The Haitian Donkey and his Haitian friends anticipate the arrival of Christmas

Hi All:
The weather has been most perfect for a small, stumbling Haitian Donkey, maybe a bit warmer than Sam and his Haitian coworkers might like, as they work in the container organizing the latest shipment of building materials into some semblance of order. Duane tries hard to put things in the container in a fashion that will facilitate unloading and putting things away in one step, NOT a Haitian priority. So, Sam and crew are getting things out needed for the next couple construction crews and putting spacers between the treated lumber pieces so they will not sweat too much and warp, etc. They have worked very hard at emptying the beds, furniture, etc from downstairs. There is an excitement among the employees as they have bugged me for a long time to put some tile on the floors and, thanks to friends in the US, it is becoming a reality. Seeing the new administrator, the newish head nurse, etc all pitching in with us in moving the stuff to the temporary storage spot also was encouraging, as their predecessors would not have dirtied their hands in manual labor. The whole spirit is encouraging.

We recently had a huge deluge of rain, again washing away a lot of people and possessions. Dr. William’s wife and family have been raising baby chicks and had 350 that they were preparing for market, including 110 that I planned to purchase so that the employees could have a special family meal at Christmas. Unfortunately, the sudden flash flooding included his yard and 295 of the chicks drowned. Even worse, several school children in the area left school to walk home and the flash flood washed them off their feet and they drowned as well as a motorcycle taxi driver. This morning we had a lady on a motorcycle totally crushed by a rogue bus coming over to her side of the road and she never had a chance. It again reminds us of the brevity of life especially here where it seems life is not valued as much as it should and the fact that the Christ of Christmas is our only hope for eternal life.

We also lost a 24 year old lady who tried to abort herself last week, then came in Sunday night as a transfer from another hospital, quite ill and anemic. We gave her mega doses of antibiotics and some blood but could never get her stable enough to take to the OR and do a hysterectomy and she passed yesterday despite our attempts to save her. When I proposed the possible surgery, she was very hesitant as she had no children yet, but in wanting to not have one now, she lost her life instead. Very difficult for us all. Sam told me he is squeamish about surgical procedures but we had a lady come in tonight with 2 washers and 3 rings on her left 4th and 5th fingers. I got my needle nose pliers and wire cutters and we put the lady to sleep as her fingers were necrotic due to infection and swelling. We worked at trying to cut through but the large washers (like those for a large bolt, fairly thick) would not budge. So I asked Sam for some more tools from the tool shed and he brought some and worked along with us as we sweat for quite a while before they gave way. Only then did his stomach rebel and he had to go out of the room, so I was proud of him concentrating on the job enough to see it through.

The town of Simon, where we are located, recently petitioned the government for a road through the village. They have been working on it a while and work started several months ago. Some of the cement has been poured but then a gang of robbers broke into the container they had full of the cement and stole it all. Then, a few days later, they sold it all to the residents of Simon at almost half price. One wonders about a population who is willing to be in cahoots with gangs just so they can get cheaper cement for themselves. The moral climate sometimes sinks too low and makes progress impossible around here.

So, the Haitian Donkey is most appreciative of the progress we have made here by the grace of God and for all of you who encourage and support us as we serve Him here for His glory.

In His Service,

Bill and Sam

A Warm Haitian Donkey has a few speed bumps to cross still

Hi All:
Once again, the wobbly Haitian Donkey is carrying his load around in Haiti and glad of it. The temperature is so much more agreeable though he still wears his MSU sweater hoodie at times (not out in the sun, but in the clinic and where it is a bit cooler). I have been struggling with a bit of a bug for the last 2 weeks, starting with a fever and body aches for a couple days, then seemingly better and just a bit more tired than usual. Also, no appetite, never a good sign for a Hungry Haitian (Donkey or otherwise). I have been juggling somewhat contradictory advice from my new oncologist (in Grand Rapids, my friend, who took excellent care of me for the last 5 years has retired) who is not fond of chemotherapy and Dr. Bartlett and the new surgical oncologist at University of Pittsburgh. The latter would like me to restart the chemotherapy, either one of the two I already have had a course of. I tolerated them, but at least the one has given me persistent neuropathy in my legs and feet (I can walk on my bare feet in the morning to start the truck to warm it as cannot feel anything there) and difficulty swallowing, not a fun thing for a Donkey who likes his food. Neither proved to be a lot of fun but we made it. So, praying about how to best follow the conflicting advice of the experts. I am leaning towards Dr. Bartlett as he has treated over 1000 of my rare cancer, but will see what settles out when I get back, repeat my blood and scan (and hopefully have been able to get rid of this infection).

