Monday, March 29, 2010

Haiti in The Rearview Mirror

Most of the time it is hard to believe that I have already been here for a month on this trip. On a few  occasions, it has felt like years. The trip has been very good in that we have gotten the kinks out of the operating room's daily operation and functioning. It stands ready to welcome the next surgical team on April 12 with many new features that will allow us to serve more patients safer and more efficiently than ever before.

We also now have a monthly distribution program firmly established that allows us to systematically distribute all of the donations we have received to the most appropriate recipients. We also have a system in place that will insure that we maintain the appropriate par levels of supplies so that our own clinic and hospital can operate smoothly. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but we see between 300 to 500 patients a day in our outpatient clinic. These include several births a week in our Maternity center as well.

So much has been accomplished this month. Many new relationships have been formed. Perhaps most important, L'Hopital St. Francois de Sales is being seen more and more by the community as a vessel of God's love and care for them.

I am traveling home to visit my family and to rest this Tuesday for 2 weeks. At this point the fund raising piece of this mission is not well. I am still praying for the funds to be able to return in time for the next surgical team. Dana Davis, one of my spiritual mentors in this mission, tells me that when God says don't worry, He means it - Don't worry. I am trying so hard to apply this to my life. At the same time Dana counsels that sometimes God says no through finances. This is a bitter pill and one that I'm not quite ready to swallow. When I said "yes" to God in January and came to Haiti, I had absolutely no idea what He had in store for me. He has shown me plans and work that will do so much for this country, I don't think that He would choose to pull the plug this soon. A university and hospital system await. More clinics await. Perhaps most important of all: Equipping Haitians to do all this on their own is currently in process.  The biggest thing waiting for me is the 25, eight to 15 year old boys in Bois Caiman expecting me to bring soccer equipment back to them so they can practice and field a team.

What am I going to do? Pray. Rob Browne recently told me about an incredible man of faith named George Mueller. Mr. Mueller accomplished some amazing things in his life simply through one of the strongest faiths that I have ever read about. He cared for thousands of orphans, funded millions in missions, and helped so many meet God - just through faith and prayer.

A while back I began moving away from the "Saying Yes To God" theme of this blog, and in some ways, the heart of this mission, to the name "A Healthier Haiti". This was done in large part to pave the way for more secular grant requests as a new hospital and university get closer to reality. I think this was a mistake. When I said yes to God and came to Haiti in January, I saw Him do so many amazing things through me that I literally trembled at times. In moving toward the secular, a lot of that trembling has disappeared. I am renewing my pledge to make this work solely about bringing glory to God by daily saying yes to Him. Yes, to allowing Him to use me. Yes, to listening to His will. Yes, to letting people see His grace, love, and glory through me.

If God then chooses to keep me home - I know that it is His will, not that I have moved away from him. Please pray for me as I say yes, as I wait for God, and that I have the strength and wisdom to listen to His voice.

Allen Nichols and DSI Printing are graciously providing me with free printing of postcards. I am hoping to use these to begin self supporting some of my mission work in Haiti. The postcards are called "Postcards From Haiti". I will primarily be selling these in the "American" hotels in Haiti. They will also be available for purchase at within the next week or so.

As I mentioned, I will be in the States from March 31st through April 12th. I would love the opportunity to give a presentation of the work being done in Haiti to any interested churches or other organizations.

I realize that our economy in the US isn't great by our standards. It only takes a day in a country where approximately 10% of the population has a full time job to see what a tough economy really is. As I told some guys that I turn to for spiritual support the other day: One of the biggest frustrations is knowing how much can be done in Haiti for so little. Because of their truly bad economy; it takes very little by our standards to accomplish a great deal here.

I sincerely appreciate your prayers, your support, and your emails of encouragement. I see God working so often when I receive your emails - They always seem to arrive just when I need them the most.

