A view from a roof in Port au Prince



This is round two. I started out writing this post, giving the facts of the hurricane and trying to put into words the feelings of my heart the past few weeks- and I failed. I was left with an emotionless stream of news, something that didn't even begin to speak the words of my heart. So I'll try again, and start with how I feel right now. I miss Haiti. I really really miss Haiti. Now I miss Haiti with a fear and insecurity I've never missed her with before. While I was in school I always felt that once I broke free from my commitment there, graduated, and became a nurse, that I'd be well on my way to Haiti. I've recently started a new job as a nurse in a clinic, and as each check comes in and the monies are allotted among loans, food, and car... I see a never ending cycle dying to trap me into the "norms" of this world. I try to place a time-stamp on when I'll be secure enough here, have enough loans payed, enough money saved- to go to Haiti long term, and I just don't see it.

Last Sunday I tried a new church. Praise God that I loved it. It's close to home and it's a great community. I'm really excited to go back. Anyways, I walked in a little late last Sunday... (not much of a surprise to anyone..) and was immediately pulled into intimate worship with the Lord. As I sang songs of praise, I felt a sense of joy and thankfulness that God had finally brought me to this church. The last song we sang had a part in it about the nations and the islands, and I could barely gain composure enough to sing the word "island" because I was missing Haiti so much. The sermon was about missions. What a Sunday for me to come on, right? Needless to say, I was very interested. The pastor talked about how we're all called to missions. Throughout the service I started to feel a sense of guilt overwhelm me. How is it that I am still in Minnesota? Why can't I trust God to provide my finances for me while I serve Him in Haiti?

A week later, I'm still wrestling with these thoughts. I wish I had more of a peace about things, but for right now I don't.

Haiti, I just want you to know that I love you and I promise you I will never forget you. I love your color, your rhythm, your songs, your heat ;), your language, your strength and your beauty. I miss you more than I can explain. I don't know why, but I know it's true- you have captured my heart and will never let go of it.


Week 1

The 2 month long adventure in Haiti has begun and time is flying by already. The weather is... actually COOL sometimes. Can you believe it? It's been raining a lot at night which makes it very comfortable to sleep. During the day I sweat buckets, playing jumprope, soccer, volleyball with the kids. Then late in the afternoon I shower and then eat and go to sleep around 9 or 10pm.

Kandice and I are in a 2 room, large white tent. Right now the first half of the tent is occupied by two nurses from the states and Kandice and I are in the back. It's great. I love our tent. It's very comfortable.Starting on Saturday we will have to whole tent to ourselves :)
The orphanage has been very busy with missionary groups and visitors staying. There was only half a day where Kandice and I were the only guests there.

The kids are doing well. It seems like there's a new kid or baby every time I blink my eyes. Baby Ben is a 6-month old newcomer. He looks about the age of a 2 month old baby. He has big eyes and a cute smile. He's been very sick for awhile with fevers in the 100-103. He has been steady lately and sleeping through the night better now.

Today was the first day of teaching English class at the nursing school. Kandice had the Sophomore students and I had the Freshmen. Technology failed, so I used up the time with introductions, singing and learning basic anatomy of the head. My class was great. The students were nice to me and sang "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" with lots of energy.

Tomorrow morning is English class again. In the afternoon both Kandice and I will go to the hospital to work. I'll go to the ER and Kandice will help iin the pharmacy. They are in desperate need of help this week, so were very excited when some extra hands showed up.

All-in-all, Haiti is good. Pictures to come soon...


New Shoes

Recently a pair of shoes have fallen into my lap. They’re exactly how I would design my shoes if I could put my imagination into a tangible piece of art. They’re brightly colored and unique and would suit me perfect for an adventure across rugged grounds.

Perfect, right? Maybe. Are they my size? What if they’re too big for me and I trip along the way? What if I fall in love with them and the soles wear away and I’m left to walk barefoot on the rocky ground?

These shoes are real. A new opportunity has come to me to work in Haiti. The long-term goal would be to create a nursing center in the city. This center would offer both a safe place for Haitian nurses to work and a place for Haitians to receive quality healthcare and health education. It’s all about relationships. Relationships with fellow Haitian nurses, relationships with the community, relationships with supporters in the USA. It’s everything I thought I ever wanted. It’s everything I asked God for. So what’s the problem then? Maybe it’s the uncertainty of a life I’ve only visited and never truly lived. Maybe it’s doubts about my ability to fill these shoes. Am I qualified, prepared, the best person to take care of these beautiful shoes

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to find God’s voice. Is he using other people to tell me his will? If so, then whose voice do I listen for? My friends, my brothers, my mentors, my boyfriend, my mom? Or will God reveal his will directly to me? Will I appear to be a Noah of my current times; planning for something that seems impossible, yet is only possible because of God?

These thoughts whirlwind through my head in a tireless tornado. “Slow down Lisa, and trust God” is what I feel my heart telling me, but my head is so powerful.These shoes are in my hand. I'm feeling them over for their texture, their quality, their personality and learning just how they'll fit on my feet.

