Transformation at Camp Mahanaim

Dear family and friends;
Merry Christmas! Thanks so much for your care and encouragement these past two months. We are going to try to show some of the transformation that has happened at Camp Mahanaim since hurricane Matthew struck just over two months ago. We are so thankful for your help and support as you have stood with us to make this recovery possible.



With the help of a team of 11 men we installed wire cages in the river and filled them with rocks. We are rebuilding the protective wall along the river on these rock cages. The river wall is 7 to 8 feet tall and is made of rocks cemented together. We have already brought in more than 110 truck loads of rocks.

This past month we said good-bye to our faithful old friend Rambo, who has been with us and served us well for many years. We also parted with the old army truck.


We are really thankful for the help and care from so many people in the village. They have been a huge encouragement and support to us. Thanks also to the team at Harvest International who have helped us greatly, including sending containers of food and supplies. We have been able to carry out distributions every couple weeks for the people who live near us.


Please continue to pray for us that God would direct us regarding the Renault Sunday school. This past Sunday we had more than 1,500 children. They really want to learn and are very well behaved, but we just don’t have enough space in the existing building and hardly in the yard.

It’s great to have our son Tim home for Christmas with us. He has made up a short video of the progress here at the Camp since the hurricane, if you’re interested in seeing the latest happenings in greater detail. We’re excited to have a real Haitian Pine Christmas tree this year.

Thanks again. Merry Christmas!

bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb, Katie and Tim

The Thankful Haitian Donkey receives a freezing welcome home

Hi All:
We wrapped up a warm week of work at Centre de Santé Lumiere Friday evening and woke up at 12:30 am for the trek back to the U.S. Actually, only Sam, Jim and I came back. I took Duane, Ruth, Ken and Gail to the Wray’s camp Friday afternoon (a good excuse to reduce the length of yet another administrative meeting with its endless deliberation that seems to prevail in almost any decision made in Haiti). The Haitian staff wanted to meet for more discussion regarding the new rules of accountability we have been trying to install for the last 2 years. These new policies have always met with resistance by the administrator, who in the past has even refused to let me store my tools in the room that contains the safe. It is located in the surgery hallway and I wanted to keep my ratchets, screwdrivers and other limited tools there as, at times, I need to adjust equipment like the dermatome, put new blades in equipment, and tighten screws that always seem to work their way loose. It is a small room/cubbyhole but still plenty of space for me to store my tools close to the OR. I tried leaving them in the general OR area, the hallway that leads to the OR is locked, but tools kept getting borrowed and not returned, it seems. Since I now keep them up in my bedroom closet, it is a bit farther away, but underlined his reluctance to let anyone, even me, into the hallowed room.  We obviously didn’t feel this was a wise accountability procedure and tried as a committee to encourage him to allow us to put in rules that always required 2 people to enter into the room and safe. Duane had even placed double locks on both the door to the room and the safe inside quite a while before, much to the dismay of the administrator.

When Duane came to replace the larger generator that died in August, the administrator was on vacation. No one could get at the money nor the checkbook and it precipitated a crisis that we used to more strongly encourage better accountability (as well as availability) in the system. Duane is a force to be reckoned with, so since we both were there this time, we opened the subject in our medical committee meeting again with no intention of backing down. In earlier meetings, everyone on the committee, tried to persuade him; this time, after the usual further discussion, we just told him (kindly) that he was outvoted. We again passed the measure and Duane changed the locks within a few hours, much to the frustration of the administrator. We told him he was welcome to go there anytime, just that he had only one key for both the door and the safe and could no longer enter alone and gave the same key to 2 other administrative people, the accountant and the head of nursing. The keys for the other locks on both structures were kept by the doctors, so we had some checks and balances, plus a team of 2 could get at funds no matter who was on vacation, though it always was one member of each department. I think it took him the rest of our time there to recover from the “shock” as he put it. He felt we needed more discussion and planning on how to make the new situation work, but finally seems to accept reality, though refuses to keep a key and does ‘NOT want to ever enter the safe again’? I guess no matter how long I am in Haiti, I won’t understand how some of their minds work.

