Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jan. 12, 2010 4:53 p.m.

A year ago, I never thought about Haiti. I didn't even really know where Haiti was on a map. I didn't know the history, the poverty, the government. I didn't know a single name of a town or village in Haiti and I certainly didn't know the capitol of Haiti.

I never gave a thought to Haiti. NEVER !!

I didn't know. I was unaware of their poverty, needs, struggle. I was too busy living my life.

Jan. 12, 2010 at 4:53 p.m. a 7.0 earthquake changed all of that. I'll never forget being stunned as I watched CNN and the coverage of the rescue attempts. I saw my first glimpse of Haitian people. I was crushed for them. I've always been a very sensitive person, feeling deep emotions and crying for people I don't know. I couldn't turn away. I thought about them day and night. I prayed and cried out to God to save them.

I had no idea that 6 months later I'd be on a plane to Haiti for a medical mission trip. I had no idea how Haiti would force itself into my heart and that I'd have an obsession with learning more about the history, the people, and their current struggles. I had no idea I'd make Haitian friends during my 15 days there. I never thought I'd write letters and keep in touch. I never imagined I'd keep a file folder in my bedroom drawer with letters from my new Haitian friend. That I'd cry when I would receive his letters. I never knew how much Haiti would be on my mind. I couldn't have imagined I would lay awake at night and sob for their pain.

I never dreamed I'd be heading back for a second time. I'm leaving Feb. 5-12 to do another medical mission trip with Samaritan's Purse. I'll be working in the Cholera tent hospital. I am thrilled to have another chance to love, bring hope, and encourage the Haitian people who have taken over my thoughts and invaded my life in so many ways.

Since my first trip in July- I've felt like I've had one foot in Michigan, here with my precious family and my other foot in Haiti. I've longed to go back. Begged God for an opportunity to go back. God is good to give me a passion for Haiti and a deep to desire to help.

My second trip was supposed to be Jan. 22-29, but Samaritan's Purse called me and asked that I switch to Feb. 5. So, now I count down the days, make lists of what I'll need to take, and anticipate the lovely people I will encounter. I can't imagine the horror of seeing very sick patients with Cholera. I want to be a servant and an encourager. I want to bring hope.

If you are reading this, would you de-lurk? I would love to know if someone, anyone, is out there, reading my personal stories and to know that you haven't forgotten Haiti. Leave a quick comment. I could care less about growing a blog and getting readers. But, if you are there, and care about my story, I'll continue to write. :)

800,000 people still live in tent shelters. 10% of the rubble has been removed. Cholera has killed 3,600, the number goes up daily. There is much to be done in Haiti.

NEXT UP: Please come back to hear a wonderful story about my dear Haitian friend, Marc. He felt God had forgotten him, he was hopeless, helpless, and alone. But God found him and changed his life.....and now God is using Marc to help the Haitian people survive Cholera.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Grief on the Side of a Haitian Road

Before I left for Haiti I began to pray that God would cross my path with one special person there who I could really help or have an opportunity to make a difference in their life. It was a reality, that daily that would happen, since I'd be working on a medical mobile clinic, going to places where the people may have NEVER had medical care ever before, or going to a tent city where the people lived in total filth and squalor, and needed hope. I just wanted my time there to really matter and for God to use me in big ways. This trip was something I have wanted to do for a very long time.

While I was there, on day 11, while finishing up a quick breakfast at the Samaritan's Purse base, waiting for our daily devotion time, we got word that there was a horrible accident up the road. There is no 9-1-1 there, our medical team of 5 nurses and a paramedic were the only responders. We grabbed our very limited medical supplies (2 small emergency kits and a bucket of IV solutions) and jumped in vehicles to go to the accident. I was thinking it would be two cars and several people. When we got there, my heart dropped. I immediately felt a sense of panic and shock spill over me. Two large transport trucks crashed head on, at a high rate of speed. People in Haiti cram into them and ride on top. There were bodies everywhere. There were 60 people involved and 5 of us to help them.

