The Donkey Comes Home!


We have some exciting news to share. We just brought Dad home to his basement apartment in our house and he is sitting comfortably in his chair with his cat Pete nearby! Thank you for all of the visits, cards, emails, texts, meals, and especially those that sat with him day and night these past few weeks. Thanks also for the many prayers on his behalf, which God has answered. Please continue to lift him (and us) up in the upcoming days and months as there are many difficult times and decisions ahead. For now, he is just happy to be home and out of the hospital.

For those who would like more details, Dad still has the infection, but the antibiotic seems to be controlling the symptoms and he can continue the four week course from home. His vitals, including his temperature/fever, have all looked good for several days, so the hospital felt comfortable discharging him. Dad is alert and feeling strengthened, although still a little tired. For this reason, please do call/email/text Jenn or James prior to visiting him, just to make sure he is able to see you. We are also still not sure of when he will be able to go back to work at Georgetown/Sunset, nor what his schedule will look like, so that is another reason to let us know before you visit. As always, he welcomes cards/emails/texts of encouragement at anytime.

Please pray for strength, health, and peace for Dad during this time. Specifically, please pray that God would spare him from further infections for at least a time. Pray also for his kids, for Jenn and I as we care for him, and for Rachel as she lives far away and is only able to visit as her work permits, which is very difficult for her. We are thankful that she could be with him this weekend. Finally, pray for wisdom for Dad and the family as to what we should do and how he can continue to serve the Lord. Our God is able, even when facing Stage 4 cancer.

God Bless,

James for Rachel and Jenn

A Discouraging Day for the Donkey

Good evening, Dad has asked that we send an update to his faithful prayer warriors.  His days at Mary Free Bed (MFB) have been filled with Occupational and Physical Therapy, which he enjoys just fine (except for the squats!)  He is tired from the activity, but overall has been feeling “pretty good” and has also been eating a little for the first time in well over a month. 

Today, the blood cultures that were drawn on Saturday at MFB showed growth of the same gram negative bug, Klebsiella.  What the doctors feel this indicates is that while the antibiotics are working, the infection is “seeded” and Dad is still bacteremic.  In other words, the source of the infection is still there and active, which is most likely from his central line.  Even though he was doing fine, the doctors decided he needed to be transferred BACK to the hospital, so that he can work with Infectious Disease on a course of action, which falls outside the level of care MFB can provide.  Thus, Dad is now at St. Mary’s (Lacks – #405) where he will await a new plan of action.  

He has asked for specific prayer re: wisdom for the doctors and the decisions that need to be made.  Essentially, they could remove the port to clear the infection, but risk not being able to replace the line and Dad would not be able to receive TPN, his primary source of nutrition.  However, if they leave the port, he will continually be at risk for infection, which is also not a good option.  He is naturally discouraged, as this feels like a step backward, but we trust that God will cause all of this to work out for good and for His glory.  Will you join us in prayer for these matters?

We also want to thank all of the family and friends who have stayed at the hospital day and night, visited Dad, provided meals, cards, etc.  Now that he will not be doing therapy, he can have visitors during more times of the day, which always encourages him. Please let us know if you would like to visit.  As before, feel free to call, email, or text us “Kids”. 

Thanks to you all,

Jenn, James, and Rachel

The Haitian Donkey Breaks out of the Hospital, but isn’t Home yet…

Dear All,

We know that you have been praying for the Donkey, and we wanted to give you an update to his status so you that can continue to hold him up whenever he comes to mind. After several days in the hospital, the struggle continues with some days better than others. It helps keep his spirits up to know that people are concerned and praying for him as he tries to regain some strength and fight infection. Right now, he could use wisdom from his medical team as they try to diagnose and consider the best course of treatment as well as the ability to keep his spirits up when he feels more sick than usual. He was moved to Mary Free Bed earlier today in the hopes that he would keep moving forward but has had a slight relapse. He greatly wishes to stay here and would appreciate prayers for him to stabilize again.

Many people have been helpful in supporting him either directly with their skills or helping us keep helping him. We will keep this brief to be able to keep doing what we need to do for him, but we would also appreciate your prayers for us to be able to keep dealing with the ups and downs, the sleepless nights and staying healthy ourselves to keep being with him. Because of the demands of his therapy team here, we are asking that anyone who wants to express their care for him text, email or call one of us since visitors need to be kept to a minimum while he focuses on his treatment regimen.  

Rachel for Jenn, James and Tabitha (and all the rest)

Brief Update On Haiti And It’s Donkey

Hi All:

The Haitian Donkey has been quite busy trying to stay healthy, so a bit behind on other things.  I have mentioned the distasteful flooding that has bothered me for the last month on an increasingly frequent basis.  I also have had a central line (for my TPN feedings) infection, again the fungus, likely the same species (they didn’t do the complete testing this time, not sure why).  So, back on the Sporonox, have 3 weeks down and 6 to go.  It is very tough on my already feeble intestinal tract, but no alternatives.   I had my central line changed last Friday, that went well, thankfully.  My 3 holes that are the cause of the flooding have been a struggle, Dr. De Cook took out the drain that has been there since the last surgery in August right after I got back from Haiti in December but the volume has not diminished and we are working on trying to put ostomy bags over them with varying amounts of success.  Rachel and Jenn have accompanied me to the Holland Hospital Wound and Ostomy Clinic to learn the technique as they give me a mirror but it is below the tiny bulge of my belly and hard for a donkey to do.  The largest hole has developed a fair amount of infection in the tissues around it, so Dr. De Cook is planning on trying to clean things up in hopes that the ostomy will be more manageable.  I have to be at Holland Hospital at 12:30 tomorrow, so likely will start the operation about 2 or a bit after, if all goes as planned.  For a time, I will have a larger yet hole, but hoping it will heal up and be smaller and more able to be sealed in the future.  Pray for wisdom for Dr. De Cook and healing for the Haitian Donkey. 

