A view from a roof in Port au Prince


on cloud 9

The weekend was good. On Friday we had a clinic for the community at Jasmine's orphanage. In one day we saw over 100 patients. Gretchen and I worked mostly on taking vital signs for the patients. It was a lonnnnngg day and really hot but it was good for the community. A lot of the people in the community have bad feelings about the orphanage so it's good for Jasmine to open her gates and invite them in, give them health care and medication. While the people were waiting to be seen, there was a local pastor preaching for them.

Yesterday a nurse from Canada came to Jasmine's orphanage. We were able to sit down beside her and go through each of the children. It felt like she was our clinical instructor. She would explain her observations and challenged us to think critically. The nurse said that the new baby that came in might never walk. She said that she crawls the way a paralyzed child does. She also confirmed a Staph infection in a handful of the children. She examined the nutrition of the children and pointed out the yellowing of the hair and emphasized that the children need more protein in their diets. Tomorrow Gretchen and I will go with Rigan to the market and buy a very large supply of beans for Jasmine to have on hand at the orphanage.

The past three days in a row we have made it to the ocean. I can't believe that on the other trips to Haiti I spent so much time away from it. There are a few beaches within walking distance and some others within a short tap tap ride.

Rigan has done such a great job of taking us around Haiti, protecting us, and showing us how the Haitians live. I've learned how to do a Haitian shower. It is much more simple than the American way and ivolves a large bucket of cold water and small cup to splash the water on yourself. I actually really like it- especially when the water is very cold.

Tomorrow we will go to the other orphanage and do an all day clinic again. We have some supplies to give to the clinic. I can't believe it is almost over.... I think this was really good for me to be here. I'm fired up for the new school year... well as much as I can be. I am really motivated to learn because I want to be able to be a really good nurse here. There are so many things I wish I knew more about so that I could help more in the orphanage.


Halfway through with our adventures

I finally found good internet!! There is a lot to update since last Sunday. On Sunday I was typing as we were racing through the mountains to try to make it to the beach and back before dark. I chose not to look out the window for most of the time in an effort to keep my sanity. Jacmel was beautiful, it is one of the nicest beaches in Haiti. It was filled with people playing soccer on the beach, eating food, swimming, and relaxing. I think that there was maybe one other white person on the entire beach. It took Gretchen and I a few minutes to muster up the guts to show our white selves in our swimsuits. When we came back home, we learned that Jasmine took a new baby into the orphanage. She is 2 years old and weighs 12 pounds- approximately the weight a baby should weigh at 5-6 months of age. Her face looks dry and tired, kind of like an old lady. She cannot walk or stand or say any words. Yesterday Gretchen was working with her range of motion and trying to help her stand. Her legs naturally flop to the sides of her body and he knees lock inward.

The last few days are starting to blur together. I can't exactly remember what we did on each day. I always have intentions to journal before I sleep, but I end up being to tired at the end of the day. On Monday morning we took Rodnear, a 5 year old from Jasmine's orphanage to the eye doctor. He is almost completely blind. The visit only cost us $7 US and the doctor solved the mystery of Rodnear's poor vision- bilateral catracts. If it is left untreated, he will be permanently blind. The surgery costs about $300, so we're praying that the orphanage can fit this into their budget so that he can get the surgery in early September. It was so much fun to bring him outside of the orphanage. Even though he cannot see very well, he was eager to stick his head out the window of the car. He was BEAMING; just so excited to venture out of the walls of the orphanage. Later that afternoon, we visited another orphanage. It was completely different than the one we are staying at. It is all girls, for the exception of two boys ( poor things...). We brought crayons, paper, goldfish and a volleyball. The kids loved it. I find it funny that a bag of goldfish has 8 US sized servings, but we managed to feed over 30 kids, with some goldfish to spare. This orphanage had a lot of teenage girls, which was really fun for me. We would draw pictures and then explain them to each other in Creole and French. I'm not going to lie.. I kind of like the language barrier. There is always something to talk about! I can just sit down with anyone and start a conversation by asking them about words in Creole or teaching them some more English.

On Tuesday night we spent the night at the dean of the nursing school's house. It was quite an honor as she mentioned that no one ever stays there. We watched Diary of a Mad Black Woman. I think watching Hilda watch the movie was almost more amusing than the movie. She was a riot. Hilda also taught us a ton of things about Haitian culture. I'm learning that trust is something that is hard to establish in friendships and that often times people will pull away when they start to get too close to someone. I can see in the friendships at the school that these students need to break away from this and let people in because a lot of them are carrying burdens that are too much to hold inside.

Yesterday, Hilda took us to Port au Prince (the capital) for a meeting she had with the Bishop. It was great to see more of the city. It reminds me a lot of San Jose, Costa Rica. I was able to see how the middle class live in Haiti. It was exciting to see the businesses and to see that there is a part of Haiti that is doing pretty well. However, I don't think that I would ever want to live in the middle class area. I really love the city of Leogane, even if I still have no sense of direction.

Last night we went to Rigan's house for a homecooked Haitian meal. Gretchen and I are loving the Haitian food.It was really cool to see where he comes from- his family, his room, places where he studies, etc.

