The Haitian Donkey and friends enjoy Haitian sunshine

Hi All:
Once again, we are very thankful to the Lord that He has seen fit to allow us to return to Haiti and serve Him here with our brothers and sisters. As most of you know, I was quite ill after the return from the last trip in December. As I was in Haiti for the first 3 days of my line infection, by the time I got home, it had entrenched itself very well before I got home, got blood cultures and was able to start IV antibiotics. With all the fluid retention that is part of the body’s response to stresses such as surgery or infections, I was up 16lbs from my normal and struggling with excess fluid in my lungs, a bit scary at times. I know many of your were praying for me and I greatly appreciate it, as God was gracious again and has kept me going for the time being. So, the twelve of us, 9 from Grand Rapids and 3 from Missouri, met in Miami and flew in to Port au Prince Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, everything there went well and we were on the road soon. I had operated on the driver last year, so he was more kindly inclined to go carefully and we had a good trip back to the hospital.

Surgical clinic was interesting, both Jose and I worked with Moise and it rolled well. We had a good variety of cases and, if they all show up, surgery will go well. The rest of the crew went to the Sunday School at Renault and then to the camp and had an enjoyable day. The weather has been perfect to a bit cool for the Haitian Donkey, so tolerable for the rest of the team. One group is building the morgue and a couple bathrooms for the patients in the downstairs of the hospital, another is putting some roofs on houses in the village and there have been a number of repair projects that need attention. Dan has been trying to repair the chemistry machine for the lab with some success thus far, also trying to repair the washing machine in the laundry. We also are organizing the storage rooms further and making progress in that regard.

Surgery is doing well. The number of cases has been a bit limited, to be expected during the early part of the year, as no one has a lot of money left, with the holidays, school fees for the new year, etc. So, have been able to work on a number of projects, not finishing any, but trying to make some progress as time allows. We are possibly interviewing a physical therapy assistant to work with Isaac this week. There appears to not be many of these individuals in the country, so a lot of negotiating is needed to sort things out, including salary, etc. Pray for wisdom, as years of struggling with the previous individual make us want to start this department back up on a good foot (no pun intended).

Thanks for praying for us and your support in so many ways. It is appreciated.

Bill, Dan, Dave, Jenna, Jordan, Jose, Joshua, Kelly, Mary, Patti, Paul,  Stephanie

The struggling, straggling Haitian Donkey again asks for prayer for wisdom

Hi All:In the world in general, I suppose that donkeys are not well known for having rather high Intelligence Quotients. Those in Haiti, and the one braying to you in particular, are likewise not overly endowed with wisdom and thus we come again, asking for prayer for divine wisdom in knowing how to treat the struggling Haitian Donkey and plan for future trips to the homeland, etc. I am well aware that the Lord has allowed medical care to advance to the level it is at now in the USA, even amazing the Donkey in his 40 years of practice. Because of this wonderful care He has permitted, I have been privileged to benefit and be able to live fairly well for the last 6 years despite my aggressive cancer and the consequences of the extensive surgeries I have undergone. Also, the progression of the TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) again in my lifetime has allowed me to keep living and working despite not having enough intestines to live (I only have 180 cm of the minimum 200 cm).  But, the Donkey is also acutely aware that it is especially by the prayers of so many faithful friends and supporters, some of whom I will never likely meet this side of heaven as we don’t live on the same continent, that He has ordained that I am allowed to live despite the severe restrictions and conditions imposed on me by the nasty cancer and the consequences of the treatment of same. I am constantly humbled, amazed and encouraged by you all and your kindness and willingness to sacrifice your time and energy on my behalf. To God be the glory.

So, I come again, asking for prayer for God to guide my thoughts as well as those working on and with me for the near future as well as a bit longer, should He allow me to continue to live and work for Him. As I mentioned, my strength was a bit down in Haiti last week. I had a sinus infection a few days before departure and felt a bit dragged down, but treated it and, although it is still there, is tolerable. However, Wednesday night and each night thereafter, I had fever and chills, tolerating the warm nights only with my sweatshirt on to keep things on an even keel. The trip home went well, though very thankful for my heated jacket (like the hunters wear, with batteries to keep me going) and the team took care of the 11 suitcases of stuff while Karen took me directly to the ER from the airport. I had a temp of over 103, a white count over twice normal at 21.500 and they wanted to keep me in the hospital. However, they always take my bundled clothing away and I shake like a leaf. I know they want the temperature down, but I don’t do so well with chilly temperatures. They did start me on the ever faithful Vancomycin and I have continued it to this day as it seems to be the only antibiotic that will work. However, we checked levels on Wednesday morning and the usual dose was not sufficient this time, so have bumped it up and yesterday the levels were acceptable. Thus, am hoping this critter will surrender his territory and go away soon.