When I got my biweekly blood draw last Monday, it was evident that I had my fourth blood infection in a bit over a year, despite my being very careful with my line. This is a bit discouraging. Theresa, my nurse, sent me the results but the internet is not working (doing this off line and will send/correct when the internet comes back up, hopefully) so know I have a Staph Epidermitis infection that is sensitive to the IV antibiotics we started on the night before we left for Haiti. So, please pray for wisdom for both of the above. I am glad to be basking in the warmth with my buddy, Sam Baughman, who has come 9 times and has his work cut out for him this week with the number and complexity of projects Boss Duane has assigned him.

When we decided to go with the IV antibiotics, the cold storage space in our carry ons was at a premium, as had to take 18 bags of antibiotics in addition to the 8 bags of TPN (my lunch). I called American Airlines and asked if I could pay for a 3rd carry on, no promises there. There was no room to spare, but we made it. We had a great flight down and our luggage made it, though the suitcase with the batteries for the DeWalt power tools was totally destroyed due to the weight, etc. Three of the 4 were 1/2 pound below limit. For the first time in 14 years, I experienced the joy of using the toilet at the halfway point as the need was there, though the desire to sit on it was not so much. Real donkeys have it so much easier. There was an inch of water on the floor, the seat was not attached and needed vigorous cleaning before any hope of use and I had to keep all the equipment off the ground to have any hope of cleanliness. However, the last 2 hours to the 11 pm arrival at the hospital was a lot more relaxing. Maybe I will take along a little step stool to keep the TP, Wipes and my clothing from touching the floor.

We have had a good surgical clinic and saw a number of patients we hope to operate on in the next week. My tiny cleft lip is growing nicely and will do it next month as mom has been worried since she brought it at 4 days for repair. Our first patient was a 13 yr old with a widely dislocated left elbow, we had him stop all oral intake and did him at the end in the OR so could put him to sleep. It certainly took a bit of pulling and manipulating by Dr. Moise and myself (with just the right timing by Miss Lisberthe who pitched in at the end and it popped gently back into place). One of Sam’s many jobs is to take everything out of the downstairs, beds, dressers, desks, etc so it will be ready for the construction crews coming in January to revise the 70 year old structure to make it more useful again and also allow the tile laying to begin in February unhindered. Pray for safety for the crews as they work together towards that end. Sam also has to sort through a container worth of supplies that were tossed into storage from 6 feet away, I know it was heavy but a bit of organization on their part would make a lot less double work today (but I suppose that accounts for job security).

Will send the update if it flies and correct the infectious information whenever I can access it. Thanks for your prayers and support of our service here for our Lord.

In His Service,

Bill and Sam

Update about upcoming Events

Hi All:
Once again, the low tech Haitian Donkey wants to send out just a few notes of update. The rest of the trip went well, we had no rain and thus could make the trip back to Port in the wee hours of Saturday with our bunch of luggage remaining dry on the roof. Per usual, our teams often bring stuff back from the Centre Lumiere, the center located within walking distance of the hospital where our otherwise destitute ladies make beautiful products from scratch on supplies purchased and sent to Haiti from the US, which we bring back here and thus raise funds to continue the ministry. The ladies have Bible teaching each day and many become believers in their years of training there. The center has had a fair amount of damage from the hurricanes and is still being repaired/refurbished by Caleb and Olga, but they are going to have 3 USA sales in the next few months. The first (the flier is redone below) will be Friday the 3rd of November and Saturday the 4th in Grand Rapids at Bella Vista Church. The next will be in the Bluffton area a few days later. Thus, Evert and I took 4 large suitcases home full of supplies for here and Zella had 2 more for the Bluffton area, as she teaches there.  So, wanted to be sure I got the news out to those who would be interested in supporting this ministry or getting to know more about it, as, like the hospital, we reach out to people by helping them with their physical (financial and medical) needs and then we get to tell them about their spiritual needs of Christ.

We arrived home without trouble, though the chilly reception we had in Grand Rapids (in the 30’s while the 1 am departure was in the 90’s with 95% humidity, even I don’t wear more than scrubs and flip flops and love it) was a bit of a shocking return to reality. I continue to be amazed and thank the Lord for all the crew was able to do during our week of service there. Miss Lisberthe, our OR head nurse, and Miss Catherine, the head nurse for the rest of the hospital, asked Tabitha’s sister to come back a couple times a year to help organize things in the storage rooms, so it was profitable in that aspect also. We have a lot of the downstairs of the hospital cleared, so are well on the way towards getting ready to tile the downstairs of the hospital, though the teams in early 2018 will make considerably more headway on getting the walls and floors ready for that huge job. The first container arrived in less than a month and a bunch of supplies are stored, the second is on the way already.  Dr. Luke will come this weekend for the November surgical week, also Duane and his crew as well as Dr. Luke’s nurse mom, plus Dr. Jo Marturano (psychiatrist) and Beth Newton, so they can work on the psychiatric clinic as well as the surgery aspects. We would appreciate prayer for wisdom for these tasks to be done smoothly and in a way that glorifies God.  Also for safety for the teams as protests continue as the country becomes more chaotic without much law enforcement (with the UN pretty much gone).

