This Little Light of Mine

Sunday, December 5, 2010

True Faith and Hope in the Impossible

It is interesting how in my mind I have blogged several times.  Great thoughts that never make it to virtual paper.  I am going to diverge from the story telling of the last trip to update on Melissa's status.  In the last month, the Roberts (missionary family in Haiti I serve with) have been working on the paperwork and such for Melissa's birth certificate, passport and visa.  This endeavor (along with all of the issues with Melissa) have once again been out of my hands.  With multiple mission teams down in the last few weeks, the Roberts cup has been overfloweth.  To widen the burden of getting Melissa to the US on medical leave, we have been confronted with multiple invisible hoops of bureaucracy to leap through.

We began investigating what and whom to contact on the US side.  We were guided to contacting our US senators from Alabama.  The Lord was chuckling as I began into the world of politics and the legislative system.  Those who know me know that I have never been a fan of politics and debate.  Can't explain it, but I have avoided the political scene.  After about a week, we were blessed to have contacts in both Senator Jeff Session and Senator Shelby's offices who may can advocate for us.  BUT, we then hit a large and formidable brick one could advocate or do anything until the visa application was submitted.  So, what little contribution/control was there came to a screeching halt as I have had to wait on "the process" of those acting on my behalf in Haiti. 

Initially, I had faith and a sense of certainty that this was "doable."  I began to relax in the journey the Lord was unfolding, despite my tendency to guard my heart and over-prepare for the worst case scenario.  It became more and more easy to share Melissa's story and the possible future.  Jack (my husband) and kids talked about Melissa's part in the family as we went about daily routines.  We started to shift from apprehension to excitement about God's possibilities for our family.  My Mom brought home souvenirs for each of the children- including Melissa.  Our traditional matching pajamas for Christmas eve included tiny, pink footed pajamas.  I felt full of faithful confidence of the Lord's provision.

Thanksgiving holiday showed me how thin my faith truly is...

The holiday started off rocky when I began to speak with others who had been involved in getting patients to the states on medical visas.  They quizzed me on form XYZ and application 123.

Huh?  What forms?  What guarantees for finances for her medical care? 

As the knot in my stomach cinched around my Thanksgiving dinner, I knew that Melissa's presence with us as we read the Christmas story was slipping away. 

This emotional slap of reality was then confounded when I learned that due to illness of her other "mommy" in Haiti neccessitated someone else assume her care while the Roberts went to the Dominican Republic.  So, as I pined for my small daughter I begin to let the demons of despair sweep over me erasing my purported faithfulness.  My mind filled with images of this stranger providing for her daily needs, but not giving her the love and cuddles and family I so desperately want for this precious creature. It was another reminder that though she is a part of our lives now, we are not YET a part of her life.  And, frankly, that hurt.  A LOT!!

And so this week, the hurt, discouragement and fear returned like a flood on my soul.  Mentally I was so disappointed at my easily lost faith in God's TRUE power.  I fell into my common stance of being faithful in God's will, but "it probably isn't his will anyway."  The walls on my heart went under construction.  To be honest, I deeply questioned if I had the strength for this journey the Lord had gifted me with.  Maybe, this journey would better be travelled by someone else. 

Today was a turning point I am thrilled to say.  As I listened to our Advent sermon on hope and how we limit our lives based on our own limiting paradigms, it hit me.  That is exactly what I have been doing.  Somewhere in the last month, my mind became convinced that if we couldn't get the paperwork done then God couldn't make this happen.  Though I spoke of trust in God's power, once again I slapped it in a cage of limitations...

So...I am going to REFUSE to claim defeat...yes, things look bleak if I focus on the obvious worldly reality of the situation, BUT...  My God is greater, My God is higher than any other...  If he truly wants something to be done, miracles can and DO occur.  My God has got this!!!

"Now ask and keep on asking and you shall receive, so that your joy may be full and complete."   (John 16:24)

Melissa holding on to Melody

Melissa's Mommies

Melissa fully stylin' in gifts from Haley and Lori.

As a foot note, an interesting developed when I began to query my elected officials for help.  Initially, I randomly sent 2 e-mails to state level senators before catching my error.  This wasn't random at all apparently.  One of the state senators is very interested in following and helping with contacts federally b/c he worked in the Peace Corp for years and has a special interest in internation mission work.  The other state senator wrote me a personal note explaining his interest as he lived in Haiti in the 1980's.  Who knew?  Yup...He knew...don't know if the contacts will ever be used but it was a neat twist.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Results

We arrive back at the guesthouse and blessedly I held the contents of my stomach in place.  Once there things happened swiftly.  Dr. Serge Geffrard had the portable Echocardiogram machine set up in one of the guest rooms and proceeded with Melissa's exam.  Initially, I was downstairs trying to eat a bite to settle my stomach.  I walked upstairs and began to watch the ECHO of my sweet baby lying on the bed.  Immediately the grainy images on the screen caused my heart to again drop to my stomach. 

