The Haitian Donkey And Friends Arrive Safely Home Again

Hi All:

We have arrived back home safely.  We ended up leaving Cayes on Thursday afternoon, the last flight that Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) felt they could do due to the violence predicted for the next couple days.  Communication in Haiti is difficult at best, on Wednesday evening, Dan Boerman spent 90 minutes on the phone with Leo at Delta Reservations to get us tickets on the Air France (part of the Delta network) headed for Miami at 7:20 Thursday evening (they do flights in the dark, US airlines seem reluctant to do so).  Leo was quite likely from India by his thick accent, though stated he was based in Los Angeles, so the verbal exchange was a struggle.  He did find us tickets, required me to email him a picture of my driver’s license and Delta credit card (something I could never do, but Mark is the youngest of us and that was easy for him), sent us confirmations to sign and we figured we were all set.  Dr. William had gone on Wednesday morning in the wee hours in his car and had taken the suitcases of stuff I normally carry home for other ministries at the missionary compound, as we weighed as 4 guys a total of 875 pounds of the 925 available on the little MAF plane that took us back to Port on Thursday.  That didn’t leave much weight for baggage, so him taking the suitcases early in his car was a great help and he brought them to the airport and met us. 

I didn’t look out the window much an the MAF flight to Port, as my nausea has always been there since chemotherapy, but watching things wiggle out of the little plane window doesn’t help that situation at all.  However, we did see that black smoke billow from the protestors burning tires in the road next to the huge fuel tanks that the ships fill off the coast and that runs all of Haiti’s fuel needs.  This was already on Thursday, before the serious riots were to start.  We landed in Port in the MAF plane, got into line for the Air France flight, all in vain.  It appeared that Leo never filed the request through with Delta and there were no seats available.  Since most flights were cancelled due to the fires in the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday, there were plenty of customers and we could not manage to get ourselves on the flight.  I spent a while with an agent upstairs in the business office and was able to obtain tickets for the next day, Friday, for a price, of course.  Fortunately, I have a taxi driver I have used off and on for the last 16 years and he took us to a hotel close to the airport for the night and promised to bring us back the next morning.  I eat little when travelling, as somewhere in my medical training I learned that what goes in does come out eventually and the extra holes in the front my belly wall can’t be controlled as well as those the Lord made for us originally.  However, the 3 others ordered a safe meal, a cheeseburger with fries.  The motel then informed us that they only had enough hamburger for one meal, so it appears everyone is running out of supplies, as the protestors want.  From the shooting the senator did earlier this week, it appears there are legislators on each side of the conflict, as some of his colleagues on the side of the opposition were throwing dirt at him before he fired his gun in his defense.  With all this disruption of any sort of legal process, it seems unlikely that things will calm down, but with the inflation now up to like 94 goudes to the USD, rioting and destruction of businesses doesn’t seem to be a progressive alternative.  As most of the food supply comes from the US and other such countries, the runaway inflation hurts the poor who don’t have enough to feed themselves even more.

We were able to get back to the airport from our hotel without any signs of violence, though we did go to the airport a couple hours earlier than we had planned, and were able to secure our seats and head home on a somewhat bumpy trip.  We are thankful, as the news reports today seem to indicate that all flights were cancelled today by American and Jet Blue, Delta only has one and didn’t hear if that went, but that would have been our original flight.  We got home in the wee hours, tired but very appreciative of the privilege of being Americans and able to enjoy all the benefits that allows us.   Pray for peace to prevail in Haiti, to prevent further loss of life both from the rioters themselves as well as the hungry who will only suffer more and have no ability to fight on against the elements and meet an early death.

We are looking at the next flight, when the Dutch Donkey will join me on the 19th of October for another work trip.  Pray for wisdom, direction and ability to have another opportunity to serve our Haitians who need so much help in the physical, medical and spiritual realms.

In His Service,

Dan, Duane, Mark and the Haitian Donkey

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

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

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