Thursday, August 30, 2012

Support Needed

Family and Friends,
  I write to you to please consider making a financial donation to my Healing Haiti missionary account.  I am required to leave the country every 90 days since I am not obtaining a VISA while I am in Haiti.  In my research, I have discovered that roundtrip airfare, hotel stay, possibly car rental, and food costs are approximately $600.  I did not plan for this in my budget.  Please pray about what you can give.  If you would like to contribute to this need, please visit  Thank you for your continued support.  You have all blessed me in many ways.  I love you and miss you all!  Love, Kathy

Tropical Storm Isaac

We spent the day preparing the best we knew how.  We packed snacks, water, medications, first aid kits, flashlights, and a bag of activities for children to do in their rooms.  It started to rain in the afternoon on Friday and the wind started to blow.  It was unusually cool outside.  We talked with the children and told them a big storm was coming.  We instructed them to put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, and stay in their rooms through the afternoon and night.  We told them we would check on them and make sure they were ok.  After our meeting, the children went to their rooms and stayed in them until the storm calmed.  In the morning, the guardians braved the storm and went to the kitchen to cook some food for the children.  They brought them breakfast in bed (spaghetti, avocado, and hard boiled eggs).  The children giggled about eating in their beds.  We also brought them lunch in their rooms.  The wind howled as the rain pounded on the roof.  Our ceilings leaked.  We set buckets out to catch the drips.  The structure of our dormitories had been built strong and kept us all safe.  The people of Titanyen and other cities in Haiti were less fortunate.  My heart breaks for the destruction they faced.  Many homes are made of tarps and sticks.  Some are made of cardboard or tin nailed together.  Some of these homes were not strong enough.  Some roofs blew off, others had their homes flooded.  When heavy rains come, churches and schools open their doors for families to go for safety.  Many families fear leaving their home because of theft.  On Sunday, I went to church in Port-Au-Prince and saw some of the destruction.  I have captured some images below.  Thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti and for the rebuilding that will now take place.

(Above) This is a picture of a town a few miles away from Titanyen.  Many of the homes were made from tarps and collapsed in the storm.

(Above) This is a picture of a billboard on one of the main roads in Port-Au-Prince.  The wind bent it in half.  The other billboards were in decent condition.  This photo shows the power of the wind.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beautiful Jacmel

I traveled to Jacmel with a friend for a day.  It was so beautiful.  I would love to go back and see more of the countryside.  The road was windy through the mountains and the air was so fresh.  I heard Jacmel has a beautiful waterfall too.  We did not have time to explore, so in the future I will go back for more adventures. 

We stopped at a few roadside markets.  The produce looked delicious.  We purchased some bananas, avocados, grenadas (small fruit used to make juice), and shadaques (fruit like a grapefruit, but very sweet).

I experienced many new things.  I used a machete for the first time.  They are very sharp and dangerous.  I was careful as I chopped down some plantains.  I hope to learn how to make fried plantains.  They are so delicious!

I went to the ocean too.  The beach was sandy and the waves rolled into the shore.  I jumped some of the ocean waves and enjoyed feeling the sand between my toes.

We also stopped by a food stand across the road.  It reminded me of a large old-fashioned wooden lemonade stand.  They had a large bowl of fresh fish and another bowl of beef.  They cooked in a large kettle on a propane powered burner.  We ordered our food and they brought it to a small table next to the ocean for us to eat when it was prepared.  I tried the red snapper (The entire fish was prepared.  Did you notice the fish jaw in the photo?)  It was pretty good, but I preferred to eat the beef.  Our meals came with a spicy cabbage slaw and fried plantains.  What a treat to have fresh food at the shore of the ocean.  Delicious!

Haiti is a beautiful country.  I hope to explore more cities and experience more of Haitian culture.


Changes in my Role

God is working in a mighty way in Haiti.  Each day, I am learning more about Haitian culture and am experiencing Haiti in a new way.  I am beginning to learn how Haitians live and am starting to speak Creole more.  The Haitians get so excited to hear me talk in Creole.  We laugh when I say things incorrectly, and they help me pronounce new words.  They accept me and think of me as part of their family.  They protect me, they love me, and they laugh with me.  Sometimes, they say, "Ou se Haitian konya.", which means "You are Haitian now".  I am honored to be a part of the community/family of Titanyen.  The elders call me sweetie.  The adults call me professor.  The children call me mother.

My role at Grace Village has been evolving and changing.  I came to Haiti to teach English in the school that is being built.  However, now that I am here, my eyes have been opened to the needs at Grace Village.  I have been stretched and challenged in ways that I never imagined.  Some of you know that I often pass out when I have blood drawn and that I get light headed in hospitals and at the sight of medical related things.  In Haiti, my role has been caring for the medical needs of the children.  This has included hospital visits, holding children as they cry in the dental chair, bandaging wounds, holding children as their blood is drawn for labs, etc.  In my past, these are all things that I couldn't do.    In Haiti, I am called to do these things.  I have been the one who has filled the role in helping with the medical needs.  I am learning each day.  I also wake each morning and pray that God is my strength for that day.  I can't do these medical things on my own.  God uses me to help these children.  At times, the children call me Mis Katy (Nurse Kathy) or Doctor Katy.  As I care for their owie's, I try to give them extra love and attention.  Many of them need hugs or to be held.  Some need to be sang to, others just want me to look at them and say, "Mwen konen ou malad.  Mwen vle ou byen.", which translates into, "I know you don't feel well.  I hope you feel better.".  Sometimes, we are silly together and I make silly faces and they make silly faces and we giggle.  Each moment with the children is so precious.  I enjoy being challenged in my new role of caring for the children's medical needs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More Doctor Visits

