Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Covers

I like books and admit I pick up books based on the cover!
Catchy title, great picture, I'll bite.
A good cover should peak your interest and pull you in.
If it passes the "this looks good test", sometimes I save it to my "wish list" on Amazon.
I won't tell you how many books I have on my "wish list".
How about the book that pulls you in, only to end up sitting on a shelf titled "need to read".
People are like books and it is best to take heed to the old saying, "don't judge a book by it's cover".
I believe this to be a true statement, yet I am not sure I (we) follow this rule.
Take Sean Penn, what if he was a book.
Would you even think twice about his cover?
I just heard he wished his critics would get cancer!
What makes people say stuff like that?
Not sure if you like him?
Personally, I neither love nor hate the guy.
Yet, there seems to be no middle on the subject.
Maybe you think he is a great actor and hate his politics or vice versa.
I can think of a few things I would like to ask him about, this I know for sure.
My first thought when I look at his cover falls under misguided passion.
Did you see the poor guy on "Larry King Live"?
I laughed out loud when I watched the interview Dan taped for me while I was in Haiti.
Haiti kicked his butt big time.
Maybe he is in it for the fame.
I don't know.
I hope he isn't that kind of guy.
Larry King threw the bait at him, time and time again to get him to talk about something different but he stuck to his guns and said everything he wanted to say about Haiti.

See the little girl looking at you?
Her name is Rosemerline.
Cute cover, huh!
For a month the folks at Heartline Ministries have been working on getting the last of the remaining five children left in their program out of Haiti to their "forever families".
Well, it just so happened Little Miss got to leave Haiti with her "forever mom", Juanita, a friend of ours here in Atlanta on Sean Penn's plane.
I wonder how this random act of kindness changed her cover?
His book cover now has my attention and is now sitting on my "need to read" shelf.
If only I could read the last chapter in his book to see just what happened to Sean Penn's heart while he was in Haiti.
Haiti is a whole different animal.
You think you are going to help "them" and you come back so messed up you have no idea what happened, sometimes for weeks.
In a good way of course.
It is the funny thing about books and relationships, you never know what God is doing in the journey.
He never uses the ones the world thinks are perfect and right for the job, never, not once.
Not with Moses, David, Peter, Rahab or the long list of others.
He is funny that way.
Yet, He is the author and the finisher, that we know for sure.
I pray Sean Penn will see the powerful writing of God on the pages of his life, that his chapter will be one that makes me and the rest of the world say,
see, you really can't judge a book by it's cover.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"For me, an area of moral clarity is: you're in front of someone who's suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act."

--Paul Farmer

Friday, February 26, 2010


My first night home from Haiti I dreamt about being in an earthquake.
Go figure!
I couldn't find Maddie and I woke up crying.
I went back to sleep, only to wake up in a cold sweat because the dream started again.
Only this time, Rosemine, one of our friends that works at the palace died and I still couldn't find Maddie.
For many in Haiti, it wasn't a dream, there really was an earthquake and many mothers would never find their family.

Edison was a little boy who just happened to steal Lisa's heart.
He's wasn't the first, nor will he be the last, this I am sure of.
After talking to him she found out he didn't know what happened to his parents.
He had two brothers, he went to school, but wasn't sure about his parents.
The Comfort ship had treated him because they couldn't help him at General hospital.
When it was time to leave, he was taken off the ship and transported to the Heartline hospital.
I still am not sure how it worked out this way.
Lisa was now on a mission, she was going to come up with a way to find his family.
She loaded him up in the car with her as she ran a few errands to see if he could point her in the right direction.
Nope, he was too little.
Finally, someone said, "what about the television station".
So off we went to find the television station, well, what was left of the television station.
This kid was so stinkin' cute and kept looking at Lisa while we drove up and down Delma.
I finally busted out laughing, I had seen that look before.
We made a few stops asking people if they knew Edison, asked for directions, finally found the station right in the middle of a tent city on the grounds of a large Catholic school.
We drove in, parked and walked up like we knew what we were doing.
I had my huge green bag and camera so I guess I could have passed for a reporter.
They never asked and we didn't offer.
This was one of the only times it payed to be white in this country.
We explained the story, asked if they could help and the next thing we knew he was on live television.
Just like that!
We thanked them again and again!
God, please let this work, was all I could think.

