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,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Haiti Health

Very busy, but very productive days in Haiti. With the arrival of Dr. Visani last weekend, our surgical suite has been running full blast. This involves seeing at least 50 patients a day for surgical consults, then scheduling the appropriate ones for their surgery. In my free time, I also keep the OR supplied with all of the medications, instruments, and supplies needed for the many cases Sandro is doing. When needed, I also go in to the OR and act as First Assistant on cases where he needs an extra set of hands. Very cool, but very time consuming with everything else going on. It was hilarious the first time Sandro sent Joseph the translator out to tell me "Randy,Dr. Sandro needs an extra set of hands". The look on Joseph's face told me that he had no idea how we were going to literally make that happen!

In addition to our busy surgery days, one of our hospital doctors is currently out on medical leave. This means that during the night, our on-call doctor is many miles away. As a result, 4 or 5 times a night I get a knock on my door and hear "Randy, l'hopital", meaning there is a patient the nurses need help with. Typically it is an uncomplicated delivery, but way too often it is a critically ill patient needing transport to a larger hospital. This is when I get to put on my ambulance driver name tag. A lot of those trips this week. Fortunately, the Haitian doctor's maternity leave, unknowingly, coincided with my visit here. She is scheduled to return before I leave. I love seeing God take care of things like this.

The hemophilia program is ready to get started in a big way. We have over 10 patients identified at this point. We are currently submitting proposals for the funding of this program to pharmaceutical companies, as the scope and costs for this program are much greater than our current fund raising can support.

I met with the staff at the Shada clinic last week. They are willing to continue working in the clinic for free for a couple of months with the agreement that I will try and raise the support to pay them in addition to Dr. Jeanty when I return home the end of the month.

A common view out my exam room door
One of the most faith inspiring aspects of working in Haiti is watching how God opens the right doors and constantly demonstrates His power. We have had several patients needing surgeries for things that outside of Dr. Visani's scope of expertise. I got an email from a General Surgeon I met at the MMI meeting in August yesterday telling me that she had found a very cheap plane ticket, and would like to come to Haiti on the 20th and help until the end of the month. Problem solved in a way that only God could solve it.

Peace and grace,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where's God?

A young friend of mine who visited Haiti this summer recently blogged about his visit and work here. In his writing, he alluded to the difficulty he had in "seeing God" in Haiti. The greed, violence, poverty, corruption, and filth can indeed make it hard to find God here. Perhaps it is in this "Godlessness" that Haiti cries out the loudest. As Jesus taught and lived, those who are healthy don't need the Doctor. I am convicted that Haiti is a county we are called to serve as Christians.

I am currently re-reading the book "Radical" by David Platt. It presents the very convincing argument that to remain safe, and comfortably living our American dream, is probably about as far  from Christianity as one can be. Radical? Yes. In reading the gospels and figuring out how to really live them out, we are called to a radically different life than those around us.

Saying "yes" to God is not easy. At times, it is like recovering from addiction in that it calls for living minute to minute in continuing surrender. My will is so strong. My life at home can be so comfortable. Security is so very alluring. God calls me to surrender all to Him. Am I really willing to give it all up for Him? When I look at the absence of God in places like Haiti, can I live knowing that this blood will be on my hands if I don't?

Peace and grace,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Busy Days

I am back in the swing of things in Haiti. The days are very busy doing clinic work and distributing medical supplies. I spent the day yesterday assisting a group of visiting physicians train Haitian doctors and nurses how to perform no scalpel vasectomies. I think I have it down and will be glad to try it on anyone when I return home!

Due to this training, I had to postpone the Port au Prince trip to next week. Have been in communications with St. Damien's Hospital there regarding meeting with their hemophilia patients during the visit next week. They have lost contact with several of the following the earthquake. Hopefully they have just been displaced.

I worked with Shada clinic on Wednesday. I was sad to learn the the funds we raised to open the clinic an additional day each week, only covered the doctor's fee. The staff of 4 is not happy about working another day each week for free. We really need to raise an additional $300 each month to pay the staff. I know God will use his people to allow this to happen.

I am now off to the airport to pick up Dr. Visani. Everyone is very excited about his return. He purposely retire from his practice in the States at the age of 50 to begin doing medical mission work. Now at 67, he is a wealth of knowledge, stories, and love. It will be good to see Sandro again.

Peace and grace,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Tale Of Two Countries

Shortly after entering Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, you are greeted by views like the photo to the left. Nearby is a new Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Higher end stores than even those seen in Atlanta can be found in malls throughout the city. This bustling cosmopolitan city is really amazing. My stay there was only enhanced by my hosts, the Garcia family.

Upon crossing the border into Haiti, you are immediately greeted by the scene in the photo to the right. People bathing and doing their laundry in the river. This scene is repeated with each river you cross throughout the country.  Everywhere you look in Haiti, you are reminded of the soul grinding poverty.

It is really unexplainable how two countries so close and similar can be so totally opposite. The only conclusion I can draw is in how their separate governments have chosen to govern their countries over the decades. The bottom line is that Haiti, like many impoverished third world countries, desperately needs your prayers.

It is very good to be back and see my Haitian friends. For those who don't know, I live with a Haitian priest here in Cap Haitien, Haiti when I am here working. A true cultural immersion experience. I thought it was hot in Atlanta, but nothing could have prepared me for Haiti in August. Stifling, oppressive, breath taking heat. Hopefully rain will come soon and cool things off.

In spite of minor annoyances, I feel so blessed to be able to be here to assist with health care. We are making fantastic progress with the hemophilia program, looking forward to good clinic work this week, followed by the return of Dr.Visani who will perform urological surgeries here for the remainder of September.

Peace and grace,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Haiti Hemophilia Sante - Progress

The past 2 days in Santo Domingo have been very productive. Wednesday evening leaders of the Dominican Republic hemophilia foundation gathered at the home I am staying at to tell me about the foundation. I heard of its birth and progress over the past 15 years. It was founded by the wife of my host family, Senora Garcia. Her son, Damaso Jr. has hemophilia and the family has dedicated themselves to helping improve the lives of their fellow countrymen who also have hemophilia. A truly inspiring and lovely family and group of people.

Yesterday we spent the day at a pediatric hospital. They have a dedicated hemophilia program complete with a stand alone clinic. In visiting with Dr. Rosa Nieves, also a member of the foundation, she generously offered to allow us to bring Haitian that with suspected hemophilia to her clinic free of charge, so they can be tested. We will also bring along their Haitian doctors so they may observe and eventually replicate the process in Haiti.

We also were able to locate a Haitian pediatrician in Port Au Prince who is currently following a few hemophilia patients. They have never actually been tested though due to lack of testing equipment in Haiti. Our current plan is to bring these patients, along with two others we are now aware of, back to Santo Domingo on 19 September so that they may attend the clinic on Monday the 20th.

