Monday, April 30, 2012

A Night in the Airport, Round Two

Whew, it has been a long day. I guess the only way to explain why I am staying in an airport AGAIN, is to start at the beginning. The morning started with Danielle, Andrew, Stewart and I all heading to the airport with Rick, Andrew's father driving. Rick got a call from Matt, one of the teacher from the seminary who was heading back on the IBC flight from Ft. Lauderdale. He told Rick that the flight had to turn back around to Ft. Lauderdale because of mechanical issues. Our flight was scheduled to board at 9:30 AM, this was 8 AM, and the flight is two and a half hours long. So I prayed in the backseat on the way to the airport. Andrew was flying to Port, so he got into a different terminal. Stewart, Danielle and I waited in the IBC terminal. Around 10 AM Stewart left for his Miami flight. Danielle and I prayed and read the Word, we had no news about when the flight would be there. We met a couple teams from Oklahoma and Florida, we stayed with them and one of them let me use their phone to call my Dad and let him know what was going on.

So we continued to wait... and wait... and wait... Soon all of the IBC staff left. We heard news that if the plane did not come Tuesday, then it would not come at all. So we continued to wait. We were hungry and desperate for any sort of news. We entertained ourselves by talking about our passions, what we did in Haiti and card games. Finally we heard word that the plane would be arriving around 4:30 PM. The plane thankfully did, so we boarded and left at 5:00 PM.

I can officially say that I've been to the Bahamas. We had to stop there for a quick refuel.

Danielle and I finally arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 9:00 PM. We got through immigration quickly. BUT we ended up missing all of our flights out.

So here we are.

In Ft. Lauderdale airport.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

What if...

... Grace didn't have a roof? Would there still be church services in the building? Would people still come and worship while the building is being built? Would people sit on plastic lawn chairs, under the sun, next to piles of cement blocks, broken rocks, and concrete mixers? Would Grace continue to meet?

Today I was a special guest, along with another missionary, to a baptist church in town. Church started at 7:30 AM, so we had to leave at 6:45 AM. It was back off the main road, on top of a hill. When we stopped I had to hop through a pile of sand to get out. We walked up a couple sets of stairs into a massive building. It was three stories high. There were people packed under the balcony sections. Erica and I were instructed by Léonie to write our names down on a piece of paper, so we obliged. We were then given front row seats along the side. Léonie was beside herself with excitement, it was her churches final day of Harvest Festival, so today was a big deal. She told Erica that she wanted me to experience something that I would never forget, and I have to say that this church service lived up to her wishes. The senior pastor introduced us to the entire congregation and we were welcomed many, many times and thanked for coming. I'm sure that blancs at the church was a pretty huge deal. We sat and watched as the service started. They talked about the different Sunday school classes and how each had taken up a special offering to give for the Harvest. Soon 600 children ages two to 15 began walking across the front of the church to give their offerings. This last for about thirty minutes. Then we sang a few songs, and then a group of women from the church called "Tabitha" began presenting their gifts. These women were mostly older, they went to people's homes, or to visit people in hospital or jail and pray with them. The women from Tabitha all brought produce. Tons of it. It was explained that after the service they would be selling the produce to pay for finishing the construction of the building. Yes, that's right. This church was only half built. They pray off the rain every Sunday in order to worship. It was quite spectacular.

The pastor preached on Psalm 100. Even through Erica's translation, the message was still clear to me. We need to be joyful, no matter what. Imagine in America, a church that is only half way built, full of people praying to keep the rain that has been falling for the past week away, and the pastor gives a message on staying joyful. I can't imagine anything like this happening at all.

After the service I had a group of the girls from the church all dressed up in white and pink dresses grabbing my hands and asking my name. They would gingerly help push my hair away when the wind would blow it in my face. I was asked many questions in Creole, most I did not understand. Until one girl pulled me down to her and asked me to give her one dollar, in English. I couldn't help but chuckle. That was followed up by some other little girls asking me to take them home with me. The Haitian person is incredibly bold.

The rest of the day was amazing. My new friend Danielle got back from the mobile medical clinic she was on. She told me many, many stories about her time. We went to EBF, where Enoch and I talked the incredibly shy Danielle into possibly doing a special at church Sunday! She's played piano for the past 17 years. Afterwards we went over to Dr. Rodney's house to spend some time with Vadaan, Roud, Oley, and Aleesha. We had Roud practice reading to me and I was so proud to see that he is doing better. I intend to start going over more frequently to continue practicing with him... maybe he will get bumped up a reading level!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Precious Life

These past few days have been some of the most emotional that I have had since coming to Haiti. Emotional in a way that causes you to put everything you have in God because he knows so much better than you do.

