An Update On The Haitian Donkey’s Progress And That Of His Homeland

Hi All:

Due to a number of somewhat turbulent events in the Donkey’s life, I have been behind on correspondence.  As mentioned, Duane and Dr. Jim Webb drove in and flew out of Cayes in early July.  We are thankful that it appears that the political situation in Haiti has quieted down for the present time and traffic is going well. I spoke with Dr. Moise today and he reports all is peaceful, they have been able to get supplies, etc.  So, Lord Willing, Dr. Fred Brown and Tom Failing will leave Saturday for a week of service without hassles. 

My fistula has not responded to nothing by mouth at all for the last month in addition to nothing except clear liquids the month before that.  Thus, Dr. Dan De Cook has graciously accepted the challenge to try to explore my belly wall and see if he can find an acceptable solution to the mess I seem to be.  Pray for wisdom and direction for him this Friday as he will try to repair this somewhat delicate situation.  I certainly am praying that it is fixable and I can return to eating, or at least drinking, something for the remainder of my life.  He did a CT scan on me last Wednesday, I don’t know the results yet but very interested in the progress of the cancer, etc, as it has been over 6 months since my last one.  I have been on antibiotics continuously for the last 2 months and have slowly increased in strength and my hemoglobin, partially as blood has only been drawn in small amounts for my TPN control. 

I am almost able to move into James and Jenn’s basement apartment.  It is much better than I had thought it would be, the bedrooms are bigger, enough to have my computer/desk in it in addition to my bed and a dresser.  I am very thankful for everyone who has worked so hard to help make this difficult move possible.  Being in our old house has many fond memories, sometimes sadness as it is so much Karen, and a lot of work to keep up for one simple Haitian Donkey (even with help from his friends).  But, realistically, I cannot keep that up, so the move is necessary.  We have not yet sold it, but praying that also will become a reality soon. I am spending a few days in Arkansas with Rachel, as we brought down some of Karen’s furniture and keepsakes down here and I am helping her settling into a new house, hanging up pictures, etc before returning to Michigan, work and surgery.  It is nice and warm down here, even the Haitian Donkey sweats at times! 

Once again, thanks so much for your prayers, encouragement and help that so many of you have offered us during the last few difficult months.

In His Service, Bill, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

Happy Campers

Dear family and friends;    Thank you so much for your generous support which has enabled us to hold camps here this summer.   For our Renault Sunday school kids it has been an amazing time of growth, relationships and fun.

The campers have been well behaved so far, and it has been great to get to know them better.

This past week, the camp was for the “older kids” from the Renault Sunday school and we were amazed to learn that about 1/2 of the kids at camp have been coming to Sunday school since it began almost 12 years ago.

Three young men; Joseph, Berlin and Stanley made the decision to be baptized and we were thankful that Pastor Alneve, the president of our mission was available to come and baptize them.  It was an amazing moment and even this morning at Sunday school we had several requests from young people now wanting to be baptized.

Deb has done a great job of keeping the kitchen running during the camps. She has employed the Angels volleyball girls and they are doing a great job.    

All of our girl counselors are also Angels who have been with us for 8 years now.   In the picture they are getting ready to play soccer with a girls team.

We are very thankful for our mission Harvest International which continues to support and stand with us.    They just sent us a container full of “Manna Packs” which are the rice and soy packets that we give to kids each Sunday.

Thanks again for your prayers and support.   Tomorrow, Lord willing we will be receiving another 200 kids for another week of camp.   We are very thankful to the Lord for all that He has done, and we are thankful that things have calmed down in Haiti for now.   

Bye for now,    Love Rod, Deb and Katie

A Leaky Haitian Donkey Struggles With Health Issues

Hi All:

As you know, Duane VerKaik and the Haitian Donkey were not able to go to Haiti last month due to the uncontrolled riots.  In some respects, that was not all bad, as I developed an abscess in my left lower abdomen that my friend, Dr. Dan De Cook, drained of a mess of things, including what looked like a bunch of cancer cells in addition to pus, etc.  This all remains somewhat of a puzzle.  A couple days later, a fistula (hole) between my bowels and the skin opened up with a nasty smell. I had had that fistula drain 3 years ago, right after my last surgery and it had opened after Dan drained an abscess in the same area, but, by the grace of God, healed with 3 months of nothing by mouth, avoiding the need for surgery. 

