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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas

Hello again from Haiti,

Hope this finds you all well. Sometimes I feel like when I write here, it’s just out there to the universe. Then people comment on what I say, and I realize again how many people read this and want to hear from happenings in Haiti. Thank you for that!! And I apologize again (seems I do that a lot; I better stop) for waiting so long to write. I didn’t even want to see how long, but I forgot what I wrote about last!

Yes, Chibelson! So I’ll start with an update on him. He is in Knoxville, TN, with Kendall. He’s had two surgeries to remove the stones in his ureters. The stone in his kidneys is not moving and I think they’re going to leave it (have to trust the doctors – me, I’d say take it out while he’s there). Apparently you can live with it. He’s doing very well – as been gaining weight and is sitting by himself. He turned a year this month, so hopefully he can soon catch up with his age groups. He’s coming back with Kendall on Jan. 5.

My Caleb is growing well and is a continued joy to me, and all of the people here. He’s so active and smiley all the time, which is probably why he also sleeps a lot. He loves rice and beans and is getting strong. He can hold onto fingers and be lifted up completely, and he’ll hold onto the top of the crib and walk up the sides. This week he’s also learned to stand without holding on to something. Guess he will soon be walking. He just turned 10 months old.

Our weather has turned beautiful. I didn’t remember December to be this cold already. (it’s a good time to visit –hint hint). People are looking for blankets at night. And I’m looking for warmer clothes for Caleb. It’s fun to be able to dress him up more – instead of having him go with only a diaper all day and night. Of course, it makes for lots more laundry.

We’ve had different teams here in the last couple months, and have gotten a lot of work done. The new clinic is in it’s last stages of completion. All the floors are tiled. We’re working at finishing the painting. Everything has a couple coats already, but what with tiling and all, it needs it’s final coat. The last team that was here (a team of 27 from Oregon) was able to move my existing pharmacy shelves to the new clinic, (though they pulled them all apart) and rebuilt them. I now have a thousand dollars’ worth of shelves in the new pharmacy – 5 shelves about 40 ft long. It’s getting its last coat of paint this weekend and hopefully next week I can start filling them. That is one ‘looked forward to’ project. Right now I have my meds scattered in so many places. It will be wonderful to have it all in one place and be able to see what we have. Hopefully we can keep the rats out of it, since the doors aren’t in yet. (We have steel doors in already.)

The container with all the furniture for the new clinic is enroute. It also has the wooden doors. Pray that customs won’t take long. Right now there’s a major hold up at customs, and they’ve basically stopped for this year. They say they’ll start again in Feb. That seems a long time to wait since we’re this close to done.

I don’t think I’ve written here about the way God blessed us with the needed clinic stuff. A friend, Dell, from Victoria works with getting stuff together for missions, and she filled a container for us. She had so many ‘Divine provisions’ it is awesome to hear. For example, a 5 room clinic called her up and said they’re remodeling the whole thing, and she has a day or so to come pick up anything she wants; including consultation tables, chairs, cupboards, dental chair, otoscopes, blood pressure machines, etc etc. SO awesome! Even a little used X-ray machine from a cruise ship, where of course you have to have the ultimate and change them every so often.

This has been a very slow month at the clinic, due to all the political unrest and, I imagine, the holidays, and everyone saving up their money. We’ve only had one day with over 60 patients. This isn’t a good month for it to happen, since in Haiti you have to pay your employees and extra month of wages in December for a bonus but God has and always will provide. We have added a guy to our staff that is an x-ray technician. Until we have the x-ray going, he is working in the pharmacy. Our doctor is working out real well too. He is perfect for our needs here. He understands the culture, teaches the nurses, and loves kids, so fits in at Canaan as well.

Yesterday we took the staff out to a little restaurant for a holiday celebration. They enjoyed it, especially after they got their gifts!! J We were blessed with friends that came down from Canada, and who brought good gifts for all of them.

We’re not doing a lot of Christmas celebration this year, but plan a big New Year’s celebration. (New Year is also Haiti’s Independence Day). We have a group coming on the 27th, and they’re bringing turkey and ham, so it should be good.

Many of you have heard of the political unrest here. Right now things are calm again. The corruptness in the government is incredible. I don’t support the violence that went on but I can’t help applauding the people of Haiti trying to let their voice be heard. How can or should they react to this type of government and foreign control here? They have postponed further elections till after the holidays. Apparently now they’re deciding between 3 people for president. But basically everyone knows who’ll get in – the one that has the current government and foreign people backing him up; the one that put in millions of false ballots before people even started voting. The one that shouldn’t even have entered the top list if everything had been done legally. But, TIH! (This Is Haiti)

This year is almost over. What a year! I can’t believe how many things can happen in a country in one year. This has been such an eventful year in Haiti – the earthquake, which was an unbelievable and surreal happening, the hurricane (which was really scary for Haiti, because it had the potential to kill hundreds of thousands. Thankfully God spared the P au P area, which is where the majority of people in tents are), the cholera which killed over 2,000 people and sickened almost 100,000 thousand and continues in its deadly path, and then the elections, which turned deadly for many. And between all this, people suffering from hunger, loss of everything they had, loss of family, sickness, and discouragement. I know most of you reading this cannot grasp this kind of life. I cannot grasp it, and I drive by it all the time. Once in awhile it really hits me, but the helplessness that I feel in those times is not a “comfortable” feeling and I don’t think I have learned yet how to respond to it. How much do we avoid the “uncomfortableness” of a situation and therefore do not do anything? (just something to reflect on in our lives).

And yet, in spite of all this, the Haitian people still live and survive. The numbers in tents is slowing going down. From July to Dec it went from 1.5 million to 1.0 million. It’s good or rather better than nothing, but imagine a million people still living in a tent.

Let's pray this coming year will be a good year for Haiti. Pray for a better government. Pray for funds and jobs for the people. Pray for the people caring and trying to help. And thank God for His protection.

