Haiti Missions Trip Day # 4
by Sarah Robertson
Thursday, February 8, 2018 Day #4
What an incredibly long, emotionally exhausting, physically tiring day! Today the medical clinic was scheduled to take place in Chota. Last night Pastor Kevin had mentioned that we would be walking to Chota, and the walk would take probably about 1 1/2 hours! To be honest, I was actually really looking forward to this walk-think of all that exercise! Chota is down in elevation from Seguin, which meant that we would be hiking back UP at the end of the day. As usual the original plan was to leave around 6:30am. But at 6:30am., some were still eating breakfast, we didn’t have the donkey to carry our medical supplies, and no one seemed to be in a hurry. I like to be on time for everything, but being in Haiti has caused me to not worry about the time. After all, I’m certainly not in charge nor do I want to be, so I’ll just finish the cup of tea that Hannah made me! When the generator is working, the outlets at the mission house work, so that means that the hot water pot will heat water! Hooray for hot tea and American coffee! I’m not a huge fan of Haitian coffee as it seems extremely strong and sweet to me! However, a Haitian breakfast generally consists of coffee and bread with maybe some peanut butter. I’ll just skip the coffee, thank you.
We started off on our walk about 7:30am. The donkey, actually a mule, was carrying our two huge bags of medical supplies, and a smaller bag. That poor mule looked really weighed down to me, but his owner (who’s the pastor from Chota) didn’t seem too concerned. We made it about fifteen steps down the trail before the mule appeared to not want to go down the mountain side. The pastor from the church in Seguin was also coming with us to Chota, so he became the trail guide while the mule was convinced that he did indeed want to go down the mountain!
We arrived in Chota around nine am., and the space is tight and small here. The church/school educates about 120 kids in this space. The church people are getting ready to build a building, but Chota is a very poor region so manpower and money are limited. The pastor of the church here is a man that I admire greatly. He’s an educated man who chose to return to his area of Haiti to work with these people and work among them as their pastor and school teacher. I certainly can’t communicate with him, but I can tell that he greatly loves these people. As in Baie D' Orange, the Gospel is preached while we set up for clinic. The space here is very tight and the area that we have to see patients and set up our pharmacy is very small. The dirt floor is not level, so we had to improvise after we realized that our pharmacy table and urine sample table were going to give us problems! I don’t mind doing the urine samples, but I definitely don’t want the urine samples spilling! Emelie was sent to find a way to make the table level. Her solution? Gather up about seven fairly flat rocks and place them under the table until it’s level! After a few combinations, we figured out which rocks would work. Voi’la - a level table!
Trying to squeeze four medical people, four Haitian translators, two pharmacy workers, and places for the patients to sit does require a bit of creative thinking! However, we did manage to do it. We had a lot of people to see before it was time to leave at 3:30pm so that we could be back to the mission house before dark. I remembered a few people from last year. The woman with the broken arm came to the clinic again as well as the young man who had a broken femur. Emelie and I made up lots of worm medicine slurpies, vitamins and acid reflux medicine. A lot of these Haitians are dehydrated, underfed, and have worms. We help them with their medical needs as much as possible, but really the goal is to point them to eternity. Just as we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the need is the same here. These people need to know that Jesus Christ died for their sins just as much as He did for mine. I can’t understand the preaching of the Gospel here, but I can certainly tell that these pastors are passionate about the Gospel!
We took a short break for lunch at around 1:00 pm. A widow in the church had made lunch for our team. Pastor Kevin explained that she was a member of the church and she wanted to use her house to be a blessing to the church. So half of her small house was a shelter for the rebar that will be used to build the new church building. This poor widow spent much of her day cooking and preparing for us, but she had such joy on her face as she served us lunch. Lunch consisted of beans and rice, chicken legs, and something called “yum”. Yum is like a tasteless potato, and it’s not “yum” in my opinion! But I ate it!
After lunch a few of us took a short hike to see a beautiful view. From the view point you could see across the valley, and it was beautiful. I also hit 13,000 steps st lunchtime! But then it was time to get back to work, as the line of people was still long and we only had about 2 1/2 more hours to see people.
