A view from a roof in Port au Prince


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