Though my Echo reading skills are basic, the small piece flapping in the heart where the heart wall and valve should be indicated this would be no easy surgical fix.  In that moment, my mind slammed shut to the doctor side of me and I struggled to keep up with the understandings of what he was finding.  After an extensive exam, we learned that Melissa has a complete AV canal defect as well as a small right ventricle (bottom heart chamber) and pulmonary stenosis.  At this point, the problems are "balancing" to keep her oxygenated at some level.  Her O2 levels when we were finally able to get the probe to work over her tiny finger was in the low 80%'s.  According to him this was good though I couldn't wrap my brain around that being "good".  Dr. Serge very patiently explained that surgical repair really wasn't feasible for the AV canal due to the ventricle issues and the pulmonary stenosis surgery is considered "palliative" meaning it just buys her some time.  He explained that the procedure for the pulmonary stenosis (called a Glenn's procedure) only lasts for a limited time. 

**blink, blink, blink**

Somehow, in my heart I did always know that her heart wasn't going to be an easy fix but for it to now be in black and white I struggled so.  Learning that the child who the Lord called you to care for has a terminal illness will drop you to the floor no matter how you may feel prepared.  The practical "let's take care of what we can" side of me took over to keep me from curling up into the fetal position on the bed next to her.  Practically, she could live happily for years.  No one knows and I will not limit God's possibilities.

It was getting late, so Melissa and I moved to the next room and I began to unpack and organize what I had brought.  A sense of numbness filled with fatigue limited my thoughts and about 1:00am I fell asleep next to my precious child.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I am not sure right now why I didn’t blog while I was in Haiti. For those few out there who read this, I apologize profusely. The time up to this trip and the travel down was so blessed and smooth. When I arrived, the hard reality of my faultiness and humanity smacked me like an oncoming train. Such a big talker I have been about remaining faithful and going with the flow of God’s will. I had myself thoroughly convinced.


Let me backtrack a small bit though to the flight down. I was graced with a new friendship while waiting for the Port au Prince (PaP) connection. It was a “God thing” as I like to call these situations which can’t just be coincidence. A gentleman who I conversed briefly with at the gate was seated next to me amongst this huge plane of passengers. We made our introductions and learned a little about each other. He is a retired Haitian airline mechanic who now has a general aviation business with 3 small planes. He transport missionaries and others needing private air travel. This gentleman was incredible. He taught me about the island and some of its history as we traveled. He even invited me to come for a visit to “enjoy” the beauty of the island when possible. He explained how he saw time and again how the doctors would fly in and fly out and never take time to unwind and enjoy the country. How right he is!! We enjoyed getting to know about each others families and lives and parted at the baggage carousel. This is a friendship gifted to me and I intend to nourish this gift in the near future.

When I arrived, blessedly I breezed through immigration and customs. An air of confidence and bravado works very well down here when going through customs and baggage. Especially for a white women (blanc) traveling alone. As I type this however I realize though I really as a principle don’t like false bravado but in this one scenario it is necessary.

So as I roll my almost 200lbs of luggage and carry-ons out of the door. I scan the throng of men who forcefully valet your luggage (whether you want it or not) for Wilbur who was there to greet us last visit.

No Wilbur and I was making too much eye contact. A gentleman convincingly tells me he is supposed to take me to Wilbur.

I flinched.


That was just enough time for him to whisk away with the cart and luggage with me in tow. We get to the outer gate and he begins to ask me who I was meeting. Who is picking me up? He suggests I call them. ARGH! I don’t have any phone that works here in Haiti. So here I am feeling like a target is now on my back. One gentleman offers me a taxi. Um…no thanks. I will give the valet credit. He stayed with me though clearly wanting to go back for another customer. He even (at the insistence of another valet) called the only number I had for our missionaries. No answer. My “oh crap” level was rising rapidly.

And then, I see Chris Keylon, another of the incredible people I have been blessed to work with, walking across the parking area. I believe in hindsight that I may have actually ran to him. (Negative cool points for that one I guess. ;) ) After a warm greeting he motioned for me to go around the truck and there she was….


Michelle had dolled her all up for me. Headband, adorable outfit and hot pink finger and toe nails. My heart skipped a beat. And then…it stopped…
Michelle mentions that Melissa’s passport won’t be completed until next Wednesday.
WHAT?!? In that instance, the rubber band around all my purported peace and faithfulness snapped, smacking me squarely in the face. I attempted to regain the racing thoughts in my brain. There were two physicians who were down to do the screening for the heart surgery team. They arrived on the same flight I did and everyone was making introductions as gear was being loaded into the trucks amongst the dust, heat, noise and general pandemonium which is PaP airport.

