Saturday, March 15, 2014

Okay. It has been way too long since my last post. Yes, I have made a lot of trips to Haiti in this time. I still struggle with getting too much glory and adoration for my work. The glory belongs only to God.

One of the things I struggle with in working in Haiti is that I really don't have to tell Haitians about Jesus. For the most part they know Him much better than you or I do. One of the lessons Haiti has taught me is that true desperation breeds a dependence on God. As Americans, we will probably never know desperation like Haitians experience. Haitians know what it means to trust God for their daily bread.

Most Haitians I encounter have a deep belief and faith in God. A God they pray to constantly to rescue them from their hunger, illness, poverty, and other dire circumstances.  What God calls me to do, is to be His healing hand, feet, purse, and heart to help answer a few Haitian's desperate prayers.

For me, the challenge is to continue to say "yes" to God's call to me serve these people for Him. Please pray that I have the strength to do this.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An October To Remember

Several months ago I wrote of learning to "Praise Him In The Storm". This past month  has given me the opportunity to learn this even more. Shortly after returning from a tough trip to Haiti, I lost my job here in the States over Haiti trips. The following week our family dog died tragically. It was a very long month. Fortunately, I have just started a new job that will still allow me to travel to Haiti, and we are slowly adjusting to life without Chloe.

With the recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti along with the hundreds of lives lost, and now a tropical storm bearing down on the island. In comparison, I have little to be complaining about. One very bright spot in all of this was that, thanks to the incredible generosity of our medical supplies donors; Food For The Poor and the Catholic Medical Mission Board, our hospital in Haiti, St' Francois de Sales was able to provide many clinics across North Haiti with needed beds, IV supplies, and fluids for the thousands of victims of the Cholera outbreak.

Due to financial constraints, I have had to postpone my planned November trip to Haiti. If the upcoming elections in Haiti go smoothly, I am planning a short trip in early December. We already have a lot on the schedule in Haiti beginning mid-January. I will write more on this soon.

Please keep Haiti in your prayers. They really have had enough trouble for one year.

Peace and grace,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Haitian Frustration

I know I promised to post something "good" next in my last post. Frankly, I am still really struggling. This last trip to Haiti really kicked me. Poverty and tragedy in Haiti are growing exponentially worse. I encountered more hurt and hungry people this trip than any other trip. What is even more frustrating is the appearance of so many groups using Haiti's woes for their own self advancement.

It is really frustrating to see a lot of the large charities that are so well funded, do so little to really help in the country. It seems they focus more on fund raising than really using those funds well. For example, it sounds so good to send your money to groups saying they are building houses - When in reality, no significant housing is being built as the land ownership is in dispute due to the loss of records in the earthquake.

I get updates from one group that supports a very good hospital in North Haiti. I was shocked to hear that their support is several thousand dollars a day. While said hospital is a very good hospital, it is also one of the most expensive hospitals in the country for Haitians to access. I know of two families that have had to pull their children out of school in order to pay the fees.

Please, please support sustainable activities in Haiti. Just throwing money at a problem is not a long term solution. The way I view A Healthier Haiti's activities is that if we can't minimize our involvement to the role of assisting with oversight in five years, we have failed. Far too may of the NGO's in Haiti have been there for twenty or more years. They are the ones you see giving food away from the backs of trucks from time to time, or putting up an orphanage here and there. I'm not sure how much these activities really helps Haiti. If anything, they seem to foster greater dependence. A lot of times it seems their own existence is more of their objective than really helping the country.

Haiti desperately needs your help. I propose the best way that you can help is to find an organization that is working to support and grow existing Haitian run organizations, with the stated objective of sustainability. These will be grassroots organizations, not ones seeking millions of dollars or highlighted in news and fund raising stories. Having spent most of this year in Haiti, I can attest that these are the groups really making a difference in the country.

If you are seeking a specific area to support, whether it be education, foster care, nutrition, micro loans, or health care, please shoot me an email. I would be glad to tell you about groups doing really good work in each of these areas.

Peace and grace,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I will post a good blog in a few days.