It has been a bit hard to juggle other activities around the work schedule and my at least weekly visits to Holland Hospital for the changes and adjustments to the ostomy.  Jenn has been doing the changes at home between the visits, she has a real aptitude and is greatly appreciated, though she is not enthused about the smelliness of the affair and, at times, we have to do this daily on one or both bags.  Hopefully things will smooth out over time, both in the irregularity of the belly wall (so the bags will stick better and not leak) and our skill in keeping the fluids where they are supposed to be.  I have eaten very little as the Sporonox inhibits any appetite, but we still have enough drainage from the sites to make it unpleasant. 

Dan, Duane, Jose and Kevin (another surgeon friend of Jose’s) will leave tomorrow for a week in Haiti.  It seems things are starting to settle down and we are praying that will continue and they can do the work they would like to get done.  Dan, Margie, Tabitha and I plan on going on the 14th of February for our week there, again, most delighted that our friend, Ken De Young, is willing to fly us in and out as he will be there with a team on their projects there.  What a blessing.  In addition to the other jobs she will do in the OR, Tabitha (and maybe Margie will need to help some) will do my ostomy changes and teach Miss Lisberthe and others to do them when I make my future trips. 

By God’s grace, we already have had some money promised towards the Solar Project and we are excited that things are progressing for that also.  Will keep you updated on all aspects of our work as time and new developments come out as we greatly appreciate all the prayers, support and encouragement you all are to us daily as we strive to serve our Savior at Centre de Sante Lumiere, Les Cayes.

In His Service,

Bill for Dan, Duane, Jose, Kevin and the rest of the Haiti Team

A Brief Update On The Haitian Donkey’s Arrival Back In Frigid Michigan

Hi All: 

First of all, my computer in Haiti has some glitches and there are some errors in the last update, for which I apologize.  My spelling is certainly not perfect, but neither is it that bad.  Hopefully you could sort out what a Dutch/Haitian Donkey meant.  Karen always tried to proofread my updates, sometimes a frustrating task for her as she was of the opinion that my English was not great and my French worse (fortunately, she could not evaluate my Dutch, as surely that lacked even more).  So, will give you a brief update on the pressing issues.

First of all, other than the freezing temps on our arrival, the trip home went well.  Ken, as always, is a most gracious friend and we had a great flight back to Port with him and a few other passengers.  He has been making many more trips to Haiti to help out with a variety of projects he has become involved in and his initial conversation to us was that when he first met me back during the earthquake relief effort, he shared with his friends that he had met this crazy American surgeon who tried to go monthly to Haiti.  Since then, he has been doing more and more with Haiti and, if I remember right, this was like his 18th trip or so to Haiti in 2019.  He has a larger plane than the one we flew in on during the earthquake and what he used to fly Duane and I and others during the elections and all the unrest back in late 2010 and it is a very nice ride, even for the Donkey who isn’t in love with flying.  It is exciting to hear what all he has become involved with to help the Haitians in their struggles and I hope we can meet up again in the future, Lord Willing.

Politically, things seemed a bit quieter for likely a few weeks, though as mentioned, traffic was greatly reduced due to the fears of the rioters doing damage to the people and the transports, no matter what type of vehicle it would be. Dr. William was with us for a bit of the week and shared that he has treated so very many people who have been shot (and many who have passed away) by the armed gangs and rioters.  He was obviously quite saddened by his fellow citizens and the senseless acts they have been doing to their brothers and sisters, stating that the young were by far the most frequent victims.  Haitians are used to constant turmoil and unrest, but the intensity and duration of this present disruption of life has most of them troubled. 

We will continue to look into ways to help the hospital adjust to the struggles that the future seems to bring them, most notably looking into possibilities of the solar system reducing our dependence on the unreliable fuel supply and the totally nonexistent (though we keep getting charged for the “privilege of access to power” at a rather healthy rate. (Rumor, likely with some basis in fact, is that Haiti owes in the billions for fuel and the uncertainty of someone willing to extend further credit may be questionable).   We are planning to totally disconnect from government power as they have given us somewhere in the range of 24 hr in the last 6 months or so, if my aged memory serves me correctly, Dan was rattling off the figures, and he calculated we paid like $30 for each kilowatt hour.  In the meantime, we continue to raise funds for the “rice and goats fund” to help them survive in the short term and at least have a bit more to be joyful for this season of celebration of Christ’s birth.  We thank all of you who have been contributing to make this possible again this year.  We will email them the total raised on the 23rd of December and then divide it up among the 106 employees of Centre de Sante Lumiere.

Once again, thanks so much for your prayers, encouragement and other means of support for our efforts to serve our Lord in Les Cayes, Haiti, for His glory.

In His Service,

Bill, Dan and Duane