Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan 21 2010 - News from Kevin

After getting back from Port-au-Prince, or PaP, last night around 10 PM, and wading through the 50 e-mails I got while we were gone, drafting responses and interspersing skype IM with Babette, I finally got to sleep on the floor of the living room around 2 am. Area rugs on a hard floor never felt so good. We got shuffled out of our room to accommodate the ladies in the group and that’s how I ended up on the floor. That and the fact that I was too tired to go find which room the guys are staying in.

We had a team of 4 individual doctors from TX, Fl and who knows where else, as well as a couple of nurses come in yesterday while we were in PaP. It was good to see Rueben again who pastors a church in Texas. He also is a doctor and though he can’t treat physical ailments, he can help anyone who has broken their Theological Maximus. Rueben also helped us when we were responding to hurricane Ike in TX.

We are in a “compound” owned by Henoc, where he has his house, a barracks that currently houses orphaned children, most from the disastrous hurricane season they had in 2008, when 4 or 5 major hurricanes or tropical storms passed over or near the Island.
I wonder where CNN was that time. Anyway, the barracks has been converted on one side to house the men of the team and the children have been shuffled into the other side, until their new building can be completed. It is currently in need of a roof, and Henoc’s men are working diligently to complete that, so the children can be housed there.

The Haitians are culturally accustomed to tight quarters and spend most of their time outside. Personal space is not a commonly accepted ideal here as it is in the US. So until the new building is finished, the kids will be running around among us. There may be an opportunity to bring teams to help accomplish that project faster.

We met with the team this morning and shared both the Vision of Hope Ministries and Touch Global visions and our respective roles in the partnership. We also gave them a basic understanding of why Haiti operates the way it does, and what can be done to help at this time, as well as in the future. We discussed expectations and maintaining a level of order amidst the daily activities and the current level of chaos.

Several of us went to the hospital where the team will be working. We met the director, hoping to gain his blessing to set up there. The Hospital is funded by a Catholic organization from the states and has a Haitian director with whom we want to keep an open working relationship. We met with him and he referred us to the American, Dr. Kelly, who is currently running the show. The Haitian doctor deferred to him and really seemed not to want to be bothered by us. He was non-committal on any of the ideas we brought to him until he heard what Dr Kelly said, but then he was on board.

We discussed the opportunities for Dr. Kelly and who was on our Medical team this week and guess what? It was just what they needed! We have two cardiac Docs with ER experience who happen to be married to each other. We have 2 other Docs with ER experience and 2 nurses who have anesthetics and ER experience.

We also asked about any other needs and Dr. Kelly informed us of the need for a recovery/ rehab area he would like to get set up as soon as they receive the cots and Field Hospital tent but they had no place to set it up. Once again, God’s provision is apparent, because we have just such a secure area behind the church that Henoc pastors about a mile away. This is the longer-term opportunity we have been looking for here in Haiti to build relationships and minister in the community in the name of Jesus. What better way to do that than to set up right at the church.

Many people have been airlifted to the Hospital here in Milot from PaP and will be receiving the medical treatment that they so desperately need. When they are released, they will be displaced in an area far from home with no resources, nothing to return home to, and maybe no desire to return anyway. The church here has a huge opportunity to be the body of Christ and show the love of Christ to those in need.

After returning to Henoc’s to brief the team, we took the medical team back to the hospital with all the supplies that they brought with them, introduced them to Dr. Kelly, and deployed them. On the way out, I think I saw Anderson Cooper from CCN or the guy from MSNBC in scrubs with his entourage interviewing some of the other American doctors that are working in the clinic. Look for a big guy in a green shirt in the background!

I came home to compose this letter, send it out, and answer the ever growing numbers of emails I am getting. The power was out, so the satellite internet was down, and all I could do was type until my battery died. God knew I needed the break, so I went and took a nap. While falling asleep, I heard the sounds of helicopters and knew the team was receiving more patients.

After a sweaty sleep of 45 minutes, Henoc arrived from the airport with our newest members of our ever growing family. His daughter, Rebecca, her friend and Henoc’s father were on the inbound flight that carried Greg Shuenke and Omar Rodriguez back to Florida. Also on the plane was Dr. Don Hunt, a retired vascular surgeon that has served in Nigeria in Medical Missions. He is from Comfort TX, so he has brought a little bit of Comfort to all of us.

We loaded up, went to the hospital to check on our staff, helped translate and were promptly informed that 10 people were ready to be discharged to free up much needed bed space. Since we didn’t have the field tent and cots yet, Dr. Kelly asked if we had a place to keep those being discharged. After consulting with Henoc, we decided we could take them at the compound, because Caleb, Henoc’s brother, had some 8 person tents that he received on a shipment of relief supplies at his compound 2 hours away. He could pick them up and bring them along with the medical supplies Mark received from the UN compound in P au P.

We returned to the compound, got the bus and headed back to the hospital to pick up the discharged patients as it was getting dark. You don’t want to be on the road in Haiti after dark because that single light you see coming toward you could be either a motorcycle, or 3 dump trucks sharing one headlight!

We found that the patients had not been readied or informed that they were about to be released. Our Docs and nurses were scurrying around like squirrels packing nuts for the winter, tending to their patients. We tried to round them up to take them back to the compound, but they, in true Hippocratic oath style, wanted to treat just one more patient. Rounding them up to put them on the bus was like trying to herd cats into a pen of wild dogs- once you think you have one on the bus, you find them out treating patients again.

All the while, we are trying to figure out why we have no discharged people on the bus. Finally someone told us that they were afraid to leave. They thought we were going to either throw them out on the street or worse, take them back to Port au Prince! Once again, God’s provision was apparent, as Rebecca and Enoch’s father were with us on the bus. I asked them to go with the nurses to explain that they were coming to our home with the doctors and would be fed and housed there. All of the sudden we just about had to throw people OFF the bus!

Just as we returned home, Caleb arrived at the clinic to unload an entire pickup truck full of supplies. Helping unload with Henoc, again we thought of God’s provision. Earlier in the day we had no sterile surgical gowns, so we went through our box of supplies and found emergency rain ponchos - they did in a pinch and kept the docs from shutting down the ER. Guess what was in the first box we unloaded? No, not more poncho’s - sterile surgical gowns!

There’s nothing like trying to direct a couple of Haitians to erect a tent, when you don’t know where the stupid poles are supposed to go yourself! As I worked with them, my creole started to really come back to me. We were laughing and joking around and having a great time. I saw one woman watching us so I asked her, “lakay ou?”- Your house? You have never seen a smile so big and such a sparkle in an eye as there was on her as she realized it was for her and her family. Hope had been restored where there had been fear and terror before.

With our 3 tent city erected, the team finally sat down to supper… at 8 pm. As we sat down to eat our new neighbors were led in singing praises to God by some of Henoc’s family. Henoc looked at me and said “ some of those people are going to accept Christ”. I can only pray that happens as we have shown them the Love of Christ over and over again today.

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