This Little Light of Mine

Monday, January 24, 2011

Down but not out...

After concentrated prayer and seeking the Lord's will, I am feeling much more resolved in the steps ahead.  It has been a subtle realization in the last few days of the changes going on within my family.  The Lord is truly at work within our home and my heart has swelled with gratitude.  I am so blessed! 

I love what I refer to as "God things".  Saturday, I spent the day in CME (continuing medical education) lectures.  During the introduction of the first lecturer, the speaker acknowledged Dr. Bill Sims who was present at the conference.  As I turned around, I realized Dr. Sims was sitting directly behind me.  The "God thing" is one year prior, to almost the exact day, I had been working with Dr. Sims via phone and e-mail to obtain orthopedic supplies for the disaster relief in Haiti.  A year and a day later we meet at a random conference? 

God Thing!

The conference was followed by a meeting with Ryan Harbaugh to transfer a huge donation of previously loved soccer gear to our warehouse for future delivery to Haiti.  Woo hoo!  You can see his blog at:
http://pwt-blog.blogspot.com/




This all made for a productive day, but it even closed in an awesome way with a date night with my wonderful hubby.  It gave me much to praise for come Sunday morning. 

We are now looking at footsteps toward paperwork to bring our Melissa home.  In the meantime, I will be traveling down to share her birthday with her next month.  Stay tuned!  I hope to collect some things to take for the Apparent Project.   Keep your colorful cereal boxes and we'll let you know where to take them.  More ways to help coming...

Through God's grace and mercies!
Dr. Jenny

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anger and Frustration

"The eyes of the Lord are on me, and His ears are open to my cry...When I cry out, the Lord hears, and delivers me out of all my troubles." Psalm 34:15, 17 (NKJV)




I wrestled with whether to post tonight...few want to read about struggles of the heart and soul but I needed to get this out tonight and sort through these emotions.  Tonight I have felt some of my most despised of human emotions.  Tonight, I am angry!  Frustrated!  The human "why's" are flooding over me and drowning out my sensibilities. 

Over the last 3-4 months, attempts have been made toward the disposition of the small child who holds my heart- Melissa.   It started with the evaluation in PaP at the end of October that was to be the start of a journey to other places for medical treatments and evaluations.  But, as my hazy vision sees it tonight, it feels like the end.  In the moments of receiving a no-where diagonsis of an inoperable heart defect we stepped into a lake of quicksand.  We fight it and pull and struggle.  We yell and fuss and fight more.  Yet, we go no where.  No progress.  Just slow inevitable sinking. 

After witnessing the rally of many toward Tamaka and then incredible movement of heaven and earth to provide for her, I have felt tonight anger with myself on why haven't I been able to accomplish this for my own???  We were not in time to save Tamaka though I truly have no doubt there was nothing that could've been done faster.  To have complete medical facility and teams set up in agreement in 48hrs is a miracle.  So, will Melissa be on her deathbed before anything can be done to get her out of Haiti?  I wait and wonder.

There have been people that I love and trust offer advice but the problem remains...I can find no one to stand with us on the medical end.  To accomplish this there has to be physicians who are willing to write the letters and stand and say this little girl must come here for care.  That they will assume her care.  There isn't a specified treatment, specific goal to reach for.  Her needs are broad and undefinied.  She needs, well, everything but nothing.  I don't want to be her doctor.  Can I just be her Mommy?  I have been an advocate for other children, but feel alone as I advocate for her.  I am failing her and I know it.  It's there.  In my face as she sits in Port au Prince now looking to be moved to someone else's home from our missionaries.  (Another twist that I'll explain another time.)

Today, I have had been asked to pray or offer assistance for several children needing care in the US for a myriad of issues several of which are cardiac in nature.  And that ugly part inside me that I try to hide away says, "WAIT!  What about Melissa?  Did someone forget about her?  Who can help us?" 

It is horrible to say these things I know...I know.  She looks so good right now on the outside such that everyone forgets this little girl has essentially a 3 chambered heart and runs on 25% less oxygen that another child on her good days.  We are on borrowed time that is slipping away day by day.



