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 enjoy pleasant weather

Hi All:
I first want to give you a brief update as to the health status of the Haitian Donkey. As you know, I had been undergoing experimental immunotherapy as no one really knows what to do with me and my cancer. The cost of the medicine, since my insurance does not cover experimental treatments, is $160,000 per year, so we opted for a cousin that is trying to get a piece of the market and thus a bunch of red tape but not much expense. There are a number of conflicting opinions as to whether or not it was helping me slow down the relentless growth of the cancer, but by the study guidelines, it was growing too rapidly and I was dropped out of the study last Monday. My oncologist promises to look for another study, as other options are limited, I also am still waiting for Dr. Bartlett to read the latest CT scan and give me his opinion of what comes next. Because of my short bowel syndrome, it has to be an IV study as I would not qualify for anything oral.

I must admit that I have more energy and feel good off the medicine, but then, no one disagrees that it is, at best, a controlled poison? So, along with Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella, we departed early on Saturday morning for the homeland of the Donkey. By God’s grace, other than some significant turbulence, the trip went well, including the customs inspection. There were a number of reminders of the violence that erupted last Wednesday, again some political uprisings, along the way, as the less than great roads were disrupted further with the tire burnings every so far on the road. Allegedly this planned rioting was to commemorate the death of some other(s?) in previous rioting, unfortunately, some more were killed in this episode. They also took out a bridge about an hour from the hospital, allegedly to force the government to construct a bigger, better one? I remember all the politicians vying for office back in Michigan bemoaning the state of our roads and the need to plow a bunch of money into fixing them up properly and I smile when I wonder what they would think of what our vehicles have to endure.

We have settled in well, as we arrived in the early evening, I was able to sleep 12 hours pretty much uninterrupted (except for the obligatory potty breaks that have been part of life for the last 3 years) and feel very perky. We have a pretty full schedule set up, if everyone shows up, of course, for the week. The Haitian Goude has sunk lower again, a real problem as much of the food supply and other essential goods comes in from the US and thus life is more difficult for the Haitian Donkey’s friends and coworkers here in Haiti. Duane will start on the incinerator project in the morning, apparently the government inspectors are coming this week (good timing as he can hopefully convince them their plans wouldn’t work anywhere nearly as well as the ones he is using). Glad Tabitha is here to help me in the OR, etc. They also have made sure that I am not hurting for food, yikes.

Am finishing on Monday as we did get the internet hooked up and can communicate again. The OR was busy, as expected, but went well overall. Have seen some interesting stuff, some of which is not fit for printing for a variety of reasons. One poor young girl of 10 years of age has one leg at least 4 inches shorter than the other, I think she might have had a congenital dislocated hip that was never attended to and sits up by her waist, not sure there is a lot we can do now, but will see what the xrays show. She certainly adapts well and is most delightful to treat so far. Several other young children have other congenital deformities, including one with a cleft lip and palate (I do lips but cannot do a palate as don’t have the obturators to keep the little one from destroying my repair with their tongue). Another had cerebral palsy and has very spastic legs, to the point that she cannot walk. So, have been working on trying to get our Physical Therapy department set up, still running into roadblocks as no one wants to challenge the previous person.

Will send this while the internet is working and express our appreciation for your prayers, encouragement and other support for the work here at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Cayes. We are thankful that the last earthquake didn’t do any damage to the southern part of the island this time, though people still have the last one well imprinted in their minds.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella

Christmas is coming for the Haitian Donkey’s coworkers

Hi All:
I am very thankful for all of you who have prayed and encouraged us through the last month.  It does seem like the struggle to overcome the infection this time was more difficult and took longer, but we are grateful that it seems to have arrived at a decent state of health, all things considering. I have been off the IV antibiotics now for 10 days and eating more and feel stronger again. I won’t run any races yet, but each day is progress.

Lord willing, two weeks from today, we will be able to rejoin our Haitian colleagues for another week of work. Duane and Ruth will stay for a month or so, as they are trying to build a proper incinerator that will BOTH work and meet the interesting standards put out by governmental authorities. I am always appreciative of my partners who can figure those things out, as I would be lost trying to make a proper, functional burning site. Tabitha and her sister, Zella, will join us for work in the OR/hospital and other projects in that domain.

However, I was just reminded that Christmas is coming as some individuals have sent in contributions to the annual “Rice and Goats Fund,” something that has been a great encouragement to our employees each year since the earthquake. (Incidentally, the earthquake last weekend was only 5.9 vs the 8 that came 8 years ago and was mostly up in the northern part of Haiti, still leading to loss of life and dwellings, etc, but in a much reduced capacity, for which we thank the Lord). The financial situation in Haiti has just slowly gone in the wrong direction since that disaster, aggravated a couple years ago by the hurricane that devastated our area. Thanks to the generous contributions of funds, time, labor and materials, many of our employees and others who lost parts or all of their homes have had their residences repaired. However, our area still suffers from difficult times that seem to outweigh the good times, especially in the financial realm.  Thus, we are hoping that we can raise funds to help our employees have a special time again this Christmas as they celebrate the great gift of our Savior.

If you would be willing to contribute to this fund, please send it to either:

Centre de Sante Lumiere

c/o Dan Boerman

PVI Industrial Washing, Inc.

2886 Clydon, S.W.

Wyoming, MI  49519

 

or

 

Byron Center Bible Church

8855 Byron Center Avenue

Byron Center, MI  49315

 

And designate it for “Rice and Goats Fund” so that it gets directed to the right department.

