me. Trying to get everything done before we went was all done rapid fire, trying to clear up the workload of patients at Georgetown Medical Center before my departure. Our friends at TSA, Charlie and Mike, again were gracious and helped us go through the search and destroy part of leaving Grand Rapids without a speed bump. However, the rest of the trip was a bit rougher. The only flight available (I am blaming the snowbirds going back to the sunny south after the holidays) had only a 47 minute layover in Charlotte, NC, a rather spread out airport.  We were delayed in GR for 1/2 hour as the deicing crews were short handed, so landed in Charlotte pretty much with the need to move quickly so we hiked to our new gate with a few minutes to spare, but were told that, due to weather, cloud cover or some explanation offered, our landing spot in Miami was delayed 30 minutes. We were to meet our nurse practitioner friend in Miami, as she flew in from Chicago. She spent a couple of years overseas in Africa, with us, so was experienced in overseas travel, but we had no way to tell Jean Eddy and Dudu whom to look for nor let her know who would be taking her on her way, if we didn’t arrive. We landed in Miami only 1/2 hour late, but then they had nobody who knew how to work the jetbridge, so we sat for 40 minutes, watching the time slide by. When they finally let us out of the plane, we had 2 minutes before the gate would close for the Port au Prince flight. I am ever so thankful for the fact that I am gaining some strength as I gain some weight, [I have some jowls where I had sunken cheeks 3 months ago when I started chemotherapy again, etc.] but my legs would hardly go fast enough, despite me willing them to find a higher gear.
We got to the gate a few minutes late, as they were about to close the door. As it turned out, there were about 60 folks, including 2 teams of 25, who were on our Charlotte to Miami flight and so we waited for another 20 minutes for them. Then the door wouldn’t close so we waiting another 40 minutes for maintenance to fix that. Most of the people were frustrated, while Butch and I were rejoicing as we figured this would allow our luggage to catch up with us, which, thankfully, did occur. I found Tabitha snoozing soon after we got on board, as she had been waiting ages for departure. We landed in Port, got our luggage and were able to get on the road to the hospital without further difficulty.
By the time we arrived, the rest of the crew were sound asleep, but they had left us some rice and fish, so we feasted on that and went to bed. As the Wray’s expected team did not make it, our team was able to go to Renault and participate in the Sunday School program with them. I was tempted to go as I enjoy it and can connect up with the Wrays and many Haitian friends there, but felt I should stay, as my TPN was still running due to our late arrival and would need to be disconnected and that likely would not be the best place to do this. Within 2 minutes after they left, Dr. Morose, one of my younger doctors, came to find me as a teenage girl had been hit by a bus and was brought in to see us. We placed 2 large lines and poured the fluids into her; got xrays and saw she had broken both legs just below the hip, very nasty, unstable fractures where one can lose several units of blood in each thigh. Since we no longer allowed by the government to type and cross blood, we have to get it from the Red Cross in Cayes, usually a minimum of 4 hours, undoubtedly worse on Sunday morning, where you have to go to the lab tech’s house and bring her to the Red Cross before starting the process. Thus we were unable to save the poor girl, definitely a discouragement with such a young patient in dire straits.
The rest of the next 2 days have been productive, though the pace leaves the Haitian Donkey quite breathless. We met with the German folks who have helped us for several years with the Poor Fund and we are scrambling to get things together for them to possibly help us with funding our doctors in the residency, as they are interested in funding things that will be an investment in the future. Certainly this would qualify. Monday morning, Dr. William and Dr. Adulte were still with us, so we ran both ORs most of the day and got a good jump on the surgical load. However, at noon, Dr. William’s contact at the government hospital told him the hospital he was assigned to would not respect the rules of the Department of Health and were starting their own residency on Monday. Thus we sent him off to do his best to get into the residency, as he is the ONLY non public school trained doctor and will get his share of grief from these arrogant, rich kids, the only people who get into the public medical school. All the poor kids with potential go to the private schools, all run by mission organizations and definitely discriminated against by the public system. I have not yet heard what transpired, pray hard for Dr. William, that he will be able to keep his spirits up and be able to do the residency as planned. 
There is a ton of unrest in the country, with the opposition party burning cars and election places in preparation for the election to be held next Sunday, the 24th. We have set up some contingency plans for Dan and the German couple to leave at 2 in the morning tonight and I have talked to Jean Eddy for our departure on Saturday am, as we will leave at 1 am and if there is trouble, have him hide out with our truck at a safe place until the riots calm down. There certainly does not seem to be a lot of reasonable thinking going on here at times, as we wreck the little we do have with little hope of improving anything in our living situation. The Haitian gourde continues to plummet in value and this only fuels the tempers of unrest among the millions of unemployed Haitians.