That situation took a lot of my emotional energy, but I hope it is done and will put an end to the rumors that float around about where “our hard earned funds are going.” Haiti doesn’t have a lot of trusting people around, probably with good reason. Duane and the rest of the crew made some headway on getting employee houses repaired and covered, though Sam and Duane worked with the team of Haitians on one house that was at such a slant that neither wanted to get on that roof to put new roofing on for fear the whole thing would go down. Scary. We were inundated with requests from other employees who didn’t even have a house, for us to help them build a small 2 room house, as well as many of the neighbors of the hospital in the town of Simon, the street merchants and others in the surrounding area who sustained significant damage to their structures. It is hard to know how to best help those we should and how much to do with all the great needs they all have. It is amazing how quickly the trees and brush begin to sprout again and green reappears despite the destruction to cover it up. The bridges that went down still requite some navigation to get over the piles of dirt and debris that make a temporary crossing possible until some sort of repair can be arranged.

The trip home went quite well, I refrained from eating or drinking more than a few bites and unhooked my TPN before entering the airport, as I figured I would never make it through Haitian security with it on. In the U.S. (Grand Rapids), they know me quite well by now. I get a thorough body search and pat down and the bags are swiped and checked for residue, but I think that the situation would be way too complicated for the security in Port au Prince. So, I just sip on some water and have a few crackers to keep things quiet til I get back to the warm house and functioning facilities in the freezing cold. We had every scrap of clothing on while we waited for our carryons to come up to the jet bridge in Grand Rapids Saturday night, a major shock to our systems. But, we are thankful to be back in the routine of the US workload and for all of you who make our service for Him in Haiti possible. Pray for the 4 straggling members who will come home on Wednesday and for wisdom as we plan at least several more trips combining medicine with relief work for those who suffered so much loss in the hurricane. Once again, many thanks also for all who contributed to the “Rice and Goats” fund as we were able to make arrangements before we left for paying for the purchases to make the Haitian employee’s Christmas brighter at least from the nutritional standpoint. It is a joy to be a part of the large wonderful team of folks who work together to help Centre de Sante Lumiere shine more brightly for His glory.

In His Service,
Bill, Duane, Gail, Jim, Ken, Ruth and Sam

The Haitian Donkey Returns to the Good Old USA with thanks

Hi All:
This was a first for me since the earthquake. At that time, as I was in Haiti for an extended time, I began sending out regular updates on the situation there to let people know what we were doing as well as thank and inform the hundreds of people who supported the great needs at that time in our work there at Centre de Sante Lumiere. I have kept up the information pathway, at times more faithfully and succinctly than others, but this time was unable to connect up. There was some intermittent connections through the USAID system, but this donkey is quite deficient in his technological skills and could not even get past inserting the interesting password correctly, despite some other team members trying their best to help him. Also, my travel computer was worked on during my last surgery and recovery and I can use it to word process but still am working on getting it up to speed. So, was unable to communicate much at all.

However, we had an eventful and productive trip for the most part. The group of 14 went down to Haiti via 8 different paths, partially because I was scrambling to get tickets for those who were willing to add on to the team after the hurricane now a month ago. Dan, Duane and Butch cleared lots of trees, both at the camp and at the hospital and the environs starting several days after the disaster, we came a week after their return. Ron and Linnea Shick have been long time friends from their years of work with construction teams in Haiti and came with a team of 11 (he and a team worked with Rod to put the roof on the hospital in 2007 and was pleased that it survived quite well), but for some reason their flight/plane was cancelled on Friday, so there was a huge backlog of people and baggage anxious to get in to Port au Prince. Our whole team made it in on Saturday, the last flight from Ft. Lauderdale on American, but 14 pieces of luggage, some containing vital elements for our work, did not, as the plane had too much weight. Micah, Tom and Jean Eddy went back and got all but one bag the next day, having to wait in Port all day before they were able to retrieve the bags (we didn’t have the last one yet when we left the country, NOT the first time that has happened). As pictures sent by other missionaries, such as the Wrays, Caleb and Olga, etc, have documented, there was widespread destruction and loss of homes, food supplies and lives in the southern section of Haiti as the hurricane center passed about 35 miles west of the hospital. We carried along a lot of our own food supplies and did not suffer for lack of food or water as we have pure water from the hospital deep well plus had limited food supplies we could obtain in the western section of Haiti. We are very thankful for Kathy and Karen heading up the cooking and food preparation department with help from Olga and her crew as well as Tabitha and Anna (who also had other duties).

