Friday, March 18, 2011

March: Haiti 2011.

Dear Friends & Family, 
Antonio's new home
I returned last night from Carrefour, Haiti. I am overwhelmed emotionally and physically after a long week - however my love and compassion for the people of Haiti is even stronger. This trip consisted of a team of nine: an architect, two structural engineers, three registered nurses, a nursing student from Belmont University, and two volunteers to work construction. Through Christ we were able to accomplish a multitude of tasks that we had set out to complete - however new needs were brought to our attention boldly. Our medical team, with the help of Haitian translators, ran a five-day clinic and treated well over 1,500 patients. During clinic we saw an enormous need physically. We ran clinic out of the Church & School of Lamentin, which our team had repaired in June 2010 following much damage from the earthquake. Our partnership with this Haitian congregation and school has been a huge blessing and allowed for an enormous boost in community and morale throughout this neighborhood. Pastors from the church were able to witness to these neighbors and tend to their emotional and spiritual needs while they waited to be seen and treated. Those who requested were given a bible in French Creole, donated by Al Jaynes from Nashville, and everyone was welcomed by members of the congregation and given a booklet on the church. While clinic was in session, our construction team & several Haitian church members were working hard just over the back wall of the church & school constructing a home for Antonio, an incredible man we met on our June trip & revisited in August. Antonio’s story is remarkable - he is 72 years old, has been blind since he was a  young child, & survived a crush injury during the earthquake to his leg. His survival weighs solely on the reliance of others to bring him a bit of food or water - and prior to this week he had be living under a tree with a piece of scrap metal covering his head since the earthquake. The beauty of Antonio taking his first steps into his new home was breathtaking, but more so was hearing“I give my life to Christ”come from his lips.   At 72, Antonio dedicated his life to follow Jesus this week and I will never forget hearing him repeat “Merci Jesus” as he stood inside his home on the concrete slab that was poured just 4 days prior, on which the imprint of 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 had been inscribed by the construction team. 
Cooking area for 78 children
latrine area for 78 children
The last working day of our trip we were asked to visit an orphanage that was in dire need. We had collected many items to donate to this orphanage including: pencils, crayons, toys, underwear, a new outfit for each child, and several thousand chewable vitamins. When we arrived at the orphanage site we were taken aback by the situation we witnessed. The 78 orphans were living in the remains of 2 severely damaged buildings with no stove for cooking, no latrines, and most children were sleeping on cardboard boxes on the cement floor. When we pulled up to the site the children were having class time led by the director and they were chanting prayers to Jesus. Above their makeshift table was a cardboard box nailed to a column that read God Bless You. I can not describe this well enough with words so I will post pictures below. I write you today because this need can not be ignored. The 2 buildings that these children are living in could collapse at any time during the tremors that still occur in Port Au Prince, and the lack of hygiene and health risks must be addressed. As a team we discussed the responsibility that has been placed on us now that we have seen and witnessed this need firsthand as followers of Christ. Leaving the orphanage we were all devastated. In my heart the Holy Spirit has placed an incredible burden I must ACT on. Our team has discussed many ideas to address this need and the architect & structural engineers are working to get a closer estimate of the cost required to build an earthquake-safe facility to house these children. Our connection with the Church of Lamentin has given us access to a large piece of land 50 miles from Carrefour that they own and have had waiting for an opportunity to be built on and used to serve the children of Haiti. We are still brainstorming as to all the possibilities and specifics of this project - what we do know is that something MUST be done and that a figure of around $30,000 is suspected. The task sounds big....but our God is much bigger. I would love for you pray for this opportunity and consider joining me in this effort. I will promise you that every dollar raised for this event will directly build this orphanage - there is no overhead or organization to pad the pockets of - just a serious need that we are willing to do something about. The architect and engineers are volunteering their services to this project. I will volunteer my nursing services to the construction team as needed and will also support this financially as Craig and I are able. I’d like to keep an open line of communication with all willing to help in this project and will keep you updated as we get the specifics nailed down. God is doing amazing things in Haiti. I have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to join him there four times this year and look forward to many years of service there. Thank you all for your prayers during my trips and your encouragement & support. Bondye Bon (God is so good).
SarahJane Madole
Classroom/Dining & Cooking area for 78 children

