The Haitian Donkey and Friends Will Depart Early As Violence Heating Up Again

Hi All:

We have had a good, though busy 4 days of work here already.  Dan, Duane and Mark went to the Renault Sunday School and Feeding program on Sunday, while I attended the services at the hospital and then saw patients the rest of the day.  Monday, we did 4 hysterectomies, a couple of them quite difficult due to advanced cancer, difficult body habitus and scarring.  We then had a lady show up who had had an abortion 7 years ago as the baby allegedly was deformed at 5 months, then had trouble getting pregnant again but now was at term and had tried for 36 hr to deliver and was stuck as the baby was too large for her pelvis and had fallen into distress.  We took her back and did a C section, admittedly it is hard for me to let Drs. Moise and William struggle to get the little one out and wondering at what stage I step in to help, as they need to learn and each struggle helps them prepare for when I am no longer able to be there as backup, guide and assistant.  I was about to take over when they got the little one out, he was sluggish as lots of meconium and his head was wedged in the pelvis.  I am fortunate to have a thin but large hand, so can slip over the baby’s head and gently tease it out of the pelvis with minimal trauma to him.  So far, mother and baby are doing well but we had some tense moments. 

We had planning/hospital future direction meetings on Saturday afternoon, a lot was brought up, how much we can implement in a foreign culture is still to be determined, but we want to do our best to streamline and make our patient care efficient and compassionate.  A big problem, compounded by us not being here all the time, is follow through, not a priority in Haiti, it seems.  We have had brief meetings in the morning after devotions, it does mean starting surgery a bit later, but we seem to have done ok so far, though Dr. William was here for the 2 surgery days and will leave at 3 am to return to his residency in Port Wednesday morning.  It is such fun to work with my two Haitian brothers as this is our 17th year together and we work in sync for the most part, knowing what the other 2 will do without having to be told/converse.  I thank the Lord for my two pillars at the hospital, much younger than I and healthy, so hopefully can keep this running for years to come, should the Lord tarry.

Tuesday went well overall.  Dan and Duane went up to Bonne Fin to see if we can profit from their experience.  They run a considerably different ship, especially in the area of finances, but were most welcoming of helping us when and where possible, a great encouragement.  Will sort through the data received and implement what we feel can help us. Mark has been building a new, more appropriately (I hope) placed cashier’s office next to the Xray building and several other projects.  Again, that team of Haitian construction men has worked for years when needed and can roll quite well with little direction as needed.  We have had a bunch of rain Tuesday, slowing down some activities, but at least it is a warm rain and breaks the mugginess for a bit. 

Surgery went well Tuesday, several more hysterectomies, some hernias and then Moise and I tried to remove a good section of a parotid gland tumor that had been done by the ENT hospital in town and no tissue was obtained?  A bit discouraging when the specialists cannot get the job done!   The continued unrest in Port is a cause for concern, as, so far, I have been unable to make any connections for the October trip for the Dutch Donkey and myself. So, please pray that things will calm down enough that we can drive to and from the hospital.  The Haitian Senator shooting several people when he felt threatened by the mob underscores the instability for everyone at present. 

Surgery again went well on Wednesday, but we discovered that MAF feels they will not likely be able to get their pilots safely to the airport on Friday and have asked us to leave earlier, as otherwise it may be early next week before we can get out of Cayes, as the roads are getting worse again and the opposition has called for major protests and violence on Friday and Saturday.  So, we are scrambling to find alternatives to spending prolonged down time in Port, possibly not even able to get out of there for a bit.  Apparently the airport was shut down on Tuesday and part of Wednesday due to a fire, so passengers will be backlogged for a while and every seat taken.  We are praying for wisdom as to how to proceed.

Thanks again for your prayers and support of our ministry for Him here in Haiti.

In His Service, Dan, Duane, Mark and Bill   

Haiti Update

Hi All:
We are safely at the hospital, have had some meetings and about to start seeing patients in the clinic.  As the violence has continued, the fear factor remains high among the people, as well as discouragement, as many wonder what the future holds for Haiti.  The elements calling for the resignation of the president are quite vocal, but will the instability only increase if he does depart?  The runaway inflation continues, due to the violence, the stores are empty as no one wants to order a container of supplies as they have no assurance that they will be able to get the goods from Port to the store.  No one dares leave their house for the most part in Port au Prince, from what I hear, so the whole country is at a standstill except for the troubling rioters, who seem to move about unhindered.

The meetings yesterday went quite well, follow up on decisions made is always a struggle here.  Some of it is my fault, as surgery keeps me tied up the majority of my time here, now, I am more feeble than before, so prioritizing what I need to address is always a bit up in the proverbial clouds.  Dr. William will be with us for a couple days to help in the OR and then will go back to his residency.  He kindly has volunteered to take our luggage back to Port for us in his car, as the four of us (without any baggage) weigh pretty close to the maximum weight that the plane can take.  I figure that, in addition to my 175 # with my clothes, including my heated coat with batteries, etc, I have about 80 pounds of TPN with ice packs, etc in the 2 carryons plus two suitcases with my IVs that weigh close to 50# each, a real struggle for me in my travels.  So, that will be a real blessing for us and pray that he will have a safe and uneventful trip back to Port on Tuesday night with the extra stuff, etc.   

So, we are looking forward to a productive week of work for our Saviour in this land of great medical, physical and spiritual need.  Pray for wisdom, safety and His direction in all that we do, that we may do it to His honor and glory.