We are going to be developing and training community health nurses over the next 4 weeks who can then continue family education, monitor patients for bleeds, and deliver medication as needed. We are also going to establish clinic sites in Haiti that the patients will visit on a monthly or every other month basis to be checked by the doctors. Our Haitian physicians will accompany the patients to the clinic in September for further training in hemophilia care.

A lot to do in a little time, but I am very excited about the rapid progress of this program. I will be seeking one of the families of the Haitian hemophilia patients that are able and willing to assume a directors role. They will then partner with the doctors to ensure the program's continuance. At that time I will move into more of an advisory and supportive role.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On The Road Again...

Leaving for Haiti in the morning with a lot of mixed emotions. I am really excited to see my friends in Haiti and continue helping with the projects we have underway. At the same time, it is a tough time to leave my family. We've had a lot of external turmoil lately and it is hard to leave with so many emotions still flowing. God will provide and protect.

It seems like I've gotten away from the primary purpose of this mission over the past couple of months. This really is simply about saying yes to God, and attempting to submit to His will for my life. Period. It is all for His glory by blessing others with His love. I would really appreciate your prayers for this.

I am so blessed to be able to travel to Haiti and show God's love to the Haitian people. I had a very good meeting with Medical Ministry International last weekend. It looks like I will be joining them when I return form Haiti in order to make this mission more permanent. I will still need to do my own fund raising, but they will be able to provide much needed structure and oversight. They also will provide a regular supply of medical teams, which will be a huge blessing for the people of Haiti.

I recently posted a change in my donation address. Campus Church did not feel that they could act as a long term mission board. I sincerely appreciate their accepting my donations for the length of time that they did. Community Church has replaced them for the moment, but this will most likely change as things progress with MMI. The "All Things Are Possible" campaign is going well. We are well over a fourth of the way to our goal of 400 donors of $10 a month.

I can't thank each of you enough for the support and encouragement you provide. I would encourage everyone to take a look at how they can personally make a difference for God in the world. Especially right now, please join me in praying for the people of Pakistan.

Peace and grace,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Haiti - The Year Ahead

After six months in Haiti it is a good time to look ahead with a clear focus on how we can best help the people in Haiti over the next year. The time in Haiti has provided a great look at the areas that most need help, some are "helpable" others aren't. I was recently asked to write an article for a hemophilia publication here in the States. It was a really good exercise to review the experiences I've been through in Haiti as it helped provide a vision for the work ahead.

Over the next year we will continue working with L'hopital St. Francois de Sales in bringing in foreign surgeons to supplement the quantity and quality of surgical services offered in Haiti. A key focus of this task will be in continuing to provide training opportunities for Haitian residents and students by having them continue to work alongside our visiting surgeons in the operating room.

We will expand the number of mobile medical clinics we coordinate over the next year. I am meeting with Medical Ministries International in Dallas later this month as part of this focus. They will provide medical teams based on a schedule I provide them if we decide to partner together. I will also be working with Haiti Hospital appeal and a mobile maternity/pediatric medical clinic bus they are bringing in to Haiti.

The third focus will be on the community of Shada. This focus will primarily be in the form of financial support. The clinic is very well established, and expertly run by a dear Haitian lady named Madame Bwa. However, it is underfunded. They are currently only able to afford a doctor 1 day a week to provide care for a huge population. We are currently in the process of expanding this to two days a week. It only costs $1,800 a year to hire a doctor and open the clinic each additional day a week. Our goal is to be able to support 2 added days each week. Long term, we plan to help this community in education and micro-industry as well.

Our final focus over the next year will be in the development of a national hemophilia patient registry and treatment program. Haiti is perhaps the last country in the world with such a program. While statistics show that there should be around a thousand patients with hemophilia in Haiti; we only know of one at this time. This program will help save the lives of the other 999. We are working with Laurie Kelley and her Save One Life foundation in this effort. Dr. Eugene Maklin, a wonderful Haitian physician, is our Haitian partner in this focus.

As you can see we have a lot of work going on in Haiti. The best thing about all the work is that each area includes, and contributes to the growth of, Haitian professionals. Ideally. our involvement will be able to decrease as theirs increases over the next few years, allowing us to move on to other areas of need in the country.

Our current "All Things Are Possible" campaign is going very well. We are over one fourth of the way to our goal of having 400 - $10 monthly donations. Mary Morgan Gentry recently held a very successful yard sale in Nashville to support this mission - All proceeds from this are going to the Shada clinic. Tigger Gore and my son Chris are planning another yard sale in the Atlanta area in September, along with a benefit dinner and silent auction in October.

How can you help? Please pray for Haiti along with all the people helping there. For that matter, pray for the poor all over the world. Until you've ministered to people in a true third world country, you have no idea how truly blessed you are. Other ways: Be a part of the All Things Are Possible campaign. Tell your company or foundation about our work in order to obtain matching donor funds. Donate silent auction items for our benefit dinner in October. Please email me at ramoo76@gmail.com for details or to participate in any of these.

God has been so amazing in how He has helped us help the Haitian people. He has recently provided me with a very good job in Atlanta that is very understanding about me working in Haiti. While they are allowing me one month off every quarter to work in Haiti; it is also allowing me to completely support myself. This means all donated funds now go directly to the work in Haiti. We are also taking steps to formalize A Healthier Haiti and make it a stand alone organization. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your prayers, encouragement, and support over the past six months. It has been an incredible learning experience. I hope you join in our excitement about our areas of focus for the next year.

Grace and peace,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Story Of Shada

Immediately after you cross the bridge out of Cap Haitien, Haiti, on the right is the community named Shada, home to several thousand Haitians. It is a slum beyond the imagination of someone who has never been there. The closest I have seen in Haiti is the famous Cite Soleil. in Port Au Prince. The biggest difference is that where Cite Soleil has charities providing medical care, orphan resources, and schools - Shada has practically none of these.

It does have a small medical clinic that is only open one day a week due to limited funding. The "playground" is next to the water. It consists of a hard packed dirt lot, with open sewer streaming through draining into the adjacent water front. The huts are packed so tightly together you're forced to turn sideways to navigate the narrow paths - Again streaming with open sewage.

A request was recently sent out for additional funding for the clinic to pay a doctor in order to open a second day of the week. The residents of Shada have no money. They have to wait for the free clinic to open to take a sick child in for care, even if it means waiting 5 or 6 days for the next clinic day. The days I worked there, I saw several children under 2 diagnosed with Tuberculosis, but not receiving treatment due to financial constraints.