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 3: June 8th, 2010 Journal

        Today, Tabitha, Harry, Rachel, & I were picked up by two Haitian gentleman who drove us to a village, now a tent city, that had sustained damage from the earthquake. Upon entering, a thin older Haitian woman walked up speaking to us in Creole. At this point we had no translator so we guessed what she was trying to communicate shook our heads “yes” in reply to the unknown. The woman invited us into her home, a large blue Coleman tent, donated by a relief organization. It was setup on a spread of cinderblocks and rocks keeping the floor of the tent about 12” off the ground - this was because of the frequent downpours at night since Haiti is now well into the rainy season. Inside the tent it was pristinely clean and about 20 degrees warmer than the already 100 degree temps. We graciously accepted the invite and took a seat on the large blanket that laid in the middle of the tent floor. The woman charaded that this was where they slept at night - In fact, about 16 of them per tent. The only other items in the tent was a basket of clean laundry and a 5 gallon bucket full of pots and pans for cooking. I thought about how luxurious my home was.
Once we were inside about 5-10 minutes, a crowd grew outside the door. Many Haitians were staring in whispering “blancs” and watching us closely. One woman handed Rachel her 3 month old baby thru the door. This scene was kind of crazy, now that I think of it - I can’t image walking around in Franklin and seeing a foreigner, and then immediately handing them my infant. Just another cultural difference. The story gets even better about 60 seconds after the infant is handed off to my friend. Rachel begins firmly nudging me and peering down at the puddle of urine forming in her lap. The infant did not have on a diaper (not unusual) and had relieved himself on her. Once the Haitians noticed what happened they erupted in laughter - we laughed along with them, as to not look offended by what had happened. 
We left the tent city shortly after we loaded up about 12 people in the back of the truck. These folks had been told we were going to setup a medical clinic and they wanted to come be seen. To get to the clinic we traveled about 1 mile and then entered thru a crowded angry mob of Haitians at a market - a market that was clearly not meant to have F350 diesel trucks driving through it. Chaotically people on the pathway were pulling their goods and produce out of the way as our driver laid on the horn continually(another cultural difference). The driver was knocking into people's carts, running over produce that was not moved quickly enough, and ultimately pissing people off. Just as I was beginning to get a little nervous a small riot broke out - women were yelling angrily and slapping the windows - I'm certain many 4 letter Haitian words were being tossed around. Everyone was crowded around the truck peering in - looking at us “blancs” with wide eyes. The Haitian man in the passenger seat who was in charge of our travels today opened his window and tried to explain (in Creole) to the people that we were only trying to make it to the clinic. After much screaming back and forth, the Haitian leader motioned for us to get out. The Haitians in the back of the truck were already jumping out, grabbing the medical bags, and walking away with them. I was uneasy at first but soon realized they were carrying them up to the clinic for us. 
At the clinic there was a check-in desk, several empty exam rooms, and a Cuban doctor. I realized looking around that this was a for-profit clinic - a list hung near the door of fees to be charged for each type of service/visit. (most were around $30 - not sure if this is Haitian dollar/Gourdes/or US$) I spoke with the Cuban doctor and told him I could see patients for him. Basically we setup in the check-in office and saw first those who had already signed in - but for free of course. I was unsure how this would go over because we were ultimately taking away business from the clinic & pharmacy...but it turns out they were happy to have the patients seen and treated. In fact, midway through, the MD was sending out his patients with prescriptions to be filled by us with our medication supply, instead of his pharmacy. We saw approximately 50 patients and were pretty efficient as far as keeping the flow going. I felt very comfortable having figured out the best strategies in March on my first trip. With each patient I listened to heart and lung sounds, took a manual blood pressure, and listened to their complaint via a translator. Then I sent them out with medications and education on caring for their illness. The translator was a Godsend and did a great job keeping up with my Southern dialect. The common conditions I saw and treated were hypertension, cough, fever, headache, abdominal pain, & many many vaginal infections. We had feminine hygiene kits that I began giving out to each woman who was being treated for a vaginal infection. The kits were packaged in a ziploc bag and included: A washcloth, towel, bar of Irish Spring soap, lotion, and about 8 Kotex pads. This quickly got out of hand as word spread quickly about where they had received this merchandise. Women began crowding the door and pleading for the kits. We gave out all 50 kits. I had great help from Tabitha and Rachel running this clinic - they did a great job packaging up the their prescription while I finished each exam & gave medication instructions. This was a great day -  I felt we really touched a lot of people and met many needs that would’ve otherwise been neglected. I could tell with each patient that there was a void being filled as I touched them & listened to their needs. I’m certain the biggest accomplishment here was not the medication or the diagnosis, but it was simply letting them be heard. 
After clinic we drove to the nursing school, which was a plywood warehouse-type building that housed about 12 classrooms out in the open (no dividers). Primary school was held here until 2pm, then nursing classes were taught after that. There were 97 nursing students at this time, 36 had been killed in the quake. The students were divided into 3 different classes - I assumed this was 3 different levels because they were wearing different uniforms. Each class was held in front of a chalkboard where their lesson was written. The translator from the clinic had joined us here at the school to translate for the students. Harry welcomed me to each group of students and told them I was an RN from the states. From there I spoke with the students and encouraged them in their studies. I told them I was so proud that they had chosen a profession of service, just as Jesus had chosen to live a life of service to others, and this gave them so much opportunity to show love to their neighbors and community. I also told them how desperately Haiti needed them as educated leaders during this time of hardship and how influential each of them could become in changing their country for the better. They were very happy to hear these words. Several students had questions for me about the structure of American healthcare/nursing and each class asked if I could come teach a conference or workshop for them. Oh, how I would love to make this happen. I plan on scheduling something of the sorts in the future with Harry, the director of Healing Hands Intl., who understands my passion for these girls and their importance for Haiti’s future. 
After I talked with the classes we handed out a stethoscope to each student and a blood pressure cuff to each classroom for the students to practice with. I wasn’t entirely sure that the students would know what to do with the stethoscopes. One said “It’s not complete”...and confirmed my suspicions. “Not complete?”, I said....then I realized she was referring to a BP cuff. In their mind the only use they knew for the stethoscope was to take a blood pressure, so I put the stethoscope over one of the girls hearts and showed them how to listen. This was an awesome thought...that these 97 young women would now graduate nursing with their own stethoscope. This could really change their realm of understanding and their assessment of every patient they care for in the future. Now they can learn to identify abnormal heart and lung sounds, listen for bruits over the carotid artery, listen to bowel sounds, etc. If in fact, it works out for me to return to teach a workshop for these ladies it would surely be on how to fully assess a patient. I’m thrilled just thinking about the possibility of this happening. Also very excited to visit the blind man tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 1 & 2: June 6th-7th, 2010 Journal

