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Thursday, April 1, 2010


A three year old boy is brought to our hospital/clinic by his father, three or four days after the earthquake. How long did they walk to find us? What did this child, his father, and the rest of his family and neighborhood endure in the days before we saw them? The child, Clifford, has an open tib/fib fracture, meaning that his lower leg is broken with the skin open exposing bone, muscle, ligaments, and tendons... as well as miniscule pieces of rock, parts of the cement wall that fell on him. A medical student cleans out the wound with Betadine, peroxide, gauze, and tweezers to pull out debris, an excruciatingly painful process for Clifford without anesthesia. While other patients attempt to sleep on their cots, benches, and tables, floodlights are aimed in the direction of Clifford and his father. An IV is placed by a medical student to re-hydrate him and administer antibiotics. "Don't you see my suffering?!" Clifford shouts out in Creole. The doctors surrounding Clifford suddenly burst into laughter. They are not being cruel. It is just a surprise to hear these words coming from a three year old.

I make the rounds that night, handing out pain and sleep medication to those shifting and crying out on their cots and tables. Ashley sleeps for a few hours at the guest house. Clifford continuously runs a fever so his father and I gently try to coerce him to take liquid Tylenol. That definitely does not fly. So, years of working to get children to take medication (or forcing them to when they don't fall for it) serves me well and we hold him down to squirt it in his mouth. He glares at me with pure hatred. He's adorable. I lay for a few hours that night on a cot outside with the patients. Every time I look behind me, I see a man in black clothing sitting in the doorway to the inside of the boys' home. He is a new guard at the boys home. As I'm burrowing under a blanket I find out his name is Peter. I lay on my cot and start to laugh inside. This situation is extremely funny to me. I keep looking back at Peter and thinking, "Is this really my life?" I'm "sleeping" outside with a bunch of wounded and broken, yet extremely brave, people and a very intimidating looking man in the shadows, having survived an earthquake and a "tsunami." The MdL kids are a few feet away, hopefully snoozing peacefully in "the Bens." But I feel safe. And these people are my family now. We have survived together and endured together. As we have done everything to protect them, I know they and their family or friends with them will protect me. As will Peter.

A few hours later the guards walk Ashley and I between the boys' home and the guesthouse so we can change shifts. I lay on my bed, but again, sleep eludes me. Ashley loving tends to our patients by herself for the next few hours.

We make it through another day tending to the wounded. As it grows dark, the doctors announce they need to perform a more invasive cleaning of the wound- an I & D. Lidocaine is administered, the dressing is removed, and Ashley and I stand by to assist. I assume one of the few positions I had actually filled in the states and in Haiti before the earthquake and one I enjoy- comforting the patient (which also involves restraining him and preventing him from touching his leg). His dad stands with me and we whisper words of comfort, which seem very futile. "Don't you see my suffering?!" is shouted by little Clifford again. Laughter. "Bam ti diri! (give me a little rice!)" Laughter. The docs translate his pleas for relief. He's a smart little kid in a baby body. "Put a diaper on my $%##@!" The yelling continues. "#@%^%& you mommy!" Laughter allows us to deal with the absurdity of the situation. Clifford's dad even releases a few chuckles. The look of hatred is aimed in my direction once again.

After a night of administering IV fluids and antibiotics, Clifford continues to run a fever and his wound doesn't look good. Where can we take him for more treatment? According to Marlval, the roads are a mess and the hospitals that are still standing and functioning are over-crowded. He could lose his leg or his life if the infection in his leg does not improve or spreads into his bloodstream or organs. The day before, a group from a Canadian news channel showed up at our orphanage to interview and film the Manasseros. Susette finds their business card and puts in a call to them, hoping that they'll know someone who will know someone. A few hours later, a small team of medical professionals descends upon the boys' home. We fill them in on Clifford's status and we wish him and his father well. They quickly drive off with our patient and his father to an Israeli field hospital that opened up after the earthquake.

Before getting back to work, we stand around, marveling at how God was working in the details. As we fretted over this child, God showed up in a big way. Rather, he was always there and working... he just revealed himself and his work right then. Just as He had provided the supplies and medical personnel to care for our neighborhood in the minutes, hours, and days after the quake, He provided the Israeli hospital and its people to care for His child.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds forever in Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4:6-7

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
Psalm 46

I wish I could say that I was the picture of one trusting in the Lord in this situation and others after the earthquake. Sometimes, all I could see was my inadequacy. When I saw the Lord working as he worked in this situation, I was reminded to look up. To look up at Him, instead of at myself. When I focus on myself, I am disappointed and worry. When I focus on Him, I see His compassion and care for the poor, for the wounded, for the worrier.

Check out a video that features this child and many of ours at MdL here. Clifford is the first bandaged leg you see in the video.

The children share their thanks for helping with Haiti relief and helping Child Hope/Maison de Lumiere here.

I don't have any pictures of precious Clifford, so I thought I'd post some of my beautiful friend, Erta, along with cutie-pie Estaline.