Right now, I am spending time with my family and trying to regroup from the last month in Haiti. This was one of my harder trips there. Satan is strong and devious. He uses my pride, fatigue, fear, impatience and other weaknesses to steer me away from God's purpose.

I have really been in the pits since returning home. A lot of memories from the month are surfacing. Tragedy, trauma, desperation, and poverty that no one should have to endure. Yet Haitian people seem to face these as a routine part of their life. The face of the wife who's husband had been in a coma for a few days at home keeps surfacing. Out of sheer desperation, penniless, she finally brought him to our emergency room.

Hard stuff. The spiritual warfare in Haiti is more palpable than ever. Please pray for Haiti.

In His grace,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Boy In Pink Tennis Shoes - and other snapshots from Haiti

I arrived home last night from a great month in Haiti. I can honestly say that I "left everything I had on the field" on this trip. We finished surgeries very late Friday evening, and I was at the airport in Haiti at 6:00 am Saturday morning. Memories from this trip are kind of cloudy due to the length of the trip along with sort of an emotional protection. I saw so many things that no human being should have to endure on this trip it is mind boggling.

Some of the memories include:

The flight attendant on the Haiti to Turks and Caicos flight announcing "in the likely event you need a life preserver..." Granted, it was one of those things lost in translation, it still made me pause. I like the definition of faith that it means willingly placing ourselves in situations that are so desperate, only God can provide the way out. Living a life of true faith means it is very likely we will need the life preserver.

Sitting outside the consultation room one day, I watched a teenage boy walk by. Neat and clean, chatting happily with his friends - Wearing pink and white Nike running shoes. Obviously shoes intended for the other gender, but cherished and worn without shame by this good looking kid. It's funny how our priorities are changed by our circumstances.

One of the teachers at the secondary school at the parish, Williams, had asked me to meet with him while in Haiti. At one point early in the trip Williams had brought his father in law into our ER after mistaking him for a burglar one night and beating him severely with a club. As dark as the nights are in Haiti, this type of thing is a pretty frequent occurrence. I was finally able to meet with Williams, and heard a great proposal to restart a computer training program at the school. They had two old computers (for over 200 students) that are now beyond repair. They are hoping for a donation of 4 or 5 computers to restart the program. I will write more on this later.

A man came to us in March requesting a hernia repair. He even went ahead and paid in advance for the surgery. No surgeons have been willing to do the repair due to the size of the hernia - Think small watermelon. God called Dr. Jo V J. Dignadice to come to Haiti for a couple of weeks. She took a look at the patient and said "no problem". After opening up the patient she found several feet of bowel herniated, and was able to successfully repair the hernia during a 3 hour procedure. She even "happened" to bring along some surgical mesh, which allowed the surgery to even be possible. The patient is doing well. Due to the number of cases, we had doubled up tables in the OR to speed things along before we started this case. This allowed us to complete all of our scheduled general anesthesia cases for the week.

It has taken me a week to recover from last Sunday. I made 3 separate trips in the ambulance with critically injured accident victims. As I pulled into the government hospital with the second patient, I was stunned to see someone wheeling out a corpse, wrapped in blue plastic, on a 2 wheel hand cart. The patient I was delivering was a 6 year old little boy that had been hit and then run over by a truck. With a fractured arm and hip, and missing a lot of skin and muscle over his buttocks as well, he needed surgery fast. As usual, the family did not have the funds to pay for the surgery. Your support allowed me to assist them financially in getting him registered, medicated, and scheduled for surgery. Unfortunately, the x-ray department had decided to close so he would have to wait until Monday morning for his surgery. He was placed in a bed next to a naked, horribly injured, dead man. When I returned with the next patient 4 hours later, neither he nor the dead man had been moved. There were so many traumas there Sunday night, my shoes were sticky from wading through all the mixture of blood when I walked out.

On Thursday evening, while sitting on our hospital steps, a middle aged Haitian man stopped to visit. He had some small tourist boxes that he was trying to sell. As he explained to me that he had to sell some to get some food for his family - I believed him - It killed me to tell him that I had no money. As I said I left everything on the field this trip. I had exactly enough cash left to purchase my plane ticket on Saturday. I wish I could tell you that I acted on faith, bought some of his boxes, and helped him feed his family that day. I didn't. I was so emotionally spent that I couldn't imagine risking not being able to not going home.

