We are back home (minus our luggage, but that is promised to arrive in a bit, as we were delayed getting in to Dallas last night for a tightly scheduled 45 minute layover (flights are becoming more expensive and much less available) and, despite then being delayed 1/2 hour once we were seating on the plane, our luggage never caught up with us. However, it is all suitcases full of stuff for the Women’s Center distribution, so not urgent. Jeff did bring home both Ultrasound units in his carry on to see if they are fixable, as new ones will cost between $7500 and $10,000 depending if we can get a charitable organization grant/discount from them. Obtaining and maintaining reasonable equipment is a daily struggle for our hospital on a limited budget, so appreciate prayer for wisdom in these endeavors.
The rest of my week went pretty well, I recovered well from the GI bug I brought with me INTO the country. The week before departure for Haiti was a bit hectic at best, though thankful that we were able to participate is almost all the activities surrounding Harold’s last days on earth and his great home going funeral (if that can be properly sequenced together?). Though of course, as Christians, we do sorrow over missing our brother greatly, we also thank the Lord that he no longer is suffering and has his glorified body and has been reunited with my parents (my mom died 31 yrs ago and dad 15 already) and his grandson, as well as the hosts in glory. I was greatly encouraged over the arrangements he had made for what was shared at the funeral, as he explained his trust in God and his desire that all of us examine ourselves and be sure that we are living as God would have us to and thus will be prepared to meet Him. There will be difficult days ahead for many of the family (my wife and my sister, Margie, are, as I write this, on their way to Brampton, Ontario, for the funeral tomorrow of the 7th of my dad’s 10 siblings, and another sister is essentially on her deathbed in the Netherlands, from what we hear), but we were greatly comforted and encouraged by the many cards and expressions of sympathy, prayers, etc extended to all of us. Although we are considerably less than perfect, I was thankful that my own 10 siblings and huge extended family, as well as many friends, pulled together incredibly to help out through the difficult days around Harold’s home going and will continue to do so in the days ahead. I think that I probably got my immune system’s resistance down a bit with all the extracurricular activities, was queasy on the trip out, but originally attributed it to the choppy way the planes seem to blaze through turbulent pathways now, instead of trying to avoid them. Not eating anything and only drinking gallons of Oral Rehydration Salts for a day does help the ministry of the interior to clean out, but takes a bit of your strength out of you also for a day and then some.
We finished the week in Haiti pretty well, with an extended required meeting with USAID quality control representatives (wow, can government projects exceed in paperwork and self sustaining expeditions propelling us rapidly in questionable directions), on Thursday. I may have salvaged something from the prolonged verbal completion of the many paged questionnaire (all in French, of course) in that I hit the Haitian coordinator up for consideration of a donation to the hospital of a packet of very expensive deep cycle batteries that we have been told fill an entire warehouse in Port and might be available through proper channels? At the end of the “quality control investigation” he asked me :if there was something they could do to help us in our care of the patients in our assigned region: and one doesn’t have to ask me twice.
Friday had 14 more cases scheduled, but not that many large ones (by design, I don’t like to do big cases when I leave at 2 the next morning, in case there might be a complication for me to take care of), plus an afternoon meeting with the guards and cleaning people, about 25 of them, ALL in very “villagy Creole,” bit tough on my comprehension, to be generous. We were cruising well in the OR when a huge host, about 50 people strong, including several well armed police, descended on the ER with 2 victims. It seems the two well developed men were “quarrelling” (is the literal translation), with another man when the fellow decided to bring the odds more into his favor by adding a machete to his tool box. Wow, can that do a ton of damage in a short time. His patellar tendon and it’s insertion into the leg bone were chopped off right through the bone, so that the entire knee joint was exposed. Similar damage was done to both men’s hands, ie all 4 of them, and then lots of significant chops on all the other extremities. Additionally, there were tons of dirt and grass well imbedded into all the lacerations, including into the exposed bone. It was useless to figure out how this could have happened, but it took all 3 of us physicians hours to debride/clean things up and sort out the pieces to the best of our ability and then try to make some semblance of restored order. I don’t know if they ever will be able to hold their own in future battles, should they be so foolish to engage in these activities.
As noted, the trip back home went quite well and we are thankful to settle in to our families and “other job.” While we were in Haiti, a good segment of the “Haiti team,” in the US gathered supplies, sorted and packaged them and on Friday, the 24th, loaded another 40 foot container for the hospital and the Wray’s ministry on a mega crammed schedule. A group from South Carolina who have a number of orphanages in the area of the hospital have been trying to coordinate the medical aspect of their services with the government hospital, including sending down like $400,000 US of equipment, like an new anesthesia machine, other OR equipment, but the customs agents told them they would have to pay $50,000 US in fees to get the supplies they would donate to the government hospital and let them use it in exchange for doing some cases on the local population for free! In frustration with the system, they got hooked up with us and we will send it down and put some of it at least into use at our hospital in exchange for them helping us with just the shipping, as we have a duty exempt status situation, something the government run hospital doesn’t? Due to the misunderstandings, this needed to go out under a big time crunch, so I/we have, once again, greatly appreciated the EXTRA effort put out by Duane, Dan, Theresa and MANY others who do so much to make the work at Centre de Sante Lumiere possible. The work just could not be done without them and they are a great blessing to us.
In His Service,
Bill, Jeff and Linda (sorry, will spell it right someday)