Thursday, December 30, 2010

Titus and the Holidays

Ryan, Eleanor and I have been in the States for the past couple of months getting ready for the arrival of our newest family member, Titus Christopher Price. He was born November 6th, weighing in at 8 pounds 12 ounces. He is healthy and growing and teaching us all how to think outside the box regarding sleep. We've had a great visit here in the States with friends and family and now we are eager to introduce Titus to his Haiti home. We head back to Haiti next week, and are praying for an uneventful trip. No earthquakes or riots, please!
Here are some photos from our Stateside holiday trip:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Still Making a Difference

Have you ever wondered if what you do makes a difference? I have many friends who have given to the ministry here in Haiti over the past nine years. Some have come and given of their time and heart and talents. Others have not been able to visit, but have given of their resources to help people they have never even met. I want to give a few stories today of differences that are being made in Haitians' lives as a result of these generous people, even years after their gifts were given.

The first story is of Ronise and Berlinda. In 2007, I was blessed to have several wonderful people intern with me on the mountain in Seguin. These people stayed with me through thick and thin. They laughed with me and cried alongside me during all the ups and downs of life on the mountain. One day, they met some orphans with me. Ronise and Berlinda are two little girls who used to live in a place called Kapotye. Their father was gone, their mother was dead, and they were left to fend for themselves in their home until a neighbor found them and took them in. The neighbor found us, many months later, and with tears in her eyes told us of how she was no longer able to take care of the orphans but loved them and wanted to see them put in a safe place with good food and education. I made some calls, and we found a place for the sisters in the HOPE center for girls (through CSI ministries in Croix des Bouquets). My intern friends helped me transport the lonely, hungry, frightened girls to the orphanage. Here are pictures from that trip.

My interns have long since left Haiti, but their help with Ronise and Berlinda has had lasting effects. The girls are thriving in their new home. Tim and Toby Banks run the HOPE Center for girls and Ronise and Berlinda have fit in really well there. I was able to visit Tim and Toby a few weeks ago, and got to see how the sisters were adjusting. When we arrived, Ronise was at a ballet lesson in Port au Prince. Apparently, she shows signs of becoming quite a dancer. She also can put more calories away in one sitting than a grown man. She has been known to eat all the food on her plate, plus the leftovers on everyone else's plates. Berlinda has thick dark hair now, compared to the sparse orange hair she had when we met her in 2007. She is called the "little policewoman" by her house parents, because she loves to remember the infractions of all her sisters and playmates and then recite them in detail to her caregivers. Here are some photos of the girls now:

The second story I'd like to tell is the story of a truck. Not the green truck that I drove into a raging river just weeks after purchase in October of 2005, but a white Ford Ranger which replaced the flooded truck and has served me and the people of Haiti well since 2006. After Hurricane Rita and I destroyed the green truck, my church in South Florida (Community Christian Church) along with two of my friends from PA school were willing to believe in me again and donate large sums of money for me to purchase a new truck. The little white Ford Ranger was baptized in blood within one month of purchase, as I was transporting a hemorrhaging woman to the hospital (with the help of a couple dedicated interns). The woman lived, and so did several other sick and injured patients who were able to get to the hospital with the help of the little white truck. It forded the river well for a couple years, and then when I got married and moved to Christianville, it became a family vehicle, transporting my husband and daughter and I to Port and back for supplies, eye clinic medicines, and trips to see friends. But the little white truck hasn't given up it's days as a life-saver. Just last month, we had a seriously ill patient at the clinic. I was busy seeing other patients, Jim and Sandy were busy in Port au Prince with a team, and the vehicles usually used to transport sick patients to the hospital were occupied. So I called my gracious husband and asked if he would be willing to take the patient to General Hospital in Port au Prince with our truck. He did, and the white truck once again sped happily down the road with its cargo of sick people inside.