Thanks for your prayers and support of the Haitian Donkey and his friends, Brianna, Butch, Dan, Dave, Marge, Paul, Tabitha, Teri, and Tia.

Three Brief Items of Prayer

Hi All:
While I will not leave for Haiti til next weekend, I wanted to give you 3 quick updates/requests:

1. Rod Wray informed us that the police allow no vehicular traffic to be on the roads for the elections, so we will just stay at the hospital (the Wrays won’t even have the Sunday School/Feeding Program as not allowed to travel except on foot to the voting places). However, what that means for our patients who need to come to be seen and scheduled for/have surgery is an item of prayer please. Some may leave before the restrictions apply, but, given the violence that often accompanies activities in Haiti, the clamp down is reasonable but difficult for our patients. When one thinks of all the people in Haiti who try to go to school to better themselves, often at great expenses for the family, as “working your way through school” doesn’t seem to be a principle practiced, and there really are very few jobs available, it sets the stage for the “entitlement mentality” that makes it easy for those who seem to enjoy stirring up trouble to find people eager to join them for a time and cripple an already struggling economy. I suppose we have some of the same even in the US, it isn’t as widespread yet, at least.

2. Although the insurance again sent me a bill for expenses they feel I owe for chemotherapy and TPN of a bit over $16,000, my determined and helpful friend and coworker, Jory, at least has been able to get the agency to resubmit the bills with the promise that more should be reimbursed to them, again, like the doctors training in Haiti, we are thankful for the encouraging promises but would love to see the final decisions in writing.

3. This is one that I will just send on the request as informational technology was not a class offered in “Donkey School,” for me. With Drs. William and Adulte leaving the compound, John Vrooman, who is a long time missionary friend in Haiti who helps others with communication needs, asked me to see if I could get an “Old AT&T IPhone4S or I Phone 5 from someone that they no longer use and would be willing to contribute to the cause, he could hook that up so they can communicate with me through the Haitian Natcom and Digicel system” He just stressed that it has to be from AT&T as that is compatible with the Haitian systems. This would allow them to contact me if they had questions or problems (as we do with the internet phone we have at the hospital, doesn’t always work, but when available, helps with communication and resolution of problems). This also would allow me to arrange times with them when I could connect with them on my trips to or from the hospital through Port, as we can give them the finances we are supplementing their meager government salary ($140/month IF they get it and often not on time) so they can support their families, etc, plus other supplies for their work, etc, without disrupting their duties at the hospital. So, if that makes sense to you who are less IT challenged than I and you have an outdated phone and charger, we would gladly try to let John set this up for them.

Thanks in advance for all you all do to support, encourage and help us as we serve Him in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Brianna, Butch, Dan, Dave, Margie, Paul, Tabitha, Teri and Tia

The Haitian Donkey’s Happy New Year’s Wishes

Hi All:

The snow is drifting down outside the window, so the donkey is glad that the house is heated and he is warm. He just had the chemotherapy infusion unhooked after the 2 days and hope to be able to eat some tomorrow or Sunday, as we have found out the hard way (how else do stubborn donkeys learn, I suppose) that anything besides sips of liquids that I partake of for the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and now some Saturday after my bi weekly chemotherapy just causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, all not so fun to participate in. So, we lose some of the weight we try to gain in the other 10 days of the cycle and do it over and over again. If all goes well, this will be the halfway point (#6 of 12 cycles), so, despite the fact that each one seems a bit harsher, we can look on the positive side, the end is coming, hopefully late March if my counts stay up, etc. The TPN continues to be a literal lifesaver, as my weight has slowly crept back up to my normal between chemo treatments (I cannot do both the chemo and the TPN as have a single lumen central line in my chest).