In His Service, Dan, Duane, Mark and the (Feeble) Haitian Donkey

Haitian Donkey and Friends Prepare to take Flight

Hi All:

This is an attempt to bring you up to date on what the Haitian Donkey and his friends and family are up to.  As you may remember, Haiti continues to be turbulent with on again/off again riots for political change and the availability of fuel, at least those seem to be the most obvious concerns.  It was violent enough that Duane and I were not able to go in June, some adjustments had to be made in July, though August went well.  Now, Dan, Duane, Mark and I are planning on going this Friday, the 20th, with plans of either flying to Cayes or, if things are calm, hopefully driving there, which would be easier for me with all my material that has to stay cold, etc.  There is a small fridge in the hotel in Port au Prince, but how good it works to keep medicines cold is another issue and, since it runs directly in my vena cava and I have chronic problems with infections already, I hate to add extra risk.  So pray for peace and wisdom to prevail.

With the new realtor, the house sold in one day, the first 2 people who looked at it gave bids and the competition went up another $5000, so thankful for that.  Hard to leave the home that Karen took care of so well for 21 years, remodeled a fair amount with help from friends and family.  I never thought about it until someone remarked that this was the only house she ever could call home, as we were always in transit to or on the mission field, or, earlier on, in apartments while in medical school, etc. We did have a house during residency, but knew it was temporary.  So, she really put her roots (as well as those of hundreds of her flowers) down here.  A friend of hers down the street, who always walked her dog past the house, and many of the dogs stopped for attention from her, sometimes leaving the owner to run to her,  helped me keep the flowers looking nice in the sale process, family and friends helped tons to get the house empty, clean and ready and also keep the yard mowed, so we have greatly appreciated the efforts of all of you. Thank you so much.

My hole between my intestines and the outside world has matured into a well developed ostomy that will undoubtedly be with me the rest of my days.  The other two holes have closed, so I only have the drain pipe, through which little comes, but a fair amount comes around it, and the single ostomy in the lower abdomen about 3 inches below my belly button, NOT a convenient place to have him show up.  At times, a small flood requires immediate attention, otherwise I change dressings frequently to keep things clean and prevent bad odors.  My energy level has picked up as I have been avoiding the oncologists, who draw bottles of blood on a regular basis and leave me low and dry.  My CT scan showed progression and Dr. Bartlett wants me to do chemotherapy again, but I feel too good to subject myself to being dragged down again.  So, pray for wisdom and God’s direction in this area also.

Will see if I can get this to fly, as so much still is unsettled in my new, lovely downstairs apartment at James and Jenn’s house.  Everyone again worked hard to make it much nicer than I had imagined and I am very thankful.

So, appreciate your prayers, as always, but especially for the trip to be uneventful and productive and us to stay healthy and faithful to our Lord, who makes all this possible.

In His Service,

Dan, Duane, James, Jenn, Mark, Rachel and the Haitian Donkey

The Haitian Donkey Has His Wobbly Legs Back Under Him

Hi All:
First, I want to thank the Lord that Dr. Fred Brown and Tom Failing, both veterans of many trips to Haiti to help at the hospitals there (Fred spent years at Bonne Fin Hospital, our sister hospital in the hills years ago, also right after the earthquake, helping to set it back on it’s feet after years of struggling), have arrived safely without any complications on Saturday.  I spoke briefly with Tom on Monday and all was going well thus far.  It does seem that things have calmed down considerably, though stability is not a sure thing ever in Haiti.  I haven’t heard how the cases are going, will contact Dr. Moise soon and get his update on that aspect.

I also wanted to update you on the Donkey’s health.  Thanks to many friends and relatives working hard, I am now in my very nice basement apartment at James and Jenn’s house.  We still have some things to finish, but sleeping in the hospital bed with the kitty, who thinks the shelf around the room is for strolling at night while he meows.  He and I seem to be settled in quite well.  After 9 weeks of no food and 5 of no fluids except in my central line/TPN, Dr. Dan De Cook explored the mess that is my abdominal wall on the 16th of August, cleaned up what he could (he could not see the fistula, the abnormal connection from my bowel, but it is small, though troublesome, so not really a surprise) and tried to close things in layers.  It is sore, but quite tolerable and I am thankful for his help in trying to get a wobbly Donkey back on his feet.  I will likely wait a few more weeks to take in some nourishment, to let the hole, wherever he is hiding, scar down so that I don’t get a leak in my belly, a very serious complication, considering the mess inside my belly, possibly fatal.  I have been able to keep up my work schedule and Dan, Duane, Mark and I are planning on heading for Haiti in a month.  Also, the Haiti Team is planning on shipping a 40 foot container on the 17th of September with supplies. 

I have not had a chance to speak to Dr. William the last few weeks, he was doing well after his return from France and the training there, will soon start his last year of surgical residency.  Thus, there will be a lot of work to do to help reintegrate him back in the hospital and in a somewhat new role. As he and Dr. Moise have been friends for almost half a century, I am hoping we can work around potential speed bumps and make the transition smoothly.  The Dutch Donkey (Evert Bek) and I will return in October, Dr. Luke in November, and a bunch of my family plus Sam, Tabitha and myself in earliish December.  The schedule after that is a bit up in the air, I am hoping that the political situation will remain calm and my health will permit further trips to work on the hospital projects, surgery, administration and whatever presents itself.

Thanks for praying for the present team of Fred and Tom, the 4 of us next month and then the rest of the year. Pray for the container loading and safe travels/arrival.  Also continue to pray for especially Drs. Moise and William and the future of the hospital in their hands, plus that of Welser and that, in all things, the will of God will be made plain to us and that we will follow it for His glory.

In His Service, Bill for Fred and Tom and the rest of the crew

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