The Haitian Donkey and friends enjoy a cozy December in the homeland

Hi All:(My apologies, the hide button does not show up on the computer here in Haiti?)

As some of you know, there has been a bit of concern about us going to Haiti with all the latest unrest that has been generated of late. On Thursday, Rod and Duane forwarded us the latest US embassy update regarding the fact that they were encouraging all non essential personnel to leave Haiti as they felt the government could not maintain stability. We prayed, contacted Johannes and Luise, Dr. Moise and Dr. William, all of whom felt we should proceed cautiously, which we always do, avoiding known hot spots, etc. The trip down went smoothly, without a speed bump, thankfully. Even customs went slick as can be. We took a longer, but safer trip through the part of Port au Prince that avoided the large street market where there have been a lot of violent episodes, including several deaths. We arrived at the hospital about 9 pm, about a 6 hour trip, a bit longer than our usual 5ish hour trips. There were a significant number of police posted along the way, never alone, always in groups of at least 3 or 4 and sometimes more with visible weapons ready to use. We thank the Lord for his protection and even encouragement as we saw the increased police presence, I would estimate I saw at least 3 times the number of police as normal.

So far, the clinic has gone well, a bit slower than usual, but normal for December, as funds are limited about this time of year for everyone. Surgeries also have done well, we only had 3 hysterectomies and 3 hernias so far today, but have had some other problems I needed to try to be the translator for as the water pump seems to have died.  I asked Brenel and he said it was “the other day,” not sure how long it has not been working. Sometimes, the communication gap difficulty leaves a bit to be desired. As they were working with the electrical system, I wanted to be sure there was no miscommunication and getting someone to light up. The rest of the team has been making considerable progress on repairing the physical therapy department, making benches and getting the frames up for the hurricane windows.

Dr. William arrived last night after being on call the weekend in Port, so will be with us a few days and this will give us a chance to work more on plans for reintegrating him into the system when he finishes the residency program, hopefully in 20 more months. Of course, there are a lot of contingency issues/plans, as we don’t know how this will affect the surgery department, being available 24/7 for surgical patients and the ramifications associated. He seems to be doing well, has been trying to get his car back on the road for months now, allegedly has a new “used” transmission coming from the US that hopefully will make it roadworthy again. We spent some time tonight after surgery laying more of the groundwork for the future. As with riots everywhere, he states that many people are taking advantage of the riots to rob houses and businesses and resulting in a lot of gunshots arriving in the ERs. Haiti is one of many countries where gun control limits the availability of guns to the gangs and others with not the most honest of intentions.

With Christmas approaching, I am doubly thankful for your generosity in giving to the “Rice and Goats Fund” again. It will definitely make a special time of encouragement for all the employees in this year of runaway inflation and I thank the Lord for you all.

In His Service, with Thanksgiving,

Bill, Butch, Gord, Margie, Marsha, and Sam


The Haitian Donkey sends thanks and a couple requests at Thanksgiving time

Hi All:
I have been sorting out all the information and was waiting to make more sense out of it before sending out an update, but also need to ask for prayer for wisdom this week as we are watching the situation in the Haitian Donkey’s homeland daily to decide on how to proceed with the next trip.

First of all, the Donkey is doing well, at least partially because no chemo or immunotherapy for a month now. As mentioned, I was disqualified from the study in immunotherapy due to progression of the cancer despite the treatment. Thus, 9 days ago, I went and saw the original oncologist, who wanted to start chemotherapy the day before Thanksgiving. As our daughter, Rachel, was undergoing a gallbladder surgery and would be recuperating at our house, I wanted to wait a week to prevent the ill doctor helping the ill patient (plus Karen twisted her knee outside, so we would make very questionable helpers to her). He agreed, though I usually feel the worst for a couple days starting about 2 days after the Wednesday administration, which would mean the Haitian Donkey dragging himself to Haiti struggling with the negative effects of the chemo. Since it would be every 2 weeks, obviously it would always be administered right before the Haiti trip.