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happiness can be spelled "D-O-L-E"

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? ... The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me". 
Matthew 25:37-40

It has been a very good week at the St. Francois De Sales parish. After receiving several containers of food and medical supplies from Food For The Poor and the Catholic Medical Mission Board over the past couple of weeks, Fr. Geordani sent out an email to the approved list of receiving groups that goods were available for distribution. This list includes orphanages, churches, hospitals, clinics, schools, and feeding programs.
On Monday it was church day. We had over 50 church representatives from as far away as 100 KM start arriving at around eight in the morning. They continued coming until dark. We were busy unloading new containers all the while that the churches were receiving their distributions. This was fortunate as on Tuesday we had even more orphanages, schools, hospitals, and clinics come to pick up food and supplies.

In the rear of the grounds here at St. Francois De Sales there is a Catholic primary school and a government run Secondary school. There are over 600 children on the grounds each day for school here. I was fortunate to be able to work with the school's directors in distributing food to the children in these schools.

Today is feeding programs and all other organizations distribution day. The guys were up until around 10 last night unloading another container, and back at 8 this morning for another. This is good as these containers have milk, Vienna sausage, and other foods that will be an incredible blessing to the programs coming today. 

I am preparing to return home for a couple of weeks next week. If anyone would like a presentation of the work here in Haiti during that time, please let me know. I will fly out on the 30th, and return to Haiti on April 12th. I am actively seeking ongoing supportive relationships with churches and other groups for the work here in Haiti. Please email me at if your organization is interested.

Upon my return we have been blessed with surgical groups that will be working here for the following
5 weeks. Currently we have urology and general surgery specialties coming. We are still praying hard that God will send a gynecologist our way.

As I mentioned earlier, 600 children attend school on the parish
grounds here. These 600 kids have 1 piece of playground equipment - A broken down single swing set! I am actively seeking a group that would be willing to come in and build a playground for these children. Please let me know if this is something you are interested in, either from a financial standpoint or coming and swinging a hammer.
I continue to be strengthened by your prayers and encouragement. When things get rough, it seems like God sends strength my way through you. Thank you.

Peace and Grace,

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Call Them My Heroes

This was going to be a tough entry to write. All week long I've been going over in my mind "All the things that I hate about Haiti". Corrupt government. Self serving NGO's. Horrible roads. Preteen prostitution. Men having to defecate in holes in the sidewalk on crowded streets. Children having to clean themselves by dragging their bottoms through the grass - Worms. Starvation. Persistent begging (I would too if my children and wife were starving). The vultures that use the young girls. Absurdly rough roads. Raw sewage running through the streets. Garbage everywhere you look. Haitians accepting the way their government treats them. The total lack of cooperation amongst the Haitians, and the list could go on. It has been a reality week for me. In the initial time here I saw all these things on the periphery, but the stark reality never really hit home until this week for some reason. As the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti is no mecca by any stretch of the imagination. With between 80 and 90 percent unemployment, the sheer level of poverty here can be overwhelming.

A young man that I have been blessed with as a translator since my first trip here sums it up well. When describing a "wealthy" friend of his; he says "that one eats meat every day". As Americans we can't begin to fathom the desperate lives of resignation that the Haitian people lead. A single mother can survive with her two children for a week with half a loaf of bread. Old men and women - and young men and women - often go 3 or 4 days and longer with no food at all. Coming from a country where wealth is defined by how many thousand square feet our house is, or how many hundreds of thousands of dollars we make. To hear wealth defined as "that one eats meat every day" is very eye opening. A lot of my frustration this week has come from hearing how the government here pockets so much of the aid money intended to help alleviate these problems. Food For the Poor and World Vision are the only two major charities really sending food, aid, and medicine here. Perhaps worst of all is seeing how some of the Haitians and others use the aid sent to line their own pockets at the expense of the people here that really need the help.

Part of this is righteous indignation, I think part of it is Satan causing me to take my eye off of the goals here. My friend Dana Davis sends out a weekly email of encouragement. Today's was about me and some other missionaries and how easy it is to get discouraged! Has God ever slapped you upside the head? Dana's email served that purpose for me in reminding me what my work is really all about; and more importantly that it isn't about me at all. I've gotten so caught up this week in what frustrates me about Haiti that I have lost sight of what God has me here for. Some of what I'm here for is to help with the very things that have been frustrating me.