Sure enough the very next morning we got a phone call that Edison's dad was at the hospital.
Don't let them leave, we will be right there!
It worked!
The father explained he had no idea what had happened to Edison, it was a huge mix-up.
This was one happy little guy and Papa!
We all stood around taking pictures, crying.
It was so good to see families being brought back together.
Who says, "you can't find a needle in a hay stack?"
Nine million people, one boy and one dad together again.
Some dreams do come true!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin is not a band I would consider putting on my "favorites list".
For the life of me I can't begin to come up with a good reason why "Whole Lotta Love" was stuck in my head while I was in Haiti.
I can make the leap to connect a war zone atmosphere, an inability to process what happened to Haiti in forty-five seconds and the possibility of what could be a really bad acid trip, but why was this song stuck in my head?
Over and over again for hours on end.
If you take the title of the song, it is a true statement, there really is a "Whole Lotta Love" going on in what feels, looks and acts like a war zone.
The country is full of airplanes that don't look like they could get off the ground, not to mention they shake the earth as they come in, U.S. troops drive the streets in Hummers, there are tons more U.N. troops and Heuy's moving in and out of the airport all the time.
On my first trip in I remember thinking to myself, "what the heck are all these dogs doing at the airport"?
It wasn't until I was getting ready to leave that I made the connection, these dogs are trained to look for bodies.
Haiti was never going to be the same.
I was wrestling with this idea.
Was it going to be better?
Dear God, How could it be worse?
So many things just seemed normal.
That in itself was disturbing.
As we drove the streets Sunday afternoon, I could hear some of the first timers talking.
Was there always this much garbage?
I wondered, how is it that this country had such tenacity?
Did they feel like the whole world was trying to help?
I hoped so.
Maybe they didn't even have time to think about it?
I'm gonna give you my love...I'm gonna give you my love...Wanna Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love

I'm gonna give you my love...I'm gonna give you my love...Wanna Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love

I'm gonna give you my love...I'm gonna give you my love...Wanna Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love...Whole Lotta Love

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Did It Smell Bad?

Several people have asked, "did it smell bad"?
If they are asking, did I walk around with tooth paste under my nose because it smelled like dead bodies, the answer is no.
No, it didn't smell like dead bodies and no, I didn't walk around with tooth paste under my nose like the Haitians.
This is Haiti, yes, it smelled bad, it always smells bad.
The earthquake didn't make it smell bad, it smelled bad before the earthquake.
We are talking open sewers, rotten fruit and garbage, burning trash and no place to put the garbage that is collected.
There are dumpsters and garbage trucks in Haiti, but you have to actually pick up the garbage and put is some place for it to be a good thing.
Maybe they should try and be sneaky by hiding it all under grass like they do it South Florida.
In Haiti, they just happened to build a city on top of it.
It's true, eight miles of trash, as a matter a fact.
No one is saying it's a good thing, yet it is reported that 300,000 living, breathing human beings live there.
Think about how low the baseline must be for the health of the children who live in Cité Soleil.

But, in an area regarded as one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere with little police presence, no sewers, no stores, and little to no electricity, two men and a handful of people made a stand to renounce voodoo and ask Jesus to come and be in this place.

After three days of prayer and fasting the country was busy again, we would make a run on the medical truck into Cité Soleil. With clinic in progress, two guys walked up not far behind our truck, threw a voodoo bag down on the ground, started a fire on the bag, burning an exposed bottle of rum and it's other contents as a coconut rolled out of the bag into the street. They took out bibles from the pants pockets and everyone started to pray.
Let me just say, I didn't break out in song declaring how good God was, nor did I give Him a clap offering!
Don't get me wrong, I think God is one great guy!
He has his act together, he has a wicked funny scenes of humor and I am pretty sure he has a plan.
No, I know he has a plan, I read the last chapter of the book.
However, my first thought was... great, just great, I am in Cité Soleil with a truck full of white people and we are going to be in the middle of a frickin' riot!
I very quickly tucked my camera inside my baseball cap and didn't move.
Priorities, I have them!
I wanted to keep my camera and I wasn't gonna be a happy camper if I didn't.
Reynold and Oriole, our security guys both looked at me.
Why would they looked at me? Well, I know why they looked at me.
They both stood up, told me to get up and walked me over so I could take pictures!
I had been by myself all day and now they wanted to be my security, or maybe I was theirs, I'm not sure.
The funny part is they wanted to look at my pictures as soon as I took them, they really think the camera can capture stuff.
Needless to say when they started praying with the voodoo guys I punched them.
"What on earth do you think you are doing!"
I grilled them!
I needed to really understand what was happening.
I have been working in Haiti long enough to know a few things, but there are lots of secrets and lots of things I don't understand. You learn to ask questions twenty-five different ways.
And I did!
Again and again until I understood.

