Monday, December 20, 2010

Back in the Great White North for Christmas Eh?

Well, it's home sweet Canadian home for two weeks now. I haven't updated in a little bit because I honestly wasn't sure if I would make it home as scheduled, but here I am, in Canadia! I'm not sure how many of you have been keeping up to date on the election situation in Haiti, but for the last couple of weeks there has been some turmoil over the published election results and the announced re-vote that is to take place in January.

Basically, from what I understand, the results from the November 28th election were skewed, and since no one received 50% of the votes, there is to be a re-vote in January between the top two candidates, Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin (who is being endorsed by the current president of Haiti). The trouble comes with the Haitian people wanting the third candidate, Michel Martelly, to be president, and they are claiming that voting station boxes were stuffed with votes for Celestin and that the vote count was changed to put Celestin ahead of Martelly. People in Port-au-Prince began protesting the day the results were announced. It's interesting though, because this time the people are protesting because they want justice. They want the person that's supposed to win, to win. It's simple really.

I guess it's just been so interesting to follow the election while being there, because I think I'm starting to see and finally understand just how frustrating this whole process can be when there's corruption and injustice. We just don't see it, or have to deal with it in Canadia...and so we don't even think of it.

Being home for Christmas is quite interesting too. Coming from heat and sun to freezing cold and snow is one thing, and coming from a place where making $2 a day is the norm to a place where people are struggling to think of ideas of what to buy people for Christmas because we have everything we need or want is another thing. But the thing that is hitting me the most right now is a little different (although those two differences are staring me in the face daily). The main thing running through my brain right now is the issue of awkwardness. Odd I know, but here is what walking through the mall at Christmas time has gotten me thinking about...

I noticed a middle school aged girl walking through the mall with her mom. She was tall, lanky, her jeans were too short for her, jacket on, and she just looked uncomfortable in her own skin. Seeing her took me back to what I felt like in middle school - just feeling out of place, trying to look cool, or at least fit in, and then you've got your mom by your side (sorry mommy - I love you!). I guess I mostly remember feeling uncomfortable with expectations that I thought were put on me from mostly peers and society in general. I remember buying some lousy, actually pretty ugly looking t-shirt for $60 because my friends told me it looked good, and then I was also one of those kids that wore crazy coloured knee high socks in gym class to try to stand out. I realize I'm all over the place right now, but what I'm trying to get across is that, in a moment I remembered what I had felt before when I had lived in Canada. I always felt awkward, and as if I had to work to fit into this well maintained system that required people to look, act and talk a certain way, at least if you wanted to be cool. Anyways...the summary is, I felt awkward! We even had a "Fun, run race for the cure for the awkward" organized with a mascot and all...but that's another story!

So, now take that awkward, uncomfortable girl, shove her in a relational culture where you have to greet and possibly hug/cheek kiss everyone you see each day, where kids run up and grab your hand, or better yet, jump in your arms and don't let go until it's time to leave, and where you can't help your shirt being drenched in sweat before 8am. On top of that, put her in a culture where people are your friends despite your odd taste in music, despite your clothes that don't always match or the fact that you have a weird rash on your right arm. Oh wait, then on top of that, shove her into a position that makes her yell out announcements and instructions to a group of 100 people daily. That combination should cure anyone of awkwardness!

So that's me now. I guess I went through all of that just to say that Haiti has changed me, in more ways than I know I'm sure. I don't feel the same anymore, I don't think the same anymore, I'm sure I don't act the same anymore either. And what I got out of all of these thoughts and memories was that when I'm back here in Canada, if I, or when I come back here to live life again, I am just going to refuse to be awkward. I'm going to fight it with every ounce of me at least! Seems simple enough, right?

Really though, there's no reason for it, and no place for it. Jesus created us each differently, and He made each of us to move a different part of His heart, and only we can do that. I was made with all my oddities and irregular ways for a reason, and I want to love Jesus with all of me! And then there's the body of Christ...we all know that we can't all be the hands, or the heart or the glorious parts, but if we don't have the hip joint, the body is never going to move, if we don't have the epiglottis we're going to get pneumonia and die! Maybe that one was a little out there, but it's all to say that it takes all sorts, and Jesus knew that and created all of us as we are. Being in Haiti has reminded me that I need to embrace the differences that I see in me, and also to love the differences I see in other people. It's not always easy or pretty maybe, but it's who we are and who we are made to be.

Hope that one made sense!

Oh, and if you wanted to read more about the Haitian elections, I recommend a blog from a couple I don't even know if Port-au-Prince - but they seem to always have the scoop on what's going on. Just know that I don't see any of the stuff that happens in the city as we're out in the country-side - safe! Don't worry!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Election Day in Haiti - Woy!

So, today is election day in Haiti. I haven't been outside the mission walls at all today, as suggested by our Haitian director here at MOH, so I really haven't seen it for myself...but I've heard news of craziness going on.

For the past month there has been a lot of activity surrounding the elections...posters going up everywhere (and I mean everywhere! Gravestones, broken down vehicles on the side of the road, walls lining the streets, backs of motorcycles and vehicles...everywhere!), random parades on the main roads to promote a specific candidate, t shirts given out (I still really want one), and radio advertisements. I've been asking all my friends here who they would vote for, and they would all answer me with a name...but then when I would ask them if they were going to vote, overwhelmingly the answer was "no." It was so odd to me, and I didn't quite understand it. One friend said he would feel guilty if he voted for a person that became president and then made poor choices for the country, or ended up being a corrupt. Other people told me that they had no confidence in the voting system set up in the country, so they don't bother voting.

I really haven't understood this at all in the past month. All the parades seemed really fun, and everything seemed to be quite fair...just one candidate (Jude Celestin) was being favoured by Preval (the current president), but otherwise, pretty normal and non-chaotic. I didn't feel any threat of elections being a "dangerous" time, although I did hear about past elections and all the jazz that can happen. An email suggesting that we not have any activities off the mission base on election day kind of alerted me to the potential for unrest.

Today was pretty far from normal for me...up at 5:30am to see a team off to the airport (this time with armed security due to it being election day), breakfast at 7 am, church at 9:30am (wait...only 1/4 of the people are here today...weird), lunch at 1pm and then we sat, we made food, we ate food, we napped, we got up and made more food, then ate the food. Weird. I cannot remember the last time we had a day like that here. We actually ended up celebrating American Thanksgiving today...since we couldn't go anywhere anyway...why not?!

Around 5ish we heard back from Ruben who had gone out to vote (hooray!). He said at the polling station there were people everywhere trying to get him to vote for someone specifically, and he had to tell them to all back off. He also said he was listening to the news and heard that 12 of the candidates were leading a protest in Port-au-Prince (Wyclef was involved, who knows why!) because they want to redo the elections, even before the results were out. He also said 2 polling stations were burned down by people. The one place opened at 9am this morning, and were out of ballots right away because apparently someone had already filled out them all for their choice candidate (apparently the guy that the current president was endorsing...hmm...). So, ya. It blew my mind today. I couldn't even imagine that stuff happening at home in Canada. Weird. Or I guess I should say it's just different. It's not weird here. It's expected by the people so it seems. I now understand a bit more why all my friends were saying that they weren't going to vote. It stinks really. At home in Canada I remember being really excited to vote, just because I could and it was my first, it's a pain, it can't be trusted, it's a source of frustration. And how do you change that? How do you change something that huge?!?! Wow.