We all split up and ran, I ran to the back of one bus and there were bodies laying all over the road. Haitians were screaming, crying, moaning in pain. My brain couldn't even comprehend the scene. For some reason, I felt pulled to run to the weeds on the side of the road, stepping over bodies as I ran. My eyes fell to a small child, about 3 years old. She was unconscious but still breathing. Her chest was crushed on the left and she had a badly broken leg in several places. People started bringing me bodies of others, a young man who was moaning and holding his belly, a young girl who had a huge wide open gash above her eyebrow that was bleeding heavily. I had one of the medical kits so I ripped it open and held a gauze over her eye, while trying to comfort the others who were brought to me. The whole time I kept saying quietly, "Help me me Jesus" I had no medical supplies that were of use really, that was so frustrating. Meanwhile, my other medical friends were at other areas of the accident doing what they could. The driver of one bus was killed immediately, his passenger was trapped in the vehicle with his leg nearly ripped off. My brave friend, Miriam crawled inside the vehicle and used a belt to tourniquet his leg and started an IV on him. He was still alert and oriented. She was so brave! My other nurse friend on the trip, had to climb into the back of one of the trucks to see if there were any people that were still alive. She marked the dead with a sharpee marker.

Meanwhile, I got an IV started in my little 3 year old. There wasn't much I could do, with the limited supplies I had, but I just couldn't leave her....I knew in my head, I could maybe be helping someone, but I just felt drawn to be right there, at her side, praying over her, doing what I could. I continued to help those around me, but we just didn't have supplies to do much.

I pray I never forget her little face. Her hair was in little braids all over, she was beautiful and had long eyelashes. She had polka dot shorts and little orange plastic shoes. I had no idea who was with her on that bus. She was all alone in the weeds, like she had been thrown there.

Other Samaritan's Purse workers, though they had no medical skills, heard of of the magnitude of the crash and brought vehicles up to the road from the base. We began to load patients into the trucks to transport them to the tent hospital about 20 minutes away. I had to choose who of all my "patients" would go. I pointed to the ones I thought were critical, the young girl with the deep gash above her eye, a man whose ankle was completely twisted and bleeding heavily, the young man with severe abdominal pain, and another young girl with belly pain. When we had them loaded, I picked up my little 3 year old girl in my arms, got in the front seat of the truck and told Brian (a S. Purse worker who would drive us) to GO!!!! I held her in my arms, tried to keep her IV intact (I had no tape so I had to hold it in place), and tried to be as gentle as I could. I knew her best chance was to get her to a place that had more supplies.

Tears began to stream down my face, I just could not believe what was happening and what I had just been a part of. Being a nurse, I've of course seen some things, but never on this scale, and not having medical supplies to help was very frustrating. I prayed the whole way to the tent hospital, and whispered to her that Jesus loved her and that everything would be okay. I begged God to not let her die in my arms. Several times I thought she did.

Meanwhile, I was aware of all of the bloody, hurting people in the vehicle. I reached my hand back to comfort the girl, who we placed in the back seat, she seemed to quietly be praying, and I heard her moaning and I knew she had internal injuries.

We pulled up to the Dr.s Without Borders tent hospital and I told Brian I was running with my 3 year old and to get help to unload the others. I looked him in the eye and yelled, "DO NOT LEAVE ME HERE ALONE" I didn't know where we were, I had no phone, no money, no way of knowing how to get back to our base. It was a strange thing to say, but I felt afraid and didn't want him to leave me. I ran with my 3 year old in my arms, I had no idea where to go with her, but people saw us and started pointing. I ran to where they pointed and found a room with several exam tables. It seemed to be a triage room of some sort. Other vehicles started pulling up from our base, loaded with patients, so suddenly, the "hospital" became overwhelmed. They clearly could not handle this many patients, who were so critical.

I laid my girl on a table and her IV fell out. I ran to a room next to where I was, somehow, I just had instinct that this room was a supply room. I found IVs, and grabbed some and ran back to her and started two. I had to hang her IV bags on the window using gauze as a tie, they had no IV poles or hooks. It is amazing to me, looking back, how God would lead me right to the things I needed. This hospital had very basic supplies, no x-ray ability, and I knew very quickly this wasn't going to be a good outcome. A Haitian Dr. of some sort, came up to where I was and in broken English asked what happened. I started spitting out the things I knew she needed, a chest tube (they didn't have one), blood products (didn't have any) and other things. He tried to straighten her broken femur and used a piece of cardboard to hold in in place, I taped it while he held it. We got oxygen on her and checked her Hemoglobin with a rapid finger prick test, it was 4 (should be 12) I knew she was bleeding internally and it would be a miracle if she lived. I stayed by her side for an hour, doing what I could, praying, whispering in her ear that Jesus loved her. When I put a tube down her nose into her stomach, all that came out was blood. They had no suction, so I used a syringe to pull the contents out. I had to use a bulb syringe (like you use for babies when they have snotty noses) to keep the blood out of her mouth and nose. I felt like I was in a bad movie, with the limited supplies we had and seeing all the bodies all around me, and they just kept coming and coming.