At this point, I had forgotten about the smell, I felt like I was the one that smelled bad!
Everything about me smelled bad, all my good American ideas, my bad attitude because someone took my water bottle out of my bag, my lame excuses about a hundred different things.
I was embarrassed that my country, for all the good that is here, would never shut down the whole entire place for three days to pray and fast, asking God to come and help.
With all Haiti's faults, bad government, crummy adoption rules, I wished someone could bottle what these people had and give it to the rest of the world. The world would be a much different place, a better place.
Would it smell better?
Not right away, change takes time,
The Lord says, if my people are willing to repent and turn from their ways, he is willing to come and heal their land.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Are The Sewing Ladies?

As we drove from the airport to the women's program house a.k.a the hospital, I saw the sewing ladies walking down the road.
They had just finished sewing for the day.
I couldn't help myself from yelling out to them.
Never did I think they would all start screaming and run after the truck!
It was by far more than my heart ever could have dreamed of for a reunion with them.
I missed them so very much!
We hugged and cried together!
It was late but I promised we would spend time together talking about all that had happened to them over the next few days.
I had 100 pounds of fabric for them and lots of new thread.
My trips had many sweet reunions and they did my heart so much good.
How could anyone not love this place and these people.

Everyone has been asking, "how are the sewing ladies"?
Physically they are fine!
My goal was to make sure that each lady was physically fine and to see what happened with her family.
Did they have food, water and medication that they may need.
Housing, well, that would be a whole different story.
They all had moved out of their house no matter what the story or condition was.
It didn't matter if they had a few cracks or if the wall could have been pushed over with one strong push, they all had made the choice to sleep outside in groups because of what "might" or "could" happen.
Many have been given tents or tarps to live in or under and that was the end of the story.

Over the next few days I would sit down with each of them and ask about their house.
I would go and visit a few of them so that I could see first hand what the condition of the house was.
I was pleased that for most of them their houses only had minor work needed.
The work that needed to be done would need to be done without cement and block.
Fear had taken over their hearts and minds.
Rightfully so, from where I was sitting.
How was I going to tell them everything was going to be fine, I was getting on a plane in a few days.
It wasn't sitting well with me that I was just going to drop off fabric and leave again.
The things we fear are not always rational, no matter who we are or where we live.
I had a headache, I had no answers, I would need time to pray about just what I would say.
Tomorrow I would try again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting To Haiti

Many asked, " why I didn't write while I was in Haiti".
I would like to say, I had planned to do something really spiritual like a computer fast, but truth be told, I plain forgot the dumb thing.
When I got to the security check point at the airport and went to unzip my suitcase so I could put my computer in one of those little gray box things, my heart sank, I had forgotten the stupid thing.
I have nightmares about stuff like this.
In trying to make sure my battery had a full charge, I left it sitting on the couch over night.
As I stood barefoot in line, I tried to convince myself that it was just as well because the Internet is never all that great.
The next question, "how was my trip"?
Such a hard question.
Over the next few days I will try to answer that question.
My short answer - It is layers of complicated.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This picture of Cliff speaks volumes to me.
Cliff is an Orthopedic PA from Oregon who went to Haiti on one of the Kids R Kids flights with us.
He had tons of reservations about going to Haiti and rightly so.
We talked on the phone about these reservations.
He said he needed to pray with his wife and he would call me back.
I love that he didn't just say, yeah, sure, what the heck.