My next trip to Haiti is in the books. I will be in Haiti June 21-August 25th. I’m flying down with Rigan and a long-time friend Kandice. I will spend these two months living at jasmine’s orphanage and helping with the kids and building new structures for the orphanage, volunteering to teach nursing and English classes at the college, volunteering at the tent hospital, and will start to dig into this new project to create a nursing center.
I’ll update my blog as much as possible; hopefully on a weekly basis at a minimum. I'll let you know about these shoes. Maybe once my feet slip into them, they'll mold to my shape and I'll find them quite comfortable and perfect. So farewell for now! Next time maybe I’ll be writing in Creole ;)


Beginnings and endings

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else. I’ve felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that the miles we go before we sleep will come from deep caring- delight, sadness, joy, wisdom- and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see new beginnings.” Mr. Rogers

I don’t know what he was thinking at the time, or what life events were rocking his world when Mr. Rogers was given the wisdom to write these words. As I sit here on the verge of graduation I’m wondering what things in my life are coming to an end and what things will bloom in this new season. The thing that’s even weirder, harder, more awkward, is not understanding what things I want as a beginning and what things I’m ready to end. Is leaving school a blessing, or is my thirst for adventure now going to be strangled by the responsibilities of being an adult? Are weddings the beginning of a new type of friendship, and ending of something treasured, both, neither, or something all together unique and unpredictable? At this turning point in my life, who do I hold on to and who do I release into new directions, new careers, new paths, new adventures? It’s a little selfish, but I want everything to change and nothing to change at the same time. I wish I could pack up all my favorites and walk through life with them forever- dragging them through all the adventures, mistakes, and joys of life.

There’s something so special about the way we cling to the Lord in times of fear or uncertainty. It’s a closeness and a dependence that I crave to have more of. At times like these I feel like my very life depends on my prayers; that unless I call upon the Lord, I might not make it through the next day or that I might drift in a direction outside of the Lord’s will and perhaps ruin my life ( dramatic, I know, but that’s how this mind works). I recall hearing the term, “fair-weathered Christians,” the ones who only praise God through the good times, and I’m starting to think I’m a “crappy-weathered” Christian; the type that only relies on God when my own body feels paralyzed. Maybe this is part of why I feel so alive in Haiti. Maybe because it’s here that I rely on God the most as each day is a challenge with language, culture, heat, spiritual warfare, loss of American “basic needs”, etc.

Right now I feel so far- removed from Haiti. As I near the 2-month mark, my heart aches to see the babies in the orphanage growing up and getting smarter, quicker, and full of personality. I feel the distance between me and my Haitian nursing friends and feel like I’m not supporting them enough. My greatest gift to people is my time I spend with them and often times the conversations we have during this time together. With the communication issues of bad connections and bad timing, I’m failing to meet this need I have to give my time to them, and their need to receive this time.

Lately, I’ve felt that the very things that are beautiful about my personality are the same things that hurt me the most. I’m a little tired of being an emotional woman. I wish life could happen and I could be a little more stable, care a little less; watch a little more. But instead, my whole body, mind and spirit thoroughly feel and search every experience, every encounter and every conversation. Everything is deep and loaded, nothing is simple. I don’t want to wear people down with who I am. I don’t want to be hard to get along with, moody, etc. Sometimes I try to imagine why I have this personality. And then I think, maybe I’m meant to fight. Maybe I was designed to argue, care, get emotional, petition, and do whatever it takes… and maybe my purpose is to “fight” for the poor, the hungry, the orphans, the sick, the dying. I look at Jasmine, “mamma Greg” at the orphanage, and see that those kids would never have the life they have if Jas wasn’t such a fighter.

The stress of school is coming to an end. I feel physically and mentally exhausted from being me and in my specific situation. Maybe this is a temporary rest for something God has up ahead. For now I rest. Boxing gloves aside, fighting spears stored away for another time.


No Rest For the Weary

This past week I went to a hear Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Medical Director from Partners in Health speak. She was speaking at Macalaster college in St. Paul. The topic was Haiti, of course, what else could drag me to St. Paul? She talked about the history of Haiti, the sights she saw arriving in Haiti to help just one day post-earthquake, and what her organization PIH was doing now to continue helping. As she spoke about individual Haitians' stories of people losing loved ones, I realized that this is where I couldn't relate. 

Sometimes I see things, hear things, read things, and don't know how to process it all. This is how I felt after the earthquake. When the earthquake first hit, I knew I had to go down there, because I HAD to be able to relate to what they were going through. I wanted to be there to hold my friends, listen to their stories, feel their pain, see the injuries they were seeing, work the long days without rest, feel the aftershocks, go without food, and sleep in the tents ( or rather, lie awake all night while tent city worshiped). It's odd, because going to Haiti just one week after the earthquake, it seemed as if the Haitians were coping quite well, considering it all. I tried so hard to take it all in, but I know I was still seeing things through my American rosy-tinted glasses.The tent cities were up, people were sitting outside playing cards, selling street food, etc. The only thing that looked different was the house and even those were evolving into better structures each day- adding a tv here, a mattress there, a new door, I even saw the pleasant addition of pornography on the outside of one hut. 