Michelle asks if I would accompany her out to Thomazeau to the orphanage to pickup Isaac who is her son which she is adopting. Sure, I enjoy going to Thomazeau. I was numb and at least thankful to be able to unload the largest part of my luggage which was the uniforms for the Children of Hope Orphanage school which just opened. We inch through the worst traffic I’ve been in yet getting through PaP. We bounce along to Thomazeau at dusk with my mind racing. Usually when I am riding around Haiti I pay close attention to my surroundings to take in every bit of the culture. This ride was just a blur of the usual sites I linger over on previous trips. My mind kept thinking:

But no, she has to have her passport. The plan is to go to Santiago so she can be made well. What am I supposed to do know? What mission does this visit serve? No, no, no…this isn’t how it was supposed to happen. So consumed by my overwhelming sense that the trip to Santiago was God’s will, I even rationalized that the passport would magically appear Monday by God’s grace and we’d be back on track.

We arrived at CHOH after sunset. The children greeted us in their usual loving way where they cling to anyone just to feel that human touch of love. It is something I think a lot of children take for granted. A simple bear hug and kiss is better than candy treats to these kids. They definitely have my heart. I was then quickly greeted by Lourdie who is the Mom of the orphanage. This woman is truly an angel here on Earth. She is one of the blessings I have received here in Haiti and it is my honor to call her friend. As Michelle collected Isaac, the kids “helped” me unpack my bags and get the uniforms out. This was quickly followed by the abduction of my camera with which they took some good pictures I’ll add to this site. These are some INCREDIBLE children. Well mannered, respectful and supportive of each other. Truly it is a wonderful home for them to grow and learn. After hugs and love from Mama T (Bobby the director’s mother), we needed to rush to get back to PaP before the night became any darker. I ran around snapping pictures of the kids to send to their adoptive families and piled back in the truck to bounce back home.

On the way back to PaP and the guesthouse, the weight of the day overtook me.  Cold sweat beaded on my forehead and waves of nausea had me digging in my bags for nausea meds.  I knew if I could just hang on to the guesthouse I'd be able to regroup.  Hold on....Hold on...Hold on...

Friday, October 29, 2010

On My Way!

So, the day is here.  Surely never imagined that I'd be headed back so soon but that is how this whole life changing mission has been.  "Expect the unexpected" and "Think Big!"  Here I am 10 months after being called to Haiti and now going to see our daughter-to-be to prayerfully be with her for heart surgeon in another country.  WOW!!!  Once again, prayer and grace managed to get overloaded baggages through fees.  This time saving over $100 of charges by all rights I should've paid.  Now, that money can pay for supplies, water or any number of life neccesities when I get to Haiti. 
I will admit that I am exhausted underneath the overwhelming emotions of this morning.  (Don't worry Mom, I am okay though and will rest on the plane and layovers.)  No matter how hard I try I never get to bed until way late when I travel.  Trying to pack a van load of stuff in 2 checked bags and carryon is comical.  It broke my heart to have to make decisions on certain things not to take.  (I don't need soap, right?)  I have packed over a hundred uniform shorts/skorts for the Children of Hope orphanage school, 2 backpacks full of clothes and necessities for 2 children at a different orphanage (Haiti Christian Orphanage), formula, diapers, food, meds and stuff for the Roberts family (missionaries I work with).  What didn't go, will go next trip and I suspect that'll be sooner than I could probably guess. 
A very dear and sweet friend Anna Nuessle graciously picked me up at 4 AM to take me to the airport so Jack wouldn't have to drag all 3 kids to the airport.  That would've been UGLY!    This ride was a huge gift to me and I'm so thankful to her!  Then, another friend left me a perfect note of encouragement.  I feel so full of love and peace.  Can't believe how awesomely I am blessed.  Thank you God! 
So as I was waiting this morning and reading my devotional, this is the scripture for the day:
22The Lord said to Moses, 23“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

The devotion reminded me that when Christ shines on us, we in return shine that light.  So here I go...This little light of mine.  I'm gonna let it shine....

Chris Rice - Go Light Your World
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Forward Progress

So late last night I got word that the Haiti/Dominican border issue may be okay if we have passports and visas for everyone.  Awesome!  Nothing is for sure though until we get there.  Some discussions are going around to even find an option to fly from Port au Prince to Santigo, D.R.  It is definitely reassuring that those who are coordinating this on the ground are pulling out all their tricks and know how.  I am so confident that the Lord is in control and is BIGGER than all this.  To God be the glory great things he had done and IS doing!  So, I leave in less than 36 hrs and in my usual fashion, the race to finish everything leaves little time for the simple pleasure of sleep.  Still have a few things to pickup for the trip.

The big issue now is luggage space.  With the gross of uniform shorts and skorts, supplies for 2 children at the the Haiti Christian Orphanage as well as Gabrielle's things (see earlier posts),  the 2 checked bag limit is disappearing RAPIDLY.  I keep thinking, "loaves and fishes...loaves and fishes."  What needs to go will fit with his grace I know.