Thanks again so much for all you all do to help us, both the CSL team in the US and in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill for the CSL Employees

The Haitian Donkey Update

Hi All:
I am sitting in the oncology department getting my infusion of goods and thought I would bring things up to date on a couple fronts. I finished my IV antibiotic course 2 days ago, so they could give the next treatment now, as it is experimental and they don’t want any complicating issues, ie extra meds on board, etc. This is treatment # 9, they raise the dose each time until # 10, not sure what, if anything, happens after that. I will get a repeat CT scan again on October 8 and will see if the cancer is progressing or not and I guess that will impact what happens next.

I had my line changed over a wire (so that I won’t lose the last remaining site in my upper body, not as desirable as just pulling it, leaving it out for 2 days and replacing it, but didn’t want to take the chance it would not be able to be put back in) and have finished the antibiotic course after that to cover the critter growing on the line. I am hoping that I can eat a bit more now as still seem to have nausea pretty regularly, not sure who is the culprit but the weight slowly dwindles with it. Am continuously thankful for space heaters, a heated jacket (battery powered, what a “cool” thing) and other aids to staying warm when not in my Haitian homeland. I think the strength is returning some, have been able to continue working pretty much normally in the interim, as hate sitting home feeling poorly, at least seeing and caring for patients takes one’s mind off his own situation. So, hoping to get back into the rotation for Haiti next month, as will have a bit of a backlog of patients to take care of.

I thought I would just comment on a couple other issues that are of interest to me and hopefully to you also. First, our statistics for last year included:

571        Surgeries

62,924     Outpatient consultations

2,028      Hospitalized Patients

19,844     Laboratory evaluations done

276      Deliveries done

Plus a few hundred xrays and about that many ultrasound evaluations each month, mostly on our own patients but we also have patients being sent from elsewhere for testing.

However, I am also very thankful that we have been able to have our evangelization department functioning, to accomplish our goal that each patient, and often their caretakers or family members, receive a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ Jesus as their only hope for eternal security. We show the Jesus film and other evangelistic films, I make it a point to speak to each surgical patient each day and give them a different tract and encourage them to consider not only their physical/medical health but also their more important spiritual health. We are happy that our two chaplains, Pastor Zidor and Pastor Juste, faithfully follow up on our patients, sharing more in depth teaching and encouragement to consider the claims of Christ on their lives and help them follow up with Bible based churches in their home area, contacting pastors to introduce them, giving them a letter of introduction to the church/pastor and also calling them, if possible, to see how they are progressing and if they would like further information. They have kept track of the numbers of people they have counseled and tracts they have distributed and it is encouraging to see their hard work for His glory.

So, as we bounce back from this major health speed bump and anticipate going in mid October again with Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement for our efforts to serve our Lord at Centre de Sante Lumiere. Continue to pray for especially Dr. William as he now has a year where he will be shipped here and there to “complete areas where the resident needs training.” He is presently at the burn center at Doctors Without Borders for September and October. We don’t know the rest of the plans yet, but need wisdom and encouragement for him as he sort of has to go where he is assigned.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

The Haitian Donkey leaves the Dutch Donkey by himself

Hi All:

This will just be a note to let you know that I have been unable to go to Haiti due to unforeseen trouble with an intestinal blockage. Ever since my 2nd 15 hr marathon surgery and more so since the 3rd one, I have been very careful what and how much I eat. As you know, since coming back from Haiti the last trip, I have struggled with an infection, something I am prone to as I have sugar loaded fluids going in my central line to give me enough nourishment to survive for now almost 3 years, for which I am very thankful, as I would likely not be alive without it. The first IV antibiotic “should” have worked, according to the lab, but didn’t, so after 6 days without improvement, my infectious disease doctor switched to another for 2 weeks. I finished it on Thursday, but had my central line removed and changed over a wire after 5 days on the med and it grew another funny bug, so now am on a 3rd IV antibiotic. As my weight has been going down, I had increased the calorie load in my IVs but the stumbling Haitian Donkey has been struggling to keep going at times.

The plan was for Evert Bek (the AC, electronics repair man from Lowell who has dubbed himself the “Dutch Donkey,” after 5 trips to Haiti with me (he was born in the Netherlands 2 months before me but came to the US 20 plus years later than I, so I get to learn better Dutch when we are together) and I to leave this morning. I have not been able to eat much this last week and yesterday the obstruction set in during the evening and intensified all night to the point that I was vomiting from 12 am to 5 am. Karen and I decided that it would not be fair to saddle the Dutch Donkey with such a troublesome travelling partner at 4 am, when I was supposed to take off for the airport. Plus, we had no idea when this might end and wouldn’t want to get set off the plane enroute and be worse off. So, we made the difficult decision to not go at this point. I cannot go alone as need a second person’s carryon to take the rest of my TPN, so can’t just jump on a later plane and head south. All Plans B, C, etc are not tenable, so will not be able to do surgery this week there and am sorry to disappoint all the hurting people we, by God’s grace, would have been able to help.

So, am carefully sipping water and praying I can get my strength back in the days to come. Will likely have a lighter schedule at work as wasn’t planning on being there, so will do my best to overcome this infection, fatten up a bit and continue to serve Him here instead of in Haiti.

In His Strength and Service,

Bill and The Dutch Donkey