Today I brought 5 more children to see the doctor.  The drive is about 30 minutes.  Imagine 3 adults (a driver, a translator, and myself)  and 5 children ages 5-16 squished into the cab of a Nissan truck.  It was an adventure.  I had 2 children sitting in my lap in the back of the cab with 2 more children sitting next to us.  We sat on 2 seats that folded down on the sides of the cab.  Our translator also held a small child in her lap in the passenger seat.  It was strange not having booster seats, seat belts, or a spot for all of the children to sit.  We arrived safely and the doctor was able to see us fairly quickly.  He partners with our orphanage and considers us VIP.  When we arrive he sees us as soon as possible.  All of the children needed medication.  I'm glad we were able to get his medical expertise in order to help these children feel better.  Some of the children get sick because they have poor hygiene.  This week I plan to teach the children about proper hygiene.  This includes hand washing and tooth brushing.  When I taught kindergarten in Minnesota, I had my students sing the ABC song when they washed their hands.  I hope to think of a song that is popular in Haiti for the children to sing.  Please continue to pray for the health of the children.  Some of the workers at Grace tell me that I am a nurse and that I know a lot about caring for sick children.  Actually, I know nothing.  I know how to put on a band-aid and I know how to bring comfort to those who feel sick.  Now that I am getting to know each child, I am beginning to recognize when they don't feel well and am able to respond to their needs.  I am learning about various medications and dosages.  I need to trust that God will give me wisdom on how to care for these children and when I need to seek further medical attention.  Today we were blessed by getting a diagnosis for each child.  Tomorrow will be  brand new day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Laundry Galore!

I have been adjusting to life in Haiti.  A Haitian friend of mine taught me how to wash by hand.  I have built up a few calluses and my muscles get tired, but I think I am slowly getting the hang of it.  Every 3 days I wash about 25 pieces of clothing.  It takes me about 3 hours.  I'm hoping I will get faster as I get better at hand-washing.  Each time I wash cloths, I bring 2 large tubs to the shower and fill them with cold water (we do not have hot water...there is no electricity during the day).  First, I soak my clothes in the water.  My clothes get very dusty from the powdery dirt that constantly blows.  So, it is crucial to remove as much of the dust as I can before washing.  Otherwise, my water is brown before I start scrubbing.  I sit on a little stool and hold portions of the material as I rub the fabric together.  Then, it's time to wring them out and transfer them to a new bucket of water that also has some laundry detergent.  I again hold the material and rub it forcefully together.  My friend taught me to concentrate on the neckline and armpits of shirts.  That is where the clothing gets the dirtiest.  I have yet to master the "squishing" sound when washing properly.  I hope to hear that sound soon.  Then, I wring them out and put them in a new bucket of water with a little bleach.  I again scrub and rub, wring out, and transfer them to a new bucket of water.  If my water is still bubbly from the soap or smells too much like bleach, I rinse again and wring out.  It is a long process.  It is a true workout.  I then hang my clothes on a clothesline to dry.  They dry quickly (a few hours).  When they are dry I fold them and put them away.  I am so thankful for friends who take the time to teach me how to wash my clothes.  Household chores take time, but it is so wonderful to know that as time goes on, I will get better.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sick Little Boy

In America, if you have a child that is sick in the night, the emergency room is available.  When urgent care is needed in Haiti, it is not available.  The drive is far and the wait is long.  Sunday night a little boy was having difficulty breathing, and his heart rate was incredibly fast.  We did not know how to care for Him.  We were able to bring him to a Doctors Without Borders Hospital in hopes that they would be able to care for him and monitor him through the night.  I will refer to him as CC in this blog entry.  CC is a typical 4-year old boy.  He's full of energy, loves to laugh, run, play, and drive matchbox cars while making the car noise that all boys seem to do very well.  He is the little one who puts his hands on my cheeks to pull me down close to him and tells me "I wuv oo." (I love you) when I tuck him in at night.  What a cutie.  The night he was ill broke my heart.  He was limp, had labored breathing, and a high temperature.  I watched him struggle for air as his heart looked as though it was beating out of his chest.  It is so hard to see the children sick.  He spent a night in the hospital.  The doctors ran some tests, took a chest x-ray, and gave him some medication.  On Monday, I was able to go to the hospital to bring him some food, since he was refusing to eat the hospital food.  The security was tight at the hospital.  After waiting about an hour to go to his pediatric cottage, the guards let me go see him.  I was so thankful.  I was the only one allowed to enter the facility.  The cottage had about 20 small beds.  Most filled with frail, sick children.  I spotted him laying on his bed.  He noticed me as I walked to his bed.  He sprang up and shouted "Kah-tee" with a huge smile on his face.  He gave me a big hug and was so joyful!  I told him, "Mwen manke ou." (I miss you).  He told me, "Mwen manke ou." (I miss you) and "Mwen reman ou." (I love you).  We spent part of the afternoon laughing together, singing songs, and playing together.  He sat in my lap as I bounced my knees.  We made up a game a few weeks ago.  He says an animal in Creole (cochon=pig, kabuit=goat, chwal=horse, etc.  Then I make the animal noise as I bounce him on my knees in different rhythms.  He wanted to play that game at the hospital.  I was so happy to see him smiling.  God is our ultimate healer and this little boy was feeling much better.  He needed to stay one more night since he wasn't eating and his chest was still filled with some fluid.  The following day I was able to go back to hospital to bring him home.  When he arrived at Grace Village he was full of smiles as people greeted him and welcomed him home.  Each day I pray for continued health of the children.  Thank you for your prayers too!