I have been in the place Cliff is sitting - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
No answers, hundreds of questions.
My body needing to sleep, wondering why I couldn't just shut my mind off.
I needed Jesus to be bigger then this whole thing, I needed Him to be real, really real, not just the talk I had been talking, the stupid version of Christianity I used to think was real, until now.
What was I thinking!
Why on earth did I think I could do this.

Maybe I should tell people who are thinking about coming to Haiti is that it is a little like playing "Clue" everyday, but it starts over every single morning, so if you didn't like to play it as a kid, you will like it even less now.
Especially when it is about your life and the life of nine million others.
I have also said, "it is also like Schizophrenia making perfect sense".

In the past few weeks, I have been asked hundreds of questions like...
What do I think about Pat Robertson and Laura Silsby?
Was he right to say that? Should she be in jail?
Did God do this to Haiti because of Voodoo and sin?
Why isn't there a government in place.
Is Bill Clinton going to do a good job?
Can you help me find my family?
Why can't you get me a child to adopt right now?

Here is what I do know...
Haiti still leaves me speechless.
At times I still feel like I am playing "Clue".
Haiti was broken from the worlds point of view way before Pat Robertson or Laura Silsby came on the scene.
Bill Clinton, the U.N., the Red Cross, and UNICEF are going to be viewed as part of the problem and/or the solution depending on what you believe to be truth.
Over the past ten years of working in Haiti I have had to learn to guard my heart and close my mouth.
I know that the quick simple answers don't work in Haiti, never have and never will.
I also don't think Jesus is sitting in heaven ringing His hands wondering what to do.
He didn't play "Clue" not even once and neither can I.
I can only do what I have a passion to do, but before I can do anything, I have to know that I know that Jesus loves me.
Doing this kind of work will make you question all that you know to be true, all that you know to be right and good.
You will need to know Jesus has a clue, He is the clue.
And yes, there will be days you wonder if you have a clue!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ernest and Ronel Back Home!

Debra Parker and three of her four children stood facing the baggage claim escalator at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. A semicircle of friends and family fanned out behind them. As step by rolling step flattened at the bottom, empty, the circle grew restless. Debra turned to look back at them.
“This is how I felt for two weeks,” she said.
Debra's husband, Ernest Parker, has spent the last two weeks sleeping on the waiting room floor of the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince, where he was picking up the family's long-awaited fourth child: 9-year-old Ronel. The Parkers have been trying to adopt the boy, an orphan who nearly starved to death, for two years.
Ronel was freed to immigrate to the U.S. after the recent earthquake, but a bureaucratic breakdown delayed his exit while Ernest haggled endlessly with Haitian and American officials.
Finally, just after 8 p.m. Thursday, Debra recognized their feet on the top stair. A cheer erupted from the crowd of more than three dozen, many holding signs reading “Welcome Ronel” in English and Creole.
Debra clutched her youngest son, 6-week-old Jude, in one arm, and hugged her newest son with the other. A cousin thrust a Teddy bear into Ronel's hands, wearing a T-shirt that said “Welcome to the family.”
The last few weeks were harrowing even for a child inured to hardship. Ronel weathered the earthquake and the ensuing chaos, then was given the news he'd been waiting years to hear: He could finally go to America, to the Parkers. But the plane came and went without him. Haitian officials said he was missing some paperwork.
As chaos gripped the country, Ernest went to get the boy himself. But just after he arrived in Haiti, a group of Americans was arrested for trying to bring 33 undocumented children across the border.
“Everything shut down,” said Ernest's mother, Sue Parker. “Even as of Tuesday night, they told us it would be indefinite. Then we really started to get scared.”
Ernest battled on, but each day brought new frustrations and miscommunications. He submitted four sets of fingerprints, and each set was lost. Immigration officials told him he and Ronel were cleared to leave, then rescinded their permission.
Finally, Ernest said, the head of the American Embassy grew tired of the constant calls and e-mails from the family's friends and supporters, including Congressman Ted Poe, and let them leave.
Adoption not yet complete
On Thursday, Ernest wore a scruffy beard and an exhausted smile. He said he hadn't slept since 6:30 Wednesday morning.
Ronel smiled dazedly, his arms crossed over his new Teddy bear.
His new sister, 12-year-old Carly Parker, flipped through a Creole phrase book.
“Can you read this?” she asked, pointing to the words for “Are you OK?”
Ten-year-old Colton Parker reached for the book.
“I need to find ‘I love you,' ” he said.
As frustrating as the past few weeks have been, Ernest said they gave him valuable time to bond with his son. Thursday was Ronel's first time meeting his new siblings.
“All the fighting's over,” Ernest said. “It's just time to love, to be a family.”
Ronel's adoption isn't complete yet: The terms of the American “humanitarian parole” policy allowed Haitian children already in the process of adoption to finish that process here. Because the policy is so new, the Parkers don't exactly know what hoops they will still have to jump through. But, they said, that can wait. On Thursday night, they just wanted to go home.
“I think we're going to go inside, lock the door, and become a family,” Debra said.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Things I Have Come Know