When I think that, on the 28th of January, 2013, I was given the news that I had this nasty cancer, Mucinous Pseuudomyxoma Peritonei, with an estimated 14 pounds of cancerous tissue inside my abdomen and not much hope for life without the extensive surgery proposed, I thank the Lord that now, almost 3 years, a 15 hr and a second 9 hour surgery plus now 12 months and counting chemotherapy, I am pretty much able to work at both my office and Sunset Manor, caring for the sweet and appreciative elderly folks who seem to like their Haitian Donkey coming to their facility and treated me with homemade Dutch treats and cards again this Christmas, a really encouraging ministry to be able to do for them. I also have a very great staff and set of patients in the office who are loyal to us despite me not always being able to keep the scheduled appointments due to the donkey’s feeble legs not holding him up all the time. My mind seems to work pretty well (of course, some of you may debate that), the body can sit on the stool and take down the history and the wobbly legs can do the physical almost all the time, so praising the Lord for that ability. Many of our patients have encouraged us with special cards, treats (of course the donkey cannot eat them for the most part, but still appreciated) and other ways of encouraging us at this time of year. The TPN has really helped in that respect, as I feel my strength returning every day.

Christmas was very special as we were together as a family for over a week, Rachel and Karen formed the “food police” at the Christmas Eve gathering of Karen’s family (also her birthday party as she is a Christmas Eve baby) and the estimated 73 family members and the usual extra friends and relatives at the Ten Haaf Christmas Day gathering. They ensured that the donkey’s eyes didn’t get larger than his stomach could tolerate and it went well. We even shared Indonesian food with an Indonesian pastor taking classes at the Calvin Seminary at our gathering, one of the extra friends invited to the group, though he was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a white Christmas and hoped that his second time around would be a white one next year, as he will return to his church after that schooling is done. I know that it isn’t exactly a Christmas song, but I repeatedly have had the older song running in my head that the Baby of Christmas, ” (He) left the splendor of heaven, Knowing His destiny, T’was a lonely hill of Golgatha, Where He laid down His life for me.” May I never lose the wonder of that amazing gift, that He would choose to leave heaven’s glory to die for my sin.

Right after my next round of chemotherapy, Lord willing, we are planning on going back to Haiti for a week with a group of 10 of us, including Dan Boerman, who will meet with a German gentleman whose foundation has helped our poor fund in the past and may help us with a project or two this year, as well as my brother Butch and 2 other men who will do repairs with Dan on the hospital grounds, and my sister Margie (her first trip back to Haiti alone after Harold’s death last April), 2 nieces and another lady who will do painting and other improvement projects on the hospital. We are thankful for the large number of men and women over the years who have (many repeatedly) gone to Haiti to help improve and beautify the hospital building, grounds and equipment, a pretty monumental task that requires continual input under the harsh environment things are subjected to in Haiti. I also will have our nurse practitioner and close family friend, Tabitha Sheen, going with to help me in the OR and work on the other side of the table from her years with us in Africa, where she was the nurse anesthetist/circulator and now will assist in the surgical part, as she wants to improve her sewing skills and we have lots of opportunities in that realm also. So, we will have a mixture of talent and pray that all will go well and for His glory. An interesting note is that our timing was set to meet Herr Peter from Germany, but we thought it would be several weeks after the elections, which were scheduled for the 27th of December, but they have been delayed til January 17, at least this is the present thinking, so pray that the riots and unrest that normally accompanies any election in Haiti will be kept to a minimum during our time and travels there.

