Trial Voyage for Technically Challenged Haitian Donkey

Hi All:
This is an attempt by the technologically challenged Haitian Donkey to revise, update and get the lists on the new Haiti computer. After 14 years of travel back and forth in my backpack, as well as doing some work here in the US, my laptop expired in the process of trying to revise it and everything was lost, including my Medical Committee Notes, etc, though much had been printed off, but frustrating. The biggest loss was all 6,000 of the cases I had logged for governmental documentation, we have the hard copy in the OR log book, but sometimes a bit hard to decipher (I am NOT allowed to write it in, so don’t laugh too hard).

Dan Boerman obtained a new one and I think, with help, of course, that I have installed the update list on the computer and this brief note is to see if what I think happened really did. Then, Lord willing, I can send updates directly from Haiti instead of sending them to the US and Karen having to send them. A down side for you is that she often edits and corrects them, so you have more the unvarnished copy, so apologies. My skills in the grammar department lack some.

The other reason is to update you on my dear friend and colleague, Dr. William. As I mentioned, only 2 of the 6 surgical residents in his year passed the test, who knows what the lack of legibility in the writing of the test contributed to the situation. However, one wonders about the quality of the system when less than half the students pass a test? This was a blow to him, understandably, as we operated together last week and spent a lot of time being able to share struggles for him. He misses his family, though as he goes to the higher levels, he will be able to come home more often on weekends and some of our supporters have been gracious enough to donate funds specifically for this project, a real answer to prayer that I had not even thought about. His car is a bit cobbled up, so pray that that will continue to function, though he does often take the bus back and forth and he can sleep in it on the way (he, like me, can sleep standing up or anywhere the opportunity arises). But, the government still has not given mattresses for the beds for the patients nor any sort of regular water supply to enable the cleaning personnel to clean the hospital and beds, etc on any sort of reasonable basis, and they are threatening to strike again, which would only slow him down further. Pray for a realistic solution to this problem that will allow him and his classmates to progress correctly. He has to retake the exam in a bit, I don’t think that has been determined yet, but just pray for God to sustain and encourage him in the days and months ahead.

Thanks so much for your intervention for him before His throne,

Bill for the Haiti Team

(PS: Let me know if you have another contact that needs to be added and will accommodate)

The Haitian Donkey is back in warm and very wet Haiti with friends


Hi All:
I didn’t get a chance to send you an update last time after we got back to let you know how the end of the week went. The last few days were a flurry of activities as we tried to wrap up projects and plan for further ones as well as what the Haitian part of our construction crew would do during our absence. The trip home went well, for which we are very grateful, and we settled back into the USA part of our lives smoothly. Had a good week getting to know Mark Snyder better and meeting and working with his son, Andrew, great additions to our Haiti team as they are innovative and can help bring dreams into reality, especially considering our limitations in non first world countries.

The three weeks in the US were hectic, trying to get things organized in that part of our lives, especially since we had the storm added to disrupt things, as well as trying to run Georgetown Medical Center for the better part of 4 days without the telephone or computer functioning. It certainly reminds us of the positive and negative effects of technology when it works and, more so, when it doesn’t. My partner, Dr. Lugthart, took a week vacation right before I left for Haiti, so that made that last week even more interesting. I am thankful for my supportive wife (and family) as well as my great coworkers who put up with the demands added to our lives as we try to serve God here in Haiti as well as the US. It is hectic and crazy at times, but so much better with such fantastic people to share the burdens that come with the territory.

We packed our 9 suitcases the week before and were ready and at the airport on time at 4:30 am on Saturday. We had a quick (40 minutes) layover in Chicago and were on our way to Miami on time. However, that was the end of the smoothness. On arrival in Miami, we were told our plane would be 4 hours late to Haiti. The rationale was that they had no crew available to fly the plane til then??? About 1 hour before departure, they announced that we would be another 1/2 hour late and brought out sandwiches, snacks and drinks to smooth out the restless customers. They asked everyone to take one of each, something not comprehensible to a Haitian mindset. The grinning little old ladies walked off with 4 of each item, typical for what happens each time one has a dinner for our people. We got on board and had a good trip, used a new thought process to get through customs smoothly and out the door at 8:45 pm in the dark. As we left, a major deluge dropped from the heavens and we were soaked just in the short trip to our vehicle. The roads in Port were more like a river, in places several feet deep and major chaos ensued. On good days, Haitians are not known to stay on their side of the road if there is a slow up of traffic up ahead, now there were often stalled vehicles drowning in the muddy water, so the traffic would form another line next to it, in places the other direction was 4 cars wide and we had only half a shoulder to go on. A governmental car with his red and blue flashers tried to squeeze past us, riding on our side of the barrier and bumped into our cow catcher front bumper, doing some damage to his side. The angry official screamed that he had the right of way, as was the government and pulled a gun on Jean Eddy, placing the barrel on his chest to intimidate him, which he was succeeding in doing. He demanded that I give him $400 USD for the damage to his car and we finally were able to continue our soggy trip. I fear this country runs by intimidation and will only get worse as the fairly ineffectual UN pulls out in October.

