The thoughts of a woman trying to live simply yet abundantly, contentedly yet expectantly, wisely yet adventurously... all for His glory.

5.24.2012

to Haiti with love

I'm still processing the two weeks I spent in Haiti with Samaritan's Purse. Like all of creation Haiti contains both beauty and brokenness. At first glance you notice green rolling mountains and tropical blue water. Look again and you notice the mountains are crumbling due to severe erosion. Dotted in the midst of the hills and valleys are tarp-over-sticks "houses," many covered with bright blue Samaritan's Purse tarp. Brown streams empty the waste of city inhabitants directly into the ocean and you realize this is no pristine tropical paradise after all.

Yet the beauty is overwhelming, even in the midst of the remaining rubble and the barbed wire and broken glass.

The sunrise over the hills at the SP compound each morning never failed to make me catch my breath. I cherished the moments spent holding hands, singing, and praying with the clinic staff each morning before beginning our day's work. The sandwiches made with hot-pepper infused Haitian peanut butter for lunch warmed both my mouth and my spirit. Mangos are simply divine, they really are. The evening breeze coming in from the ocean seemed to gently blow peace into my heart. And I fell really and truly in love with 68 adorable children at an orphanage outside Leogane.

In a million ways I was reminded that God is a God of healing, rebuilding, and restoration. He came to bring wholeness to a broken world. He promises to make all things new and all things right.

I spent my time in Haiti working in the Cite Soleil clinic, holding orphans, dispensing medications in the pharmacy, losing Scrabble games, discussing issues of faith and social justice with new friends, and laying in a hammock listening to the waves and watching the stars come out. But most of all I spent my time in Haiti being reminded that God is enough.

Sunset from Jax Beach, Haiti


5.13.2012

welcome to Ayiti!

I arrived in Haiti (Ayiti in Creole) last Tuesday along with Sandy,the other volunteer nurse here at the moment. She's lovely and energetic and reminds me of a very grandmotherly Beth Moore.

Each weekday morning we get up around 5:30 as the sun is just coming up over the mountains. We leave for the clinic by 6:45. Along the way we stop to pick up some of the clinic staff including several doctors and some of the pharmacy personnel. We also pick up our motorcycle escort just before we head into Cite Soleil which one of the largest, poorest, and therefore most dangerous slums in the Northern Hemisphere.

Driving towards Cite Soleil.

The clinic has been operating since the earthquake in 2010, offering primary care for adults and children and some women's health services. SP employs two pediatricians, one OB/GYN, and one adult doctor that I know of for the clinic. Usually 2-3 different doctors work there depending on the day of the week, seeing anywhere from 150-200 patients a day. The patients line up in the courtyard, and Jasmine (the clinic coordinator) and Leo go through the line to try to sort out the sickest patients and the children to see the doctor. Leo fills out a health paper for each patient if they didn't bring their paper from a previous visit, and they are then admitted to the triage area.
Sandy and I work in the triage area alongside three Haitian translators named Eddy, Eddy, and Luko. This is where we ask each patient why they have come to the clinic and check their vital signs. The translators know what they're doing, but Sandy and I are here to help them think critically and help teach them so that they can in turn teach the patients. I love that aspect of this clinic; there's lots of time and opportunity to teach. There's even a health educator who talks to the patients waiting to be seen in triage, telling them about handwashing, diarrhea, and worms, among other things. In the triage area we often teach about foods to avoid if you have hypertension or acid reflux, how to keep a wound clean, etc. I am in the process of teaching Eddy how to calculate paracetamol (acetaminophen) doses for kids with fevers; the dose is based off their weight. It's a little complicated until you've done it a few times, but he's picking it up really quickly. I want to teach the other translators on Monday. I guess until now they've been going back to ask one of the doctors or Haitian nurses for the dose!