A last GREAT item of praise to the Lord is that it appears that Drs. William and Adulte have been given the assignments for their surgical residencies. After all the attempts to set things up in Cap Haitian, meetings with the Department of Health, etc, many promises that we were not sure would be carried to fruition, it appears that Dr. William is assigned to the government hospital (HUEH, Hopital Universitaire d’Etat d’Haiti) in Port and Dr. Adulte to the only other surgical training hospital (there are 3 total including the one in Cap Haitian) in Haiti, called Hopital de Paix (Peace), about 3-4 miles away through a difficult section of town to navigate through, likely 1/2 hour of time. They will report to their respective training programs on Monday and find out what they will be offered and what is required of them, but I am rejoicing that the Lord has chosen these options for them. Admittedly, it will be more expensive to live in Port, as everything has to come in from the outside, either from imports of food and staples, or from the countryside, but they will be able to hopefully get to Cayes to see their families on some weekends off call, etc. I don’t know yet how the Haitian Surgical Residency works, if they also have restricted hours like the US now has, only allowing 80 hour workweeks, instead of the 110 plus we had, but am hopeful that they can make the 4-5 hr trip to Cayes more often and more safely than the 12 hr trip to Cap Haitian. It also will allow me to contact them regularly when going in and out of Port, to help and encourage them as needed, etc. So, we are rejoicing greatly to this unexpected answer to prayer for them and us.

Finally, to keep things in perspective, though I feel that we as Christians should be careful and concerned about our environment, whenever I leave Dan Boerman’s office for mine (the Haiti building is in his factory, so go there a lot), I pass a shop where the truck outside has a verse that keeps priorities straight in my mind. It states, “Global Warming Warning, ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'” Rev 20:15. A serious thought to ponder as we make our way in this world in 2016.

Rejoicing in His Goodness and Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

Merry Christmas

Dear family and friends;

We wish you a very special Christmas as we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus!
Merry Christmas from the Wray family.

Carly and Eylar Zielke and their three children, Wyatt, Sawyer and Ellyanna live on a beautiful acreage near Kamloops. Eylar is a carpenter and he works at the local gold mine. At 5 years old Wyatt takes the bus to and from kindergarten each day. Carly runs their hobby farm with the help of Sawyer and Ellyanna.

Christie and Dan Folkman live in Langley where Dan is a manager in an accounting firm and Christie continues to work as a R.N. Dan and Christie enjoy traveling and the outdoors and even spent some time in Lithuania and Norway this past year. Every weekend that they can, they enjoy hiking and discovering new places, together with their friends.

Tim is 24 and is attending the University of British Columbia in the Physiotherapy program. He had a great job this summer with the City of Surrey, and he continues to play and enjoy many sports especially basketball and volleyball.

Kara is 22 years old and has lived in Kelowna, British Columbia for the past few years. She is now moving to Calgary Alberta, and hopes to begin an apprenticeship.

Katie is 12 and is doing great. This year Katie changed to a new online school (Heritage Christian school) and she works hard each day to accomplish all her assignments. Katie is a very fun girl who enjoys swimming, volleyball, singing, crafts, playing games and helping host teams.

We (Rod and Debbie) are doing well. We are thankful for the Lord’s care and guidance in many ways throughout this past year. We traveled home to British Columbia a few times, including the most recent trip in November for Rod’s mom’s funeral. In October we
enjoyed going to a missions conference in Missouri and visiting many friends. In Haiti, it has been an exciting year, especially regarding the Renault Sunday school program. Being able to have the children come for a week at camp plus seeing their love and respect for God, has been a blessing.

Thanks for your prayers and partnership,
From all of our family to yours,
Merry Christmas!
Rod, Debbie, Eylar, Carly, Dan, Christie, Tim, Kara, Katie, Wyatt, Sawyer, and Ellyanna

collage-2015-12-16-7