This Little Light of Mine

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.

Saturday Morning in the Land of Hope

 Good morning from Haiti.  Yesterday was very busy as Greg took us over to the clinic and Yanick put us right to work.  I would say productive but definitely reminded me how tired you get.  A rainstorm blew in about the time we headed home which for me for a nice relief.  I got to ride inside a truck to beautiful home.  So many we drove passed though were trying to find any cover from the rain.  Getting home didn't mean rest for us.  We promptly had to jump into preparations for a mobile clinic tomorrow.  The Rapheka (or Pernier) clinic is now providing care for the World Relief Orphan group through the mobile clinics.  We will be going somewhere (didn't catch where yet) to see them and do a clinic out of a church.  So, we were up until 11:00pm packing meds, supplies and such. 
Up at 6:30 am to get ready as we will be starting the day running over to one of the area hospitals here in PaP.  Apparently, some Haitian collegues were in a bad traffic accident (and I can't image any other kind here) where one of the gentlemen is now lying in a bed with no feeling below the neck.  We can all guess that can't be good.  I'm still unsure as to what I am supposed to assist with but at least God does know.  He has gone before me I know.  Please pray for this man (I'll get a name up tonight) that the Lord will touch him with miraculous healing and guide us to provide his love to these people.
Talk soon, gotta hurry so I'll be ready when Greg comes.  Oh, and since I will be missing my beloved Auburn Tigers opening game today (Greg's satellite fell off the roof yesterday so they don't have TV), WAR EAGLE!
Can't get pictures to upload.  Will try later. 
Love, Jenny

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

Boujou mes amis!

So miracles continue to bless us.  We (or more so I) was very stressed and anxious about getting here and the customs "process" where ANYTHING can happen and usually not in your favor.  We prayed and everyone was praying and holy cow!  We arrived uneventfully.  Went through immigration with a nod and stamp.  Gathered our bags without anyone trying to "help" as some of the guys will do for tips.  Historically they will snatch up your bags to help even if you didn't want them to.  None of that.  We wheeled around our obnoxiously large and heavy bags through the customs gate and the guy looked over the customs sheet and nodded.  We then rolled right out the door.  No one glanced our way.  We got outside and there was a friendly man named Wilbur with a sign to greet us. Bon garcon!  He did wave off some other "helpers" when the whole cart overturned on a pothole but got us to Greg and away we went.  Easy Breezy!!!  When I got in the car, I was overcome with a sense of being home.  It just felt so right!  I was  tired from being up with 1 1/2 hrs of sleep in the last 36 hrs but was so excited to be here.  Unexplainable. 
Things have changed a lot in 4 months.  For the good.  New construction is evident in town.  Greg paved half the road up the hill to guesthouse.  WOW!  The guesthouse is STYLIN' now too.  Fresh bright paint inside.  Real beds in the rooms.  Other than the heat it would be hard to say I'm roughin' it by any stretch.
We are going this morning to the clinic and then Greg has some things for us to do.  Will try to get pics up tonight.
Love to all!
Chris Rice - Go Light Your World
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here we go again...back to my Haiti home

Well I'm 1 1/2 hrs away from boarding the last leg of my trip to Port au Prince for trip number two.  A dear friend who's a nurse is travelling with me this time.  It has been an exhausting several days preparing with the purchasing of meds, supplies and fundraising but the Lord has provided bountifully once again.  The week started with a presentation to the Cherokee County Rotary Club which was a wonderful opportunity to share the word of our mission.  They were so generous and provided some financial donations from a few individuals for supplies for the trip.  Then, The Orthopedic Center stepped up and also provided a sizeable donation to purchase meds.  It just continues to grow.  We are truly maxing out our checked luggage and will see what craziness ensues once we arrive at PaP.
The journey started at 1:30am this morning when I picked up Anne Peters who is traveling with me.  4 checked bags with 1 EXACTLY 50.0 lbs with a total of about 205lbs for all 4 bags in addition to the checked bag and "personal item".

 First a 2 hr drive to Birmingham then flight to Miami and eventually PaP.  Greg Roberts will be meeting us at the airport but the customs and luggage claim battle has historically been epic.
We will keep you tuned in...
Chris Rice - Go Light Your World
Found at bee mp3 search engine