The clinic at Shada has been run by a midwife, Madame Bwa, for over 30 years (She is one of my heroes). Her adult sons now work in the clinic with her helping register patients, triaging, and keeping the patient flow moving. The clinic is open until it runs out of medications for the day. This past Wednesday, although there were over 150 patients waiting to be seen, only 47 could be treated due to that's all the medications that were available.

The clinic is currently in need of a good supply of medications. Funding to allow it to be open at least 3 days a week. An area for a laboratory along with basic lab equipment. Perhaps most needed, additional space for patient waiting, treatment, and examinations. Two adjacent rooms are currently available for purchase for $4,000 US.

I plan to continue taking medical teams here for mobile clinics when possible. The coolest thing about Shada clinic is that it really is Haitian people administering the clinic and providing the care. They just don't have the material or economic resources to provide the needed care for their community due to the extreme impoverished state of the community. When I wrote about the playground above, I didn't write about the children playing on it. Without exception, they all have the red hair and pot bellies that come with severe malnutrition. Yet still they were having a blast playing football - With a mango.

Hopefully you will decide to be a part of the "All Things Are Possible" campaign. We are seeking 400 people willing to commit to donating at least $10 a month for the next year. Your donation will make a huge difference for places in Haiti like Shada. I have committed to helping sponsor a second doctor with a portion of your donations. If you would like to make a specific donation to help expand the clinic, open a school, or join the micro-loan program in Shada, this can be arranged as well.

Please send your donations to:
Campus Church
Attn: Amy Freeman
1525 Indian Trail Road
Norcross, GA 30093
Note: Randy Moore - Haiti Mission Fund

Peace and grace,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All Things Are Possible

We've all seen the stories in the news marking the six month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. The reality for the Haitian people is really worse than any news story or a photo can portray. Not only are so many still living daily with unbelievable physical losses; the deeper emotional losses will leave lifelong scars for so many.

My wife and I visited Passion City Church this past Sunday night here in Atlanta. As we sang "I believe in miracles... With God, all things are possible", I was struck with the significance of this for Haiti. He really is this country's only hope. In retrospect, I was also impacted by these words on a much more personal level. Upon my recent return home, I have gone to work for a home health company here in Atlanta in an attempt to help provide some of my own support for the work in Haiti. Noble? Perhaps. A sign of faith in God and His provision? I'm not so sure.

I have often lamented that by spending so much time in Haiti, I am unable to devote very much attention to the dreaded part of this mission - Fund raising. I am trying so hard to have the mindset that instead of asking for money, it is giving others the opportunity to help reach people until they are physically able to go themselves. Being home for a few weeks should be the opportune time to devote myself to this facet of my mission. Instead, I am working for enough to support the here and now.

Wrong road Randy! With God, all things are possible, and yes, I do believe in miracles. As we visited Community Church Sunday morning, our family was overwhelmed by their love, their prayers, and their incredibly generous support. For me it was a much needed slap upside the head from God saying "I will continue to take care of you", just follow Me. Or, keep saying yes.

I am praying that God will provide 400 people that will commit to supporting this work in Haiti with a $10 donation each month. While I would love to have you as part of this group, the impact it you will have on Haiti will be immeasurable. I will be providing frequent progress updates on this. If you or your company would like to act as five or ten donors, we won't refuse it!

Please email me at ramoo76@gmail.com or comment below with your commitment, Then send your donation each month to:
Campus Church
Attn: Amy Freeman
1525 Indian Trail Road
Norcross, GA 30093
Note - Randy Moore Haiti Mission Fund

Thank you in advance for your prayers for the continuation of this work as well as for your support.

Peace and grace,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Haitian Memories

While at an ice cream social tonight, a friend asked what was the most memorable event for me in Haiti this past trip. After a moment's thought, I told him about the motorcycle accident victims we transported to the government hospital, and one of the victims subsequent death due to poor care.

After leaving, anther memory came to mind. Probably deeper and more troubling as it is one of those issues in Haiti, or in our world, that no one will ever be able to really fix. On the Saturday evening before I left a wedding was held at the St. Francois Parish. This is very unusual as most union in Haiti are simply declared by the couple as they move in together and become husband and wife.

Watching the beautiful bride, the families, along with the wedding party, it was so incongruous with everything else Haiti throws at you. It had a definite sense of beauty and normalcy to it. As we watched the wedding party all load up in one vehicle - That would make repeated trips to transport the remaining family, Burton pointed out our laundress and the daughter of our cook. They had climbed up on a pile of shipping pallets in order to watch the pretty girls in their dresses.

No photograph could ever capture the mix of emotions written so plainly on their faces. Wonder. Awe. Hope. You could literally see the dreams in their faces along with the realization that those dreams would most likely never be fulfilled.

For some reason this moment really impacted me. The moment reminded me that there are unfair things in Haiti, in our world for that matter, that neither I nor any other human will ever be able to fix. It is really easy to get spread thin in Haiti with such significant problems practically everywhere you turn. I am very committed to focusing on one or two projects going forward and then doing them to the best of my ability.

Helping provide surgical and mobile medical teams in Haiti will remain at the top of the list as will the development of a hemophilia patient registry and treatment program. I am praying hard that God will open the needed doors for these projects to go well and that they are in line with His will.

In the short term, I am starting a nursing job tomorrow here in Atlanta in an effort to get my finances at home in better order. I am currently planning on returning to Haiti around the middle of August. Again, like the plans above, I am putting all of this in God's hands. It seems the more I plan and make my own strategies, the more He does to remind me that He is in control and will guide me if I allow Him. It really is still all about just saying "yes" to him.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finding God

In my last blog I mentioned all the reading time there is in Haiti. Last weekend a group of were together when one of the UN Commanders told a Swiss nurse, you Swiss have watches; Haitians have time. This is so incredibly true. Burton and I both loved the quote and have repeated it often during the week. When waiting hours for an appointment, sitting in traffic waiting on a bus to load - Or repair an axle, or waiting for bedtime from 4:00 in the afternoon on.

In Haiti you have all the time you need. One day this week I started to apologize for it being such a slow day, when the Spirit reminded me of all He had done through us that day. I instead listed those in our conversation. We were both struck by how God is able to work through us, even when we don't realize it is happening; or in the many small things we as humans tend to blow right by.

I have read several good books this trip. All very convicting. Perhaps the best has been Radical by David Platt. As I struggle with balancing working at home with my ever increasing time commitments in Haiti, this book speaks straight to my heart. If you get the chance to read it, I suspect it will do the same for you. Burton brought it with him, and it has provided us with hours of spiritual discussion material as we discussed it and challenged each other with thoughts from it.