Day 1:
Today we left from Nashville around 615am for Port Au Prince. Our connecting flight in Miami was delayed so we paced and chatted with fellow passengers, awaiting our plane. One crew seated near us was a church group from Greensburg, Kansas that was traveling to Port de Paix to rebuild an orphanage that had collapsed during the earthquake. While killing time I googled the city to find out it is deemed “Haiti’s most beautiful city”. It’s located on the north coast, about 100 mi from PAP. These extremely nice folks explained to me that their entire town had been completely destroyed by a F5 tornado 3 years ago. A young volunteer, and new dad, stated “This was our way to give back and say thanks - because we received an unbelievable amount of help when we faced disaster.” Wow. Talk about paying it forward. I love this type of volunteerism, its contagious.
While waiting for the PAP flight I watched several of Francis Chan’s video blogs. One in particular was about how we are called to be ambassadors of Christ. The thought of this lays a great deal of responsibility on us as Christ followers. We must make sure that we are truly speaking in a way that is pleasing to God - our words must so carefully represent our Christ, as he is so deserving. Chan compared this relationship to having a translator...a comparison I have lots of experience with. :) When you have a translator you are quite vulnerable to misrepresentation - someone else is conveying your message. What a thought. I should think about this more often. What kind of translator am I being for Jesus?
The flight into PAP was painless, aside from the delay. Stepping off the plane I was relieved to feel the 80 degree temperatures - they were quite unexpected but it was nearing sundown and it was overcast. I noticed many improvements at the airport - shuttle service to the customs warehouse, 1 baggage claim turn track, and much shorter wait times. Getting our luggage was relatively easy. As Tabitha and I pushed our buggies outside we were bombarded with men wanting to help us in return for a tip. I expected this and felt much more prepared this time around. After about 15 very stern “No Thank you’s!” I spotted Don, Roberta, and Adam awaiting us. 
The ride to the guesthouse was not far from the airport. Roberta drove us, like a champ, in an old Ford truck. She is the caretaker at an orphanage that was only a few blocks from our guesthouse. She prefers the term “Children’s Home” because she treats all 30 of her children as her own and they function just as a family should. She has 30 children that call her “Mom”. Roberta has live in Haiti for almost 15 years blessing this country. She was a military brat growing up and lived in many different states: Hawaii, NC, Virginia, and Maryland. She told us that before she decided to become a missionary she was a financial analyst for Bank of America. Her mother told her “You know we just always knew you’d be living on Park Avenue and working on Wall Street”. Boy, did God have different plans for this amazing woman. Her heart is much too big to be wasting her love on numbers. She reminds her mother “Now you have 30 grandchildren and you love it”. I imagined her mother pulling out a small photobook of grandkid pics and it unfolding accordion-style all the way to the floor....this made me smile.
Today, Harry, the Healing Hands Intl. leader found out his 16 year old niece lost her battle with Leukemia. She was diagnosed in January 2010. Some things I will never understand.

Day 2:
Today we drove about 1.5 hours to the school where construction would begin. Upon our arrival we were greeted by many school children in orange & white uniforms. They were all smiles and very excited to have visitors. Their classes were now being held outside under tarps with rolling chalkboards since school had resumed. The teachers were very young and had about a 7th grade level education. There were 4 classes in progress. The kindergarteners were singing “Old McDonald” in Creole. Harry told us that each child who attends the school must be sponsored. It’s $125 a year for each child to attend school 5 days a week from 7am -12noon. Some of the children walk for an hour to get to school every morning. School is always dismissed at noon, so no food is served. 
As we entered the damaged school building it was obvious that no one had entered the school since the quake. The rooms were littered with debris - rocks, concrete, trash, dust. The walls were still adorned with Santa and many coloring book images hand crafted by the children. Many walls were badly damaged and the privacy/security wall around the campus had fallen. Each classroom had concrete walls with green chalkboard paint on the front wall for teaching. As I entered one of the classrooms  I read the script left on the chalkboard since the day of the quake: “Mardi 12 Janvier 2010: Dieu aime les enfants”. The lesson on January 12th was “God loves all the children”. 

Outside, the first task for the team was to rebuild the security wall. Concrete, cinderblocks, and rebar had all been purchased. Against the wall, they also reconstructed the toileting area. The toilet was a concrete U shape that had a hole that was about 20-30 ft deep. The water well from which they drew their water from was about 20 yards from the toilet and it was no more than 30-40ft deep - the water was surely contaminated.
In the alley behind the school there was  family living underneath a sheet tied from the back privacy wall to the side of the school. The alley was about 3 feet wide. This family was sleeping, eating, and urinating here. There were 3 children, ages 1, 2, & 4 years, approximately. The 4 year old was mentally retarded and partially blind. They had her tied down at the waist to an old wooden chair. She was unable to walk, unable to toilet by herself, and unable to feed herself. She had no underwear on and her bottom was directly on the rough seat of this chair where she was tied all day long....the same chair that she urinated in. When I got close enough to her, I could tell she could see me & she knew I was there - she followed me with her good eye and flapped her hands laughing loudly. I called her “Belle” out loud, which means “beautiful” in French creole. I’m not sure if she understood, but she had a beautifully wide white smile that never left during our visit. Her clothes were filthy. None of the 3 children were wearing underwear or shoes. We will take them shoes & underwear Wednesday, now that we have a good guess as to their sizes. The younger two children, one toddler & one baby who was newly walking, were feeding the sister who was strapped to the chair. This was a Jesus moment for me...what a scene. Exactly what we are called to serve one another - this beautiful but heartbreaking illustration was amazing.

