Monday, January 25, 2016

For the Last Time

I think everyone has their own ways of finding closure when coming to the end of a chapter in their lives.  For some it may be standing in front of a crowd to tell them goodbye, for others it may be in a good heart-to-heart with a close friend.  It may be in that last tight squeeze right before you drive away.  Or it may be as the tears slowly dry on your cheeks ten minutes after your plane takes off.

I deal with the big things by writing.  Whether on a blog, in a journal, on a random scrap of paper tucked in a book buried in a heap somewhere, or to a friend - if there's something major going on in my life, it will be written about somewhere.

Robert Frost once said, "I write to find out what I didn't know I knew."  So please bear with me, as I do a little sorting through the tangle that makes up my brain.

If I was to leave a word of advice to those who are thinking of going to Haiti (or - as I imagine this could apply - anywhere on a foreign mission field), it would be the following:

If you are coming because of your burning desire to help others, don't.  That's very sweet - and a wonderful thing - but that is not a good enough reason to leave the place that God currently has you.

If you are not reaching out to those around you in the place that you currently are, then you should seriously consider the possibility that maybe you are not yet ready to step out and go to another country where you will be placed on a pedestal and your every move and word closely scrutinized.

I believe that every single Christian is called to "go and teach", really, I do.  But we (or at least the majority of the readers of this blog) are from the United States of America, people.


You don't have to take a flight third-world-country-bound to find someone who needs Jesus.  The nations are coming to us.

And, if I may be very frank, from the looks of things, it is our fellow countrymen who need missionaries now, anyway.

But I digress.

I did want to explain the statement that I made about not going to Haiti to help the poor people there, in case someone out there feels that I am perching on their toes.  If you go to Haiti because you want to change lives, or alleviate pain and poverty, or even if you really just want to lead people to Christ - if that is the reason that you are going - then I believe that you will be disappointed.  Not that any one of those are bad desires.  I, in fact, think that you should want all of those things, but if that is The Reason that you are going -

 That is not enough.

I believe that there is only one thing that should move you to another country, and that is the very clear call of God in your life.

If you go because of wanting to change lives, you will be disappointed when you find that there are people who simply do not want to change their lives, or accept your help.

If it is to eliminate suffering, you may be shocked to find that there are people out there who actually revel in their misery.

You will face discouragement.

If, however, it is because you feel God moving you to Haiti, these things (yes, you will probably still face them) will not affect you in the same way, since it is no longer your sole job to fix the world.  That is in God's hands.  And knowing and recognizing that frees you up to serve Him and glorify Him with every ounce of your might, leaving the results up to Him.

And I'm not trying to say that you will not have any good results, on the contrary, I hope and pray that you do, just that life there may not be the glowing missionary report that you read about.  And if feeling good about all the good that you are doing is what you are counting on to get you through the hard days - well, you may decide to go home a little earlier than originally planned.

I loved working at the clinic.  I loved Haiti and the people there.  We had an amazing team that I was there working with, and a common goal and dream for the mission there.

Going to Haiti was a call that I heard as clearly as I heard my alarm waking me up this morning.  And the way every door opened up to take me there assured me every step of the way that this was God's leading.

Without that knowledge, however, I would have gone stark, raving mad down there.  My niece was in the NICU, my Mom has bone cancer, and my grandmother passed away during the time that I was there.

It was the knowledge that I was where God had so clearly placed me, that got me through the hard days.  I cannot imagine being out of the country and away from my family during those times for any other reason.

You know that peace that you have, when you KNOW you are right in the center of God's will?

There are days that that peace is the only solid and stable thing that you have to cling to.  And I cannot imagine how a person can survive without it.

I am not an aged person that has seen many things and acquired much wisdom.  I am not even a veteran missionary coming back after spending decades on the mission field.  So if my theology is chock full of holes, go on Pinterest and find a pretty pin that says something like "Follow Your Heart" and don't mind me. :o) Really, I won't be offended if you disagree with me.