Hope you all have a good Christmas and a fruitfull and good new year.

Elsie

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cholera

You never know what life will bring here. That’s the interesting part of living here, though not always easy to know what to do.

Monday we had a boy fall outside the clinic. We brought him in. Skinny as can be, probably about 12-13 yrs old. He was dehydrated, and said he hadn’t eaten in 3 days. We gave him IV and some food. He had come with another young girl and her 3 yr old sister.

We had some people visiting from a neighboring mission, and they found it in their heart to take the boy in temporarily. He said his dad had died in the earthquake and his mom had died of cholera. Bless these missionaries! They have great hearts. We warned them about getting it legal, about getting a family member to come sign; I encouraged them to wait till next week. They asked me if I believed him, and I told them the story is to set up. It’s not likely both parents die in tragedies like these.

(He was taken up to his home town today, and low and behold, both his parents were there. The mom had been really mad at him making up such a story. Apparently he’s having “bad habits” problems, which is why he’s so thin.

At 4 p.m., I took our doctor Jean Robert, Nick (a guy that’s here for a week) and a patient and we went to a hospital 3 miles down the road. We wanted to try doing an Ultrasound, though now I know that was just something God used to get us there.

While there, Nick (who had come with teams to volunteer at that hospital several times this year already) wondered over to the public patient area on the other side, which they had open to cholera patients. All the others left cause they don't want to be there with those patients. Judy and Susan, a couple of our visiting nurses were with us, (Judy has been helping both in St Marc with the cholera patients and in PP the week the team was there). They found two men dead from cholera, lying there, and 8 other patients, some with IVs, some not. They talked with the nurse and she showed them her supplies. She had no more LR left and only two 500 ml Sodium Cloride, very few gloves, the limited intracatheters of course, no alcohol, no bleach, and patients vomiting and having diarrhea all over and no buckets for them. It wasn't a pretty picture. We asked her if they really didn't have more stuff or just hadn't given her more. She didn't know, said "maybe" they have more, but that's all she had. By now it's past 5 and no doctors around. So we asked the nurse if it would be ok if we took some patients (the worst ones) to St Marc, and she said that would be no problem; in fact, she looked very relieved

So we took 3 kids, a 3 or 4 yr old boy who was vomiting a lot when we got there, and they weren't able to put an IV in again, but did seem a little more stable later but who's father was one of the two dead men lying there (they had come in together that morning), a teenage girl from that morning who lay barely conscious and very sunken eyes, and a 6-8 yr old girl from a local orphanage in Montrouis that looked like death, and went to St Marc. The sight there was INCREDIBLE! You can't imagine unless you're there. People everywhere. They've built these tarp over wood beams shelters on the lawn and everywhere. They're big. The "triage" where we ended up must have had 100 patients. They have narrow, 3 strips metal benches, maybe 6-8 rows and maybe 60-80 ft long and ALL head to toe with people on IVs. Strings across the room allow you to hang as many as you can. Total at the hospital they figured they had about 400 cholera patients, but I'm sure they didn't have all counted. The 3 we brought in were attended without registering. The leading doctor, from Spain, was very nice, and attentive, right there with the patients, and grateful we had brought them in and said they would turn no cholera patients away. He took one look at our little girl and there were about 4 people trying to get an IV in on each limb, and one putting in an NG tube because it seemed almost impossible. That girl was almost gone. They had to check the heart several times. I was impressed by all they were doing. We could see everyone was busy. They told us where to lay them (squeeze everyone closer!!) and soon Dr Carlos checked the little girl. She looked so bad, I can’t believe she made it, but she did, thanks to the many doctors that worked urgently on getting a vein to take fluids. Meanwhile, other patients’ family members would call us to check their family member’s IV. Because they want to get so much fluid into them, they have the IVs going fast, and so often run dry, and sometimes stop working. So for a long time, I went around, hanging new ones and a few times, starting new IVs. They were so grateful. I can still see both the patients and family members faces relax a little with each new IV bag that was hung. To them, this is life (and for many of them it literally is). (good place to practice IV starts, especially since they’re dehydrated!). Just truly an amazing sight!!! I’ve never seen so many critical patients in one area. At the same time, it can be cured and treated, and quite fast. You would see them bring a patient in that seemed lifeless and an hour later and a few IV solutions, their eyes have stopped the glassy looked and they look more relaxed and less scared.

We told the doctor about the hospital that didn’t have supplies and they ended up giving us 3 boxes of RL and other supplies to take to the hospital for the patients there (which was good because I felt bad leaving anyone behind; but it didn't help to find the nurse sleeping while IVs were dry)

We got home a little before 10 p.m.

Today was another busy day. The eventful thing was a 2 ¼ kg baby that came in (I can’t believe how many preemies have come lately!) This one was brought in by the aunt. Said her dad had died after being shot several months ago. The mom died 3 days ago; she had had a bad vision about the father coming to her as a zombie (real here in Haiti) and attacking and beating her. In the morning she got a fever and died that day. How do you deal with that? This is something they believe in. Anyway, I helped the aunt with some things, and hopefully she’ll come back in a week to see how the baby is.

Whew! These 2 days feel longer than two days!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

God's Miraculous day.

Hello from Haiti,

As the possible third tradgedy of the year is arriving, you can sense a lot of fear in the Haitian people. I don't blame them. It's been a devastating year. The Cholera is still going strong. We heard it was slowing down, but apparently it's picking up again. They admitted almost a hundred new patients to the St Marc hospital yesterday. Apparently over 400 deaths yesterday. There are many people that never make it to the hospitals. How I would love to drive and take them there. Judy, our visiting nurse that's helping out there this week says it's awful. The rooms filled from 20 to 40 to 60 in a room now. The families take care of the diarrhea and the nurses are kept busy hanging IVs for hydration. They lose all minerals so fast! A couple IVs can bring a blood pressure up from 60/40 to 130/70 and warm up the ice cold hands due to lack of circulation.