An hour or so after arriving, a Dr. walked by. I again, had some inner "knowing" that he was important and could help us. I grabbed his arm, and he saw the little girl. I pointed to her chest and tried to quickly explain her injuries. He was French yet understood and told me, "Bring her quickly!" I found out later, he was the "Trauma Dr." and he had been in the operating area of the tent hospital helping the passenger who had his leg nearly ripped off, and other patients that we transported there. I picked her up from the table, grabbed her IV bags, and ran after him. We went into the operating/trauma area, and again, I felt shock and panic flood over me. There were bodies everywhere, it looked like a war scene. A nurse there was yelling directions and orders, there was chaos everywhere. He pointed to a table and I laid her on it. She moaned once in awhile, so I knew she felt pain, but mainly, she continued to be unconscious. I saw the Haitian Dr. that had worked with her earlier. They started to look her over and I knew I needed to go and leave her. Tears dripped down my face as I walked away from her. I grabbed the white jacket of the Haitian Dr. and he looked at me for a brief second and we grabbed hands. It was like I was saying to him, "Take care of her" and he somehow knew. He gave me a supportive look and squeezed my hand. I'll never forget that.

I walked out dazed and feeling completely overwhelmed with emotions. I found Brian outside the hospital with my other medical friends who all had their own stories to tell. The hospital had called in all of their staff to assist with the influx of patients we had brought them, so we knew we should get out of the way and let them work.

I found out a few hours later, that my little, sweet precious girl, died. I'll never know her name. I found out her mother died too, the man whose leg was nearly taken off, and 17 others.

As hard as it was, I feel God led me to her, so she wouldn't die alone in the weeds. Alone on the side of the road. It has taken me 5 months to be able to type out this post. I think of her every single day, and have had hard days trying to get memories out of my mind. I'm finally in a place where I can think of that day and her, without crying and feeling sick. I don't want to forget her face, so now I force myself to recall every detail of her face. I want people to know the trials that Haitians deal with on a daily basis. No real medical care, dangerous roads with no speed limits, and unsafe transportation.

This is already long, so I'll end for now. I have one more story of God bringing me a special person, sort of redeeming the trip for me. God let me end this trip of a lifetime on a good note. Stay tuned and come back for my next story.....a story of God bringing hope to a desperate man, and of a friendship that will now last forever.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Leaving My Heart in Haiti

 last blog post was Aug. 2009. I figure at this point, any of the 5 of you who ever read my blog to begin with are long gone......

Note before I begin..the picture above is horrible! It was 1,000 degrees out with 98% humidity.

In July 2010, I went to Haiti to volunteer as a nurse with Samaritan's Purse. I went all by myself, but met a group of 11 other nurses from all over the USA and what a bond we now have. I still keep in touch with almost every one of them. I was there for 15 days. I never in a million years would have imagined how that 15 days would change my life and my heart forever.

I'm planning to go back to Haiti Jan. 22-Feb 1 to help with the Cholera relief. I wanted to start up my blogging again to hopefully share my experiences in Haiti. I just don't want people to forget the people of Haiti. The suffering and poverty are extreme. My perspective has been changed forever. I appreciate things so much more, I give thanks to God so much more.

When I was in Haiti the first time, I stayed at the Samaritan's Purse base in Leogane, Haiti (The epi center of the earthquake). I worked on a medical mobile clinic. We would pack up our supplies daily in our hired Haiti driver's Land Cruiser and head out to a different tent city daily. I worked along side a Haitian Dr. and nurse, another nurse from the USA, and Haitian translators. Sometimes we would have a Billy Graham Chaplain with us to minister to the people who were waiting for clinic.

Our clinics were held in the middle of a filthy tent city. We had a canopy tent to shade us as we worked in 115 degree HUMID heat. I've never been so hot and sweaty in my entire life. It was the most rewarding work I've ever done, next to being a wife and mother.

We typically saw 90 or so patients a day. The Haitians would line up at 4:30 in the morning, waiting to be seen. Sometimes mothers with children would sit in the hot sun, all day long, waiting to see the Dr. They had no water, no food,. Yet they NEVER complained. The children were so good, they sat quietly.....all day long. They had nothing to do, nothing to play with. The highlight of my day was playing with them at our short break time. They would smile and laugh. I would give them stickers and they loved them. They would hover around me for the rest of the day. Waiting for a smile or tickle. I fell madly in love with the Haitian people.

