The Haitian Donkey asks prayer for wisdom, peace and direction for himself and his country

Hi All:

Most of you are aware that there has been ongoing turmoil, with really no end in sight, in Haiti for months now. We have had sporadic bursts of rioting and destruction, there have been months of trouble with brief respites but then things flare up again. The rioters hope to cripple the already struggling country, adding insult to a very difficult situation for the people, and they seem to be winning, though not sure this could be called a situation from which anyone emerges a victor. 

Dan, Micah and I had planned to go to Haiti on March 9 with a team of eye students and their leader, as well as a couple who would work on repairs of the Radio Lumiere station on the compound. However, with all the violence and uncertainty, they have elected to not go at this time, though we 3 still are hopeful that things may calm down and allow us to go and work. The clinic has been slow, as few patients dare risk the roads to make it to be seen. We also have not had any fuel deliveries, etc, so things are becoming more tense all over Haiti. We certainly would not want to go if they could not get fuel, etc, as surgery takes more diesel to run the generator, if the patients could even make it out to the hospital. Government power, never a very reliable thing for the few hours they do give it, undoubtedly is non existent at present. So, things at the hospital need prayer and direction.

I spoke with Dr. Moise yesterday, he states that essentially no vehicles are on the road as the rioters in many towns are burning the vehicles to show their displeasure with the situation, again, something not easily remedied.  As a result, prices have skyrocketed, the goude/USD ratio was 74:1 when we were there last month, it is now 84:1 from what I hear and most food supplies come from outside Haiti, thus sensitive to the exchange rate. Plus, even if it is brought in, it cannot go anywhere from Port very safely, so food is scarce in market, etc. 

So, we ask for prayer for a peaceful, more long term solution to the problem, so that those of us who want to help are able to. There are always promises for discussions to resolve things, pray that they will happen soon and be productive, before even more suffer and/or die as a result of the conflicts. Pray for wisdom for us 3 as we consider whether or not to go on the 9th. My friend Jon Roberts, a doctor who brings medical teams in each year has a team of 23 providers and other workers from Missouri scheduled to go this Saturday and has to make a decision in 2 days, in conjunction with the Wrays, where he bases the operation. We coordinate things with them as they send us surgeries that they find in the villages, so they are always a great asset to all concerned. It will be a blow to all concerned if this has to be cancelled, possibly for the year, as medical providers cannot juggle schedules all that easily.

In Him,

Bill, Dan and Micah

Oh foolish Haitians

Dear Family and Friends; 

It is possible that you have heard some of the news about Haiti the past few days. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts. We are safe and doing well, although things are very bad in Port au Prince (Haiti’s capital city) and throughout certain other areas of Haiti. We have had a team of 18 friends from Michigan here this week and it has gone really well, although we were unable to help 25 couples get married as originally planned. Instead, we mostly stayed at the camp, had lots of fun with local kids and the team did some excellent work projects, including a beautiful job of carpentry on the apartments (there were 4 journeymen carpenters on the team, plus a crew of great workers). 

Please pray for us tomorrow morning as I take the team (Lord willing) to the Cayes airport where they will be evacuated from. We would also appreciate your prayers today for our family, as my Dad passed away at 84 years old. Thanks for your prayers and for standing with us. Thanks also for the many beautiful emails we received from  you on Katie’s birthday. 

Bye for now,

Love

Rod, Deb and Katie 

Several Haitian Donkey Updates

Hi All:

I normally do an update while in Haiti, but thought I would share a few things from the USA end. As noted in the last update, we made it home smoothly, though with a chilly reception around midnight in GR. The weather has been less than accommodating for a frigid Haitian Donkey, I was dragging a bit after being home a week, some of which I attributed to the nasty prep for my 36th CT scan on the 26th, as it was downtown and there are not a lot of way stations with bathrooms enroute, so was careful with my fluids for fear of accidents. But, it hung on and I had constant nausea and no appetite, a good sign an infection is brewing. However, my temp and white blood counts remained normal, so just kept working and waiting. Tuesday night, it spiked in the middle of the night, so went to the hospital outpatient lab the next morning, in the total whiteout we were experiencing. I drive the highway to work every morning, feel like I know every bump along the way, etc, but could not see the exit in the snowstorm and almost missed it as in the exit lane but couldn’t see far enough in front of me to catch the ramp. 

