When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. -Galatians 6:10a (NCV)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Said No

Yesterday I spent the day organizing and rearranging items in the clinic while a team from Indiana did construction work on the camp. There were several Haitians in and out of the clinic for dressing changes, stitches and various requests. Usual day.

Until Manuela walked in. Manuela is 17 and has a 9 month old baby boy. She recently went back to high school and her mom is watching the baby while she is in school. Manuela was in the first Mother/Infant nutrition class I taught in Peredo. Then, the baby was a newborn and Manuela was a hard-headed first time mother who did NOT buy into the "breast-feeding is best" motto. The other moms did a great job encouraging her. Boy did this girl try my patience.

Everytime I see Manuela she is alone or hanging out with friends. Never once have I seen her with her son. Never.

She comes around the clinic now and then and asks for formula, baby bottles, baby clothes, money.

Yesterday was one of those days.

But yesterday she asked for formula, baby bottles, clothes, AND money.

And she needed them quick because her boyfriend was waiting for her outside.

I stood there. Looking at this 17 yr old mother.

I didn't lecture her. I didn't roll my eyes-even though I BADLY wanted to.

I just said, "No."

It came out so easy but, last night, when I was laying in bed, I was running it through my mind again and again.

Did I do the right thing? I came here to help. Churches and individuals support me to help the Haitian people.

But yesterday I said no.

Somehow I think that helped more than a baby bottle or clothes.

But it doesn't feel as good.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A few weeks ago a little baby was brought into the clinic by her mother who said she wasn't eating well. The doctors here quickly noticed that the right side of her face was paralyzed therefore making it difficult for her to eat. I did some teaching with the mother on how to feed her and she was not very patient with her and said it would take too much time to do that and she did not have the time as she had multiple children already. When we unwrapped her from the blanket her little, pencil thin legs did not extend all the way out flat. Her muscles were tight from being wrapped up in a blanket all the time.

Women from the team held the baby and oogled over her. She really is very cute-but very small for her age. She obviously needed someone with time to help her learn to take a bottle. Her mother said she just didn't have the time to do this and asked if someone would take her. I tried to encourage the mother and ask her about family support she had. She insisted she did not want the baby.

I contacted Damou Christian Mission (www.damouhaiti.org) to help get baby girl "beefed up" and learn how to eat. This mission has Haitian nannies who have helped other severely malnourished infants. The mission came out and spoke with the mother and father that day and accepted to take the baby to help her.

This was 3 weeks ago and Baby Girl is now Annabelle and doing very well. She is sucking from a bottle but still takes a long time to eat. She is more alert, looking around, watching the other children play. I took this picture 2 weeks ago when she was sitting in her bouncy chair. A baby who was on the fast track to dying of malnutrition is now thriving.

Who knows that plans God has for her in her future. How exciting to think of what she could do for the Lord one day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another great medical team just left today. We spent the week seeing patients, suturing wounds, removing cysts and praying with patients. Sometimes it takes an "outsider" to remind you how important praying with the Haitian people is. I think I get so caught up in the work and all the needs that I don't take the time at that exact moment to stop and pray with them. Meanwhile (while I am frantically running around trying to solve the world's problems) the Lord is watching and waiting for me to remember who is really doing the solving around here.

One of the women on the team asked me, "When did Haiti start feeling normal to you?"

I was confused.

She continued, "You seem so at home and you know what you are doing in this chaos. You take all the weird and different things here in stride and keep going about your day. I am so shocked at a lot of what I see I can think clearly. And while I am trying to process one thing I see 3 more things that throw me off."

Things still catch me off guard-like the 11 yr old boy who came into the clinic with an old dog bite. Mom tried to heal him using Voodoo. The witchdoctor told his mom to go find the dog that bit him and pull out some of it's fur and stuff it in the wound.

When we opened the wound-sure enough-lots of dog hair.

I have to say that threw me for a loop.

The doctors from Southeast Christian Church didn't miss a beat and prayed over the boy for THE LORD to heal him and to guide them in treating him.

Threw me for another loop. I was so focused on the wound and all the infection that I forgot to stop and pray.

We, Christians, have the chance to be the shining light -an example- in this world. Haiti is a dark place.

God has called me to shine the Light in a little village in Haiti. But sometimes does my nursing ministry tool to overshadow the Light? Dim it?

Sometimes the abnormal, chaotic, busyness makes us run around but we should remember who is really solving the world's problems.

Where has God called you?

Are you shining the light?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Prayer request

Sometimes, honestly most times, the work here is just overwhelming. There is always someone in need of something. I work in one small village in Haiti, which has huge problems. My prayer is that I can help some of the people there well...but sometimes it seems that I am standing in the middle of a tornado watching everything get blown around and more messed up than it was when I came to work that morning.

I am writing to make you all aware of an urgent prayer request. Daniella is a 15 yr old girl who came to me after church one Sunday in December. She was 14 yrs old then and very pregnant. She looked at the ground when she talked to me and told me she came for help. I asked what kind of help and she simply answered, "I don't know." Her face was totally blank and she just looked lost. There is no other word for it.

I told her to come back tomorrow when I was would have clinic hours and we could talk more. She came back with her 21 yr old sister. Daniella explained to me that she wanted to give her baby away. Then I pried for some more information. Here is her story:

Her mother died a few years ago (she says her uncle sent a voodoo curse on her that killed her) and Daniella went to live with her aunt in Port au Prince. Shortly after her aunt's husband started raping her when the aunt went out. When Daniella's stomach became big her family sent her back to the village on a tap-tap by herself to find her sister.

