We got in late last night from Haiti. I want to thank everyone who prayed, on both sides of the veil and thank the Lord for hearing the prayers of his children. Prodigal Daughter has summarized the experience in her thank you letter to her prayer supporters:
"We arrived home yesterday evening at about 11PM. I'm still trying to process all of the events of our sometimes exhausting, sometimes exhilarating trip to Haiti. When we arrived last Thursday after a very smooth JFK airport experience and plane ride things almost immediately turned to chaos. First of all we had only one person on our 11 member team who spoke French and not one who spoke Creole. Since very few Haitians speak English it was difficult to navigate the sea of "baggage handlers" who swarmed us once we got off the plane. They always say "Don't look them in the eye. Just walk past them and don't allow them to even touch your bag or they will want money." Knowing very well that each of these poor men probably lived in some small rented shack on the streets of Port Au Prince with only one mattress for a whole family, a hole in the ground for a toilet, no running water and no electricity, it was difficult for me to "just look away." Somehow your prayers must have gotten me through those encounters until we arrived at customs.
All we wanted to do was get our medicines through in order to set up the clinic and serve those who we came to see. The customs officials had other ideas and decided to confiscate 5 of our bags before our interpreter ever arrived. We tried to negotiate and had papers from the Haiti government to show that we were allowed to bring these medicines into the country, but that wasn't enough. They told us to come back tomorrow when their "boss" would be in and then maybe we could get our bags of medicines back. Assuming we would never see those bags again, we reluctantly left the airport fighting off another see of baggage handlers.
That was when your prayers became truly powerful.
Two of our team went back the next day with our Haitian interpreter, paid a small bride and got back ALL 5 BAGS, with everything still in them.
With all that, we did lose 1/2 a day in the clinic, but it was a good day of rest and helped us to recharge our batteries for a week of hard work at the clinic. On Saturday we arrived at the church which hosts the clinic ever 3 to 6 months and they were under construction. The entire "courtyard" was dug up with piles of dirt and rock and teaming with strong young men and little boys all pitching in to do their part. Without electricity, most of the work is done by hand. As I stared out the window at this scene before me, I couldn't help but be overcome with admiration for the efforts of this noble group of dedicated men. Several little boys saw me as I sat behind the iron bar windows of the clinic. One picked up three rocks from the piles and began to demonstrate his skill at juggling. They all had beautiful smiles on their face as they saw my delight at their antics. Another boy who looked to be about 4 years old came beaming up to the window with a big yellow "Sponge Bob" on his shirt. I pointed to the shirt and said "Sponge Bob." Realizing that I must be recognizing the strange character on his shirt, he pointed at it and attempted the phrase for himself "Shpuch Pob" was how it first came out. I repeated it again and in his determination, he wouldn't give up until he pronounced it exactly as he heard me say it.
After spending the morning setting up the clinic, we went home for lunch. It was upon our return that I especially felt your faithful prayers. First of all, our team leader allowed me to be in Russ' room as his nurse. Secondly, there was the issue of assessing blood pressures. You see my biggest fear in going on this trip was my inability to take accurate blood pressures. Between the noise of construction and the endless numbers of children vying for our attention outside the clinic windows, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to hear properly through my stethoscope. My fears were never realized however because every time I had a concern about my accuracy and asked Russ to double check, my reading was the same as his.
Once I gained more confidence in this skill, I re-learned a few key Creole phrases from our faithful interpreter, Wilson. His gentle way with the patients and patience with Russ and I were truly a blessing beyond telling. Somehow, Wilson has obtained a visa for residency in Canada and Russ and I hope to stay in touch with this dear man.
The rest of the days in clinic were the greatest blessing of my entire trip. It was such a joy to greet each patient as they were escorted into our room. No matter how ill they felt, each one managed a grateful and cheerful smile. I was able to pray with many of them and remembered all of them in my prayers each evening after the clinic. The children caused my heart the most joy and also the most pain. Without proper diagnostic tools like blood work and lab tests it was at times very difficult to determine what they suffered from. My heart would ache as we ran out of Malaria medicine near the end of our trip or we didn't have enough children's vitamins left for a child who was obviously anemic.
For each patient I prayed that God would relieve their suffering, but I also prayed that with any suffering they continued to have they would be able to offer it up for the salvation of souls. Being amidst all that suffering, I came to realize in a more profound way than ever before that Catholicism has the most beautiful perspective on the purpose and value of suffering.
That is just a snapshot of all the beautiful experiences I had with our Haitian brothers and sisters. Their beauty is in their dignity and value as children of God and it shines ever brighter amidst the filth that they must endure day after day. Thank you so very much for remembering me in your prayers this week. I truly felt them along with the prayers of Mother Teresa, St. Therese, the angels and all the saints. Blessings to you and peace in Christ,"
Labels: Mission to Haiti