Then I remember the sick- to- my -stomach feeling; the insanity driving feeling of not knowing if Rigan was alive after the earthquake hit. The days of complete terror, wondering how life would go on without him in it. That nothing else in life mattered to me anymore, I just needed him to be alive. How every hour of every one of those days of silence I thought about him and wrestled with myself to try to think of something else.  And then I think what would it be like to lose someone SO important to me, in a tragedy such like this- so unexpected. Some Haitians lost 2, 3 or even 4 of the "Rigans" in their life. It doesn't matter if they have a mattress to sleep on or a tin roof over their head, I'm sure any one of those family members would give it all up just to have their loved one still on this earth. Their struggle continues day in and day out, regardless of tents or other improvements to their living conditions. How does one recover from something so tragic as this?

Sometimes I wish I could understand on a deeper level. It's an internal struggle between being thankful for what I have and at times wishing I had nothing at all, so I could finally relate to my Haitian brothers and sisters. Sometimes I wonder, what the Haiti experience would be for me if I didn't know I had a secure "out." I can live next to the Haitians, try to speak like them, eat their food, sleep in the same kind of beds, but will I ever truly understand what it's like to be Haitian? What would it be like if that were my only option for life? If I didn't have family in the USA waiting to bail me out at the first sign of sickness or exhaustion?

There's a song I've been listening to since the earthquake hit. The title is "no rest for the weary" thus the title of this post. "There's no rest for the weary just another day grinding up stones
Till they turn into dust, it's tough, dimes in the rough.." The hip hop beat, the passion in each word can only bring me back to thoughts of my resilient Haitians.  It's not necessarily a pleasant song, and the words aren't the sweetest, so I wouldn't recommend downloading it on itunes unless you know what you're getting! Regardless, I find comfort in this song. Most days I blast it while I shower, before bed, or anytime I'm  feeling like Haiti is just a little too far from me. It's now moved up to #1 on my "25 most played" songs list on itunes.

So maybe this post isn't one of those "make you feel good" kind of things to read, but I had been feeling this a lot lately and thought feel like I owe it to my Haitians to say it all. And despite the somber mood of this posting, there is hope in it all. I am utterly AMAZED at the Haitians,especially those I know on a personal level. The Lord is giving them strength beyond anything they could ever have on their own. And the nursing school and orphanage are receiving blessings and support amidst this disaster and I think that when all is said and done, both will be in a better position than they were before the earthquake. 

When will I go back to Haiti? This question resonates in my mind each day. But the answer remains unknown as I wait on the Lord for his guidance and timing. Graduation is less than 30 days away and beyond these 30 days, I know nothing. Freedom, uncertainty, opportunity, all of these words relate to how I feel right now about the next few months or even years of my life. One thing I take comfort in is that the Lord knows where my heart is and I truly believe that he delights in my heart for Haiti. He will bring me back; he will let me continue to fight for, serve, and love this country. Thank you Lord for giving me this passion.


And that makes 7!

As the title suggests.. I have now been to Haiti 7 times. This trip was shorter than the others, but I wouldn't trade those 3 days for anything. The 24 hours leading up to that sweet moment when the wheels of the plane met the surface of the Haitian turf were some of the most anticipated hours I've ever sat through. My mom and I stayed awake all night long on Thursday night, eager, and for the Blondie I was traveling with probably fearful, for our days in Haiti.

 Ants in the pants, on cloud 9, and any other cliche saying would fit just perfectly for my excitement and glee as I sat on the plane next to my mom, ready to show her my passions and dreams- this time in a language that touches the heart more than my English tales I bring back with me to the states.

The airport scene in Port-au- Prince was nothing short of havoc- complete insanity. I decided that this time I would give up my adamant claims that "I can handle on my own" and allow some helpful Haitian to grab our bags for us. Well, I couldn't exactly sit and watch as our new friend searched aimlessly for a bag for which he had no idea the looks of. I went in my own direction to sift through the hundreds of bags to find the heavy loads we had brought down with us. I kept glancing in my mom's direction. I felt the pressure.. that maybe the heat and craziness would get to her and throw her into a bad mood so early on in the trip. The fair-skinned saint remained calm and just waited. I wonder what was going on in her head at this time.

After maybe... 45 minutes? We had our bags and were headed into the Haitian sun to find our ride to Leogane. We met Jas and Greg and soon after Rigan and Jonas came. My mom started crying when she first met Rigan. She hugged him tight, like a mom would embrace her own son. The ride through Port au Prince was great for my mom. We had air conditioning (Praise GOD!!) and we had a nice tour of the city as we slowly made our way to Leogane.The ride was casual and comfortable. My mom fit right in with me, Rigan, and Jonas. She was relaxed and taking in the view.

We were in Leogane by early afternoon. We went to Rigan's home and my mom met all of his nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters-in-law. I had a suitcase full of goodies packed for all the little ones. I passed out clothes, candy, and toys to everyone who came near the tent. I'm not even sure where all the kids came from, or even who half of them were but they knew which clothes or toys would suit them. It was so much fun to give.