I haven't really had time to catch my breath.
The needs seems to come at me in waves.
When my phone isn't ringing, I am wondering what is wrong.
I was going over my notes, yes, I walk around these days with the contents of my brain neatly kept in one place. It is not that I am a really organized person, it is because I couldn't manage any more thing and it was keeping me awake at night.

Today as I was checking the contents of my new brain, I found a few notes I had written as we flew out of Port a week ago Friday.

1. I have come to know that people who talk the most know the least, they are just trying to convince you they know something.

2. I have also come to know that I love the sunshine in my face, it is healing.

3. I have come to know that until you live someplace with the people, it is never what the world says it is.

4. I have also come to know that it takes courage to change, to want a better life and these ladies have set an example for me that gives me the strength to keep pushing for what is right, what is fair and for their destiny as well as mine.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Notes From Elizabeth

These are the "Notes From Elizabeth". She is one of those who came in with us and I thought it would be nice for you to hear what she did on her trip to Haiti. Enjoy - Sheila

I stepped off the plane Friday into what I thought was a war zone. I had never seen anything like it in my life. The airport in Port au Prince has been converted into a military only fly zone and there were military aircraft flying all over. Once we hit the ground, I could see military in every direction. There were tanks, trucks, personnel, guns, and anything else you could think of. I was immediately blown away by the help that was here, for the people here, and by the overwhelming presence of everyone here.

I had left Richmond alone and had met up with 3 other people who would be coming down with me in Ft Lauderdale. So, the team that came in on Friday consisted of 4. We loaded up our truck with supplies that we had brought with us, and two of us sat on top of the truck to hold everything on. We left the airport and set out for this clinic that I’m at. I immediately understood the desperate needs of the people. They saw us coming up the road with boxes of labeled food and water and began screaming for food. When we got caught up in traffic, I was worried they might loot the truck, but they just stared at us with sad eyes and let us be.

We arrived at the clinic and instantly got to work. Let me explain a little about this set up. There is an organization that started out as an orphanage, here in Haiti. They had been running it for awhile and then realized that there is a strong need for women’s health care here in the city, so they started a women’s health clinic. They were giving women prenatal care, delivering babies, and doing post-natal teaching (breastfeeding, baby care, mother care, etc). They also teach them life skills so they can work and be self sufficient. When the earthquake hit, they started taking people in to help them from around the community. This particular neighborhood was not hit as hard as the downtown area, so they didn’t have a great need in the neighborhood. Apparently people started hearing about the clinic and started coming in. They needed more help, and they needed it fast, so they started gathering supplies and staff, and on January 18th, opened a fully operational hospital in the women’s clinic. We have one room that is our “OR”. It consist of two tables. Then we have a “med/surg” room that has three tables on one side for all non-operating patients, and on the other side there area a bunch of blankets on the floor for the recovery room for the OR. There is an area outside with chairs set up for our “fast-track” patients, which are those who really don’t have to be in the building. There is an ambulance team that runs out into the tent city and the slums several times a day and ask, “Who needs medical care?” They bring the patients back to us, and we treat them.

These people are so thankful for what we are doing for them. They do not whine, they do not complain, and they do not ask for pain medication. All they want is treatment and to know that everything is going to be ok. We offer them food and the scarf it down like they have never eaten before, but they will not ask for it. We give them water, and they drink like they never have, but they will not ask for it. We have given some kids clothes that came in naked. We have given them toys too, like the miniature military figures. Not ONE single patient has complained about anything, not one.