A line from a song in church this morning has been sticking with me though that says - "Ou se lespwa mwen genyen" - and it's saying that He (Jesus) is the hope we have. So often in Haiti we use the word hope. It's in all the NGO names...Mission of Hope, Real Hope for Haiti, Convoy of Hope...etc. We talk about bringing hope to this nation, but what is that really? Is it that we're putting our hope in the systems of men? Will the UN help bring peace to Haiti? Will enough NGO's raise fund to feed all those that are hungry in Haiti? I think, for me personally, too often I don't think about this one enough, and I find myself with my hope in these systems and absorbed solely in the reality of the physical realm...when really, there's so much more to it than that. At times I feel overwhelmed with how big the task of change is in Haiti, even just figuring out how to deal with all of the garbage and waste, bringing cholera under control, let alone choosing a president! Woy. But, in church this morning, again my friends all around me amazed me! We were praying for the elections...and I felt that hope...hope in something larger. Hope in One who knows, who sees, and who can bring change. I think I felt, even momentarily, true hope for Haiti. He alone is the hope for this nation, and we can't forget that.

And on a slightly different note...I also made my very first pie today:) I'm a little excited about that fact.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What is Normal, Really?

Just a thought I've been thinking a lot about lately, what is normal?

A group that just recently visited MOH mentioned something about how tent cities and various things in Haiti seemed to become "normal" to them during their week long visit, and then commented on how absurd that was, that living in tents would be normal, that going to bed hungry would be normal, that drinking from an unclean water source would be normal. Right, it is absurd, to those of us from North America where Starbucks/Timmy's on every corner is the norm, where 3 bedroom homes with central air and heat is the norm, and worrying about gaining too much weight at Christmas is the norm.

I'm really not being judgmental at this point. When I was home I LOVED Starbucks, daily if I could manage to drive by one. This is just one thought that has stuck with me, because when I was in this debriefing with the team, I found myself agreeing with them, thinking "oh my gosh, this stuff has become normal to me! How awful that I have gotten used to the living conditions in this country." I felt guilty for not being able to fix every bit of hunger that crossed my path here, or for not bringing every sick child back to the mission until they were better. But with a bit more thought in the following days, I realized that this is very much the norm for the Majority World. Not that every developing nation has tent cities or all of the issues that are currently affecting Haiti, but I just feel like it's important for us as North Americans to realize that we are not the norm. Our way of life is not sustainable, and our standards of living are, I want to say, ridiculous. And I did.

I've had some understanding of this concept in the past, but I think it just slapped me in the face in a different way this week. Hopefully it helps you think about this as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Update on the Cholera Outbreak

Hey everyone! Just wanted to write a little blurb on what is going on here in Haiti. As I'm sure most of you already know, there is a cholera outbreak here in Haiti that started this past Thursday in St. Marc. Mission of Hope is about an hour and a half drive south of St. Marc, but the last update I had was that there were 5 confirmed cases in Port-au-Prince as well, which is about 45 minutes to the south of us...basically, it's all around us now.

I'm mostly writing this blog to let you all know that I am doing well, and everything is good at this Mission at this point, but also to ask you to pray for us. Things can change really fast with these sorts of infections, especially with the current living conditions in many tent cities and overcrowding in villages. But God is bigger than it all, and as my friend Vena has said over and over again to me lately, He is "more than good." So, please pray for us here in Haiti. Please pray for protection for the Haitian people, for our staff, our visitors and everyone involved in trying to bring this outbreak under control. We had a prayer time yesterday and the thought I had was how merciful God has been to Haiti so far. So many are shocked that it has taken this long for an outbreak to occur, and really, it's only by His mercy that He has spared so many, and kept them from so much illness and disease. He really is good like He says He is.

Today in church one gentleman did a little public health announcement for the church, and it was so encouraging to see! I feel like a lot of Haitian people are nervous right now about what could happen, but it's good to see them follow instructions to wash their hands, and one of my friends even joked that we shouldn't shake hands anymore, but just fist-bump. I'm a fan. So ya, I'm doing well here, and things are not so out of control where we are right now, but we are prepared. On Saturday morning we took the Gateway team that is here with us to the inpatient ward and got everything set up in case patients started coming. We haven't had anyone come to us yet, but I have a feeling that when the clinic opens tomorrow morning, that could change!

But that's that for an update. Thanks for the prayers!

Oh, and here's a picture of my friend Vena - she's actually leaving tomorrow morning for the Dominican Republic to go to school there. She has a sponsor paying for her to go to college there, and is aspiring to be a pediatric doctor!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back to Life in Haiti

So here I am, back in Haiti once again! I've been back for just over 2 weeks now, after my lovely break at home in September. It was sooooo good to be back in Canada, to see all my friends and family and just relax for a couple of weeks. It only felt odd to be home for about the first week, but I soon got over that! There were a couple of things that stuck out to me, some I expected, others not so much. 1) It was freezing cold for least I thought so! 2) A car gives so much freedom - you have no idea! 3) Coffee is simply one of those wonderful gifts of God given to us. 4) My nephews are the cutest kids EVER! 5) Cold, fresh milk is WONDERFUL!

Another thing that stuck out to me during my time at home was how much I missed everything in Canada, despite its freezing cold weather. I never really fully appreciated the beauty of fall because it was always when school was starting, and that's all my obsessive mind could handle. But being home I just kept glancing at the trees to try to find a bright red one, purposely walking over dried leaves on the sidewalks and driving along the Niagara River to take in as much of its beauty as I could. Ahh...

The time was over too soon, but it was so good. And I know I'll be back for Christmas, so it wasn't so hard to leave with only 10 weeks between.

So back here in Haiti I've jumped right back into the swing of everything. It's been so good to be back, with teams slowing down at least for the time, school starting back up for all of the kids (we're busting at the seams with 2200 kids), and just hanging out with all of my friends here. The biggest part about living here at MOH that I have loved is the community we have. There are about 8 of us girls here right now all in our 20's, a new family (the Mazur's) that moved here in August, and then a couple of missing people to be added back to our numbers in the coming weeks. Just having a place to relax, throw random dance parties, and eat yummy "log" is so beautiful. I'm learning from my time here how much we as humans are made to live in life giving and life checking it can be. Everyday here I feel challenged in some new way, whether it's to consider what my purpose is in life, or to really listen to what God is speaking to me, or to simply calm down and take a break if I'm becoming too ridiculous. Community is good. Not easy or painless, but good.

A couple of quick stories to share about some stuff since being back in Haiti. The little girl, Angelie, that is living at the Hope House since she was abandoned at the clinic back in May, is standing!!! She still needs a bit of help to balance, but she's fully weight bearing and growing so well!!! I love her more and more each time I'm with her. When I ask the kids in the Hope House if she's bad, they all say "Yes!". You can't hold her in church without her screaming at the top of her lungs at least 5 times, but she is so full of life and smiles! She's also starting to do all the normal "baby" things like clapping her hands, waving bye-bye, trying to talk but only talking jibberish. She's doing so well though!

Soon after I came back to Haiti as well, all the students I'm friends with and know were excited and telling us all that they had passed their government exams. It's fun to see how excited they are about moving up in school. Kedesh is in his last year of high school, Vena is going to be moving to the Dominican Republic at the end of the month to start college to become a paediatrician, and a bunch of the kids have new uniforms as they move up to the green and white for high school, and Richardson is starting at our school this year. It's going to be a good year!

I also got to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving here in Haiti (who woulda thunk?!). Samaritan's Purse has a campus just about 2 miles down the road, so a bunch of us Canadians and honorary Canadians for the day, jumped into Rachel's Haitian truck and went to join the party feasting on turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, followed by a refreshing swim in their pool. Here's to Chaiti!

So that's life summed up here, for now. The Christmas countdown might start soon...or is it still too early for that?!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stealing Babies at Night in Haiti is Wonderful

Well, I've been putting off writing on my blog for forever now, mostly because I had no idea how to start, or what to say because so much has happened. But after a day like today, I can't not blog about I'm jumping back in. Hopefully I'll be a little more consistent...but for those of you who know me well and are laughing at that, I don't blame you!