One of the most convicting parts in it for me was where it points out that most of our churches or denominations have some kind of checklist for a "plan of salvation". Most are 4 or 5 points long depending on what type you attend. He then made the point that the true plan is to sacrifice all you own for the poor; hate your mother, father, wife and children; and pick up your cross, dying to yourself daily, and follow Him.

This seems to really be what being a disciple of Christ and living a Spirit filled life are all about. It seems so easy to get hung up on our various theologies, that it is easy to lose sight of the simplicity, and the sacrifice, required to be a true follower of Jesus. For me, I have spent way too much of my life following church instead of Christ.

From this I repent.

Peace and grace,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday Night In Haiti

A nice quiet week in Haiti. Burton Wood is our only guest this week. He has gotten to work with the Haitian doctors in our hospital's outpatient clinic. Learning first hand about tropical medicine, along with how to see and treat 10 patients an hour! Tomorrow we return to the Shada clinic together to work help with their day clinic. This is the clinic I wrote about last week located in a slum that would remind you of Cite Soleil on a smaller scale. We will then spend Thursday and Friday back at our clinic seeing patients. It was really cool to share in Burton's joy when he found out how well he had done on his MCAT this afternoon. Burton will be a very good doctor.

I received really sad news today about one of the orphans that have kind of found their way under my care. Jean P., "My Little Princess" found me in January and kind of latched on. She is a fifteen year old little girl, the same age as my youngest daughter at home, with an incredibly tragic history. We have been able to get her enrolled in school this Spring, along with helping her support herself by giving her postcards to sell in the American hotels and with food and clothes money when needed. Apparently during my time at home in May the food and money ran out. She resorted to selling her little body in order to buy food. She is now expecting a child. I can't imagine the future in store for this precious child, now becoming a mother way before her time. I do know that God has a plan for her and that He will not fail.

The recognition of His power and purpose are really all that allows things, that make absolutely no sense when viewed from human eyes, to make sense - Or at least to be at some kind of peace with. Much of working in Haiti requires this kind of attitude and faith. Otherwise, a person could go nuts questioning the injustices and human failings.

God is good. He has plans for each one of us. Really our biggest job is to go out and spread His Word and bring Him glory. Oh yeah, and sacrifice all of our stuff to help the poor, forsake our families, and die to ourselves every day. Not a bad price when you consider the reward, spending an eternity marveling at His glory.

In Haiti, you have a lot of time. I spend a lot of it reading books and the Bible. This is what many of them tell me. In reality, this is all a tough concept to grasp - A tough road to walk. Maybe that's why the road is so narrow. Or, perhaps the only way is to really die to myself and let His Spirit consume me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The week in Haiti

It has been a very good week in Haiti. Any week in Haiti seems to contain a lot of unexpected challenges, but it is always so inspiring to watch God solve the problems, or provide comfort in tragedy.

We have had an unusually large amount of miscarriages with complications this week. It is no coincidence that we also had a fantastic ob/gyn, Dr. Padilla here this week as well. He was able to provide the needed care, helping to prevent further complications for the women.

We have also had a group of six wonderful people visiting this week from St. Francois' sister parish, St. Margaret's in Michigan. They were really fun to work with and provide so much desperately needed support for the parish here in Haiti. They have been visiting here for many years as well to assist in the work. This trip they bought the welcome news that they had found sister parishes for two other Catholic parishes nearby. This was a very special group of people to work with.

On Friday, Burton, Dr. Maklin, and I traveled to Jaquzyel to visit Mitch - The only currently diagnosed hemophilia patient in Haiti. We were able to provide him with a wheelchair and cell phone during our visit. Due to multiple knee bleeds, surgery, and being misdiagnosed, Mitch is unable to walk. He was having to be transported to school by being carried or on a bicycle. He was thrilled with his "new" chair. The cell phone will allow his Aunt to notify us when he has a bleeding episode so that we can get medicine to him in a timely manner.

Starting the hemophilia program here will make such an incredible impact on so many lives. Again, it amazes me how everything always seems to just "fall in place" here in Haiti. Laurie Kelley and her organization, Save One Life, will end up helping save many lives by their support of this program.

Grace and peace,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Two Week Mark

It is very easy to lose track of the days in Haiti. With the constant projects, commitments, sick people relying on you, clinic days in various communities, and everything else going on, it is so easy to lose track of when you came and when you are going. I can always sense when I'm reaching the two week mark though based on fatigue and how I start plotting strategies to use a rifle to take out the air horns on the large trucks passing by during the night. For some reason, the drivers of these trucks feel it is essential to keep Haiti awake by blowing the air horns constantly as they fly down the potholed filled highway under my window. Enough whining. Sleep may be way overrated when all is said and done anyway.

Given the poverty of the areas we have done clinics in this week, to even worry about my own comfort seems incredibly selfish. Yesterday we worked in a community named Shada. Even walking the half mile or so back to the building the clinic is located in, you realize you are amongst a people that are barely existing. The pathways between the hovels so narrow we were often forced to turn sideways to pass through. Ignoring the dark, odorous "water" we had to walk through the entire way. TB is rampant, even amongst the very young. As I held a little 3 or 4 year old girl on my lap at one point during the day and felt the familiar rattling cough in her lungs, I was so so saddened by her prospects even should she recover. I've never seen Slumdog Millionaire, the OB/GYN that was with me said he felt as if we were in the movie.

As I read Proverbs 16 last night and read the verse: "Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud". I was really struck bu the significance of the work being done by so many here in Haiti. I work closely with a very good Haitian physician that has dedicated his life to serving the poor. He spends each day of the week traveling to a different clinic caring for these poorest of the poor. As I accompany him at some of these clinics, I am moved to tears at his dedication and commitment to sacrifice his own possible gains simply to help serve his fellow countrymen. People like Eugene inspire me and others who work with him to continue on.

Burton Wood is here spending a couple of weeks working as an intern. He is a Pre-med student from Lipscomb University that felt a call to come visit Haiti. It is really special being able to watch God change Burton's life each day by the tragedies and people he is encountering as he works with us in our clinics. I am convinced that he will be a different and better doctor someday because of what he has experienced here in
Haiti. Dr. Padillo, the OB/GYN visiting from California, came to me earlier this morning sharing how easily "Haiti has gotten under his skin". In a good way. He talked of how you read about things like this, but until you experience it you have no idea what it is really like. Much like the people who visit then return home. A common thing I hear from them is that they have a really difficult time explaining to friends and family what Haiti is like. I think it is because those who have never been here have no frame of reference for comprehending the utter desperation that is so prevalent here. Soon after her arrival, Laurie Kelley shared that even though she had spent almost twenty years working in developing third world countries, nothing could have prepared her for Haiti. It really is what you read, hear about, and more.