Hugs to all and keep those prayers coming!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Barriers

Well, this morning the Dominican Republic closed their borders to Haiti in fear of the cholera outbreak which has been relatively contained at this point.  The significance of this is that to transport Melissa and the other children needing heart surgery next week, we must cross that border.  So many mountains have been moved to get this far, I can't believe at this point that any border closing is going to stop God's purpose if it is to be medical care for these children next week.  My initial response is to feel discouraged and frustrated, but as I sit here I feel a sense of faith that this too will be overcome in accordance to God's will.  Borrowing on Sunday's message at early services, God sometimes wants miracles to be so BIG that there is no mistake they are HIS actions and provisions.  This is looking more and more like a "God sized" undertaking.  So, I will trust, have faith and wait for his call.  My plane leaves at 6 am on Friday to Port au Prince and I will open myself to God's plan. 

I almost forgot to update on the wonderful understanding and re-affirming in the relationship with her current "Mommy".  I've written before on the challenges I have felt and she has had with these unusual set of circumstances.  Huge steps have been made toward a middle ground for the best care of Melissa now and in the future.  It has so lightened my heart and has been a true blessing. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Adventure Continues

So we rejoiced this week in the news that with the diligent and tireless efforts of many, progress was finally made in Melissa's paperwork.  She now has birth certificate and passport should be issued any day now.  So as of today, it seems that plans for her travel to Santiago are going happen.  We still wait day to day but are making plans for the travel of Melissa and the other children with heart issues that have been diagnosed in our various clinics.  There are still few details but we wait are waiting on the Lord with confidence of his providence.  The idea that I would be headed down to PaP to possibly load up in a bus or vehicle to travel across the island to take an infant and other children for heart surgery would've made me laugh out loud this time last year.  I'm headed to another country not knowing anything more of the plans and yet there is peace in my heart.  Let me publicly thank Greg, Bobby, Yanick, Michelle and any others who have been God's hands and feet in this.  Merci Beaucoup!

As many have heard, new challenges in this country have arisen as feared over the past months.  After all of the heavy rains in the last few weeks, a cholera epidemic has erupted.  It started in northern Haiti but has now spread into Port au Prince.  The catastrophe of this is it is a preventable and treatable illness with clean water and basic medical care.  Here an unfathomable thought, the water in your toilet before you flush is cleaner that most of this country's drinking water.  That water could've prevented this illness.  Unnerving, huh?

So tonight I ask that you pray for all those who are suffering with broken hearts and bodies in this country.  Pray that through education and clean water supplies this plague can be contained.  Pray that the Lord will continue to guide the work he wishes for us to do.

Bondye Bon Tout Tan!  (God is good ALL the time!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stepping out on faith

So tonight I feel a peaceful resolution to just take each step as it comes.  So, I am proceeding with plans to be go to Port au Prince for at least a few days at the end of the month.  Aside from getting to be with Melissa, several side "missions" have evolved for this trip.  I'll be able to transport short/skorts for the orphanage striving to open their new Christian school.  The Lord will also be able to use my travel to provide for the needs of 2 boys at another orphanage to assist in getting them prepare for going to school.  Yeah!  This trip with its financial and personal costs will be used for many and for that I am thankful in the one who loves me more than any.

Melissa's paperwork is still unsettled.  Please continue to pray that this will be accomplished so that she may proceed with her medical care.  Also, if you feel moved to help, any donations toward the uniforms for the school would be greatly appreciated. 

Taking a step away from the usual theme here, I'd like to share an incredible story of love and loss.  Let me share a story about Gabrielle.  Gabrielle is a beautiful 3 yo little girl who lives in Port au Prince.  She and her twin sister have been assisted by another local Haitian assistance agency H.E.R.O. (Haitian Emergency Relief Organization). 

Their father has been their primary caregiver their whole lives.  On January 12th, Gabrielle's twin sister was killed in the earthquake.  Then, this summer, we learned of the untimely death of her father now leaving her with no one.  H.E.R.O. is currently working toward helping her in her immediate needs.  They are trying to raise around $500 to pay for her to go to pre-school and her other essentials.  If you can help, please message me.  I'll update on her soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Leaning on the Everlasting Lord

Not a whole lot of news.  Many are working hard to get Melissa a passport and Visa to go to the Dominican Republic to have her surgery at the end of the month.  So far, more and more obstacles mount but I know and trust in the faithfulness of our God.  From the medical aspects of her care, I have confidence that the Lord's will is being done. 

The aspects of all of this that I am having the most challenge with is feeling the call to be Melissa's mother, but not physically in her life to accomplish that.  I do not feel that any struggle for this child would be at all for her benefit.  So, I am sequestered to the sideline, while I watch another bond with her and even begin talk of adopting her as well.  This is just not an aspect that I was prepared for and don't know how to handle the emotions...yet.  My plans as of tonight are to go down to Port au Prince soon and just be there with her as much as I am allowed.  If she is to be in my life, she will be and on that I have to trust.

