Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shots from the Mobile Clinic

…and stories from the "misyon".

I'm sorry this update is a little out-of-date.  I'm back in the States for a month trying to juggle work, weddings, and everything else that has piled up on my need-to-do list...like write a blog update on the mobile clinic.  :)

*June 5th*
Thursday afternoon Steve, Kate, and I said sad goodbyes to the ones of our group staying behind to man the mission and we, along with several Haitians, started the rugged ride down the mountain to Ti Goave.  Our rig was full to the brim with people, backpacks, and lots of supplies that made for some tight seating places, but we had so much fun laughing and talking with the Haitians all the way, it definitely made for a joyride.  :)

We spent the night in Ti Goave at Pastor Levy's with plans to leave for Delot early the next morning.   Well,  we learned that "early" is subjective, but I don't think we even left early by Haitian time.  "So much for getting up so promptly!"  we thought.  :)   Pastor went ahead of us in the bobcat to lead the way and we followed after,  beginning the slow four-hour climb up the mountain.  
Pictures never do justice, but this can help you imagine some of the view we enjoyed on our way.  :)
The bank was softer and the rocks a little looser than Steve anticipated,  and we 'bout rolled to our destination less than a mile away!   Well not quite, but I have to say it felt a lot worse than it looks.     "Should I jump out?"  I asked from the far passenger's side.  "Well you're keeping the vehicle from rolling, so don't get out yet." was the reply I got.   Steve thought a couple feet farther and we would've tipped.  But thank the Lord we didn't!
The excitement drew down quite a crowd that had already been gathered at our destination, and with the pull of the bobcat and the push of a host of Haitian helpers, they made a smooth move putting the vehicle back in its place.
As soon as we made it there they showed us our working and sleeping quarters, which was a long cement building divided into four dorms.    The first one was where we set up clinic.   There were a handful of people already waiting when we got there, so we got started setting up right away.  We hung tarps to make one waiting room, two consultation rooms, and the pharmacy.   I think we saw about eighty people that evening before the evening service started. 

First things first, Dr. Felix grabs a bite to eat before delving into the lines of patients waiting for consultations just after we got there Friday.
Kate (above) and Mis Joseline (below) shared a consultation room where they very patiently consulted most of the 250 patients that came through over the weekend!  

That night all the guys slept in the first couple dorms, and Kate and I slept with all the Haitian ladies in the other two dorms, spreading out our blankets on the cement floor and piling in for the night.  Well, we did  slumber some that night, and it was  its own kind of party, but not exactly what I think of when I think of a slumber party.  

The next morning started at about 4:00 for us.  It started out very slow as a song- or a moan, I'm not sure which, that one lady sleepily began mumbling.  Before long it picked up in rhythm and racket as two or three more ladies blended with her, and soon the whole room was one lusty choir, clad in bed-gowns and blankets.  Imagine a dark room with only the light of a couple small flashlights, just enough light to see shadowy forms sitting up in bed all around the room, lifting their hands, singing, and praying…    As drowsy as we were, there was no more dozing through it.  Kate and I pulled the blankets over our heads and heartily laughed our sleepiness away until we reckoned with the idea of being awake so early in such a fashion, and then we joined in with the singing.  :)

The main purpose of the trip was to do a "misyon" as they call it, where a group of Christians go trooping over the mountains, singing, praying, and preaching.  So most of the Haitians left mid-morning to go do that, and the rest of us stayed behind to run the clinic.  

Clinic was nonstop that day, with a seemingly endless stream of patients coming to be consulted.  Dr. Felix had left, so Kate and Mis Joseline worked relentlessly to keep the lines moving.  Steve and Zita, our Haitian pharmacist, faithfully filled prescription after prescription in our makeshift pharmacy, and I ran between taking vitals in the waiting room and helping them back in the pharmacy.   

With a rough guesstimation, I would say that 75% of all the cases we saw over the weekend were simple things like colds and coughs, with the other 25% being more serious medical cases including extremely high blood pressures.  For all those people, we gave them appointments to come see us at our clinic where we hope to be able to treat them more long-term.