Lastly, it is once again headed towards the end of the year and we would like to ask those who have had an interest in the “rice and goats fund” if they would feel God leading them to contribute to this again. In the 7 years we have been able to do this, it has been a great source of encouragement to our employees and myself. As funds allow, we start at the lowest paid employees and share the benefits with all those possible. The Haitian Goude has not done so well on the international scene and, since so much of Haiti is dependent on goods imported from outside, inflation has been rising at a runaway rate. This has especially hit the lowest paid employees as their food costs are such a large part of their living costs. We help them as our funds allow, but this special event is such a great encouragement as it is given as we remember the great gift that God gave us at Christmas for our salvation and eternal life. Again, for those concerned that the gift of the goat will become Christmas dinner, that is not likely to happen, as the goat is too great an investment to eat in a short period, as we don’t have refrigeration to keep the meat safe and so it is kept to grow, reproduce and then be sold to market if a financial crisis arises (medical or other serious event).

The contributions can be sent to either place, designated for the “Rice and Goats Fund, Haiti,” with the check written to the first line of each address:

Byron Center Bible Church

8855 Byron Center Avenue

Byron Center, MI  49315

or

Centre de Sante Lumiere

c/o Dan Boerman

2886 Clydon Ave,

Wyoming, MI  49519

 

In His Service,

Bill, Ed, Evert, Philipp, Tabitha and Zella

The Haitian Donkey and friends are working despite having a good time

Hi All:
Once again, the week is almost over and we are scrambling to wrap up projects and other loose ends. Surgery has gone well, except for one lady that had a cervical cancer I thought I could remove on my pelvic exam, but when I opened her up, the cancer had spread too widely to even give it a try. Again, I get frustrated as the family adamantly refuses to let me talk to the patient about it, I am kind in the way I present it, but I feel I owe it to my patient to tell them that things don’t look so good. So, I try to give them hints when possible without truly breaking the rules. We seem to have had another rash of cervical cancers again, some resectable, many not, and have had the pastors/chaplains busy helping me encourage and counsel the poor ladies. We also had the male counterpart of the widespread virus that likely contributes to this all and had to give him a rather radical surgery.

As Dr. Luke is coming in 2 weeks, I have tried to send some of the workload to him, but clinic has been very busy with patients and emergencies have completed the schedules. We had a lady with an ovarian cyst that twisted itself 360 plus degrees, she was in a ton of pain, but I sent her home today after she finally smiled at me. I needed to encourage her each day that life was improving and she finally seemed to believe it. We also have had the motorcycles supply their share of trauma, a badly dislocated elbow, a number of cracked ribs, several patients with lacerated faces, hands and legs. There also was a 40 year old gentleman who fell off his motorcycle and has a compression fracture of his back. Thus far, he does not have any paralysis, but have him on strict restrictions (as much as that means in this difficult culture). We had a young lady come in yesterday that likely had a stroke as she was pretty much unresponsive and our efforts to revive her were too little, too late. We also have had a number of infected feet, we ended up doing several rather malodorous debridements of dead tissue there as well as an amputation of her second leg on a diabetic 83 yr old lady, very sad but there really was no alternative. So far, she has turned out rather feisty in the 24 hours post-op, hope she remains that way. Today, we finally were allowed to operate on a teenager who had been treated elsewhere for 5 days and now came to see us with a painful, distended belly. It was not clear what he had, but we are so thankful for the ultrasound machine, as we were able to see some fluid outside the bowels and we removed over 2500 cc of pus from his little belly from a typhoid perforation that had been there a while. I pray that he makes it as the next few days will be rough, at the very least. We also are thankful that Evert has replaced the AC in the large OR room and added a vent fan for the less pleasant to our noses cases. Ed has repaired and replaced most of the equipment in the lab and Zella keeps finding new messes to straighten up. Miss Catherine, the head nurse, has asked if she can come back regularly to help organize things, Wow.

Anyone who has come to the hospital over the years knows Madame DoDo, the little lady who “brooms” the yard all day to remove fallen leaves, trash and other debris. She has next to nothing, her family are what we could gently classify as noncontributing members of society and she was the breadwinner in the family. We had just built her a small, 2 room house so she could have a place to call her own as she was well past retirement age but adamantly refused to retire, nor could she afford to do so with such a lack of family support. Despite having essentially nothing according to the world’s standards, this lady always was cheerful, always was praising the Lord and I always gave her a hug several times during my week here as she praised Him while brooming (they don’t have rakes, if we gave them some, not sure they would use it, plus they use the broom the opposite way we do, an interesting concept), during the chapel services and pretty much 24/7. She always had a smile on her face but a week before I arrived, she was found unresponsive, hypertensive and never woke up despite a week in the hospital and we will bury her November 1. She is rejoicing in her Savior’s presence but we will all miss that 80 pound dripping wet bundle of sunshine.