The scripture in the picture says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in Me

My heart has been heavy with concerns that I have tried to put out of mind but they keep surfacing.  They stand as tall as an insurmountable mountain tonight.  I wasn't going to post these things, but I realized that in the course of this journey I need to lay it all out there for the destination is still undetermined.  The challenge of an international adoption in Haiti takes an act of God to accomplish in the best and perfect of circumstances.  That alone has been terrifying along with the thought of the anguish of my husband, children, mother and family as we traverse this together.  Then, we add on that the child holding my heart has a life threatening illness with probable surgery in another country with post-operative recuperation, etc.  with details to plan changing regularly and delayed communication to me.  Oh and then as if that emotional strain wasn't enough, you are caught between having been her medical doctor and now her mother with neither role defined and input undesired.  WHAT AM I DOING????  I get the whole part of God never said it would be easy.  Okay.  But I need a clue now.  A hint.  A small flicker of light on what the next step is.  This isn't about me anymore.  My husband and family are invested too.  They have committed to Melissa as a daughter, granddaughter, sister and niece. 

Those who know us, know that we are 100% people to a fault.  If we commit to something, we are in it 100% with all of who we are and what we have.  We don't do half-way.  So, when we finally came to make the commit of caring for this beautiful child, that was it.  We are in it 100%.  Well, for a multitude of reasons, I am having to consider a request to step back for a lack of better words.  How do I do that now?  How do I stop wanting to know the details of her care especially with each day waiting for her surgery potentially one of a limited few?  How do I suddenly act okay with getting her medical evaluation information third hand?  I'm not talking of interfering to where I am causing impedence to her care.  I am committed to whatever is best for Melissa and had to even suddenly and seriously discuss the possibility that another couple could be better suited for her last week when I was informed of another interested person.  So, if I step back and just wait until my presence is requested,  I have to wonder if this is truly the course God has set forth for us.  Doubt weighs heavy that I can face these emotional battles and any power struggles over a child.  This is going to take some substantial prayer and guidance and I am growing wearing as my "regular" life marches on admist all of this.

Sorry to not be "cheery" but definitely trying to be honest...Waiting on the Lord.,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Missing Melissa

So, it looks like Honduras is not going to happen.  The next surgery date to be attempted in October 30th in Santiago, DR.  I did get to talk with Bobby (orphanage director of CHOH) who is helping with her stuff.  He explained the paperwork and guardianship issues.  We REALLY must find one of her parents to sign these forms so that her medical plans may proceed.  No passport or VISA can be obtained without this.  If we have to go through other channels the wait could be extensive.

The heart doctors want her on Lasix and Digoxin pending her surgery.  Everyone who is caring for her and seeing her says she is holding her own but I'll admit to have a quesy fearfulness that things will deteriorate before we are able to help her.  This is also troubling to my heart because I know it is not being faithful that the Lord is in control. 

Jack and I have talked several times about her adoption.  It is so funny what we worry about.  Being the obnoxiously practical people we are, we end up discussing things that are so far out there planning wise it is a joke.  I know one thing for sure.  God is in the middle of a life altering change of my faith.  What I mean by that is trusting in his provisions.   Jack and I have always been planners.  We usually have a Plan B (Plan C and sometimes Plan D).  Our faith has been like, "Ok Lord, we have faith that you'll take care of this, but...we'll have some other plans ready."  Bad, I know!  He's teaching us in this that there is NO way to prepare.  This is ALL unknown.  There may be similar stories but none are Melissa's story. 

On a bright note, Melissa did get her medicines today through the diligence of Dr. Mark McColl who was on the team last week who saw her.  She had some bloodwork done which did show no HIV, Sickle Cell disease, hypothyroidism and other issues.  We now just focus on the heart.  Bobby was going to take her to get an ECHO for me this week just to have something to go on but God again took our plans with a left turn with another emergency at the orphanage.  Christopher one of the little boys was playing a suffered a bad femur fracture.  My heart breaks for the little guy as he is now at the hospital in traction versus the surgical repair a child here in the states would've received.  Ugh!!! 

So, a final confession of sorts from my troubled heart.  Pictures of Melissa have been my only lifeline since I had to return home.  However, except for pictures of Kristina (her current stand-in Mommy) holding her, everytime I see someone else holding her I actually feel jealous and protective of her.  I truly have had days where I questioned if I had the fortitude to do this.  My new insight to my friends adopting and their heartfelt struggles has been enlightening and heartbreaking. 

Today, the whole family was in Montgomery AL visiting with my mother-in-law and family.  What struck me as we went to the museum, fed the ducks and played was how over and over again, one of us would mention how we'd have to do this or this "when Melissa got here."  She is now one of our family and 4 of the 5 of us haven't even met her.  This is one powerful little girl blessed by one powerful God!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Interrupt the Previous Programming for this Announcement!!!

