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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yesterday afternoon I was hanging out at the boys home when Daniel sat down and told Cindy and I that he had just seen a goat have a baby. Actually, he got his words confused and said that he saw "two goats having a baby." It took a few hilarious minutes, but we finally figured out that he had seen two goats being born. Daniel asked to go show us where the goats were, near the clinic, so Cindy and I took a group of the younger boys to go check them out, stopping along the way to get Kaitlyn and my camera.

Mama goat and Baby goat

We were oohing and awing over the cute little goats in the bushes when we began to feel a few rain drops. Then quickly the sky turned dark and a swift wind blew over the neighborhood. We started running to get under shelter (I'm not scared of a little rain, but I didn't want my camera to get wet). I got inside the guest house gate, then peaked through its opening. A stream of parents and children who'd been waiting to enter our feeding program were running and screaming down the street in the drenching rain. When it rains during the feeding program usually we'll do a shorter version- feed the kids, but not have sports, coloring time, worship or a sermon. Today the people knew this rain was different. Erta was taking cover with me and said that people were thinking we were having another earthquake. It may sound ridiculous as an earthquake doesn't usually have massive winds and rain with it, but there is pervasive fear here about earthquakes and unusual weather. Also, many people's homes are tents right now....enough said. I put my camera away, grabbed my hooded jacket, and ran over with Kaitlyn to check on the girls. But not before seeing our big truck parked at the guesthouse with a tree branch lying on top of it.
**all further pictures are Kaitlyn's
The girls were all huddled together underneath the front awning of their house. My suggestions to go inside the house were ignored. Hey, a hurricane is coming, so let's stand outside! A few kids from the feeding program as well as our laundresses and cooks and their children took shelter there as well. Haitians love to sing, so to ease the distress and calm the situation, I suggested to Mari, a cook, that she begin to sing. Many of the children and adults were fervently praying as well. We watched as the storm thrashed around us and held the kids tightly when they screamed during the thunder. To lighten the mood (maybe I am inappropriate during a serious situation, but that's probably my coping mechanism) I began to briefly sing "raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens." As Daphne hid against my chest, I couldn't help thinking of The Sound of Music, my favorite movie, and the scene where the kids hide with Maria during the storm. A couple girls laughed as they remembered watching the movie. A brother came to get his four siblings at the girls home, walking through the door shirtless and shoeless, in boxers.

The girls home huddle

Boxer shorts boy with his siblings

Earlier in the day Susette had shared with the kids and I that a team from the states would be coming to spend the afternoon at the feeding program, leading worship and skits. This group is African American and the kids love them. During the storm a couple girls had asked if I thought the team would still come. As the rain and win finally let up, some girls peaked out the door and came running back, shouting, "The American Blacks are here!" Erta, Susette, and others rounded up the feeding program kids from outside, the girls home, and the near by tent cities (which I've heard was pretty much destroyed within minutes). We congregated inside the boys home and the "American blacks" performed skits, shared the bible, danced, sang, and worshiped with the feeding program kids and our kids. It was a beautiful blessing to all the kids and a welcome respite from the fear.

While we were involved in the activities at the boys' home, a team visiting from CA was down in a tent city, repairing some homes (tents). Kaitlyn took an awesome picture of one of the men they were helping, a father of one of our feeding program kids, walking down the street with a machete, taking branches and wood to repair his family's tent.

Machete Man

At the end of the "American Blacks'" time with the kids, we prayed together for the kids then the parents came to pick up their children. What did these families experience last night, in the cold and in the mud? Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers, as they wait for the money that was raised to be given out to rebuild Haiti and homes.

Here's an article- Haitians Cry in Letters: ‘Please — Do Something!’-
describing the situation in Haiti right now.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Difficult, Mysterious, and Wonderful



Rain. "Yes!" I sometimes think when it rains. Its cooling off, I can just go outside to shower, and it reminds me of being in Seattle and makes me want to settle down with a good book, put on sweats, and drink coffee. The flip side: thousands of people are living in tents since the earthquake. A tent does not have a wooden or metal door. A tent does not have windows. A tent lets in rain, mosquitos, mud, and disease. Brooke, it is
not about you. A tent means that kids and adults are sicker, sleep less, and are preyed upon by rapists and thieves. Add rain to that and now you know (or maybe Haiti has fallen off your raider and you don't know. I pray that if so, maybe this blog or others will get it back on there.) why there is so much talk about getting housing for Haitians.

