The Haitian Donkey and his Haitian friends anticipate the arrival of Christmas

Hi All:
The weather has been most perfect for a small, stumbling Haitian Donkey, maybe a bit warmer than Sam and his Haitian coworkers might like, as they work in the container organizing the latest shipment of building materials into some semblance of order. Duane tries hard to put things in the container in a fashion that will facilitate unloading and putting things away in one step, NOT a Haitian priority. So, Sam and crew are getting things out needed for the next couple construction crews and putting spacers between the treated lumber pieces so they will not sweat too much and warp, etc. They have worked very hard at emptying the beds, furniture, etc from downstairs. There is an excitement among the employees as they have bugged me for a long time to put some tile on the floors and, thanks to friends in the US, it is becoming a reality. Seeing the new administrator, the newish head nurse, etc all pitching in with us in moving the stuff to the temporary storage spot also was encouraging, as their predecessors would not have dirtied their hands in manual labor. The whole spirit is encouraging.

We recently had a huge deluge of rain, again washing away a lot of people and possessions. Dr. William’s wife and family have been raising baby chicks and had 350 that they were preparing for market, including 110 that I planned to purchase so that the employees could have a special family meal at Christmas. Unfortunately, the sudden flash flooding included his yard and 295 of the chicks drowned. Even worse, several school children in the area left school to walk home and the flash flood washed them off their feet and they drowned as well as a motorcycle taxi driver. This morning we had a lady on a motorcycle totally crushed by a rogue bus coming over to her side of the road and she never had a chance. It again reminds us of the brevity of life especially here where it seems life is not valued as much as it should and the fact that the Christ of Christmas is our only hope for eternal life.

We also lost a 24 year old lady who tried to abort herself last week, then came in Sunday night as a transfer from another hospital, quite ill and anemic. We gave her mega doses of antibiotics and some blood but could never get her stable enough to take to the OR and do a hysterectomy and she passed yesterday despite our attempts to save her. When I proposed the possible surgery, she was very hesitant as she had no children yet, but in wanting to not have one now, she lost her life instead. Very difficult for us all. Sam told me he is squeamish about surgical procedures but we had a lady come in tonight with 2 washers and 3 rings on her left 4th and 5th fingers. I got my needle nose pliers and wire cutters and we put the lady to sleep as her fingers were necrotic due to infection and swelling. We worked at trying to cut through but the large washers (like those for a large bolt, fairly thick) would not budge. So I asked Sam for some more tools from the tool shed and he brought some and worked along with us as we sweat for quite a while before they gave way. Only then did his stomach rebel and he had to go out of the room, so I was proud of him concentrating on the job enough to see it through.

The town of Simon, where we are located, recently petitioned the government for a road through the village. They have been working on it a while and work started several months ago. Some of the cement has been poured but then a gang of robbers broke into the container they had full of the cement and stole it all. Then, a few days later, they sold it all to the residents of Simon at almost half price. One wonders about a population who is willing to be in cahoots with gangs just so they can get cheaper cement for themselves. The moral climate sometimes sinks too low and makes progress impossible around here.

So, the Haitian Donkey is most appreciative of the progress we have made here by the grace of God and for all of you who encourage and support us as we serve Him here for His glory.

In His Service,

Bill and Sam

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

SIRS and Haiti

 

Hi All:

For some of you, Pastor McGee of Byron Center Bible Church has been faithfully contacting me (well, maybe Karen, as I have been “out of it” for the most part, barely able to totter to the bathroom, feeble as can be) and sending you updates via the church email.  He asked that I give you a more thorough update for myself and what we know of the Haiti situation.  So, will do my best, knowing that I do not have “complete knowledge” of either situation.

As you know, I had round #3 (of 4) of my vaccine injection, followed by the injections of Interferon and Rintotolomod for the rest of the week. I felt quite decent on Friday, the 30th, after my injections so we headed home, thankful to be doing so well. Saturday had some ups and downs, felt great in the morning and helped my brother and Duane unload some donated medical supplies, ran some errands and went to see my little sister, Shirley who has spent over 2 weeks in the hospital, having had almost every test in the book and we aren’t any wiser. Her asthma is much improved, but no reason can be found for total passing out episodes. The evening was rather nasty with fever, chills and retching again.

I was a bit under the weather for the next 4 days, but was able to work in the office, though easily fatigued, to be expected, of course. However, Wednesday night, I spent the whole night hugging the “Porcelain Queen,” having shaking chills, fevers to 103 plus and retching. The next 3 days continued much the same, I started an antibiotic and a treatment course for malaria, seemed to make some improvement on Saturday and could do a few things around the house and clean up some of my office paperwork backlog. I was a bit encouraged but Saturday night things became considerably worse and I could no longer stand up, navigate and just had continual shaking chills all night. Sunday morning, Karen hauled me to the Blodgett Emergency Room, I could hardly make it to the car even with Karen supporting me. I knew the ER doctor from years in the past and they all were superb in rendering care, starting 3 powerful antibiotics IV immediately and he agreed to leave me here instead of a transfer to Butterworth (they don’t like treating cancer patients at Blodgett as oncologists don’t come here). My diagnosis is SIRS, Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, with growing out E coli from all blood draws, source unknown. Plus, my littlest sister, Shirley, was here, so we could see each other.  Within one hour of my admission, they transferred her to Butterworth anyway?