So, here is the story of today. It started out as a wonderful day off...mostly. I was cleaning my apartment which was an absolute disaster, my church team that came last week can attest to that. So anyway, the morning was good, I went down to the clinic to take lunch and while I was there Sarah (our medical team leader) mentioned that she was going on a transfer to take a patient to another hospital. I don't know what made me do it, but I turned a walkie-talkie radio on up at my house, just in case something happened while she was gone that they needed help with. Well, around 2ish (I think) one of the boys that hangs out up at the guesthouse all the time mentioned something about a baby down at the clinic that had been abandoned. Right away I remembered the day Angelie came to the clinic back in May when I had to deal with all of the drama around that one. Only that day I had Vanessa by my side saying yes or no to all the right it was just me until Sarah came back. By then a local judge, some police and I have no idea who the other 3 guys were, came to the clinic to interview Dr. Alix about what had happened.

So here's where I tell you his story too! This little boy, Pierre, is about 2 yrs. old, and probably has muscular dystrophy. In North America this kid would probably not live a full life, and would be in a wheelchair with a lot of special care needed. Here in Haiti, social services like those back at home just don't exist. So, I think what happened was that the mom of this child found out that he probably had this disease, and could very well have felt completely overwhelmed at the idea of caring for this child. So, after Pierre had been seen, she tucked him under a bench in the triage room and left him there. I'm not sure how long it took someone to notice, and I don't know how long he laid there for...but someone found him, and then the chaos started.

So, here is little 2 yr old Pierre, malnourished, dehydrated, and alone. We took turns holding him, as good nurses do, and then just waited for the judgment to be passed. The final judgment was to send Pierre to another hospital to be cared for until they could find an orphanage. Well, surprise, surprise, 3 hospitals refused him this afternoon. We sent two North American nurses with him in the back of the Haiti .5 (a land cruiser turned ambulance) on a wild goose chase basically, only they didn't understand the language...not so good! So, this little 2 yr. old ended up at the mayor's house in Cabaret where is was apparently going to stay until they could find a place for him. Well, we didn't think that was too good. This kid is malnourished, dehydrated and had a congested cough...what is the mayor going to do with that? least me and Sarah are nurses and we kind of have a clue (sorry, maybe I didn't have to be that harsh). So, anyway, Sarah called the right people, we hopped in the back of the Haiti .5 again, headed off to Cabaret in the dark and returned with our little 2 yr. old Pierre all before 10pm. So now he sleeps at Sarah and Diana's apartment, and we really have no idea what the next steps are. We're going to look into a couple of places we know of for kids that have handicaps, and we'll see what happens...and where Jesus leads. It's kind of exciting, but at the same time sobering, knowing that this kid literally has no-where and no-one right now. We're it, and I just want to do well with this and make sure he has a good home. Sure, that might mean we keep him...who knows!!!

So, that's the story of my day. A little drawn out I know, but I had to tell it in full! There's other stuff going on as well. I continue to work with the non-medical teams weekly as they come in to work at our base and to visit the local villages and orphanages as well. I'm loving my job, but definitely learning the need to take time for myself when possible. My church youth group and then some were here this past week, and it was a huge breath of fresh air for me!! I love you guys so much! I had so much fun, surfing in the canter truck, singing camp songs, being ridiculous. I miss it! I really don't act like I'm 25! Anyway, I'll also be heading home this coming week for a break. I'll be at church on the 12th, and home until the if you want to meet up with me, please call me! I think I'll have my cell phone when I get back in Canada, and there's always Facebook! But I can't wait to be home! I'm longing to hold my new nephew (well, not so new, but new to me!), to play with Joely, to sleep, to drink milk...and a lot of it, to be cold, to swim, to ski, to see all my friends, to chill with family, did I mention to sleep?! Ya, it's gonna be good! Love you all! And thanks if you're actually still reading this since it's huge!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Long Overdue...I know!

Hey guys! So, it's kinda late here in Haiti, and I should be going to bed, but I just know that it has been WAY too long since I I'm gonna do it. I may regret it tomorrow in the morning...but oh well. Life goes on.

So, a lot has happened in the last month. A lot. So much, that I don't really know what to say, but I guess I'll start by explaining my role change. When I first came to Haiti in February I was working as a nurse, and then my "role" when I started on staff was as the medical team leader...working in the clinic, keeping medical teams busy and (semi)organized. I was brought on staff here to do that role for the interim, which was until June. So now here we are, June has come and gone, and yet I am still here! I'm no longer in the medical team position, but as that job wrapped up for me, I was offered to stay on staff, but instead working with the guesthouse and non-medical teams that come through the mission. So now my role is more administrative I guess, prepping schedules for ministry teams, and basically doing most of the background work to help teams do their thing here in Haiti. It's kind of funny to find myself here in this role. I've been asking God a lot about why I'm here at this time, to do what I'm doing. It's been a little hard to "hang up" my nursing for a time. But, there's definitely good in it all. On one of my first days in my new role I went to the Haitian grocery store, totally not a big deal I know, but I think I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time. I just love being in the culture (most of the time). I love doing everyday life things here, mind you, they can be a whole lot more complicated (no chicken today, ground beef looks a little funny, we emptied out the entire bread section, don't know how to write out numbers in french to write a check...), but still so fun. On the way home from the store that day I was asking God how He was using this new job with all its experiences to shape me...and I think it's gonna be good. I got my medical time in, doing the nursing thing, feeling out working in a clinic/hospital setting in a foreign developing country, and now here I am, more just getting into the culture, interacting with Haitian people, learning to work and communicate better in this culture, but I'm also getting to see more of the organizational side of things. All the work that goes into making a place like this run - it's crazy! And I still probably don't even know half of it! I know Jesus has me here this year for a reason, and I'm just really feeling like I don't want to miss what it's about. I know it's all for a reason, and I just want to absorb what I need to learn, get all the lessons He's teaching me, see everything and feel everything I'm meant to in this place at this time. I guess I'm just expectant looking at this coming year. It's also starting to sink in though that a year is a long time...a year. Whoa.

Anyway, so that's kinda where I'm at now. I think this is my third week into this job, and the summer is going to be CRAZY! I think we have like 5 teams coming in this week, bring it on! I guess another fun part about my job is that I get to see other people fall in love with a country that I've fallen in love with. And it's so good! This past week we had kind of an adventurous group come, and I loved every bit of it! We went tromping through mud during a thunderstorm in Source Matelas to see a friend's garden, then we got to drink coconut milk and eat fresh coconut from the tree...there's nothing like it. I almost lost my sandal in a foot of mud, and almost died laughing at the same time. It's just so fun! My job rocks! Then, on Thursday we went up into the mountains to visit a pastor at a church, but before we stopped there we went to find this waterfall that some people had told me about, and it was incredible! I didn't have my camera with me...but next time I go, I'll get pics. It was crazy! We got to stand under the waterfall, climb down the rocks, climb through tree roots, sorry I could go on...but I won't. It was just fantastic! At the same place though there was some funky voodoo ceremony going on, but I was just loving the beauty of creation. So ya, I guess you could say that I'm doing ok with my transition into the new role.

One more thing that has happened this week that I'll share quickly. I mentioned earlier that it was kind of hard to "hang up" my nursing while I've taken on this position, but I don't think that will really be the case. This past Thursday night we had an accident happen just 1 mile down the road. I was on my way home from the mountains with the teams, and I got a phone call asking me where I was and that I we (there were some medical students and a nurse with me on our trip) were needed at the clinic right away when we got back. As we pulled up in our big cattle truck, the trucks with injured people started coming in behind us. I think we had about 14 patients that we treated at our clinic. With the first guy I saw, the first thing I said was, "where is Grant" (Grant is the paramedic that lived here at the mission last year and was here for the earthquake. He is a fantastic paramedic, a great friend, and I miss him...and missed him even more in that moment!). This patient had both feet pretty much off, which I had to hold to transfer him onto a back board, and his right arm was broken in two places. Not nice. I don't know how much I should be saying, but basically, it was a messy night. But somehow again, I did my job as a nurse. I'm always amazed that I'm my mother's daughter, and yet I do what I do. Jesus is with me every time, I know it. The team, once again, did amazing! I'm always amazed by what we accomplish here with the staff we anesthesiologist acting as our ER doc, a cardiologist, an OR nurse, 6 med students, an EMT, 2 fairly new nurses, a prosthetist, a's just crazy! But we did it and made it through the night and managed to get all the patients transferred to other facilities. We did find out though that the one man (the one I mentioned earlier that I saw first with the feet off) had passed away.