It started Wednesday, when I decided to go with Meg to the clinic. It was prenatal day so we saw lots of pregnant women. But then we saw a baby. An eight pound four month old. When her mom moved her she would start coughing, but she slept just like an infant. As Meg talked to the mother, we learned that the baby hadn't been eating for a while, so the mother was feeding her table food to try and get nutrients in her. This was a very sick baby. Meg decided to get the baby girl hooked up to a Lactated Ringer (IV with nutrients in it) so she could get fluids and nutrients. We took the baby back to a bed in the clinic, and Meg started taking the babies clothes off. The mother started to cry as Meg explained to her that her baby was very sick. It was incredibly heart breaking. You could see the baby's chest in and out because her breathing was so distressed. Meg and four other nurses worked to try and get the baby hooked up to the IV. They tried to find veins. The only problem was that this baby was so dehydrated her veins had collapsed. They found a vein in her right arm that they could use, but as soon as they put the IV in, it was no good. So they tried her left arm, it was also no good. Finally they tried her left foot, they got it, and then lost the vein. I prayed hard under my breath for a miracle to keep this baby alive. They had only her right foot left to try, after this, there was not too much more they could do for the baby. The nurses searched and the baby tried to squirm and scream, but she was too weak to make too much of an impact. They found a vein in her right foot, I prayed hard. They were able to inject the antibiotic that she needed for a suspected respiratory infection through the IV. Then they worked to set the IV up the rest of the way. Meg gave the baby Chloroquine for suspected Malaria. And we watched the IV slowly drip, too slowly. Meg and the nurses decided that there was nothing else that they could do for the baby. The IV was too slow, and she was not getting the nutrients that she needed through the veins that we were able to find. We told the mother that she would have to take her baby to Justinian, a hospital about 20 minutes away. The mother cried because she didn't have the money to take her baby there. Meg gave her some money to get the baby checked in... and we prayed.

We never heard anything more about the baby or the eighteen year old girl who was her mother.

Thursday I again decided to go with Meg to the clinic. We saw many patients. But there was one that stood out. He was carried in by his mother. He was seventeen years old. At first, I thought that he was severely malnourished. His arms were stick thin, his knees knobby. As Meg talked with him, she learned that he ate well, and slept well. So he should be healthy. She continued talking to the boy and his elderly mother and found out that up until two years ago, he was perfectly healthy. He then started losing strength in his upper arms and thighs. This was much more serious than malnutrition. As Meg continued talking to him and his mother, she learned that he was adopted from the streets by this woman, so she had no knowledge of his parents at all. This may be a genetic disorder. We also learned that he had been taken to Justinian right before this all started for a blood transfusion due to anemia. This could be syphilis or HIV. We learned that he had been to many different hospitals and clinics trying to find an answer for what had made him lose his strength. Meg decided, based on what she could see, that his condition was irreversible and permanent. She explained to the boy and his mother that even though he has this condition, and that he will probably die from it, that he should not be afraid. He is in God's hands. None of us know when our last day is coming, so everyday we should wake up praising God for giving us another day to praise and serve him. Since the mother was carrying the boy around, Meg and I went to look for a wheelchair. We couldn't find one, so we went back to the room where they were because there was a walker with a seat. Meg gave the walker to the boy and helped the mother get him seated on it. This was she would no longer have to carry the boy around. Meg asked him if he was happy and he shook his head "no." Meg gave him a hug, and has she held him he began to cry. So we prayed over him. By the end we were all crying. I ran back to the house to get some money to give to the boy and his mother so that he could continue to eat well. Meg sent the boy for labs just to be sure that he didn't have anything that they could check for at Bethesda.

Meg said that when she walked by the boy and his mother again, he gave her a big huge smile. Hearing about the smile reminds me that we should praise God no matter what our circumstance and to never take my good health for granted.

It's so sad being in a country where the people are unable to get proper medical attention as soon as they need it. Or answers to health concerns. Or tests to find out exactly what is wrong with them. Or attention when it is critically needed. But God has them all in his hands. He knows them by name, what is wrong with them, and how much longer they have to praise Him.

In more joyous news, I applied for a summer job back home in Erie. It is 23 mornings, Monday through Thursday, from 8:45 to 12:30, working for Carpe Diem, Mercyhurst's new initiative in the inner city school districts in Erie. It pays very, very well.