Wow!  The last day or two I'd been really struggling with this new role of  "along for the ride" with Melissa and all that was going on down in Haiti.  Patience has not been my strength.  Well tonight as Jack and I were discussing Melissa and the possibilities, I received a surprise call from Greg Roberts who is the missionary I have worked with in Port au Prince.  He was calling to update me on the huge progress that had been made in the last day or two.  Melissa had been under evaluation by a physician down there working with the team of cardiologist working to do some pediatric cardiology surgeries in PaP in the near future.  Dr. McColl had sent Melissa's info to some other specialists her in the U.S. and she was approved to be a part of their program.  However, it was recommended that she not wait for when they will be ready to do the surgeries in PaP.  Dr. Gilbert (pediatric cardiovascular surgeon) will be doing surgeries in Honduras and they approved her to come there to have it done.  Odd twist but hold on, God had gone ahead of us...
An incredibly benevolent and generous gentleman by the name of David Gibbs who has been a great benefactor to Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice will be arriving in Haiti this week.  He actually also has mission work in Honduras.  Go GOD!  So, we likely will have some housing care for Melissa. 
Now we need prayers that Greg can get a passport and travel visa for her to go and have her surgery in October.  Pray that the Lord will continue to be merciful on this journey.  We will continue to update as more develops. 
Looks like I'm going to be looking at a trip to Honduras...
To GOD be the glory,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An unexpected blessing (Part 1)

So, I finally am going to try to tell the story of this trip's surprise blessing.  On Wednesday, Anne and I went to the clinic to work as we had the previous Monday.  It was an interesting point in the trip as we did not have scheduled plans for the following day and were feeling a sense of anticipation for God's plans for the remaining time of our trip.  The day at the clinic began uneventfully.  Variety of patients with a wide range of needs.  My first patient was quite a treat.  She presented to the clinic for followup on her blood pressure and stroke weakness which she has suffered with for over 3 years.  When we were introduced, it struck me.  This is the elderest Haitian I have met here.  She was a proud 80 years old with her younger sister in her 60's.  What an absolute honor to have these incredible women.
Wow I look like I was already melting and it was only 8:30am.
And so we continued on seeing patients.  Then, it happened.  A young woman brought in a small infant with the complaints of decreased feeding and listlessness.  My medical training assessed the small baby in an instant realizing that she clearly had Down's Syndrome and was malnurished. 

The woman claiming to be her mother gave details of an uneventful birth but that they had not seen a doctor since delivery.  As I examined her, this little angel smiled up at me and my heart literally skipped a beat.  Her exam was not as bright.  This small one had a very audible heart murmur which with her Down's I feared most definitely indicated a cardiac defect of some sort.  She was also clearly malnurished with skin hanging off her little bones. 
First priority was clear, proceed with whatever this sweet angel needed to get her the best medical care I could.  About this time Anne and her translator came over to also see this precious one.  The "mother" began speaking to Yamiley (the other Haitian translator) in Kreyol.  Yamiley turns to me and asks, "do you know the whole story?"  Well...uh...thought I did but clearly I didn't.  This woman went on to tell a story of how she was a friend of the mother and had been helping her since before the earthquake.  The real mother went out for food and never returned. 

Okay. Sounded reasonable and I pressed forward.  I scooped the baby up and went down to discuss plans with Yanick (clinic director).  As I sat down in Yanick's office with my heart in my hands, she turns to us and goes "Melissa!  That's baby Melissa!" 

Huh?  Who? What???

Well then the story evolves further to learn that this baby was actually not a 3month old but a child who had been brought to the clinic on several occasions and was actually around 6 months old.  She had been sent for ECHO but the mother never took her for the testing even after she was provided with the finances for the testing.  The mother apparently had left her with this women that morning in the waiting area of the clinic. 
This is about the time I realized that I had spontaneously developed a primal protective emotion over this child.  Without any of my usual overplanned forethought I plunged into working with Yanick on what we would do with this child.  This started with a call to Bobby at the CHOH orphanage and he recommended proceeding with a police report.  While this was going on, I sent one of the translators out with some cash to forage for some formula so we could feed her.  All I knew for sure was this baby had become a part of me in those few hours and she was going to come back to the guesthouse for the night while plans and arrangements could be made. 

Let me digress at this point in the story to explain that I have loved every child that I have been blessed to meet in my 2 visits to this country.  They fill my thoughts daily and along with many, many others we have worked tirelessly to try to provide for a brighter future in God's love for many of them.  There has not been one child though that ever overwhelmed me to such a primal and fundamental level as Melissa.  I guess that it is a good thing so that I haven't wanted to adopt them all but this really caught me flat footed and unprepared emotionally.  Every time anyone wanted to hold her I felt like a Mama Bear and had to consciously restrain from growling "NO". 

Josua returned with some powdered formula and we mixed a bottle with some water from the cooler.  She sucked it down like a pro!  About now, Michelle had arrived to pick us up with Kristina and the kids as well.  Everyone wanted to hold Melissa.  Not sure at that point for sure who she was, there was lots of talk of what to call her.  My emotional volcano boiled up more and more on the ride back to the house.  Totally and completely I was sucker punched.  Why am I feeling so protective?  Where did this smothering wave of devotion to her come from?  Why now?  I was not prepared for this situation and left the group gathered in the front room of the guesthouse and tried to gather myself outside.