Tom Failing was trying to pass a kidney stone, plus has about as nasty a case of motion sickness as John Harlett and I do, so we made a straggly bunch as we finally came out of the water and continued on our way, arriving at the hospital at 3:20 am, wet, droopy and bewildered. We all were soon in our various beds, not caring much about the niceties of preparation for that and slept til the morning light arrived to start our week of work here. Tom, John and Kurt went to Renault and then assessed the situation with the new developments, including some we had no idea existed, like USAID putting solar panels up on the treehouse that the men crews sleep in (right where they hoped to put a second roof of our steel to allow some space for the heat to escape before pounding on their heads). I saw a goodly number of patients and we all had a nice visit by Dr. William and his lovely family. He has vacation this week and will be operating with Moise and me, something I am looking forward to enjoying. He did say that he was not one of the 2 (of 6) residents that could read enough of the scribbles and come up with the answers to pass the test, so he will have to try again in a couple months. Pray for wisdom and strength for him as he continues to work towards this lofty goal of ours. He said that there are rumors that another strike may take place, that is a definite prayer request, as that already has cost him a year of work/time.

We are all dried out, have settled into the routine laid out for us for the week and thankful that the trip was not any more painful than it was. Thanks for praying for us and supporting our efforts for His glory here at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Les Cayes, Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, John, Kurt and Tom

The Haitian Donkey has highs and lows on the bumpy road

Hi All:

We are back at work, the load has been considerable to the point that I have not had a chance to write an update. So, my apologies for being behind on the production of information. We are happy to be busy, but it appears that we have to work on multitasking better as we have all sorts of projects going on simultaneously. We started out with a rather bumpy trip from Grand Rapids to Chicago, causing some delay in our arrival. We went as fast as our little legs could carry us to the Miami bound plane but our baggage couldn’t keep up with us. The next section was bumpy at the start, then settled down pretty well the further south we went. The outbound plane was late coming from Costa Rica and needed servicing, then had some additional maintenance problems and we were over an hour late departing for Haiti.

The good thing about being late was that it did give our luggage a chance to catch up with us. It obviously was the last loaded in Miami as it was the first off the plane in Port au Prince and we skipped out of the airport, almost. Unfortunately, the customs chief overrode the agent’s decision to let us go out and searched 4 of our 6 bags (the other two were out the door before they noticed, these were on the baggage cart). Every piece was removed and inspected, we had nothing that troubled them except some inhalers, which I was able to convince them were for personal use. However, they took the entire large cold pack with laboratory reagents and I was unable to convince them to give it back to me. It essentially means that our lab will not be very functional for months to come as these were the last of the reagents for our machines, which need replacement soon.

Dr. William stopped by to get some supplies as he came home for Sunday only to see his family and us. He was on call on Saturday and Monday, so rode the bus each way so he could sleep en route both ways. He shared that he will not likely get the results of his big exam for a couple weeks, it was hand written by the surgeon examining them and he shared that, sometimes he had no idea of what the question was, let alone knowing how to answer it. He stated that the surgeon’s writing left a bit to be desired.  Dan, of course, could not pass up the opportunity to opine that this was a bit of poetic justice, as Dr. William rivals me in his writing skills. William also shared that the government hospitals still do not have water, so one cannot scrub before surgery nor are the patients beds washed before the new patient takes over, a good way to spread infections which go like wildfire. He shared that the attending doctors, who do NOT really come and teach as they are supposed to, just having the older residents teaching the younger ones, scary, have no motivation to improve the system, as they hope that some of the poor patients will scrape up enough funds to pay for their care, rather than the socialized medicine system the government has installed. When I saw the prices for the private hospitals, it was a major eye opener, as some of the prices are higher than USA surgeon prices. A very discouraging situation.