Now Hurricane Tomas is on the horizon. I believe God can still put it on another path if it's his will. Already it looks like it'll hit only the southern tip of Haiti. Still, it'll probably produce a lot of rain, the first of which is just starting here at 4:15. Supposedely the worst is to hit around midnight. We're preparing here by filling all the water tanks so the wind can't blow them over, boarding up some windows, or moving things away from windows. We've bought extra food. Because we're on a hill, I expect we will be fine. You can pray for our safety, but more than ours, pray for the 1.3 million people still living in tents. We heard the government was starting to evacuate them... but where to.... Nobody seems to know. Can't imagine many have a place to go. Even just big rains causes a problem for them. Flash floods have already killed many this year. With so few trees, the ground goes too.

I've continued busy with Chibelson, up until last night. I think God has an awesome plan for him. He’s sure going to a lot of trouble for him. Or maybe it’s not trouble for him but fun! Can you imagine God sitting up there, looking down and thinking, “Hah! Let’s see what the cute little people down there will do with a bitty thing that’s needy. I’ll get a chance to show them a glimpse of me and that’ll be fun.”

So since last blog, we’ve had him at home and the visiting nurses have done the primary care with the rest of us pitching in, especially days when there is no clinic or school. He continued to be very fussy – more than before I think. I can just imagine the ureters hurting with a stone in each.

We’ve been quite concerned about his continued care. I think actually we could have found specialists here, but everything takes time. So we decided to start the process of going to the States.

The first step was finding a Pediatric Urologist. Kendall, who came down to teach, had a friend that was friends with one, so she contacted him to see if he would take care of him for free (for this kind of permit, all medical care has to be free or paid by someone in the US). His response was “I already heard about this baby”. A doctor friend of his (2 actually I think) that he goes to church with had talked to him about Chevy. He said of course he’d take him. Kendall’s family was happy to host him and pay for those expenses, so then we needed to find a hospital that would take him when needed. The hospitals didn’t want to take him without a diagnosis, and the doctors didn’t want to give a diagnosis without seeing him. Then Tuesday morning, the doctor said (and in writing) that he would take responsibility for the full medical costs. Which means if the hospital doesn’t want to do it free, he’s responsible to pay if no one else does. Quite the commitment! Guess he feels pretty sure his relationship with the hospital will get them to give it free. What a doctor, eh?

Monday and Tuesday were National Holidays here - called the day of the dead, which is the start of voodoo season (not a coincidence that it falls the day after Halloween – after all that celebrates and fears the dead spirits as well, ‘put on those masks so the dead spirit won’t recognize you). This meant we couldn't do anything.

Wednesday morning, 5 AM I took Kendall and Chevy to Port. She went prepared to leave with him. Somehow I had peace that it would happen, but how I did not know. Robin, a lady in the US that has coordinated a lot of trips and paperwork for Haitian people since the earthquake, had sent all the US papers to the Embassy already and put us in contact with the the director. She also had a private jet she sent, which was here before noon (what faith). Remember this kid doesn't even have a passport. So we met with the director, explained our situation, presented all our papers. He said he'd see what he could do. It has to be emailed to the US and they give the approval over there whether he can go to the US on an emergency medical parole. He explained with that, he could enter the US but he couldn't do anything about a permit for him to leave Haiti. He said anymore it's impossible for someone to leave the country without a passport. I looked at him and said, "I believe in a God that can do the impossible, so I'd like us to try anyway". He looked at me, and finally said, "Well, I can do my best on our side but I can't do anything about the Haitian side." I'm like that's fine; we appreciate anything he can do. We spent the morning basically waiting at the Embassy and finally about 11:00 he said it's been approved (very strange to be approved that fast). We were elated and hopefull. He slipped us a paper with the name, phone numbers and email of the Minister of the Interior and told us never to tell anyone who gave it (I haven't told you either name so I'm not breaching the confidence, right?)

Oh and I forgot to say that the dad, instead of coming with us, had to go make an ID for himself (didn't have anything!) and get a paper from St Marc which is the opposite direction that would give Kendall the custody of Chevy so she could travel with him. So at noon we met up with him and Sister Gladys and Pastor Henri and we all drove straight to the Ministry of the Interior, thinking it would be pointless to try getting a passport at this stage since it was so late already and we couldn't get a hold of the Minister of the Interioe. So we went to her office. The place had moved and we lost a lot of time searching it, but finally found it only to find she wasn't in. I'm glad Gladys was with us - she can get things done. So after being sent to the third office, we talked with a man who obviously had some power in the place, (Henri says he's an angel) and he got in the vehicle with us and took us to the director of the Immigration - top guy. Nothing like going straight to the top. By then it's past 2:30 and our pilot said they HAVE to leave by 4 p.m. And we haven't started with the passport. So the guy talks a bit. Well we have to have passport photos for Chevy; so we run across the street where they take pictures on the busy streets (indescribably; you have to be there to believe it; and Gladys is trying to hurry everyone and it's wild. Then we find out the ID the dad was to get is useless, so we quickly take photos of him too hoping that with the paper (basically a receipt with his name) will be enough. In the process Gladys finds a paper where he gave custody to Canaan in the beginning, and they decide that's enough. We get back to the director (by now it's past 3) and he says he can't do anything because all his employees have left early because of the hurricane warnings. He said he can't go into the computer and make a passport. He doesn't have that kind of authority, especially since Chevy wasn't even in the system yet. If he had something to print out maybe he could, but now he can't. We keep telling we already have a plane that's waiting and will leave at 4 and we just need a paper with his signature to leave. He's getting frustrated with us too I'm sure. He's like, just like we can't call back a plane when it's already left, so he can't call back his employees. He goes out of the room for what felt like a long time, and meanwhile Gladys tells me when he comes back to just ask again nicely if he couldn't just sign a paper that they would accept at the airport because we don't need a passport to enter the USA. I start asking him when he finally came back and he bruskly just told me to wait. About 2 minutes later he hands me a paper he just signed and calmly says "This should get you through". We were all in a little unbelieving shock because by now it's like 3:40 already. All of a sudden, "Let's go, lets go, grab the baby and go!!!" It was so hilarioius actually. I called the piot and told him we got it, we'll be there as fast as we can. Traffic was bad, but we got there to the small airport and absolutely no problem. I don't know if they even looked at the papers. By 5:15 they were gone. Whew!! What adrenaline!