The hospital was very full for the time we were there, partially because there are so many people with chronic diseases, infected wounds/injuries, etc and medical care, always a problem in Haiti, has been even less available since the hurricane. We did a number of debridements of necrotic and infected wounds, as well as two leg amputations on diabetic patients who have been unable to heal their chronic wounds/sores and have had invasion of the infection up their legs, requiring more drastic measures to save their lives. We did lose a lady with a bowel obstruction likely due to metastatic cancer that Dr. Luke had operated on a while back, we had our usual struggle finding the old chart, but when Luke walked up to see her with me, she remembered him and he could put the medical information into perspective. We stabilized her and were planning on taking her back to the OR to sort things out and hopefully give her a while longer by relieving her obstruction when she suddenly went rapidly downhill and passed away in a few hours. A very sad surprise for us all, as well as a young man in mid teens that was very hard to sort out with our limited diagnostic tools and sometimes even more limited patient cooperation (reasons for the latter not so clear) and we also were stabilizing him with antibiotics and fluids for an early morning exploration of his belly when he passed away that night. I had seen him late the night before and he seemed to be doing better (just going into an abdomen for an “exploration” has more long term medical repercussions in Haiti than it does in the US, due to our limitations in sorting things out, so we were proceeding carefully) so this was an even more painful result for us all. Other than those negative situations, our surgery and medical workload went quite well, for which we thank the Lord. Our chaplains continue their faithful work in reaching out to every patient with gospel tracts, several films that present our need for Jesus Christ as Savior, despite both being well beyond Haitian retirement age, a real encouragement for us all.

The various team members worked on repairs to hospital problems, a constant source of need to keep the hospital functioning, from plumbing difficulties to electrical, as well as going out into the surrounding villages to help clear trees that had fallen and were too large for the machetes to hack their way through, so we used the chain saw to make things more feasible. They also worked on getting houses back into a livable state, again a huge, undertaking that will last well into 2017. With the unrest and dishonest elements in the society taking matters into their own hands to procure supplies destined for more remote areas of the country, the UN was flying helicopters up into the mountains behind the hospital in large nets that dangled below the machines and could drop supplies without interference of the negative elements, plus there likely would not be very negotiable roads to get these lifesaving products to them quickly and safely. The helicopters regularly ferried the supplies out from the coast below us all day long, so we hope some of the needs were met for these already suffering folks. We are thankful that the feared cholera epidemic seems considerably less widespread than first predicted.

Our trips home seemed to have gone well, everyone arrived with their luggage except Karen and I, and the airlines just dropped off our bags a couple hours ago at our home (things are MUCH easier to handle in the US, even glitches) but, overall, I feel that things went as well as they could have under the circumstances and thank the Lord for all that the gang was able to accomplish. A big prayer request is that, next Sunday, the 20th of November, will be another attempt to have hotly contested presidential elections in Haiti, more than a year later than originally scheduled, with at least one party threatening to “burn the city” if his candidate (from one of the major parties) doesn’t get elected. Thus, we hope that things will get resolved, especially as Duane, Ruth, Sam, Dr. Jim Webb and I plan to return the 3rd of December for another round of work.

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement for us even when we were “silent” in our updates. It is appreciated greatly.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Anna, Jo, John, Kathy, Kevin, Kurt, Luke, Micah, Ron, Tabitha, Tom and Travis

One Month Later

Dear family and friends;

Thank you so much for your prayers and emails. We have been lifted up by the encouragement and of family and friends over the past month. We have started clearing out and piling up some of the sand that Hurricane Matthew brought into the camp.

The large relief organization, Samaritan’s purse has asked to use Camp Mahanaim as their base for operations so they have moved in with us. The helicopter lands often on the soccer field.

Trucks and containers full of food and supplies fill the yard.

Thanks to great teams from Michigan and Missouri, the camp is back in pretty good shape and we have also been able to help many Haitians around us. We have done numerous medical clinics in several locations.

Deb and Katie have become great medical translators.

We have also been able to do many distributions including to some remote locations who haven’t had any help since the hurricane.

Thankfully the donkeys carried the supplies.

The devastation up near the tops of the mountains was unbelievable.

This church at Liktor village collapsed just as the village people were going to enter it for shelter. Thankfully nobody had entered yet when it fell.

The people were truly thankful for tarps and food.

Thanks so much for standing with us at this time and for showing your love and care for us and for the Haitian people. We are looking forward to a little rest this coming week, Lord willing.