The two newest editions to the family are 4 pound twin girls. I held one in my arms and I honestly have never held something so small. She was so small I couldn't maneuver our bodies so that I could cradle her and rest her against my chest at the same time.. so I sat there holding her at an awkward distance from my body. I'm not sure what the mom thought seeing this nurse and future mother having such difficulty in holding her baby... but I loved holding her anyways :)

On Saturday my mom and I spent the entire day at the orphanage. I had bags full of jewelry, tattoos, and hair ties to pass out for the girls. They went WILD! I had enough to give each girl two things. My mom and I gave the babies bubble baths. It was so much fun and such a contrast to the usual "bath" that the babies get which sometimes it just a few splashes with a bucket of water while the babies are in tears. We had a small basin filled with water, bubbles, and rubber duckies. The babies really enjoyed it and the older kids like splashing their hands in the bubbles and helping to wash the babies. After the bubble baths we did an Easter Egg hunt with all of the kids. Each egg was filled with 5 starburst jelly beans. The kids were so excited for this. They loved searching for the eggs and loved the candy even more.

Sunday was a day at church in the morning and time at the orphanage in the afternoon. The time went by so fast it almost feels surreal. My mom's initial response was that one time in Haiti was enough, but now she is deciding that she will return. :)  Once again, the hand of the Lord protected our travels.  I see that my mom feels a little different being back and I think it's a sample of the detachment to this world I feel each time I return from Haiti. She knows the names, the faces, the sounds, the scents... and the Haitian roosters ;) and I think that she too had been changed by Haiti.


A love letter

Dear Haiti,

Please come close to me and let me whisper these words of love into your ear. This letter is long past due. I have so much I've wanted to tell you but instead of saying it, the words are piling up inside my head. I miss you, my dear. How are you today? Is your ground still now? I'm praying for you. I'll be there in 14 days and I promise to come with some things to brighten your day. Do you like to sing? I'll bring some funny songs with actions. I might try and sneak you some jelly beans. It's a classic Easter candy here in the states.

Haiti, I wish you could look inside my heart and see how much I ache for you. I'm sorry you're broken. I'm sorry that your children are hurt. I pass my days thinking of you, planning for our future together, and buying things to bring down for you. My heart is bigger than my pocket and lately I find myself counting the coins in my pocket to pay for things, but it's okay because there's no other way I'd choose to spend it. Yesterday, I bought some princess dress-up shoes and a crown.. I know that Haiti is filled with beautiful princesses and I can't wait to give one her long awaited jewels.

Haiti, I know I don't quite speak Creole yet, but lately I feel like I'm forgetting how to speak English too. The words I speak don't seem to make sense here. Yesterday I sat in the coffee shop listening to my MP3 and reading the Bible and I sat up and looked around. I saw mouths moving, people interacting, and cars driving by outside the window. As I sat hearing only the music in my ears, the rest of the environment around me appeared to be on mute. I thought to myself, "wow. This is what life has felt like for the past month." Rather than the actual music in my ears, it's the emails, phonecalls, visions of Haiti that are silencing my reality here. This tune pulsing through my ears is addicting, I know all the beats by heart. Sometimes I see pictures or videos of you on the TV or internet and I am on the verge of tears. I feel like my sadness for you is bottling up with an intensifying amount of pressure, and I'm scared for the day I burst. I need to keep it together here. Graduation is just around the corner...

Haiti are you ready for my mom to come to meet you? Please be nice to her, I really want her to come back someday. It would be great if you could clear a little clean spot for her to sleep and ask the bugs to stay away for a few days. Don't worry too much about meeting her though, I just know she'll love you too. Can you sing her some of those beautiful worship songs? She'll love to hear your voice. Another hint... she really likes babies, so can you have some little tots close by our tent?

Haiti, my love, not an minute passes without thoughts of you. I love you. I'll never abandon you. Stay strong, my love. We'll meet again soon


A rough adjustment

Today I'm feeling anxious, awkward, like a foreigner in my own country. My chest feels tight, my legs shake back and forth throughout class, and my mind races. It's been one week since I came back from Haiti and it makes me uneasy that I have 5  more weeks until I go back. I keep trying to assure myself that 35 days is really short, but each day that I'm here ticks by a little more slowly. The countless email checking, scanning over my planner, and replaying the math of how many days until I leave are all fruitless efforts in making the time go faster.

I know that God has me here right now and so I'm trying so hard to be here 100%. So often though, I feel like my heart and mind are stuck in Haiti and I'm just walking through life here in a half-conscious manner.

As I mentioned above, I'll return to Haiti in 5 weeks. This was a trip planned prior to the earthquake and the highlight of the trip will be introducing this passion of mine to my mom. Yup, that's right. My fair skinned, 50-something year old, resort-style traveling mother will be joining me on this trip. I'm so proud of her for giving her reservations to the Lord and allowing him to change her heart for Haiti.

As for news from Haiti. The children at the orphanage (OLTCH) remain outside all day and night. We are still working at finding both a temporary and long-term fix for them. Some members from the board of the orphanage will be in Haiti in about a week from now and will get an updated assessment of the situation of Haiti and specifically at the orphanage.

The nursing school is as busy as ever. There is a portable hospital being built on the grounds of the campus and should be up and running by the end of this week. News is that doctors are slowly leaving the area. Help has been dwindling down in the past week. There is still an intense fear for aftershocks in Haiti. The National Geological survey predicted a 90% chance of an aftershock over a 5.0 in the next 30 days. People remain sleeping outdoors.