Since it healed so well the last time, we decided to go on just clear liquids, hoping it would heal with this restriction (plus it allowed me to control the diarrhea better with the cholestyramine “slurry” twice daily).  All went well for a month, but last Tuesday, the pipe opened up and did the number on everything in sight.  By going back to nothing by mouth, things have cleared up to only a quarter size spot soaking the dressing daily for the last 2 days, so hoping this will heal as surgery would likely be very difficult, if not impossible, with all my scar tissue in my belly.  So, I am staying away from anything oral, on fairly vigorous antibiotics 3 times daily IV and this seems to have controlled the infection.  As the antibiotics are incompatible with the fats in my TPN (feedings in my vein) we first left them out, but I lost 14 # and that doesn’t seem to be a viable option either.  We have switched to TPN during the day, when I can flush the lines before and after the antibiotics (can skip this at the 2 am administration, when I just run Lactated Ringers) and at least my weight has stopped sliding, though am thinking about getting some suspenders to keep other things from sliding down.

With all the health struggles and all the paperwork issues and other jobs that seem to be needful after Karen’s death, I promised the kids to skip a trip and Dr. Jim Webb and Duane just returned from a profitable trip a couple days ago, though they had to fly out from the hospital to prevent some of the grief on the road.  Pray for Dr. Fred Brown and Tom Failing as they plan to go later in August, then, health and other issues permitting, Dan, Duane, Mark and I hope to go in later September.  Pray that the tiny leaking hole will decide to close up (we know our God can do anything and praying it is His will) and my strength will return in time to do this trip and the 2 other trips I have planned for the rest of the year.   

In another 2 weeks, I hope to be moved into the kids’ basement, many friends and relatives have worked hard to make this a reality and it really looks good to me (decorators may not agree).  Am praying that our house for the last 21 years will sell and we can get life a bit more settled on this end.  Also pray for further progress on organization for the hospital in Haiti, again some longer range planning for the future, especially if I become a bit more (or a lot) limited in my ability to get there and work as before.  There is a lot of potential there, but need to be sure we follow God’s will for the hospital in our planning for the years to come.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan, Duane, James, Jenn and Rachel

The Haitian Donkey Is In The Waiting Game (Sigh)

Hi All:

As mentioned before, Duane and I had planned on going the 8th of June, but the violence that prevented our trip is still going on.  I spoke with Dr. Moise this morning, things are settled down in Cayes somewhat, but the road to Port au Prince remains blocked by the rioters.  Thus, trucks and buses have been unable to bring people and goods where they need to go.  It also means that our teams cannot get back and forth, specifically the next trip planned for the 9th of July, unless things calm down quickly. Duane and Jim Webb (a retired surgeon in the GR area that helps out whenever needed and his health is good enough, he is a real trooper). 

Hopefully, this will give me a chance to get back on my feet with healing of the abscess in my lower left abdomen, the fistula that peeks out it’s ugly head in the lower aspect of my incision after likely being quiet for 3 years (we can’t be sure, but it is in the same place, though putting out nastier stuff).  We also need to be sure my line infection clears up in the midst of all this.  Plus, I have lost considerable weight and need to get my strength and blood counts up, not easy to do on only clear liquids (to try to heal the fistula without further, risky surgery).  It all amounts to the Haitian Donkey having even scrawnier legs and ambling along in a somewhat less than robust fashion.

In the midst of all this, we are working on finishing the basement at James and Jenn’s house so I can move in there with the remaining kitty cat of Karens and selling our house.  Many people have done a tremendous amount of work to help us and we now pray that things can be completed in the near future and I can begin to find where things are?  Also, we are still trying to get all the paperwork associated with the death of my wife arranged, including setting up things so that it will be easier for the kids in the event of my homegoing.  As you know, I have been preparing things for Karen to have and do after I would pass away, we weren’t quite prepared for what happened and still miss her terribly. 

Pray for wisdom for all these situations, especially for peace to return to Haiti, where the people have suffered so much for so long with no reasonable end in sight. 

In His service,

Bill, Rachel, James and Jenn