It was a test all day whether we had faith to really get it. Strangely, I did. I was pretty sure we would, because things looked so impossible. I just felt God wanted this day to show that he can do the impossible and I had a good peace all day. Even when the director said "It's too late" I thought, "I don't think this is the end. It can't be. It's not like God." That's why when he said "this'll get you through' I saw even more clearly "Exactly like God!!!"

It was a full day of miracles. Robin says she's never had the US give parole that fast. Meeting the guy that took us to the director was a miracle. The director's action was a miracle.

What a relief when we saw Chevy's plane lift up. They got to Miami safely, even if it was more than an hour later than what the pilot said was the latest. They arrived in Knoxville before midnight. It's strange to think of him being in the US right now. Kendall is planning to bring him back when she returns in January for school. Meanwhile let's pray he'll get all the treatment he needs and God will guide the surgeon's hands.

Thank you so much for all who have been praying for him. God answered all those prayers in a miraculous way! May that encourage all of you to continue in even more faith!!

Let's use that faith also to pray for Haiti in this time!!

I was going to include pictures but they're not uploading and I want to send this because who knows how long the internet will be on.

God bless and protect us all!!!!

Elsie


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chevy

I wonder how often I’ll be interrupted while writing this blog or how many days it will take. J Maybe I should just set a cut off time. Or just make it quick, eh?

Last Wednesday I flew to Costa Rica to arrange some financial issues for me that came up and I arrived back Monday morning. I feel like I landed having to run and haven’t stopped since.

I got back to Canaan at around 9:30. Only a short time with my baby Caleb, whom I think I missed more than he me, and I dropped him off at the nursery again. He, by the way, got his second cute tooth while I was away. He is developing nicely, basically does whatever babies can do at 8 months – maybe more. He doesn’t walk alone but can walk along his crib and crawls under and into things. And his laughs are a joy to hear, especially if you’re the reason.

Our Haitian doctor, Jean Robert Celicourt (Cuban trained), arrived that morning and was waiting for me to take him down to the clinic. Also having arrived on the weekend while I was away were 3 Canadian nurses, here for 5-8 weeks. So off to the clinic! I worked with the doctor awhile, just to see how he works and to orientate him to our way of doing things. I think he’ll be good. He’s not totally fluent in English but thankfully he is in Spanish, so I actually have a fluent way to communicate with him (and I can talk so the patients or others don’t understand J)

The nurses I think were feeling a little bit like, what will we be doing here – since we don’t really have translators so they can’t actually see patients. Now I think they’re counting the days till Sat when they will take a break. I am so glad they’re here. Not sure what I would have done without them.

Monday night Chibelson got sick. He’s the baby I took in after the family just did not feed him the Mamba correctly. He has been doing great and last week he graduated with sufficient weight (in 6 weeks with what’s calculated to take 8 weeks). He’s had great caretakers. Maira from Canada for 2 weeks, then Ashley from SD came to dedicate a month to him. He has been sick off and on, not unusual for such a malnourished baby (He’s 10 months now, weighing just over 5 kg (11 pounds) which for his height is normal). He still has a lot of catching up to do for his age developmentally though.

Last week while I was gone they took him to a doctor in Port but Monday night he got sick – worse. The 3 nurses have taken over his care, since Ashley left Saturday. They woke me at 3 a.m., and I in turn woke the doctor (what else do we have him living here for? (But quite the start to his life here). He didn’t think it was urgent so we waited till morning to make changes. Basically kept observing him all day Tuesday. His problem was that since about midnight he vomited everything he took in, low-grade fever and didn’t void (pee) or poop. We even feared a partial bowel obstruction, which now I don’t believe was the case.

Wednesday we took him to Port – question is where? Last time the University of Miami field hospital didn’t receive us because they were too busy but I decided to make that our first try again. Sometimes I will use my “blanc” color to my advantage. I walked to the gate, they opened without any questions, and I walked straight into the peds ward, where I had been before and asked for a pediatrician. I knew that wasn’t exactly correct protocol, but I figured I had a better chance of getting attended. And it worked. After a bit, he looked at me and asked “How did you get in here anyway? I told them at the gate to triage everybody.” I guess God knew.

They gave him 400 cc IV fluids, and he still didn’t urinate. They catheterized him and got a little bit but not enough. Basically the doctor said, “Go home, you can do as much at home as we can here if you can contact your doctors for help. If he doesn’t start voiding, you can bring him back and I’ll call around for someone to tell me what to do for him.

Not exactly what we wanted to hear. He didn’t improve yesterday at all. This afternoon, he’s voided a little bit 3 times which is an excellent sign, but not NEARLY enough for what he’s drinking. He is in some kind of renal failure, and that’s not something to play around with. I’m ready to take him back in the morning. Or anyplace where someone can help him. In fact, we heard Mercy Ship is in Haiti, but we don’t have a way to contact them. Anybody know??

So we’re praying and going one day at a time… Please join us in the next few days. This little fellow has gotten into many hearts. His life has been a constant struggle, especially since his mom died at 2 months of age, but I’m imagining even earlier, since she was sick since he was born. I contacted his family today while waiting at the hospital in Pierre Payen for blood work, and 3 of his mom’s cousins came. They seemed to care, but when I asked if they were going to take him, or leave him at Canaan, they said leave him, without even hesitating. I’m a little relieved to tell the truth. I didn’t want to give him back. This ill, or if he has a chronic problem, he’d never make it there.

Well if I want to send this tonight before the power goes off, it means soon. Not much time to write about the last month here, but it has been a hive of activity.