At the school we hauled out debris, gathered concrete dust to mix for plaster, swept & painted the few walls of the classrooms that were not damaged. I saw the largest spider I’ve ever seen in one of the was as big as my hand. At lunch time Tabitha and I made PB&J sandwiches for the 20 “blanc” workers and the 17 Haitian workers. We learned early this “blanc” term would become our instant name in a crowd of Haitians, as we stood out like a sore thumb. Blanc means white, if you couldn’t put 2 and 2 together. :) I did notice that after I started referring to myself as a “blanc” to the Haitians in conversation...they laughed very very hard and were entertained by me calling myself a derogatory name.  :)

Later in the day we went up on the roof and looked over the surrounding community. A woman had motioned that there was someone in need in her commune. What I saw broke my heart. About 30 feet on the other side of the back barrier wall was a small makeshift tent made of fabric and tarp. It was about 3x6ft, tied up against a palm tree. The flap over the “door” was pushed to the side and I could see slow movement in the tent. The woman now was gone. All of a sudden a long white stick moved the door flap aside and very slowly out walks an elderly man. He could barely stand & walked very unsteadily to a chair just outside his “door”. I noticed he was looking straight ahead the whole time and feeling everything around him. He was having a very difficult time finding and sitting in the chair. Suddenly I realized this man was blind. I was in shock of the unlikeliness of what I was witnessing. First off, this man was at least 70 years old...he had way out lived most Haitians, you rarely see any elderly folks...Secondly, this man had survived an earthquake being blind. Scanning the commune I noted that all the homes had collapsed inside their surrounding barrier wall. What had this man endured during the quake? I had so many questions. I figured he had surely been injured. I immediately thought of the passage in James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good they ought to do, and doesn’t do it sins”.  I knew we must help this man in some way. It was obvious this man was in significant pain and had some type of injury to his leg & knee. Looking around the perimeter of the school roof I became overwhelmed with 2 questions “What was I not born here? Why did this happen to them and not me?”. I’m certain I will never know the answer to this question. I felt so overwhelmed with feelings of being so incredibly blessed and then felt guilty for all that I have and how carelessly I use my many resources. Tomorrow I shall visit this man, no matter what. What a day. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Return to Haiti

I promised many of you communication about my next trip to Haiti, which is sneaking up quickly. I will leave June 6th around 6am from Nashville and arrive in Port Au Prince at 3pm. I can't tell you how excited I am to return & help spread the love of Christ. During my trip I will be the only RN on hand for a construction & architect team of 20. During our trip we will be rebuilding a school & church that fell during the quake. My role will be to serve the community that we are placed in, treating whatever needs come my way, as well as monitor the health and safety of the team.  As I found out on my last trip, need is everywhere. I expect to treat many infections, dehydration, wounds, injuries, malnutrition, etc. As well as simply providing a caring touch - which most haven't experienced in a while. Another exciting opportunity I will have is to speak at the nursing school in Port Au Prince. They lost 30 students in the quake. There are 75 students left. I asked the director of the program what was most needed & he reported they did not have stethoscopes. I have collected about 55 stethoscope thus far! I can't believe how close I am to the goal of 75. Im truly looking forward to spending time with these ladies that are so desperately needed in Haiti right now. I have been asked several times, "Why would you want to go back?". My answer is simple...I feel responsible as a follower of Christ to care for these people. The scenes I witnessed on my first trip I won't long as I live....and if I did forget what a shame it would be. I have been so insanely blessed...the LEAST I can do is respond to the burden that has been placed on my heart. I know that I can't fix Haiti. Only through Jesus Christ can Haiti be rebuilt. I know I am called to help bring vision to the people of Haiti. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" Prov 29:18. I also know that God said "Ask and I'll give the nations to you." Psalms 2:8. Fixing Haiti is too big a task for me...but nothing is too big for God...therefore I will continue to pray for the rebirth of Haiti and for the vision of Jesus to spread across Haiti's people. Please join me in that prayer. 

- SarahJane

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear All, Reflections from Haiti 2010