When patients are cleared, they either are driven back to the tent city and dropped off, or we “admit them” and send them to the orphanage to be cared for overnight. Sometimes we have patients that need more care than we can give and they will be taken to the navy ship to receive care we can’t give them. We had one lady today that we took over to the ship that had a crush injury to her pelvis the day of the quake. We were able to make note that her urinary track and vaginal track are no longer in place and are pretty much one big hole. She has not urinated since the day of the quake. She will need major reconstructive surgery on her pelvic area to live. So, she is the type of patient that we take to the ship. Those that are not in need of major surgery, are held at the site of the orphanage. We have a large front yard where the patients are sleeping on mattresses that came out of the cribs for the children. They are released when they no longer need iv antibiotics. We send these people with amputations, crush injuries and broken bones home with Advil, and they are so thankful!

The spririt of the people here is something I will never forget. They have been through so much, and sometimes it’s hard for me to remember what it was that happened. I see the destruction and the devastation, but since I’ve never been here, I don’t know what life was like for these people before. I am blown away by their ability to pick up, move on and to do what needs to be done without thinking about it. I’m starting to hear more and more of their stories, about what they went through, and I am just humbled. I do not think there is any one here, including our baby born today, that has not been severely traumatized by this event. I am not sure how they are going to move on from here, but I know, because I see it in their eyes, that they will!

January 30, 2010

I arrived home from Haiti on the morning of January 29th, shortly after midnight. I’ve been home for around 36 hours now, and I’ve been asked by many people for further updates and to talk about all of the things that I saw and did while down there. I’ve decided to pick up from Sunday night’s post and add to it. I’ll cover some of the major events we had happen, and then talk about the new dynamics that are occurring there. The shift in what’s going on is amazing.

Injuries we’ve see…..

Burns, lots of them. I didn’t realize there would be so many of these, and I wasn’t expecting them to be so prevalent. But, with the quake occurring at 5pm, many people were starting to make dinner. We had children who were near the stove and had large pots of water fall on them, covering them from the top of their head, down in burns. We had people like Manushka who had propane explosions. I just never imagined that we would see so many of them.

Crush injuries galore! Feet, arms, hands, heads, you name it, they were crushed. We saw a man with a large indention in his skull with a gaping hole, over two weeks after the earthquake and no one had seen him before us. We saw a young boy who had a large cinder block fall on his hand, crushing it, and as he was pulling it out from under the block, the skin covering his hand came right off. He has no skin from his wrist to his fingers and there is no way any type of skin grafting can ever be done on it, making it impossible to heal.

Amputations, or at least, the need for them. Many people were “seen” by medical people immediately after the quake and had a simple 4X4 piece of gauze slapped on with tape and left. As we found them, many of them had become so necrotic from the infection that they required amputation. We also have a lot that are occurring because of the crush injuries. They were not seen afterwards, developed compartment syndrome and have become necrotic, or the injury itself was so bad that nothing else could be done. Many amputations were being done with little or no anesthesia on our foldable tables using unsterile procedure and with Motrin given for pain medication. We have children being amputated, all the way up to adults. It’s sad, but the next generation of Haitians will be known for their amputations. Some of them will never be able to function again, because prosthetics just don’t seem feasible.

Maggots. We have one little boy infested with them in his ear. They are all the way down in the ear canal feasting away. We keep trying to pull them out, but they are laying more eggs and they are hatching. Not sure at this point whether he’ll even be able to keep the ear anymore.

Leprosy. I didn’t think this was around anymore, but apparently it is. We saw two people with it actually. Not exciting, ok, maybe it was just to glance at it, but not to get near!

Malnutrition. These were not well-fed people to begin with. But now that there is no food left, it’s getting even worse. I saw this one kid the other day that was so malnourished that he was nothing more than bone. He was probably 3 or 4 but didn’t look older than 18 months old. People are looking everywhere they can for food. But the wild thing about it is, they aren’t really getting violent about it. You hear stories on the news about people looting and such, but what else can they do for food. It’s not mass hysteria; people are actually standing in lines to wait for food. They aren’t trampling each other down to get to it. They are waiting. With the malnutrition comes dehydration. There is no good clean water. And this also effects the babies, Haitians don’t like to breastfeed because they believe that formula MUST be better because it comes from the “richer” United States. How can you mix formula when you don’t have water? If you can even find it to begin with.