I know, KNOW the Lord has this.  I KNOW he is in control.  But, I'm broken tonight.  Weak.  Lost.  I wouldn't care for myself one bit, if a frail little infant wasn't depending on me to find her way out.  In this haze of darkness my mind wonders to thoughts of "maybe this isn't God's will for us to be with her. Maybe, her new caregivers are better choices for her forever family."  My heart aches and breaks and the blur of tears in my eyes seem that they will have no end. 

But somehow, I will force myself as I close this entry to lay this down at His feet.  To praise Him in this storm.

Praise His holy name.




For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.   Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For the love of a child...

What a journey the last 4 days have been...for those who have not heard the heart breaking news, here is a posting from the journalist who has been following Tamaka:

January 17, 2011

By Rachel Turner

Tamaka Ezca passed into the arms of Jesus at 7:25 p.m. tonight, January 17, 2011, at the University of Miami Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Named “the most beautiful girl in Haiti” by nurses, her smile captured the hearts of many.

After six days of struggling to live, Tamaka’s oxygen levels dropped too low, and her enlarged heart could not work fast enough to keep her alive. “All hands were on deck,” said Dr. Ronye Emory. “We had two surgeons, one cardiologist, and a pharmacist working over her. She just couldn’t do it anymore.” Her mother’s cries filled the pediatric ward as she mourned her daughter’s death. The medical staff was stunned and sad.
Many in the US and in Haiti rallied together to try to save Tamaka’s life after cardiologist Dr. Clint Doiron and his partners from the Chadasha Foundation met her on Friday. “She has rheumatic heart disease caused by untreated strep throat,” said Dr. Doiron. “She will not live without immediate help in the US.”

That day, members of Chadasha began contacting US hospitals asking them to host Tamaka. Dr. Jenny Chapman from Huntsville, Alabama, immediately joined those trying to help Tamaka, and soon secured a place for her at Huntsville Hospital with help from colleagues.

Surgeons, EMTs, relief workers, and contractors traveled to Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital throughout the week to donate blood for Tamaka. The goal was to raise her hemoglobin level for her scheduled flight on Thursday morning.

But even with so many people reaching out to Tamaka, she didn’t make it.
This is a story that has replayed many times in Haiti, but those who reach out must not grow weary, for eventually, change will arrive.
Perhaps telling beautiful Tamaka’s story will make a difference for the next heart patient that needs to be sent immediately to the United States. Perhaps her story will grow awareness for the need of medical and surgical cardiac care in Haiti.
One thing is true, those who were touched by Tamaka’s smile will not forget. May her memory continue to spur change.

*******************************************************

Monday began as a good day.  I was busy working on plans for Tamaka's transfer while seeing patients in the office.  I had 2 computers going side by side working the issues at hand.  2 letters for the visa were completed and an e-mail at lunch and I knew that the letter from the hospital was completed as well.  The other parts were being worked well and for once it really seemed that this was coming together.  I picked up the letter from hospital and rushed home to get the letters scanned in to our colleagues in Haiti to piece together for her visa application. 

There was a little bump midday as Michelle (the missionary currently caring for my sweet Haitian daughter Melissa) informed me that Melissa was sick.  For those who are new to my blog, Melissa is a beautiful infant with Down's Syndrome and congenital heart defect that was abandoned on a previous trip.

Oh.  No.  You see through these last few days with Tamaka I have struggled with a transfer of emotions regarding the specific illness Tamaka had.  This type of infection in the heart and heart failure are likely issues for Melissa someday.  It was a glaring reminder as to the fragiligy of Melissa medical conditions.  (see previous posts for more info).  I tried to shrug it off and press forward with the tasks at hand.

Much of the remainder of the afternoon was spent in getting the letters scanned to those who are going to submit the medical visa.  Once that was accomplished, I had moved on to planning the coordination of the transport from the airport to the hospital.  News came that Tamaka's mother would not be travelling with her but a dear Haitian friend Yanick would travel with her.  This was very exciting to plan hosting this dear friend here in Huntsville for awhile. 

