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