I am begging for your prayers that I daily remember to turn this frustration and indignation into motivators that will push me on in my work.

I have been working on our operating room a lot this week. With no team here it has been easy to get a nice pre-op area set up, a minor procedure room set up, a sterilization area established, and (the Nebraska docs will cheer) the A/C in the OR repaired. There is still much to do, but these measures will help improve the efficiency of visiting surgical teams immeasurably, allowing us to serve many more patients than we were previously able to. I have also been very busy distributing medical supplies to other hospitals and clinics in the area. The best part of the week has been spent working with the Ministry of Health in starting to develop a 911 system for the area ambulances. This will make such a huge impact on getting injured and sick to care in a timely manner - It is impossible to estimate the number of lives that will be saved.

One of the most interesting parts of my week was being able to spend a day with a Vodun priest and hearing his take on life in Haiti in general. To watch this 65 + year old man shake his head and exclaim "every time I open my eyes and look around I say, 'my God what has happened to my Haiti?'". His most lasting comment for me came as we walked past a school. He pointed out some young men attending primary school and said, "you see 25 year old men in 3rd grade here. Many call them idiots; I call them my heroes". Life gains a new perspective in Haiti. Whether it is in the admiration of one that eats meat every day, or for men in their twenties attending grade school in an effort to change their lives, you can't help but develop a stronger appreciation for God and His creation while working here.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What a Morning

Father Geordani called me down to the clinic shortly after Mass was finished this morning. A dear Haitian lady was in the throes of labor and complications were feared due to her age and the number of children she has had. We needed to take her to the government hospital in Cap-Haitien. Somehow, I have become the designated ambulance driver here as well.

As we sped the horribly bumpy and dusty 20 minutes to the hospital with light and siren blaring Mama Mwen kept telling me it was time for the baby - in Kreyol of course. I implored her to hold on. As we reached the maternitie ward at the hospital and I lifted her from the back the ambulance, she immediately squatted on the ground and hugged my legs. I was yelling for a gurney or wheelchair, Mama was groaning loudly, and a crowd was forming. Haitians can form a crowd faster than anyone I have ever seen. As I watched for a wheelchair, her older daughters spread a cloth underneath Mama. As she squeezed me tighter, I heard the soft cries of a new life entering the world.

Seeing that the cord was wrapped around the neck a few times, I quickly unwrapped it and swaddled the baby. Laying the baby in the Mama's lap, I obeyed the newly arrived doctor and went and washed my hands. The Mama is fine, as is the little boy - To be named Randy. Of course here in Haiti it will be "Wandy"!

Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the hospital to be greeted by cheers and applause from the Haitian crowd. I am not including photos as I think that Mama Mwen suffered enough indignity in having to bear the child before a crowd. Suffice it to say that watching another new life begin on this Sunday morning on a dirty road in Haiti gives hope to the dreams many here share of helping this country begin anew as well.

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Never Lose The Amazement

A Good Start...

One of my primary goals in returning to Haiti was to work closely with the Hospital St. Francois de Sales in bringing in teams of surgeons and utilizing our operating room in order to help provide needed health care to impoverished Haitians. The realization of that goal got off to a fantastic start this week, thanks in large part to a great team of physicians from Nebraska. The team is made
up of doctors that have been working in Haiti for an incredibly long time - some of the team have made over 35 trips here. They worked very long hours, in a very hot operating room, bettering the lives of many Haitian people this week, while freely giving of themselves. I learned more from this group than they will ever know. Service, patience, humility, kindness, and giving all describe their hearts and attitudes.One of the best parts was that we also had a pre-med student, as well as a 4th year medical school student working with them. 