School is in session, and going well. Teri came for a couple weeks in Aug, went home for 5 and is now back, long term. She’s in charge of the school and doing a fantastic job, with all its challenges.

Kendall is doing awesome with teaching reading to the kids. Many kids are learning to read that have been in grade one for a few years. She changed the way of teaching, and we plan to KEEP her here. Her family had better be letting her go. J

Caroline has arrived to take Bobi’s place with the Medika Mamba program, and is learning fast. It can get quite challenging. All 3 are focusing on learning the Creole language.

I was happy to have Wayne, my friend, pastor and mentor here for a few days end of September. He doesn’t come often enough.

First week in October was a busy, interesting week. We had a team of about 40 people come, most from South Carolina. They worked in different groups – nurses at the clinic, dental tech and helper saw and cleaned all the kids and staff and pastors’ teeth, pastors had seminar for 40 Haitian pastors who stayed here for those days, about 5 guys were in the kitchen (they took over the kitchen cooking for everyone), work crew painted the clinic – huge job, among other projects, some had school duties, and I think I’m missing some. Anyway, lots got done. They were a great, organized and refreshing group. Thank you!!!

The trauma and challenge of this week is that someone broke the metal doors that house our water pump and stole it and all that goes with it. So now it means conserving water like never before and what we have gets hauled in. Not fun. Pastor Henri found most supplies in Port; now to buy them. Costs almost $3,000.00. But that’s an essential.

Many of you probably have heard about the deaths in Haiti. Rumor has it that it’s Cholera but don’t know if it’s been confirmed. As of this morning, it wasn’t – I got that straight from the Health meetings that go on weekly in Port. However symptoms and deaths sure sound like it. Though the outbreak is 2 hours north of here, they are being taken to the hospital in St Marc and people there are quarantined which is only about 20 miles north of here. We are not in danger but the whole country needs to take precautions. It can spread so fast. That area is Haiti’s best agricultural area, but the water is awful – often brown. We are starting to teach the kids preventive measures. Pray it doesn’t spread. One report said over 140 people have died. Others put it at lower, but hundreds have already gotten sick. Symptoms are fever, vomiting, and extreme diarrhea. Haiti does NOT need this!

And now I need to end this before the generator ends.

Keep praying! It’s a challenging week.

Elsie

Monday, September 13, 2010

Canaan new kids

And lives continue to be changed.....

Today, life changed for 3 Haitian children. They came to live at Canaan Christian Community, and with it the opportunity of a totally different life to what they would have had before. Not everything will always be glorious for them I'm sure, but they will have the normal future opportunities that all children in the world should have - a chance to be loved, a chance for an education, and a chance for a future. So many Haitian children don't have all three.
Juveterson (nickname Sonson) and Stephania (nickname FaFan) Plaisir are brother and sister - no mom. Sonson is 5 yrs old and Fafan is 3. Mykenly Saintelmy will be 5 months old on the 19th of Sept. I took them down to the clinic for a bit of a physical.
I also took Caleb and Maralucia for weight checks. Caleb is 7 months old today and weighs 16 pounds. Honestly, that's a lot of weight to be carrying around all the time. My shoulder is feeling it (or is it because of my age :( ? I feel this last month he has become a lot more solid weight. Having said that, I guess he's not all that heavy, cause the other babies seem to be passing him. Mykenly (2 months younger) is the same weight (he was breastfed). Taina was only about 300 grams behind him a month ago. I'm not worried. Nobody looking at Caleb thinks he's malnourished. :) I guess I just got what I wished for in the beginning - I said I'd rather not have a baby with all those big rolls (though they make the baby look healthy, I don't want to carry that weight around - selfish, I know). Caleb continues to be such a joy - with a pleasant personality, very quick to laugh, and catching on to things quickly.

This last week, we had a preemie come to the clinic - the baby was born from 7 months and weighs 1.2 kg. (2.6 lbs) The mom needs a breast pump - would anyone have or know of one they'd be able to donate? We have people coming soon that could bring it if you could mail it to them (Both US and Canada). Can't be electric.

So Chibelson, the baby we took in 2 weeks ago is doing so awesome!!! He gained more in 4 days with us than the 10 weeks prior with the family (and we gave them Mamba for him as well). He's becoming more active and happy too, holding his head up well, and alert to what's going on (after all, he's 9 months already. He weighed 4 kg (8.7 lbs) on Tuesday). You can hardly see his ribs anymore. He's also following Maira around with his eyes. She's leaving next Monday - has done such an awesome job with him. This Friday we have Ashley coming to take over for her. Which is just in time. He needs a little more care, since he gets fed Mamba basically every hour. Pray about his future in 2 months. I don't want to give him back (nobody else does either). I think everybody is hoping the family won't come back for him, which is a possibility. They haven't proved they want to take care of a baby.

We have hired another baby caretaker (Asmine), just in time. We now have 5 babies under a year at Canaan. That's interesting, since it's been probably 7 years since they had a baby here. In the mornings the 2 ladies take care of at least 4 of them (Yolene takes care of her own usually, and sometimes helps with the others). They're a little overwhelmed by it today since the new one came, but they'll get the hang of it. First while he may be a little hard because he's used to breastfeeding. The mom just felt she could not take care of him; she has a two year old as well and since the earthquake can't find their father. I can't imagine I guess how difficult that would be - not having anything and losing the one person that might help with the family. He's a cute, chubby baby, as you'll see in the picture if I ever get it uploaded. It's so difficult to upload onto the blog.

OK, gotta go.