I got the job, and my own classroom.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Salt and Vinegar

At home, my mom uses vinegar for everything. My dad, brother, and I all make fun of her for it because she buys it by the gallon, and usually three or four gallons at a time.

I am currently sitting on my bed with paper towels drenched in vinegar laying across my back. It just so happens that one of the many uses of vinegar is to take the sting out of a sun burn. This past weekend we went to Cormier, a beach resort over the mountains. I put SPF 100 on every part of my body... except my back. I pretty much hate myself for this foolish mistake. I have one of the worst sunburns of my entire life, blisters and all.  With a shirt on, I can tolerate it, but with undergarments... I am holding back tears and clenching my jaw. So I stayed home from school today to rest, drink lots of water, soak my back in vinegar and aloe vera, and pray to God that something takes the pain away.

But there are more pressing matters to tell you about...

Thursday I had my first bracelet making session with three beautiful girls. But I can't for the life of me remember their names. None of them speak English, and we didn't have a translator, so things were rough at first. Somehow they understood, and starting making the "bracelets." I say this loosely because I was just having them practice the stitch over and over again. Pastor James and Pastor Migueloson stopped by, so of course there was much laughter and joking. At the end, I allowed the girls to pick out more colors so that they could make bracelets at home, and then bring them to me.

Today, the girls came again. They presented me with 23 bracelets that they made over the weekend. I then taught them how to make a chevron bracelet, they sang songs while Breanna danced around the living room. Despite the language barrier, I think that the meetings go well. We all pray together at the end, and they take more string to continue making bracelets at home. I was able to give them 25 Gouds per bracelets, which is roughly 60 cents US. I had hoped to give them more, but the amount that they brought back was more than I was anticipating the first week. I intend to get more money out of my back account so I can pay them a bit more Thursday when they come back again.

Saturday we went to Cormier with Bud and Jane's daughters that are visiting, and their household help. Mano, the yard man, brought his sweet daughter Gerlande. She was the source of so much joy for us throughout the day. In order to get to the beach you have to go through town and up over the mountains on a one lane road. This often means that there are other cars going the opposite way that you cannot see because of the twists in the road. Not only was that a bit scary, but we were also in the back of a truck. It had high sides, but it was much more comfortable to stand than sit, making a blanc truck full of blancs quite the site to behold. I've taken to waving to the little children because they all stare anyways. We got to the beach after an hour long ride that would have probably taken about 20 minutes in the states. Cormier was beautifully out of place. It is essentially a resort for the Haitians. It cost 5 US dollars to get in, about 800 Gouds. The sand was so white, the water so blue. The coral reef was just a few feet past when you waded in waist level. The beach was lined with white lounge chairs, there was a volley ball court, tennis courts and a restaurant. It seemed so out of place compared to the beached on either side that were full of Haitians laughing, dancing, and singing. We took Gerlande into the ocean for the first time and she had a blast. She loved the waves, and finding coral in the sand. We introduced her to the cheeseburger and french fries with ketchup. She ate half of her double cheeseburger, which was about as big as she, and refused to give the second half to the waitress to allow her to cover it with foil for later. She clung to the plastic bag that it was in for the rest of lunch. After lunch we went back out to look for beach glass, and the sun cooked my back. Afterwards was more cuddling with Gerlande she wanted to hold my hand the way out to the truck and over to see the bird cages filled with Budgies, Love Birds, Parrots, and Cockatiels... AKA my mom's heaven. She insisted that I sat with her on the truck, where she fell asleep on my lap on the way home. We eventually moved her into the truck with Gretchen and Bud who was driving. When we got back to the compound, Gretchen and Marcia gave her some hair clips which lit up her entire face. Melt my heart.

Tomorrow is my last lesson before Easter break, the Easter egg hunt, and the Principal's Party (a reward based on the school wide behavior program). Stephen, Meg's brother, will also be getting into town then. Wednesday, our first day of Easter break, we are driving out to Children of the Promise, which I am SO excited about.

Meg is taking up a donation to buy baby formula for Bethesda Medical Clinic here on the compound. There is a dire need for formula for HIV Positive mothers who should not breast feed, and also mothers who are uneducated about breast feeding practices, and need some supplemental formula while they are attempting to restart their breast milk production. Please consider helping Meg's cause to purchase more formula, bottles and nipples.

Please continue to pray for all of our health and well being.