Fractures. Like the crush injuries, you name it, it’s been broken. Legs, feet, arms, skulls, pelvic bones, ribs, etc. There are so many people in cast right now.

The Shift….

Things are changing so much in Haiti right now. I don’t want to get into politics, I just want to talk about what I’m seeing in our clinic and in the people that we are interacting with. On Friday, the 22nd when I arrived, things were so chaotic. There were only enough supplies to give people the most basic of all treatments. We didn’t have anesthesia, we didn’t have morphine, we didn’t have casting materials, and we didn’t have most antibiotics. There was a person to be in charge, and a medical director. We had a podiatry doc, an ob-gyn doc, an ER doc, an orthopedic PA, a PA, an anesthesia doc, a midwife, and two nurses. The types of injuries that we were seeing were people that had never been seen by anyone, and they were very sick. The shift started to occur on Tuesday of this week when we started receiving more supplies. We received a casting saw and casting material so we could set fractures and put them in cast. We were also seeing that people we were picking up, were people that were coming back for re-checks of their injuries. We were seeing less and less of people that had never been seen and began to see more and more follow-up care. We also saw that the medicine was going from primitive third world practices, to more of an organized care. We went from just doing whatever we could, to having time to think about what the best option was and choosing from several different scenarios. At first there were no choices to be made, we just did what we could, which wasn’t much. The organization is improving. Nurses are starting to worry about how things are charted, and the organization of daily task. Doctors are starting to think of alternatives, and correct medication dosing for their patients. The clinic is looking at changing their dynamics too. They need more long term, “inpatient”, care and less critical ER/OR care. Instead of putting all of the resources into fast assessment and treatment, they are starting to look at how to care for these people in the long run. This was an orphanage just over a year ago, and look at where they are now. How long are they going to be able to keep this up without making a decision to turn this into an official clinic. Should they consider opening clinic. Is this the direction that they are going to be headed? What comes next for them?

How am I doing now…..

This would have been a rough question to answer yesterday. At first, I couldn’t do much, other than lay in bed and cry. The things that I saw and the things that I participated in were nothing short of horrific. I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want to leave the people of Haiti there with no food, no water, and no medical care. I wanted to stay and rough it out with them. I didn’t want to sleep in my bed. I didn’t want to eat food. I didn’t want to drink clean water. I didn’t want to take a shower. I didn’t want to do anything that the people of Haiti couldn’t do. It didn’t seem fair for me to have all of those things so easily accessible and to leave them with none of it. I still can’t turn on the TV or the radio. I’m afraid I will see the people of Haiti, there without me, suffering while I sit at home and watch. I feel helpless, like I could never do enough for them. I want to go back, but I also don’t feel like right now is the right time for it. I feel like I’m supposed to wait for another time and then go, and I’m sitting here waiting for that to happen. I am on anti-malaria drugs, as Malaria is very bad down there and I am covered in bites. I am not able to sleep. I’m having nightmares. I can’t close my eyes without seeing children being amputated. I have visions of downtown Port-au-Prince and the devastation there. I feel ill, and I think it is from the sheer exhaustion of working 12-18 hour days, and even 24 hour days with no rest and very little food. And we are talking HARD work, unlike anything anyone in America would ever have to do at work. I’m clinging to my family and trying to pull comfort off of them. And, it definitely doesn’t help that it was 90 when I left Port-au-Prince on Thursday and it is now snowing like crazy outside!

What’s next…..

I have no idea what is next. I’m waiting to see. I have been taking each hour at a time, and trying to get through them. I have to return to work on Tuesday night, and I know that is going to be difficult. Taking care of Americans with modern medical equipment and treatments, I just don’t know how I’m going to do it. And, as I said earlier, I’m waiting, for the time that I’m supposed to go back. I have no idea when it will be. It could be next week, it could be a year from now, or it could sadly be never. Now, I just wait to see what I am to do next.