I still had to finish the follow up monthly meetings for the study medication, to see how my body adjusted to the infusions, for a while. When I saw the study oncologist (a partner of the original one), he was excited as he had found another study he wanted to try on me, hoping that this chemical, again experimental, admittedly, could work together with Dr. Bartlett’s original study and the latest one to slow down the cancer growth. So, this Wednesday, instead of starting the chemotherapy, we will meet to consider this possible experiment.

So, that brings me to the greatest need for prayer for wisdom. If this all goes as planned, we have tickets for 6 of us to go to Haiti on the 1st of December for some projects and me to do my usual surgery work with Dr. Moise. However, as some of you know, there has been extensive, violent unrest for weeks now, blocking traffic totally, crippling the already struggling economy. It appears that, over many years, there have been pilfering of the money intended to pay for the fuel purchased from Venezuela and there have been riots over the situation with no simple solution for the resolution. Duane and Ruth, then 2 days later, Dr. Luke, left via plane from Cayes to Port and caught ongoing flights back to the US a bit over a week ago. We were hoping things would calm down, but so far, not so much.

We have been in contact with Rod and Debbie Wray, as well as Dr. Moise and Dr. William, as we keep praying about the situation and what would be prudent to do to proceed. We certainly would appreciate your prayers for wisdom in continuing to monitor the situation and making adjustments. Also for our hospital staff, for their safety as schools have been closed, for fuel for the hospital generators as there will be none available and certainly the government electricity will not increase from the few hours they supply each day at most, so medications that have to be kept cold, etc, and will be in jeopardy. We have looked into Missionary Aviation Flights availability and costs as an option, but, at this point, just need prayer for wisdom to make correct plans and decisions, both for safety and to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us.

Once again, thanks so much for your support, prayer and encouragement of our service for Him at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Les Cayes, Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Butch, Gord, Kathy, Margie, and Sam

The Haitian Donkey and friends arrive back home to chilly temperatures

Hi All:
We are thankful that, at least some of us, have arrived back home safely with only a few minimal speed bumps. Tabitha, Zella and I had a good flight to Miami, arriving early but needing to wait for the jammed arrival bays to empty a slot for us, so lost the 30 minutes we had gained by sitting out on the tarmac. We then pulled up to the bay and they brought out the jet bridge but were unable to open the door that would funnel us upstairs to the passport control to prevent us from entering illegally? They had to wait another 30 minutes or so to have the Miami Dade police arrive and open the door for us to empty out. I always leave a minimum of 2 hrs in Miami for unplanned extras but the poor lady in front of us had only left 90 minutes and undoubtedly missed her connection. Fortunately, Tabitha and Zella had over 2 hrs also as we got jammed up in TSA and again were routed to the outside to try to get us through it faster (that has been the last 2 times, I have not been impressed with the speed saved). Actually, Tabitha and Zella did progress pretty well, my line was a rookie (hopefully) who sent everything through repeatedly and took forever so I think we processed only 10 people in more than 30 minutes. A couple times I think I saw her coworkers roll their eyes at her requests, but progress remained at a donkey’s pace. The rest of the trip went fine for us, but we somehow had a miscommunication with Jean Eddy about him staying in Port after dropping us off at 6:30 am to take 2 men from Jamestown Baptist Church who were to work with Duane and Ruth next week. We had made a bunch of sandwiches for them to last the day, I did have them get 2 fuel filters for the Kia supposedly while they were waiting, but I know that Jean Eddy was a bit worried as his father in law is failing fast, confused and disruptive at his home (he stays with them) plus his wife is struggling with her diabetes and I know he had a lot on his mind. I have given him some medication to sedate him some and make him more manageable, but he insists on taking off the diapers we give him and doing things here, there and everywhere.