My prayers began in the way mine often do when I don't even know where to begin.  Help me Lord!  I do not understand.  I am lost and need you so!  After what seemed like forever, my emotions turned the prayers to "I can't do this Lord!"  Why did you make this connection with THIS child? Why now? ....  And then the thunderstorm clouds let loose with a cool rain....

Let me say right now that I am a weak sinner and am openly admitting that: yes, I questioned God's will.  It was killing me to say these things but I knew God already knew my struggle and pain.  I took it to him and prayed for him to intercede.  After crying uncontrollably in the cool rain, I returned to the house thinking I had "pulled it together."  Nope!

So I went upstairs and struggled fruitlessly to stuff it down.  Anne realizing something was wrong approached me in our room and I continued to try to put these emotions back in a box but failed miserably.  By now, I was so tired and raw I didn't think I could even look at Melissa any more.  Anne very quietly and gently went and brought Melissa upstairs to our room.  I didn't want to look into that sweet face and feel this emotion any deeper.  But, I turned to look at her on the bed and the pain melted away with her grin as if it was an ice cube in the beam of a thousand suns.  I was hers, and in some way which God will determine she is mine.

Stay tuned for the rest of my life changing 48 hours with God's special little blessing....

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Continuing with the ingenuity of the Haitian people, we next met a young boy who had crafted a car out of a discarded plastic milk jug.  He was very proud as well he should be.

Okay, so we tromped through the village on a dirt path on our way to where Greg and Bobby originally found Margerie 4 months ago when I had been at the orphanage.  Along the way, I felt very conspicuous but never afraid.  Definitely a stranger in a strange land.  My only coping mechanism I have developed is to smile.  So that is what I did...waved and smiled as we walked past people's homes and huts.  And you know what, most smiled back and waved.  A smile can be SO much more powerful than we realize.  It's my weapon of choice! 

Eventually, after hanging a left at the nanny goat and a block past the pig, we got to Margerie's home where she was busy feeding a chubby happy baby Greg.  Though she didn't remember me from that fateful day of her son's birth, I will ALWAYS remember her.  

Praying over Marjorie at the clinic in May
4 month old Greg and Mom

We gave her some prenatal vitamins I had packed for her and gave Greg an impromptu checkup. While there, Bobby and Greg noticed that Margerie's family's home was beginning to wash and crumble at the foundation. We spent some timing looking and Greg made some estimations for maybe some home improvements.   It was shocking to see the building that 15 people called home.

Standing at the rear room of the home looking forward to the front room.

Front Room.  No idea what they pickup on TV.  Just noticed on the wall to the Left what looks like a picture of the last supper.  Cool!

So all of this investigation and looking around made me consider something.  If a non-English speaking person of a different skin tone just arrived at a trailer park in rural Alabama and began walking around in a person's home, would they be welcomed.  Hmmmm....

After a nice visit and sharing Silly Bandz, it was time to head back CHOH.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back on track

Sorry for the delay in posts.  Things were going well enough to allow for some late night posts until Wednesday when God filled in the details of his plans for our week last week.  Let me take a minute to back up.  We worked Monday in the clinic seeing patients.  It was a busy and hot day but productive.  Anne who was the other half our team really got her confidence going and was seeing patients like a pro. 

Tuesday was our planned expedition to Thomazeau.  Given the smaller size of our "team" we kept to doing exams on the kids at Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice (CHOH).  This orphanage of less than 15 surged to over 40 since the earthquake.  It has become quite a passion of many and I was shocked at the changes and growth in the 3 1/2 months since I'd been here.  There is a new dorm for the boys sleeping quarters, a school house in under construction.  There is another outdoor classroom built, and construction is underway for an upstair living quarters for Bobby and Lourdie the directors/house parents.  WOW!  The Lord has moved swiftly and mightily through the compassion and donations of many from many states.

Boys' Dorms to left if standing at the kitchen door to CHOH

Panning to the Left.  Note new open classroom behind clothes.

Note 2nd floor construction on the "main" building

Anne experienced the flood of affection from the kids when we arrived.  For those who have not been to CHOH, you suddenly will have 3,4 or more kids glued to you touching and hugging any part of your body they can lay claim too.  This day, Loudna who is one of the older girls laid claim to me and never left my side the whole day.  She is a very special girl who has her own story of tragedy, faith and triumph that can be read on a friend's blog I'll link to sometime. 

So, we set up a mobile clinic in the older open air classroom and saw some of the children.  They all craved even the smallest bit of our attention and we seemed to have more than enough love to go around. 

After a couple hours, Greg and Bobby wanted to take us out into Thomazeau behind the orphanage and take us to where Margerie lived.  Margerie was the young woman who blessed my last trip so as I was involved in her medical care on the day of delivering a bouncing baby boy despite all odds.  The full story can be read in older posts from May.  This was quite a treat of an outing.  We all followed Bobby out of the gates and into the village.  Big awakening for us as we walked amongst the mud and stick huts crowding in along a dirt path.  We were obviously quite a spectacle for the neighbors!  Most greeted and waved to us warmly as we trudged along under the scorching sun leaving puddles of sweat behind us. 
We saw some really neat Haitians who had some ingenious inventions.  One man was returning home from a fishing expedition with a homemade harpoon for fish made from a stick, wire, springs and rubberbaids.  Brilliant!