We sure appreciate your prayers,

bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie

The Haitian Donkey is back home, briefly


Hi All:
We survived the week of chemotherapy, the usual fever, chills and nausea, didn’t have any retching there at least, and we again decided to hit the road right after the last session, leaving at 3 and getting home a bit after 10 on Friday. I started running out of gas about the time I hit the Michigan line, but managed to keep going until we arrived home, as driving a car goes much faster than stumbling along on the shaky donkey legs. We brought in only the cold boxes and went to bed. I woke up about 1:00 am and had worse fever, chills and diffuse aches and weakness. Ended up sleeping in a chair as easier to get to the bathroom quickly from a semi upright position. This progressed to retching and I was unable to attend the planned suitcase packing Saturday afternoon. Sunday started out slow, unable to walk without holding the walls, but I managed to get more fluids in (TPN and rehydration fluids gives me more than 4 quarts daily already but with fever and chills, the insensible loss goes up considerably). It is now Sunday afternoon and I feel my strength slowly coming back, no appetite, but at least no more retching and the fever and chills are subsiding. I did sleep for hours on end, interspersed with potty breaks each 90 minutes if not more often. Pray that this will go away without complications, especially as I had the sepsis starting Wednesday after the last chemotherapy, which does knock your resistance down and leaves you more vulnerable to infections.

Dan, Duane and Butch (and the rest of the team from Butch’s church, about 20 total, not counting D and D, who were there a week earlier) returned after slaving in Haiti. They got the roads cleared around the camp, worked there for several days, then returned to the hospital and secured it by cutting up the trees that had fallen on the hospital fence, fixed the hospital gate that had been torn off by the winds and then helped clear up trees in the village of Simon (the suburb of Cayes where the hospital is technically located, maybe 3 miles from the center of Cayes) as well as setting up some of our experienced day laborers who work with our work teams each year to put roofs on their own houses first and then starting on those of our employees. They did cover 50 houses with tarps, but that will only last a while with the heat, winds and rains that hammer their little houses.

In that vein, Lord Willing, we will head to Haiti early Saturday morning with our team. Originally Dr. Luke, Karen, our nurse practitioner friend Tabitha, who was with us in Africa for years and went with me to Haiti 8 months ago and wants to go any chance she can get out of work for, Micah Baxter, the maintenance man at PVI washing and myself were going to go, as elections were scheduled in October, but I was worried about Luke going in the midst of the political unrest, so he would have to go the last week of October to avoid them and I was scheduled in early November, thus we decided to go together as my endurance is not yet what I would like it to be. It also would let me try to catch up on administrative duties that I got behind on while undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. With the hurricane, we added 8 more people to the team, 6 to clear more trees and help put on roofs and 2 ladies to help with cooking and other jobs with a larger crew. Dr. Jo Marturano, a psychiatrist friend who normally comes twice yearly for 2 weeks will join us in Lauderdale for the rest of the journey, so it will be a busy week. However, we pray that we can get a lot done for Him and the people of Haiti who have suffered so much over the years.

Please pray that we will have good flights and can connect up in Lauderdale, as we have 6 different flight plans to get there and one bus that leaves Port au Prince, so the last flight needs all 13 of us on board. I also hope that I can briefly meet Dr. William in Port to encourage him and also give him a study manual I purchased for him to help him study and prepare better for the residency demands. Communications have been sketchy but I know it was hard for him to be stuck in Port when the storm was headed straight for his family home and he could not leave to be with them. This is a difficult time for him but I greatly appreciate his dedication to the Lord’s work at CSL and getting the extra training to be able to replace me there. Pray that customs will let us through with our 22 bags of supplies as it appears our sheets all developed legs during the last while, having the fence knocked down needless to say didn’t help. We also are bringing most of our food, as not much is available in the markets where we usually could get much of what we need (though we heard it is getting better, but I have never gone shopping, not on my skill set for Haiti). We also have a bunch of supplies to do our work of relief, including things to help those who were less fortunate before the hurricane already. Pray that we will be safe, effective and God honoring in our efforts to serve Him next week.

As always, we appreciate your prayer, encouragement and support of our ministry there in Haiti (especially the Haiti Relief Fund and the Rice and Goats Fund, as they will be especially needful this year).


In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Anna, Jo, John, Kathy, Kevin, Kurt, Luke, Micah, Ron, Tabitha, Tom and Travis