I have a confession. There is so much I do not tell you. My mundane everyday details of life can send people away worried and distressed. So, I try to keep it light. I love what we do and at this point my everyday life FEELS a lot like yours does. I am not blown away by the trash, or the poverty. I understand our power and water system and cold showers are no big deal. We have bugs so big my son kills them with his air-soft gun and it is ALL fine. We catch viruses with scary names and we are honestly used to chronic diarrhea. Sometimes though, when sharing just everyday things, I hear shock and worry in responses and then I am always surprised, even embarrassed. I don’t want to shock and scare my friends. I want you to know and love Haiti, not fear her. This is what has led to my not sharing ALL that we face. It is not your fault, or mine I suppose, I am just figuring out how to best communicate with you all.
This is not the best scenario, for 2 reasons. It is isolating for us and it keeps our battles away from the people most able to encourage, pray and support us though them. I keep hearing that you want to know more, and that the details have purpose and help with perspective. So, I am going out on a limb to give you some details, in one small area of the battle. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell me what you think.
Last week, our friend Jeff was in a moto (motorcycle taxi) accident. He was thrown off the motto into rebar which sliced into his leg. He went to the hospital and then came to us because he needed help with bandaging. I knew he had been to the hospital so I expected this to be straight forward. I was floored when I removed his gauze to reveal a 9 inch gash through to muscle, closed by only 5 stitches. 5 STICHES!!! The stitches were under pressure and looked about to pop with one inch holes between the stitches. His muscle was clearly visible. I stayed calm and swallowed my desire to run away and hide. I told him I would be glad to help with his bandage changes. I changed his bandages, added antibiotic ointment and told him I needed to see him in 2 days. The next day I sent a picture of the wound to my nurse friend here in Haiti. She informed me that she had a team of Dr.’s coming in 2 days and they could see him. To summarize, they added 9 stitches to close it, somewhat, and I dress it everyday. It is looking great, and I am feeling quite relieved. While typing this story, another moto driver arrived who had just fallen off his moto and now has road rash on his shoulder, hip and elbow. I got him cleaned up and will see him again soon to follow up.
The culture here responds vastly different to death, they have to, as they deal with it almost daily. They do not process like westerners do and accidents on the road are not covered by clean white sheets to protect the deceased. I have seen things that, if I let them, could destroy my heart. Because of this is am extra concerned for moto drivers. I care that they wear their helmets, which few do. I have talked to counselors to unpack some of what I have seen as it haunted me for a bit. I have taken people to hospitals for everything you can think of knowing that the care they will receive may do nothing, or could even harm them. We do not always have any other options. I have tried to deal with conditions myself that are intimidating. I have listened to babies breathing, dressed burns, administered pain meds, dressed infected wounds, treated for parasites, diagnosed and treated fungal infections. I have also been alerted too late and had a Haitian friend die of an asthma attack. It is intense, and if I had another option, I would use it. Sometimes I am the best option available to a person, even if it is just because I might fund their seeing a medical professional.
This is the stuff that is difficult for me, my cold shower at night is a downright delight. It is hard to process that in an emergency I could be life flighted to the US, but that for Haitians, medical care is terrifyingly inadequate and even dangerous. I feel guilt for my privilege even while doing all I can to help. The guilt is always present like a deep sigh and sadness. There is no back up plan. What is really scary is that for some of my friends here, we are the plan. To be ultra transparent, this is financially difficult as well. We have personally paid for hospital visit after hospital visit. The most recent case is an older man who was laying in his tiny home, dying, because of prostate problems. After $300 in hospital visits, he is doing so much better. He is one of about 20 injured or sick people that we have paid hospital fees for so they could be seen. When we were traveling around the US with our family, budget in hand, raising the funds so we could work here, we did not factor in a monthly medical budget to give away. WE SHOULD HAVE! I battle fear for my family and also for our friends. I memorize and repeat Bible verses like, “For God has not given me a spirit of fear but of peace, love and self discipline.” God gives me peace that passes any understanding and in that place of HIS reassurance, we keep moving forward.
So, there it is. Truth one in what could be a series. This is just an example of the kind of honest sharing I am alluding of. I hate the idea of being all dramatic, so sometimes I avoid sharing reality. It feels dramatic, but it is actually just traumatic and true.
Now, I cannot leave these thoughts down in a dark pit. My sunny disposition does not allow for dwelling in pits. I have to redeem this reading by sharing with you the amazing people on the other side of this heartbreak and care. Jeff, Moto accident 1, is a part of Family Social and the neighborhood guys call him “deportè”, then laugh hysterically. When he asks for Kris, “Tolboss”, he breaks into huge smile. He is a funny guy and his mama adores him. He is making his way to Chilè soon with hope he will find work. Michèl, an older gentleman with prostate problems, softly kisses our cheeks when we meet. He works caring for the livestock of others. It doesn’t pay much but he is always at work finding places for the animals to graze. SonSon and his girlfriend, Moto accident 2, remind me of teenagers from our past as youth pastors. He looks at me suspiciously as I bandaged his wounds. I think he is deciding if we can be trusted and if he would ever let us in to his life. I could go on and on and on about the wonderful faces and spirits we encounter everyday. Djersie, Simone, Jodlyn, Anderson, Lukner, and on and on and on. What a wonderful light they are to us and how much we love living in relationship with them. I would never choose money or ease over these faces and lives.
Thanks for listening and let me know if this is something you enjoyed and would want more of. God bless you dear friends! If you go to the Dr. this week, whisper a prayer of thanks. You are so very blessed.
****If caring for the medical needs of our community is something you would like to help us with, please reach out. We are running low on some bandaging supplies and I can let you know specifically what you could send. Our greatest need is dollars to pay for medical care in emergencies. If it is on your heart to help with a one time gift towards this, please let us know.****