Shaken but not broken

I feel an emptiness and uneasiness in my stomach as I sit in my hotel bed in Santiago, on my way back to Minnesota. Although my stomach is gurgling and churning from the whatnots I've been carelessly eating on the side of the road... this is something different. It's a little fearful, a little sad, exhaustion, joy... I don't know how to feel leaving this time.

I'm so amazed by how God worked to bring me to Haiti this time. WOW. In the past few days in Leogane I spent a lot of time with the kids at the orphanage. Jas and Greg are really tired and the 'camping trip' it's quickly wearing on them. Can you imagine... managing 35 kids in something resembling a construction site, with one big hole dug for a toilet, no running water, a tarp for shelter, cold nights, shaking ground, sick kids... and the list goes on. The kids are contained in a small area of "safety." If they leave this little plot of land, they risk falling concrete walls or buildings. Any structures that are stil standing are NOT safe...
 I grabbed a few kids and sat down for story time. I'm learning enough creole that I was able to translate some of the Dr. Seuss stories into English for them. Green Eggs and Ham was a hoot. I kept asking them if they'd eat green eggs and they'd all look at each other and then shake their heads 'no!' They begged me to keep reading. They loved the attention and the amusement of having something other than rocks to keep them entertained.

There's a little princess named Claudia who is slowly wasting away. She is beautiful and I love her. She's about 20 months old and she's so skinny now that when I pick her up I have to grab under her legs and not at her waist because if I grab around the waist, my arms slip up and down her ribs. She came to the orphanage in October and was very malnourished. Her body is attacked with worms and bad congestion- aftermath of the earthquake and poor living conditions. I spent an entire morning with her. Giving her the pampering you deserve when you feel sick. I bathed her in a basin, washed her tiny lockets of hair, bubbled her up with soap, tickled her, and took silly pictures.I dried her up, lotioned her dry skin, dug around for some clean baby clothes in a box, and soon she looked like a freshly cleaned baby. I snuck her little snacks out of my backpack all day, gave her an extra glass of milk and continually filled up her little sippy cup with bottled water. I think I want to keep this little cutie.

We visited a property yesterday. It's beautiful. It's set further into the countryside. It's a very large chunk of land and extends to the water. There is a huge potential for growth of the orphanage and has room to build the clinic, church, and dormitories that Jas and Greg dream of for the futrure of OLTCH. It would take a good year to build up what they need, so they would need to temporary relocate somewhere in the meantime.

An exciting nursing story that I almost left out!.... I delivered my first baby! It was wonderful. It was Tuesday morning around 5am and I was in my tent with the girls from the nursing school telling them that I wanted to deliver a baby that day. 4 or 5 babies had already been born at the school since the quake and I wanted to be a part of the next one. Well, about an hour later someone came to the tent to get Shirley and Shirley says, "Lisa, you want to deliver a baby?" I bolted out of that tent like my pants were on fire. Everyone was laughing at my excitement and urgency to get to the hospital. The mom was 19 years old and this was her first baby. no pain medication, fan... or anything much of comfort. There was a lot of waiting and comfort care for the first.... 4 or 5 hours. The water broke around 10am and shot out into the air... I swear if I hadn't just moved a few seconds earlier, it may have bursted in my face. The contractions got really intense and then the OB doctor and peds nurse started talking me through how to direct the baby out of the canal, the suction process and anything else I needed to know about getting the baby outta there. When the baby came out, she came so fast! The little slippery thing just shot right into my arms. We suctioned and cleaned her up. I took my sweet time cleaning her and held her for awhile. The mom was too exhausted and still working on getting the placenta out. The whole thing was really cool to be a part of. I'd really like to do more deliveries in the future. I also was able to do my first sutures after the delivery because the mom tore from the birth.

Last night Dan Sorenson and I spent a few hours out in "tent city" as we affectionately call the city that has spurt up on the nursing school campus. We taught the kids "head, shoulders, knees and toes", "the ABCs", "the hokey pokey" and some some about Old mrs. Leery and a fire. Our crowd started at around 30 kids and soon grew to a group of 200 including kids, moms, dads, and grandmas. We did round robin of row row row your boat and had competitions for which team could sing the loudest, my team of kids or dan's. The hokey pokey was my favorite and by the end of the night I couldn't even breathe as were were dancing to it. I wasn't much help to Dan because I was laughing so hard. It was a blast.

I still can't believe it's all over. And it's hard because their battle continues. How long will these shanty homes built from sticks and bedsheets last? What happens when it rains hard? Where are the kids going to go for school? When do the nursing students get a break and some time to sleep? My new goal is to get back their long term. There HAS to be a way. In the midst of this crisis, there must be some organization or people who will take me up on my offer to give a year or two for teaching at the nursing school, working in the hospital, and managing the health care for the orphanage in exchange for taking care of my student loans. This is a hurdle that scares me, but my faith is stronger than ever now. I have seen the hand of the Lord and I am certain he loves Haiti.


Bringing Heaven to Earth

Last night as I was lying rolled up next to 5 other Haitian nurses in out tent, I began to think. Everyone else crashed from our long day, but I find it hard to sleep at night. Usually is the shaking ground and paranoia, mixed with the barking dogs or shouts of prasise/prayer to God that keep me awake. Last night I felt my mind clear and alert despite the long hours of work and exhuastion I had felt throughout the whole day. Around 10pm I heard that a few doctors were flying on a US aircraft back to the states today, and I asked God, "Is my work here done?"

