A puzzled Haitian Donkey comes home from the Hospital even more Bewildered


Hi All:
The Haitian Donkey struggled with lots of help to get home from Haiti to be in the “good old USA” with our advanced medicine for further treatment of his severe chills, rigors and fevers each day or so if needed. Within 48 hours of arrival home, the fevers continued, so I tried to get in to see the infectious disease doctor I had seen in the previous hospitalization, but she was on maternity leave, and her partners sent me to the ER against my better judgment. I had a fever over 104, so they took all the warm clothes off me to cool me down, starting another episode of rigors, during which I get such muscle tightness that it is often hard to breathe. They also wanted to redo the CT scan, so poured a bunch of IVs (room temperature, but 30 degrees colder than my body) into me to be sure I was hydrated enough to be sure the dye didn’t harm my kidneys.

Suddenly, with the onset of the rigors, they noticed that my oxygen level and blood pressure were going quite low and my pulse up, which it likely has happened the last 20 episodes I have had, but was never monitored as was at home, and they whipped a bedazzled Haitian Donkey into a larger ER room where we are surrounded with about 20 people intent on saving my life. They whipped on the cold defibrillator patches, cutting off my T shirt and long underwear to do so and I suddenly realize where we are going. Another ER doctor asks my wife if she is medical and then informs her that they are about to intubate me. Karen says to him that I don’t want that done about the same time I tell them I don’t want to be defibrillated, I am quite alive yet, so please don’t do that. They back off, stating that I don’t want to be resuscitated (not true), send me to the CT scan and up to ICU. The nurses there talked to Karen and asked her some questions about my health and she asked if maybe we can move to a lower cost room.  They said they were puzzled why someone looking so good was in ICU in the first place and why I was DNR and do not intubate. It was a scary, whirlwind couple hours that I am glad, by the grace of God and her help, I survived without further damage.

The rest of the week was a long array of specialists and their physician extenders, infectious disease, cardiology, nutrition, interventional radiology and hospitalists (they added oncology and pulmonary, but they felt they had little to contribute and declined), rarely the same person two days in a row with lots of ideas. I had the port pulled on Tuesday and had a different, older style one placed on Friday with difficulty and went home on Saturday, but the Haitian Donkey is bewildered that, after all the high powered discussion and tests, etc, they just sent him back home on the same medicine he was taking when this all began???  When I asked them that, they looked puzzled but didn’t give me any answers, just said that, if I wanted something else, they could try something else, but no one really seemed to have any definitive answers.

So please continue to pray for improved health, that my body can overcome whatever it is that no one seems to figure out, that I can figure out how to balance my work schedules and the other demands on my time to be a good steward of what time the Lord has left for me for His glory. The fragility of life was once again laid bare for Karen and me this week, as James says, “for what is your life, it is even a vapor, that appeareth for a time and then vanisheth away.” I have some difficult administrative decisions to deal with on the next scheduled trip to Haiti on March 4th, so pray that I truly will be physically, emotionally and spiritually up to do what God wants me to do there this time.

With Gratitude and Humble Appreciation for you all,

Bill and Karen Ten Haaf

Donkey in Hospital


Thank you to everyone who prayed, Wiliamm did get on the plane and made it home, though not without difficulty, especially in Lauderdale (TSA).

I would have gotten back earlier with this news – the problem is that our donkey update lists are only on one old, stinky computer, at the house. It is very slow and messes up a lot. Anyway, I have run home to quickly send this so am just giving the basics. They again admitted the Haitian Donkey to the hospital on Monday morning with a big scare in the ER, then to ICU. He was moved last night to a regular room. They found infection on his port this time so it was pulled out yesterday. Tomorrow they will attempt to put in a new port, and this is one of the most serious prayer requests we have ever mentioned: THE LAST TIME THEY HAD GREAT DIFFICULTY PLACING A NEW PORT. PLEASE PRAY FERVENTLY FOR EXTRA AND SPECIAL WISDOM FOR THE IR (interventional radiology) PEOPLE TOMORROW AFTERNOON  as they try to get a new port put in. God is able to open up a damaged vessel to accept a new port so we are crying out to him. The donkey can no longer eat his hay or oats in a large enough quantity to live very long without his TPN.

    Even if I can’t get home right away to tell you what happened, PLEASE keep praying. We do not have a God who is tied to time . . . .

Thank you so much for partnering with us all this time in prayer for this most special Donkey.

Bill and Karen TenHaaf, with all the family and coworkers that support us continually

A puzzled Haitian Donkey struggles home with lots of help and support, but now what?