That's all for today... more later



Finding joy in unusual places

We're on day 5. The internet is not dependable so this will be short. I hope to post more soon. Right now we are in the car with Sheila and Rigan. Sheila's brother is driving us to Jacmel. These Haitians are such great hosts. This morning we left early and drove to Fort Jack, a fortress in Port au Prince. This is the first day I have felt a breeze anywhere- it was wonderful. we walked around with a tour guide and then sat on the side of the fortress and had a picnic together. The fortress was in the moutnains so we had a beautiful view.

So far we have spent most of our days working at the orphanage. The first day was really overwhelming. There are 30 kids and they all really need some attention. I am now "mama Lisa" to all the kids. Most of the kids are in the 4-8 years range, but the youngest is 3 months and the oldest is 16 years. The place is pretty sweet. Jasmine keeps it IMMACULATE. I have never seen a house with any children look as clean as this does. She has a tight reign on the behavior as well so meals, prayer, and getting ready for bed are all controlled events.
I have gotten a ton of nursing experience in the orphanage. It feels like I am a school nurse. The orphanage really needs to have a nurse there working full time. I would say that 75% of the kids have a skin condition that needs treatment, half of the babies need a nebulizer, and a handful are still suffering from malnutrition. Each night I average 3-5 hours of sleep... there are kids and babies crying off and on the entire night, no fans, and a shared bed with Gretchen. Despite these conditions, I'm loving every moment I have here. I love the kids so much. Ah, I wish I could take some of these kids back with me. They really need the attention of a mom and dad. Jasmine does a really good job of finding hard working nannies to help with the kids, but there are still children without shoes, underweight, and attention starved. I'm slowly getting to know each kid as an individual and being able to look past their medical conditions and appearance.

Gretchen and I visited the FSIL nursing school on Friday to spend some time with the dean. We helped grade some exams and then to our suprise, many of the students came to the school to see the results. We were able to spend the entire afternoon with our friends. They are so great. We went out to eat at that victoria plaza with Evens and Rigan for dinner.

well the road is quite bumpy. more later


Hey everyone this is Gretchen. I am over at Lisa's house right now and we are leaving today for the airport. I cannot tell you how excited I am to go back to Haiti. It has been over year since I have been there, but have not forgotten about the need Haiti has. I am excited to see the work God will do when we are there and what passions he will put in my heart.

Things you can pray about...
*That our travels will go as smooth as possible
*That our luggage will make it there
*The flights will be on time and we will not miss a connection (especially with Spirit)
*The transportation will be safe from the airport to Leogane
*That God will be with us and guide us in all the decisions we make
*Protection from infections and illnesses that the children might have
*Safe and clean place to stay
*Peace for our mom's

Thanks for your prayers and support. We will keep you updated on our adventures!



Starting to panic just a little

So with each big event that plan, I realize more and more that I am not gifted with planning. 3 days until departure and it seems like so many plans are up in the air. Right now I'm so frustrated with communication to my friends and contacts in Haiti. Anytime I use SKYPE to call, I burn through my money because so much time is lost with two of us trying to talk at the same time, not understanding what the other person is trying to say, dogs barking in the background (haiti) and planes hovering over my house all calls for a reicipe for disaster when trying to communicate with someone who speaks English as a second language. And then there's the internet. First of all, I'm one of the freaks who still doesn't have internet at their house so I'm always mooching off the neighbors or my brother or racing to the library to check my email. And then in Haiti their "internet cafes" (which I'm just dying to see what these look like..) are all far away and internet and electricity isn't always dependable. So needless to say, it takes a ton of persistance to get things figured out.

I'm still doing not very smart last minute errands, such as my shots that I need, finding a large enough suitcase for all of the supplies I need to bring down, figuring out the rules of customs for entering Haiti with all our meds, and well I guess that sums up some of the craziness.

Last night I was full of anxiety about the trip. I was up until 3am worrying myself silly. I tried praying for God to take it away from me, but each time I started
praying about the things that worry me, my mind would think of more things to worry about and I'd be completely distracted from my prayer...

On a brighter note, today I went to an event at my mom's church (urban refuge) and it was packing food for Haiti. It made me so excited to see all of these meals that were going to make it to the schools in Haiti. A man spoke who opened up 17 schools throughout Haiti. I had a chance to meet with him and talk about my trip. He showed me the website for his organization and gave me some contact information for a midwife and a surgeon who might be able to help connect me with more ways to volunteer in Haiti. This was a mood lifter. He also showed me some of his pictures of the kids at his schools. Did I mention yet that I love black people? AH! the kids were sooo beautiful. It was good to feel excited about the trip again. The planning parts stinks a little, but it will all be worth it once I get there. I remember my first day in Haiti when I went in July. My friend Shirley looked at me and said, "Lisa, you are so happy to be in Haiti" There is no hiding my emotions. I love this country. So although communication from USA to Haiti can make me want to rip my hair out, and even though plans change last minute, I will still make it to Haiti and I will serve God and the people of Haiti. And I'm going to LOVE it.