Please continue praying for everyone working here. I urge you to please find a group doing work here that you feels deserves support and begin supporting them financially. Everyone I talk with working here speaks of how difficult it is to raise funds. Many are leaving because of this. At our very poorest, we are so incredibly blessed in comparison to the people here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Living in two worlds

Returning to Haiti is beginning to feel like going home. I think when you pour your heart out somewhere, it is hard not to become very attached to a people and a place. I count the days until my wife can be with me here, then life will be complete.

It has been a very good week. It has been a very busy week! Being the ambulance driver, the on call resource for the residents that staff our ER at night, and distributing medications across North Haiti can keep a person very busy. I was again reminded of how easily death is accepted here this week after picking up two severely injured motorcycle accident victims and transporting them to the nearest government hospital's emergency room. Both had severe head injuries; but both appeared to be struggling to live as we delivered them there. Unfortunately the system here requires that any medications a patient needs, must be purchased by the patient or their family - Obviously impossible in this case. As Laurie Kelley, Dr Maklin, and I rushed around the hospital begging and borrowing the needed meds and supplies, we were crushed when we returned to find of the men breathing his last breaths. Very disappointing.

While at the hospital, we were approached by a young lady visiting from North Carolina with another medical mission team. Obviously distraught, she told us the story of a four year old little boy in the pediatric ward that had been abandoned there. As we visited him we found that he appears to have mild CP, is very malnourished, and had not been receiving good care as he was not an "official" patient. We spoke with the medical staff, guaranteeing payment for his care until we can find a home for him. A good friend of mine, Abraham, is a master at locating difficult placements for orphans here in Haiti. He is meeting me at the hospital tomorrow morning to assist with this. Please say a prayer for Michael.

I had some very good meetings with Laurie Kelley, founder of Save One Life, during her visit here this week. I am thrilled to tell you that we are going to be working alongside a wonderful Haitian physician, Dr. Eugene Maklin, in developing a program to identify and support hemophilia patients in Haiti. As I said earlier, death is far too easily accepted in Haiti. I imagine that as we work to "Save One Life" with this program, it will result in the saving of many lives of Haitians with bleeding disorders, that have just been allowed to die up until now. Watch for progress updates on this work beginning this week.

Very busy, but so very, very rewarding. If you know of any surgeons interested in visiting Haiti, please pass along my contact information. We are desperate for surgical teams anytime over the next few months.

Grace and peace,

Friday, June 11, 2010

On The Right Track

Again, the work in Haiti is being blessed and guided by a hand much more knowing and stronger than mine. Laurie Kelley, founder of Save One Life, a third world hemophilia outreach program, has been visiting me here in Haiti this week. She is a very special lady,  a Mother of a child with hemophilia herself, she saw the unmet needs of these patients in third world countries, and personally decided to help make a difference.

Laurie has been working alongside me as we do medical supply distribution - More than anything, we have been discussing the logistics of starting a hemophilia treatment program in Haiti. None exists at this time. This will be changing. We met with the Director of Health, Dr. Jassmin, in this area yesterday, and have his cooperation in helping to identify referral physicians and eventually locating and diagnosing the patients.

It never stops amazing me how everything always seems to work together in Haiti. The supply distribution that I work with provides great relationships with clinics and hospitals that will be our new partners in this. The surgeries we perform at St. Francois will help to identify patients with bleeding disorders. Perhaps most significant, as I begin coordinating mobile medical clinics with MMI, we will see many thousands of patients that would otherwise go unnoticed. These guys can all be assessed and screened for bleeding disorders.

Currently there are only 2 known patients in the entire country. Statistically we know there should be at least 500. In Haiti's easy acceptance of death, I am sure that this is the fate these undiagnosed patients currently face. Our immediate goal is to begin working with clinics and hospitals, training them to recognize and refer patients with potential bleeding disorders.

Laurie has probably expressed this better in her blog post here. Please take a moment to have a look.

As always, I am so very grateful for your prayers, support, and encouragement. Especially to all my new Lipscomb friends that have begun supporting this work thanks to the encouragement of my favorite (and only) Son, Chris.

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back In Haiti

I made it safely back to Haiti yesterday afternoon, despite a pretty dicey flight on one of the banana republic commuter planes from Port Au Prince. I had really hoped to find Haiti on the mend upon my return but it hasn't started happening yet. Even more people are returning to Port Au Prince from the hamlets they fled to following the earthquake. This is only swelling the populations in the already overcrowded tent cities. They say hurricanes are on the way. Not a good thing if you're living in a tent. It seems like the problem is a combination of countries being slow to release pledged aid money along with inherent problems within the Haitian government. It is a process.

I was able to hit the ground running during the night helping in our emergency room with a motorcycle accident victim,  a man who started having seizures out of the blue, and with the birth of a precious new life. My goal for this trip is simply for people to experience God's love through my actions.

I just finished a book named Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I was really convicted by the message in it that the more important I view myself, the harder it is to experience and share God's love. Only by taking self out of the picture will I really be filled with His love and be able to share that love with others. As I read and pondered these thoughts, I couldn't help but think of John 3:16. It seems easier to focus on the last half of the verse, instead of the first. Practically everything can be reduced to "For God so loved the world". Powerful stuff.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Do Not Fear

"Do not Fear." This is the most frequently given command in the Bible - Used over 200 times. God knew we would be cowards. Choosing to run. Choosing the safe path. Choosing to just avoid getting out of the boat. At times fear is good in that it does keep us safe. Mostly, I think fear is Satan's weapon in keeping us from living meaningful lives.

I've never been big on New Year's resolutions. Perhaps better stated, I've never been big on keeping New Year's resolutions. This past January my resolution was to stop dreaming and start doing. Having reached the age of 50, I recognized that it really was time for me to get out of the boat. Having just reread If You Want To Walk On Water You Have To Get Out Of The Boat over the holidays I had the strongest sense that life had to have more to it than selling medical devices. As both a Christian and a  nurse, I constantly wondered how I had ended up on that path. What made this resolution or decision different was that I prayed about it, committing it to God.

In my wildest imagination I never would have pictured that within three weeks of making that resolution, and really opening myself up to His will for the first time in life, that I would be working in Haiti helping deal with the aftermath of a tragic earthquake. Seeing true desperation. Seeing unbearable loss. Seeing unimaginable poverty and devastation. But most important, seeing God use me and others to care for His children in powerful ways I had never dreamed possible.

These past five months in Haiti have taught me more about God and His power than anything in the previous fifty years combined. My biggest lesson: If I just say yes to Him, He really will take control and take care of me. Scary? Unbelievably so. Do Not Fear. This is my daily struggle. Fear. Fear of what this mission is doing to relationships at home. Fear of financial difficulties. Fear that people think I am irresponsible for listening to God's voice.

