TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
May 22, 2006
Aren’t kids precious? Kids are one of the big reasons that I am in Haiti in the first place. But, yesterday, I was reminded how very special they are. I have been sick for the last several days with a nasty staph infection. Following the Sunday morning worship service, I heard the shuffling of MANY little feet and then came the knock at my door. In came about 30 little ones, all dressed in their Sunday finest. Each greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. After filling my little sitting room to its fullest capacity, the kids sang a song for me and prayed for me to get better soon. Of course, there were a few of them that were distracted by some of the many things that there are to look at in Mama Nora’s room. And since getting inside my room is a special occasion, they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see what there was to see! Kids will be kids, whether in Haiti or the United States. Nonetheless, I am always touched by the caring nature of the Haitian people, both big and small. They make me feel like I am a SOMEBODY! How good that feels!
The last few days were a bit scary for me. When I finally admitted that an infection that I had was getting worse instead of better, I relented to seeing a doctor. Upon learning that it was a bad staph infection that we needed to act quickly upon, my eyes welled up with tears knowing that I was not in Michigan where the conditions for treatment are sterile and where the medical field is updated with the most modern technology. I thank God that my brother, who is a doctor, was only a phone call away. I used some of my precious minutes on my phone card to call him and get assurance that the treatment regime that was recommended for me was appropriate. With this knowledge, I could face the upcoming events. I was told that I would need an injection every 12 hours for the next three days. Injections are not given in the doctor’s offices in Haiti. Rather, you get a prescription for syringes and the vials of medicine that you need and then head for two or three pharmacies, until you find one that has the medicine in stock that you need. I was told that the medicine would be very expensive. In essence, it was less than $25. Thinking about how much I would have had to pay for these same meds in Michigan gave me a little something to smile about! I was instructed to go to the hospital every twelve hours to get my injection, unless, of course, I had someone at home that would give me the injections! Yikes! I chose to go to the private hospital in Les Cayes for the injections. It is hard for me to go there because this is the hospital where Pastor Israel died. All of those memories come flooding back each time I go near that place. At the hospital, the nurse filled the syringe in the waiting room where the many patients were waiting to be seen. Hands were not washed. Gloves were not worn. She then issued me into a small office that barely has enough room for the desk and stretcher that it contains. As I bared myself, I am grateful that at least this room has a door that can be closed to the peering eyes of everyone in the waiting room. A cotton ball was dipped into alcohol and placed on the dusty desk top, awaiting the “cleansing” of the injection site. The nurse spoke to me in clear English with a gentle voice saying “Don’t be frightened!” I am not a baby when it comes to pain, but I do believe this injection is the thickest and most painful one that I have received in a long time! I am counting down the hours to my last injection, as I dread each one that I receive. All in all though, I am again reminded how grateful I am for all the modern medical conveniences that are available back in the States. I shutter as I watch the inadequate care that is available to the people here. Sanitary conditions just do not exist. I watched in horror as a grandmother dumped the contents of a soiled diaper on the dirt in the hospital yard. She then proceeded to use a specimen container to scoop up some of the feces for diagnosis. You can be certain that that specimen contained bacteria from more than just the little baby for whom the test was intended. It amazes me how the doctors and nurses are able to work in these conditions on a daily basis, giving the best care that they can in a world that greatly inhibits their ability to do so. God bless them!
As time passes, I find more reasons for loving Leon. I asked him recently about his frequent visits to the kids of the orphanage. He simply explained that since Pastor Israel is gone, he knew that the kids needed a “papa” in their life. He decided he could fill that role. The kids come to him regularly with their bumps and bruises, to show him some of their schoolwork or to ask him to help them with something. They call him Poppy Leon and they love when he brings his dog, Wilips, to play with them. He is a ready ear for the caregivers too. Living with the children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can sometimes be trying. They call on Leon to help settle disputes between children or to be the extra stern disciplinarian that is sometimes needed. Leon does not view any of this as a burden. He is a natural fit for the role. He loves children and they love him. He is just as comfortable braiding one of the girl’s hair as he is with tossing a ball with one of the boys. He has a big heart for the poor and orphaned children of Haiti. Hey! Maybe that’s what drew us together!
The children have been wanting to go to the beach for a long time. Usually they get to go when mission teams are here and there are plenty of people to watch the kids as they fearlessly venture into the water. The last two teams were so busy on the many projects that they planned, there was no time left for a day at the beach. Flag Day (May 18) was a good excuse for taking the kids to the beach. The kids had no school and the new pavilion style church at Ka Maurice was a perfect place to set up games in the shade and a great place for a picnic. After a rainy start, we headed to the beach! The kids were very excited. The ladies would spend the afternoon preparing a feast of rice & beans, chicken and lemonade. They were able to set up their charcoal cooking grills on the front porch of the “completed shell” of the parsonage for Pastor Denny. The food and fun were plentiful with enough to share with the locals that settled in for the day at the sidelines of our activities. As it turned out, however, the kids never did get to swim. The waves were too big for us to comfortably let them do so. I guess that will give us an excuse to venture out on the next holiday that seems to pop up frequently on the Haitian calendar! That day will come none too quickly for the kids!
THIS COMMUNIQUÉ IS DEDICATED TO MY FRIEND AND SPIRITUAL MENTOR,
PASTOR ISRAEL IZIDOR,
WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN 56 YEARS OLD TODAY!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….