Now she was standing in front of me in the clinic. I know a Canadian midwife (Sarah-see website: http://www.olivetreeprojects.com) who lives in Jacmel and got an appointment for to see Daniella. Sarah examined her and did an ultrasound-she had trouble measuring the head on the ultrasound. Sarah really took and interest in Daniella and took her in to live with her until she delivered. Peredo is an hour away from Jacmel so this was better for everyone and this way Daniella could eat well and be taken care of better. Her sister who was struggling to take care of her 2 small children-couldn't care properly for Daniella-so everyone was happy with her staying with Sarah.

Daniella settled in well with Sarah and was doing really well. Last week she went into labor and delivered a baby girl at Sarah's maternity center. There were major complications after the baby was born. She was not breathing and had a low heart rate. Sarah did CPR but noticed the babies head was misformed. This explains why head measurement was difficult to find on the ultrasound.

The baby died shortly after. When she went into labor Sarah had called me to call her sister to come to Jacmel for the birth. Her phone was off and I called someone else in the village to go to her house to give her the message. They couldn't find her. They said she left and went to Port au Prince days ago.

So here's Daniella, 15 yrs old, with a bunch of white people-none of her own family, her baby dead. I know that's putting it bluntly-but it's the truth.

Would you join me in praying for this young girl? She is doing fairly well considering all she has been through-she is not yet a Christian but I know God can heal her and give her hope for the future.

A lot of problems here in Haiti are way too big for this missionary to handle. But none are too big for MY God to handle. He is waiting for All his children to come to His protective arms. Let's pray for Daniella to find Him.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Foreign Birthdays

So this year marks the 3rd Birthday in a row I have spent in Haiti. The big 3-1.




Moving on...

The first one was hard. Being in another country. No friends, no family. Only emails of Happy Birthday wishes. But none spoken.

Last year was after the earthquake and honestly I was so tired and busy that I really didn't even care to celebrate myself. But went out to dinner at a nice hotel with some co-workers, a friend and a handful of strangers. I had dreaded turning 30-so I was glad it slipped by quickly.

Monday was the big day and I took the day off work and stayed around the house. The housestaff was cleaning up from a medical team that had left and I fixed lunch for us and then headed out for a drive with David and Odessa.

No destination, no appointments, no expectations. Just a drive. Odessa sat on my lap and sang. Some songs she is learning in school and others that are made up. Times like this make me so glad the radio in the truck is broken...

I thought about how much my life has changed since my Birthday in 2010-the biggest change being Odessa. God knew these plans before I even dreamed of them. He connected a baby who needed a Mommy with a lady who had no idea what she was getting herself into when she thought she could be a single mommy.

That being said...I am doing my best, but raising a child alone, in another country, away from friends and family-is harder than I ever imagined. Somedays I pray that I just don't mess her up too much!

She is such a happy and smart little girl and I am so blessed to have her call me mommy. Her little body at 5 in the morning climbing into bed with me is the best alarm clock. Watching her play with her dolls and treating them with tenderness is reassurance she feels loved by her own mother. And hearing her shout "Bravo!" after Happy Birthday was sung was the icing on the cake.

David organized a little surprise party for me Monday night with some of our Haitian friends. Andriline made her famous pizza and David bought a real Birthday cake which was delicious. They went around the room and said their wishes for me in the coming year. It was so sweet. Someone said they wished Odessa's adoption gets finalized this coming year so she can officially be mine. Someone else said that they wished I could help even more people who are sick this year than I did last year. Others wished for continued good health.

I could tell they really tried to give me an American birthday party. And it was great. I do have to admit though that I missed the Dairy Queen ice cream cake! And of course my family and friends. ;)

Each year gets easier and easier and each year Haiti becomes more and more like home.

So to end-I am looking forward to the next year God is giving me and excited to find what He has in store for my 31st year of life!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wedding Bells

The wedding of the year in the village of Peredo!

Sunday the principal of the school in Peredo, Met-Sorel and Margareth, a 1st grade teacher. were married in the new clinic. It was beautifully decorated and there was a full house. It was similar to American weddings with the biggest difference being everyone danced down the aisle. Not fast-club style dancing but tastefully slow danced. I will admit at first it seemed quite weird to this white girl but as it went on-I realized how nice it was to sit and relax. Little bit of entertainment. It was much nicer than the bridesmaids and groomsmen practically running down the aisle to take their place up front. You really got to see the dresses and suits-which were top notch for this small Haitian village. It was supposed to start at 4pm but didn't actually start until 530pm. But it was a Haitian wedding so on Haitian time!

First a group of 6 or 7 teen girls danced down the aisle in unison with flowers. They were followed by about 8 couples in their 20's who also danced down the aisle. Then came the flower girls. When they were done dancing they would line up on the inside of the isle and wait for the next group to come down. Then they all stayed lined up when the bride and groom made their entrance. The bride and groom were followed by the matron of honor and best man.

The ceremony was a lot like ours with a fairly LONG sermon in the middle, a couple of solos and vows and rings.

The thing that struck me the strangest is that the entire ceremony was in French. I have mentioned before that the official language of Haiti is French but it is estimated that only 20% of the population speaks it. However, everyone speaks Creole. It seems that the further out in the villages you go, the less French speaking people there are. I asked why the ceremony was in French and they said b/c they wanted it to be nice and formal. Well it was but I would guess maybe 10 people out of the 150 that were there understood it. I was not in those 10 people as I don't speak French. David sat with me and translated it for me. Those sitting around us chatted about the nice building and dresses-they didn't have a clue either what was being said. Made me feel like more part of the group.

The cutest things was that kids from the school snuck in in their dirty play clothes and no shoes. They were sitting on the side of the church on the floor to get a glimpse of their principal and teacher. Their eyes were huge watching the big production and they giggled, thinking no one saw them. The adults did of course but let them be -I think b/c they were too busy watching it themselves.