Thursday, May 30, 2013


My second class of nursing assistants/community health agents graduated a week ago. I have to be honest and say that this particular group was not as dedicated and fun to be around as the last group, however, there were 4 or 5 students who I simply adore and who I would be very proud to work alongside if the opportunity arises.
I used two of my best from December's class for hospice care when a Jubilee neighbor was dying of AIDS and they were amazing - they worked almost double the hours we paid them for and when she was hospitalized, they cared for other patients on the ward simply out of compassion. Dying from AIDS in Haiti is a lonely and frightening prospect, but my students came in with love and gentleness and big smiles, and our patient absolutely loved them. I was extremely proud.
We have been tossing ideas around about other ways to employ my top students. Pray with me that ideas become realities! For now, I'm encouraged to hear stories from my students about the little ways that they are sharing their knowledge and skills in their communities. Keep it up, graduates!  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Word to the wise

Don't ever try to play Chubby Bunny with bananas. It's not pretty.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rudenchly's car

Rudenchly's foot is healing well post-surgery, but he needed walking assistance. He wants to walk, but he doesn't have the leg strength or balance yet to do it without holding someone's hand. So I put the request to some visitors from South Carolina and they transformed an adult walker into a Rudenchly race car!
I think Lovena (above in pink) was a little jealous, but everyone else is tickled to see Ruden marching around Jubilee with his "machin". He likes to practice on the smooth porch in front of the school and both teachers and students are there to help him when he gets stuck on the rough parts. I love it and so does Rudenchly!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Photographic proof of our Lovena miracle

Everyone is rejoicing in Lovena's return. From the women at the school who cried with grandma Paulette to the teachers at the Jubilee school, from the clinic staff to my friend JB who searched for Lovena on the DR border for two days, everyone has hugs and huge smiles for Lovena.
When the search team came back empty-handed, Chelda, Lovena's 9 year old aunt, walked into her classroom and proclaimed very sadly, "They didn't find her." The teacher suggested that the class pray for little Lovena, but before they could start, a student burst into tears. She was crying for Lovena. And one by one, these tough ghetto children all began to cry, until virtually the whole room was sitting on the floor, weeping for our lost little girl.

Over the three weeks that Lovena was gone, the school children prayed for Lovena's safety regularly and a few even had dreams that Lovena was home safe. I watched yesterday as school was dismissed and a crowd of neighborhood kids gathered around our prodigal daughter. She must be the most popular kid in Jubilee!

To every person who prayed for Lovena's safe return: thank you. Even when I'd lost almost all hope, I kept being encouraged by the constant messages and promises of prayer that I received from friends and strangers across the US and Europe. Thank you for being faithful!

She is so happy to be home and we are so happy to have her!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lovena's home!!

I got the call on my way to clinic this morning: "Lovena's back!"

Her birthmom brought her home last night after 10pm. Grandma Paulette was too angry and relieved to ask any questions, so I don't know where Lovena was this whole time, but the whole neighborhood is rejoicing.

I am incredibly happy and incredibly grateful. Last night God and I argued about Lovena, about trying to trust Him despite everything. I wrote, "I don't know if I'm allowed to ask for this, but I could really use some tangible proof of Your love and goodness...very soon." I went to sleep and dreamt that Lovena was returned to me by my friend Lala. One hour later, I was walking to clinic when Lala called me with the good news. Perhaps you are skeptical about God, answered prayers, and dreams, but I cannot see this as anything but a very clear response from a very big God.

Lovena's home. God is good and God is loving. He would be good and loving even if she wasn't home, but I am deeply grateful that He gave me exactly what I asked for.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reasons why

I always tell people that the beauty of Haiti is that though the lows are very low, the highs are very high. The tough times are tougher than anything I experienced in the US, but they are balanced by good times that are richer than what I usually experience in the US. So I've been waiting for something glorious to balance out the pain of Lovena's disappearance.
It hasn't come. 
I am still wallowing a bit in the emotional mud of her loss. I'm having a hard time seeing the good of being in Haiti, seeing the point of doing everything that I do. I've started an exercise of looking very deliberately for beauty and purpose because in my current state of mind, I am not going to see it without really hunting.
I was encouraged by this story from Jonas, one of my nursing assistant students. He saw a man collapse in the street. Everyone else backed away, talking about voodoo and evil spirits. Jonas, however, looked at the man's body and thought, "This looks like the symptoms of a stroke, just like Miss Keziah taught us this week." He pulled out the BP cuff I'd given him, checked the man and found his blood pressure a sky-rocket high 210/140. Thanks to Jonas, the man was taken to the hospital, instead of ignored on the street.  
Rudenchly, my little burn patient who had a first surgery in November to repair a burn contracture, (click here and here for his story) got his second surgery last week and is doing beautifully. He is walking around holding my hand and grinning his gigantic dimply grin. I am going to arrange physical therapy for him once his surgical site heals and this boy is going to learn to walk by himself!
Amoni, the man who had a terrible hand infection, (click here for his story) had his surgery in Port-au-Prince and is still coming for dressing changes every other day. His hand is healing very nicely and it is amazing to see someone who was so close to amputation and even death walking around nearly healthy.
And finally there's JB. He is roommates with Oscar, our favorite clinic nursing assistant, and I invited him to take my nursing assistant course, hoping that perhaps he would show some of the brains and, more importantly, the heart that Oscar has. I hit a jackpot in JB! He is one of my brightest students, first to answer questions and first to ask for deeper explanations. He has started spending his free time in clinic, helping us do dressing changes and learning from everything that we do.
I had prayed that we would find a replacement for Oscar in my newest class, and it looks like JB will be the one. We will be sad to see Oscar go to medical school, but I will be very proud to see JB step up and fill his shoes.

Those are the things that I'm trying to look at - the good things, the reasons why my presence in Haiti is not a mistake. My failure with Lovena doesn't have to define who I am. God has a plan and I don't agree with this particular part of it, but I'm willing to wait Him out and trust Him. Someday perhaps He will tell me His reasons for my presence in Haiti, His reasons for letting things turn out the way they do, and it will all make sense. In the meantime, I look for the good, and I wait.