Shortly after lunch an older woman came into the clinic with two young children. She was the grandmother to these children. The girl was probably about three and the grandma said that the little boy was about two years old. The little boy certainly didn’t act right. I’m not a doctor, but having five kids, I’m fairly confident in what normal 2 year old behavior looks like. He just laid there in his grandmas arms while Hannah took his temperature and looked him over. It was clear to see that something was very, very wrong with this sweet boy. Hannah, Kacie, and Cory held a consultation together. There was some talk about sending him down the mountain to the clinic, but Hannah said that she didn’t think that was a good idea. Since it was already two pm, the clinic would be closed by the time the child arrived there. There is no emergency room or walk-in/urgent care place, so he wouldn’t be looked at by a doctor until the next morning. This baby needed help, and he needed it quickly! Hannah said that as hard as it is to believe, this little boys best chance for survival depended on what the medical team could do for him at the mission house. Hannah managed to get some medicine in him to bring down his fever, and Cory tried to offer him some formula. Apparently the last thing this child had eaten was spaghetti and he had been acting this way for two weeks. Spaghetti is one of the last things I would offer to a sick child, but it’s a cheap food and one that is readily available. Pastor Kevin spoke to the grandma and asked her about bringing the boy to the mission house. Haitians don’t carry their emotions on their sleeve, but it’s clear to see that she cared about this little boy. She said that she would bring him to the mission house tonight. Apparently his mama has a nursing infant so she had sent the grandma to the clinic with the two sick kids. The little girl needed some cough medicine, but she was clearly in way better shape than her brother. It’s hard to know if the grandmother will actually bring the child to the mission house, but that’s what can be offered to help right now. A few years back the medical team had seen a baby that had been very dehydrated and sickly. At the time, the decision had been made to send the baby to the clinic down the mountain. However, the clinic was closing by the time the baby arrived, and the mom was told to just give the baby fluids and the clinic would see the baby the next morning. But that baby didn’t make it to the next morning as he died during the night. The medical team had learned a powerful lesson that day, and Hannah had no desire to ever see that experience repeated. So, the medical team would try to help this boy at the mission house.
We were able to wrap up the clinic and see everyone who was in line by about 3:45pm. We saw about 239 people today, and it was time to head back to the mission house.
I was up towards the front of the line, mostly because when I hit a pace, I like to keep at it! I was with a few of the Haitian translators and one of them asked if I ran a lot. No, not really, but I’m competitive! We were getting farther ahead of the rest of the team, when we came across and accident. Right as we were crossing a trail, we saw a man get kicked by a mule! This man was quite elderly, and he went down instantly! We walked over to see if we could help, but I’m not one for knowing much about treating mule kicks! I do know that I wouldn’t have done what the lady with him did! She splashed water on his knee and slapped his leg! Um...ouch! He was clearly in pain, and I wasn’t much help. Thankfully, the rest of the team came up the trail! Hannah looked over his knee and said that she didn’t think anything was broken. But he was going to be in a lot of pain for a few days! Hannah asked where the muscle relaxer might be. Well, I knew which bag it had been put in, but nothing is in the same place when it’s thrown on the back of a mule! After praying that God would help me find it quickly, I opened the bag to find the medicine fairly close to the top...thank you, Lord! Hannah wrapped his knee, gave him some muscle relaxers, Pastor Kevin prayed, and we set him on his way.
After that adventure, we continued our climb to Seguin. As anticipated, much of the trip going back is spent going up, but personally I like climbing up better than trying not to slid down! A few in our group managed to snag a motorcycle ride once we hit the main road. But the rest of us just walked, and kept on walking! It’s kinda like a walk that never ends because once you hit the main road you think that surely the mission house is around the next bend! Krissy (a girl from Montana) walked with me, so at least I had someone to talk to. Once we saw the radio tower, I knew that we needed to head that way to get to the mission house. There are trails everywhere off the main road leading to peoples homes, etc. We picked one that was heading in the right direction, kept the radio tower in sight, and sure enough, we arrived! I had acquired 27,000 steps by the time we reached the mission house, and when we got there, we had company.
The grandma had arrived at the mission house along with her sick grandson and another of her granddaughters (probably about six years old). We gave the grandma and her granddaughter snacks while we waited for the rest of the team to arrive. Actually, Debbie Lynne held the baby while I ate her snacks. I was so hungry!
When all the medical team had arrived back at the mission house they held a consultation together. I certainly didn’t understand all of their medical terminology, but I did understand they were going to cather the baby to test his urine for a Urinalysis. Perhaps this baby has a urinary tract infection. First of all, the environment needed to be made a clean and sterile as possible. This is not a small feat while setting up on a concrete floor in a foreign country. Hannah said that it was a God thing that she had even brought an infant catheter kit as she had just tucked it into her bag on a whim! God knew that we would need that along with the diapers that Debbie Lynne had used to pack a few fragile items in her bag! God is so good!