I’ve had a very difficult time talking about Haiti since I returned. I don’t know how to answer questions...especially the vague ones like “How was your trip?”. I just don’t even know where to start. It was so big and powerful. It was so heart wrenching and life changing. It was too significant to respond to that question with a one-word answer like “good” or “great”. I just can’t sell it short like that. From the moment I sat down in my seat on the flight back to the states from Port au Prince I wept. I didn’t cry...I wept. I wanted to stay. There was just so much left to do, so much left undone. I love Haiti. I love Haiti’s people. I love Haiti’s desire to rebuild. I want to help Haiti rebuild. Ten days was just not enough. But for now, ten days is what I have. I walked away with the best ten days that I have lived in a long time. I walked away with the best ten days that I have loved in a long time. I learned to love in Haiti, a real love like Christ offers, an unconditional, radical, crazy love. So what am I bringing back from Haiti? A sense of freedom. Freedom from the American dream. Wreckage of the disgusting idea I used to have of what success looks like. Abandonment of the desire for wealth and the idea that material things will fix us or fulfill us. I could go on and on, but I will keep this relatively short. I want to paint you a picture of Haiti even though I can't possibly accurately explain it to you. The images I have witnessed were painful, reassuring, and uplifting all at the same time. The heartbreak I saw was widespread across an entire country. If I could make you feel the touch of an orphans hands on my face, an innocent child whose parents are somewhere below the rubble of a building, I would do it. I want to show you picture after picture of a country destroyed, 300,000 homes flattened, the small amount of industry they did have in piles of concrete along every street but yet an incredible nation of people who still long for rebirth and renewal. Since I’ve been home I’ve thought so many times of my Haitian friend who lost his family in the earthquake. After escaping a collapsed building he ran home to find his house in crumbles. There among the rubble was the tips of his brother’s fingers. He dug up his brother’s and sister’s cold bodies from the mess that was once his home and right now he is ministering to his people. Feeding them, clothing them, and blessing them. The rug has been pulled from under the nation of Haiti. Every meaningful monument and symbol of hope has collapsed alongside 200,000 Haitian lives. I can't help you smell the bodies of those buried beneath The Cathedral in Port au Prince as they were praying to God, but I can provide the imagery to help you understand the urgency. I can't help you understand disasters, nor can I say that I understand them. All I know is that when disasters like Haiti occur it's an opportunity to wake up and serve, a chance to be the hands and feet of Christ today. We are asked to make disciples of nations. We are asked to serve in the land that we are given. We are asked to give up control. Control of our hands, our money, our time, and our future plans. Why are we so hesitant to do this? Maybe because there is something to be said for “having it together” in America. Well, Haiti has taught me to break free from these expectations. I don't want my plans. I want God’s plans. How can we be okay with self indulgence when there are infants being left in dumpsters to die? How can we be okay with living for self when there is over a million people sleeping in tent cities without food and water? Isn’t time to take care of each other and love each other like Christ has loved? After leaving Haiti, I have returned with ten days of memories, amazing friendships, and millions of reasons why it makes so much sense to live a crazy radical life of love like my Savior, Jesus Christ.

God Bless.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Haiti Journal

March 13th/14th, 2010: Travel Nightmare
I checked my flight on the computer before leaving to go to the airport. It was on-time. All was golden. Until I got to the ticket counter at US Airways. The nice man behind the counter spotted the three of us in line with our camper backpacks and our 300lbs of medical supplies we were going to check at the baggage counter. He shook his head as I handed him my itenerary and he said "I've been waiting on ya'll to get here. There's a problem". Apparently our Nashville flight was going to be very delayed. We were supposed to catch our next flight in Philly and fly to the Dominican Republic, but there wasnt enough time between the flights and we were for sure going to miss it. The man behind the counter said "All the other flights are full, but I can get you to Port Au Prince by Thursday".......WHAT!?!?!? was Saturday....Thursday seemed a week away. And my brain immediately started adding up how many plane tickets I had already charged to my Visa. Our inital flight thru Delta had been cancelled just 5 days prior to the this. Brad, David, and I stood there shaking our heads, "This can not be happening"....."Spiritual Warfare", I muttered. We were not gonna take no for an answer. I called my stepdad and had him look on travelocity to see if there was any tickets from anywhere near us available. I knew flights to Port Au Prince (PAP) were only out of Miami or NYC. He found 3 tickets from Miami to Port au Prince but no flights were available to Miami because it was spring break. We had 15 hours to get to Miami to make the flight and we were gonna make it happen. The 3 tickets were purchased and we raced downstairs in the airport to the rental car counter as I googled the map from Nashville to Miami.....1,000 miles....15 hours of travel time....We were gonna have to book it. No only did we loose an hour because of the timezones, but we also lost an hour because it tonight was daylight savings. We rented one of the last cars they had available for out of town travel and hit the road. I prayed alot on this day. I prayed for no traffic, no rain, no car problems, no wrecks, no tickets, no name it I prayed it. We made a pact that there would be no stops, no drinking water, no meals...only 2 gas tank fillups.  We made it to Miami from Nashville in a little over 12 hours....there must be some type of record we broke. I just say it was God's mercy after struggle and perseverance....yes, I realize it was on small scale...but still...I believe it.  

Arrived in Port Au Prince Sunday morning at 1020am. Brad, David, and I were awake for 52 consecutive hours. :) 
We were just so blessed to have made it....especially after being told it was not possible.