We sat down to a dinner of Chinese take-out and my cell phone rang.  It had been beeping and chirping all day with texts and e-mails, but it rang this time and a Haitian number was on the caller ID.  It was Greg giving the news that the Lord had released Tamaka from the bondages of our world and taken her home.  My first question to him was, "Was her Mom with her?"  This is important in my mind that she was not alone in that moment.  Blessedly, he described her mother and father were with her.  We hung up and before I could process it, I knew many had to be notified.  An hour or so later of calls and messages, I was getting the kids ready for bed.  My sweet husband mentions, "you know, that will be us in 10 years." 

WHAT?
I stopped right in my tracks...

"What do you mean?"  I asked, but I knew.  You see Melissa has a severe heart defect which we know will not allow her to grow into an adult.  That one infection could cause heart failure and the like.  He was right.  The unimaginable grief Tamaka's dear parents are suffering right now, is an inevitable grief we will face some day. 



But what my sweet husband did remind me was that the important thing was that we fill her little life with all the joy and love we can for however long we can.  Wow!  In a scenario when many wouldn't want to even open the door to this challenge and heartache some day, he was there.  Ready to show God's love.

For those who missed it, I posted an incredible song on Facebook written from the perspective of the loved one who has passed away.  It is "heaven's perspective".  It was originally written by Mandesa for a sweet patient of mine who's precious first born son passed away at birth.  It is to remind us that they are in such a better place and we will see them again in the blink of an eye.  I will share it with you below.


Through God's mercies and blessings,
Dr. Jenny

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tamaka Update: The Lord is on the move!

A little over 24 hours ago a phone call set me on a path that in all honesty I don't how prepared I was to take.  Much less take my family along with me.  Assumptions are frequently made that I have certain connections in the community to get things done and if you really knew me, you would laugh.  I'm not one to keep with the Jones and the politics around me.  Tackling the task at hand of persuading influential people to help with Tamaka was notably outside my comfort zone.  After much prayer last night, I just started calling, emailing, texting and messaging with Facebook.  With each note or email, a prayer was made that through my feeble communication attempts the Lord would accomplish something greater.  There was prayer for each word to land on the heart of just the right person to accomplish his will and plan for this.  It was comical too as most things are when the Lord uses me for his work.  Picture me sitting in bed with the laptop on my lap and cell phone lying by me.  There were conversations happening by text, phone, Facebook, Facebook chat, e-mail AND Gmail chat.  Not to mention one of my girls wanting to bend my ear about something.  That level of multitasking can ONLY come with the Lord's grace.  After many things were out in cyberspace stewing, I laid down for a little bit of rest.

I was awakened this morning by a surprising phone call from the chief medical officer for Huntsville Hospital, Dr. Robert Chappell, in response to the e-mail I had sent them.  WOW!  God was acting fast on this one.  An administrator calling me on a Saturday morning of a holiday weekend.  He explained that he would take the request to the CEO, David Spillers as well as the CFO and get back to me.  Yippee!  As that was pending, I was reached by Marshall Schreeder who offered help in contacting people.  This was a golden offer because confronting people is not my strength.  Marshall was able to contact Dr. Paul Israel who is the only local cardiologist here in Huntsville.  Dr. Israel was on board but expressed the concern we have all had. 


 
What if Tamaka gets all the way to Huntsville only for us to not have the level of resources from a cardiac standpoint that she would need?  This is the little cloud that would follow me all day...