There was another service at 5:30 that evening, so after we filed the last patients through for the day, we ate some food, closed up, and took a little hike to a Pastor's house where they let us shower and clean up for the evening.
The Haitians served us good food, and lots of it!  This was a green leafy soup with boiled bananas, yam, and something like a boiled piece of dough in it.  It was all very tasty...well, all that we ate of it anyway!  I don't think any of us were ever able to eat the whole amount they put on our plates at once , but there were always children around who were happy to finish it up for us.  And before we'd know it,  they'd say it'd be time to eat again, and in would come another plate piled with food for each of us.  "Oh, we just ate!  We're not hungry  Our stomachs are full!" we'd say, but they'd insist, so we'd obligingly take a few more bites and then find another hungry child to help us out again.  :)
I made a mistake of taking mostly video footage of the weekend, so unfortunately I don't have very many good pictures.  Above, you can see the people gathering for the evening service held right next to the building where we worked and slept.
By the time we got back, the service was well underway.  The singing went on long enough for the sun to set over the mountains, and then out came their makeshift generator-powered night light strung up on a tall pole.

As the service went on and we lost ourselves singing our hearts out with all those Haitians, it gave me a very small, but very stirring glimpse of how awesome it will be to stand before God someday with Christians from every tribe and nation, singing, shouting, and dancing for joy before HIM, for what HE has done for all of us!

Several different Pastors preached that night, and as the singing started up again, one Pastor asked who was going to come and be saved.   Quite a few people went forward.  I heard that forty were born again over the weekend.  But that night one young lady went forward and when Steve and the Pastors laid hands on her to pray, she started throwing herself around uncontrollably.   She was demon possessed.

The excitement showed in the increasingly fervent singing as everyone started standing up on the benches to see what was happening.  It took half a dozen men to contain her, and carry her down into one of the dorms where a group of Christians continued praying for her there to be delivered.    They were all still in there praying after the service ended.  I met up with a couple of the girls' friends who told me that she had told them the day before that she didn't want to get saved 'cause she wasn't ready to yet.

After that I joined Steve and Kate in the dorm where several Pastors and a group of earnest Haitian Christians were still fighting in prayer against the demons still controlling the girl.   The Christians linked arms and formed a circle around her, and the demon would throw the girl against them to try to escape.   Pastor spoke with the demons and they told him their names, and where they were from.  It was all so real.

One of the young Christian men who was leading the praying and singing asked if there was anyone in the room who had any sin in their lives.  My prayer was, "God, free me from my self!"  I just saw so clearly how I only had as much power against Satan as I had been living in obedience to God, dying to my own self and living as a sacrifice…  It was a challenging time of searching our own hearts.

We continued praying in one corner of the room while Pastor Levy and others prayed with her in the other corner, and she was finally delivered!  I didn't get to see her after that though 'cause Pastor Levy said she was physically exhausted and thought we should all head off to bed right away.

There was much more that went on that night.  We all saw the real power of Satan, and some felt personally attacked by that demonic power, but we were never afraid.  Though we know we're personally powerless against Satan's power,  we know that God has won the victory over him already, and we witnessed His power and victory that night!

Sunday morning we had a very lively, refreshing church service in the local church there, really close by.   Again, we all sensed the power and reality of God and left with very full hearts and minds.

We left just before church finished and walked back up to the dorms to start packing up the clinic, but not in time before church let out and a rush of people decided this was their last chance to get any medical help for a long time!  We ended up seeing probably between 30 and 40 people, but thankfully none of them were seriously ill and mostly just needed a vitamin or worm med.  :)

So we did manage to stuff everything and everyone back into the vehicle and wind our way home!   We had some very good talks on our way back, and sometimes very funny exchanges as our tired bodies tried operating under our more tired minds…or vice-versa, I can't even remember.  :) But we did make it home late Sunday night and were quite happy (though none were as happy as Steve and his cute little wife to be together again;) to rejoin the rest of the team!  They had had their own set of stressful excitement running the mission short-staffed, with two births, lots of bandages, and all kinds of other things.  They were troopers!

I'd say this update is long enough to make up for me not having to do it the whole time I'm gone!  :)  God bless you all!   Please remember to pray for us and especially for the girl I wrote about...




Monday, June 23, 2014

The Professors Have Arrived, Tip Your Hats!