I am praying for this kind of faith. The kind of faith that tells Jo V and her sister to travel to Haiti for reasons they don't understand, and with barely enough funds to even get there. Trusting God to get them home.

The flight attendant then went into the next part of her spiel, saying "in the likely event you need oxygen...". God, help me to live life in such a way that I will need you to preserve me daily and provide the very air I breathe.

Peace and grace,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Good week

As I held a newborn baby in my arms on Thursday, the unfairness of life really struck home. Here lay a beautiful little child, innocent, but simply by being born where she was, destined to a life far different than that of the children of you an me. Instead of a life of pure luxury, this child will soon face a daily quest just for a meal, travel consisting of riding in the back of trucks packed in like cattle, having to bathe in and drink unsanitary water, and living in a level of poverty that no American can comprehend. As my tears fell on this beautiful little girl, I could only smile through them and pray that God will somehow make life different in Haiti, if only for this one little girl.

We had a very busy week. Surgeries daily. As in the past the Haitian health ministry is working with us in providing our nurse anesthetists for our surgeries. Only God could foster the level of cooperation we have achieved with them. One of the coolest parts of the week was when we held a pediatric vaccination clinic on Wednesday at our hospital. It too was supported by the Ministry of Health. The stoic looks on the kid's faces as they received their immunizations was priceless. 

We are anticipating another busy week ahead. A general surgeon arrives Monday evening for a 10 day stay. She will give Dr. Visani, our visiting Urologist, some much needed relief, as well as allow us to operate on 2 or 3 additional patients each day.

It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the "big picture" when working in Haiti. When holding the little baby, by focusing on her beauty, and the beauty of her creation, the harshness of the reality of her life ahead faded for a moment. I have to tell myself daily - One Haitian at a time. If I can just share God's love with that one, it will have been a good day.

Peace and grace,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heartbroken For Haiti

I so wish that I was a good enough writer to be able to convey "real Haiti" for you. I recently read that 26,000 children die every day from malnutrition and treatable diseases. We have had our share of these and other senseless deaths in Haiti this week.

I was called to the hospital during mass this morning to help with 2 people. One had experienced severe head and chest trauma 3 days earlier. His wife had not brought him to a hospital because she had no money. At first, she even refused the transport of his comatose body due the government hospital where at least x-rays could be taken. When assured that there would be no charge, and assistance provided with the hospital costs, you could literally see her relax with relief.

The other patient, a young woman in her late twenties, had died inexplicably earlier this morning. It was definitely one of those bizarre cases, where things just didn't feel right. The fact that no one was wailing really confused me along with the fact that even though I could find no pulse, or other sign of life, her body never grew cold as is normal. The arrival of a bokor in the room - voodoo doctor - further complicated the situation. Suspecting poisoning, I suggested that we go ahead and run a full code on her. The family refused any treatments. The absence of wailing was explained to me that it is used to send away the spirit. In this case, they needed the spirit to remain. The bokor's presence was to do other things to insure the spirit remained in the body. Apparently, with the family's consent, this was a case of zombification.

Driving back from the hospital after delivering the first patient, I was struck with a heartbreak that I haven't felt here in a while. In other words, I lost it for a little while. Picturing the wife of the victim sitting at home for almost 3 days, watching her comatose husband, praying he would at least utter a word. Then, out of utter desperation, bringing him to the hospital, knowing she didn't have the money to pay for his care. The look of sheer desperation on her face, later turned to one of relief and gratitude would touch the hardest of hearts.

Sure, you see things everyday here that would be seen as the worst of tragedies at home. I guess the culmination of it all really hit me again this morning. It helps me understand why God has me in Haiti. A country with over 9 million people without even a functioning CAT scan machine, oncology unit, on and on the list could go. Unfortunately, the most basic of medical care imaginable is beyond most of these 9 million people's reach.

I pray that somehow God will break all of our hearts, for people just like you and me, who have to exisit in these conditions.

Peace and grace,