Tim guided me through what to pray for. He said to ask God why he sent me here and if I had accomplished all that he wanted me to. I lay there on my back, in the dark of the tent and prayed to God asking him WHY he sent me here. It was clear to me and and my family that I was called to come to Haiti. Every door and barrier that stood in my way to come was pushed flat on it's face and the chain of events that led to me sitting in this chair right now in Haiti could be nothing other than the work of the Lord. After I asked God again and again, "Why did you send me here? What do you want me to do here?" the phrase "to bring heaven to earth" came into my mind. I shook it out, thinking it sounded a little cliche and maybe I just made that up.... but it wouldn't leave my thoughts. My memory brought me to a family I worked with two nights ago. A 14 year-old girl came in with diabetic ketoacidosis. She was completely out of it and we were fighting for her life. Before the night was over the girl died. I held her mom for over an hour... praying over her, kissing her, rubbing her back, jumbling out my creole to say I love you, I'm praying for you... GOD loves you.. and I'm sorry.  I sat there with her in the tent... the dead body on the mattress next to her and I tried to absorb a little of her pain. I tried to imagine losing everything I owned... and then my daughter all in the course of a week. This isn't something that anyone chose or had a say in. They were victims of this disaster. Although this case of diabetes was a problem regardless of the earthquake... now there are no hospitals... so where can the people go? It kills me to see the kids who were crushed by falling bricks or houses... their faces will wear the scars of this battle forever.

What a terrifying experience. No one will enter their house... even if it is still standing. There is no telling when the next afershock will come and the house will crumble.

The nursing school is a haven for the hurt. The grounds of the school which used to be enclosed  by a gate and included the school, dorms, Hilda's house and lots of open land has transformed into a hospital and a city of tents. There are doctors from all over the world here. The Japaneese brought some amazing equipment with them and have x-ray, ultrasound... and even air conditioning in their tents.  The docs that are here are here for the right reasons and they are great to work with. I spend most of my time bandaging up bad wounds, giving antibiotic shots, assiting in procedures, and sitting in with the docs as they evaluate patients.
We have trucks going out into the small villages every day and picking up truckloads full of injured people who have just been waiting for help but had no way to find it. The work is still great here. The hospital is always full... we have 3 operating rooms which are busy most of the day, recovery rooms, wound care stations, and consulation. Babies have been born. My favorite baby name was Shirley Hilda. Named after nurse shirley and the dean of the school, Hilda Alcindor.

The orphanage is safe, but the kids are showing the wear and tear of sleeping outside. The water was tested and found to be contaminated with E.Coli and many kids became sick. They are now on antibiotics. JAs and Greg are making visits to some new properties to check out what's available. They need a new place to live....
We're working on getting Dan Sorenson down soon with supplies for them as it's not easy to get your hands on supplies here.

God is good and he is using people here to show his heart and his love to his hurting children.


For anyone intersted in donating

 I am heading out to Haiti tomorrow morning! I don't have time to type up all the news, sorry :(   Many people have asked how they can donate. Here is a list I compiled. The items highlighted are most needed. 
Email Dan Sorenson of Waconia, MN for details of how to get us the donations. Thanks!
Supplies Needed:
- giant tents
- one family sized tent
- masks
- some way to purify water
- batteries
- pedialyte hydration strips ( at walgreens)
- tons of hand sanitizer
- bars of soap
- alcohol preps
- ace wraps
- ice packs
- needles/syringes to deliver vaccines
- penlights
-Stop watches
- Thermometers
- stethescopes
- blood pressure cuffs- adult and child
- notebooks and pens
- surgical pen
-drug guides
- washcloths
- plastic baggies
- q tips
- otoscope
-pulse oximeter
 -anti malaria
-  something for cholera
-tetnus vaccine
-polio. vaccine
- antibiotics- safe for children and adults, wide spectrum, UTIs
-pain medication acetaminophen/ibuprofen (child and adult)
- lidocaine
-first responder supplies
-basic surgical supplies- beta iodine, saw
- wound care: gauze, gloves, sterile glovestriple antibiotic cream, scissors, bandages, tape, wound cleanser, bandaids- butterfly and regular,
- cough syrup- childrens and adults
-cough drops
- claritin/benadryl
-ketaconazole, clomitrazole, miconazole - anti fungals
- hydrocortizone
- benadryl cream- itch relief
- UTI test strips
- scabies treatments
- anti-itch vaginal
- multivitamins



I'm stuck somewhere in shock or disbelief of the news of the 7.0 earthquake hitting Haiti. The epicenter is just a few miles from Leogane which is the location of the school, orphanage, Rigan and Even's house, and many other students from the nursing school.  Last night for the 6 hours after I heard the news until I went to sleep at night, I was frantically calling anyone and everyone I know in Haiti to hear word that they were alive and okay. I went to sleep hearing nothing. The communication lines are down there which makes phone calls impossible. Right now it sounds like satellite internet is the only means of communication and considering we're talking about Haiti here, guess what portion of the population has access to something like that.