I have made considerable progress though now waiting for them to remove my port, give me a 48 hr “holiday” and then replace it on the other side. We are pushing them to do it before I leave, so the insurance will pay for it (Our special friend, Dr. Dan De Cook, did the other two for me in his office “the old way” most graciously, saving us $14,000 but we have no more catheters, as he brought the other two back from Bangladesh). I hope to return to work next week, as I have been negligent too long in my work duties.

Dan and Duane arrived in Haiti last night by way of Puerto Rico, as there are no landing lights in the Port au Prince airport so their flight was routed to Puerto Rico for the night.  Hopefully they can do some repairs to the hospital, some homes and the camp, depending on what supplies they can find. Beth Newton reported that a 40 ft container of supplies sent to Cayes by another organization was robbed along the road as the lawless elements always take advantage of difficult situations, it seems. My brother, Butch, who has gone many times to help me at the hospital, likely will leave this weekend with his church team to work at the camp, where there is a lot of cleaning up to do before they can consider repairs, surely. Pray for their stamina and health, as cholera is gaining ground again with the less than perfect hygienic conditions. The report is that there is moderate damage to our hospital, significant loss to 7 missionary homes and the government hospital is non functional, so more workload for our staff. Samaritan’s Purse is setting up a mobile hospital in Cayes and that will help.

So, thank you so much for your continued patience with us as we try to live and serve our Savior as He gives us opportunity. We appreciate your prayers and support. Again, pardon the somewhat rambling style, but consider the source and the condition of his mind?

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Dan, Duane, Butch and the Rest of the Haiti Team

Haiti Update

 

All,

This is the little information I have.

Duane just talked with Rod… he said the hospital buildings are fine… the gate and fence are mostly down because of all the trees down. Sounds like most of the trees in the area are down. Building are still standing at camp but heavy damage. Rod hopes to get there in a couple days. Hearing heavy damage and loss of life in Cayes. Many missionary families have lost the roofs. Will pass info as I get it…

The Haitian Donkey Visits Another Home Away from Home Again

 

Hi All:
This weekend, the Haitian Donkey will make his monthly trek to Pittsburgh for another course of experimental therapy (thus has to be done in Pittsburgh, under their strict control as it is a study and everything has to be just so).  Karen, of course, will go with to keep me headed in the right direction, as the triple treatment leaves the Donkey a bit weak in the knees (and the stomach). Over the years, I have heard stories of Interferon, that it is not the greatest stuff to tolerate, and I guess they were correct, one aches in places he didn’t know a Donkey had places, as the saying goes. The Rintatolamod (who comes up with these interesting names anyway) is tough on the stomach, despite the premedication with anti nausea meds. But, though the week is nothing to look forward to, it seems that a few days later, I have really perked back up this time and able to stuff my face with an amazing array of foodstuffs and enjoying every minute of that part. My Hemoglobin took a major hit and it is struggling to get back to “my normal,” at about 2/3 of normal donkey levels, but even my strength seems better.

As Karen and I head to Pittsburgh, Tom Failing and John Cushman from BCBC will head south to Haiti, where they will be joined by Dr. Fred Brown for the week we are gone.  John will follow up on Duane’s work on the generator (Rod serviced it for us, thankfully, in the interim) and hopefully we will have some stability there, as it seems the electrical situation in Haiti remains sporadic at best. Pray for wisdom and strength for the 3 men as they try to make repairs on both the physical structure and the Haitian bodies for the week. Dr. William has been coming to Cayes to help do surgeries with Dr. Moise when the surgeons come, but, thankfully, the strike is over and he is back at the residency program for the normal 90 plus hours of work each week. However, he needs our prayers as he is a bit discouraged with the pressure of the work (Luke, Jose, Jim, Fred and I did our surgical residencies in our 20s, William is in his 40s and more than just maturity comes with age, I fear). Also, having an active family he is away from adds to the stress, undoubtedly. These men are the future of the hospital, so we want to pray for them that they will have God’s guidance and strengthening for the tasks before them.

We have not heard any more about the political situation, but are praying that things will get settled in the scheduled month for elections, October and that the situation will improve. As we mentioned, Dr. Luke, Karen, Tabitha, Micah and myself hope to go in early November, to avoid the political unrest and get the ball rolling at the hospital again. In that same vein, it is almost October already and I would like to ask if you all would be willing to donate to the Rice and Goats Fund again, as I hope to be able to encourage our employees with these. Last year, one of our more sensitive donors was worried that the donated goat would be the center of the Christmas Feast, so I checked it out with Dr. William. He assured me that this would be unlikely, as without refrigeration, the whole goat has to be eaten in a couple days and that is too much money to consume in a couple days. The goat is more like a financial investment, to be grown and hopefully multiply and then to be sold if a medical procedure needs to be done or repairs to the house, etc. Yes, eventually, the little one will become someone’s meal, but hopefully not in the near future. Thus, mostly likely the gift will live to say “baa” another day.

If you would like to contribute to the fund, you can send the money to either Centre de Sante Lumiere, US,  c/o Dan Boerman at PVI Industrial Washing, 2886 Clydon, S.W., Wyoming, MI  49519 or Byron Center Bible Church, 8855 Byron Center Ave, Byron Center, MI, 49315 and label it the “Rice and Goats Fund” at either establishment and it will go in the proper designation.  Thanks from both the Haiti Team and the employees at Centre de Sante Lumiere in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Fred, Tom and John