Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three of the new babies in Chambrun!
Today I'm sharing a blog that my friend Katherine (we live and serve together at NVM) wrote.  There are so many times when people ask me questions that I have no answers for.  This is just a glimpse into what clinic was like this last week.  I feel so blessed to serve with Katherine and Leslee (another nurse that works at NVM)!

Written by: Katherine Clancey (
 I’ve heard people say things like, “Now I’m socially awkward. I feel like I can’t relate to people and I never know what to say when they ask about Haiti.” “Why are you so angry (sad/depressed/upset/doubting)? My friends have gone on mission trips and they came back excited and happy and feeling really close to God.” “Yeah she liked her trip there but it was just a trip, she’s not going to move there or anything.” I just got back from a quick trip to the States. It was a wonderful time of rest. I drank a lot of Starbucks, I watched a lot of HGTV, and ate more than my fair share of fresh fruits and vegetables. I spent a lot of time with loved ones and I enjoyed the freedom of being able to go anywhere, at anytime, sometimes even by myself. By the time I got back to where I live in Haiti, it was late Sunday night. A full week was ahead of me. Let me walk you through it.
Monday: My ears spent the day readjusting to Creole. Every time someone spoke to me, my brain kept shutting down because it’d had the luxury of thinking and speaking one language for a few days. So, I spent all day forcing myself to calm down and listen. Ah, the joys of continually learning a second language ☺ We went down to the village that afternoon and a few minutes after we had arrived, a woman came over and told us someone was sick. When she pointed over to our friend’s house, we were confused. Brooke, Leslee, and I entered her home. She sat on the ground holding her baby. After my eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting, I saw that her once plumpy and thriving son was now severely malnourished. The three of us sat down on the dirt floor next to her and listened. She explained she didn’t know what was wrong, he had been crying a lot and someone had told her to stop breastfeeding him because her milk was no longer good. While she was talking, the baby reached his twig like arms up and clasped his fingers together. His eyes, which looked abnormally large on his sunken face, traced this movement like any normal 7-month-old would do. As I sat there on the floor with this woman, covered in dirt, searching for what to say because I didn’t know why either I thought, “Yesterday I was drinking Starbucks. How do you ever explain moments like this to people?”
Tuesday: Our friend brought her malnourished son through our clinic and we gave them supplies to go to the hospital immediately. We told her she needed to speak strongly to the hospital workers, to fight for her son to be admitted. There are too many sick children and not enough resources; hospitals can’t admit every sick and malnourished child that comes by. As soon as she left we went to take care of a young woman whose family members had carried her in. A year ago she’d started having seizures multiple times a day and was now blind, deaf, and unable to walk because of them. I watched as she cried out in confusion, her family members helping her go to the bathroom and cleaning her up. We gave her IV fluids and we gave her seizure medication. The brain damage that had already been done was permanent. They took her back home.
Wednesday: Several of the women have been pregnant down in the village, and that afternoon we were going to meet another new baby. I felt privileged to enter our friend’s house and see her smiling and holding her baby. I gave her a kiss and she said her stomach hurt but otherwise she felt ok. Her toddler daughter came walking in and pushed through the crowd of kids to get closest to her new brother. I asked the girl if she knew who the heck this baby was her mom was holding, and both her mother and I giggled when the little girl nodded. But, as we walked back that day I couldn’t help but confess to Brooke and Leslee what’d I been thinking for a few months. I watched each of these women as they were pregnant, watched their bellies get bigger with life, and watched them hold their newborn babies. In my mind, I kept counting, “One, two, three, four babies…and statistics say…so which one will die?” They nodded in agreement that this was a frightening yet true thought. I silently prayed that God would not let these babies become statistics.
Thursday: I handed a patient’s chart to Brooke and then turned around to see a woman half-dragging her husband into the clinic. As I started my physical assessment, his wife told me that 4 days ago he’d had a really high fever and then a seizure. After the seizure his muscles had been contracted like this with immense pain. All of the nurses were thinking the same thing, “Why did they come here? That’s not just a cold or an infection, they should’ve saved their money and gone to the hospital.” After the doctor referred them to a hospital, Brooke talked to the wife about how important it was they go. The wife told her that on Sunday after his seizure, she knew he was really sick but they didn’t have money to go to the doctor. So they waited 4 days until they finally had enough money. We were the closest clinic so they came to us. The woman’s eyes were wide the whole time Brooke explained that her husband and the father of her children was severely sick. Their ride to the hospital came and out he was carried. After he left, we admitted a 13-month-old child into our malnutrition program that was so malnourished she could barely hold her head up.
Friday: “The baby died.” We had just triaged the first patient. “What? Which baby?” “The newborn we visited Wednesday.” Statistics were right again. When we went to visit our friend for the second time in two days, we found her sitting in her sister’s house. There were three other babies in the house, ranging from one month to four months old. It highlighted the injustice of her situation for me as she sat there holding another woman’s new infant. I don’t know why infant mortality is so high in the village. And I don’t know how to tell someone that Jesus loves her when she doesn’t believe in Him and she has just buried her child. “Two weeks ago I was at a restaurant watching a basketball game…” I thought to myself as we walked home exhausted from the week.
So, I still don’t know. I don’t know how to “fit in again” or answer questions well. I don’t know how to explain to people that you can see God very clearly some days and other days seem to scream, “There is no God!” I can’t explain how deeply blessed and how heavily burdened I am from living here. I ended my week by reading this…
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. We believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8
They aren't quiet ready to sit up, but that doesn't stop us!
Four new kids we've admitted into our malnutrition program.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