With Dr. Israel on board at least to the extent of his resources locally, Dr. Chappell called back stating that Huntsville Hospital would be on board IF I got the Pediatric ICU doctors on board.  I'll admit that this is when I did realize the cart was in front of the proverbial horse.  In my mind, the administrative support was the "hard" part and I hadn't even gotten to assembling the medical team.  I promptly rushed up to the HH (Huntsville Hospital) pediatric ICU to discuss the issues with the physicians there.  All the way along the drive to the hospital I prayed fervently that the Lord would make me bold for this little girl.  Lord, guide my words and give me a strength to say just want needs to be said to convince these physicians to help us.  Gratefully, I was greeted with the familiar face of a mentor from med school & residency days, Dr. Barbara Richman.  I have always admired Dr. Richman and her passion for the children.  She is a strong patient advocate.  After explaining the craziness of the Tamaka's story and the needs request Dr. Richman along with her partner who was present Dr. Lyn Davidson began asking questions about Tamaka's medical condition.  This was the challenge as their questions were very reasonable regarding what possible conditions will have to be treated including infectious diseases, cardiac and more.  I struggled as I could not give much information as the workup was lacking which was in itself a large portion of the need to get Tamaka to the states.  When asking a doctor to accept a level of responsibility for a patient it isn't unreasonable that they would want to be sure that they had the appropriate resources.  All I could do was let them know that if the cardiac issues were greater than anticipated some how, some way we would find her further care.  My promise sounded hollow I knew, but I was sincere.  I was stepping on faith that my Lord would NOT leave us hanging when we were caring for the "lesser of these" in his name.  Dr. Richman agreed to help on the condition that we could find an Infectious Disease doctor to come on board as well to help.  I left the hospital with new tasks to do but a sense of hope and possibilities.  Driving home, all the plans of the day had to be shifted.  Again at the Lord's direction we were able to contact Dr. Richard Spera here locally who stepped right up agreeing to come on board with Dr. Richman.  He too expressed the overriding concern about our capabilities cardiovascularly, but he stepped up to the offer.  So the medical team had fleshed together.


Somewhere in this timeframe, my dear friend in Haiti Greg Roberts and asked that I get with Kari Smith in Nashville who had worked something similar for another Haitian patient.  He recommending that she could help with the paperwork. 

What?  Paperwork?  Huh?

In my little brain, I had convinced myself that getting this much pulled together was the hard part.  *Insert deep chuckle of God laughing at me....again.*  We (those on the stateside) would have to pull together all the letters and forms and affidavits for her visa.  ARGH!!!  Well, surely I can juggle rounding at the hospital this afternoon and running errands with my family while working this...who am I kidding?

Kari graciously responded to my frantic messages and has gotten us on the road.  So, as I sit here typing the stage is being set.  Now, we have to translate the verbal agreements to paper.  And, tackle one more hurdle acutely.  A big hurdle in mind...the immigration department requires an individual to complete a form/affidavit stating financial responsibility for Tamaka and her Mom.  Sounds easy huh?  No big deal huh?  I challenge you on this one friends.  We need someone to complete the form and submit a 1040 tax return, letter from their bank showing they're in good standing with good financial resource, and statements from employers attesting to the stability of their job.  That to me is a big deal even if I can back it up with incredible community support.  So that is what I have sent requests for.  An individual or family to feel led by God to step to the plate and do this.  They will NOT be alone for there are numerous people who will also be standing with Tamaka and her Mom.  If we cannot get someone else, it will most likely fall to my family to take this on and we will if that is where things fall.  My only struggle is that this will all have to be repeated for Melissa Hope (see previous blog notes for details) who we are trying to get here on Humanitarian Parole.  We will be signing up for the financial responsibilities of her medical issues as well.  We are leaning on the Lord's provision once again.   

That is where we stand.  Let me now mention there has also been an incredible amount of work through this by Paul Neier and others in the network toward other options and resources.  Though in this moment we will not need  these services, I am overwhelmingly appreciative to them all for the efforts that they made.  We also have hopefully a colleague in the Haitian mission work Simeon Nerelus to help with translation.

Please pray for the ongoing efforts for fulfillment of His plans...

Through God's grace and mercies abundant,
Dr. Jenny

Friday, January 14, 2011

A call for Tamaka...

As I was spooling down this evening, the Lord once again spoke and reminded me of my recent prayers to be of use again to my colleagues and family.  An brief email was followed by a call from Dr. Clint Doiron who is currently in Port au Prince setting a new pediatric cardiac surgery program in Haiti.  He met today a critically ill little girl who needs... no MUST have our help to find a place for treatment and medical stabilization here in the states.  She will not be here next week without it.  So, at 7:30pm on a Friday night of a holiday weekend I began shaking the trees for any help we could get.  The key component keeping her from getting to the US is a hospital to commit in writing to accepting her and providing her care.  I do not work in the hospital much anymore and do not have political/powerful contacts at the hospital, but we will still strive to be the Lord's hands and feet.  To bring a miracle to this precious child through the Lord's grace and mercies.  If you know anyone with hospital affiliations/connections please pass Tamaka's story along.



