“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Friday, July 27, 2012

What a Tuesday....

Tuesday morning started out with my cellphone ringing.  It’s unusual, since I don’t chat on the phone with many folks here in Haiti.  I was in a deep sleep, even though the world outside was already awake and in full swing.  That is not unusual, though, as I am unfortunately not a morning person.  So like a bear coming out of hibernation, I grabbed my phone to see what craziness must be going on.  Was I ever in for a wake-up call.
Brennon was on the other end of that call, and he was speaking to me in his “I’m being calm, so you need to be, too” voice.  I was wide awake in less than a second of hearing that voice.  It’s never good.  He called to let me know that he was on the scene of a terrible accident that had occurred a mile down the road from RHFH, just minutes earlier, involving a tap-tap.  A tap-tap is a Haitian taxi, and in this case, it was a pickup truck with built-up sides around the bed in order to hold a ridiculous amount of people.  One common factor about tap-taps: they are horribly crowded and nearly always over-capacity.  This tap-tap’s brakes had failed – yet another common trait – and in the driver’s best effort to crash gently, it overturned.  Over thirty people were riding on this pickup truck, on their way to market in Cazale.  Many of the passengers were vendors, hauling bags of rice and other goods to sell. 
Brennon’s call was to tell me to get ready, it was bad.  Dead bodies.  People trapped underneath the truck.  The injured would be heading our way to the clinic soon.  Get ready!  As my adrenaline began to kick in, and hearing the hopelessness in my husband’s voice, I told him I loved him.  I always do.  No matter what the context of the conversation, it’s important to me for him to know I love him.  But especially in those dark, hard times, I want him to feel me with him.  Because I am. 
Everyone was scurrying around the yard, preparing as best we could for the unknown.  I couldn’t even count the times I said to myself, “What should I do?”  Knowing a tidal wave was about to hit, the likes of which I have never seen, was very surreal.  It was intimidating.  As we could hear the motos (motorcycle taxis) pulling up with the first injured to be treated, I grabbed my 17 year old daughter, hugged her tight, and we prayed.  The two of us felt so underequipped and useless, but we prayed to just let Jesus be seen through us and RHFH this day.  If nothing else, let these people see You, Lord.
Twenty-seven injured people came to RHFH.  A few had only minor injuries, many had non-life threatening injuries that were substantial, and some were fighting to stay alive. 
Blood.  Contorted limbs.  Moaning. 
The quietness of the unconscious. 
A couple of really horrific injuries….the kind that the sight of them will forever be engrained into my memory.  “Graphic” doesn’t even begin to describe it. 
Two traumatized children, banged up and hurting, who feared their grandmother was dying. 
Strength unlike any I’ve ever seen.  An elderly woman who chose to walk to the ambulance rather than be carried, despite her substantial loss of blood.  A man that silently grimaced in pain, lying on the concrete with broken bones, without complaint or demanding help, patiently waiting, grateful for a drink of water. 

The crowd gathering outside the gate, filled with anxiety and emotion.  Some just wanting to get a peek.
The ambulances, what a miracle!  We hoped for two, but five showed up in an incredible response time of just an hour and a half (remember, we are deep in the mountains).
Despite the odds, every injured person that entered the yard at RHFH left here alive.  Incredible.
Like a hurricane, the casualties came in.  And in a blur, we looked up and it was over. 
I managed to find my place to lend a hand throughout that crazy morning.  Handing out ice packs, distributing water to patients and staff, wiping up blood and disinfecting, keeping communication rolling, and lots of comforting.  Lesley photographed patients, documenting injuries and ambulance loadings, cleaned up used supplies lying in the yard, and assisted staff putting i.v.’s in patients. 
The noon hour rolled in.  The regular Tuesday Clinic, with 216 scheduled appointments, resumed….like nothing extraordinary ever happened.     
The Lord was with us in this yard Tuesday.  No doubt.  He's always here.... but I tell ya, He was HERE that morning. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Most Beautiful Woman

Today I met the most beautiful woman. 
She has deep wrinkles from many years of living a hard life deep in the mountains of Haiti.
She is slender and muscular, because she doesn’t get to eat much food and has to work hard.
She is a great-great grandmother.  She is a widow.    
She isn’t sure of her age, because they just didn’t keep up with the years back when she was young.
She believes in Jesus.  She knows He takes care of her. 
She has faith in her loving, always-present Father.  She sings His praises.  She shares her stories of how the Lord is always watching over and blessing her.
Her only support comes from her church, a little meeting place up in the mountains.  The poorest of the poor, following the Word, they sacrifice and share so that this widow is taken care of.  The purest example of the Church.  True worship (James 1:27). 

Today she followed what Jesus told her to do.  She brought her granddaughter’s son, a little boy two years of age, to Real Hope for Haiti.  On her own, she has cared for this child, abandoned by his mother, for the past year.  It has been difficult, and she needs help. 
Her words:
Nourishment she cannot provide him.  That she needs help with.
Jesus, she has plenty of Jesus to share with him, though. 

This wise woman of many years is a wonderful example of what a beautiful woman of faith looks like. 
Strength.  Not of her own, but fully from Jesus.
Faith.  In all things, believing He is in control.
Worship.  In the moment He blesses, that is the time to sing His praises, proclaim His name, and dance with joy for the grace He provides. 
What an honor I had today to kiss the cheek of such a beautiful woman of God.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Settling In

It’s been almost three weeks since we hauled our ridiculous amount of luggage to the airport, in true Beverly Hillbillies style, and boarded our plane for Haiti.  The days tend to fly by here; it doesn’t seem possible that three weeks have already passed.  Yet, we have settled so comfortably into our new surroundings and feel very at home.  It is such a good feeling to not only be familiar with names and faces of the staff, but to realize that they are becoming familiar and comfortable around us.  A joyful “Bon jour!” in the morning, a shared laugh over our efforts of speaking Creole, and patient tolerance as we begin to learn from our new friends.  Our family not only feels welcomed here at Real Hope for Haiti, but loved as well.  What a blessing.