This is just a little overflow from a little of what I have seen in my time in Haiti.  Going to serve in another country is not something to be taken lightly.  Do your research before you go.  Understand that before you get there -in spite of that research - you. are. clueless.

Be okay with that.  It will open you to the leading of God and you will be more accepting of input from those around you.

And, if you are one of those called to the foreign mission field, you will find it one of the most stretching and fulfilling experiences of your life.  Let me know, and I WILL PRAY.  I've been there, and I know how badly you will need it, even if you don't yet. :o) I wish you the absolute best on your endeavors.


This was not the plan when I started this post.  I was planning on a short epistle thanking my fellow workers for putting up with me for as long as they did, and it just sorta morphed into....Something Else.

But I do want to say thank you.

To Donny and Thea - y'all are amazing.  Really.  You do an incredible job of keeping things rolling smoothly, in an underappreciated situation, while raising two little sweethearts, and attempting to keep a small flock of opinionated adults from...well, bad things. :o) Seriously.  Keep up the good work.  I am praying for you both, that God will continue to guide and direct you, as you guide and direct the mission there.

To my fellow nurses - your love, understanding, and support were so much more than I deserve.  It was truly a pleasure to work with each one of you.  You are my heroes (heroines?).  Never give up.  Keep smiling at the grumpy people, and laughing at Frè Norès' jokes.  May God give you wisdom and grace for each day, and each moment of each day.  You are never forgotten.  All you have to do is send a message saying, "Pray."  I will drop to my knees the minute I receive it.

To the guys - for your patience, as you waited on me as I got too chatty at clinic when you were wanting to get back to the house; Thank You.  You were never un-appreciated.  Hans - for the myriad of things that you do at the clinic, for your input on those confusing cases, for your strength when we needed it, for your willingness to help out with whatever escapades we girls got ourselves into, and for being a friend.  Brandon - oh Brandon, will you ever really know how much it meant to me to have you there?  To have someone that I could talk to without having to explain the history behind what I was saying, someone that knows me and my family for all of my life, and for it to be acceptable for me to ride out to town with you on the four-wheeler. :o) But really, thank you, for all that you do.  For being willing to do so much more than your job description, when it often goes unnoticed, without a word of complaint.  To you AND to your predecessors, thank you for keeping our vehicles working, our water running, the schoolfood hauled, and all things sharpened.  I know how easy it is for us to take it all for granted, but I do want you to know that it was not unnoticed.  You are both in my prayers.

Janell - you thought that I had forgotten you, didn't you?  You may not be listed on the clinic staff, but the clinic staff would not be able to function very well without you.  They certainly wouldn't smell as nice, anyway. :o) Thank you, for the days I came home to clean laundry on my bed.  For cooking for us.  For being a shoulder to bump.  And for being my friend.

And to all of y'all, who have ever sent a prayer up on my behalf.  To those who supported me.  Thank you.

And to you, the person that is still reading here at the end of this ridiculously long post.  Bless your heart.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to do it. :o)

So yeah, that's it.  I'm finished.

Do not waver in your pursuit of God's will for your life, and when you find it, wrap yourself in that peace and savor every moment of it.  Love your life.  Choose to be happy IN SPITE of the rottenness that may surround you.  Pray for those serving as missionaries - you never know when your prayers could be the difference between a blessing and a trial.

Keep the faith.  Live your life with purpose.  His purpose.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Aching Hearts and Busy Days

The past week as been an exhausting week, physically and emotionally. We reopened clinic on Monday and had a very large crowd awaiting us. The day had barely finished when our First Lady in labour walked through the door. In the past 7 days, we have had 7 births. This has resulted in many gate knocks and sleepless nights. It was not only exhausting from clinic life; it was also a week of saying hard goodbyes. 

Our hearts ache from saying good bye to some very dear people in our lives. Friday morning we all rose early to bid farewell to Whitney and Kindra. The tears were streaming down our cheeks as a huge chunk of our team departed. Whitney and Kindra were a huge part of the clinic.

 Whitney, our dear head nurse who calmly took the time to listen to the needs of her patients. She is bidding farewell to Haiti after serving here for 2 1/2 years.