Hi All:
The phone didn’t work well when I tried to call Karen on Thursday night, so couldn’t bring her up to date, but not sure what the term up to date means anyway at present. I had a most wonderful team of coworkers at the hospital all week, including several of my family members, Margie Punter and her new husband, Gordy Bonzelaar, who loved his first episode overseas and seemed to be able to do a lot of different needed tasks. Marge’s sister in law is my office nurse, Theresa Ragsdale, who has gone to Haiti many times and does a ton of work, with her husband, Bob, on this side of the water to sort through donated medical material and ship what we can use on containers. She brought her son in law, Sheldon De Kryger, a house builder and his son, Daniel. Between these two and with considerable help from Gordy, they got the old hostel remodeled with a new roof (many thanks to Scott Yordy (ACC construction) for lending us the materials to finish the job), dug a septic tank and remodeled the inside of half the house to make it quite suitable. Putting a square roof on a not so square building led to some frustrations to these 3 novice missionary workers, but they soldiered through and got most of the house at least closed up properly. There is some work to be done, such as putting on doors (we have the metal doors on the outside to keep the riffraff out, but a vast amount of progress was made.

We all appreciate the new chaplains, and the house will be a hospital chaplain house, but it was supposed to be a secret. When the chaplain made a call to see me and pray for my health, I asked him who had told him we were trying to build this for the chaplain. He smiled and paused for a minute, then said “maybe God told me.” I guess I couldn’t get much further on that account. He seemed very pleased and excited with the house, although had some suggestions (exactly why I didn’t want to have him know til we assigned the house for him to use during his chaplaincy duration). But I greatly appreciated the fact that he is always present during my clinic visits, as I had a 48 year old lady who was told her vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain was due to fibroids and she needed an operation elsewhere. I did a pelvic (not a common procedure in Haiti it seems, though they let me do it without trouble) and found an extensive cervical cancer that had spread into her bladder and enveloped her pelvis, something likely not resectable even in the US at this stage, and we have no chemo or radiation therapy, unfortunately, in the country. I spent considerable time with her and her husband, then introduced him to them trying to help them with the enormous difficulties facing them. Our mastectomy is doing well, as well as the number of hysterectomies and the hernias. As I mentioned before, Theresa was pressed into duty in the OR as we were short a nurse, then the second one (a very reliable and hard working nurse) had an urgent problem in Port au Prince and asked off for the rest of Tuesday and promised to return as soon as she could resolve it. That ended up being Friday morning, so Theresa slaved in the OR all week, doing an admirable job (NOT a surprise).

Gabe, my nephew, helped in the OR (a surprise as my little brother, Butch, avoids the OR like the plague) as well as doing some welding and some painting and other projects, as he broke his most important wrist bone snow boarding after we had bought the tickets, so he was making the best of it and seems to have done quite well adjusting to it. I was thankful how polite and gracious the two young men were in helping out where needed, being willing to be a “gopher” when needed to get supplies, bring food to workers, etc. My little brother, Butch, who has made many trips with me as well as helping Dan and Duane right after the earthquake (they called him a machine with a chain saw) clearing up the fallen trees that had damaged houses but would take days to chop with the machete, continues to amaze me with his ability to do a great variety of jobs (as have a goodly number of previous team members) but rest assured that those genes never got transmitted to me. Somewhere in the 14 years between us, new skills were inserted into our family? He raced around all day trying to keep projects going, repair items that needed it, such as the laboratory refrigerator that stopped working a bit before we came, it was a gas one, but just sort of petered out. There were 3 other ladies, 2 novices, who slaved from dusk to dawn on a variety of projects, doing a lot of cleaning and painting in the dental area and hospital generally, as well as helping Butch with the house repairs that he needed help with. They are more plucky than I, climbing up on the roofs to put up tin, etc, something I have considerable trouble with, as we don’t make Depends large enough to contain my stress when up over 8 feet or so.

Marge did a fair amount of progress but also kept everyone well fed. Except for Butch, who literally ran all over to keep the projects going and seems skinnier than I have seen him on our return, I don’t think any of us suffered from malnutrition. Wednesday morning, I went for a meeting with the mission president to try to regulate some administrative affairs, he had a most lovely cool breeze coming in the windows, but I started chilling and had a relapse when I finished the meeting with severe chills, retching and inability to do anything with such trembling members. I managed to get back home but had another episode the next morning, 9 am again, very similar to what was happening in the US with my pneumonia, but no respiratory symptoms. As the last blood cultures came up with a GI bug, where it came from was never found, though they changed my port, had a lot of difficulty getting it in and it was negative, I have been reluctant to see the Infectious Disease experts as they insisted on changing it last time and will likely do it again, and I need it to remain alive. As I seem to absorb little of what I do eat (though I enjoy trying to eat), I have stopped all food except clear liquids to see if maybe my fistula could be leaking/inflamed a bit and thus seeding my bloodstream? Waiting for the blood cultures done this morning and tomorrow morning to come back to guide us, but did start some broad spectrum injectable antibiotics on my nurse’s suggestion on Thursday, as we were worried they might show me off the plane if I had an episode on Saturday and didn’t want to spend time in the ER in Philadelphia or Lauderdale.. Did well until they did a forever body pat down in Lauderdale and I was shivering as they had almost all my clothes off except the last layers and wouldn’t let me touch them til all cleared. My team again was wonderful in helping me keep going, sharing layers of clothing to get me back in the warm department, as I admittedly was a bit woozy and wobbly. They borrowed an empty wheelchair in Lauderdale, but I insisted on walking in Philadelphia as was better and no longer shaky, though these episodes take a bit out of me.