And here is my frustration in Haiti. We are now 5 months post earthquake and everyone is starting to pull out of Haiti. Partners in Health and IMC used to be at the General Hospital. They have both pulled out and now it is back to the Haitian hospital it was before the earthquake. Also, the University of Miami hospital has moved from it's field hospital where it could hold a couple hundred patients to a small building with a max of 40 patients, so they had no room for more. It was just crazy though. Problems that we hadn't experienced with the other two accidents just popped up. Dr. Cheryl and Sarah did absolutely amazing at finding hospitals to accept the patients, but it was ridiculous. And this is why I want to be a nurse in these places. They need and deserve the same quality of care as us in North America...but its so far from that. If I can help in anyway, I'm here! Whether its in the little wounds that need to be cleaned, or the massive traumas that seem to occur daily here, I want to help. And I think that's why I'm here. It's pretty simple really.

So that's the update. I'm still finding my place here, still figuring out why I'm here, what I'm doing, and the reasons behind it all. It's a good journey though.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How You Can Help!

Hey Everyone!

While I've been working here at Mission of Hope I've made some friends that are also working here in Haiti that have a small non-profit organization called Lespwa Worldwide. Just last week they found out about this competition that CHASE bank is putting a bunch of us here in Haiti are trying to help them win!

Basically the competition is to get the most votes for their organization through facebook. The first place organization will receive $250,000, and other organizations up to 200th place will receive $20,000. My friends in this organization have a passion to see Haiti changed, and will be using the money for long-term projects aimed at creating sustainable, long-term solutions for a restored, Haitian-led nation. We know we have a chance at winning this competition, and here's what you can do to help!!!

Click on the link below, and follow the instructions to vote for Lespwa Worldwide.

Thank you so much for partnering with my friends to bring change to Haiti! I can't wait to see the results!!!

Lindsay Joy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Here's to Chaiti!

So, I realize that my apologizing probably gets pretty annoying, and excuses are dumb, but I gotta say it! I'm sorry I take so long to post on here! But, now I'm at it, and its probably gonna be long because its been so long, but oh well! Here we go:)

So in my last blog I kinda, sorta made a mistake that as a medical professional, I should not have made. I said something about having no action in the clinic and being bored...and that's what you're not supposed to do. I'm not superstitious or anything, but you just learn not to do these things...because the next happened. There was an accident with a large tap-tap (the local Haitian version of a taxi/city bus). Its been so long now that I actually forget the actual numbers, but there were probably around 20-25 people involved, ranging from minor to more traumatic injuries. We ended up having to stabilize the patients we were concerned about and then ship them off to hospitals in Port-au-Prince. With our limited resources here we weren't able to properly diagnose everyone due to having no x-ray machine large enough to visualize pelvises and hips, but there ended up being 7 pelvic fractures, and some other broken bones. It wasn't too too bad looking though because only one guy needed stitches, and the rest were more closed injuries...nothing too bloody to look at. By the end of the day we had been working about 4 hours to get them all discharged or sent out to other hospitals, and I was exhausted. I just couldn't imagine doing that for 36 hours straight like they had to the night of the earthquake here. And we had lots of medical people on board to help out...I just can't wrap my head around what it must have been like here that night.

Well, after that one crazy night I figured we were good for a couple weeks of peace again...and I was wrong:) So the Sunday right after the wednesday accident we received a new team 3 strong (1 ER doc, 1 PA and 1 PT) and I did my little orientation thing with them on sunday afternoon and we were heading back up the hill, and that's when it happened. So, I forget who it was, but someone came running up to us saying there had been an accident in Titayen, and that there were 29 people coming to the clinic NOW, and we needed to get everyone there. So I sent the team down to the clinic with the keys to open it all up, and I ran around the guesthouse trying to gather the team since I had forgotten my radios and cell phone (oops!). So, by the time we got down to the clinic the tap-taps hadn't arrived yet, but we got stuff ready. When the tap-taps started coming I was shocked right away - they were blanc like me. The story is that there was a mission team from the states (I think Missouri) visiting and they had been in the mountains for the morning. On their way home in a rented canter truck (a big truck where you sit in the back on benches) the brakes didn't work while they were going downhill. The driver apparently did the right thing in running the truck into the side of the mountain rather than letting it go, but they were hurt! This accident was definitely more of a shock with more open wounds, younger kids covered with blood, staring blankly ahead, some freaking out asking where their friends were. It was bad. We had a lot of non-medical people there to help out, thank goodness. We unloaded them all into the breeze-way outside to triage them, and right away started working on getting them shipped into Port-au-Prince (PAP). It was actually amazing how this one worked because local missions and other teams in PAP heard about it and came to help us out, so we had teams of Haitian and North American docs, nurses, paramedics, trucks show up to help us out. It was amazing. We had a mission down the road ask what supplies we needed, and they ran back and brought more IV fluids and tubing back for us to use. It was amazing! In the end 4 people ended up being med-evacuated that night and the rest of the team left on their scheduled flight home the next morning, and one Haitian man lost a leg. Everyone survived, but it was pretty scary. I was so thankful to have such a great team there, and one that had been through this before and was ready for it. I definitely felt out of my element in the situation, but at the end of the day I knew we had done the best we could in that situation, and had literally saved lives. Oh ya, that's why I'm a nurse!!! So ya, that was one wild and crazy four days...but we made it through!

So that was story number 1. There's more! So, story number 2...I finally got to go to the Good Samaritan orphanage. I'll explain a little bit. This orphanage is pretty rough. I remember my aunt saying something about this place, and it was that if animals in Canada were kept in the condition the kids are at this place, she would have to report it. Its that bad. So, after the hurricanes hit in 2008 the orphanage moved from their home that was pretty much wiped out to a dance club in the local city, Cabaret. Now, after the earthquake, for some unknown reason, they've moved back to the old place, which still isn't fixed up, so most of the kids are sleeping out in tents.

Anyway, the whole 4 months that I've been here I have been waiting, trying, hoping to get to this place. Me and Diana (one of my friends here, from might know her!!!), have been talking about going for a while, but it just never worked out...until a couple of weeks ago! So, one team went for a river walk and I got to tag along. On the walk we happened to stop by the orphanage, and it was rough. Me and Diana kind of scoped out the situation, looked for kids that were sick, malnourished, not doing so good. Then, we set our minds to it, and made a plan to go on Wednesday that week. We booked a driver, took a doctor that was here visiting, picked up our friends Wicky and Sadrac, took 3 loaves of bread and a big tub of peanut butter, stopped in Cabaret to buy 6 watermelons, made a ton of pb sandwiches and went to the Good Samaritan orphanage. It was so good! We fed them all sandwiches and huge chunks of watermelon - and they loved it! The doctor found a bunch of kids that were pretty sick, we washed some open wounds and covered them, and decided we had to come back the next day to treat people properly. So we did, I went back AGAIN! This time the kids went nuts when we came! I LOVED IT! This time it was me, the doctor (Jana) and the PA (Isaac) that went. We took a walker for an older lady that had told us she couldn't walk because she fell over all the time - her response was PRICELESS!!! We got kisses all over and I have never seen an old lady so excited in my life! It was great! I think Isaac got pictures! So there was that, and that made the kids go more hysterical. I loved that day! Then we went to the tents and found the girls that were not so well. We also found a little girl with a broken toe, so we had her come to the clinic to get a splint put on. We did so much that day...and I loved being in my element and remembering why I do what I do, why I am where I am, and what makes my heart beat. It is so good to feel alive! And that was one of those times. So, not only did I get to go 3 times that week, I went again on the Saturday to check up on the wound care that we did, and its so cool how the kids respond. This is another paragraph.