Pregnancy. I often have women come into my clinic asking to take pregnancy tests. A couple of months ago when there were two nurses visiting and helping, a 20 year old girl came in asking to take a pregnancy test. She seemed very sweet and innocent...and beautiful. Her test was positive. Other times, when I've had women test positive and I ask them how they feel about being pregnat, a few have said, "I feel nothing." This young lady's emotion was written all over her face. Tears sprung to her eyes. We prayed for her, I gave her some vitamins and instructions about going to another hospital for a more thorough exam and teaching, and then the three of us nurses sat there, quietly looking at each other with tears also in our eyes. On Tuesday of this week she came back. She'd recently had her period and wanted to do another pregnancy test. Before I handed it to her, she told me that when she told her parents that she'd had her period after already telling them she was pregnant, they told her they thought she'd taken a medicine to abort the baby. She swore to me she hadn't and I believe her. She took the test and it showed she was no longer pregnant... if she really was before. I explained that the first test could have been a false positive, told her to get checked out again by another doctor, then prayed for her. What hopes did she have for this baby and for all the newness it would bring in the midst of fear and uncertainty? She seemed upset again, but maybe she was actually relieved. Does she have money to visit a doctor? I pray I wonder if I should have offered her some.

Why do I do this work here? Because Jesus has given me a love and compassion for the Haitian people that I never thought possible. As I learn every day here, its not about me. Its about glorifying Him, the one who gave His life for us and loves the Haitians and knows their pain more than I ever could.

Poop. I recently had a conversation with an Haitian friend who started taking vitamins as he wasn't eating very healthy. His complaint about the vitamins? They make him poop everyday. "Well, how often did you poop before taking the vitamins," I asked. "Once a week," was the response. What The....? So the subject of poop came up once again in conversation with another Haitian friend. She was prescribed two antibiotics and if you are a doctor, nurse, or unlucky patient, you know taking two antibiotics at once can hurt the crap out of you! Her complaint: I'm pooping twice a day! Curiosity got the best of me and I asked, "How often did you poop before?" "Once a week. Sometimes once or twice a month." Are you freaking kidding me? Wouldn't one get a distended stomach with all that poop being kept inside? All this talk about poop transitioned into Cindy and I talking about Dr. Oz. You know the doctor who likes to wear his scrubs all the time on the Oprah show? I love the episode where he showed the intestines and described what normal, healthy poop looks like. Tonight I asked a group of our boys and a group of our girls how often they poop. Again, some said only once a week, others every three days. There was no embarrassment on anyone's part- just laughter. The girls said very few of them pooped the week they went to the Provence (countryside) to see their families because they facilities for doing so were less than stellar. I'm starting to wonder if what people call diarrhea is really that. Maybe its just that they are pooping more frequently than their normal? Let's get some more vegetables in the Haitian population!

To be continued.....

Saturday, September 11, 2010


....or soccer. Yesterday the whole orphanage and many of its staff attended a futbol/soccer game by the Haitian Amputee Soccer Team, which was created after the earthquake. When I heard about it, I began to get all weepy. What hope this must give these people who have suffered so much in the last year. Each team member played without his prosthetic and ran around using crutches. I was inspired and I hope you will be too by just the pictures.

"When I lost my limbs in the earthquake I thought my life was over. But God helped me and now that I am playing soccer and working with great coaches, I have much hope for the future." - Cesar, Goalie.

The team has been invited to play in the 2010 Paralympic World Cup in Argentina this October. They need to raise $50,000 in order to participate. Go to in order to find out more about it or to donate.

After the amputee team played, the older boys at our orphanage played Quisceya Christian school, a school for missionary kids and the bourgeois (elite, wealthier class). All of our kids and staff are excited when the boys or girls have the opportunity to play and have some real competition. Haitians are fantastic soccer players. Our boys won, 5-2!

