The Haitian Donkey And Friends Enjoy Working In The Homeland

Hi All:


It is hard to believe that it is Tuesday night already and we have passed the halfway mark in our work here again.  As requested in our brief update a week ago, we were somewhat concerned regarding the political upheavals here as well as my health concerns.  We are happy to thank you all for your prayer and support as we had a good trip down here, at least the Haitian Donkey and his friend, the Dutch Donkey, as we were joined in Atlanta by Duane and Ruth.  Tabitha, Linda and Robin came on American and were supposed to land in Port 2 hr before us, but had some weight trouble and had to return to the gate to off load some, so were there a bit before us.  We had a very slow trip to the hospital, about 6 hr, but partially because there were so many police stops in Port and we are thankful that that likely helps keep the rioting down somewhat.  So, everything comes with a price.

We arrived in Simon late on Saturday, the MEBSH folks had their annual convention at the 1500 seat church next door, where the whole courtyard was filled with benches and tarps and there was a huge screen attached to the church so that the thousands outside the courtyard could also profit from the singing and preaching.  We only got the tail end of the meetings, as the church is right next door to the hospital, but we enjoyed what we could understand of the services.  They were done on Sunday after the morning service but they really get into the fellowship and there reportedly were 10,000 people in attendance.  Apparently, they had people come inside in shifts so that it would be fair to all, all the cars that normally were in the courtyard were kept out so more people could attend, so we had people and vehicles everywhere (not that that many people have cars, maybe 50 or 60 were along the road.  People left in droves, a bunch went by on their way home in the back of a dump truck, singing away.  A good start to our week.

Evert (the Dutch Donkey, he also named himself) is a HVAC person from Lowell, MI, and has been invaluable at fixing stuff here.  Duane has been working with some of the Haitian team on storage shelving as well as getting the supplies we sent in a container from Bluffton a while back, including 2 new radiators for the generators, other needed supplies.  Evert has a couple Haitians working with him, they have repaired the truck in several needed places, including the AC and the broken off door handle, they replaced the well pump again and have a host of other projects lined up.  Duane is building some tables for the physical therapy department, as Mme Shaller has brought a physical therapy assistant and will work with her people to get the department back up and running, a great blessing for all concerned and a relief for me.  Both men will keep busy til they leave, as usual, as they have a rather long list of projects to complete.

Ruth, Linda and Robin have been organizing the pharmacy and taking inventory and putting it on the computer as we hope to work more efficiently in ordering and using our supplies, though admittedly, at times it seems impossible to get the Haitian doctors and pharmacy people to think outside the box.  Often it is like the patients back home who are convinced that Advil or Motrin works better than Ibuprofen, despite much higher cost for the same stuff.  They also are working on other organizational projects.

Surgery has been busy, we are very glad that Tabitha is here to help us in the OR.  We had 3 fairly difficult hysterectomies yesterday, 2 difficult hernias (and a couple easier ones) and a ruptured tubal pregnancy that was a bit of a struggle.  We also had an incarcerated hernia come in that had a very low blood pressure and, while we were stabilizing him for surgery, he passed away, a very sad surprise for us all.  Also had a lady in severe congestive heart failure, surely would like to have some of the medicines we use so freely in the US.  Today, we had an easy hysterectomy, a thyroid mass and some hernias that weren’t bad, but then had an add on exploration of the abdomen in a 65 yr old lady who looked well over 9 months pregnant and had had previous surgery, so lots of scar tissue and we had a sweat bath trying to sort it all out as she had huge masses all over her abdomen that were troublesome and stuck to everything, colon, small bowel, side walls of the abdomen and we struggled for hours to sort things out.  I am watching her carefully all night, trying to get some blood for transfusion, a difficult chore here in Haiti on a good day.  So, appreciate prayer for wisdom and healing for her.  Tomorrow has 11 cases scheduled, so if all show up, will be a run day.  Am thankful that my health is holding up but did not feel I could leave the patient tonight for a wonderful meal at Johannes and Luise’s house (Tabitha was late, I would be late also), but still have a lot to do and want to keep a close eye on her, her fluid balance, etc.

So, we thank you all for your prayers and support for the ministry, the trip over (and back) and our work output during our time here, that all we do may bring glory to our Savior, whose indescribable gift we will celebrate this coming weekend and the reason we all are here at Centre de Sante Lumiere.  Also, pray for Duane’s dad, he has been in and out of the hospital all last week and this one, now in Brookcrest with severe infections (we used to keep them in the hospital to stabilize them, now they get sent back out as soon as possible and end up coming back?)

In His Service,
Bill, Duane, Evert, Linda, Robin, Ruth, and Tabitha

A couple Brief Prayer Requests

Hi All:

I had planned on an update after we returned from Haiti, but life has been hectic for a number of reasons. The busy week ended well, we did 49 cases, few little ones as Dr. Moise does little things while I am gone, not sure if totally legal but he certainly is capable. Friday night, the 3 of us were wrapping things up, packing and just sharing thoughts. The main one I appreciated was that all 3 of us spontaneously agreed that the Lord had given each of us the very best spouse we could ever have and we thanked Him for that. That was a special thought. The trip home went well, though Michigan persisted in giving us a chilly reception. We hope it is the last for a while, at least til the late fall.

