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. 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Soldiers in Training

You may have started to wonder if we still exist having no blogging activity. Blogging in one of those things that has been in the back of my mind, but I always seemed to find other things to do;). I almost decided not to blog after I realized we have some recent blogs. But.. here we go.. 

The past few months have been a whirl wind of events. I can't pinpoint one particular happening that I want to share with you. 

Several thoughts that have been twirling through my mind the past couple weeks are being soldiers for Christ. God doesn't promise peace and calmness but, brings trials along in our lives. God wants us to be soldiers for Him.  A quote from The Christian Daily Challenge devotional "He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs." Sometimes it is easy to question what God takes us through. However, I always realize that God knows what He is doing. 

The last several weeks have been very busy. We had long clinic days. Many hard decisions to make, some long exhausting cases, but God has been very good. He has given the grace and strength that we have needed. He also brought trials into our lives that have been trying and painful. Through it all God has been strong, showing who is in control. We have seen life and death. Close death experiences, joyful experiences and much more. 

The tests come when you have multiple patients needing a nurse. Haitians are as human as Americans/Canadians ;) thinking that their illness/injury is the worst. It is an emergency, we need to be seen first. Patiently, you tell them to wait their turn. By 1:00 pm, my patience starts wearing thin when I have to tell someone for the umpteenth time to wait patiently a nurse will be coming. 

I always love the patients who come in for consults complaining of everything that could possibly be wrong. We try to discern what the underlying problem is. I have concluded for some, it is needing love and a listening ear. Time after time they will return for 'randevous' with different complaints. However, in the end they feel better because someone listened and they have more medicine:). These are the times I have to remind myself 'What Would Jesus Do?'   

Outside the clinic are continual needs that need to be met, some physical but, many spiritual. The devil likes to try and make us think the battle is impossible. However, we continue fighting knowing that God is stronger. We try to be little lights to the surrounding community knowing that the evil one is busy. He is ruining young girls lives, tearing marriages apart, and planting seeds of deceit in many a young man's heart.

With clinic slowing down again, it gives us time to go visit people. It is especially enjoyable to go visit patients who have stayed at the hospital. It is always rewarding to see how they have improved since they left the hospital. It brings a connection when you can sit down and visit with people within their environment. 

A task for everyone to do.....

Fre Adolph

Mis Kayla

Mis Kindra

Mis Whitney

Mis Marquis

Mis Mali

God has called us all to be soldiers for Him. He never starts us out in the battle, but prepares us for the fire. When He sends us into the battles He expects us to fully depend on Him. God is training us in Haiti to be soldiers for Him. Continue to pray for the work in Haiti and each one on the field. Thanks for your support. 

~ Alyssa 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On the First Day of December

An assortment of thoughts tumble like snowflakes into my mind, settling into somewhat heavy drifts that I find myself obliged to scoop away to avoid an otherwise threatening brain freeze.

So what are these thoughts?

Well again, like snow, they are hard to separate "flake from flake", but the accumulative formation, or information, of them can be quite overwhelming even to myself sometimes.  

Believe it or not, we've had some days here recently that have been rainy and cold enough to make it easy to imagine some snow might fall next!  So I'll try to scoop some out, and hope that there's not too much mud and gravel mixed in for you to enjoy.  

And I think to myself... (Quoting a song) it IS a wonderful world, but I STILL. MUST. BLOG.  It's now been two full months since I did last.
It crosses my mind that maybe l should make a New Year's resolution to blog more, but then I remember that that's kind of pointless, 'cause Lord-willing I'll be leaving early next month.  

That means I'll really only be here for a few more work weeks.  I'm going home.  Back to the home I left 2 1/2 years ago, when Haiti first began claim the description of home.  

I can't imagine what it will be like.  I dread the first morning of waking up and realizing how far away from Haiti I'll be, and how different life will be, but then I get so excited wondering what life will be like living with my family again.   

Seems like just when the weight of those uncertain emotions start piling up on my heart, the wind of excitement catches them all and blows them at least to the side, clearing a path to walk again.  