P.S.
I gave up with the pictrues. See if this link to my FB works:
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1564603&id=1058022139&ref=fbx_album

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Benjamin Chivelson

I look at what my life was like 3 years ago and what it is now, and nobody would recognize me by what I do. Before, my life revolved so much around myself - all I did was work 9-5 to make money for myself, read, watch TV and once in awhile visit people. Now it's been weeks since I read a book, don't own TV, and my work doesn't pay. In my free time, I take care of my baby, write blogs, clean my house, talk to people that are visiting here, and to unwind at night, sometimes do suduko. Right now I wouldn't go back to the old life. Yes, it has many advantages, like drop your clothes in the washer at any time, pick them up half an hour later, drop them in the dryer, and voilĂ  - they're done! Or, driving on the road without getting frustrated at the incourteous drivers, or the comfortable weather (if it's hot, switch on the fan or a/c). Instead, I spend all evening doing my laundry in a washing machine where the ONLY thing that works is the washing motor (all the switches and the spinner have stopped working), plus you do it in the evening, it's hot (WHEN will summer be over here?), and I try to figure out what to do with a malnourished baby.

That has been the challenge this week, and I'm left astounded at how God answers prayers!! I'm praising Him! Not 24 hours after posting on Facebook about needing someone to help with this baby, I had someone offer to pay for his care. Not 48 hours later, I had someone actually respond saying she might be able to come do it for a month. Thank you, Ashley!!! I think God has a plan for this child. He's almost 9 months old and weighs 3.9 kg (about 8.5 pounds). He came to us about 10-12 weeks ago and was put in the Mamba program, but he has not been gaining well. There are only 2 reasons why a child does not gain well in the program - one is if they have HIV, it can be very challenging, or some other severe disease (though they can still gain). The other is the more common reason - THE CHILD DOES NOT GET THE MAMBA. This is what I believe is the case with this baby - Chibelson. (HIV is negative) I don't think the family is giving it to him. His mother died, he's brought here by a young aunt, but the sickly grandmother takes care of him at home. He has a dad, but apparently does not take care of him either. He has that unkempt look. I am really looking forward to seeing how he will look in 2 month of taking care of him. I will post a picture of him then.
I asked the family to bring him tomorrow for our decision. Please pray that everything goes well. We always make a paper with the judge, just in case something happens to him while he's in our care. Maira, a nurse that is visiting here from Edmonton, has offered to take care of him till Ashley gets here. That is so good of her, because he will need a lot of care and there goes most of her free time. Kendall, our first grade teacher, has also offered to help when out of school, so "many hands make light work".

School opened here today and most of the kids are excited. They're all walking around in their crisp uniforms, looking good. Kendall came for 3 months to teach the learning to read class. We're hoping she likes it enough to stay the year (I think there's a chance of persuading her :) - if she can just get used to the cockroaches. Teri is here for a couple weeks now, but planning to come back in October long term. Pray for her as she returns and prepares everything. It is a huge commitment, but her heart is here in Haiti, and I think she'll do great. She is overseeing the school, kind of being Gladys' eyes and hands.

Maira, who is a nurse (muslim) and a great person to have around, came for a month. We have lots of fun conversations about the differences in culture and beliefs. She is not Suni, the traditional muslims, so it's not so strange for her. She's leaving the 20th.

Sunday a week ago, we had a baptismal. Kendall had never been baptized and really wanted too, and then two of the other guys requested it too. Estime and Dionel. This was special. These guys came to work with the pigs a couple years ago, and have slowly through their faithfullness, learned to do a lot more. They get to all the odds and ends jobs, many of the difficult ones. Estime has learned construction and does a lot of the building now. It's great to see them opening up slowly, from very shy guys, to participating more in things.

We are in the process of hiring a couple doctors and an RN for our clinic. This will change a lot of how we do things, but it's good. We still Both need to sit down again and decide on the last things. As soon as that's done, they can start work. Both are trained in Cuba, so have a bit better education than locally trained. are Christians and seem to have the desire to help people, rather than make a lot of money.

And Caleb is continuing to grow beautifully, learning things like standing up in his crib, holding his own bottle (it's fun to see him learn to do that. He holds it, then gets distracted and it falls and he quickly grabs it). He still loves people but is becomming a little bit more of a mommy baby. His delight at seeing me is so evident, it's hard to say no. He's eating quite a bit and loves it. Which is good, cause we're running out of formula for our babies. We'll have to see what we do about that, especially if we're getting two more. Besides Chibelson, we have another baby waiting to come. The only reason he hasn't is that we haven't been able to afford hiring someone to take care of him. He was two months when we agreed to take him - now about 4 or 5.

Here's a way to help if someone wants to. We're finding out how much it costs to have babies. The salary here is more for taking care of babies than other jobs (more responsibility, I guess). It's atleast $100.00 a month. Right now Canaan isn't able to add that salary to what they're receiving. We've already got one person offering to pay the salary of one. We'll probably have to hire two people (maybe not right away, since Ashley is coming) but having 4 babies (not counting the one that has a mom here), will take 3 people for when they need time off, etc. So if you have it in your heart to help with the salary or supplies, or to come here for a year, let me know!! :) I take care of Caleb, but still need someone for him when I work.

We're working with getting Canaan's paperwork finished (becoming a Cresh) so adoptions can start. Meanwhile, I'm working at gathering all the things I need myself. Just getting a list of what I need is taking frustratingly long. But, "Patience is a virtue", right?

Well these are the highlights of what's going on around here. Please continue to pray for us, that God will provide all our needs, in His time.

Elsie

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mamba

Tuesday

Today again reminded me of how blessed we are. Something I forgot just now as I was complaining with myself because one of our inverters burned out, which means, right now no internet (maybe things can be rewired later), and for me personally, no fridge in my room, no fan at night, and a dictated time to go to bed because no lights. But during the day I got a glimpse into the lives of others, and I have NO REASON to complain.

One lady especially touched me. She has a 1 yr old who's in the Medika Mamba program. She hasn't been doing the greatest so I'm trying to probe into her lifestyle to see why. She gets up at 4 a.m. to walk to where she works the corn fields all day. She takes her little girl with her. She arrives home at 10 p.m. Every day she says. And I'm trying to tell her to feed her girl 8 times a day. She feeds her twice a day. Imagine for a minute replacing your life with hers....