This blog is dedicated to all of my supporters, both those who have come to visit me and lend a hand and a heart to the work in Haiti, and to those who have given of their resources so the ministry can continue saving and touching lives. THANK YOU, and GOD BLESS YOU! What you give to the Lord and to Haiti will not return void.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Time to Follow Him

Time to Follow Him

A few weeks ago, I gave a devotion at the clinic about Today being the day of salvation. I explained that each week, we see at least one patient who has a terminal illness, and we have to give them the bad news that they have a disease that will most likely end their life. I asked the patients listening to the devotion to think about that possibility, and to think about the life that comes after this life is over, and where they want to spend it. Then I urged them not to delay in making a decision for Christ. Later that day, I saw a patient with advanced symptoms of AIDS. I sent her for an HIV test, which was positive, and I gave her the news that she may very well have a disease for which there is no cure. She took this news silently, and as I was counseling her on which steps to take next, I asked her if she was a Christian. She said no. I asked if she had given any consideration to becoming a Christian, and her reply blew me away. She said, “You know, the thing about being a Christian is, you have to have time. And I have no time. I am a single mom and I work every day to feed my kids, and I just don’t have time to become a Christian and serve God.” After my initial shock, I continued counseling with her and urged her to make time for God and for Christ in her life. She left to go get her medicines and some follow up confirmatory testing at another clinic, and I haven’t seen her since.
That evening, I thought about her “plight”. Often, I find myself making excuses for the poor because I know their lives are harder than mine. When employees are late to work, I remember how hard it is to cook breakfast on an open flame, get water from a distance source for bathing, and walk through mud or find public transit. When friends take things that I’ve left in my yard without asking me, I try to remember that in this culture if you’re not using it, people think it’s public property. So in this woman’s case, I tried to put myself in her position and see if I could justify what she was saying, about Christianity taking up her valuable time. I agreed with her on one point… it does take time to serve Christ, if you are going to be serious about it. Waking up before the kids get up to have private prayer time, going to church on Sunday and any other days of the week when special programs come up, responding to God’s urgings to help others instead of relax or play or get your own things done. Yes, it takes time to serve the Living God and the Savior of your soul. But isn’t it worth it? Didn’t He take time for us (Phil.2:5-11)? On the other hand, I’m not a single mom. I don’t know how hard it is to raise children without the help of a spouse. I’m not poor. I don’t know the agony of putting my kids to bed hungry. But I know many poor Christians, some of whom are single parents. I know an unmarried Haitian girl named Bethany, who has a small child that she supports, while at the same time finishing high school, taking care of other nieces and nephews, singing in choir, praying morning, noon and night, and worshipping God every Sunday. I knew a single woman who turned down two jobs in a country with 70% unemployment because she refused to disobey God and sleep with the boss when he told her that was all she had to do to get hired. I see many people who have lost jobs and homes and parents and children in the earthquake who still come to church every Sunday to worship God with all their might. And so, in the final analysis, I decided that this woman’s excuse was not valid, not at all.
Whether rich or poor, there are always excuses not to accept God’s gift of eternal life through Christ. “I’m too busy. I’ve got too many other commitments right now. It’s just not a good time for me. I couldn’t give it my all right now” and the list goes on. But in the end they are all just excuses, and won’t hold water on the day of judgment, when every one of us will have to give an account to our Maker of what we did with the life that He gave us and the gift of His Son that He offered us. The day after I met my HIV positive patient who didn’t have time for God, I had another terminally ill patient come into my office. She was dying of lung cancer, and I had to give her the bad news. After we cried together a bit, I asked her if she was a Christian. She said no. I asked her if anything was stopping her from giving her life to Christ now. She said, “Nothing”. She wanted to pray and accept Christ and begin going to church and serving Him. So we prayed together. I have the feeling I’ll see this woman again some day, even if she doesn’t live to keep her return appointment, because she understood the importance of accepting Christ… not tomorrow or when it’s convenient or when she had more time, but Today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nora's One, and the New Baby is a Boy

