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

The Haitian Donkey And Friends Enjoy Working In The Homeland

Hi All:


It is hard to believe that it is Tuesday night already and we have passed the halfway mark in our work here again.  As requested in our brief update a week ago, we were somewhat concerned regarding the political upheavals here as well as my health concerns.  We are happy to thank you all for your prayer and support as we had a good trip down here, at least the Haitian Donkey and his friend, the Dutch Donkey, as we were joined in Atlanta by Duane and Ruth.  Tabitha, Linda and Robin came on American and were supposed to land in Port 2 hr before us, but had some weight trouble and had to return to the gate to off load some, so were there a bit before us.  We had a very slow trip to the hospital, about 6 hr, but partially because there were so many police stops in Port and we are thankful that that likely helps keep the rioting down somewhat.  So, everything comes with a price.

We arrived in Simon late on Saturday, the MEBSH folks had their annual convention at the 1500 seat church next door, where the whole courtyard was filled with benches and tarps and there was a huge screen attached to the church so that the thousands outside the courtyard could also profit from the singing and preaching.  We only got the tail end of the meetings, as the church is right next door to the hospital, but we enjoyed what we could understand of the services.  They were done on Sunday after the morning service but they really get into the fellowship and there reportedly were 10,000 people in attendance.  Apparently, they had people come inside in shifts so that it would be fair to all, all the cars that normally were in the courtyard were kept out so more people could attend, so we had people and vehicles everywhere (not that that many people have cars, maybe 50 or 60 were along the road.  People left in droves, a bunch went by on their way home in the back of a dump truck, singing away.  A good start to our week.

Evert (the Dutch Donkey, he also named himself) is a HVAC person from Lowell, MI, and has been invaluable at fixing stuff here.  Duane has been working with some of the Haitian team on storage shelving as well as getting the supplies we sent in a container from Bluffton a while back, including 2 new radiators for the generators, other needed supplies.  Evert has a couple Haitians working with him, they have repaired the truck in several needed places, including the AC and the broken off door handle, they replaced the well pump again and have a host of other projects lined up.  Duane is building some tables for the physical therapy department, as Mme Shaller has brought a physical therapy assistant and will work with her people to get the department back up and running, a great blessing for all concerned and a relief for me.  Both men will keep busy til they leave, as usual, as they have a rather long list of projects to complete.

Ruth, Linda and Robin have been organizing the pharmacy and taking inventory and putting it on the computer as we hope to work more efficiently in ordering and using our supplies, though admittedly, at times it seems impossible to get the Haitian doctors and pharmacy people to think outside the box.  Often it is like the patients back home who are convinced that Advil or Motrin works better than Ibuprofen, despite much higher cost for the same stuff.  They also are working on other organizational projects.

Surgery has been busy, we are very glad that Tabitha is here to help us in the OR.  We had 3 fairly difficult hysterectomies yesterday, 2 difficult hernias (and a couple easier ones) and a ruptured tubal pregnancy that was a bit of a struggle.  We also had an incarcerated hernia come in that had a very low blood pressure and, while we were stabilizing him for surgery, he passed away, a very sad surprise for us all.  Also had a lady in severe congestive heart failure, surely would like to have some of the medicines we use so freely in the US.  Today, we had an easy hysterectomy, a thyroid mass and some hernias that weren’t bad, but then had an add on exploration of the abdomen in a 65 yr old lady who looked well over 9 months pregnant and had had previous surgery, so lots of scar tissue and we had a sweat bath trying to sort it all out as she had huge masses all over her abdomen that were troublesome and stuck to everything, colon, small bowel, side walls of the abdomen and we struggled for hours to sort things out.  I am watching her carefully all night, trying to get some blood for transfusion, a difficult chore here in Haiti on a good day.  So, appreciate prayer for wisdom and healing for her.  Tomorrow has 11 cases scheduled, so if all show up, will be a run day.  Am thankful that my health is holding up but did not feel I could leave the patient tonight for a wonderful meal at Johannes and Luise’s house (Tabitha was late, I would be late also), but still have a lot to do and want to keep a close eye on her, her fluid balance, etc.

So, we thank you all for your prayers and support for the ministry, the trip over (and back) and our work output during our time here, that all we do may bring glory to our Savior, whose indescribable gift we will celebrate this coming weekend and the reason we all are here at Centre de Sante Lumiere.  Also, pray for Duane’s dad, he has been in and out of the hospital all last week and this one, now in Brookcrest with severe infections (we used to keep them in the hospital to stabilize them, now they get sent back out as soon as possible and end up coming back?)