Two other babies, one 10 days older than Caleb and one 2 months older, weigh exactly half of what Caleb does. It's so hard to compare the two. Caleb is so joyful and a picture of health. The only difference is - Caleb got milk 6 times a day. The one that's 8 months is especially hard to see - I so badly want to take him from the family. He doesn't have a mom but does have a dad. He's been in the program for about 7 weeks and hasn't gained much. I know it has to do with the family feeding him. Is it decent of me to take the baby away from them? I'm not one to do that, but would it save his life?

We had 49 kids in the program come today - long day. Today was Jessica's last day. She came 2 months ago, and was a godsend, what with Bobi leaving. We have someone coming to replace her but not until end of September, so I guess till then, I'll be helping my Haitian nurse with them all every week.

OK, it's Thursday night by now. - Laundrys finished, Baby bathed, and internet will go out in an hour and I still have more to do.... So I'm ending this here. Our internet has been off because one of our inverters burned. We're hoping to get a part from the US with someone coming on Sunday. Pray they'll find it. Two days' not a lot of time. That requires patience here too. It means no battery backup at night for fans and fridge, and we can't have all the freezers running and no internet during the day. So praying for a speedy fix.

God bless you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back at Canaan

So Monday, after a bit of a rough start, I'm back full swing. A 2 hour delay because of engine problems in Miami resulted in not arriving here till after 8 p.m. Then there was no water, which meant no shower and no cleaning a very dirty house - which gets much dirtier here after 3 weeks of no use - after all, it's not empty. There were lots of spiders and lizards still inhabiting inside. Caleb was asleep but it was wonderful to hold him again!

Yesterday was Mamba day, and busy as ever. 53 medical patients (many of them babies) and almost 50 Mamba patients made for a lot of children. In the afternoon it was housecleaning emergency, then later some of us went to visit a 10 day old baby they had sent to the hospital the day before. He is malformed - his genitals and belly button are almost in the same place, which can easily cause urinary infection. Hopefully the surgeon coming next month can fix him.

It's been so good to be with Caleb again. He is such a happy baby - I don't think it is just because I'm back. At first I didn't think he recognized me - he's so interested in all that's going on about him and we were outside. But when I got him to focus, he reached for my face and started almost screeching, like he had so much to tell me. The funny thing was that was his reaction almost every time throughout the day. He didn't do that with others. So needless to say, he's happy.

He had his first fall today. One of the girls was holding him, and standing him on a chair. Not sure if she let go or what but all of a sudden he was tumbling off like a ball. He made a clean summersault onto the tile floor, landing on his back. After a crying spell, he seems OK - didn't seem to injure his back or neck.

We have a team of 8 people here from the World Race group. They go to missions in 11 countries, in 11 months. Sounds exotic but I imagine they have their many challenges. This group is leaving Friday and another group is coming, I believe.

Today we have another group of 12 coming.

Guess what I would ask prayer for this week is just for patience. With so many people coming and going, it's hard to stay in a routine that's established and sometimes even an invasion of personal space. I suppose I should be used to it by now, and it is great to have them come but ... Patience is always needed with a lot of things - patience till the hottest time of the day is over, patience when things aren't done efficiently to our American mentality, patience in getting rid of spiders, .... I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture. And when it can't be done, God does miracles. Yesterday our generator wasn't working. When the guy didn't show up to fix it, Pastor Henri told one of the other guys: Let's pray, then go start it. It started perfectly. Praise Him, who knows our needs!

I'm not gonna make this a long one, but want to try and keep more up to date.

God bless you for your interest in the work here and for praying. Thank you!

Elsie

p.s.
I was going to try to upload pictures, but the pictures symbol isn't appearing. Internet's been too slow anyways. If I can later I will.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Long time...

Hello

I don't even want to look at the date when I sent my last blog. I apologize for the long time. Things have been extremely busy and I guess my focus has been elsewhere. I promise I will try to do better next time.

Here's a little recap on the last couple months.

May: We had 3 teams in. First an electrical team that started redoing the wiring at Canaan (much needed). That is a big project and of course they couldn't do all. Then we had a team of hard workers come from Colorado. These guys started digging the big cistern for water on top of our hill behind us. That is an extremely difficult job, as you have to dig and pick at rocks. We're still having guys digging but the rain and mud in it are holding up the progress. Then a family from my church in northern BC and friends of theirs came. They're also electricians and they wired the new clinic (YEAAA!!) They worked hard and probably did the wiring in about 2-3 days, but we're in Haiti so they had to go into Port a couple times for needed items. It was awesome to have them here.

June:
The 1st, we had 3 girls come to help with Mamba and whatever - Morgan stayed a month, Chelsea 6 weeks, and Jessica 2 months. They have been a big blessing.
On the 1st we also got a team that came for a week to do VBS with the kids.
The day they left, another team came for a week. There's always lots to do here.
The day they left, the ACE group leaders came. A couple days later, 50 more people came. They are from the ACE school that we use, and they were busy working on redoing all the school desks and making large bulletin boards. I was amazed how well it worked, hosting so many extra people. They had great leadership and direction.

One thing that happened that was monumental, and not so nice for Canaan was that Marcus and Bobi left. With Bobi expecting a baby, they decided to go home. They will be missed a lot, but we pray God's continued blessing on their lives as they settle back down in the US as a married couple to raise their family. Marcus was at Canaan for one school year, and Bobi was there for about 20 months.

We also had 3 med students plus Stephanie, a friend that is now a nurse practitioner for a week. They were kept busy at the clinic. We had many sick and challenging patients that week.

Caleb continues to be very much in the center of things when I'm not at the clinic. He is loved by everyone, and growing well. He is a happy little fellow. Even when he was sick with diarrhea, he remained cheerful - only less alert and energetic.

He captivates everyone's attention - even tourists from Mexico at the resort, which we enjoyed for the day.


During the time he was sick, one day he wouldn't eat, despite being so hungry. The nurse in me found a solution - syringe feeding him. He was happy with that.