Long story short, they went back to the hospital with the fuel filters but no passengers! That is totally out of character for Jean Eddy, who is very meticulous in his work. Once again, we had to call upon our faithful friend, Dr. William, who is still working in the burn center at Doctors without Borders (he said they treat over 1,000 burns yearly, what a painful situation) who was able to get free and arrange their transport to Cayes. He put them on a taxi from the airport to the hospital with an estimated arrival time of 11 pm but we got a text today that the taxi had an accident en route, so they had quite a traumatic trip overall. Mob rule takes over when, especially a foreigner in a vehicle hits someone else (even if they are not driving) and they pound the vehicle trying to punish the people “responsible”. I have always offered the drivers $50 US, about 3 days pay for a good driver, if they will go slowly, they have never taken me up on it. So they ended up paying $500 US to obtain their “get out of jail card.” Again, not their fault, but in Haiti, guilty until proven innocent is the law. Hopefully they have recovered today and can have a productive week after all.

We wrapped up surgery well, Dr. Moise had caught a cold and was struggling to keep the pace going but we were able to double team the ORs as much as possible and thus get him home sooner to rest and bounce back. He remains very dedicated to the work and is appreciated by myself and others. The other doctors don’t seem to share his and William’s dedication and this is frustrating to us all. For them, this is more a job rather than a ministry, to a degree, similar to some of what I perceive as struggles in medical care in the US, so many people involved that the patient gets caught in dropped passes, etc. Moise and William (both local boys, living a few hundred yards from the hospital) always saw every one of their patients every day and developed relationships with them in a good sense and the patients appreciated it. Moise has been trying, without much success yet, to get more accountability in the care system. Pray for wisdom, encouragement and cooperation for him in this regard. We finished with a couple more interesting patients, including the one from the prison system where they have rather bizarre activities?

Last update, I bragged a bit about how hard Miss Lisberthe (Nurse Beth is her English name) works to keep the OR going and clean, single handedly responsible for our very low infection rate. I would expect it is lower than the US, partially because our people don’t have much in the way of resistant organisms, etc but much credit goes to her hard work also. Her skill in choosing husbands is maybe not as good, both ended up in adultery and she divorced them promptly and will now remain single. She has one 24 yr old daughter by the first fellow but has a large heart for helping others. Last month, an uncle brought a boy with some congenital deformities for surgery. We fixed some of it, will see what progresses with the rest, but the uncle never came back to pick up the orphan (we found it out from the young man, who looks like he is 6 but is allegedly 12, that he has not had parents for years and has been bounced from place to place, not ever being wanted). So, the boy just hung around the hospital, eating what he could find. Now, Miss Lisberthe has brought him food and will see if she can raise him as her own. How this all fits in the legal system is not clear, but she is going to enroll him in school tomorrow, got him some clothes (from the donated stuff I bring down) and will take him in. He already calls her his “Mama” with a broad smile. He is called John, but then likely 80% of Haitian men are called John, so will wait to see what more distinctive name he inherits from her? Those are the things that greatly encourage us, when the Christian brothers and sisters take care of their own without our help (though Tabitha and I have promised to help with the school expenses as she has limited funds and is still building a couple rooms for herself on her dad’s cement roof).

So, will get this delayed update off and, once again, thank you all for your support, prayers and encouragement of our ministry for Him in Centre de Sante Lumiere in Cayes, Haiti. Thanks also for the donations we have received so far for the “Rice and Goats Fund” which will encourage our employees so much at the season that we remember the great Gift God gave us in sending His Son for us.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella

The Haitian Donkey and friends are making good progress together

Hi All:
Once again, the week flies by here. We all seem to make good progress, though some differences of opinion as to the pleasure of the heat index. As per normal, I am loving it, the rest of the crew seems to think it is an unseasonably hot October for Haiti. Poor Duane is out in the sun with the crew, they poured the floor Monday, then have been fabricating the forms for the walls and roof of the new, improved, incinerator. The sun definitely beats down on their heads and wears the crew down, but they are steadily making progress. I think he plans to pour the walls and top on Monday. His crew is definitely being stressed to the limit to get the work done, although our projects are starting to get wrapped up and they fear that the opportunities at CSL will be drying up soon, so they are motivated to do their best. Someone who is always there and was missed by Duane on Monday was Alphonse, who many of you know if you have been to Haiti on work teams, now he is 82 but is always there. I ended up taking a large bladder stone and a bunch of gravel out of his bladder on Monday and he is recuperating well.