This has been my longest visit home since I started working in Haiti. While the comforts are so alluring, I know in my heart this isn't where God wants me to be. Maybe another of Satan's weapons are comfort. When we're riding in a plush comfortable boat, who in their right mind would want to step out of it? Do Not Fear.

I am convicted that any desire to give up and stay home is based on fear. Giving up possessions is scary. Do Not Fear.  I've sold a lot of possessions to be able to keep working in Haiti. The funny thing is I haven't missed one of them even once. In looking at my life, I still have so many other possessions that can go just as easily and never be missed.

The relationships are really scary. Do Not Fear.  I have a lovely wife and four great kids at home, two are out of school, one is in college, and a fifteen year old daughter who is still at home. We all miss each other desperately when I'm gone. I hope that by living life for God, really saying yes to Him and allowing Him to use me as He sees fit, I am being a better husband and father than if I were at home all the time earning a million dollars a year. Scary? Absolutely. Do Not Fear.

Working in Haiti, I have seen God physically work in my life and lives of others in ways I never imagined possible. This has led me to question many of the beliefs I had about the power of the Holy Spirit and His abilities. I have really seen miraculous things. These are not things the church I grew up in really taught or believed. In this way and others my whole religious belief system has been turned inside out over the past five months. Do Not Fear. The reality is that I have a closer and more intimate relationship with my Father than ever before in my life and am beginning to recognize and be amazed by His incredible power.

A common question I have heard this visit home is "are you going back?". While I respond with the date of my next trip, in my heart I'm screaming, "how can I not go back?". Having seen the unimaginable along with the miraculous from the comforts of my previous life, to not go back would be no different than Peter's denials after Jesus' arrest. I have seen God's power at work. I would be more afraid to deny that than succumb to all the fears at home combined.

God is in control. God will provide our daily bread. God is active and working in our lives and world. Having come to see and recognize this, it gets easier to obey the command Do Not Fear. As I grow closer to God, I am beginning to see it not so much as a command, but more of a comfort. I am starting to hear it more as "don't be afraid, I've got your back".

He does. Do Not Fear

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Haiti - Contrasts

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Revelations 3:16

I recently posted a status update on Facebook that read: "I am amazed at what our country, made up entirely of immigrants, has been able to accomplish in just over 200 years". What I didn't say was how I had taken practically all of the luxuries that come with living in the United States for granted prior to spending the past few months in Haiti.

Haiti, like the US, has also enjoyed their independence for a little over 200 years. But my goodness, what a stark contrast. I have always left out the worst things I see in Haiti when posting these blogs. After reading the following in today's news after more protests in Port Au Prince yesterday, I think that glossing things over may not be needed.

"At least one person was killed near the protest, but it was not immediately clear if he was participating in the march. Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said the victim was a suspected thief killed by a mob. The young man’s lifeless body lay unattended in a street near the former national cathedral, his head cracked open."

I have seen this and worse right in front of me in Haiti. Haitians are very protective of their families and belongings. With a virtually non-present police force, they quickly take a very swift and harsh justice in their own hands. Kidnappings are on the rise, food is growing scarcer, and political tensions are growing. The biggest news in Cap-Haitien the week before I left was that a new zombie had been made in Terrier Rouge, a nearby village, earlier in the week. This really does still go on there. We also still have cold showers. In Haiti, it is good to just have a shower.

As I sat in church, here at home Sunday, the starkest contrast of all was driven home. Due to the luxuries we enjoy, our dependence on God doesn't compare that of Haitian Christians. As I listened to the words we sang, I was amazed that the whole room wasn't on their feet, awash with tears, awed by the words we were singing, as we sang  "How Deep The Father's Love For Us" and other songs like it.

A lot of Christian Haitians attend church every night of the week along with Sunday mornings. Concrete floors. No concern for decor. Cell phones in the air when the power goes out. Buildings packed with people - far past standing room only. Worshipers on their feet the entire service, arms outstretched to God, tears streaming. Desperation. I am convinced that physical desperation leads to a much greater dependence on God. He is literally Haiti's only hope.

The truth is, here in the US - Despite our luxuries, God is our only hope as well.

God: Please make us a desperate people for you. Amen.

Grace and peace,

One of my dearest readers, who is very familiar with Haiti, suggested that I expand on the zombie thing a little. This is a very real phenomenon - And a capital crime in Haiti. The Hougan or Mambo, male or female voodoo priest poisons a person causing a low enough metabolic state that it mimics death. Apparently, toxin from the Puffer fish is one of the key ingredients. After the victim enters this state, the Hougan or Mambo has 3 to 4 days to revive them. This coincides with the Haitian wake process. The night the person is buried, they are dug up by the poisoner and revived to a mental zombie like state with other potions. While a zombie they are then under the control of their owner.
There are quite a few documented cases of people being reunited with their families years after having this done to them. Some had even been declared dead by first world doctors at the time they were originally buried. Very scary stuff that I think we tend to think just happens in movies - Not something happening in today's world.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home again, home again...

I needed to travel home from Haiti a week early to help my wife with some things. Thankfully, through the support of friends from Delta Airlines, this was able to happen quickly - Thanks Mike and David!

I have really been struggling with this blog. It seems that in so many ways it is just bringing glory to me and my works - In reality the glory belongs to God, and the courage of the common Haitian people. I am praying and thinking about how best to deal with this. My 1st thought is to go with more of a quarterly newsletter. In all truthfulness, a lot of the motive for writing this is to assist with raising funds to support the work in Haiti. I am convicted that by doing good works in Haiti, with the primary focus of sharing God's love, everything else will fall in place.

I am also working at developing a better balance between my home life and the work in Haiti. Events over the past couple of weeks, along with numerous financial obligations at home, have made it painfully clear that I have been giving love and time to Haiti, that my family has a right to as well. I'm not stopping the work by any means; I am seeking ways to better balance saying "yes" to God, and honoring my obligations and commitments at home. I would really appreciate your prayers as I try to discern God's will in my life.

I will be returning to Haiti on June 8th for 3 weeks. We have several small teams coming during that time that will provide much needed care for the Haitian people.

Grace and peace,

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Being Reminded To Just Say Yes

If you haven't listened to "Praise Him In The Storm" by Casting Crowns in a while, please do it. It has kept me going a lot this week. Seems like virtually every plan I made was nixed or fell through. What a great reminder of Who is really in charge. I needed it.

Instead of traveling to Port as planned, I'm in Au Cap for at least a few more days. But in those few days - after having Port trip pulled from under me - The government hospital asked if they could send specialty Residents to learn from our surgeons at l'Hopital St. Francois De Sales when various surgeons are doing cases here. As one of the main things God has me here to do is to "help Haitians help other Haitians", this dovetails so perfectly with the mission. I will be in Au Cap at least until Wednesday helping coordinate this.