I started on antibiotics that night and have had considerable improvement. How to keep the nasties away is a more difficult decision and appreciate prayer for wisdom in how God would have us proceed.  Due to the infection, I again was removed from another study for the time being.  We are scheduled to return on the 9th of March again with a team of 12, so need to be up on my game by then. This group will measure and give eyeglasses to those that need it, a new service for our patients that I am sure will be greatly appreciated. One of the last patients I saw in Haiti had gone to a Christmas celebration/party, where alcohol was abundant. Apparently he got in an altercation and the other side took a chunk out of his nose with a bite. He had gone to the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in Cayes, a private Canadian hospital specializing in these disorders, nothing was done and by now it had healed well, just minus a section. I likely would have tried a small graft if it was fresh, but at this point, will see what he looks like down the road and consider revision? 

I also wanted to share our statistics for 2018 for those of you who support our work in prayer, financial support and otherwise, so you can see what medically, at least, has been accomplished for the glory of God at Centre de Sante Lumiere. 

We did 512 Surgeries

66,933 patients were seen in the outpatient clinic

913 was the average number of hospitalizations per month/some would include ER overnight observations for stabilization

33,090 Lab tests were done (and that includes some down time with the machine, which hopefully we have fixed (thanks, Dan))

We also did 274 deliveries

As we don’t try to turn away anyone who cannot pay for their care, we have a Poor Fund that many of you contribute to on a regular basis, and we ended up with a total of $116,610 that we were able use to care for those unable to afford even our low rates, for which we are thankful. This represents about 17% of our budget total and thus allows us to care for many patients with limited capacity, as there are very few patients who have some form of insurance in Haiti. 

In His Service,

Bill, Dan and Duane and the rest of the Haiti Team

Happy 16th Birthday Katie!

Dear Family and Friends; 

It is Katie’s 16th birthday and that also means that this year will mark 16 years in Haiti for us.  We are so thankful for Katie and would love it if you would send her a birthday greeting as she turns 16 (Feb 5th).

We’ve had a few months without visitors, so it is great to have teams coming again. Last week, together with a team from Michigan, we did a wedding for 28 couples and a camp for about 150 young people.

More than 2300 children came to Renault Sunday school at Christmas and they all received some very nice gifts.

It was a huge distribution which took about 4 hours, so we were really thankful for the help from Deb’s English class, who are also part of our volleyball club. 

We also held a special day of activities for the young people in our volleyball club. They divided up into 4 teams and competed in many events including tug o war, 

Timed team Toyota push,

High Jump

Anytime we have work projects we have a great crew of young people from our volleyball club who are ready and willing to work.

Our long time employees Roro and Nadair are learning carpentry and woodworking and they are doing great. We are planning to make 200 of these chairs, Lord willing, to replace our rusted folding chairs. The chairs stack together and are made out of local Haitian cedar. 

Thank you for your continued partnership as we begin this new year. We truly appreciate your prayers and support. 

Bye for now, 

 Love Rod, Deb and Katie 

The Haitian Donkey and friends receive a chilly reception

Hi All:

We are back in the US, after having had a good trip home, despite the freezing temperatures that greeted us here in Grand Rapids. I don’t think the Missouri crew did much better as far as the heat wave, or lack of same.  Friday was good to wrap up loose ends for some of us, I was able to arrange some connections with the president of the mission, Pastor Alneve, for future hospital plans as well as arrange for the next team, the Optometry team from Ferris State University with leaders from Zeeland, MI who will work with them as well as a gentleman who has come for years repairing things for Radio Lumiere, another project that seems to require constant maintenance to keep going. On the other hand, Dan, Paul and Dave started a project to repair the OR table in Room 1 AFTER we were finished with surgery Friday afternoon. This table was donated several years ago by a team who worked here for a couple weeks and it is electric, so the nurses have become spoiled using it. However, last week, it would only go up, not down, a bit of a struggle for us who are not giants by nature, and we had to wait til the surgeries were over to attack it as the sterile environment sort of goes downhill with tools, people and parts all over the floor. So, they started later in the afternoon, but by God’s grace, were able to rearrange the parts so that some non vital functions no longer work (such as tilting the table one way or another) but the parts have been wired into the up and down section. I so much appreciate the talents of my coworkers, as my skills in that realm are so little that they might be labeled as nonexistent. I will see what happened to the older table that was there, as those older, nonelectric ones are much more durable, especially in the heat and humidity they are exposed to. 