     Here they stand, Doctors in a row.
     Each came to teach us the things we don't know.
     We spent hours with notebooks and meds
     Or using the Ultrasound to measure baby heads.
 


    Then, when they left, we prayed for good minds
    To soak up all the lectures, and memorize the finds.
    We slept on the info, and awoke to the sun,
    A church lady in labor, and bandages undone.
   




     
   
        This baby arrived fine, all pudgy and pink
        We locked up the clinic, and went home for a drink.
        Amidst all this hubbub, our hearts stop to bless
        Our God, and, these doctors who came to teach us!
         
                     Wanting to bless the world with what God has given us,
                          and giving a big THANK-YOU to Michael for making this happen!
                                                    the Ahlege team
       
       
     
       
   

Friday, June 20, 2014

In Acceptance Lieth Peace

He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places-
They shall be filled again;
O voices mourning deep within me, cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir my spirit to flame;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God tomorrow
Will to His son explain."
Then did the turmoil within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in acceptance lieth peace.
~Amy Carmichael





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunshine and Shadows

     It is Sunday. I love to sing and see the sun. But the Clouds bring contrast to the sun. And I know that God allows them to add dimension to our lives and to make our heads turn beyond this earth to Him, the Source of light that shines even brighter than Sunday sun.
    I was at a little prayer service on Thursday afternoon when a lady arrived on a cot. As I was walking home, the Haitian nurse who was on call notified me about the patient. I went straight to the hospital, and blessed Mis Katie and Mis Mali for putting an IV in, and making her comfortable on the bed.
   Right away, it was obvious that she was in fairly serious condition. Her legs and stomach were noticeably  swollen, and her feet had open, oozing sores. Her head was bobbing with the rhythm of her respirations, although it didn't seem like her breathing was extremely labored. Her blood pressure was very low, and she looked very anemic. Temperatures held a bit higher than normal body temperature.
     I went home to talk to Kate and Mali, and discuss the safety of her staying in our facility for overnight. We decided to monitor her a few hours, and then called Steve to alert him to the situation. Thankfully, he told us that the doctor was coming on Friday, and her since her stats didn't seem to be dropping, we kept her the night, and started her on a round of Ceftriaxone.
    As we continued to follow the situation, we began to feel that this case was beyond our small clinic's realm of help. Late Friday afternoon, we gave one 20mg injection of Furosemide, with fairly favorable results, but not enough to feel like we were comfortable with having her here long term.  We were wishing to know why there was organ failure, or if there was an underlying disease that was shutting her system down.

   Finally, on Saturday morning we arranged a ride to get her to a hospital. Through it all, her brother was strong and very helpful. He rejoices every time something seems slightly better. We ended up stopping at three hospitals before we landed in TiGoave. There, the emergency room beds were all full. We found a wheelchair, and waited. It was hard to be patient, when I saw all the pain she was in. Thankfully, they shared some gloves with me, so that I could start the IV going again. It had gotten knocked down too many times on the bouncy ride out the trail, and eventually, we just turned it off.
    One of the Christian Haitian doctors that we know came in especially to help us, and he did a consultation on her. By now, her wounds were oozing again, and she was in great discomfort. One kind person in the examination room gave us the bed of their little boy who was only "slightly sick."
     The heat was oppressive, a mouse ran around the corners of the room, while I was there trying to wash the bed with a cotton ball, because there was no more gauze.
    I had to bridle my frustration with the situation, breathe a prayer that I could glorify the Lord, and remember that I wasn't even the person in pain. My heart grieved the absence of order and cleanliness in a place where such things count the most, and germs are being passed from one person to another.
   I sweated inside my huge purple gloves and wondered what all the people were doing that were supposed to be here washing this place up and sending supplies for the bleeding, dying Haitian people. I don't know. It's not my business, but it does touch my heart.  And, I wonder.
     I couldn't resist this picture. It is a little boy that Kate was in charge of sending out to town for help with uncontrollable seizures. Mali said maybe he was an angel, because his eyes just shine with such Heavenly joy. I'd say she might be right!