So, there's some kids that I have to torture once in a while. There's a couple kids at the Good Samaritan that I had to squeeze some pus out of wounds, and scrub with peroxide, but they loved me and hugged me after it was done. Weird right? Then at the Hope House there are two kids that I have been taking care of for just a week now. The first one, Widler, is a 6 year old boy with sores all over his feet that had gotten too far, so now I have to scrub them and peel the dead skin off of them (lovely, I know). The first time I did it in the clinic I couldn't touch his feet without him moving my hands away and he was crying so hard! I thought for sure that the next time he saw me in the orphanage that he was going to tell all the kids how mean I was and be all snotty with me. Then there's Klara. Klara already has attitude enough for 3 Haitian girls. Well, she burnt her arm on a pot of something off the stove. So, now I get to scrub her wound as well, which is super painful even after lidocaine jelly and morphine. So, here I had two kids that I thought were going to hate me forever and I was going to have to somehow deal with it and explain to the other kids why I had to be mean. So...I reluctantly went to movie night last week...but I was shocked! The first kids to come up to me were none other than Widler and Klara! They hugged me, and asked me to pick them was so weird! It kind of hit me though how much they just love being cared for...even when it hurts. They know that I love them and am trying to help them. I was so relieved that they reacted to me that way. So, today in the clinic we've managed to turn it into a game...Klara takes her morphine and starts to get silly, then we wash Widler's feet, then it's Klara's turn. Today she even scrubbed her own wound. I think we're seeing improvement!

So I think that's least for now. I'm interested to find out how many words this one was! Oh, and one more thing! I have new friends, and its been a wonderful month! The summer has started and we now have interns starting to come in. Its so much fun! Me and Leeann have a new roommate, Brianna. She's a neat freak, or is just clean and organized, where me and Leeann are not so much. I love her though! She's been in Asia for a bit so she brings the Asian Invasion peace sign out a lot! Then there's Ashley. She's great. She has a split personality, or should I say characters? So far we've had many adventures together, including pretend skateboarding, pretend BMXing, ice-capades (I have no idea how to spell that one!), chatting on roof tops...its been great! So ya, that's my update for now! Talk at y'all later!!!! Thanks for reading it all if you've made it this far!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cute Wittle Baby

It has been a very busy couple of days, or couple of weeks if that’s how long its been! There’s been so much happening here at the Mission of Hope, and although the busy-ness can be tiring, there are moments and people in each day that make me smile and love life. I have so many stories to tell, but I have to pick just a couple, so here’s the one that has made me smile the most in the past couple of days. Its not really a happy story, but she makes me smile!

So, Friday started out as any other normal day in the clinic. We’ve been a little bummed with the lack of action lately (we’re not heartless, but sometimes a good trauma or emergency case keeps you on your toes is all!), and the clinic has slowed down a lot just recently with us returning to “pre-earthquake” functions, with fewer patients coming through to be seen and fewer orthopedic cases to be done. Anyway, basically it was a slow day, things were going smoothly, I was giving a nice little tour of the clinic to some North American peeps that came to check it out, and then it happened. It was about 10am and Dr. Cheryl asked me to go with one of the interpreters to the triage area to check up on a little girl that apparently didn’t have family with her. Hmm…that’s strange. When we finally got the story figured out, this little girl that we’re guessing is about 18 months old was brought in by a gentleman (maybe her dad, not too sure) and around 8am he asked a lady near him to watch the little girl while he went to the bathroom, then he never came back. So this little thing, sat on a wooden bench, all alone, just sitting there for about 2 hours before we found out. Can you imagine that? Just sitting there, waiting for someone familiar to come and find you, wondering where they went, starting to get hungry, starting to get tired…can barely hold yourself up. What the heck? I remember getting lost in an amusement park once and being completely freaked out! What was this little thing thinking that whole time?!?! I haven’t really thought through this whole thing before writing this…I’m just thinking now, how scary that would be. Wow.

So, me, never dealing with this before in my life, not having a clue what to do, what do I do? I asked a couple of people for advice (people I thought would have somewhat more of an idea of what to do than me), but I didn’t really like the responses I got…which included giving the baby to the lady who said that she would watch the kid when the dad went to the bathroom (she already had 6 kids of her own and the one she had with her in the clinic was pretty severely malnourished – how on earth would she look after another one?) , another suggestion, which apparently is the appropriate thing to do in Haiti, was give her to the mayor. What?!?! What the heck?!?! I just have to say, these were all suggestions by boys. Now, I know that not all boys would say these things, but are you serious? This is a baby…left by her parents, lost, alone scarred. Sure, I’ll give her to the mayor. That’s what I’ll do. Seriously?!?! Anyway, so me being new and semi-young (comparatively so) feel almost like I have to listen to what these guys are saying to me. And then Vanessa saved me…and the baby! Vanessa is the wife of the president/big man on campus here at the Mission of Hope, and she is fantastic! She took this little one and said – “no.” We didn’t know what we were going to do with her, but no, we’re not giving her to the mayor now, and no we’re not sending her home with a lady that already can’t take care of her own children! I was so thankful in that moment to see her.

So this little one, I think we’re calling her Angelie right now, but I’m not really sure. I just call her “cherie” – which is the Creole way to say something like “sweetie” or “honey.” I’m not much for using those words in English, but in Creole it just sounds so sweet…so I use it. Anyway, so currently this little one is staying in our hospital ward, and rightly so. We didn’t really notice these things at first, but over the last few days we’ve noticed how malnourished and under-developed she is. When I first saw her she was sitting up all by herself in this big blue dress, with these big chubby cheeks, and then these really big eyes looking up at me, and what I first noticed was that her right eye kind of wandered a bit. Now we’ve started to notice how skinny her neck is, how she can swing her legs up over her head (quite unnaturally!) and not bear any weight at all on her legs. We have no idea what her name is or her age, but from her teeth and the types of foods she is eating, I’m guessing maybe 14-18 mths. But all she can do is hold herself up when sitting. When lying on her back I have yet to see her roll over on her tummy, and when you hold her out in front of you, she just kind of crumples. She doesn’t stiffen up and kick her legs out like a normal baby would, she just has no strength for it.

Now I know this all sounds so sad so far, but I have smiled so much with her, and my heart is so happy just holding her. It takes a lot to get this one to smile, and giggling takes a lot of work! But I got them both out of her! It’s an odd situation too because I still feel so helpless. I mean if I were 35 yrs old or had been married for 5 yrs, I could do something, but alas, neither are true! As much as I would love to keep her, I just can’t do it, and the thought of sending her to any other place (because I’ve seen some of the other places here in Haiti) is just heartbreaking. But all I can really think to do is to love her now. I just want to show love to this little girl, to hold her, give her kisses, rock her to sleep, make her giggle, just somehow show her she is loved and not alone. I was remembering too, that little sentence in 1 Corinthians 13 – Love never fails. That’s it. Pretty simple. Love never fails. I don’t really have a big grandiose kind of plan to save her or anything, but I know this one little thing called love is big! Every heart needs it, everybody craves it, and God lavishes it on us. He loves her, and He holds her, and His heart bursts more for her than mine ever could. He’s just a big daddy that smiles at her, and I have to trust that His heart is good, and that He has good things prepared for her. And all I can do is lean on that and join Him in that and love this one while I’m in her life. Hopefully its for longer than a week, but God knows it all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Burn Out...