I loved being able to hug them, pray with them (we prayed with every single patient that came to the clinic) and care for their medical needs. They were so thankful and receptive to prayer and love.

Hopefully, I'll have time to share more stories of my time in Haiti and my upcoming trip. I left part of my heart in Haiti. I am obsessed with following what is going on there. I pray many times a day for them and for my friends who I met and are still working there. I have cried so often for their suffering and for those who have died from Cholera. I can't wait to go back and share God's compassion and love with them again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So after a long day of cleaning, mowing, weeding, laundry, chasing the dog, grocery shopping, and endless other duties, I crawl into bed and need a moment of mindless TV to wind down. Last night I turned on the TV and got sucked into a show about real people who hoard. OH DEAR.....this was so unreal to me. Their homes are PACKED to the top with STUFF STUFF STUFF and more stuff.....garbage, old rotting food, and junk. One guy had so much stuff, his bathroom was packed to the ceiling and he had to go to the Y every day to take a shower. Food in the freezer was bulging and they still refused to throw it away. Many are faced with eviction unless they clean the place up. A team of therapists and cleaners go in and help them work through the stuff and they help them get rid of things. I seriously felt my skin crawling as I watched. These people really can't help it ....I mean they have deep seated emotions that go along with the hoarding, but the condition of their homes made me seriously itch all over.

I have the total opposite disease.......throw everything away disease. I'm almost OCD about clutter and organization. I get a little anxious when things are messy and when their is clutter sitting around. I'm ashamed at some of the things I throw away......seriously, you would not believe it. Perfectly good clothes, shoes, stuff......... One time I accidentally threw away our TV remote control because I was on a mission with a black garbage bag to clean up and I go on these rampages and start tossing stuff......oooops. My husband has asked me more than once to stop throwing away his golf magazines. ( I hate when they pile up.) I'm the FIRST ONE people come to when something is missing, they assume I've thrown it out (usually I have.) I get defensive about it. :)

I try to be less wasteful now, when I go on a cleaning rampage. Our Goodwill store has a drive up window which makes me very happy. I pack up stuff I want to get rid of and drive through. This week alone- I took a perfect computer scanner and copy machine to the Goodwill. We don't use them and I couldn't stand to let them sit in our storage bugs me to have stuff we don't use sitting around. So I took them to Goodwill. At least it is a tax write off.

Other things I can't take to Goodwill- I simply put down by our garbage can with a FREE sign on it, and I'm not kidding you......usually it is gone within an hour. It is almost a game we time I had our kid's old bikes down there, and before we could even walk up our 200 foot driveway from the garbage can, someone already stopped to pick up the bikes. Yesterday I put my son's old mattress down there and within ten minutes it was GONE. I can put ANYTHING down there and it is always gone. Furniture we don't want, an old swing, old bikes, a dresser mirror. Probably the hoarder people coming to get my stuff. We help each other.

People make comments all the time about my clean and freakishly organized home, I'm not bragging about that.....because seriously sometimes being a freak cleaner stinks. I don't have the OCD thing that makes me wipe doorhandles 500 times a day, or scrub until my fingers are bloody, but I have a strong need to have things constantly organized and neat. I can live with some dishes in the sink off and on and my kid's toys laying is the organization thing that gets me- not having clutter and stuff laying around. I can never rest until things are clutter free and organized again.

I remember being little and making my bed really slowly and neatly and running my hands over my fresh made bed to get all of the wrinkles out. I also remember always needing to have my stuff neat and "just right" in my room. My grandma had a mild case of hoarding, and I remember always feeling like I needed to clean after being at her house. She would have coupons laying everywhere......papers, bags, magazines, just stuff all over the place, packed in every inch of her space. Her basement was like a treasure hunt, she had so much clutter and stuff down there.

I'm so bad, I even need to keep my Recycle Bin on my computer cleaned out, and I always delete all emails I receive and bugs me to have my inbox filled up with junk.

See.......I'm sick. Maybe soon there will be a show on TV about people like me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goodbye Summer

Where did August go? It is coming to an end and I barely remember it.

I've been purposeful about my time on the computer. I get so much done when I don't get sucked in by a good news story, blog, or email. I get on, check mail and get off. I hope to keep to that pattern as fall approaches and we get back to school, and back to all the activities.