March 15th, 2010: Medical Clinic
Today was our first day setting up medical clinic. We awoke at 5am to roosters outside our tent, we ate breakfast, and then had a devotional led by Bobby, our leader from GCOM. He was born in Haiti and thrown into a dumpster as a newborn, there he was found and taken to an orphanage and later adopted by a Jamacian woman. He now is a pastor of a church in Indianapolis.
We loaded up into the 'tap tap' (see pictures) and drove about 2 hrs to the village where we would setup in PAP. The roads in Haiti are very rough and the countryside is mountainous, making travel time much longer than normal. The ride in the back of the tap tap with 20+ people is rough and my butt was very sore even after the first day. Many of us became green and nauseaous from the rocking back and forth. The air in PAP is very smoggy and dusty because of the rough roads and destruction. The drive is scenic especially the rocky terrain near the orphanage where we were camping. Last night we awoke to wild dogs right outside our tent getting into the trash. They were chewing loudly on chicken bones or something crunchy and dragging things around. It was very chilly and I had a difficult time sleeping because of the cold and because I had to pee but was afraid to leave the tent bc of the wild dogs. We had been told to stay away from all dogs because of rabies. I hadn't taken into account that we would be sleeping on top of a moutain and it would be cool at night, I had not packed accordingly. I only brought a thin sheet sleeping bag liner. Before the morning came I had layered all of the clothes I had available over my pajamas trying to warm up.
So we arrived at a tent city on the side of a hill in PAP. We setup a triage area where vitals would be taken and a complaint would be recorded on a notecard. After the patient was seen here they would move the treatment area for an examination by a provider my friend Jason, who is a NP. Then the provider would fill out a scribbled prescription on the card where they would take it to the pharmacy to recieve their medications. Today I helped see patients and dressed wounds, started IVs on the very sick, and located various medical supplies requested by the providers. The tent we were in looked like a revival tent. It had rows and rows of seats and was covered with a tarp. The people started lining up in droves. They were very very welcoming and you could tell they were so thankful that someone cared about them. Someone of them had minor or vague complaints and really just wanted to be touched. Those we examined just like anyone else and gave them vitamins to take home. Then juice and sandwiches were made by David G and some others and handed out to the Haitians.
It was extremely hot and humid and I was having trouble adjusting to heat. I hadn't really been drinking alot of fluids and after several hours I became extremely weak, light headed, and nauseated. I had sit down for the last hour of clinic and when Jason saw me he was concerned. My heartrate went from 80 to 125 when I stood up, which is indicitive of being pretty dehydrated. When we got home I let David try to start an IV - he is a Pilates was unsuccessful :) so Jason started one and I got 1L of IV fluid. I began feeling much better afterwards and was able to eat dinner late that night while everyone had gone to a Haitian revival service at a church down the road from the orphanage we were camping at.

March 16th: Medical Clinic
Today we woke up around 530am and had breakfast then a short devotional led by Christine (from brooklyn ny). Then we all loaded in the tap tap and drove 2 hours to PAP near the airport. We set up clinic in a abandoned French Red Cross tent that was stationed at a neirborhood basketball court surrounded by chain link fence. Around us was collapsed buildings and tent cities where people had set up their new homes, mostly with tents distributed by different organizations. We unloaded about 8 suitcases of supplies and organized the clinic setup with a triage area, a doctor assessment area and then a pharmacy area. As we were unloading the bags we realized our large bag of medicines and well as most of our IV supplies was missing. We had no option but to make do with what we had so we primed a few bags of saline and hung them for only the very sick (a woman with a heart rate 175bpm, a young man with a bad pnemonia, ect). The medicines we did have included IM rocephin 1 gram, multi vitamins, Tylenol, lortab, and motrin. There was a near by pharmacy so we pulled together about $50 and sent a few team members to buy miconozole (we were seeing lots if yeast and vaginal infections) and some Amoxil. I was stationed at the pharmacy with Erick. We distributed medications and i gave IM rocephin shots and started the few IV lines that we had available. One woman who came to be treated had a breast mass the size of a grapefruit, the mass was hard, immobile and had an irreguLar border- which is indicitive of breast cancer. She was only about 32yrs old. Unfortunately with cancer in a 3rd world country like Haiti this woman has no options available. We didn't tell her the obvious, why ruin the last year or so of her life? She was smiling as I handed her a bag of Women's Multivitamins. She was standing in the middle of a destroyed city with breast cancer and a family...and she was smiling over the vitamins I gave her, saying "Merci, Merci" (thankyou in french). How do I mentally walk away from a situation like this? 
 At the pharmacy we had a translator who translated our medication instructions and coached the haitians while I was starting their IVs (they are very afraid of needles). We treated about 300 people at clinic today. After we packed up our supplies we waited on our ride for about an hour and a half. During that time we played with the small neighborhood children and the young men started a basketball game on the court. The drive back took about 2.5-3hrs because there was lots of traffic. Upon arrival home we ate a delicious fish stew and a corn dish with drk gravy, all prepared by the children at the orphanage and the orphanage keepers. After dinner we organized our supplies and medications for clinic the next day. Thieves raided our tents while we were eating dinner and stole Brads camera, video camera, coffee, clothes, headlamps, and flip flops.

March 17th: Medical Clinic
Today we left the orphanage around 7am to go to a tent city near PAP where significant destruction had occured. We arrived and were told to stay in the truck & that we were not setting up clinic because dangerous behavior had been noted by our haitian leaders. We drove another half mile and setup clinic in the middle of a large tent city. There was hositility almost immediately from the Haitians because they thought we were charging them for medical care - apparently another medical group had previously set up in our tent and were charging for medications and treatment. We cleared everything up and then began to set up shop in an abandoned UNICEF tent. People lined up in droves.  We treated about 350 people with medical care, prayers, and food. We saw many many vaginal infections, skin infections, and URIs. I gave many IM Rocephin injections, one was given to a brave 7 year old girl who was all alone. Brad and Denny were at the back door of the tent praying for everyone who was treated. They prayed over their health, their relationship with Christ, and their safety.
About halfway thru the day an elderly woman came thru the line with a newborn. She reported she had just found the baby in a dumpster. She decided to care for the infant, she couldn't pass it by knowing it had been left to die. Bobby our GCOM leader shared a very similar story. He too had been left in a dumpster to die as a newborn. He was found and taken to an orphanage, later he was adopted by a Jamacian woman. I thought about the irony and knew this infant was born to do great things. Bobby could've died alone in the trash 30 years ago but God had plans for him. Now Bobby is making disciples of nations, just as we were instructed. We encouraged this woman that she was doing the right thing by taking responsibility of this child. We prayed for her and the infant and we sent her with a large can of formula and a make shift bottle. If I could've taken the infant home I would have. Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves a chance. Especially an innocent child.
Another patient that stands out in my mind is a man who appeared to have smallpox. Which if he, in fact, did have smallpox,  this could mean huge risk for wide spread epidemic....especially with everyone piled on top of another in these tent cities with no sanitation options....and the rainy season just around the corner.
There was another baby that was brought thru the line near the end of our day - he had been crushed in the earthquake and broken his femur (thigh bone). The French Red Cross had placed the baby in a cast going around his hips and down his right leg to his toes....two months this mother had no way of getting the cast off. This baby was at risk for losing his ability to use his right leg or walk, as well as skin breakdown from the cast, not to mention the cast was very snug - babies grow alot in 2 months. He could of lost his leg. We tried with many different tools to get the plaster cast off but we were unsuccessful. Frustration was rising and we were exhausted from the day. Jason was working so diligently and insisted on getting this cast off so we loaded up our medical clinic and took the baby to the hospital in town. Jason took the baby inside and used their cast saw. The hospital was nearly empty...abandoned ambulances were sitting in the parking lot with flat tires. It was a crazy sight to see an essentially vacant hospital with so much need outside their doors.