Now don't worry about me...I'm not there yet, but burn out is just a topic that has kind of hit me in the last week or so, and I've been thinking about it a bit, and since I was trying to think of a blog topic, I think that's gonna be it.

So, here we go. What got me thinking about this topic was the fact that we have been super busy these last few weeks, and so I’ve been feeling particularly tired and somewhere between busy and overwhelmed. Usually at the Mission of Hope we have a couple of teams each week, some medical, some not medical, some young, some not so young...but in general, just a couple teams with a couple, maybe 20 people. It's busy enough, but not too crazy. Well, this week is a little bit crazy! For the next 2 days we have about 130 people staying at the guesthouse here at MOH, and over 2 weeks we have an average of about 100 people. Don't ask me how we found rooms for them all! But, it has been a lot of work to even just find work for the teams to do, both medical and non-medical. Then, to find the support staff (enough translators, because what good is an American doc here without a translator? seriously...), and enough shovels and gas to keep the construction teams busy. It's definitely a job! So...with all of this going on, sleep has been minimal with getting up early to prep people for mobile clinics, and up late packing for mobile clinics, or answering any last minute questions, or just catching up with friends...which is nice to do once in a while!

With all of this going on in the last week, I've found myself thinking a lot about the reality of getting burned out when staying long term in the mission field. I had a couple of thoughts about this before actually coming to stay in Haiti for awhile...and now that I look back, they may have been a little silly. First of all...I thought burn out just shouldn't happen. I mean, if you're doing what God calls you to, how could you burn out? You should be full of joy and loving what you're doing every day of the week...right? Ya, that's not always the case though I'm finding. I'm stilling living life, just plain old, simple, everyday life, only in a different place with different people, and different issues to deal with. It's still life. Also, I had this plan right after I was done school. My super fantastic plan was that I would go away to bible school for 1 or 2 years, get everything figured out, nailed down, get close and deep with Jesus and be set...then I would go into missions wherever I was called to and be one of the few that wouldn't burn out, I would be one of those people that had somehow "figured it out." Silly.

So, now here I am. Tried to get into bible school for oh, 2 years, and it just didn't happen...don't know why. But, God knew...and I think it just took that much time for me to give up and say, ok, what do You want? And now, here I am. I guess its what He wanted! I’ve said all of that to lead up to this point...I've just kind of been thinking these last couple days that burn out happens. We are human. We're weak people that need Jesus. I've had to remind myself over and over again that this trip isn't just me being humanitarian, its more than that. Its bigger than that. I remember some preacher man talking about there being nothing wrong with us admitting that we need God...that's humility, and that's just realizing the truth really. So I'm learning to embrace this...just learning though! I'm recognizing that I may burn out, I'll probably get tired (wait, I already am!), I might not love what I'm doing every day that I'm here, but its ok, its normal. I'm human.

I don’t want it to sound like I’ve just given up and have resolved that its a fact that I will at some point burn out. That’s not it. What I’m trying to take from all of this is that I will experience the same emotions as always...frustration, tiredness, joy, love, and everything else in between, but I need to recognize that through it all, I need Jesus. I need Him for strength, for life, and for just getting through a day sometimes. I need that quiet time with Him to just be still and remember who I am to Him. Just one quick verse – Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

So those are my thoughts for this week. Hope you like them, or at least they make you think! As you can tell I'm sure, I am getting a little tired...but I'm just embracing the little things each day that I love. I'm also loving that I'm starting to pick up the language a little bit more...apparently the other night I was talking in Creole in my sleep. You have no idea how excited I was when my roommates told me that one!! Seriously!

One more story...sorry!!! This morning I was up at 5:30am and took one of our patients to the US embassy to get a medical visa, and we got it!!! I was a little nervous going in there as the medical professional that needed to stand up for her case and argue why she needed to go to the states for surgery. But, when we got there we pretty much handed in the papers and then went to the next counter and they said...this visa is good for 6 months. The end. Fantastic! So, that's me right now. Pretty happy. Now I need to go eat some good Haitian rice and beans. Night!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Another Crazy Week!

Hey everyone!! I'm writing again! (finally!). I realise my blogs are WAY too long, but once I get going it just doesn't stop. Blame my brother!

So, this past week was a crazy week! I forget what I mentioned in my last post, but last weekend was spent in preparation for everything that was starting up this week. On Monday the whole place turned right around...we started up ortho surgeries again, opened the prosthetics lab (first time!!!), and the school started up again. It was VERY busy for me and Dr. Cheryl, but so rewarding to see at the end of the day, or maybe the end of the week was the first time I actually got to stop and look back at it all! All last weekend was spent moving supplies, setting up the new patient dome, getting people orientated and setting up the prosthetics lab. It was so hectic, but it all pulled together just in time. It's kind of amusing how often things just seem to work out at the last minute's a God thing I think!

So, Monday morning, the craziness began! We did not stop until 4pm. Usually I'll be busy until just after lunch, then I can sneak away for a bit in the afternoon before the clinic closes down...but not this week! They had me and Cheryl RUNNING! It was all good though! Things went so well this week! We did I don't know how many surgeries, had tons of patients coming through for ortho consult and wound care. In the middle of the week we realised that we had way too many ortho patients that needed surgery, so we've tweaked our plans a little bit, so now we're going to plan to do ortho/plastic surgery for the first 2 weeks of every month, then we'll have one week of recovery in the patient ward where we follow up with the post-ops and discharge them home to have one week of down time before we start up the OR again. And around and around we go!

The prosthetics lab was so exciting to me this week. I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get to spend more time in there. We had our very first patient fitted for a prosthetic leg, and she was walking on it by the end of the week! Her name is Melene, and I remember her from my very first few weeks here in February. She was a below knee amp from our hospital, and it was so good to see her all healed up, and walking again. Seeing her up and walking though, I realised that it's going to take a long time for her to accept this new prosthetic, and she really didn't seem to be enjoying it very much when walking, but in time it'll come, I hope. Its a huge change in her life! I asked her if she could dance with her new leg, and she kind of did a little jig, but it looked like she was close to tears doing I stopped. Jesus be with her!

What else this week...oh. We had two patients come through that were very close to our staff here at MOH. One lady was in a motorcycle accident on her way into work at the mission. She fractured her femur and one arm, but seriously, she was so lucky that it happened when and where it did! This just happened to be the week that we had ortho surgeons here, and OR staff. was the time to have it happen. So she had surgery that day, in our OR. She is recovering really well too! Tonight when I visited the ward she was smiling, had her hair done and was telling us how she got up in her chair today. It's good! The other patient we just called "broken man." At the beginning of the week my friend was telling me about her family member that was in the hospital in PAP, and our medical team was talking about "broken man" that was coming to be fixed in our OR. I think it wasn't till Tuesday that I put the two together. So, broken man came to us, bilateral femur fractures, bilateral wrist fractures, left tib/fib...basically he was broken everywhere and probably shouldn't have made it. But, he came to us and had 3 surgeries in our OR, and now he's here with us still. He's definitely ICU worthy, but he's here in our open HOOP barn tent thing, with two nurses tending to him and 7 other patients each shift. Its amazing what you do when that's all you can do. So, if you think of it, please pray for broken man!