called to love

"Sometimes working in a Third World Country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper.  And just when I have about a half a cup full of water it rains.  Love is the reason I just keep filling up my little eyedropper, keep filling it up and emptying my ocean one drop at a time.  I'm not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies.  I'm just here to love."
~Katie Davis

I don't know why water has so much symbolism for me.  I think it's ironic that I live on an island and one of the best ways I can describe how I'm feeling is by the example of water.  Today it poured.  And when I say it poured, I don't mean that rain literally fell from the sky.  It felt like a tropical storm swept across my little piece of the world without any warning.  Today was one of those moments where I felt like it was all I could do to stay on my feet.  Moments where I wanted nothing more than to fall on my knees with prayers in desperation.  While playing in the village this afternoon, one of the older women stopped over and said a child was sick and that Katherine, Leslee, and I needed to go to the child's home.  None of us were prepared for what we would find when we entered the home of our friend.  We found our friend and her little boy sitting on the floor.  The little seven month old was sprawled out across his mothers lap.  His mother said he hadn't been eating or breastfeeding well and that he had been sick for two weeks.  At first I was confused and just taken off guard.  I had felt this little boy kick in his mother's womb throughout her pregnancy.  I had met this little boy just hours after he was born.  This little boy had always been chunky and well cared for.  No one had told Katherine, Leslee, or I that he had been sick before this moment.  I had passed by his home and talked with his mother just days before.  Nothing was said.  The chunky little boy that I'd known for seven months wasn't there.  Rather, here was this child that was incredibly severely malnourished.  This child barely had life in him.  His body was nothing but bones.  His mother said that her breast milk was no longer good, and that another person had told her to stop breastfeeding him. She said he no longer had an appetite.  This sweet baby boy just stared at us.  He stared at us with this haunting look in his eyes.  Just a few months ago, he had been able to sit and had started pulling himself around to begin crawling before he became sick.  Now he was lifeless in his mothers lap.  I don't know what happened.  We are in the village almost daily.  We sit and play with the older children just two homes over from this family's home.  We have greeted his family each and every afternoon and no one has said a thing.  It's moments like these ones when it literally pours.  We talked with his mother and told her that she had to bring him to the clinic.  We told her that we loved both her and her son, and that we wanted to help them through this.  We said that we would pray for them and we will.  I walked home so frustrated.  I was frustrated that this had happened right before my own eyes.  I'm still in shock, and honestly I am just overwhelmed by how sick this little boy was.  As I walked home I felt hopeless.  The whole situation felt hopeless.  I want to see poverty, malnutrition, and everything that is unjust eradicated.  I want to see the children healthy, and not just surviving, but rather thriving.  And yet, none of this is in my control.  I am not called to figure out all the pieces or to solve everything in Chambrun. I'm called to love.  So today I choose to love.  I choose to walk and intentionally seek His face.  
The top band is his arm circumference 88mm.
The bottom band shows the lowest arm circumference possible for
him to not be considered malnourished/at risk- 136mm.  

20 ounce coke bottle cap (left)- 98mm
This sweet little boy's arm measurement (right)- 88mm

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

march newsletter!

The March newsletter has finally been mailed!  Click on the link below for the web version of the newsletter.  Let me know ( if you would like to feel extra special and receive a copy in the mail!

And just in case you want to see more photos- click on the links below!  
(you do NOT need a fb account to see the pictures!)