Back the baby...Hannah was able to collect a pee sample, and the urine was tested. The problem was that the urine did not show signs of infection, so what is wrong with the baby? Joe Costello had worked in a lab years ago, and he had brought along his microscope to help if needed. The med team asked him to examine the urine sample, and he did. But nothing abnormal was seen. Joe asked if Hannah could possibly get a blood sample to test. This would be hard to do as the baby is dehydrated and very weak. The prayers could be practically felt in this room as Hannah tried to get a blood sample. I couldn’t even pray out loud as I knew that I would cry. Hannah worked to get a blood sample, and the baby didn’t even fight or struggle. He didn’t cry or fuss as the infant catheter was put in, as a rectal temperature was taken, or as his blood was drawn-not normal 2 year old behavior! Also, the boy had extreme cold hands and feet, which were swollen, and not a spare ounce of fat anywhere! I don’t know if he could’ve walked if he had wanted to as his thigh muscles look so weak! Hannah, Cory, and Kacie decided to give him a shot of antibiotics, which Faith administered to him. It had to sting but the baby didn’t even really fight or cry!
Debbie Lynne sat with the baby for a while, and she tried to get him to take some formula. She managed to get him to take a little through the syringe. We put a diaper on the baby as we would be able to tell if he was urinating. While Debbie Lynne was holding the baby a few of us got ready to take showers-the water was freezing here last year. This year the water pump was hooked up to the propane take so hot showers were a possibility! The warm water is a bit sporadic, but God surely gave me a blessing by providing a bit of warm water!
The grandma, granddaughter, and baby would be staying with us tonight at the mission house, so that meant we needed to find a bed for them. They had come from Chota with only the clothes on their backs. Hannah and my dad gave up their sleeping mates, Emelie found a set of sheets, and Faith and I offered up our small extra blankets. I created a pillow out of clean bath mates wrapped in a pillow case. Truthfully, it’s probably more comfortable that the corn husk mats that they sleep on at home.
While we were working in the bed situation, Pastor Kevin was talking to the grandmother and granddaughter about their need for a relationship with Jesus Christ. He gave them the Gospel message, provided them with the opportunity to ask Jesus into their hearts, and asked if they would want to pray. Both the grandmother and the granddaughter asked Jesus into their hearts! Two souls for eternity!
About 8:30pm, Hannah was able to get the baby to take a little more formula. The baby actually seemed to be alert and looking around a bit, which is a good sign! Hannah said that the baby, whose name is Eby, would need to be feed every hour through the night and his temperature monitored. I know what that means-I was just promoted to nursery duty at Seguin Mission Clinic! Hannah, Debbie Lynne, Kacie, myself worked out a feeding schedule. We knew the night would be short on sleep, but if that’s what it takes for Eby to survive, sign us up!
Joe had examined the blood sample through his microscope, and he didn’t spot anything too abnormal. He said some of the cells seemed to be underdeveloped, but nothing that was glaringly evident to be the problem.
I was given the 10:00pm feeding and also the 3:00am feeding. Pastor Kevin had explained to the grandma that one of us would be coming to get Eby from his bed every hour so that he could be fed. She seemed to understand, and she laid down in bed with her granddaughter on one side and Eby tucked in beside her. At ten pm, I tried hard to get Eby to eat. He won’t suck a bottle, so we have resorted to feeding him through a syringe. I managed to get about 4ml in him, which is a ridiculously little amount! A two year old should swallow down ten ounces in no time, not struggle with less than 1/2 oz.! He was alert enough to know that he didn’t want me to feed him! I checked his diaper, and it was a little wet! Praise the Lord as that means that his kidneys are still working! I gave up trying to feed him, and I’m praying that Kacie will have better success at the 11:15 feeding! We are all so very exhausted, and this has been an emotional day! The prayers have been going steadily upwards, but Eby is not out of the woods yet. My prayer, along with everyone else on the team, is that God will spare his life, that the medical team will have wisdom, and that God will give us a miracle. I’m exhausted and tired, and I’m going to bed.
One more note about the grandma. She came up to the mission house carrying her grandson. Eby probably weighs about sixteen pounds, but still she carried him for 1 1/2 hours, along with guiding her granddaughter. And the grandma did it while wearing flip flops-what a woman!!
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