Nora turned one year old today! We flew back into Haiti yesterday after a few weeks of visiting with family and attending Ryan's sister Lauren's wedding. We were glad for an uneventful trip home this time. Our last trip home included an earthquake 20 minutes after we reached our house. So this time, when we came home to the smell of rotten meat because our fridge/freezer had run out of propane, we couldn't grumble too much. We'll take a messy clean-up over an earthquake anyday. Today, Nora enjoyed a lazy day around the house and then a trip into Port au Prince for some groceries. She likes trips into Port because of the air-conditioned car ride on bumpy roads that rock her to sleep. We also got her a teddy bear cake and a candle. She liked the candle, and took a few bites of the cake before deciding it was time for bed.
While we were in the states, we had a few doctor's appointments to keep. Nora needed her vaccinations, and I needed to see the OB doctor. Both visits went more wonderfully than we thought they would. At the OB doctor, we were given the opportunity to look at the baby on ultrasound. As I sat in the air-conditioned room with a big screen in front of me, displaying the ultrasound pictures, and a huge fancy ultrasound machine humming beside me, I got a little sad. I was feeling sorry for Jim, the doctor that I work with in Haiti. He has a small portable ultrasound machine which is currently on its last leg, and he spends half of his day bending over it in the heat of our tin-roofed clinic-that-is-really-a-school building. I wish he had the pleasure of working with a machine that gives incredible images and is serviced by representatives of the manufacturer whenever anything goes wrong. Oh, well. When you don't have big and fancy, then small and glitchy gets the job done, and saves lives in the process. At any rate, while I was in the sonography suite, feeling sorry for Jim, my sad mood didn't last long, because the technician told me that we are having a baby boy. He is due the first week of November. Yes, for those of you that are keeping track, Ryan and I are expecting our second baby one month after our second anniversary. What can we say? Life moves quickly here in Haiti, and God is good.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A New Normal

Well, it's been three months since the earthquake, and we are still working towards finding a new kind of normal for our lives here in Haiti. We have been living and sleeping back in our house for two months now, and we hardly ever get tremors that send us jumping out of bed anymore. Both the medical and the eye clinics are working out of a school building that wasn't damaged in the quake, and it is going fairly well. The school kids are back in their uniforms, making blessed noise during the day, going to classes in big army tents set up in the soccer field. Nora is growing, cruising around on the furniture, and totally oblivious to the fact that there was a life-changing event a few months past. Her newest adventure is food. She has discovered that she loves it, and we love watching her eat it.
Our Haitian friends are also getting their lives back on track as best they can. Through generous Stateside donations we've been able to help several of them rebuild their homes, plant their fields and set up sturdier temporary housing. Marie Lourdes and Emmanuel came to visit us over Easter weekend, and we have been trying to get Marie Lourdes some medical help for her illness. It was fun to have them here and remember the old days in Seguin. They tried to fill us in on all the local news.
Even though we have found new places to shop, new places to work, and new places to relax, there are still many things about the pre-earthquake days that I miss. Some days I miss them more than others. Here is a list of some of the things that I wish we still had here with us:

-Daphne. Her smile, her shy ways, her voice singing along to english praise and worship tapes, her hatred of tarantulas and roaches, her eagerness to learn crochet, her friendliness, her help around the house. We can't replace you, Daphne, and we miss you.

-CSI guesthouse on Delmas 62. Greg and Cathie are still in the guesthouse business and have relocated, but I'll always miss the house on Delmas 62. It was the first place I lived when I moved to Haiti, and it always felt like home to me.

-Caribbean Supermarket. You just can't find another grocery store in Port au Prince with grated cheese, bags of chocolate bars, lightly salted peanuts and lime tortilla chips. It still brings a shiver down my spine every time I remember that Ryan and Nora and I were blissfully shopping there three hours before it fell to the ground, trapping hundreds inside.

-The front porch at the old clinic. Preaching devotions just isn't the same now that all our patients are spread out in the front yard of the school, with a loud generator in the background and screaming school children rushing to class. I never thought I'd say this, but we need a megaphone!

-The Eye Clinic. I miss seeing my husband go to work every day at his own clinic. My heart hurts for him as he and his employees sweat like they're in a sauna in his classroom with plastic sheets on the windows. The sheets are to block the sun for better exams, but they block any breeze that comes through, too. It is hard to see them not be able to make glasses yet, also. I know it's frustrating for them and their patients.