I guess it is easy to become jaded when surrounded by so much corruption and become quick to judge. This happened in reference to an American team sending valuable medicines to a very good and honest Haitian doctor. Who unfortunately shares a similar sounding last name with a doctor that I have had less then desirable dealings with. I messed up. I labeled the good doctor, based on my experience with the bad doctor. Fortunately we were able to meet, forgive, and make great plans to work together in the future. Once again, God seems to be playing with clay sometimes. Even in infallibility, He brings about good.

It has been a very busy week. Dr. Visani did prostate surgeries at the government hospital 2 days, and surgeries here the remainder of the week. Many Haitians have been blessed by your prayers and encouragement this week.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Three Earthquake Orphans

Religion that God, our Papa accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
 James 1: 27

We were blessed with a safe, but chaotic return from the DR to Haiti yesterday. We had so many patients waiting our return, I felt guilty for being away. Sandro is busier than ever in the OR, I am very busy working with scheduling cases, arranging medical teams for June and early July, distributing health care supplies to other hospitals and clinics, and making travel arrangements to visit the vacant hospital in Port.

Amidst all of this, I have had an incredible urge over the past few days to read and meditate on the first 2 chapters of James. As God's Spirit reveals more and more of the truths in this passage, I am amazed at how much it applies to the work here in Haiti. I had a lot of problems reconciling the whole faith/works thing with Grace for many years. I have come to a much better understanding and acceptance of it through my work here in Haiti, and then being Spirit led to read and think on this passage.

My prayer today is that each one that reads this, will ask God to provide wisdom and understanding, then read these 2 powerful chapters in James. I am convinced that they will change lives. As churches, I pray that James 1:27 can be read, understood, and applied. It is so easy to stray from this with all of the pulls of the world/Satan. In reality, God makes it pretty easy for us.

I am neither a preacher nor a teacher - Just a poor guy with some medical knowledge and skills trying to make a difference in the world while glorifying God, and showing people that God loved them enough that He sent Jesus to die for us so we could be His. You just have to believe - Really believe - My family is living proof that He will take care of the rest.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Piti Piti N'Arive - Little By Little We Get There

The above Haitian proverb is so appropriate for virtually any work in Haiti. Haiti's problems, much like the challenges and overweight person faces, did not appear overnight. In the same way, solutions, progress, reform, and healing are very much a continuum. How do you explain the street children that spurn a warm bed in a children's home for a life on the streets? How else can you explain the culture's complacency to the corruption and resulting oppression they face each waking moment? Perhaps worst of all; how do you explain their complete acceptance of living in such desperate - even intolerable conditions? They truly see each minuscule sign of progress as truth of the proverb.

This was brought home very hard this week with the death of a man as I previously wrote about - Then just through accepted medical practice, we were able to save the life of the next asthma victim,who was in even worse condition. For the Haitian doctors, it bordered on the miraculous. In reality it was simply practicing good medicine; with God's blessings. Perhaps of most importance, was having the opportunity to teach the Haitian doctors how to use the right drugs, in the right amounts, at the right times to reverse the acute asthma attacks. Unfortunately, aerosolized Albuterol is not available to dispense in the North of Haiti, which could so easily prevent many of these attacks from occurring in the first place. Still, I am convinced that this is why God placed L'Hopital St. Francois de Sales in the middle of nowhere. Without it, these people would have no other options when death knocks on their door.

God allowed some amazing progress in our work this week. While Dr. Ken White and his team were visiting from Wilmington, NC, we were doing so many surgeries that we began to run low on our inhalation anesthesia drugs. This was critical as these can not be purchased in Haiti. We visited a friend of mine, Dr. Ernst Jazzmin who is the Director of Health for the Nord region of Haiti. We explained our dilemma - and offered to donate an anesthesia monitor that their team had brought with them. He made a couple of phone calls, wrote us a note, and we were on our way to the government hospital to pick up more medicine than we needed. While there, we were able to make friends with Dr. Marie-Carmelle S. Laconte, who is in charge of the operating room. After the NC had left, we still had several cases requiring general anesthesia: But no anesthetist. I again visited Dr Laconte, who happily loaned me a very capable anesthesia resident along with a nurse training for anesthesia - At no charge! If you don't understand the Haitian culture, there is no way to explain what an incredible breakthrough this is. Additionally, Dr. Laconte arranged for my currently visiting urologist, Dr. Sandro Visani, to use their operating room to perform numerous prostatectomies for which we are not equipped at St. Francois de Sales. Only God can foster this unheard of cooperation between Haitian government hospitals and a "competing" private hospital. After spending the first few months in Haiti I would never have thought something like this could occur. Piti, piti n'arive!

We were able to travel to the DR for the weekend to enjoy a hot shower, air conditioning, and electricity. Even though it is an absolute Caribbean paradise outside my door, I have rarely left my room. I am getting a lot of much needed rest and prayer time alone. I did go out to relax in the hot tub yesterday evening, and was surprised to hear the couple there speaking Kreyol Haitian. As we struck up a conversation, I learned that the Husband, Peterson, studied electrical engineering and administration in the DR, and was one of the very few who chose to return to Port Au Prince after completing his education. As I talked about the vacant hospital there that I am scheduled to visit this week in hopes of opening, he said he has 4 friends that are US trained physicians in Port that don't currently have a hospital to practice at due to the earthquake's devastation. Something tells me God is about to make me tremble again - In fact the trembling began as he expressed the desperation for care that currently exists in Port, and the hope that we can open the hospital. He and his wife who are both Christians volunteered to do anything possible to assist with the effort. They tell me there is currently one large hospital serving all of Port Au Prince. A simple lab test or X-Ray requires standing in line for a full day.

Throughout Haiti you see men manually pulling massively overloaded carts. Eyes glazed with fatigue, yet sheer determination flowing from them. Muscles bulging and straining. Wheels and axles creaking. It is a heartbreaking sight. It so reminds me of how Jesus must have looked when carrying His own cross. As I pick up my cross daily here in Haiti, it is so reassuring to know beyond any doubt that He is guiding me, and the He is putting the people, relationships, and facilities in place that will allow Him to use us to serve His people. All glory to God.
Grace and peace,  Randy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

She Lives

Asthma season has struck hard here. The Haitian clinic doctor sent for me - "Wandy Vini Galope", Randy come quickly last night. I was met with woman in her thirties, a look of terror on her face, as she gasped for her every breath. Her lung sounds were barely audible; and what could be heard was tiny little squeaks. She was in bad shape. In a very short time she would have been in the same state as the previous asthmatic that I last posted about. Fortunately God had prompted me to bring adreniline, Atrovent, Albuterol, and steroids when I was called. We had her stabilized within 15 minutes much to everyone's relief - But most of all to the glory of God. I spent about an hour after caring for her visiting with the Haitian doctor, giving her the appropriate medicines to stock, discussing dosages,complications, and medical responses. The importance of my ministry here hit home hard during this time. Helping Haitians Help Other Haitians. This was magnified by the strong hug and cultural kiss on the cheek from the Haitian doctor, followed by a heartfelt, "Mesi".