As I watched them work together passing down their medical knowledge, I could only pray that their incredible legacy of service was being passed on as well. Knowing the hearts of the students, I am pretty confident that this was the case. As I kept busy keeping the clinic, the operating room, and other projects flowing smoothly it was difficult to have the time to interact with the Haitian patients. Apparently they were watching me though. Each time I stopped near one, the heartfelt gratitude they expressed was enough to bring tears to my eyes. They really do appreciate the people that come here to help them.

A really cool "coincidence" this week, or in Melaney Cost's words; "my God sighting", was when we realized we would be unable to have a Haitian anesthesiologist for the first part of the week and the way in which the prayer was answered. I have really come to know that these things seem to always work out and are taken care of. I traveled to Milot with hat in hand (and a truckload of medical supplies) to ask for assistance from them. As the he and I traveled back to our hospital, in talking, we discovered that he was from a town a very short distance away from the surgeons we had working with us; in fact, he has even been on trips to Haiti with these doctors in the past. Imagine the surprise when they all met in the operating room the next morning.
As I told Chick, the CRNA, I will never stop being amazed by
God's support, providence, and power - but I am slowly learning not to sweat things, as I see that He seems to always provide.

We have really slow internet here at the parish so I haven't been able to post as often as I would like. With a million things to do, I honestly don't have the time to sit at a computer and wait a long time for things to load. If my fund raising is strong enough in the next week or two, I will get an air card connection from a local cell company which will speed things up considerably and allow me to post more frequently. If you've
been reading my blog for long, I'm guessing you have picked up on my anxiety over fund raising. As I pondered my statement to Chick, to "never stop being amazed, but trust that God will provide", I realize this has to apply to every facet of my mission here. I am trying very hard to focus on my "daily bread" and let tomorrow take care of itself a little more. I ask for your prayers as I grow in this.

A really good note is that one of the micro-loans I made on my first trip down was to two brothers for them to be able to open up a little sidewalk refreshment stand. They contacted me this week, then came out to visit me Friday evening. While their record keeping has a ways to go, they did have records of each day's sales, along with their 10% of the receipts as payment for the loan. This will soon enable me to make an additional micro-loan. This is very exciting progress in the area of job creation. When I am back in Atlanta in April, I hope to collect a few air compressors, tire plugging kits, pressure washers, and car wash supplies. These items will easily allow people to start a good and profitable business in Haiti.

A couple of the doctors asked how they could help support my work here financially. My church, Campus Church of Christ, is graciously accepting donations on my behalf. This allows your support to provide tax benefits for you as well. Their mailing address is:  Campus Church of Christ, 1525 Indian Trail Lilburn Road, Norcross, GA 30093 (Please attach a note indicating that the contribution is for Randy Moore:  Haiti mission funds)
I sincerely appreciate everyone's prayers and support. As I watch God's power at work through me here in Haiti, the power of your prayers is very evident.
Grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Going Past The Fences In Life

Go Past The Fences

It will come as no surprise to my family that I have turned out to be a great Haitian driver. Being able to drive on the wrong side of the road, create my own lanes, and drive a breakneck speed on a 1 lane goat path is how I have always driven - Here it is the accepted way to drive. In fact, my interpreters were stunned at how "great a Haitian driver" I am. All is well. The coolest thing is that I drive a Land Rover that has been converted into an ambulance; complete with lights and siren. I will leave it at that, but those who know me know that I am in heaven driving this thing!

It has been a very busy couple of days. Carwyn and Reninka, a wonderful young British couple that run a hospital near Milot, were kind enough to send us a medical team that had many more skills than they currently need at their clinic, a beautiful spinal cord rehab center. I picked the team up yesterday afternoon and toured them through our facilities. They are coming today to work here through Saturday. We already have 57 potential surgical patients for them to care for. We also have a medical team coming next week as well. God is so good.