There, I vented and it feels good. But I don't want to end on a sad note. There are so many things to be grateful for. First and foremost that we are all safe and healthy. I'm thankful that David and Evelyn came back to stay with us for a few months. I'm thankful for our house. I'm thankful that diesel and propane and food never became scarce, like we thought they might. I'm thankful that each Sunday more and more people keep answering God's call to salvation and giving their lives over to Him. And I'm thankful that God put us in Haiti for such a time as this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Day of The Thing

Updates on life in haiti since the quake: We are still sleeping outside in a tent. It's nice and cozy (a little too cozy for great sleep, but at least it's dry and mosquito free). There are a group of engineers here doing assessments on the buildings, and they will suggest to us what we need to do to make our house safe to sleep in again. We spend time in our home in the evenings and even get to watch some tv, so that helps us feel more normal. And we are thankful that we do have a home to retreat to, as many missionaries here have lost their homes, along with many haitians in our area. I've been performing a very unofficial census among my patients, asking them if they've lost their homes and lost loved ones, and it seems that about 80 percent of them have lost their homes, and almost 90 percent have lost at least one loved one. My patients don't often refer to it as "January 12th" or as "the day of the earthquake"... most of the time they say "The day of the thing". I don't know if that's because they don't understand what happened that day, or because not naming it makes it less scary.
We are very thankful to Community Christian Church for the shipment of non-perishables and tents and tarps that they sent our way. We are still looking for more tents and tarps to distribute, although right now shipping things here has become very tricky. Once we figure out a good way to get goods in again, we'll let everyone know how to help. When the first shipment of tents and tarps came in, we went to some of our employees' yards and erected some tents. It was fun, and also very encouraging to see that many of them had already made some temporary shelter of some kind. Many were just out of sheets and sticks, but others had scavanged through the debris and built little shacks out of wooden doors and frames and tin. There are many tent cities going up all over this area, and many families are building what are referred to in haiti as "kay pay"... houses built out of sticks, fronds, corn husks, or sugar cane bundles. In seguin a lot of people live in kay pay made out of corn husks. Here in leogane, there isn't much corn but there is an abundance of sugar cane, so the kay pays are going up with sugar cane walls. A haitian friend who grew up in this area and is back for a visit told us that 30 years ago, most of the people out here lived in sugar cane kay pays. So I guess life is reverting back to the way it was a long time ago. I'm sure it's hard for these families, who have worked so hard to build nice cement houses, to go back to living in stick shacks. They don't seem to be too discouraged, though.
In general, the spirit of the haitian people around us is hopeful. They believe they'll rebuild their homes, somehow. Many are finding work by clearing roads of debris or tearing down buildings. The market places are still bustling with local produce. Our employees still give big smiles of greeting when they pass us by. The church pews are full every sunday and the congregation sings just as loud, if not louder, than they did before the "day of the thing".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life in the midst of death

Through all the horror stories of the past couple of days, a few joyous moments shine through to help us keep pressing on. The night of the earthquake, a woman gave birth to a tiny baby boy right in front of the Christianville gate. His cries during that horrendous night helped us remember that life goes on. The next day, two other babies were born at Christianville. One was delivered by Amy and Evelyn, the other was delivered by Jenn. All three of those ladies had been longing to deliver a baby, and they finally got their wish! The babies are healthy and have no idea of the chaos surrounding them.

Another joyous thing we are seeing in the midst of this tragedy is an increased response to the gospel. At church on Sunday, there were at least 7 visitors who made decisions for Christ. At clinic on Monday, another woman was saved. Pastors in our community are going around to the various "tent cities" and preaching the gospel. They are reporting many people coming to know the Lord just this past week. Please pray that these new believers will take their faith seriously, be discipled, and become strong Christians. Pray that God can use this earthquake to shake Haiti away from voodoo and towards the living and all-powerful God of creation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

As far as we know

For those of you who are wondering about friends you have made here in Haiti, here is a list of people we know who survived, did not survive, and those whose status is still not known:

Seguin boys in the Jacmel boys home
Danny and Leann (and all the Jacmel missionaries)
Greg and Cathie (and all the CSI missionaries)
Sue Witt and her orphans
All the employees of the eye clinic and their immediate families
All the employees of the dental clinic
All of the clinic employees
All the orphans at Val's orphanage
Most Christianville employees including pastors (see exceptions below)
Pastor Roro, Pastor Gerard, Toto (?)
Margarethe's family
Christnet's family
Pastor Johnny
Roger, from Seguin (who personally came to visit me here in christianville this week and told me all in seguin were doing pretty well)

Passed away:

I will try to update the list and we get more information. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Earthquake update

I've received a lot of messages on facebook and email about the situation here and how people can help, so here's an update for all of you. Thank you so much for your concern and prayers.