March 18th: Medical Clinic
Today we awoke at 5am and left the orphanage at 6am headed to a remote village 4.5hrs away from our location. Last night was the first night that there was no dog digging thru the trash and crunching chicken bones into the wee hours of the morning.  We had a quick rain for about 10-15 minutes around 11pm, which was surprisingly the first rain we have seen thus far. So the ride to the remote village was long and bumpy in the back of the tap tap with 20 people packed in like sardines....but the scenery was amazing. It was quite a tranformation driving thru the dusty colorless mess of PAP to a beautiful winding road with a mountain back drop and palm trees and cacti lining the road. After the long drive we arrived at a impoverished village which had only recieved medical care once before, which was given by GCOM. Bobby told us at there last visit the need was so great they were unable to see all of the people who waited in line and a riot broke out and people became violent. This made us a little nervous - but at this point in our trip we were use to being on our toes. Word must have spread about our visit because as we entered thru the cinderblock entrance the people were already lined up waiting. No running water or eletricity was available, which was pretty normal to us by now. However we were disappointed because enroute we noticed a few powerlines and were hoping we'd be able to plug in our nebulizer to give treatments for those in respiratory distress. We setup clinic in a small two room cinderblock shelter and made a triage area with a large tarp and tall sticks to keep it covered and cooler. It was significantly hotter inside the shelter than outside, and it was high 90s outside. I was sweating like crazy the entire day. No matter how much we drank we never quenched our thirst - I never did not feel thirsty the entire trip...I can't imagine how the Haitians battle this constant struggle of finding water. I remember the children outside the airport when I first arrived...they were begging for water, not money but I understand.

We treated the children, pregnant women, and the elderly first. I have never seen so many preggos in my life. At one point Erick, Christine, and I looked at the line in front of us waiting to get their prescriptions filled and there were about 7 pregnant women in there 8th month standing consecutively in line....I made a comment to Erick and Christine, "look at all the pregnant women". The 3 of us immediately busted out in Beyonce spirit singing and dancing "All you pregnant women, (All you pregnant women), put your hands up!" Those waiting in the line looked at us as though we totally lost it and soon they were laughing just as we were....they didn't know what we were saying. :)

We saw child after child that was malnurished. Babies that looked 12 months and were 24 months. Children had rashes all over there bodies, scabies in the webbing of their fingers, and skinny frail extremities with large heads. The elderly looked...well, elderly...and many had chronic conditions like hypertension, heart conditions, cataracts, arthritis, etc. We treated and bandaged several burn victims - most burns caused from their cooking fires or spilling boiling water. We also saw many very bad wounds that had started out as small scrapes and cuts but had developed into oozing large necrotic wounds due to poor hygiene and no basic first aid care like neosporin. We irrigated and dressed these and showed them how to do this at home, also sending them with supplies for wound care.

March 19th: Sight Seeing & Orphanage Visit
This morning we awoke around 530am and left the orphanage after a devotional led by Denny (born in Haiti, lives in brooklyn) at 730am. We drove to downtown PAP and saw the collapsed cathedral. The massive destruction in the area was so great that it was very hard for me to imagine what this area looked like before. Most of the cathedral was caved in and now in large mounds of rubble and wires, however part of the front face of the church still stood as well as the large crucifix statue with the body of Christ upon it. What a scene. Thousands of pounds of rubble surrounded the base of this statue and just 10 yards away was the remains of the outline of the church. Standing around the area were a wild collage of people. A voodoo preist walked by with insanely crazy eyes and his body covered in white dust, head to toe. This voodoo religion is very prevalent here and was kinda creeping us out. The Haitians believe these preists can cast binding spells on them. Nearby we saw a mother walking with a newborn in her arms and a toddler at her side. The toddler was filthy and completely naked, no diaper... no nothing. The newborn was swaddled in 5 layers of clothing, it was 90 degrees. I had a small stuffed animal in the tap tap and I went to get it for the boy. Another GCOM volunteer dug thru our supplies looking for clothing for the boy. We took her a canister of formula and told her she could feed it to both children. We only had a few diapers so we gave her a few for the boy and went ahead and put one on him. We instructed her not to layer the infant so tightly in the heat. Then we prayed around her that God would bless this family and provide for their needs. Tears were dropping from all of our eyes onto the dirty ground below. It was a very emotional moment for all. I felt once again ashamed for wasting precious time on meaningless decisions about stuff that I don't need in the states - this mother had nothing but what was on her person and she had two bellies to feed everyday. I wish words could express how I felt standing there with the presence of God...and how utterly disgusted I was with myself and my selfishness...but I simply can't find words powerful enough to do it justice.

