Return From Port-Au-Prince 2009
We flew into JFK last night after a week at St. Simon and Jude Parish in PAP, Haiti.
All praise and thanksgiving to our God for all the answers to prayer on this trip! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We couldn't have done it without you!
We sailed through customs without a hitch. Not one bag was opened! This was the first time that our passage through customs was this smooth.
Dr. Dave Dwyer, from an Indiana parish, heard we were making this trip and decided to join us. He and his team had a clinic at the parish in November and he volunteered to come down again when he heard I would be the only physician on this trip. This was truly an answer to prayer for me because 3 weeks before we left, it looked like I would be the only doctor on the trip and I was laying awake at night wondering how I would be able to do it alone. Between myself and Dr. Dave we saw over 750 patients in 4 days. The team worked incredibly well together despite the fact that most of us had never met before we got to the airport.
The last day of clinic was set aside for infants and children. When we got to the parish at 8 AM, there was already huge lines of mothers and babies wrapping around the outside walls of the parish grounds. The tension in the air was palpable as the women hoped they would get a chance to be seen. The workers from the Church had to clear a path through the crowds so we could get in. By the end of the afternoon, we had seen well over 250 children and their mothers. As the medicines and vitamins were running out, it was so painful to look into the eyes of the mothers and tell them, "Desolait, m'pa gen medikammen." ( I am sorry, I don't have medicine) I didn't dare get up from my make-shift exam room to peek out and see the never-ending line of mothers and children sitting in the hot sun waiting for their chance to be seen. Despite my discomfort and sense of frustration, I had to remind myself, that my momentary suffering was nothing compared to the daily suffering they experienced.
Finally we had to close the clinic and send people away as the light was fading and the medicines and vitamins were exhausted. We packed up the "pharmacy" in the sacristy to get ready for evening Mass. I was emotionally spent and couldn't wait to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. I just needed to unite my heart to His and offer up the day's sorrows in the sacrifice of the Mass. Though the Mass was in Creole, we were able to follow along and we all had a profound sense of thankfulness as we worshiped with our Haitian brothers and sisters. After Mass, we had Eucharistic adoration . When the monstrance holding Jesus was held high, the congregation on their knees lifted their hands in worship and you could here them whisper "Jesi, Jesi."
Indeed, there was no place on earth that day that we could get closer to Him than in the Eucharist and in the hearts of the least of these, our brothers and sisters in Haiti.