Having not attended medical school nor an advanced practice nursing program is somewhat limiting in my abilities to provide all of the care I can for the Haitian people. I am praying about this. For now, I'm trusting God to use the knowledge and emergency medicine experience that I do have to help the local health care professionals improve the level of care they provide. This saved one last night.

Pray hard.

Peace and grace,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Dead Man

As I arrived across the yard at our hospital yesterday morning, I was met with the unbelievably, heart wrenching wails of a young Haitian woman. Upon investigation, I learned that her Husband had been brought in 30 minutes earlier having a severe asthma attack. He had passed away and was in our male ward. The reality of life here really struck home. No intubation had been attempted, no bronchiodilators instilled, no shock. Just allowed him to slip peacefully to the other side. In a country with 1 medical professional for every 10,000 people there simply isn't the time for extended efforts. Our Haitian clinic doctor sees over 300 patients - On a very slow day. A typical day is around 500 patients with a few births thrown in. Mind boggling. This is what makes visiting medical teams so incredibly important and valuable; not only to help educate the local medical professionals, but to just help relieve a little bit of the load, and see patients that would otherwise receive no care at all. Death is accepted too easily in Haiti.

Haiti has the most corrupt government of any country in the world as rated by the world transparency organization. Sadly, this corruption filters down to many of the Haitian people as well as an accepted way of the culture. This has been a huge mountain to climb in working with the distribution network here at St. Francois de Sales. After finally seeing more pilferage from the loaders than I could take, I asked Fr. Geordani how we could stop it. Explaining that many donors sacrifice so much to make it possible for these goods to reach those that need them. He understood the problem, called a meeting where he and I addressed it with the employees. Unfortunately, 2 had to be let go as they refused to adhere to the rule of - No Stealing. Fr. Geordani and I are committed to making St. Francois the light on the hill that it can be for poor Haitian people.

Jobs are extremely hard to come by in this country. This makes these 2 terminations a little dicey. At the very least, I know that one of the people plans to send a voodoo spell my way. I am so glad that my God is so much more powerful. He alone is my Strength, my Shield, my Defender, and my Protector.

Still in Haiti. Still saying "Yes" Lord. Still coveting your prayers and encouragement.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One Haitian At A Time

What a week! Very busy, but very fruitful. Over 650 patients cared for in mobile clinics, more than 800 people provided with de-worming medication, more than 200 surgical consults, 22 surgeries performed before Wednesday; and a total of 59 surgeries for the week. More importantly; due to the Haitian culture and the closeness of extended family, for each one of these patients cared for, an additional 20 to 25 people's lives were touched by the love of Jezi in Haiti just through this work. This is being duplicated across the country by many wonderful groups. God will be victorious in this country.

All of the work we were able to accomplish this week was purely Spirit led and by the grace of God. He sent us a marvelous team of workers from North Carolina from Medical Missions International. Due to some last minute scheduling snafus at another facility, we were able to have their entire team of 15 work with us. Many of them were surgeons that were able to join Dr. Visani, a Urologist here for a month from South Dakota in our operating suite. To increase efficiency the surgeons moved another bed into the OR so we were able to perform procedures requiring local and general anesthesia at the same time. The others, including a great Rehab MD, 2 PT's, Nurses, and the others all quickly jumped in and helped run some of the best mobile clinics ever seen in this area! The group did more to inspire me in their work here than they will ever know.

I was also blessed to be able to get reacquainted with Wilbert and Meg who run the Living Hope Ministry on the other side of O'Cap. Due to space limitations they graciously provided lodging for half of the group. More importantly, being able to spend time in prayer and talking with Wilbert was a desperately needed balm for my soul. He helped me refocus so much on the importance of the work here - Even more that all I am here for is simply to glorify God. Wilbert also shared a very good thought with me in that "We can only help one Haitian at a time".

I am finding that the more I empty myself, the more the Holy Spirit works though me. It is very humbling and emotional; but incredibly awe inspiring to see His power. I am coming to know a "living faith". God is so powerful. He will perform miraculous things through people willing to open themselves to His Spirit. So many "coincidental" things happen that literally save lives that all I can do is proclaim God is in control.

It is difficult to pick an example as these occur so often. One that sticks out was during one of our mobile clinics a little girl was brought in with sever pneumonia. She was in very bad shape according to the Dr's caring for her. Miraculously, an antibiotic that would never have been sent to a mobile clinic had been loaded with the meds that day - in liquid form - Honestly saving this little girl's life.

A happy occurrence during the week was while working in Bois Caiman at a mobile clinic, many of the older women were asking for "dlo" water. This is a very rare thing in the country. Upon investigation we learned that their well had broken and they were having to walk about a mile up the side of a mountain to a spring to get water for the village. They showed us the part that was broken, it appeared that a little welding would fix it. We we able to get this done for less than $5.00 US. I have written in previous posts about how much can be done in this country for so little. This is a perfect example. I wish you could have seen the villager's faces when they saw the cool water flowing again from their well. For some reason the 5 dollars reminded me a lot of the 5 loaves that Jesus fed the multitude with.

I am slowly learning Haitian Kreyol. I was frustrated at first in not being able to share more about God's love with people due to language barriers. I am seeing God's plan though in that He is first helping the people here learn to trust me through the care we bring them,  then I will be a more credible witness for Him as I communicate better. Piti, piti m'arive!

I'll close with the most heartfelt thank you I can extend to the wonderful team from North Carolina that came to help us this week.

I received a phone call from Healing Hands this week that a brand new hospital has been found in Port Au Prince. Built by a mission group, no structural damage, OR, ER, Mother baby, Everything! They just need someone to come open get it up and running.Having done the same here, I am in deep prayer on this. I may fly over one day late this week to assess.

Please keep praying hard for the people of Haiti along with the work here. God is listening!

The perfect song for the work here...

Trading My Sorrows

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down
For the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down
For the joy of the Lord

We Say
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord Amen

I am pressed but not crushed
Persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse
For his promise will endure
That his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

We Say
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
Yes yes Lord Amen

Song writer~Darrell Evans