Sunday afternoon, Father Geordani and I went out looking at properties for the hospital and university. Initially everything we looked at was too small, too expensive, or too out of the way. Finally for some reason I told Frer that we needed to go past the fences to look. Within minutes of getting past the fences - further out of town - we came upon an uncompleted hotel sitting on 15 to 20 acres. An absolutely stunning piece of land. The building currently has 30 rooms on each of its 2 wings, along with huge open areas in the front that will be perfect for administration, OR, ER, and other ancillary services. Construction on the building was stopped before the planned 3rd floor was built. By Haitian standards, it is a very well built structure. Dedicated utility tunnels, deep solid foundations, and strong concrete walls and ceilings. Going past the fences proved to be the answer in our search.

Later on Sunday a group of us traveled to Milot so they could see the work being done there. I also wanted to visit a patient that I had cared for on the last trip to Haiti. She had a wound that had grown and tormented her for 23 years. The hospital here miraculously prevented it from ever becoming infected. Unfortunately, that very same treatment also prevented it from ever healing. In the 3 weeks that I cared for her, I was able to help the wound form a base of granulation tissue to the point that she was a candidate for a skin graft. Just before leaving, I gave her the travel funds and arranged for her to travel to Milot for the surgery. She was scared to death about the whole thing. Thankfully she was willing to go past the fences in her life and take the "risk". I wish you could have seen the tears of joy we shared Sunday as she showed me her healing leg. She literally looked like a different person. She has a new hope. God is so good.

Many of you have heard me talk of "my little Princess", an orphaned 15 year old Haitian girl much like my own little Maddie Grace. As we left a cell phone store yesterday, Jean Brunel my interpreter exclaimed, look Randy; your little princess! There she was. I pray that I never stop being surprised and amazed by the "coincidences" that constantly happen when working in Haiti. In talking with one of the surgeons that I was touring yesterday he shared with me his Haiti miracle story. Of how on one of his first trips here someone had requested that he come prepared to do skin grafts. He said okay, but had no idea how he would find a "shaver" - A tool used to harvest a layer of skin to be used as the graft. In fact he had almost forgotten it until he arrived at his home in Nebraska a few days before he was to leave for Haiti to find a box on his back porch containing a skin shaver. To this day he has no idea where the box came from. He does still have the tool, and has kindly offered to give it to our hospital here. 38 trips later, Stew is still devoting his life to the Haitian people in part because this grafting tool helped him go past the fences in life.

As I called our church office yesterday my heart was in my throat with worry over what I was going to hear about the contributions received over the past week for financial support for my work here. When I heard the total of $580 my heart sank, and I walked around in a funk for the first part of the day. When I was able to reconnect with my little Princess, when the surgical team agreed to come work for the week, and when I looked at the photos I had taken of the future hospital property, my heart swelled with wonder at God's power. I need to be constantly reminded that if I go past the fences - or if I just listen to and trust God, every little thing will be okay. I pray that you allow God to take you past your fences today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pure and undefiled religion

A Sunday morning in Haiti...
I woke up this morning (for the 53rd time) to the sounds of Kreyol chatter on the street below my window, Tap-Tap horns blaring as they race down the rutted roads. The sounds of dog, roosters, and goats. Along with the ever present sound of the drums beating, echoing from the nearby hills. If the drums, and all they represent, are so powerful: Why is this country in the shape it is in? Can an entire nation really deserve this much bad luck from the bad spirits?

Two of the interpreters that I worked with on my last trip came to visit late yesterday afternoon. Really good guys. One I had planned on using this trip. The other, at times I need a translator to communicate with him - but he tries. I commented to ones of the women at the parish yesterday that knowing Haiti is as difficult as knowing a woman. She said I should write a book with that title as so many people are seeking information on Haiti right now. I laughed as I commented that I don't know women any better than I know Haiti. The translators told me of one of my patients from the last trip that I had sent for plastic surgery in Milot. She has had her surgery. Her wound of 23 years is finally closed and she asks them when I am coming back daily. I'm going to see here today. Her wound is a perfect example of Haitian healthcare at the current time. She has(d) a very large, almost circumferential wound on her lower leg. She was seen by Haitian medical people for 23 years for treatment of this wound. The fact that the leg was never infected and amputated is nothing short of miraculous. At the same time the very treatment that kept it uninfected also kept it from healing. When I first saw her the wound bed was stark white. After caring for it for the 3 weeks I was here it was a nice beefy red with great blood flow and granulation tissue throughout. I sent her to Milot in hopes they would do a skin graft and close it - I think they have. I can't wait to see it.Father Geordani and I stayed up late talking about hospitals and colleges. There are neither of any quality in all of Northern Haiti. After Milot today, we are going to look at two pieces of land that will hopefully be good locations. This is very scary. I am having a hard time raising the funds to even stay here - much less undertake something of this magnitude. When I share this with the Father, he bolsters my faith, telling me to believe and watch God at work. What can I do but say "yes".