Sunday evening after church, we picked up our dear friend, Pastor Etienne Degbey, from a church in Indiana where he had spoken in the evening. He was our OR tech during our 10 years in Africa, as well as the leader in our largest church plant and now a national missionary there, working on his 3rd church, come briefly to stay with us during his reporting to his 4 supporting churches (and some individuals, including Karen and I). He speaks fluent French and Eve (the tribal language, tonal) but the mission here would like him to learn English better so he can be the area director for them there, but how to do it when no one speaks English to teach you and to practice with. He continues to be an inspiration to me, the fact that he and his family give their lives to their own people rather than going to the U.S. for a better life, at least financially, as many of his family have done. It had been 7 years since we last saw him, though the marvels of modern technology let us communicate regularly.

My health has given me some fits, have had almost constant nausea (common since my first cancer surgery and the following chemotherapy, but also often gets worse as an early warning sign of a developing infection). However, I never could find a fever, my blood counts were normal without signs of an infection, so kept watching, working and waiting. Finally, Thursday, things got worse with a fever spike, etc. I have cultures cooking and have started IV Vancomycin again and ask your prayers for wisdom in finding out why these bugs come back so often of late. We are super careful with line changes (the tubing part), just changed the line going into my chest/vena cava a month ago over a wire, so why can we not stay ahead of it. Planning on going to Haiti next weekend but pray that the riots will not wreck things for us and the Haitian people, a real possibility, but we want to go if at all possible. This infection will knock me back out of the Immunotherapy trials for a while, pray that the cancer and infection will be prevented from raising its evil head.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Evert,,Linda,  Robin,,Ruth and Tabitha

The Haitian Donkey and Friends Make Good Progress

Hi All:

As mentioned in the last update,  we had a most comfortable trip down, except for the reindeer strike midway to Miami from Grand Rapids. We are still puzzling as to what that was, but I have dried out from my Sprite shower and we are busy but enjoying the, at least temporary, return to peace in Haiti. At least partially due to the quietness out on the streets, the surgical patients have been quite numerous, had a C section that went well with a little girl (again, I never noted the gender, just glad to get a healthy baby to pass off to the girls and get back to taking care of mom, putting things back together, etc) a number of hysterectomies, a goodly number of hernias and some other interesting cases. It never ceases to amaze me that the 3 OR nurses get so fixated on the little one that I have to bug them to pay some attention to mom and us. 

 We had to replace the well again, it is a hundred feet or so deep and pulling it is quite heavy, so lots of hands needed to prevent it from dropping. We will keep a couple spares at all times as we are dead in the water when it goes out. If no one is here to replace it, we do have a line to Cite Lumiere, ie where the missionaries live, where we can open it and one or the other can profit from the water from the other group until the appropriate well is replaced. Having clean water to drink, use for surgery, etc is a great blessing in this land where water quality is questionable at best in most places. The cleaning ladies asked Dan and Micah if they wouldn’t just consider moving their families down here and staying to repair things for the hospital, as breakdowns are the rule rather than the exception down here, it seems. The team also finished the construction of a toilet and a shower for the downstairs (ER, OR, infectious disease, maternity, etc) as well as the morgue on the other side of it. They also are trying to teach the Haitians a revolting concept, rotating stock so that the old stuff gets used first. I wish them the best in their efforts. 

We came back on Tuesday night from Johannes and Luise’s house from another fine gastronomic experience, they are always a great delight. Dan and Micah were met at the door and asked to work on the sterilizer while I had several patients to see in the ER. One young man had at least 100 pellets of birdshot all over his body.  He was in considerable discomfort, wanted me to remove the offending agents that were causing him pain, but that would likely take an entire day and cause him more discomfort, as one would have to dig holes to get them out. I think I convinced Dr. Sony, who was working with me in the ER, that this was not appropriate, not sure the patient agreed. He had bullets from his neck on down all over with a great distribution in his back side, so that he will not likely be able to sit down comfortably for a while. The other OR cases have been interesting, including an 87 y/o with a large cancer of his face that we were able to resect, doubt it will be cured, but hopefully the unsightly, smelly thing will wait a while before it gives him grief again. At his age, he also may outlive the recurrent cancer. We had a lady who had a large uterine polyp that her uterus tried to deliver, but, as opposed to a baby, it was hooked to the top of the uterus and inverted it, causing considerable confusion (and pain for the lady) for a while for us all, though we did finally get it out and sort it all out. She looked great this morning, blissfully unaware of all the sweat she caused Dr. William (here for a day from Port) and I. 