Part of the body’s way of dealing with sepsis, the severe infections that I get from either my hole in my intestines or the lunch line in my chest, where we dump in 35% Glucose with other nutrients that the bugs like to share with me when possible, is to third space fluids, causing swelling in the legs and a bit in the lungs.  This normally has been a bit of a struggle for the Donkey, but this time, I seem to be hanging on to considerably more fluid, about 15lbs. worth, and it is causing some congestive heart failure for me. Thus, a flight of stairs makes me so short of breath that I have to rest before going back the other way with whatever I have come to get, etc. Additionally, in my first 15 hour surgical marathon, they spent a fair amount of time picking cancer globules off my cardiac area (as well as the rest of the abdomen, etc) and since that time my heart has done more than it’s share of flips and flops and other fun things that the Haitian Donkey does not enjoy, so have been taking a beta blocker with help. As I have been struggling, I did see a cardiologist on Thursday, who did what all medicine men do, shuffle your pills, trade a green one for a red one and a yellow one for 2 white ones, etc, as well as do an echocardiogram that shows I have some heart damage from the infections. So, am slowly getting back on my scrawny (though puffy with water) donkey legs and hope the healing process will continue. My blood tests done yesterday showed some improvement, the white count down to 13 but still having low potassium due to the water pills, etc. We are making progress, I have lost 10lbs so far, but not out of the woods yet and appreciate prayer for wisdom.

Also, as we are working on organizing work teams for Haiti for the future months and my health status being a bit unknown complicates things. I am deeply grateful to Drs. Jim, Jose and Luke for their invaluable help, especially as Jim and I both struggle with significant health issues and he never states no when I ask him to help, often on short notice. However, we need God’s wisdom and help/direction as we work through other topics that need addressing at the hospital that they are not able to help with, due to language, cultural, etc barriers. We have been working on getting the rather gentle new administrator, who similar to myself, needs an infusion of backbone stiffening, better organized in setting up rules and guidelines for the hospital. He is so much easier to work with than the last one I have endured for 12 years, an autocratic ruler that all hid from when he came around and who now seems to have made his way with his family to Canada??? However, we are trying to set things up in the administrative realm for years to come with the help of Dan and Duane when they are available. We also are working on getting the reintegration process going for Dr. William, who hopes to be done in 20 months more with his Haitian Surgical Residency. How this picture will work out is taking lots of time, prayer and wisdom that the Haitian Donkey lacks but asks you to pray for divine intervention in this regard. So, planning on future trips, the composition of them as I never am able to go alone just for the TPN that needs a second person to help haul, etc is a bit difficult as he struggles with health questions and concerns.

The Haitian Donkey, true to form, has rambled on a bit, but appreciates all your prayers for wisdom, encouragement and strength from on high.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf


Glory to God in the Highest

Dear family and friends; Merry Christmas!

The kids at Sunday school this morning singing Glory to God in the highest.

Today’s bible story was about David and Goliath, and I thought for a moment about 3 people doing a Sunday school for 1500 children each week and just as God fought for David, He also has given us what we need to continue this ministry. Each Sunday as we arrive, Deb greets the children and exchanges money for coins that they have found. Katie organizes the kids as they get seated and Rod sets up the equipment.

At 15 years old, Katie does a great job of leading the singing.

Deb helps the kids who need medical care, usually by putting triple antibiotic cream on cuts and scrapes and other creams on skin diseases.

We are so thankful that the Lord is really working in the lives of Stanley and Joseph who have been in the Sunday school for 10 years and are now taking leadership roles. They both read the bible and give a short talk and prayer every week.

We would appreciate your prayers for Stanley and Joseph as God seems to be really working in their lives and they both live in difficult situations.

Deb always finds time to care for even the smallest needs.