We have a few minutes to spend with William in Port while loading the truck, as he is busy in his residency. One of his colleagues spent the week with us and seems to be a very nice young doctor. It is hard to gauge them by William, he is so advanced, but then, even a slow teacher should impart some training in 13 years together, as we often did as many surgeries in my week there per month as many general surgeons do in a month, so they had a lot of practice. His wife made us delicious fried banana chips, which we traded some apples for with the 4 of her 5 boys she sent up last night with them. Zella also gave them books and crayons, so we had a delightful time together.

So, it is now time for us to pack up our bags (actually, Olga already did pack 6 of our suitcases, as she has 3 sales in the US in the next few weeks, including one in the Grand Rapids area November 3 and 4 at Bella Vista Church in Rockford, so there is a lot of stuff we are bringing to that sale and the one near Bluffton, IN, where Zella lives and will take 2 suitcases). The little 4 cylinder diesel Kia will labor up the hills with it’s load again, I feel sorry for it, but I suppose it is just like the little engine that could, and does. We thank the Lord for all that everyone has done, from the delicious meals Tabitha and Zella made, to the repairs that Ed and Evert did (I am constantly amazed how Dudu and he get work done with the huge language barrier) to the help that Tabitha and Philipp were in the OR and on the wards. It makes the workload so much easier with everyone trying to help the others. As usual, we had a delicious meal and a good time with Caleb and Olga and good fellowship with them as well as our Haitian staff. To God be the glory for the things He hath done for and through us this week. We will leave at 1 am again and are praying we will get to the airport before the disgruntled folks have a chance to make trouble and set up roadblocks.

In His Service,

Bill, Ed, Evert, Philipp, Tabitha and Zella

The Haitian Donkey and Friends are thankful to be back in home territory

Hi All:

We are very thankful to be able to return to work in Haiti. As many of you know, I returned from Haiti last month in a somewhat dilapidated condition, running fevers and shaking chills and just glad to get home. I had a bunch of blood cultures that were very inconclusive and we were unable to grow them enough to even get sensitivities, so we have no idea as to what antibiotics to use. I went home from Spectrum Blodgett 2 weekends ago on 2 powerful IV antibiotics, I took them for 18 days after departure and have been feeling good. My infectious disease doctor is puzzled, just mutters that things don’t make much sense, not all that encouraging, I fear. So, we are still trying to make up for lost time in getting things done I would have liked to do while sitting in the hospital for a week. The culture taken last Friday has been negative so far, so glad we could change my catheter over a wire instead of the standard removing the catheter for 2 days and putting a new one in, thankfully, as I am running out of spaces to place lines in my body.

So, we have been able to take off for Haiti on Saturday. We had a very bumpy ride, in fact, Evert, my Dutch colleague who sat next to me suggested that I didn’t need to stir my Cholestyramine, just holding the cup with the mixture for a few minutes could mix it just fine. However, we made it to Port au Prince without any hitches, got our luggage and took off for the hospital even a bit early. However, the demonstrations in Port totally blocked one direction of the road so they were on our side and the usual mass chaos ensured. Several other places had blockages due to the protests, which slowed us down, but we finally got into bed at 12:30 in the morning on Sunday. We have been busy but everything is going smoothly, thankfully. We started out the morning with a gentleman who was using his machete to cut some bushes and cut his wrist, including his tendons, so we started the morning with a bang. That set the tone for the day, so things have been going well.

Once again, God has blessed us with a good crew. We all seem to get along well, despite our varied backgrounds. Evert (my Dutch buddy) has worked on the repairs and installations to the air conditioners and is about to replace the unit in our larger OR as soon as we can spare the room for him to work on it. Ed Bos has worked faithfully in lab, repairing and replacing the equipment as needed to keep it going. Tabitha and Philipp have been helping me in the OR, her sister, Zella, has similar genes as she and has whipped the moving of the OR storage rooms into other places to prepare for the tile layers in February. Tabitha and Zella also have been whipping up delicious meals for breakfast and dinner, we eat Haitian at noon and had good goat for lunch. So, we are not suffering by any stretch of the imagination.

So, thank you for all your prayers and support. The Donkey and his buddies appreciate it very much.

In His Service,

Bill, Ed, Evert, Philipp, Tabitha and Zella