  Inside of all these medical cases are people with hearts. Some of them haven't had a chance to feel much love yet. Pray that we can pour more out!(And that God would protect us from the germs!)
     There are times when we don't know how to deal with all the fluctuation that our job gives to our emotions. Mali and I were along a medical run this week, and we just had to throw on our sunglasses and throw up our hands. We miss you, Kindra and Whitney!

   -Mis Woda
   
   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Forgotten little ones...

 
 
They are born into a harsh world. They lay in dark huts with the flies buzzing around their faces. Days, weeks, months pass while the severe neglect keeps manifesting itself more and more in their emaciated forms. They cry desperate, hungry cries and no one hears. Their cries get weaker, their little bones jut out of translucent skin, and infection spreads into lung tissue. Their eyes, with an almost aged look of suffering in them, look up for hope. Struggling for breath, they fight for life.
 
 We bent over the exam table today, working with tiny Mishla. A righteous indignation swept over us  as we looked up to see his Mother staring placidly into space. Mishla turned one year old  in May and weighs less then 4 kg. His little mouth jutted out from his face, hardly closing as the skin was stretched so tight. His bones stuck out sharply and we could count every rib. He was too weak to cry, or cough up the terrible flem in his lungs. He reached up with a tiny hand to hold his head as we cleaned the diarrhea off his body.
 
 
 
 




  And it was just yesterday that I looked up from checking a blood pressure and saw a tiny face gasping for breath. Whit and I quickly stripped off her wet clothes and stared at a tiny little chest retracting fast and furious. She was suffocating. I hooked up O2 and held my stethoscope to her heaving chest. Fluid. Pneumonia. She was 6 months old and weighed a little over 7 lbs.



 Her Mother seemed distant, and laughed in her baby's desperate face. We started questioning her, and found out this baby was a twin. Her twin brother was at home, fat and healthy. It all started making sense, as often parents neglect one twin and favor the other. After we nurses, the clinic staff and Shana all had long talks with her mother, she consented to go to town for further treatment. Please pray that the love of Jesus would hold tiny Jeanette and soften her Mother's heart. Both babies are at the Malnutrition center in town where they get 24 hour care and are seen by a full medical team.

              I couldn't help but think of a few lines of my favorite song today...

                        Someday a bright new way will break upon that shore,
                      And there will be no sickness, no more sorrow, no more war...
                         And little children never will go hungry anymore,
                         And there will be a bright new morning over there,
                             They'll be a bright new world for us to share.

                     Till then may Jesus break our hearts for what breaks His.
                     May we, as His followers never forget the forgotten.

                                            - Mis Kate

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mobile Clinic

Praise God, the mobile clinic has been going very well! Due to difficulties in travel (over 6 hours of travel- all of it on trails as bad/worse than our road to Allegre), we didn't begin consultations until nearly 2 PM yesterday. But we still had time to see around eighty people; as of noon today (Saturday) we've already seen around seventy and there's no end in sight!
Pray for strength and wisdom for the nurses, we've seen several fairly severe cases and are trying to make hospital arrangements with the families. And pray for grace and patience for all; sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming! But God is faithful.
The evangelistic services have been going well Praise God!! Pray for many to find the peace and joy of Christ, and pray that we would be examples of His compassion and service. "Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden" still rings sweetly down through the ages 2,000 years later...

Thanks for your love and prayers, and notes of encouragement! God bless each one...
Steve

Sent from Steve's iPhone

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mission trip

We would appreciate your prayers especially over the next several days. Tomorrow afternoon Lord willing, Kate, Whitney, myself, Mis Joceline and several other clinic staff members plan to head for Ti Goave. We'll spend the night, and leave early Friday morning (4-5 AM) for a more remote area several hours southwest of us. The plan is to set up early Friday morning, do mobile clinic there on Friday and Saturday, and hold church services in the evenings and Sunday morning. Then Sunday afternoon we will try to return to Allegre.

Pray that we would be able to reach out to the people of this area- not just medically but with the love and compassion of Jesus. Pray for wisdom for the nurses, and for the pastors that are accompanying us to lead out in the church services. Pray for safe travels, and safety for the remainder of the nurses, for Julien, and for my dear wife and family while we are away. Most of all pray that Jesus Christ would be lifted up by His church everywhere, and that men and women would be drawn to Him!

Sent from Steve's iPhone