January 14, 2011


By Rachel Turner

Tamaka Ecza sits on a chair with her head resting on a yellow pillow in her lap. At twelve years old, she’s too weak to sit up. According to cardiologist Dr. Clint Dorion, she will die within the week if she doesn’t get help.

Tamaka wears a red dress and a beautiful smile. Her nurses say she’s the most beautiful girl in the hospital. She and her mom, Marie Charles have lived in the University of Miami Hospital in Port-au-Prince since Tuesday after leaving the countryside when Tamaka turned for the worse. Now Mrs. Charles attempts to make her fifth child as comfortable as possible until the end.

“Tamaka is in congestive heart failure,” said Dr. Dorion. “She’s been diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease and will not live without immediate help.” Tamaka experienced untreated strep throat at age seven which affected the valves of her heart making them incompetent. That lead to an infection on the heart valve and the heart sack. She will eventually need a mitral valve replaced, but for now, she just needs to be stabilized in a US hospital that has the proper equipment to make the necessary diagnosis and treatment.



“I hope to find a way to help my daughter, but I don’t even have a house to take her to,” said Mrs. Charles. “I made a tent that we sleep in now.” Even with many dedicated non-profits working in medicine, the devastated city of Port-au-Prince has no facility or equipment for the cardiac treatment that Tamaka needs.

This week could be even more difficult for Mrs. Charles than when she and her family lost their business and house one year ago in the 2010 earthquake.

“I’ve learned that I can have the world in my hands and lose it within seconds,” said Mrs. Charles. “I don’t know how to get through this yet, but I depend on God.”



For more information or to learn how you can medically assist Tamaka, please contact Dr. Clint Dorion or Chris Keylon at:

US cell: 865-300-1922

Haiti cell: 509-3-838-9922

Email: ChrisKeylon@chadasha.org

For photos visit www.scoreinternational.org/multimedia/haiti





Wednesday, January 12, 2011

365 days later...and still rambling

I have been anticipating this day for a few weeks.  For those who somehow may have missed it, today is the 1 year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti that literally brought a wavering country to its knees killing over 200,000 people and making over a million homeless.  The emotions are not as I would have thought.  Those who know me even through this blog know that Haiti infected me last year. 

No, that is not a typo.  Haiti "affected" many who served, but truly "infected" me and changed the life I led into something so much bigger.  It is now IN me - a part of who I am.  Of course, I know it may be in the form of Haiti, but what actually "infected" me was the love of Christ and new path in my life of wanting Him more.  Of trusting Him more.  My thoughts are never far from this country and those whom I consider now to be a part of my family.

My reaction to today should have been one of contemplative reflection and yet I have felt numb all day.  I still, as I type this, am not sure why.  Is it because even in its total devastation, the earthquake was just one in a string of insults to this country?  Is it because I ache so to be there everyday and yet struggle currently with what I have to offer to Haiti?  I wished I knew...

Looking back, I had a similar obsession with reading and hearing stories coming out of the country as I did after 911 and the Oklahoma City Bombings.  From the day of the earthquake and subsequent weeks, I became a bit of a stalker even of some of the blogs and websites.  Some sites I came to know through connections with Chadasha who I was helping.  Some were random findings.  It still amazes me in the midst of all the numerous NGO's (Non-government agencies) that a year later I find myself in the same circles as some of the people I followed.  Sometimes the world is so small and we really get a glimpse into the family of God. 

I had an interesting observations today that I will share for those few I haven't bored to death tonight with my lack of wisdom and insight.  A year ago, this tragedy pulled me into service of gathering medical supplies and donations.  From the initial days, the response was awe-inspiring.  If you are interested, you can go back to the first few blog entries.  Well as I went to get in my car today 365 days later, I placed a large box of donated antibiotics and miscellaneous medical supplies for Haiti that I had gathered in the last couple of weeks.  The needs continue and therefore, so will I through the Lord 's grace and mercies.