Mdl boys

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm still learning...

In many ways, life and people in Haiti are similar to life and people in America. However, I daily learn that in no way have I completely learned or understood Haitian people and its culture. Case in point:
  • Money: Last week I had another doctor visit with Estaline. While waiting for about five hours for her to be seen by a pediatrician, I gave her a five goude (Haitian coin) to play with. I know, give a small child money? Please hold your judgement. I had no other toy to give her and I watched her like a hawk. At no point did she try to put it in her mouth. If she'd tried even once, I was going to take it away. To her, it was just a toy and I think she knew it was not food. This girl knows her food! I'd throw the coin on the ground- ALL Haitian children I know play on the ground (maybe the bougouis children don't?) and she'd hold onto the chair or me with one hand and bend down to pick it up. If I threw it farther than her ability to reach it, she'd sit down and reach for it. She'd clasp it in her hand and smile up at me proudly and I'd clap for her. For Estaline, this is nothing short of a miracle. This was therapy for her, but she was completely clueless and actually delighted in the activity, which she rarely does when moving. As we were playing, I heard some mumbling and grumbling coming from the lady sitting next to me who works at the clinic, something to do with money. I continued with our play. Suddenly, the lady reached out and snatched the coin from Estaline's hand. I looked at her, probably with anger, and said in Creole, "Why did you do that? She wasn't bothering you." She proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't let a child play with a coin. I explained that she wasn't putting it in her mouth, she was exercising her legs and trunk which she really needs to do, and asked her "Are you her mother?" Somehow, it was like my Creole self took over and I was able to express all my anger and frustration that I would certainly have not been able to do in English. The woman responded that she has her own kids. Another woman nearby entered the conversation to say that Estaline could put her dirty hands in her mouth. I explained that she hadn't tried once and I showed her the bottle of Purell that I had packed in my purse. I asked the first woman not to pay attention to Estaline and looked away from her and gave the coin back to Estaline and she played happily once again. Willy B, along for the fun of a doctor's appointment, explained that Haitians don't let children play with money. Did I disrespect the Haitian culture? Maybe. Not intentionally, though. I just wanted Estaline to work, for once with joy. Maybe I disrespected American culture too or all mothers.
  • Driving: About a month ago I went on a visit to see if I could help Fritz's ill sister. I had asked Fritz if I could practice driving in Haiti on the way to his sister's house. Generous guy that he is (and trusting), he readily agreed. Fritz has the only automatic car in our ministry, and I am not proficient at driving a manual (next skill to learn, as many of our boys are learning and I feel some healthy competition against them), so his car is my only option to drive here so far. Well, that afternoon, he pulled up in his car with his brother, two nieces, daughter, and then myself and two nurses jumped in as well. Uh, drive for the first time with seven gawking passengers? No, I drove from the boys home to around the corner and stopped at a church. Yes, they laughed at me, but whatever. Last Thursday I was talking to Marlval about whether he thought Fritz would let me use his car to take a few kids to get blood work at a nearby hospital and if he could drive us. Marlval said I should just drive us in Fritz's car. "You have to do it sometime, so just do it tomorrow." Everyone (at least the adults) seemed to trust me enough to drive the car, so off we went the next am. Erta was in the passenger seat, with Katrina, Christella, Oline, and Chedline in the back. The whole way to the hospital, Katrina repeatedly said, "I didn't know you could drive!" The difficult part for me wasn't navigating through the crazy drivers, but making sure I didn't fly over a pothole. In Haiti, many people drive all over the road instead of in a lane, there are very few stop lights, and people may step out in front of you at any time. Who cares, as it was exhilarating to experience such freedom! After our hospital visit I returned back home, too afraid to make the market run I needed done, as its a bit farther than the hospital. Two fun visitors, John and Michelle, and my lovely new roommate, Kaitlyn, were excited to ride in the car with me, so they, along with Markenson and Erta, drove off later to the market with me, after some encouragement from our cook, Jinette, to do it. Everyone was very encouraging and clapped for me when we arrived home. Today, I made the hospital and market run again in Fritz's car. Poor guy...I'll try not to borrow it too too much. Reimbursed gas is a plus for him though, right?