Mixed emotions.  Bittersweet.   I find myself reaching for those words a lot. 
Life is a constant change of scenes and seasons.  God was wise for assuring us that He never changes.  Even earthly love of friends and family can't keep life from changing.  It can endure, but it is never capable of overruling time and defying change.

New babies are still being born, old people are still dying, even babies are dying...   And the cycle of life goes on.  Sometimes I wish to understand what it is that keeps it all going on in its endless tides.  

Even in a single day, we sleep, we get up, we eat, we brush our teeth, we wear our clothes, we wash them, we work, and we get tired and dirty, we eat again, we shower, we brush our teeth again, we sleep again...  

And it goes in endless circles in my mind.   But life is not endless.  Neither does it go in circles.  
I often wake up asking myself the question, "What is the purpose of this new day?"   "Where is it going to go?"

Even life itself can seem like vanity sometimes.  So what is it that gives it purpose and meaning?  Of course we all have the book answer; to glorify God.  But I'm not claiming to have it perfectly understood personally and practically applied in my own life.  I am learning though.

Sometimes I learn very slowly.  Or maybe I should reword that and say sometimes I learn fast.  But life is a journey, and journeys take time.   

I'm afraid this is looking more like a blizzard of thoughts by now.   And I feel like I've slid off the road.  I hope I haven't lost you.   'Cause this was s'posed to be a clinic update.    I'm getting there.  

It's hard to know what to write about when there's been so much that's happened in the last two months, but maybe I can remember some of the more major things...

October was high speed busy from start to finish!  Besides being one of the busiest months of the year here as far as the number of patients per day, we also had quite a few other cases that ended in bouncy trips out to town.  

 Like the lady that came who was in labor but who didn't seem to be progressing.  We started feeling like something was wrong, and Hans, Alyssa, and I hit the trail with her.  By the time we got to the Ti Goave hospital, we were very relieved to find a very capable doctor on call who determined the baby was in distress and was able to to an emergency c-section.  That was an answer to prayer!

A few days later, we had two unrelated broken femur cases arrive in the same day, which was a very unusual occurrence!  The amazing part was being able to successfully fly both of them out on the helicopter!

Towards the end of the month, Ewald Marten, the German dentist, came back and spent another two weeks crammed full of pulling and filling teeth in the small dentist room set up in the back room at clinic.

Our new nurse, Kayla Kauffman, also arrived at the same time, as well as her sister Katie Jo, my brother Aaron and sister Chloe, who all did a lot to help assist Ewald in his two-week dental project.  It was all wonderful.  Just terribly busy, even more so for Mali, who was the header-upper of the whole project!

And then it was November first before we knew it!  The busy-ness let up some in comparison to October, but I think it's the second busiest month of the year.  Both months were stretching and demanding in many ways.  Our medicine supply probably suffered the most stretching, as it was under the most demand.  Yes, that was a challenging time, but God supplied the need.  We certainly don't take having enough meds on hand for granted!

One of the more major things that happened was Dr. Sutherland coming from TN for a weekend to do various surgeries in our clinic!  It was a huge blessing to be able to provide a new level of medical help to a number of people who had waited a long time! 

And last but not least in number, was births.  Lots of them.  Some perfectly smooth, some very scary and difficult.  One stillbirth.  But God was there every time, answering our prayers, giving us the wisdom we needed, and teaching us lessons we hope never to forget.

Dealing with deaths and near death experiences definitely has a way of putting life into perspective.  My small griefs shrink to take their proper place in the broader scope of life when I share in someone else's griefs.

One of the stunning views we enjoyed up at Don and Carole's place for Thanksgiving...

We got word today that Kin's grandma passed away.  We hurt for her.  And we hurt to think of saying goodbye to her, as she prays about when to go home, but of those changes that's out of our control.  

Patrik and his physical therapist, Kin.

Please keep the mission in your prayers!   The spiritual and emotional strain each of us face in our personal lives can often weary us long before the physical demands can.  We sense the battles, often we find ourselves smack in the middle of them, feeling too weak to gruel through another fight.  But we're never left hopelessly without help.  God is always there, and the battle belongs to Him!


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