I also received an email late last night that a team of surgeons are arriving on Monday and the place expecting them has no patients for them. I will also be working on this today. Of course the surgeons are going to come here, now I need to find an anesthesiologist - Another item for Milot.
The trip is going well so far. I'm a little backwards in plans/function as I had hoped to begin with neighborhood clinics in Port Au Prince. It seems to all be working as it should though. I need to listen to Frer Geordani and just let my Father work through me. This is my prayer. That I am just a conduit for God's grace, love, peace, and will.

Post script: We just finished Church. It was a new and incredible experience to see the Haitian children choir sing praises to God that brought tears to the eyes of the adults in the service. I was unexpectedly invited up to say a few words. At first I thought I could wing it, until an interpreter joined me on the podium. It went well. I told them God loves them. I love them. And that I appreciate their love for me. It was nice. I have permission to take photos of a service. That will be very special.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Round 2

After spending 2 days in Port Au Prince waiting for a flight to Cap-Haitien, I finally made it over this morning. My luggage just arrived as well 3 planes later! Life is good.

The time in Port Au Prince was well spent in that I was able to see the broken homes and buildings that the broken bodies we care for are coming from. Tragic sights everywhere you look. It is good to get settled in at the Hospital St. Francois de Sales. A nice room was waiting for me. I am eager to get started on the work I hope to accomplish while here. Frer Geordani and I have talked most of the day and are both very excited to see what God has in store for this amazing place.

While traveling, I met a psychology team that is currently conducting a study in Port Au Prince on a treatment modality for post traumatic stress disorder. They have had some amazing results with it in Rwanda, and are hoping to replicate it here in Haiti. One of the most attractive things to me about their process is that they involve local clinicians very heavily in their work - Even turning the program over to them as early as possible. This ties in well with how I hope to work in Haiti. I am convinced that the only way to really be of help, is to help the people to help themselves in every way possible. One of the psychologists traveled here with me to meet a good friend I made on the last trip, Petit-Homme Handy. He is a trained psychiatrist that lost all job prospects when the earthquake hit in Port Au Prince. This group may be able to work with him in recruiting and training counselors for their program in the country - Pray.

I am settling in preparing for Monday. I will be speaking to two groups interested in supporting education as well as visiting Milot in an effort to recruit more surgeons to work here at the hospital. We have 1 doctor here now planning to work with patients in the clinic next week. I would really like to have at least one surgical group in a week while working here. It is nice to be back in Cap-Haitien, but I'm looking forward to returning to Port Au Prince late next week for a few days to begin setting up a clinic in one of the tent cities. As a result of the earthquake, they are everywhere. Even the hotel I stayed in there allowed people to come in and set up tents at night so they could have a secure place to sleep.

I'm really glad to be back in Haiti. I really miss my family already, but know like never before that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I am currently planning on working here for a 3 month period. During that time I am looking for an organization who's goals and mission are in line with mine. Should I not be able to find such a group, at the end of three months, I will seek God's guidance on starting an organization focused on helping Haitians help themselves in education, job creation, and health care. I still need any financial support that people can spare - Not for me; but for the people of Haiti. I am including a link to my website @ Mission People. There is information there on how you can help support my work here.I hope that you will consider looking at this.

Take care,