Dan has spent the little spare time he has sorting out the finances, he has encountered a number of surprises that we are working on making sense of, plus figuring out a way to be sure we can correct them. As the administrator, Welser, states, it is very hard to change things in Haiti, whether right or not, everyone hangs on tight to advantages they feel they are entitled to. So, we will go slowly and see if we can correct things without too much of a firestorm. We also interviewed a young lady from the area and one of our churches who is finishing physical therapy school and interested in possibly joining us. Ulrike Shaller (sp) is a German physical therapist who has worked in Port a Piment for years and has been willing to help me reorganize the department from scratch and brought her here and will help whoever we hire learn the ropes, a great blessing to thank the Lord for. They loved the cleaned, painted and reorganized therapy room that my sister Margie and her friend, Marcia, slaved on for a week in December, again something we are very thankful for. 

Thanks again for your prayer, encouragement and support.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan and Micah

The Haitian Donkey and Friends Enjoy Haiti Again

Hi All:
Once again, the Haitian Donkey is happy to be warm and comfortable in his homeland. The last few weeks were a bit difficult as I have had 2 significant line infections since I came home last time, so that the spindly Haitian Donkey legs have been more shaky and feeble than normal. A week ago, I had my Hickman catheter changed over a wire as I have no easily available spots to put a new line in, it is a bit sore but otherwise doing well. I am on both IV antibiotics (Vancomycin) and oral large doses of Ciprofloxin, so hoping that I will make steady progress. It is nice to be in the warm environment so that the cold factor is non existent. We are sorry to hear that the nasty winter continues back home, but thankful for a bit of a respite.

The trip down here went very well except that, about 6 am, it felt like the plane hit a stray reindeer up at 30,000 ft. Everyone was a bit stunned, we had been warned that we would have turbulence over Kentucky and the rest of the way down, so they were doing the drink distribution early. I took a regular Sprite, feeling that a bit of sugar would perk things up on the inside. I had two sips and was dozing a bit when we hit the something and the plane lurched and I had a Sprite shower to contend with. I was holding the cup but not in the air so it went all over the place. The rest of the trip went smoothly after that. We went through customs and had a smooth trip to the hospital, for which we thank the Lord as we saw only the remaining effects of the rioting, burned tires and other junk but no rioting. 

We settled down in the hospital, all three of us staying in the little house up on the hill. Surgical clinic was rather busy, if this is an indication of what the week will be like, we will have a crazy week. It looks like the rest of the team, ie Dan and Micah, will have a busy time in the heat, as the well pump went out again and will have to be pulled and replaced, a sweaty job in the heat. The laundry washing machines have been a pain to keep running of late and again require attention. The truck needs some more welding to keep the bumpers functional, but ran well on the trip down, again, something to thank the Lord for.

Will try to do a better job of keeping you up to date, but appreciate your prayers for health, safety and progress as we serve our Lord here in Haiti at CSL.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan and Micah

The Haitian Donkey asks prayer for wisdom, peace and direction for himself and his country

Hi All:

Most of you are aware that there has been ongoing turmoil, with really no end in sight, in Haiti for months now. We have had sporadic bursts of rioting and destruction, there have been months of trouble with brief respites but then things flare up again. The rioters hope to cripple the already struggling country, adding insult to a very difficult situation for the people, and they seem to be winning, though not sure this could be called a situation from which anyone emerges a victor. 

Dan, Micah and I had planned to go to Haiti on March 9 with a team of eye students and their leader, as well as a couple who would work on repairs of the Radio Lumiere station on the compound. However, with all the violence and uncertainty, they have elected to not go at this time, though we 3 still are hopeful that things may calm down and allow us to go and work. The clinic has been slow, as few patients dare risk the roads to make it to be seen. We also have not had any fuel deliveries, etc, so things are becoming more tense all over Haiti. We certainly would not want to go if they could not get fuel, etc, as surgery takes more diesel to run the generator, if the patients could even make it out to the hospital. Government power, never a very reliable thing for the few hours they do give it, undoubtedly is non existent at present. So, things at the hospital need prayer and direction.

I spoke with Dr. Moise yesterday, he states that essentially no vehicles are on the road as the rioters in many towns are burning the vehicles to show their displeasure with the situation, again, something not easily remedied.  As a result, prices have skyrocketed, the goude/USD ratio was 74:1 when we were there last month, it is now 84:1 from what I hear and most food supplies come from outside Haiti, thus sensitive to the exchange rate. Plus, even if it is brought in, it cannot go anywhere from Port very safely, so food is scarce in market, etc. 

So, we ask for prayer for a peaceful, more long term solution to the problem, so that those of us who want to help are able to. There are always promises for discussions to resolve things, pray that they will happen soon and be productive, before even more suffer and/or die as a result of the conflicts. Pray for wisdom for us 3 as we consider whether or not to go on the 9th. My friend Jon Roberts, a doctor who brings medical teams in each year has a team of 23 providers and other workers from Missouri scheduled to go this Saturday and has to make a decision in 2 days, in conjunction with the Wrays, where he bases the operation. We coordinate things with them as they send us surgeries that they find in the villages, so they are always a great asset to all concerned. It will be a blow to all concerned if this has to be cancelled, possibly for the year, as medical providers cannot juggle schedules all that easily.

In Him,

Bill, Dan and Micah