We saw some really sick patients that week. This girl is almost five and was struggling with heart failure. The medicine we gave relieved her difficulty in the next 2 days and she is able to wait till our American pediatric cardiologist comes down in August. He'll give her a good check up. He brings his cardiogram machine.

This girl is 12, but more like a small 8 yr old. She's an orphan of several years, living with a now sick aunt. A friend brought her to our clinic. We found out she is HIV positive and got her admitted to the program in St Marc. Pray for her. She will need a lot of prayer and care to get her weight and health back. Right now she has a lung infection and who knows what else.
Another VERY sick baby we got is this 2 month old, in with a high fever. I was happy to have Stephanie there. Ismaylove, this baby, really came in this white (and she's a black baby). We found out she had malaria - the youngest I've ever seen with it. She was dehydrated and very weak, and feverish - too dehydrated to get an IV in, so we just made sure she got other fluids. We were able to get one in the next day. Because the mother came from hours up the mountain, we kept them in our dorm for kids for two nights. We didn't feel comfortable the way she was doing so Stephanie and I took her to the University of Miami field hospital in Port au Prince. Her hemoglobin was 3.4 (it should be minimum 9 or 10 for that age). No wonder she was so pale!!!! They got blood from the mother and one other person and gave her a blood transfusion.


This is the next day, post the transfusion. What an amazing difference. She's still doing ok. (These picture colors are true to life!)

Remember the Kwash kids that came in one of my last blogs? At least, I think I blogged about them. Here they are. They're almost 3 years old. This is SEVERE malnutrition. The boy was already swollen all over and the girl starting, up to her knees. We got them going on the mamba program pronto....

Before and after pictures. This took only 8 weeks!!!



One unexpected blessing I received this month was that my Uncle Henry and his son Glenn came to visit me for a few days. That was special!!!!

Also Joel Busby and 2 of his friends came for a few days.
Then on July 9, I flew to Miami. It's such a contrast. I found I had to do some adjusting yet. But that's probably easier then the other way. We had a great couple days in a meeting with some of the key people working for Canaan, reviewing and strategizing, and prioritizing.
July 11 I flew home for 2 weeks. Home for me this time is in Costa Rica. I'm loving it and getting rest (and I'm wearing a sweater a lot). I hadn't realized how tired I was till I got here. Naps, not doing anything, bowling, Pizza Hut..... Time's flying. The one big negative though, is I miss my baby, but I know he's in good hands, thanks to Jessica and Naomi and all the Canaan people that love him!

OK, I better end this. I'm hoping with lots of pictures, you'll forget how long it's been since I wrote. lol
God bless you all!!

Elsie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Container

Many of you have expressed desire to help fill a container for Canaan. We appreciate this very much. Below we have compiled a list of stuff we need. There are probably things we haven’t mentioned.

We realize shipping costs a lot too, so if you prefer to donate money, we can buy it in West Palm Beach. In that case you can send the money to Chris Hlavacek, making a note what it's for. His address is on our website: www.canaanorphanage.org.

We have the warehouse till the first days in June, so please have everything there for the container by June 1st. Jeremy is receiving the smaller items in his home and the bigger things at his church.

Address for smaller items:

Jeremy Hopple/Canaan

1714 17th Lane

Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33418

The address to send the big stuff to is:

Jog Road Baptist Church


855 Jog Road
West

Palm Beach, FL 33415


Plywood (2x4, 3/4, 3/8, 4x4 - all sizes)

Wood for Cupboards/shelves and supports for shelves

Unfinished wood for construction

Several corke boards and push pins

Tin

Pipes

Latrines

Water and oil based paint

Paint brushes and rollers

Electrical wires (#2, 6, 10, 12)

Outside/patio furniture (all weather)

Kitchen sink

Bathroom sinks

Microwave

Paintings (for wall decoration)

Christmas lights

Ice cream maker (electric or hand held)

Washers

Concrete mixer

Block making machine

Cutter sander router

Air compressor with accessories

Air nails and air gun

Regular and concrete nails

Ladders

Wheelbarrow

Rakes

Shovels

Pick Axe

Door locks with handles

Hand tools (hammer, levels, screwdrivers, wrenches, saw)

Electric rebar cutter

Power tools

Power tool accessories

Drills, saws, grinders

Circular saw

Cordless drills

Table saws

Windows and screens

Welder with gasoline motor

Mechanical tools (wrench, screwdriver, vice grips, pliers, etc etc)

Doors - hospital doors (we need 12, sizes 36x80 inches)

Musical instruments (trumpet, saxophone, flute, guitar, drums)

P.A. system

Chairs

Folding tables

Folding chairs

Coffee tables

Mattresses/beds

Single bedspreads

fans

furniture (couches)

nursery outfit (changing table, dresser, 2 high chairs etc)

Desks

New or good used T.V. (3-5)

Plastic

drawers (rubber maid)

Refrigerators

freezer – 2 big ones

Commercial oven

Water coolers 7-10

Baking pans (bread, cookies, muffin, cake)

Serving trays

50 gallons drums

Canned goods: vegetables (not hominy), Tomatoe paste, Meats

Wedding dresses and suits of all adult sizes

Cubic zirconium rings

(These are for us to lend to other churches (esp Eben-ezer churches) in order to encourage them to get married rather than live together. Many don’t get married simply because of the cost of a wedding)

Other things for Clinic:

Desks, chairs, fans, filing cabinets!!,

For others: (The people are starting from scratch)

household stuff like:

pots, pans, dishes, utensils/cutlery, sheets, pillows, towels, bathroom stuff

Daycare – we want to set up a daycare , so anything that would go with that.

- Please ask if you need explanation

Volunteer needs:

We have a lot of openings and needs for people who would want and be able to dedicate at least a year of service in Haiti.

-Agricultural person

-Repair and Maintenance

-Trade school teaching

-School teaching

-Medical/Midwifery