Our family is currently still living in the RHFH guest house as our home is being finished out.  It is almost ready, and we are eager to move in.  Living out of suitcases is not too enjoyable, but we’ve come to realize that this is the transition that we truly did needed.  We did not have to suddenly face all the responsibilities and challenges associated with living independently, such as meal preparation and having clean drinking water.  In other words, the culture shock of our new lifestyle has been at a minimum, for which we are very thankful.       
Brennon at the end of another long day on the mountain.

Brennon has been working long, hard, dusty hours up at the construction site.  Progress is steady, but everything here in Haiti is ten times (or more) difficult than back home in the States.  He recently said to me, as he was digging through his suitcase with all his tools in it, “Do you know how hard it is to just START a truck in Haiti?!”  Well, no, but I was sure I would soon hear all about it.  I’ve been so proud of Brennon’s patience since we’ve been here.  I know he’s been being prepared for many years for the bang-your-head-against-the-wall challenges he is dealing with on a daily basis.  Now, I can’t say that I’ve been quite as prepared to wash his work clothes….by hand.  Good grief!  I think he brings part of that mountain home with him every day in those Carhartts!  But once again, I realize that I have absolutely nothing to complain about – I have the luxury of washing our clothes here at the house, comfortably cool in front of a fan.  Many of our neighbors don’t have that luxury, and are down at the river to do their laundry, having walked a good distance down the mountain with their heavy load of clothes in a basin on top of their head.  I am fortunate indeed.

Wiped out after spending the evening playing in the rain.

It’s been fun to watch my 11 year old learn to be a kid since we’ve arrived here.  With no television or Playstation, she’s been forced to entertain herself by doing crazy things such as participate in an after-dark game of Hide & Seek, take turns swinging in a hammock, playing in the rain, and different activities requiring the use of this thing called imagination.  While she does get to have a little bit of digital time with her DS game, and she can watch a movie on our little DVD player, she has spent hours upon hours making crafts, coloring, reading (yes, reading!) and building a fort on the balcony.  I discovered that she snatched the sheet off my bed to construct one of the fort’s “walls,” but being so delighted by her ingenuity (and the fact that she was perfectly entertained by her construction project for an entire day), I made due with using a beach towel as my sheet (not that one needs to do much covering up while sleeping here).  Brianna is enjoying having friends to play and be silly with, and we are so thankful that the Betor boys have welcomed her in, making her feel right at home.  Probably the most important detail worth noting would be that she is more than ready for us to move into our house so that she can finally have a pet kitten.  I can’t even tell you how often she has asked, “When do we get to go home?”  I have to ask her every time, “Our new house, or the one in Kentucky?”  Most of the times, the answer is the new house.  Fuzzy, adorable kitties trump everything else.   

Lesley has only taken a few thousand photos since we arrived.

Lesley has been getting into the groove here.  She is like a kid in a candy store with the abundance of mangoes and quenep fruit available to us.  Her camera is getting quite a workout, as is her computer.  She’s discovered that she does well with working on big, tedious projects in the office.  It’s been fun to see her gleam over accomplishing a gnarly task and marking it off the to-do list.  I must give her an “A” for effort in trying to assist in the clinic, even though she can only hang in there for a few minutes at a time when someone is getting stitches or an i.v.  “I’ve tried to watch, Mom, I just ….couldn’t.”  Poor kid is truly her mother’s daughter.  She’s sticking to photography assignments and projects that don’t involve needles.  And that’s perfectly okay!  It is precious to watch her interact with the kids here, especially when she shares her love for music with Nerline.  She beams with pride when Nerline starts tapping her foot and moving to the beat as Lesley introduces her to her favorite bands, like Florence and the Machine.  Good music is fabulous therapy, for everyone.

Sunday afternoons are best spent lounging on the couch! 

Then there’s me.  God has stretched me and equipped me to do things that I would never have dreamed of doing, and I certainly would not have expected having a desire to do them!  I am amazed at myself when I assist with an i.v. and realize that I’m staring at a needle and not turning green.  That’s huge for me!  I hate needles, and actually, I’m really quite pathetic around anything medical.  That’s how I know that our God has a great sense of humor.  The setting that would be the last thing I’d ever choose, he has put me right in the middle of, equipped me to cope with it exceedingly well , and enjoy it!  Lesson learned:  never put boundaries on what you are willing to do for the Lord.  Just trust Him, and He’ll take care of all the details.

I have been busy with projects in the office, learning everything I can.  The best moments of my days are spent loving on the kids here.  I feel that it is a huge privilege to be able to hold a hurting child, providing comfort and a mommy’s touch.  One day last week was really a tough one for me, with crisis after crisis happening all around me.  I’m just not used to it yet, so it was very draining.  Late that afternoon, I took a few minutes just to go hang out with the kids in the ICU room.  One little girl in particular has tugged at my heart, completely rejecting any affection we try to give her.  Not only has her body been ravaged by malnutrition, but her heart is broken from neglect.  I see the emotional pain in her eyes, and it rattles me to my core.  On that particularly crazy, hectic day, I was given the opportunity to pause.  I sat with her.  I made silly faces.  I tickled her belly.  I kissed her forehead. 

And then, she smiled.   Even giggled a tiny, itty-bitty giggle.  She allowed me to pick her up, and we cuddled there on her cot for a little while.

That is what it’s all about.  Victory in Jesus.  Through that little girl, I saw my Father.  I pray that she saw Him through me.


"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15