Next we drove to see the Royal Palace which looks very much like our White House. It was an eery sight to see it collapsed and think of what this symbolism implies for the country of Haiti. Locals told us after the earthquake the president of Haiti fled and was unable to be located for 4 days....I can only imagine the outrage that would occur if this happened in the states.

On the ride to the orphanage I sat by Pastor Ronald, one the leaders of GCOM and a Haitian. He is 28. I asked him where he was when the earthquake happened. He told me he was sitting in a classroom at his seminary school when all of a sudden everything began shaking. The ceiling began to collapse on top of him and his classmates. He told me that he felt the presence of two angels lift the ceiling enough for him to crawl on his belly and escape unharmed. Thirty eight first year students were crushed and did not surive in the basement below him, as well as several of his classmates in the same room. He left the collapsed seminary and headed to find his family's house. Upon arrival the home was collapsed and the only sign of his family was their fingers sticking out from the rubble. He dug out the bodies of his 20 year old sister and his younger brother, but it was too late.

We arrived at the orphanage that housed 53 Haitian children and about 30 of them came running at us screaming and jumping into our arms. They craved touch. Immediately a sweet 3 year old held his arms up, the international symbol for pick me up :) I hadn't been out of the tap tap for more than 15 seconds and I had this wide eyed grinning boy with sparkling white teeth sitting on my hip and resting his head on my shoulder. He touched my face and petted my hair and just smiled. Moments later I had a beautiful 8 year old girl take my hand and after the boy wandered off to play, this young girl didn't let go of my hand until we left. We played with chalk and plastic lizards and my camera (the kids love having their pic made and taking pics of others). She even followed Brad and I as we toured the Special Needs room - which had about 20 children that fuctioned at a toddler level at best, though a few were bedbound in cribs under mosquito nets. One was a 14 yr old girl who had hydrocephalus and weighed about 20 lbs, her skeleton was severly misshapened and her head was small and deformed. She laid alone in an infant crib under netting in a room that was 90 degrees...beside another child with a similar condition. Somethings I will never understand.

Leaving the orphanage was completely heart wrenching for me. I was now holding the little girl and she was laying her head on my shoulder. The lump in my throat was enormous and my heart was broken. How I would love to take home this precious child and give her a home and a future. She was beautiful inside and out and she wimpered as I told her I had to go. She didn't speak English but she knew exactly what I said. I found an interpretor to tell her how beautiful she was and how much I loved her. We drove off and tears welled up in my eyes again.

On the way home we visited La Blanche which is the highest point in Port au Prince and looks over the entire city and coastline line. It's incredible and it's so high that your actually in the clouds. It was by far the most beautiful view I have seen in my life- no camera could ever capture the feeling that I had looking at a city of 3 million from up in the clouds. Simply magical.  At the summit several vendors lined the street. I bought a large detailed painting of haitians standing on a dock with sailboats from a man named John Baptiste. He was very talented and I wondered how different his life would be if he were somewhere with an economy for his art. I praised his work and then left with my find.

On the way back to the orphanage that were we staying at we were spotted by Haitian police and they pulled us over. They immediately arrested our Haitian driver and a haitian that was riding on top of our tap tap. Silence came over everyone in a matter of seconds. We stuck out like a sore thumb and they were suspicious. Our leaders got out of the vehicle and were speaking to the police, and their tone of voice was freaking me out. The police threatened to arrest us and beat us up and put us in jail, our leader Pastor Ronald spoke up bravely and said "You can not do this, you have no reason to pull us over". Things were getting loud and we were getting very nervous. I pictured the news story my family would see at home, "Americans sentenced to 10 Years in Haitian Prison"....Brad told everyone to sit still and shut up and don't say a word....and boy did he mean it, he reminded me of getting in BIG trouble as a kid, we all know that tone of voice when someone means business. Brad told everyone to bow  their heads and he led a prayer asking God to please let us get out of this situation safetly. No more than 5 minutes later Bobby & Ronald came walking back with our driver right behind them. The police had decided to let everyone go. Close call. Thank you Jesus.

March 20th: Medical Clinic
Today we setup medical clinic smack dab in the middle of a very large tent city near the airport in PAP. It had rained alot so everything was a mess and we had to setup the food station in the tap tap and the pharmacy just outside on a main road because the mud was so thick. The sun was really hot and was constantly beating down on the back of our necks and arms. Despite the heat it was a very efficient day for us. At this point our team really had it together and we saw, treated, prayed over and fed more than 400 people. After clinic we left to take Jason, Erik, and Alabama to the airport. For me this was really emotional. The bond I have with these guys is unlike most friendships I have had in my life. What we have witnessed together and the toil we've shared on this trip has created a bond like I haven't known before. The teamwork has been incredible and the compassion from each of these men is immeasurable. In such a short amount of time Im taken aback at how close we all have become, I know this is because we all have shared in this mission to serve Haiti and show them the love of Jesus christ. I'm so thankful for these new friendships and to have these guys in my life.