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Monday, April 27, 2009


There are days when I think this place is just one of many. I get used to things, and the days go by. Then you have days like today when you realize I’m in a foreign country. Nothing much different, except the people....
Had a long clinic day today, the whole day just had a different atmosphere – 50-60 patients but I’ll just mention a few people that made me realize – I’m not in my own country.

While seeing a patient, I started hearing this racket outside, people yelling, some laughing, some running... I look out the window and I see a woman half trying to run, held back by another one and a younger man running after them with a stick, and actually hitting her with it. Needless to say, I was shocked to be seeing that – a man actually hitting a woman in public. I went out to calm down the situation and to give the man a talking to! I got there and told him “pa fe sa!” (don’t do that), than turned to see the situation. They kept saying she’s trying to run away, she doesn’t want to be there. They showed me her very swollen left foot and I knew she really needed to be seen. I talked to her calmly and she actually looked up at me and calmed down – for a second. I realized we’d have to by-pass our usual check-in routine. I told one of the family to go make her file and said as soon as I finished the patient I was in the middle of seeing, I would see her. I went back with calm behind me, which lasted about 2-3 minutes. I finally asked my patient if she’d wait so I could see the woman outside. Bringing her in by force, I finally had her sitting on my exam table, calmly looking at me. By then I realized she had some mental problems, and that gentleness brought the best results. Putting my arm around her and talking to her seemed to calm her. I asked her what the problem was and when her mother started showing me, she actually helped, pulling down the appropriate clothes and showing me her foot. It was rewarding to calm someone that honestly, seemed like a wild animal, and yet could calm down and look you in the face, and thank you very politely for a glass of water. For some reason, she really touched my heart. Her mother said she hasn’t been normal since she had a seizure at age one, and yet at times she’d look at you so ‘clear-minded’. What is in a person’s mind when she can’t express her own will, but has one, and others take that right to make the decision away from her? How do we react when we don’t get to do what we want to? How much do we allow others to make their own decisions – especially the more helpless that we may think don’t know how to make it? Do we give them dignity, or beat them with a stick, and confuse them even more?
Another sad situation, and some people you can pray for if you remember is the Julien family. A mother came with a 7 yr old son a week or two ago that is sick and malnourished. She had another 9 yr old along but didn’t consult. Well, she brought that one today, with herself. She just struck me all of a sudden as the poorest of the poor here. The father died when the youngest was small. Have you ever watched a movie where the mother is dying from poverty? She’s trying her best but just can’t quite make it? That was this mother’s demeanor, sick herself, but trying to keep her boys well – and her son raging with a fever. She said she lives with her sister, but when her sister gives the boys food, her husband gets mad and yells at them. They are heavy on my heart today – what am I going to do with them? I can just see the mother dying and leaving the boys orphaned. I sent her for some tests but she’ll need food to survive too and get some strength back. But if I give her rice, will she and her boys get it or will others eat it? Thankfully I have some rice given by another mission that I was able to give to her, as well as some protein shakes for the 3 of them, and energy drinks; But long term??
On a happier note, I finally had a small 5-6 lb 3 month baby come back having gained an appropriate amount of weight with milk. She’s too young for the Mamba program so I’m giving her milk. She did great.
We finished at 4:30, happy ourselves that we had some protein shakes at the clinic to keep us going. After supper, I (apparently the only truck driver at Canaan today) was asked to drive to Montrouis to get some gas for our generator. Interesting drive, as at one point I was forced to stop while 6-10 vehicles decided to follow the first one and use my side of the road to avoid a huge pothole or ditch that reached onto the road. So I sat hoping none of the semis and buses would hit my mirror or truck, culminating in one small vehicle at the end of the train who was polite enough to stay on his side of the road and got a major jolt as he hit the ditch, almost getting hung up cause it took about 2/3 of his right tire. And all this observed and guided by a bunch of teenage guys looking and trying to make SOME of them stop for me. No luck, but a nice little show.
It's felt a little bit like playing out a movie today.
Now I have to stop cause my battery is about dead.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Haitian Wedding

You want to know what a Haitian wedding is like? If not, you can save some time and not read this blog, cause I tend to go into too much detail. This will be only about the wedding, so don’t worry about missing other stuff.

Met ElFabre got married on Sat. He’s one of the guys here at Canaan that’s in the local administrative position. He’s been engaged since before I came (over a year ago) but he kept saying a woman wants a guy to be able to give her a nice home, and things, before he can marry her. He’s been building his house over this year.

So the wedding was set for 3 o’clock. One of my questions was, knowing that punctuality, or rather the lack of it, is a sure thing, at what time this wedding would actually begin. Knowing it would be late, I didn’t even plan to be ready before 3:30. Even then, I’d see everybody still walking around in work clothes. And if asked if they were going to the wedding, it was either a “sure” or “I don’t know”. This continued till after 4 p.m. and still, if asked what time the wedding will start, they’d still say 3 o’clock.

So about 4:15, with most of Canaan still not dressed, Bobi and I went to the chapel. Inside we found the 5 bridesmaids in blue waiting, as well as Rosemay (Canaan girl) and the bride (all decked out in her bridal dress and veil). We thought ‘how strange that Rosemay is also dressed in a white bridal dress, though with a tiara instead of a veil’. We debated about that while we kept waiting till 5ish. I told Bobi that the bride looks different. I hadn’t met Adeline (the bride) more than a couple times in the last year but this just didn’t ring a bell. I even told Bobi ‘what if they switched with someone else’. I said this just doesn’t look like her and I don‘t believe it‘s her. It was weird. Then the party went out. People were actually starting to fill up the chairs.