Isn't this country devastated enough as it is? What will be the aftermath of this? I can't even imagine. All I could think about last night was trying to picture myself there. Pitch black, dust and rubble everywhere, people in the streets crying and running around trying to find their family or help for people injured, people trapped under buildings and waiting in despair for someone...anyone to come get them.... and when does this scene end? There are thousands upon thousands of people that will be affected by this tragedy. In fact, I imagine that the whole country will be. With Port-au-Prince, the capital in shambles, UN buildings down, the palace crushed, hospitals ruined, roads blocked  transportation will be close to impossible and food and other supplies from the capital will be near impossible to get.

I'm fasting and praying until I hear news from someone there is okay or until God tells me to stop. Last night all my dreams were about Haiti. I kept dreaming that I was talking to Rigan and he was telling me he was okay and things were normal like always, but every time I realized it was a dream, I shook myself from that scene and made myself think/dream about something else. I don't want false reassurances, I want the truth.

I'll update as soon as I hear anything from Haiti

Please pray


P.S. I love you Haiti

I'm happy to put up a picture of the same swing, in the same place, but now with myself in the picture and with the kids. Today is my first day back in the states and I'm doing okay right now. I had a tearful departure soothed  while I was waiting in the airport by a huge toblerone chocolate bar, my MP3 player and my sweatshirt that smelled of Haiti. On the plane I began relfecting on my time in Haiti.
" I'm sitting on the plane back to MN. I have a window seat. I glance to my left and see a vast darkness sprinkled with the twinkling lights from the cities below. It's hard to imagine that my time in Haiti is finished. Life in Haiti comes so naturally. It feels like my home, my family, my country. I miss my babies. I miss lying in bed and being able to Rodnashka's tiny body in the bed next to me. I miss Jenny saying "eesa!" and giggling every 5 minutes. I miss sitting in my room, watching the door creep open and knowing exactly which little tot would be behind the door. I miss giving the babies baths, the kids in their pajamas, and hearing the kids sing their prayers before bed. I miss jump-roping with the older girls, rocking the little ones on the swing outside; I miss Jasmine and Rosie and Manize. I miss Rigan. I miss the ocean and the sun. I miss cold showers. I miss clear nights and starry skies, I miss Shirley and Dr. matthew and her brothers. i miss the stupid cats, goats and other animals that scared the living daylights out of me. I miss living for each day and not worrying about time. I miss the hospital in Petit Guave and all the patients there that need medical attention. I miss the baby girl Rigan andI bathed and treated for infection and fungus. I miss tap tap ride and motos. I miss the nursing school and my friends there. I miss sneaking the kids lemonade and snacks when Jas wasn't looking.

I miss rocking Ann in my arms. I miss little Roseline and seeing her light up when I call her "Bel Fi" Beatuiful girl.

This trip taught me about my potential as a nurse in Haiti. It's really incredible when I think back on the community health fair that Rigan and I organized. It was so professional and well set up. Everyone that wanted to be seen was seen and every person had a full plate of food. The community participated by cooking and helping clean up after the day was over.

You don't need to be a doctor in order to see patients, you just need to be willing to give yourself as a servant and be willing to accept that sometimes there's not a medication to give, that sometimes the patient's situation will only get worse, but that it's important to them to be heard and cared for. Sometimes the only thing you can give is education and to listen to and validate their concerns,.

I think that a big highlight of the trip was working with Rigan at Petit Guave hospital. We were a really good team. I loved the challenge of having so many patients that need care. Every case is complicated and unique from things I see in the USA. Usually the patient is suffering from 2-3 different problems, all of which are aggravated by the issue of malnutrition.

I love pampering the patients, showering them with love, prayer, attention. I like giving bed baths and making the patient comfortable. I like taking the role of servant in a health care system where the health care workers act as if the patients "owe them" for the care they're given"

 My next trip is planned for March 12-19. I'll be bringing my mom with me this time. I'm sooo excited for her to experience Haiti and I think it will change her. I'm still not sure exactly what the next year holds for my plans in Haiti. If it weren't for my student loans, I'd move there in a heartbeat. Jasmine really needs American help at the orphanage. She's begging me to come for 6 months, but with my loan payments it just can't happen. I'm praying for direction and answers about the future.... in less than 5 months I'll be graduated from college and ready to use my nursing full-time.

thinking, dreaming, planning, hoping.....


Mwen pale Creole... bitsi bitsi!

Last time I tried to update this blog, I spent over an hour typing up everything, only to have it all lost when the power went out! I wanted to scream.

But here I sit, patient and ready to tackle this Haitian internet and race against the time of the dying battery.