Rod does the bible story, Katie helps give out the Manna packs and Deb does a short medical clinic every Sunday as we finish up.

As the children leave, there is always a group of adults that come in with medical needs. Deb is giving antibiotics to a young man who might lose his middle finger. It is very swollen and these people have no other place to come for medical care. We are very thankful for the Missouri medical team who leave enough meds with us each year so that we can help serve the people.

Several times we have had to use our Dewalt cordless shop vacuum to remove rocks or bugs that get trapped inside ears.

This little guy today wasn’t too excited about the procedure once he heard the sound of the vacuum. I use a small tube to reduce the suction of the vacuum.

We had a very special visit with our long time friend Max whom we hadn’t seen for many months. Max has aids and we worked together with him 15 years ago, helping people who have aids and also building an orphanage for children who have aids. Max recently had a stroke, but thank the Lord, he is recovering well.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support. Merry Christmas, Love Rod, Deb and Katie (the Wrays)

The Haitian Donkey and friends / family are doing will in Haiti

Hi All:
The week has been busy but good, as usual. Wednesday was quite busy in the OR, we did a number of interesting cases, including a difficult large thyroid mass, an interesting breast problem, a bit of a struggle with another hysterectomy and a number of more routine cases. Additionally, we did some other interesting cases that are not acceptable to talk about in mixed company. I also saw a pastor (it is the annual church convention next door, always the first week in December, so some of them profit by seeing me with problems) with a fair sized stomach tumor that has eroded and is bleeding, so he is anemic. We are pumping him up and I hope to do it with Jose and Moise next month, a bit out of our comfort zone, but with the 3 of us, we hope to be able to help him out as he doesn’t have the money for the prices in Port, often 3-4 times what we charge. I also had a lady with schizophrenia whose daughter in law injects her monthly with meds and keeps things on a fairly even keel. However, she traveled out of the country and charged her brother in law with the task of the injection. Unfortunately, he goofed and gave her 10 times the dosage, they showed up in a panic this morning and we are watching her carefully. I think she will do well despite the error, though will have a few side effects in the meanwhile.

I cannot believe the amount of work the team is getting done, as usual. My sister, Margie and her friend, Marsha, have cleaned, patched holes and painted the physical therapy room. We also enlisted the help of the deaf mute person who works in physical therapy (don’t ask me too many questions, I don’t know how this all works, but it seems to do well) plus a somewhat sluggish guard to scrub the crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and the rest of the equipment, so all will be clean and shiny. I am impressed and appreciative. Butch and Gordy have repaired (with the help of Rod) the water pump, the sterilizer, and have installed the hurricane shields for the hospital windows with the help of the ever faithful Dudu. I worry about Sam (I am – his nickname per Butch, it is obvious which one of us still has little ones at home) as he is a bit more mature than the rest of us and won’t quit when I tell him to. So he is quite wiped out by nightfall, but ready to go at it again in the morning. He and Jean Herbert have made 13 benches for the patients to sit on on the veranda and in various places around the hospital. He certainly is also appreciated as much as the rest of the crew, they all are willing to get filthy in the jobs they are doing, a really good testimony to our brothers and sisters here.

The heat has been tough on the rest of the crew, I am loving it, of course. My energy level seems a bit lower than normal but I make it through each day just fine. Everyone seems to enjoy the Haitian meals we have at lunch, so far, we have NOT had the boiled fish, PTL. I can eat almost anything, but that one is a bit of a struggle. The eyes staring at me really don’t bother me, just not enamored with the taste of this type of boiled fish. (I spoke too soon, we had it for lunch, but the rest of the team did ok, maybe just my taste buds are off, will blame the chemotherapy?) We started this morning with a little fellow of about 4 years age with a modified circumcision, to finish what he began in error, poor fellow. The rest of the surgeries have gone well again today, we had a brief meeting with the employees and passed out the wrapped tote boxes from the young folks at Jamestown Baptist Church. That was a nice pre-Christmas gift for the employees. No one opened their package, so I couldn’t satisfy my curiosity and figure out what was in the packages. Once again, I have to thank all of you who gave so generously to the “Rice and Goats Fund.” It is humbling and encouraging to me that you all are willing to help the Haitian employees once again.

In His Service, with Thanksgiving,

Bill, Butch, Gord, Marcia, Margie and Sam

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