Then Stephanson (from Canaan) comes in and stands waiting till Rosemay comes in dancing, and there started the elaborate wedding dance. It was really fun to see. I may never again be satisfied to see bridesmaids walking demurely down the isle!!! Apparently this wasn’t the longest or most elaborate wedding dance ever, but it was interesting to watch - all a story. The ladies would drop the single flower they carried and the guy would stoop to pick it up and stay down looking up, all in a continual dance. There was even a “fight” among two of the guys over the ‘bride’ and her choosing one over the other. I thought it strange that she went and said down without anybody, behind Rosemay, who I figured was the maid of honor but thought ‘oh well, this is Haiti - who knows how they do it’.

Stepanson and Rosemay, the first in the wedding dance

Then the tempo changed, and lo and behold, the real bride walked in. Sister Gladys came in with her and the wedding proceeded with less minor differences. They stayed sitting, even for the vows, and only knelt for the prayer and rings. It was kind of cool, when they answered “yes, Pastor” for the vows, afterward the pastor asked the congregation what they had said, and everybody answered “yes Pastor”. It seemed more like the witness that everybody is.

The danced was performed again with the exit of the bridal party, but not as extensive.

So here’s the custom regarding the bridal party and the white dresses:
You have the godmother, which was Sister Gladys (and the male counterparts). She sits with the bride through it all. Some people’s opinion is they like to pick people with money, rather than someone close to the bride, which could be why they had a problem finding someone to fill the spot. They even asked me to do it, but that was a firm ‘no’ from me. I don’t even know the bride.
Then you have a queen, which was Rosemay, and the reason she was wearing a white dress with a tiara. The other girl in white dress and veil is the princess and the rest of the girls are bridesmaids. Apparently this is the custom for every real wedding. They have their guys of course, who are the king and prince. By dress you couldn’t tell who was the bride.

They served a plate of food prepared in a take-out plate, so serving went fast. They had over 100 people there, I’m sure. There wasn’t much of a dance afterwards that I know of, though that is usual. No gifts that I saw.

Bride and groom, queen, princess and bridesmaids

Godparents with bride and groom

And now, what do Haitians do for a honeymoon?

Some go straight to their houses without a honeymoon trip, but if possible their parents will bring them food for a week. Others do go on some sort of trip. I don’t know what this couple did, since what they really wanted and asked for was denied. Can you guess what that was? Probably not, so I’ll tell you.

They wanted to come stay in the guest room here at Canaan that is on top of the girls’ dorm and be served by the people of Canaan for a week. That brought an emphatic “NO” from Sister Gladys, but I’ll admit I feel a little bit like chuckling about it, trying to imagine that. There’s been a “honeymoon couple” here at Canaan once in the past and some of the little kids couldn’t figure out why they slept till noon, and some other little kids tried to enlighten them -“You know what they do..”

Not conducive atmosphere at all here at Canaan.

And now, hopefully they will live “happily ever after”.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Here we've had our busy weeks, as usual . It never ends. I guess that's a good thing.

Last week, we had a team of 4 here that we really enjoyed. Except they weren't really a team - more like friends returning, since 3 of them had been here last fall. Mark was here for a few months, and Travis and Amy had come to visit him during that time. They brought Paul this time, who grew up in Turkey, and that was an interesting subject of conversation for a lot of us here. He even sang a chorus in Turkish on Sunday.

Sat. was Canaan's 18th birthday, and it's a day they take to celebrate what God has and is doing here. True to form, there was a lot of work prior to it. A lot of the buildings got a facelift - the chapel inside and out (for those that know it, it's no longer pink!), the Shikoon, the kitchens, admin building, etc. In the morning, EVERYBODY went down to the road, and everyone got to meditate on why they're here, whether they really want to be here and why. So everybody had to say something, if they wanted to go up to Canaan again. It was a good reminder.
Then in the afternoon/evening, we had a service where a lot of other people were invited. It's suppose to be a time of celebration, and they had like different singing competitions, and solos, etc. (I got to be a music judge for the first time in my life!) Throughout the weekend there were other competitions, like sports, etc.

That night another team came in - our second biggest ever - 28 people (I think). I didn't know it before but they had a doctor and some nurses in the group so I had help at the clinic today. That was great because we broke the record again today (probably third Monday in a row) with 62 patients.

This week we're doing camp!! A lot of kids are here from neighboring churches, etc, (probably 30 -40) and the Canaan kids are doing wonderful taking care of them. This is a new thing for Canaan, but we wanted to do more to teach the kids to reach out to other people too. The team from the US is also helping with activities. They're a great team for that, since they have a camp for kids themselves (Bear Lake Camp).

This week we've gone over to Chris and Leslie several times. They both came down with fever. Friday afternoon we went and I did a malaria test, and that's what it was! Both of them at the same time! So to give them a free night to be sick together, Bobi and I brought Olivia (14 months) home with us for the night. She's such an easy child to babysit. Went to sleep with no problem. Was sitting and chattering at 5 a.m. though, but I ignored it and next thing I knew I awoke and she was sleeping soundly. I think she needs to come over more often. She didn't want to go with us when we said we were going home. And once there, she didn't want anything of mommy and daddy, and cried when we left. Maybe she needs a bigger social life too. :)

Tomorrow we're doing a little special for our Medika Mamba people - we're serving them a lunch, and with it we want to take a little time to share the gospel. Please pray that things will go well. It's a bit hard to organize something like that here.

OK, and if any of you are still skeptical of our Medika Mamba, look at these pictures of the same child. Guess how many weeks different??? 2 WEEKS! Yes, this difference is after two weeks of Medika Mamba, and loving care. Note the difference in his arms and chest! A missionary couple that just started a small orphanage took him in.

OK, I have other things to do yet online tonight. We came to Club Indigo, and it's getting late. I haven't been able to get online for several days, so it's catch up time right now.
God bless!!