What else can I ramble about? Oh yes. One last thing from the week. Yesterday a bunch of us went to Cabaret for lunch and then just to wander in the market place. While there me and Diana took the group on a slight detour to the Grace House to check up on some peeps. The Grace House is a homeless shelter in Cabaret, and last January when I came there was a little kid, Dalex, that was pretty sick with malaria and who knows what else. In the two weeks last year we saw a huge change in the kid, with him starting to sit up, making baby sounds and holding up his head when at the beginning of the week he had been listless and unable to breastfeed because it took too much energy. In August when I was here with our youth group I had a chance to peak in on him too, but he had digressed again, and was unable to sit up or hold his head up. I think he was about a year old at that point. So now, this time I just really wanted to see how he was doing...but he wasn't there. From what the other people in the Grace House knew, some white people had picked him up and taken him to a hospital in Cazal, another city/village about half an hour from Cabaret, but they didn't know if he was still alive or what. search may or may not continue. We'll see. But it was so good just to see the Grace House again, to smile and talk with the kids and the others living in such dismal living conditions. They continue to get food through the nutrition program here at MOH, but we're just kind of trying to be open and available to help out in any other way possible in these places that are in great need.

So that's life in a nutshell for this week. Sorry for the length once again, but a lot happens in a week! Miss you all!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh to be Haitian!!!

Hey everyone! I really hope to make this a little more of a regular thing so that my notes aren't quite so long, but with a mix of my busy schedule and my habits of procrastination, it just might not happen! But we'll see.

So, I have definitely lived this week to the fullest I would say. It has been jammed packed, but full of good stuff! So, this week was a little more "quiet" than most. We didn't have any surgeries, and the staff that came ran the clinic all week long, and I actually didn't have to step in as a nurse to cover an open space...which was wonderful! Instead, I did my job, went to the staff meetings on time, left the clinic by 2 or 3pm each day, checked my email semi-regularly, and got to eat supper at a normal time. It's amazing how the small things make all the difference! So, with this week being a little more "quiet" I decided to try to get out as much as possible, and it worked! So, this note is just going to be me telling about me experiencing and falling in love with Haiti a little bit more:)

Last Saturday, well I guess I can't really complain, but I think it might come across that way! So, my plan for the day on Saturday was to have a down day and go to Cabaret to go to the market. However, as part of my job, I ended up going to the beach with one of the teams that was staying at the Mission of Hope. It ended up being a great day, but on my way home I noticed my lovely roommate (I really do love her!!!!) Leeann walking on the side of the road, coming home from the local village. Right away I called her and heard about all of her adventures from that day that I had missed, visiting some friend's houses, cutting down palm tree branches, riding in a tap-tap, etc. (Just so you all know, the two things I was most excited about when I moved to Haiti was 1 - getting a Haitian cell phone, and 2 - riding in a tap-tap). So, I was so bummed that I had missed out. But, the next day after church we all planned to tap-tap it in to Cabaret for lunch...and never in my life have I been so happy (I may be exaggerating, but only slightly!). There's a pic to prove it too! So, Sunday was wonderful! Haitian church, tap-tap, lunch of goat at Yolty's, hanging out at my friend's house, it was just perfect. Minus the fact that all three of us white girls hit our heads while getting out of the tap-tap...that was semi-embarrassing, but I'm kind of used to it by now!

The week proceeded pretty normally, a couple of crazy emergency cases came to the clinic, like a man that probably ended up having his leg amputated since it was only hanging on by some skin on the back (sorry...was that too much information?!?!). When Thursday came around I was so glad to find out that for Easter everything closes at noon on the Thursday and then no one works Friday - Hallelujah!!! However, that rule didn't apply to us North American staff for some I ended up leading our medical team in some hard-core manual labour. It was wonderful...ahem. This Monday we are starting something big with orthopedic surgery again, a new prosthetic's lab, a new hospital ward in a building that isn't quite complete, and on top of all of this, school is starting up here, so all of the medical supplies that we had stored in some of the classrooms had to be moved...somewhere. So that was our job Thursday and Friday, and it took us the whole time, and we still weren't finished! I have not worked that hard in a long time, but it was so good, and I felt good seeing what was accomplished, and then best of all, I slept so good! I crashed hard, so hard that apparently I was talking in my sleep all night!

Friday, since the work we did was so intense, we finished our last load around 3pm and I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Source Matelas, one of the local villages. Billy and Nathalie are the cutest married couple EVER, and Nathalie had made some rice and fish (being Easter and all), and had invited me to go and eat at about 10am...but I didn't make it until 4pm. I guess that's Haitian time?!?! So, me and Leeann tap-tapped it (yes, again!!) to her house, had a lovely meal, then walked to see her new house that Billy is building, and then went to visit Billy's parents as well. It's funny how much I enjoy just daily life things right now. I guess it's because it's all new to me, but even just walking down the road in the late afternoon, singing songs, joking, eating ice cream, its just so fun and relaxing. That's what friends do...simple things in life. Simple. Oh, and just to top the night off, we had some ice cream at GPP (the local restaurant) and then rode home on motorcycles...yes. That's what I said! You can ride a tap-tap, or they have guys that will take you on bikes - a little more expensive yes, but so worth it!!! Sigh...

Finally, I come to today. I worked in the morning trying to get some more medical supplies organized, ran around the mission a couple times, and then got to take off, yet again! We (Leeann and I with a couple of friends of ours from the mission and from the big city - Port-au-Prince) spent the afternoon at the Cabaret market, bought some mangoes, a Haitian broom, tried on sunglasses (no luck!), and a bunch of other stuff. We ate goat again...took our friends on a tap-tap for their first time (YAY!) and then ran into a very weird dancing group in the town centre. I'm not sure if it was a voodoo thing or not, but apparently they do this dancing kind of thing where they call down spirits, so at first when we didn't know what was happening we were all excited and watching intently. Then it got a little weird! They had all these instruments, drums, whistles, shakers, horns, and probably some other stuff, then a couple of guys had these whips made out of ropes, and they kind of danced/chased each other around. Then one guy ran up to us and put his hand out asking for money (all the white people) but when we didn't he left, but everyone started laughing. So, of course he did it again, and then the whole dancing team was right in front of us...and it was weird. The guys would like whip each other's feet and not flinch, and one of the interpreters said something about them calling down that's when we were like, alright, lets go. So...interesting experiences!

On the way home Leeann and I got out early and visited some friends of ours that are interpreters at the mission, and hung out at their place for a mango party! I ended up unintentionally leading a mini VBS with 3 little girls that followed us into their yard. I would start a song with the minimal Creole words of a song that I could remember, then they would keep it going and teach me the rest of the words. It was hilarious! I had so much fun! Then we came home, and here I am now. I have had quite the week, and have absolutely LOVED being out in the villages and just living a semi-normal life with friends. I know I'm only seeing a tiny bit, but with each little taste I'm loving it more and more. Uh oh!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 3 (or is it 4 now?!)

Well, its been a while, I do realize this. I knew I wouldn't be very good at keeping up a blog. Ah well! There's so much to talk about each week, that I get a little overwhelmed thinking about sitting down for so long to write it all out...when on earth do you find the time? So, Friday night it is!

So, going back to last week...we had lots of adventures! It was great! First of all, one of the nurses on the Texas Ortho team last week came across a lonely baby goat - which she "saved." Me and Leeann were soon the newly adoptive "aunties" and got to name him Blan (that means white in creole - that's what the kids yell at me in the clinic when they want to get my attention). Our little goat was loved by all, until night time fell. Apparently he cried/bleated, whatever it is that goats do, all night. So...the next night he was taken down to the Hope House, and put in a pen, which eh somehow managed to escape from about 5 times in the 15 minutes that I was there. Oh well! Now I'm told by all the kids at the Hope House that the goat is in Titayen (one of the local villages), not sure how or why, but I am no longer the proud auntie of an orphaned goat. So sad...