Kindra, who ran the blood pressure program. Her passion for her patients inspired me so many times. She is bidding farewell after serving in Haiti for  1 1/2 years plus.

We bid goodbye to some very dear friends and coworkers. Whit, with a compassionate heart, musical talent, and likes to have fun. Kindra, with a strength to go on even when circumstances seemed bleak, a giving heart, a contagious laugh. We miss everything they contributed. God bless you as you go back home and serve! 

In the midst of it all, God brought a very special boy to the clinic. Jean Rillion, Clerment was the little boy I had blogged about earlier who was awaiting heart surgery.
He received the surgery in November which was very successful. Thursday they stopped by the clinic to let us know that he was doing well. He looked so healthy compared to what we had previously seen. Thank God for the miracles He still performs. 

God bless your prayers and support for the work in Haiti. 

~ Alyssa 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cleaning and Visiting...

On Christmas and New Years break we spent lots of time cleaning, scrubbing and repainting. Making the place look all clean and fresh again!
 But we didn't spend all our time cleaning, we  enjoyed taking the time to go visit some of our friends.

A prayer request,  we are in desperate need of RAIN! 

-Mis Ellamae

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kòmanse Holidays

Snow gently falling, Christmas music softly playing, wrapped up in a blanket beside the fireplace  sipping a hot cup of cocoa, reading a capturing story.. All the things this time of year reminds me of.

Excitement is in the air as Christmas is drawing near. People are running 'hither and yon' to gather all the things they need for this gathering or that get together. The 'hustle and busle' of shopping, Christmas baking, wrapping presents, etc.. 

Memorable times singing Christmas carols to local shut ins. Going from house to house as the snow crunches with each step and your breath stops in midair, rosy cheeks and frozen fingers. The smiles on each one's face as we leave. 

Family times.. moms traditional Christmas dinner.. Dad's after eights.. Games.. Sledding.. Skating..Singing, and all the things we do this time of year. I am going to miss them all!

In Haiti, it is a different sense of excitement in the air. I know we all would love to spend Christmas at home with family and friends but, we have a new family to make many memories with. 

Singing Christmas carols under the palm trees, enjoying the ocean breeze, and  sharing memories from home.

We plan to close the clinic for a little over 2 weeks. It will give us all a chance to catch our breath and do some other things. We have many exciting things planned for the next several weeks largely including, scrubbing the clinic from top to bottom, sorting, organizing etc.. 

Clinic has slowed down the last few weeks. We have been seeing less people resulting in smaller clinic days. However, one thing I have noticed that doesn't change much is the amount of women on the prenatal program. 

I have taken over the prenatal program which, Mali had been running. We follow the mothers until delivery, teaching them good nutrition and supporting them throughout their pregnancy.  On average, I have been seeing 40-50 women a week. Thankfully, we only deliver a small percentage of the babies at the clinic. We try to encourage the mothers to have their babies at home.

                           Prenatal Class
We have many happy times but, some sad as well. This past weekend one night, we had two births. Thanks, to Mali, Kindra, and Kayla they delivered them both so some of us could get a little shut eye. 

In the past month, we have had 2 still births which is a sad time. Recently, I also had a mother whom I couldn't find the baby's heart beat. We sent her out to get induced. These are the times when it hurts to be a nurse. The woman cried when we told her we believe her baby is dead. The next day she returned before heading to town. As soon as she saw me, she started crying. After a hug, she was ready to head out and face what was ahead of her.

The joyous times are when a mother returns who you took out for an emergency C-section. The last we had heard was the the baby wasn't doing well. She walked into the clinic a few weeks later holding a healthy baby. 

The miracles that God shows us through these experiences. Today a woman who had went through a traumatic birth returned with her healthy baby. It was through tears of joy that I reunited with her. It is only because of God that her and her baby are alive. A miracle completely out of human control! 

The past two weeks it seems that we have had multiple stitch jobs. It seems that things like that come in batches. Some stitch jobs are fun while others are a little more wearing, especially when it is a child.  