In His Service,
Bill, Duane, Evert, Linda, Robin, Ruth, and Tabitha

The Haitian Donkey and friends make progress

 

(Sorry, this is very late as could not make the computer in Haiti do my address lists, you all know I am technologically challenged)

 

Hi All:

Once again, we are making progress but also trying to be sure we tie up loose ends, if possible. Surgery has continued to go well, yesterday was a very full day as we had 4 scheduled hysterectomies, then had two twisted ovarian cysts come in, both in a lot of pain, understandably, as the ovary is dying due to the twist cutting off the blood supply and it becoming very painful. They are fun to do as they usually are rather dramatic, they come in in a lot of pain and the next day, though the incision is painful, they are much relieved and bounce back quickly. We also did an interesting neck mass as well as the usual hernias, etc. Overall, a very satisfying day. We did have an 85 year old lady we had done a hernia on the day before have some bleeding when I saw her in the morning on the dressing, that seemed to stop all day long, then restart in the evening, so I took her to the OR to sew it and it stopped again. I had her get up and walk around, not a drop came out, so a puzzle, but then restarted this morning and we found the culprit and fixed it.

Speaking of culprits, when we arrived, the entire physical therapy department, which had been polished up last month by Margie and Marcia, was pouring raw sewage out under the door on our arrival. How long this had been going on was anybody’s guess, trying to get facts straight in Haiti is always a difficult situation. Patients will tell you the problem has been there for years, just to emphasize that they want you to take them seriously and fix the problem, often confusing the situation rather than clarifying it. However, it appeared that there was a blockage downstream and all the sewage from the hospital was finding this easy way out.  Even in the OR, the rather unpleasant smell permeated most everything. After some research, Dan declared a state of emergency and kept all the American and US workers to dig in the driveway, trying to find the obstruction. As the driveway has a lot of traffic, the ground is very hard and they needed pick axes as well as shovels to find the plugged pipe. After many hours of hard labor, they were able to locate the river of foul water blockage and repair it. It was a bunch of “flushable wipes” that did not flush and plugged up the 4 inch pipe on the way to the septic tank. We are very thankful for the success of their labors, though it is a bit of a puzzle how this got there, as Haitians normally do not flush even toilet paper, rather put it in the wastebasket provided in the bathroom to prevent filling up of the outhouse sewage hole, which just lets the material seep out into the ground around it. This has put them considerably behind on the list of projects they have to attend to. Dan and the crew have had a number of other urgent repair projects, from the microscope in the lab and the chemical analyzer to fixing the fussy washing machines and helping me fix items in the OR, so, as usual, he is greatly appreciated. I am constantly amazed at the multiple talents God gives to those who are willing to accompany me to Haiti and work away at anything that presents itself.

Jose brought two delightful ladies who work in the surgical supply department at his hospital to help arrange the supply storage rooms. They have been working in a sweaty, dusty and dirty environment very diligently. There are numerous termite trails and they have made inroads into some of the supply, despite the monthly termite sprays that the maintenance crew is supposed to do. The termites destroy anything made of wood around here and we are slowly replacing shelves, etc with metal materials as we find these. We greatly appreciate their labors. Jose himself has been very helpful in keeping the OR running smoothly and allowing me some time to do administrative meetings, especially Tuesday as we had Dr. William with us for the day. He worked in the OR in the morning and we had a lengthy meeting about some plans for reintegration of him in 20 months or so back into CSL and more of planning for workable options should I be less able to return or not at all. I much prefer to work in the OR, but I suppose this is needful. Actually, I know it is, but not my forte. Jose also has added some dimensions to our activities with his opinions. Sunday morning, everyone went to Renault and then the camp except he and I. As we got home late from the airport Saturday night, after getting things put  away, it was midnight and I slept in a bit in the morning, as the hospital chapel service for the patients is 10 am. I came out pre shower and his remark was that I should give some attention to my “Dutch hair.” He has nice, short, curly hair that likely takes little effort to look acceptable, though admittedly I don’t put a lot into my hair if possible. He also has dubbed himself the “Missouri Mule.” He seems never at a loss for some interesting comments, including those revolving around his area of expertise, some surprises he has found there, etc.

Will get to bed and get ready for our last day in Haiti again. Thank you so much for your prayer and other support of our ministry here for His glory at Centre de Sante Lumiere.

In His Service,

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

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