I could not attend the second administrative meeting on Friday, but pray for healing that I may go back with Tom Failing, Tabitha Sheen and her niece on March 4, as they want me there. We unearthed a considerable amount of questionable activities in the financial department, which all the terrified employees are scared to tell me about as repercussions are very alive and well and can be fatal in Haiti. We coaxed it out of them and have armed ourselves to put an end to the years of administrative struggles, hopefully on my next visit. It will be painful, will try to put all the repercussions on myself to protect my employees, but it clearly has to be done as there are too many major irregularities there. So, pray for healing, courage and wisdom from on high for the next trip to be possible and productive. Thanks for all you do to keep us going.

In His Service,

Bill, Butch, Daniel, Gabe, Gord, Heather, Lori, Margie, Sheldon, Teri, and Theresa,

The Haitian Donkey and his friends enjoy the warmth


Hi All:
We had a good trip to Port au Prince other than leaving an hour late from Ft. Lauderdale. Thus, we were a bit behind on arriving in Port with, thank the Lord, all our luggage (except for the 67lb car part we were trying to take along but did not pass TSA inspection in Grand Rapids). The custom’s agent asked me last time for a tip, this time, they took our suitcases and started searching our stuff, then took his cap off and gave me the familiar “the hat is hungry.” Again, I had no idea how hungry the critter was, but I gave it some money. The agent said, “no, no, you have to feed it in secret.” I asked him how to do this in the middle of the large room with agents and suitcases and stuffed some money in the hat, which he promptly put on his head with it stuffed under the cap. The rest of the team was able to leave with all the luggage while I struggled to extract myself from the situation (as we had instructed them, if possible, just keep moving towards the door to the outside, they followed orders very well). We had a good trip to the hospital, arriving late Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we all attended the hospital inpatient worship service. Our knowledge was limited (even I lose the pastor’s Creole once he winds up and gets rolling, as pastors seem wont to do, so we all were in the dark). However, it was great to share a worship service with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

We have had a good and productive week so far. Surgery went pretty smoothly, considering that I am not as perky as I would like to be. The hysterectomies have gone well, had a few struggles with shredded tissue, but were able to put the pieces together and everyone seems to be doing well. One of our OR nurses had a hysterectomy last month, so we pressed Theresa Ragsdale into service to replace her. She has done very well, no surprise. We had a little girl come in yesterday after drinking some kerosene, she had been sent to the government hospital, but it was a holiday as the new president was installed and thus the patient was refused and sent back to us. He was quite lethargic, I kept him without fluids and gave him IVs and antibiotics, as we fear a pneumonia, but he seems a bit better today, thankfully.

Butch and Gord have been busy with lots of repairs that are needing attention, both in the hospital and at various houses. The ladies have been preparing delicious meals and painting a bunch of areas that need attention, including more of the dental clinic. I am very appreciative of the team spirit everyone has displayed. Sheldon, Dan and now Gord have been working on the pastor’s house, hopefully some of the roof will go on before the sun sets tonight. Scott Yordy has been most gracious in letting us borrow wood and roofing until we can get more down here in the next container.

It is hard to believe that the week is half over already, still have a lot of things to get done before we leave at 1 am on Saturday. Thanks for praying for us and encouraging us as we serve Him here in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Butch, Dan, Gabe, Heather, Lori, Marge, Teri, Theresa

The Haitian Donkey Happily Skips to his Homeland

Hi All:
A bit over a week ago, I asked for special prayer for wisdom and direction regarding my health and decisions re departing for Haiti on the 4th of February. I am happy to report that my health has improved significantly, for which I am very thankful to God, as I realize how fragile my (our) health can be. I would say I feel 200% better than at that time, and am planning on leaving with my 10 companions for Haiti early Saturday morning. Pray for safety on the trip, for wisdom in some administrative decisions that I need to resolve if at all possible, as well as health for the team. They will be doing a variety of projects, including construction of a house on the compound, trying to solve some pharmacy thefts and who knows what other projects will show up when we arrive, as it always seems like things break down on a regular basis.

So, thanks again so very much for your prayer and support in so many ways as we serve our Lord and Saviour at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Cayes, Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Butch,  Daniel, Gabe, Gord, Heather, Lori, Marge, Sheldon, Teri, Theresa