Brandon, did a great job on his first stitch job

The one evening recently, I had a two year old come in who had dropped a heavy object on their foot, puncturing between the great and second toe. It was all I could do to start that stitch job. I think that all those involved where thankful when the child fell asleep.

I hope this gives you a little insight into what is happening at the clinic these days!

May your hearts be filled with the love of Christ, as you share Christ's love with those you meet this Christmas Season. 

Blessings to you all, 
~ Alyssa 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Risk of Love

I never wanted to be a nurse.  And I never wanted to go to Haiti. 

Then, through a funny little turn of events, I ended up on a two week church-rebuilding project in - you guessed it - Haiti. 

I ended up falling in love with Haiti.  The people, the country, the beauty that was so unexpected, the food.  I wasn't ready to leave when our time was up, and couldn't wait to come back.

Through another chain of events, I ended up going to nursing school in preparation of coming down to work as a nurse here at the clinic a little less than four years after that first visit. 

Nothing, however, prepared me for what it is actually like to serve as a nurse/mother/midwife/counselor/pharmacist/doctor/sister here. 

Some days?  It hurts.

Like, physical ACHING.  When you hear how the friend/patient that you've spent months working with and just hiked over the mountain to visit passed away, the fact that you've known for months that there was nothing you could do to make him well does nothing to help dull the pain.  We went to his funeral, and when we walked into the room where his widow was, she started wailing.

"Mis Kindra.  Mis Kindra.  I lost him.  I lost him.  You went through all that misery with him for nothing.  We lost him.  He's not here."

My tears mixed with hers as I wrapped my arms around her.  I found their ten year old daughter up on the hill with tears streaming down her face, her uncle beside her.  The five year old sat on her grandpa's lap, looking slightly confused about everything. 

He was only thirty-eight.  Owned a beautiful little house in a really pretty little area of a lovely country.  Had a good wife and two perfect little girls.  Three brothers and two sisters.  Was Fre Jack's son-in-law, bless his heart. 

Amontil was my friend.  He stayed at his sister-in-law's place for a while during part of his illness, and I'd often drop by to see how he was doing.  He was often in pain, but was always so patient and sweet.  That last time we visited him, he told us that some people say that he was becoming discouraged, but that it's not true.  He looked me in the eye and told me that he was going to leave his girls when they were young. 

He passed away the next evening. 

See, we're not just here to make diagnoses and hand out medicine, though that it is a large part of our job.  We're here to be an extension of Christ to those who need him.  To be the hands and feet of the One who created ours.  To serve. 

Even when our feet hurt, and we don't feel like getting our hands dirty.  Even when our own hearts are breaking as we try to deal with our own problems in our own lives, and it feels like if we try to feel another's pain it will most likely end up being the straw that broke the camel's back.  But God didn't place us here as his representatives only when we feel like being so. 

Our lives don't revolve around our feelings, and neither should our actions and reactions.  Jesus wept for his friends, so why should we think that we shouldn't have to face that pain?

Besides, when you do find yourself willing to embrace the hurting people around you, you get to share in not only their heartaches, but their joys and happiness as well.  You become, in some small way, a part of their lives, and they a part of yours.  That willingness may lead to pain and/or rejection, but it's worth the risk when you can shine some light into an otherwise dark corner, or feel yourself make a connection across the barriers of culture and languages.

I remember reading a story called The Perfect Heart many years ago, and it's stuck with me all these years, so I thought I'd give y'all the link to a copy of it that I found here.  It's worth the click and the read.

Life here has been slowing down a tiny bit as we get into December.  In the month of November, we saw over 1,900 patients, and they kept us hopping.  But we're hoping that we'll continue to slow down as we near our Christmas vacation (which is starting next Wednesday!!! *happy dance*).  

A few random shots from the last month...the fellow on the bottom right,
by the way, is grinning for a picture that I was supposed to be
 sending my mom, his "mother-in-law". ��
Anyway, hope y'all had a blessed Monday, and that you have a wonderful remainder of the week. 

Keep the faith, and hold your light high as you shine in your corner of the world.