I'll highlight the biggest events and then when I get back to MN I can go through things more thoroughly.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Petit Guave hospital. Monday I spent the entire day in the OB working with newborns. I looooved it! Most of them were very tiny. One weight I took was a baby who was one week old and weight just over 4 lbs. The labor, delivery, and infant care is so insanely different in Haiti.  I walked in the delivery room to find four women, legs wide open and completely naked as they waited in agony for the delivery. No pain meds, no comfort care, sweltering heat, mosquitos and no privacy. I couldn't believe that the women were so disrespected in being uncovered. I pointed out to Rigan and he agreed that it wasn't okay. He asked a nurse to cover one of the women, but the nurse's response was that the patient didn't bring her own blanket to cover with. That's how it works in the hospitals. If you don't bring your own clean linens, diapers, wash cloths, soap, food, etc, then you don't get it while you're there. The family assumes full responsibility for the patient and has to buy any needles,medication, gauze, etc that that patient might need for the nurse to use on them. Most of the day was spent doing thorough newborn assessments which consists of physical assessment, vital signs, checking relfexes and most of the time included changing diapers as the babies were sitting in soaked diapers. Sometimes we'd change the diaper and the family didn't have a new diaper so we had to wrap the baby in a blanket instead.  I was peed on but I couldn't get mad cause the little thing that did it to me was so stinking cute and tiny. I also changed the dressings on the umbilicus from where the cord had been cut. I think that I was the first to change any of these dressings because as mom's saw what I was doing, they lined up for me to clean up and re-bandage their babies too.

The second day I spent a lot of time working with a woman who looked near death. I walked into the internal medicine ward and saw an almost empty room, nurses sitting at the station, students leaning against the wall talking and only two beds occupied by patients. My eyes focused in on a woman who looked near death. Her husband and daughter stood near the frail woman who looked like she was gasping for air. Her face was tired, she was completely exposed on her chest, covered in sweat, and I could see every bone on her body through her thin skin. I summoned Rigan (RN), Chris(RN) and Emily (MA) to come with me and check her out. The patient was unable to speak and was choking on her phlegm. The family explained that she was able to speak but that she has been very sick for 12 years and since then lost her ability to speak. She had malaria. From her high blood pressure, right side motor retardation, and lost ability to speak/swallow, it was likely that she suffered a stroke somewhere along the line. First we covered her chest. It drives me crazy when the women are disrespected like that. Then I showed the family how to cool off the woman by placing cold washcloths on her forehead,  around her neck, under the armpits, and on the groin. We repositioned her and sat her up because she was choking, having trouble breathing, and complaining of heart palpitations. We educated the family a lot on foods and drinks to avoid and which options would be best for the symptoms she was experiencing. After all our interventions, her heart rate was more regular and she looked more lively.

Another patient we worked with was a devestating case of child abuse/child slavery. She was 12 years old and had been beaten over the head with a pole. Her skull was cracked open. We changed her wound dressing to find that the sutures done on her skull didn't seal up the injury completely. We cleaned the area really well and covered it so that nothing could infect the area. We pulled her aside from the people she was with to talk to her in privacy about the place she was going back to. We wanted to bring her back home to her family. A woman that was with her said she was bringing her back to a different home and that after her head healed, they would bring her back to her mom. We asked the little girl about this and if she was safe and thought this woman would take care of her and eventually bring her home. I hated to leave the vulnerable child but I didn't know what else to do. Everyone was assuring that she would be safe, and even in privacy the little girl didn't voice any fears or hesitations about going home with the woman. I told Jasmine ( owner of the orphanage) about this and she said that even if we brought the little girl back to her mom, her mom would just give her away again to the same situation of being a house slave/servant. It kills me that these young girls and boys just accept this way of life. They feel lucky to have a place to sleep and food to eat, but all day and night they work like dogs.  This situation has been the most eye-opening problem I've seen on this trip. I know that there are some people in Haiti fighting to put an end to this problem, but from the looks of it their concerns don't stop what's happening behind closed doors.

On Jan 1st, Haiti's independence day, we had a big community health fair in a small neighborhood in Leogane. We didn't have much medication because that tends to be the most expensive part of the event and you never know exactly what meds you will need. We brought some basics such as vitamins, childrens and adult tyelnol, cold medicine, some antibiotics, de-worming medication for kids, scabies treatment, and a few other things. We saw around 100 patients and I would say that half or more of them were children. We partnered with the women in the community and gave them 50 pounds of beans and rice to cook up for everyone along with all the spices and sauces, and hot dogs they needed to make a nice meal. We also made a lemonade type juice for all. We had a DJ, big speakers and music playing for everyone as they waited to be seen. We started out the day in introducing who we are and what we would do for the day, prayer,  and the national anthem. We had about 10-15 health care professionals and students there to help see the patients. We did a lot of collaboration with each other on the patients we saw. Chris was able to detect that a 2 year old boy was blind and had some other disability both of which his mother had no clue about. A lot of my work was in educating the patients on how to take care of their symptoms wether it be child dehydration, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, dizziness, or whatever symptoms they presented with. There were some patients who needed medications which we didn't have and Rigan and I will go back to see them on Monday after we buy the things they need. We donated the remaining beans to the family of the women who helped cook everything. They spent from 8am-3pm cooking for everyone. This family also has 14 children living in a "house" with only one room and one bed. Saying it is a hut is glorifying the situation. When it rains, the house is flooded. The little ones sleep on the bed and everyone else sleeps on the dirtt. Jas and Gregg worked with this fmaily in Evangelism when they first started coming to Haiti and they say it is thier dream to one day build the family a concrete house. So any handymen out there????

Ok that's all for now. Chris and Emily left today and Greg and jas are still on their trip to the Port au Prince airport. There are 3 babies who I need to do skin treatments on, as well as a large supply of medicine that I will organize and label for Jas before she comes home.

Thanks to everyone who read this!! Love you all