For those who are interested in the status of Melissa, I have little news to give.  I am trying to piece together an application for Humanitarian Parole which is at best a long shot.  The whole process is becoming overwhelming and daunting, but I will press on with the Lord as my guide and guardian.

I have learned over the last year of the importance of being flexible and open to the Lord's will and pathway.  This has been a hard lesson for your classic Type A personality but I have felt at peace with these new ways.  The Lord has shown himself to me time and again with blessings beyond my imagination when I focused on serving Him and released all other constraints.  As the needs in Haiti have changed and evolved, the lesson of being flexible and open to possibility heightens.  I am now praying for where he will lead me in service.  Here I am Lord...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Melissa's Christmas...not in America

As much as we would have wanted it to work out, it apparently was not in God's will for Melissa to join us this Christmas.  It did leave us with a grey cloud of melancholy as we rejoiced our Savior's birth.  As the girls donned their matching PJ's on Christmas eve, Melissa's tiny fleece PJ's sat empty.  So we will package up her letter from Santa, PJ's and such and take them or send them to her very soon we pray.  


 



Though she was not physically with us, Melissa was with us...




For those who have seen Melissa, you will understand the selection for Tweety bird for her ornament.  For those who haven't, basically this shape is very much like her from her facial features, to tiny body, to feet.

My blessings did come in the midst of our sorrow.  Melissa was being cared for an incredible lady by the name of Wilna.  This woman was my angel as she gifted us with several Skype sessions to see our sweet baby despite horrible connection issues and repeated attempts.  She even dressed our girl up in an adorable Christmas day outfit for me.  My heart was so filled with joy and gratitude.   The Lord then blessed us with an absolutely PERFECT white Christmas day.  It was beautiful.





I will now confess that in my laziness or disappointment or fear, I have not worked on any of Melissa's Visa/Humanitarian Parole/Adoption paperwork and applications over the holiday.  Even as I sit here I don't know why...

The whole process is overwhelming and again I confess that I lost faith and trust in the Haitian lawyer who had been helping us.  But, the time of rest is over and we will forge ahead with prayer for discernment in our next steps, courage to be bold and not fearful of mis-stepping.  We will keep you posted as I have come to selfishly depend on your prayers and messages. 

My next plan in our mission work will be organizing another medical mission trip prayerfully in Feb/March timeframe.  It will be here in the blink of an eye and I must buckle down and make plans.

My love to you all!
Jenny

video




My therapeutic video montage...

New Year, New Promises

So today is the beginning of a new year and WOW!  How different my life is a year later. I started 2010 with a whole lot of soul searching.  There was such a sense of incompleteness that few were able to understand.  I had 3 healthy and beautiful children, a great husband and a good career.  What possibly could be missing?

As a child, I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior.  The years following were full of doing the "right" things.  Church, volunteer work on occasion and prayer when I needed help.  In retrospect, it was a very superficial Christian life.  Then, 2010 came and things changed.  COMPLETELY.  I prayed for weeks on end for the Lord to show me what I was to do.  What HE wanted me to do. 

January 12, 2010:  Earthquake in Haiti

Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in a few short minutes.  Millions of lives were changed forever and mine was one of them.  Prayer and contemplation plunged me head first into the deep end of mission work.  The power of prayer changed from a great idea to real action and power.  Over the course of a few months I was awakened to a whole new life with Christ.  A life where I was able to let go of the "gotta-do's" and "supposed-to-do's" and follow his path for me.  When I let go of MY agenda, my life grew so much more.  Never did I think (or anyone else who knew me) I could tolerate 100+ heat with no a/c.  But I did...and loved it.  Well, didn't love the heat but learned that the Lord provides us with strengths of all kinds when we are following his will.  I learned that I could be tougher than I thought could be.

As this blog has journaled, I have come to find another home in the country of Haiti.  Amidst the devastation and overwhelming odds, I fell in love with a special group of brothers and sisters there who have taught me so much about faith and grace.  I ache to learn more...

So here we are a year later and looking now at pursuing adoption of a special little girl with an unclear future and we walk each day on the faith of the Lord's provision...

Follow along with us!

Jenny

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