So,  I'm falling asleep now and will continue this note tomorrow...stay tuned....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When you have nothing left to give- you always have prayer and hope...

I saved this post because it deserved its own attention.  Greg Roberts, who is the missionary that coordinates things here, asked me on Saturday if I would go with him and see a Haitian friend in Christ who was in a horrific traffic wreck at the first of the week.  This gentleman was the assistant principal for a Haitian Christian school and was a beloved man.  He apparently suffered a cervical cord injury and was paralyzed in some hospital whereabouts unclear.  My first reaction was one of complete inadequacy to contribute much in this scenario but Greg seemed sure that this injured man and his friend needed our attention.  So, on our way to mobile clinic on Saturday, we bounced around for what seemed like a long time on muddy dirt roads between cinder block walls with Hopital and an arrow spray painted on the walls every block or so.  We arrived to a small "private" hospital.
We got out of the car and I will confess up front that I was seriously in question of what we were about to find and what in the WORLD I would be able to offer as help.  *Insert Lord's chuckle here*  We are greeted by Greg's friend Cedric who was also in the accident but with only minor injuries.  We then proceeded into the hospital which was remarkably clean and nice on the inside. 

The doctor was incredibly gracious and greeted us warmly.  He then patiently sat down to review Ona's injuries and treatment plan with me.  He had no reason to go through the details with a strange American doctor, but was so kind.  The heart wrenching part was seeing the xray and CT showing a compression vertebral fracture at C5.  My heart sank.  Remarkably, we learned that a Port au Prince neurosurgeon was coming out to consult on him daily.  Unfortunately, Ona was not a surgical candidate and had developed fever in the last 24 hrs.  The prognosis was bleak and I had to convey that to Ona's friends and family.  I was blessed to share that I did feel his care was very good and they are truly offering the best medical care at this point available for such a horrific injury.  There I was, standing in Ona's dimly lit hospital room with this sweet man who was clearly dying.  There was only one medicine left to administer, so I offered a prayer for him and his family.  We prayed as I held his fevered arm, and then we quietly left the room.

The doctor who met with us is the director for this private hospital and he showed us the rest of the facility which was over 10 private rooms very nice and clean including a pediatric room and surgical suite as well.  It was very impressive I'll admit and Greg was glad to make note of another facility to refer to for inpatient care.  This doctor was trained in abroad (?Prague I think) and is here working through Doctors without Borders though that group doesn't financial support this facility just him.  Anne took pictures with her camera of the doctor and hospital which we'll post later.

We left to the mobile clinic and my heart continued to weight heavy for Ona and his family.  I learned 24 hrs later that Ona did pass away Sunday to his Father's kingdom.  A victory for him and tragedy for his family and friends. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Haiti Heartbreak

Today, my friend Anne and I were serving in the Rapheka Pernier clinic each seeing patients.  She really did incredible and it was her first clinic day in Haiti on her own!  Most volunteers who have worked at the clinic experience at some point their first Haitian heartbreak.  Today, I saw it in Anne's face as her heart broke for a beautiful young Haitian women who the Lord placed in her care.  It is amazing how the Lord will lay someone on your heart when you least expect it.  She cared for a young women whose husband was killed in the earthquake leaving her with 4 (and now five - baby born a few months ago) children to care for on her own.  The Mom was hopeless and depressed carrying in an ill child to clinic.  As the Lord does time and again here, he laid on Anne's heart a burning need to go a little further which resulted in this Mom not only receiving treatment for her medical needs but feeding her body and soul as well.  They left the clinic with medications, beans and rice and prayers that the Lord will continue to provide for them.  And, Anne left the clinic knowing the Haiti heartbreak that keeps us all coming back to help one person or family at a time.  God picked just the right person to be here today!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another busy and fatiguing day but very productive.  We provided a mobile clinic today here in PaP initially to provide medical care to World Relief Orphans children.  Original patient load was estimated at 20.  Once the day ended, we had seen 40-45 people and provided free medical care and medications.  My fellow team member, Anne triaged them and then I proceeded with an exam and treatment.  The Roberts "crew" helped with all of the in-between which allowed for a good flow and efficiency.  The room I worked in was TINY and HOT.  No breeze and fully enclosed.  We saw the usual here with cough, colds, skin rashes and worms.  Toward the end of clinic while examing a 5yo girl, I heard a harsh heart murmur of which she had no previous history of heart issues.  We are arranging for ECHO to evaluate further.  Not sure what we will find but I am hopeful that the Lord brought her to us to help get her condition proper attention.  Please lift her up in prayer.
Stairs to clinic which slope 30-40 degrees.  Will post about more stories tomorrow.