The earthquake hit about 20 minutes after we drove into our driveway (we had arrived in port that same day and went grocery shopping before heading home). I was walking in the road on my way to the clinic when the earthquake began. Ryan was outside in our driveway, and Eleanor was outside in the hands of Connie Nichols. We all struggled to keep our balance during the quake, which seemed to last forever. When the tremors subsided, I saw that the first floor of the apartments of Jim, Sandy and Jen (the apartment complex where I used to live) had collapsed. I ran to the clinic to see if they were there, then ran back when we realized they were inside. As I came back, I saw Jim and Sandy in the road, covered with dust. They had escaped through a new hole in the side of their house. Jen was safe also. Ryan came running up, and we walked back to find Nora together. At this point we had no idea of the magnitude of what was happening. We heard that there was a person at the guesthouse who was injured. I had some supplies in my bag from donations that Sherry Donovan had given me stateside, so I pulled those out and began working on the patient. I foolishly thought that she might be the only one injured. Soon after we began working on her, a steady stream of people began flowing into the yard. Some were injured and others were just homeless and scared. We separated the groups and began working on the injured. A group of people went back to the clinic and braved the gases and dust and cracks in the wall to get a truckload of supplies and bring them to our triage area near the guesthouse. Others set up lights, because darkness was fast falling. As we looked through the crowd and began treating wounds, the extent of the injuries astounded us. As soon as we thought we saw the worst case, another patient even more injured would come along. Many had severed and mangled limbs, many had serious head wounds, one woman was paralyzed from the waist down, the majority of the people who came had at least one broken limb. One woman was in labor and delivered in the driveway. Two other women came the next day and delivered their babies without complications. Several people were dead on arrival, and many more were so severely injured that we were confident they would die within a few days. Jim and I felt helpless at times in the face of such grave injuries and such limited supplies. We worked until about 5 am, and then tried to sleep for about half an hour. Then the injured came again, en masse.
We set up shop at the church, which was still standing, although it had some concerning cracks in its outer walls. Sandy and Nannie triaged the masses of people who came to the church for help, choosing about 40 of them. The rest were left to find help elsewhere, if possible. Jim and I, with the help of the team, sutured people and splinted fractures. Jim performed some amputations. Jen delivered a baby in a pew. A woman died of blood loss as she was lying in front of the altar. Almost everyone had a story of a loved one that was lost. Evelyn and Connie watched Nora for me so I could work. Ryan was busy attending to our house, which suffered flood damage. Throughout the day, small tremors kept our nerves on end, and as we were finishing up our last few patients, a large tremor rocked the building and sent us all running out the door. The building stood, but we finished up our last patients in the yard.
Today was a day of regrouping for the missionaries. We are basically out of medical supplies, so opening up a clinic today was useless. We focused on contacting loved ones, taking pictures, getting possessions out of destroyed houses. The eye clinic is not able to be opened because of stuctural unsoundness, so we don't know the extent of the damage there. The medical clinic is not too stable as it is. Our house is livable. None of us are sleeping inside at this point. There are too many tremors still. We have our mattresses in the open air, and Nora is comfortable in her pack n play with her mosquito net.
We learned of the death of our housekeeper, Daphne, this morning. She was only in her early 20s. We haven't heard from any of our other haitian friends in Port or Seguin. The Jacmel boys are safe.
God is good. We have heard of many people who want to come help, and at this point we are strongly urging no one to come. We don't have access to enough food or fuel to support more people here. If you would like to help, please send donations to Commuity Christian Church, 10001 W. Commercial Blvd, Tamarac, FL 33351 and designate it for "Earthquake".
Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for no rain at night, since everyone in this part of the country is sleeping outside. Pray for order to replace chaos, and calm to come to our hearts and the hearts of the haitians.