I guess I should probably explain the picture that I just posted on my blog as well. So this is a little girl that I met last week. She is the one that I think I would adopt on the spot...if only I was married. So, this little girl's parents died in the earthquake and I'm not sure if it was neighbours or friends or what, but a family had taken this child in. This is so common in Haiti - when there's a child without a family, they are usually taken in and "adopted" by a neighbour or someone. So, that was this little girl's story, but the family brought the child to the clinic with malnutrition and was asking to have someone take the child because they were not able to care for the child. I think they even asked a couple of the nurses from the states if they would take it - heartbreaking. So, while all the docs and nurses worked away at figuring out formulas for feeding her and correcting the malnutrition, I got to do the thing I love most, and the thing I haven't been able to do as much as I want, I got to hold the little baby. Loved it! I think the thing I get the most joy out of here is making a kid that looks so sad and sick, laugh. Its fantastic! So that is the picture you see above. She has the cutest laugh too - I wish I could impersonate it in writing, but…I can't. But a couple days later I was filling in for a nurse in triage, and this little girl came back in, and as soon as I got her giggling again, I remembered her. So, I slacked off again for a bit and just loved on her! Ah…bliss.

I’m sure there’s way more I can talk about from this past week…we ended up closing the hospital ward on Friday. That was hard, sad and yet a relief all at once for me! It was hard to do because we know there’s so many people that need that extra bit of care, to stay somewhere overnight for rehydration, or in our case, elderly diabetic women that need their sugars brought under control…but we just don’t have the nursing staff to continue to support a 24/7 hospital ward at this time. It was sad to close up because we often would go down to the ward in the evenings just to hang out. There was always something entertaining happening, or just fun people to be with…and we all loved learning creole from our patients, or learning new dance moves or whatever! However, it was also a huge relief for me…that was a huge responsibility to keep staffed and I often found myself running up and down the big hill at the mission until 9 pm just getting basic supplies for the ward like water, food, sheets, whatever was needed! Now, by 4pm we close up the clinic, go up to the guesthouse, have a coke and call it a day. It’s been a wonderful change this week!!! Now I have to clarify this, we’re not completely finished with having a hospital ward at the Mission of Hope, we’re just transitioning into another phase of the long term plan here. We just had a huge HOOP barn put up this past week that is going to be our new/temporary hospital ward, and then in the next couple of weeks we’re working on transitioning into having a surgical team use the OR one week a month, and then a second week to have the hospital open to recover patients after surgery. So, it’s going to be looking a whole lot different all over again…but it’s exciting! I think this week the Mission has been working on hiring new Haitian nursing staff, and we’ll be moving forward this week. So, keep us in your prayers as we transition because there’s always kinks to work out…or maybe there won’t be! It’s amazing how God has used the Mission of Hope, and how much good has come out of this place since the earthquake. There’s definitely a bigger plan and bigger purpose in play here! And I love it!

Ok, one last thing I gotta talk about it, because each week my heart explodes!!!! Haitian church is the best. Period. I mean I love my church at home – but here man…they just know how to do it right! Sunday mornings are good, but Tuesday nights…that’s where it’s at! At the Church of Hope they have a worship night open to everyone on Tuesday nights, and it’s so good. It’s quite a large group, and its so good because everyone that is there wants to be there, and comes just to worship. It usually goes about 2-3 hrs. and it is amazing! I’m starting to pick up some Haitian songs, then I have them stuck in my head all week long and end up singing them at the clinic while patients laugh at me…life is good. Worship here is so abandoned and whole-hearted, I’ve got lots to learn. But it’s also just so refreshing for me, in the middle of my week to look at Jesus and just love Him. I need that set aside time, and Tuesdays help me. I’ve also managed to figure out some quiet time in the morning, and it’s been a lifesaver so far I’m sure.

So, thanks again everyone for reading and being interested in what I’m doing here and supporting me in prayer. I’m learning to lean for sure in this place, and learning that my strength is nothing! Seriously. I miss you all back at home and pray for you often! Thanks again! Oh, and any suggestions on the blog would be great! I never know what to write about, and then I blab on and on I’m sure…so let me know!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two weeks into it

So, I've been here for two weeks now, and I'm still loving it! Life is busy and crazy here on the mission base with medical and non-medical teams constantly coming and going. And when I say constantly, I mean constantly! But it's a good thing! It's been lots of fun getting to know new people, and I'm really enjoying the new position that I'm in, despite my lack of experience...

I'm not really sure what to write in a blog, so I'll just kind of mention the highlights from the last two weeks... The first medical team that I worked with was short nursing staff for the first two days, so I got to take up the PACU (post-anaesthesia care unit), which just to note, I have NEVER done in my life. It all went pretty well, but I had a few stressful moments...but it was all good in the end:) It's funny here that when you're all there is, you're better than nothing, so you just have to dive in. I think it's been really good for me, and stretching, definitely stretching!

Oh yes, now I remember what else happened!!! So, I am living with two other (wonderful) girls - Leeann and Janine, and we are living in a building that is to be part of the new orphanage being built here called Hope Village. Well, while we were moving in we have had quite a few "experiences." I think we have found a grand total of 3 mice in our room - one of which was in my bag because, yes, I left granola bars there. Gross I know! I think we've woken up our neighbours a couple of times as well from our girlish screams...oops! Can't really help that one! The first mouse we found we screamed so loud that our neighbour (Klaudel) came RUNNING over...thinking we were being attacked or something probably. That was quickly followed by laughter and calling all of the other guys over that also live in the village...embarassing? Yes.

We also had an evening of exterminating spiders. Very fun as well. I couldn't sleep because apparently there are black widows here, so that job is now done. We also now have curtains up, candles in the window (which the interpreters are all very impressed by!). So it's beginning to feel a bit more like home, and we're liking it.

So this week has begun and I'm starting to settle in a little better. I still need to work on finding a good balance between working, sleeping and having time off. It's very hard for me to take time off when I live here and there are teams that are constantly working. I'm having to learn that it needs to be different now that I'm living here and in for the long haul (or a longER haul). So, if you think of me, pray for that I think. I still love being here and love this place and this country, but I need to learn to break and not exhaust myself! That's wise right? So ya, that's blog number two. See you in a few!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Only the Beginning...

Hey everyone! So, here I am, in Haiti. It's kind of random and crazy how I ended up here, and yet I know it was totally and completely from God that this all happened. I guess I'll just use this first blog to kind of explain how I ended up here.
Most of you who know me, know that I've been connected with Haiti and involved in missions trips here over the last few years. Well, this year was to be no different, until January 12th. Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area experienced a 7.0 earthquake that day, and it has changed Haiti forever. My immediate response was - "why wasn't I there for this?!" Within a couple of weeks, somehow, I was in Haiti. Through Feed the Children Canada I was able to get on a military flight into Haiti, and I worked at the Mission of Hope clinic/hospital for 3 weeks. It was exhausting work, but my heart was alive through it all. I love this country, and I love these people, and I know that for some reason God and put that in me, and all I can do is respond to it, and say yes to what He has put in me.
During my second week in Haiti, there was some discussion about the Mission needing a person here to help organize all of the medical teams that are coming through, as there has been a huge increase in the number of medical personnel post-earthquake. At first I totally discounted myself because I had "plans" and a job that I felt responsible for. Then, one day, surrounded by, oh say 5 super excited Canadian nurses and the medical coordinator here at the Mission of Hope, I got sucked in! They all laid out for me how this could all work, why it should work, and what I needed to do. As soon as I saw it...I had to have it! Usually huge decisions like this freak me out, and I take at least a week to think it through, but not this one! That night, I couldn't sleep at all! I was so excited! I woke up at 2am, and just couldn't sleep! That's when I knew. So in the morning I committed, and by the end of the day I had talked logistics! Now that took God!
So...I ended up going home for 10 days to sort things out in the northern frontier, and I also got to hold my super cute, super chubby baby nephew Owen that was born exactly 17 hours before my plane took off!!!! It was perfect!
So now, here I am in Haiti. I hit the ground running on Thursday, and I'll be running until June I'm sure! But it is so good to be here, and I'm really excited and expectant about what God is doing here in this country. I just want to be a part of it all, and live and walk with these people as they find their way, and hopefully, somehow, help.