This will be a quick update before the special time of year that we thank our Lord for all the benefits He daily bestows upon us.
1. I am very thankful that I am alive and able to work, thanks to the great medical care we are able to receive in the USA. I have seen a number of patients who have this same cancer, both in the US and in Haiti, since contracting this rare form of abdominal cancer, many of whom have not been able to either have access to the care I have received due to living in Haiti, where a 15 hour surgery and the heated chemotherapy cooking your insides for 2 hours is just not an option, or have been too old or otherwise deemed unable to withstand the marathon surgery. Yes, I have had 2 of the marathons and likely will undergo another if I can withstand it in the future, and am struggling with my second course of chemotherapy, thus far more fierce than the first 9 month series, and we are only one fourth of the way through the 12 rounds and the donkey is reeling from the knockout punches delivered to his scrawny frame. But, by the grace of God and the prayers and support of His saints, I am able to sit up and (sometimes) take nourishment, and this makes me very thankful.
2. I am thankful that I have a very supportive family and coworkers, as well as patients, who put up with my efforts to continue to work and see patients in the clinic as well as at Sunset Manor, where almost every patient reminds me that they are praying for my continued health and strength, surely a great blessing and encouragement to keep going each day. I am blessed to have a job where I can sit down a fair amount of the time, as my wobbly legs don’t want to hold me up for more than 30 minutes at a time for the most part, often less, so a great source of encouragement at I try to continue to work at my job, which I find a joy to do (for the most part, nothing on this earth is perfect yet). Just for the biased record, I do think the donkey’s mind still works fine, though some of you may debate that finer point?
3. I am thankful for the generous outpouring of gifts from all of you towards our attempts to brighten up Christmas for our employees of CSL, when we can celebrate Christ’s great gift of Himself in coming to earth to die for our sins so we can have the hope in our hearts for eternity with Him. Your gifts will show your love to especially the poorer employees who live hand to mouth daily and for whom this will be so much more special a season thanks to these gifts of food and a financial investment (ie the goat will be saved for a financial reversal, as mentioned, NOT go into the pot for stew).
4. I am very thankful that Drs. Jose Dominguez and Luke Channer were able to go to Haiti in October and November, respectfully, to give me a break and a jump on the chemotherapy process, as both have now become veterans and capable of working there with the cross cultural team very effectively, and they are planning on doing this twice yearly each. I also have Dr. James Webb, a retired general surgeon, willing to fill in when I need help on short notice and he is greatly appreciated by us all and will be pressed into service soon, I am sure.
Now, a few prayer requests:
1. This weekend, Karen and I have decided that I will go forward in faith and we purchased my ticket to fly to Haiti on the 5th of December. Since I will just be coming off round # 4, given from the 2nd to the 4th of December, we have decided that eating is just not an option, as it just causes severe nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps for the 3 days, followed by rather significant diarrhea with little warning. As I shared with you in a previous update, I am on Folfiri, the IRI being for Irinotecan, noted for GI problems. As I made yet another trip past the nurse’s station to the bathrooms at the chemotherapy center, I commented that my insides didn’t like to keep the poison in me and they assured me that this was normal and they have given the Irinotecan the nickname of “I run to the can” due to it’s behavior. For those of you who, like me, don’t count English as our first language and may miss the slang, “can” means “the bathroom” (Karen always tells me I miss most of the nuances in ordinary conversation, so will help those with similar struggles). I tried to work Friday, 2 days ago, but spent much of the time hugging the toilet as my new best friend. But, how to deal with this with flying to Haiti has been a bit of a puzzle. However, I don’t think I have an option as the next request will explain why I need to go, not just to allow surgery to proceed, but also to try to clear up some things. So, I will leave GR at 6 am on the 5th and fly straight through to Haiti and travel directly to the hospital, hooking up my TPN in the car on the way, to minimize dehydration as I will only sip fluids for the 48 hr before departure to limit further GI irritation. I will also invest in Depends for the trip?
2. The most pressing reason I am going is because the co-head of the leadership team, our administrator, despite the fact that Haiti is struggling with severe inflation with the goude falling like a stone and thus no buying power for our poor employees and we have been trying to figure out ways to fairly raise everyone’s salaries some, especially the lowest paid employees, has decided in my absence to give himself a 50% increase in salary, thus hurtling himself to a salary much higher than my veteran doctors, something he has been trying to do for years. This certainly is not what I had expected and it has raised a major firestorm amongst the hurting employees. He is a lawyer by trade, just went back to Bible Institute, but, at least in my opinion, has not demonstrated the attitude the Lord encourages Christian leaders to have in I Pet 5:2-3 “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre (dishonest gain), but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords (or lording it over) God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” I will need special wisdom and guidance from the Lord to deal with this properly before this gets further out of hand. Pride, power and prestige are great obstacles everywhere, but seemingly more so in Haiti and can derail the best Christian efforts to serve Him with a servant’s heart, as Christ said in Matt 20:25-8 – Paraphrased, “But it shall NOT be so among you, but he who will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” In this season when we remember His great Example of Service and Giving of Himself, how can we do otherwise?
So, as usual, the donkey is not great with words and doesn’t want to offend anyone needlessly, but neither can we let this go on without correction. As you can see, I am very disturbed with this seeming lack of concern for others and ask you to join me in prayer for His direction and attitude in resolving this situation to His glory and the advancement of His work at CSL in Haiti.
In His Service, with gratitude to Him and you all,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn and the Haiti Crew on both sides of the pond