The trip to the hospital was decent and we were able to settle in, a bit discouraged with the loss of valuable equipment. After surgical clinic, Miss Lisberthe took Dr. Moise and I down to show us her masterpiece, the organization of the OR storage rooms. I was duly impressed, as was Dan later when we had to show him her hard work. There is hope yet for some organizational skills for some Haitians. Definitely a major up bump. She has been most diligent in keeping us going, so far, we are averaging over 10 cases a day and working our staff to the max. There is no empty bed in the hospital at this point and we have tried to squeeze a few patients in nooks and crannies.

Dan, Mark and Andrew are very busy as well, having had a bunch of new projects to try to complete. They are experimenting with making some prefab Windows and doors to help finish the employee’s houses that we are trying to get habitable. We originally had only planned to do repairs on the walls (some at interesting angles) and replacing the roofs, but due to the incredible inflation especially in our area due to the hurricane and loss of crops and livestock, we revised our plans and are putting doors and windows in so they can safely get back in their homes. However, there again is a line of hopefuls who bring us requests to help build small houses for their families, often the whole family lives in a few hundred square foot house. It is hard to know how the Lord would have us show Christ’s love to the host of destitute folks around us here.

We did stop at the mango stand about an hour out of Port au Prince and I have risked pushing the limits of my fruit ingestion. I have done well, but Mark lost a day of vomiting and diarrhea, he did recover quite well with the IVs we inserted into him to help him keep hydrated. Andrew struggled some today, has not let it slow him down much. We all have made “absolutely must be done” lists as well as “hopeful” lists to get done in the few hours that remain. We are thankful for all that we have been able to do and the measure of health we all have been able to enjoy. The speed bumps have been significant, but, by God’s grace, He has helped us go over them with minimal disruption of our lives and work schedules. Additionally, the new administrative situation seems to have radically improved the morale of our workers as well as our spiritual outreach.  That is a huge encouragement and answer to many prayers.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support,

Andrew, Bill, Dan and Mark

Katie to the rescue

Dear family and friends;

Summer camps have begun here at Camp Mahanaim and the visiting teams have done a great job of helping out, including bringing amazing crafts for the campers to do. We were surprised three weeks ago when our dear friend and long time co-worker Myrlande resigned. She left some big holes to fill, including the leading of the Renault Sunday school program and we are so thankful that Katie has stepped up and helped out.

Katie helping lead the Renault Sunday school

Katie translating at camp

Katie helping lead singing at camp

Katie helping kids do crafts at camp

Katie also leads the “Angels” volleyball team as the setter and last month, our Angels beat the Haiti national Under 20 volleyball team, and several of our girls are very young like Katie (14 years old).

Deb has also done great, and is giving jobs to our “Angels” volleyball girls more and more, not only as workers but as camp counselors too.

Deb has many visitors who love and depend on her every week

Please pray for us as we seek the Lord’s will for the Renault Sunday school which continues to grow.

Also, we would appreciate your prayers as we are working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to take the Angels volleyball team to the Dominican Republic for games and ministry in early July.

Thanks, bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie

Quick update of Requests

Hi all:
This is just a quick request for prayer. Dan Boerman, Mark and Andrew Snyder will be coming with me this Saturday for our usual week of service and I will try to keep things updated. However, as you all know Dr. William is studying surgery in the Haitian medical system to hopefully be approved by the Haitian government to do surgery and replace me (and Luke, Jose, Jim, Fred and others who have helped fill in) on a 24/7 basis in another 3 years, Lord willing.

With lots of roadblocks, he has been progressing. His prayer request is that tomorrow, the 12th of June, he will take a huge test on the first 24 chapters of Schwarts, Textbook of Surgery. The test, as expected, will be in French, though the book is in English, so a struggle to understand and respond, as the Haitian system is not like ours, you verbally repeat what you have been taught verbatim, a bit tougher with the language switch. So, we would appreciate your prayers for God’s wisdom, strength and encouragement tomorrow and us 4 as we leave on Saturday.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan, Mark and Andrew for Dr. WIlliam and CSL Haiti