There is so much to do in a day. I've been trying to make healthy meals, exercise as much as I can- I'm so thankful, because I really do love to exercise, it makes me feel so energetic and I can tolerate the ups and downs of life better when I sweat. We have been busy staining our huge deck, what a chore!!!!! My son started his first year of football last week -they have practice four nights a week for 2 hours each night. We all go as a family and sit and watch him. He is really loving it, and I'm so proud of that. The coaches work them hard- they run a lot and do so much conditioning, yet he never complains and he looks forward to going back each night. I'm so thankful that even though we homeschool, we have the opportunity to be involved in things like this. It is good for boys to be with other boys, roughing each other up and having coaches who inspire them but work them hard.

We will start our homeschooling the day after Labor Day. This is our 7th year. It will be a hard transition after a long summer, but being more scheduled will be good for all of us.

Our puppy has started to go on my 4 mile daily walks with me, he does great. He seems to really like it. I started him slow, going 2 miles the first time, 3 the next, and now he does 4 miles no problem, even running at times. It wears him out, but he needs it.

That is the update-busy days, mowing, yard work, keeping the garden weeded, keeping the dog from chasing the cats, playing with my kids, watching movies with my husband. Life is good.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekend Events

Sorry for the last cranky post. :) I'm better now.

However........I should have added buying our puppy the MOST annoying squeak toy on planet part of my things that make me go grrrrrr. It needs to have an unfortunate accident today. (They toy not the puppy- he is a keeper.)

Braden my 11 year old son and his friend, our neighbor boy, set up camp in our back yard all day yesterday. We live on 3 acres, so they have plenty of room. They set up near the fire pit so they could have a bon fire. They ran flashlights out there, then bug spray, sleeping bags, games, was a whole day of work. Last night my husband started a very small bon fire for them, so they could roast marshmallows-they did that, but then started running and jumping over the fire.....WHY??? Boys LOVE fire.....they threw everything they could find into the fire, sticks, toys from the yard (hey...should have had them throw the squeak toy in there), cans, his sister...okay, no he didn't.

Anyway........the campers made it about 2 hours and were back in the house by 9:30 complaining about mosquitos. So much for that. They camped downstairs while watching "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel. Almost the same right?

Today it is raining which messes up several of our plans-Brooklyn had a swimming party to go to (moved to tomorrow now) and we had a golf outing fund raiser for our friend with cancer. Instead we are going to watch a family movie and camp on the couch. YAY!!!!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Things that make me go hmmmmmmm

Hi, I'm alive- in case anyone wondered.

We are on the last days of summer count down....I feel it slipping away-so I've been FORCING myself to slow down and enjoy quiet, slower days. I've said no to things, even if they were fun. Because of it, my kids have been able to play outside for HOURS AND HOURS, run, play in the sprinkler, play with the puppy, make up fun outside games with the neighbors, swim, and it has been priceless.

So- things that make me go hmmmmmmmm (more like grrrrrrr)

1. Dying of thirst after a long walk and going to find someone drank up the last grape low cal Gatorade that I was dying for and didn't put anymore in the fridge. :(

2. Taking my puppy out potty, he goes, we come back in and 5 seconds later he pees on the floor. Hmmmmmm ????

3. The people who let their pet bunny go outside-I assume because they were tired of caring for him and now he is hopping all over their yard looking for food. I put a bunch of our bunny's food in a ziplock and snuck over there and dumped a bunch of food in their yard so he could eat. GRRRRRRR

4. The credit card company that just called me trying to sell identity theft protection-after nicely saying, "No thank you I'm not interested" she kept going on and on and on....and at the end said, "If you have any questions call 1-800-bla bla bla bla...." REALLY why bother to tell the I writing it down- NO ---- do I memorize numbers-----NO!!!! Do I care.......NO!

5. The economy bugs me.

6. I was out shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding and all I could find was either- 1. Grandma dresses with big, ugly flowers and bold prints, or 2. Teenie bopper dresses that were 5 sizes too small, skimpy, and short.

7. Drunk Drivers who drive with their children in the car- drive down the wrong side of the highway and kill themselves and their children. (In the news today)...REALLY BUGS ME!

8. People who ask you a question, you start to answer, and then they start looking away, uninterested, while you are answering them.......why???? Why ask? RUDE!

9. When you put yourself out there-ask for a prayer request to a friend, and they never ask you about it to follow up and act like they care. Hmmmmm

10. I'm a clean freak and have an awesome Dyson has a clear container that catches all the gunk you vac up......I vac 3 or more times a week-yet have to empty the canister every time, because it is FULL of gunk....where does that stuff come from? GROSS!! (Maybe I don't want to know the answer to this question.)

That is good for today- just a few irritations on my mind this morning. :) Happy Wednesday to ya.