After the patient goes through triage they wait to see the doctor who writes prescriptions which are then filled at the SP pharmacy. It's a really organized process! Some patients also end up going to the treatment room which is run by Toussaint, a sweet Haitian nurse. In the treatment room they do breathing treatments, IV fluids, some dressings, and Toussaint is also training several Haitian nursing students.

We finish in triage about 2:30, which gives the doctors and pharmacy enough time to wrap everything up by 3:30 or 4:00. We finish early because some of the Haitian staff have 2-3 hour commutes, and they need to get out of Cite Soleil before it gets dark. By the time Sandy and I get back to the SP base it's usually around 4:30, and we have the rest of the evening free to read, nap, check email, and chat.

I really love seeing the work that's happening at the Cite Soleil clinic. I've had patients come through with health papers from 2010, meaning that they have been receiving some health care for the last two years! That's really exciting, especially considering that in West Africa I always felt that once the ship sailed away the people had no health care. Although there are hospitals in West Africa, most people cannot afford the price. So I really love that the SP clinic has been taking care of the people living in the Cite Soleil slum for years now.

During my evenings I've been reading a great book called "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...And Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. I was really struck by one idea which I will quote for you:

"We are not bringing Christ to poor communities. He has been active in these communities since the creation of the world, sustaining them 'by his powerful word' (Heb. 1:3). Hence, a significant part of working in poor communities involves discovering and appreciating what God has been doing there for a long time!"

Oh this is so true. I am not bringing Jesus to the poor people of Cite Soleil. He is already here and has been working in a million ways both seen and unseen. During his time on earth Jesus loved children, tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, and the least of these... at Cite Soleil we try to follow His example.

I can picture Jesus here, walking the dirt streets of Cite Soleil. I feel His pleasure each time I walk through the clinic doors to start a new day. I feel His presence when the clinic staff gathers to sing and pray before we start seeing patients. We pray for the clinic, Cite Soleil, the Haitian government, and the people of Haiti. We pray that God would bring not only physical healing, but that He would change people's hearts. And I feel His peace gently, quietly, patiently at work here in Haiti... and also in my heart.

4.09.2012

it's that time again!

Time to think about anti-malarial medications, time to brush the dust off my passport, and time to buy traveler's insurance.

Yes, I'm still in school. In case you forgot-- after all I haven't blogged in forever-- I'm working on a master's degree in nursing. After I graduate in December and pass my certification exam, I'll be a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP for short). If you're nice, I might even write you prescriptions.

In between semesters I have several weeks off so I looked at several different volunteer medical opportunities. I ended up being accepted to volunteer with Samaritan's Purse in Haiti for two weeks in May. I'll be working, most likely as a triage nurse, at a new medical clinic in Cite Soleil. A dear friend has been to this particular clinic with Samaritan's Purse and she gave me a glowing first-hand account.

I'm beyond thrilled for several reasons. First, I'm going a little stir-crazy here at home and I can't wait to go somewhere that my nursing skills are really and truly needed. Secondly, I think this trip will give me a better feel for how my FNP degree might be useful in a developing country clinic setting. By the time I get to Haiti I'll also technically have completed half an FNP degree and I'll be (hopefully) able to use some of my physical assessment and diagnostic skills. But most of all, I'm excited because it's a reminder that God continues to work in my life even though I'm not always aware of it.

As always, I would love to have you partner with me in prayer. At the moment, my biggest prayer request is for faithfulness in completing this semester! I love school but it's very challenging and by this point in the semester I'm ready to just be done. Regarding my trip to Haiti, the basics need prayer as always: safe travel, good health, and safety while in-country. I could also use wisdom as I collaborate with Haitian translators to see patients who may have illnesses uncommon here in the US. For example, the rainy season in Haiti starts soon which could mean increased cases of cholera.

Most of all, I want to "let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God," echoing a prayer written by Bob Pierce, the man who founded *both* Samaritan's Purse and World Vision.

In the meanwhile, I can't wait to get my feet on the ground in Haiti!


Photo taken the last time I volunteered as a nurse while in Niger, West Africa. It seems like a lifetime ago!