Surgery is going well though busy, to be expected as I missed my last trip here last month. Tabitha had never seen a dermoid ovarian cyst, so we obliged her with 2 this week. The first was about 12 x 10 x 8 inches and adherent to everything, the intestines, the walls and fluid filled but also a good sized ball of hair that interested her but also made her stomach a bit queasy. We did a second one today that was much smaller and also had a hairball plus teeth, just to keep things interesting. Our cases this week include a number of patients operated on elsewhere in the past with a significant amount of residual scar tissue, making things a lot more of a puzzle and messy. I am encouraging everyone possible to come see Dr. Luke when he follows me in early November, as we cannot accommodate them all and he is willing to pick up the slack (greatly appreciated).

I did notice that both Dr. Moise and I have matured some since we started here over 14 years ago, some of the joints talk to you during long cases and we work hard at getting done by 8 pm at night so that we can get a good night’s sleep. We have made it each night, not by much, like 2 minutes, but thankful that we can serve so many suffering souls. The head OR nurse, Miss Lisberthe, slept at the hospital last night as she didn’t want to make the journey home late at night just to return in the early am. Her level of dedication is a major reason why we have so few infections working here in Haiti, as she scrubs both ORs from floor to ceiling and everything in them the week before I arrive and everything is spotless. She seems to have a significant amount of energy and often takes off on the run to get a tool I ask for (unfortunately sometimes too fast, not waiting long enough to totally understand what we need and she comes back with something other than what I really need and I have to wing it and use it a bit before asking again for what I really want, so as to not hurt her feelings). However, it is so much easier to direct someone that is moving than to get them to overcome their inertia.

It has also been a bit difficult to get an open bed for more surgical patients as we are full all the time at present, having a number of medical patients, a couple burns, some CHF people and other serious cases tying up the beds. Overall, everyone seems to be adjusting well to the situation. It is difficult to realize that my next trip will be December already and making plans for our Rice and Goats fund to be distributed at Christmas, as this year it will be most appreciated again, as the exchange rate is 74 Goudes to 1 USD, making life a struggle for especially our 30 people who make less than $100 US/month. So I thank you all in advance for making this possible, we all greatly appreciate it.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella

Exciting News

Dear family and friends; We took a quick trip back to British Columbia a few weeks ago when our son Tim got married to his bride Katie.

It was a fun and beautiful wedding, and we had a special time visiting family while we were home.

When we returned to Haiti, we were greeted with two weeks of steady rain.

School was cancelled due to the rains, so the young people came almost every day asking for volleyball in the gym

We soon forgot the falling rain and dark skies once we were in the bright gym with 70 or so enthusiastic young people.

The young people appreciate the Manna packs, granola bars and prizes that we give each time we meet, especially when it is rainy and difficult for them to find food.

These cute t-shirt dresses came all the way from Pender Harbor, B.C. and the little Haitian girls love them.

Deb is teaching an English class for several of the young people from our youth group. She is preparing them as translators for when the big Missouri medical team comes in 2019, Lord willing.

The sawmill and woodwork is in full swing and we never have a problem getting rid of the scrap wood. Without fail, it never takes more than 5 minutes for a full truckload of scraps to disappear, and the local people really appreciate having a good supply of wood to cook with.

Thanks so much for your support and prayers, Thanks for sending things like peanut butter, granola bars, clothes, shoes and other treats that we are able to share! Thanks and may the Lord bless you,

bye for now, Love Rod, Deb and Katie