I did make at least one error in the last update, you likely figured out that the Donkey miswrote it. I mentioned that Dan declared the state of emergency over the sewage situation, very appropriately, and asked that all workers, USA and Haitian (not American) work on this til it was resolved, which thankfully it was. On Tuesday, we also ran into another problem with no simple solution. The container from Amsterdam arrived in Port on the 30th of December, late, as the non profit was moving and I doubt they have a moving company do so as on a limited budget. So, we really wanted to get at the contents, but the Bill of Lading was sent DHL from Amsterdam on Dec 13, 2018 and an Edward H, 1312 (nothing in Haiti seems so organized that our employees have numbers) signed for the package, but no one knows who that person is. So, the clearing agent was warning us that he needed a copy of the original Bill of Lading from the shipping company. This required a release of responsibility from myself/CSL, so that if Edward H and we showed up to claim the container, they would not be held liable. None of us could figure out how to fill out this form online (and there were a number of younger, more computer savvy individuals trying to help us complete this form). English is clearly not the primary language of the agent at IDA in Amsterdam I was dealing with and, though I speak Dutch, my skills in the technical realm are limited. Everyone scurried around trying to get someone to budge or get the form filled out (NO progress on any front), when the papers suddenly appeared at Pastor Alneve’s church in Cayes on Friday, the package had been opened and rifled through. No one knows what really happened, maybe Edward H. was disappointed that there were only papers and no money in the package, maybe he had a strike of guilt of his conscience and returned it, but we are VERY thankful to the Lord that this was returned one way or another and we can proceed with clearing the container and much needed supplies. When they gave me the package Friday morning, I grabbed Jean Eddy to deliver it and the team said they saw him streak out of the hospital at high speed. He delivered it and then accompanied us to Port the next morning in the bus as he always is such a responsible person, making sure the team is well taken care of, much appreciated. 

The ladies left a very shipshape storage space and I do think that the employees will continue to keep things well organized. Likely not quite as good as at present, but much was packaged in plastic tubs so the critters no longer can sharpen their teeth on the supplies. Jose, as you know, a colorectal surgeon, had a number of his specialty cases to wrap up the week. When I was in training, we were always told that colorectal problems were limited to developed countries, as our diets are low in fiber, etc, so they don’t exist in 3rd world countries. I fear that this is one of the blissful theories that is propagated by those living in “ivory towers” and not really in touch with the real world, as I certainly have seen an incredible number of patients in both Africa and Haiti with difficulties in this area, with not a lot of simple solutions, as their diets are low in fiber and the options are limited. 

On a personal note, today marks the 6 year anniversary of being told I have this nasty cancer and the start of a long, tumultuous journey of three 15 hour surgeries, 2 rounds of chemotherapy and now, last Friday, I appear to be signed up for my 3rd round of immunotherapy. Will get eye and lung evaluations, it appears these treatments can take their toll on these organs, a bit scary, as a blind surgeon who cannot breathe is likely not all that useful either here or in Haiti. But, I try to proceed down the paths that the Lord opens up for me, these treatments may not help, may hurt or do nothing to slow down the cancer, but they do try to keep me going. As it is supposed to get UP to a negative 1 degree Farenheit on Wednesday, that troubling element does not do a lot of perk up my spirits, but every day I drive in my pickup to work or church, I thank the Lord that I don’t have to take a horse and buggy in the ice and snow. I know the Lord gives grace for what He puts before us, but I think my faith stumbles a bit at the difficult situations our forefathers had to endure. So, appreciate continued prayer for wisdom and strength to go through this round of treatment, make difficult plans for the future possibly without me, and that we will, as Heb 12 tells us, “fixing our eyes Jesus, who for the joy before Him endured the cross.”  Nothing I will have to endure comes close to that price He paid for my salvation. 

In His Service, 

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn