Thursday, April 20, 2017


Coming from social media land, #hashtags have a certain appeal, to "tag" something you want to say to the end of what you already said, but in a cool way....I guess.  (For those who never have read hashtags before, it was written by an adult, it does have meaning, there are just no spaces between the words). Here are a few other possible titles for this post:





So, there is no topic.  That's why there is no real title.  But below are a few things that have been going on recently.

Hospital Brenda
#Cayes   #ENT  #firsttimevisit  #blownaway

We had a visiting ophthalmology team here for a week.  Their thought was to do glaucoma surgeries, but there weren't very many glaucoma patients.  They did surgeries on two people, but mostly did an eye clinic, which was still helpful and needed.  Friday we spent the day going to Cayes to Hospital Brenda.  We had heard of it before from local people who come and say they have eye problems and need to go there for treatment, but we had no personal experience there.  I was envisioning a small little clinic, but what we saw was a jam-packed, fully functional, ENT/Eye hospital, complete with surgery suites and a lab to make their own medicated eye drops.  There were hundreds of people crammed into the waiting areas, waiting to see the few doctors that are on staff.  There is no ophthalmology program in Haiti, so there is a severe shortage of eye dr's.  (The director said Hospital Brenda is working to become accredited as a teaching hospital to train eye doctors - yay!)  People sometimes don't even get seen the day they come, so they will make the long journey back home if they don't have anyone to stay with in Cayes.  Or they will sleep on a hard bench overnight to be seen the next day.

We spoke with the director in order to make connections to see about any collaboration in the future, and she gave us a tour of the facility and answered all our questions.  It was a really interesting visit and I'm glad we got to go!

Easter Break
#tonsoffun  #heisgrowingup  #upfromthegravehearose

Orrin's school break started out to be from Wed-Friday before Easter.  But then it was going to be Mon-Friday.  When I went to pick him up from school on the Thursday before, the other moms were saying the teachers may give the report cards that day and then not have school Friday.  They really wanted to know, as they said, so they didn't have to get up at 5am to make food, pack lunches, get their kids bathed and dressed and teeth brushed, and walk to school.  I am soooo lazy - we never get up at 5 to get ready for school, and I don't get near that much done in the mornings!  The teacher did come out and hand out the report cards and some school papers the kids did....and so Easter break started on Friday!

We had a really good school vacation.  We planned some fun stuff during the week, and lots of play time.  Orrin did really good keeping busy and wanting to help me out with laundry, making food, trash, making his bed, etc.

This kid!  And his "activities" and his ingenuity :)  Gotta love it!

We got to harvest some broccoli and cabbages from the garden.  The plants are growing like crazy with all the rain we've been getting!

One evening we had a picnic outdoors.  It is simply so perfect outside, and we always say we should eat outside, so we finally did!

If you have a hard time seeing David and Cassia at the gate in this picture, then you will understand why I thought it was so crazy that someone could find us in our private picnic...but they did :)  Suppertime is often interrupted, whether inside or out.

We had story hour one afternoon, and read silly animal books like "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig," "Silly Tilly," and "Click, Clack, Moo."  Then we made paper plate animals, ate popcorn, and sang a few silly songs.  It was a fun diversion.

Orrin went to gym class with the English school kids on Monday.  Joan said that he could come Wed and Friday too.  He said, "Well, I won't come on Friday 'cuz it's Good Friday and my Dad's home.  I like to be home when my dad's home."  !!!  He sure put a lot of pieces together there!  David was home part of  the day on Good Friday, and he had fun dying eggs with the kids.

Good Friday is also the day when the local people march in a procession and sing to remember Christ's death, and this year we caught it on camera.

Saturday, Orrin took a nap (which is pretty unusual) and woke up complaining of a headache.  The weekend before, he was riding his bike at the basketball court and rode into the rope that made the tennis "net" and fell off his bike and hit his head pretty hard.  So when his headache lasted through Sunday and he would complain every 20 minutes and he would sometimes start to cry, we were getting a little concerned.  But he had no other complaints or signs of something serious.  So we decided to wait til Monday and see how he was.  Sunday night we went to Platt's for a sunset singing.  He didn't play, and lay on David's lap all evening.  But Monday he got up and went to school and said he was "a lot better."  Don't know if he just got one of those after-nap headaches, then didn't sleep good at night so he took another nap Sunday and so it all continued.  Or if he just was having after effects of the probable concussion he suffered a week before.  We're hoping it is nothing serious, and praying that it was just a passing problem.

Chocolate Chips, Softner Salt, and HE IS
#thesedofittogether  #spoiled  #blessed

A few weeks ago, I used up the last of my semi-sweet chocolate chips, at least all the ones that are still in chip form and didn't get melted before they reached our fridge.  Jami had offered to send something to me if I needed it, but I had just asked her to send me something else.  I thought about asking her to send some too, but I thought it really wasn't necessary, and although it's hard to get better than fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, we would make it.  When her package arrived, I was excited to see the item I'd asked her to get....and a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips!  I know it's small...but to me, God (and Jami) spoiled me a little bit.  I hadn't prayed for chocolate chips, I hadn't asked for them.  But God saw that I wanted them, and as a parent takes joy in spoiling their child on occasion, I believe He did just that to me.

My dad recently had a cardio cath where they found a 98% blockage of his LAD artery in his heart.  He had been to the dr for a physical and told them how he felt worn out after carrying bags of softner salt to the basement.  They scheduled him for a stress test, saw some EKG changes, and then scheduled the cath.  He came out of the cath lab with a stint and escaped a looming heart attack or very possible sudden cardiac arrest.  (Don't ask a paramedic to cheer you up about your health :) ).  So over the past year, I've been thinking of my dad and all our parents and potential health problems.  (Sorry if I'm embarrassing any of you.....just know you're loved and thought of).  Orrin and I pray for them before he goes to bed and ask God to keep them safe and healthy.  I'm really thankful that God granted our request, and blessed us by keeping dad healthy.

I'll try not to be too theological here, because there's a very good chance that I won't get it right.  But here's how these two items - chocolate chips and softner salt - come together for me.  Through those things, God reminded me that He cares, He hears, and He blesses.  We all know not everything works out the way we want it to - all of us have things that we've deeply wanted and prayed for and it hasn't happened.  But we know that HE IS enough, and that's what we have to cling to in times of trouble. For these two things though, I want to count and remember them as blessings from Him!

We'll end with that, and a picture that I recently came across.  So cute :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Life at Home and Hospital

How we love our sweet little house here!  We love all of it's 850 square feet.  We love the marks on the walls that mean the kids can ride their bikes on the vinyl floor and crash into the concrete walls.

 We love the closet we call Cassia's room because it means we each get to sleep in our own rooms and get good sleep at night!  We love the little-ness because it means I have to stay organized and can't keep anything!  We love the fact that even though we have like 4 decorations - instead of 4 boxes of decorations - it still seems like home.  And I want to say these things before we move away from it, and then it seems like just sentimentality talking.  But from my heart, here in this moment, I love our little home in Haiti.

This week I did get a little fed up with the disorganization and found some old cast-off furniture in the "red door" depot, pilfered it and now Cassia's room has a little decor and a lot more functionality.

So what's been going on at home here?  Well, it's been raining a lot.  We've been doing the laundry-on -and-off-the-line dance.  And in a cruel twist of fate, Orrin's (seemingly endless) 3 week Christmas break ended in torrential downpours the night before school was to re-open.  And so there was a "snow day."  And another the next day.  And by the time it came to Wednesday, I guess they just decided to scrap it and try again next week.  So we almost had to re-train Orrin how to go to school after all that time!!

But, he got into the swing of things pretty quickly again and has been having a lot of fun.  He is for sure one busy kid.  He can play by himself if he wants to, but is way more into doing "activities."  He loves to do dot-to-dot, color by number, paint, draw, color, cut things out.  Here, he's started to copy letters.

Loving "activities" is a great asset.  And little sister follows right along with whatever he does.  A few pieces of paper and crayons or pencils and the back of a gator is a great little play time for when I have a few things to get done back at the "Red Door" depot.

One of his favorite things is still his Bible activities.  This one was the start to the Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt week.  Here they are ready to part the Red Sea, Cass in period clothes and all.

One day, I ran up to the Hospital really quick and asked if he wanted to come or stay home.  He of course chose the independence and feel of being a big boy to stay by himself.  When I got back, I saw this bouquet of flowers on the table, and him busily coloring a picture.  Maybe I should leave him home alone more often!  Melt my heart....

Here are a few fun things he's been saying lately:

Another story, showing how he's learning Creole bit by bit.  One day at lunch, Madam Ino was telling us how someone from a town up the road was found dead here in our area.  When Orrin asked what we were talking about, I fudged a little and told him (in English) that someone was sick.  "But Madam Ino didn't say malad (sick)," he said.  Oh my!

Seems like we've been sick most of the winter here with colds cycling through all of us again and again.  One day, Orrin wanted me to do the "fire thing" in his ear :)

Some Sundays it is just too beautiful to sit inside.  For our "afternoon" church we sometimes go out in our back porch/patio area to listen to a sermon.  This was how Orrin passed some of the service....

Recently we found out about an app called Simply Piano by JoyTunes.  It teaches kids piano in a "game" format.  It hears what you play and you have to play the notes right to get to the next "level."  Orrin learned c-d-e so far, but can't seem to make it past that level because he's not fast enough.  It may be a little advanced for him yet and he's lost a little interest, but I am excited about the prospects!

I've started reading chapter books to him.  Something I've been looking forward to for a loooong time and I finally decided he had reached that point.  I may as well be reading something I enjoy too, rather than reading 65 renditions of rhyming six page books.  We started with Mrs Frisby, and are now almost done with the first Boxcar Children book.  The future looks exciting, filled with Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Danny the Champion of the World, and Hatchet.

When Orrin is away at school, this little girl does pretty well most of the time.  She loves to organize (note neatly stacked books and blocks put away). 

She does pretty good at entertaining herself too, which is really nice!

Cassia also likes to help me clean.  She sure adds *sparkle* to our cleaning!!

Cassia is just a lot of fun to have around.  She's got a quick smile and even when she's upset she can usually be convinced to forget about it pretty quickly.

She is a little pokey sometimes, and this trip up to the hospital, she had to pick up every stick along the way.

One chilly Sunday, she wanted to wear her "coat" to church :)

Then another Sunday after church, this is what she was doing!

Sometimes on Sundays, David gets to hold Cassia during her nap.  So sweet for him to have a little time holding a sleeping baby!

 David working with Orrin to help him practice his batting.

Aaaaand he swung Orrin along with the bat!

Cass enjoying the show :)

One evening we went out to eat at a restaurant down the road that just reopened after the hurricane.  The kids were super excited to go ride in the truck and we had a good time eating lots of fried food!

David's 4 wheeler stopped working one day and he found out that there was something in his fuel.  So Orrin got his first lesson on how to siphon gas....

We had supper and an evening at Plattner's one Sunday evening.  We enjoyed some time of singing afterwards.

We were invited to Sonia's birthday party.  Her family lives in the apartment building next to us and they are a sweet family.  We were so glad to be invited!  We thought it would just be cake and singing, but there was a whole meal!  The kids ate the meal, but they were mostly interested in the cake that came after.  We really enjoyed our evening together! Annia (Sonia's mom) is one of the teachers in Orrin's school and she told us the teachers laugh because Orrin will run home and back to school at recess, but when school is over, he will sit and wait for me to come walk him home :)

We invited Anna over for supper one evening.  She spent about 6 weeks at the Hospital as a medical dept intern.  She is actually a Paramedic too, so we told her to come prepared with ambulance stories and we spent hours talking about past emergency calls.  It was hard to dredge up those stories from the depths of memory, but some did come back.  It was a lot of fun to swap tales together!

The next day after all that ambulance talk, David got a phone call about an accident that happened down the road.  Someone drove a vehicle down to pick the people up, and David went down too just in case he could do anything to help.  We don't really know how it happened, but this vehicle went off the side of the mountain, rolling down about 150 feet of very steep embankment.  There were about 7 people in the car and all were able to walk out themselves.  How incredible that they were not seriously injured!

Life at the Hospital:

The Hospital is where Cassia wants to go every day!  She asked and asked and asked one morning and Madam Ino asked me what she was saying.  "Ou vle ale lopital?" she asked Cassia.  Cass shook her head yes.  So off Cassia went with "Mino" to the top of the steps to at least look at the Hospital.

One day I was up at the Hospital and it was so, so clear, you could see the ocean so well.   How beautiful!

There was a bunch of stuff in our depot that has been left by teams or donated.  I got it all together and got it out of there to give away!

Kristi came and helped me sort through everything and make sure that each box/suitcase had generally the same amount of things.  Then we had the hospital pastor call around to other local pastors and have them come and pick the things up to distribute to their poor church members.

Some of the pastors came with donkeys.  I loved this!

I always bug D to let me in on planning future projects (at least what needs to be done - the details are up to him!).  He had the projects that we need to do, and we tried to prioritize them and divide that work up between the teams we may have coming, but we'll see what happens.

Another recent project was to go through the furniture in the staff housing and see what was needed where.  Kristi came along to help, and the little girls helped too :)

Over the past week or two, the local masons have been working on this building (and are done now) which is right outside the hospital campus.  This building's purpose is to house the generator that the hospital wants to give to the community for them to be able to generate and manage their own electricity.  Things seem to be progressing in the right direction, and so it is being built in faith that the community can accept the management of this.  Please be prayerful for this!

Jimmy is our physical therapist, and he recently had the opportunity to visit the US and work with some PT's.  My parents actually got to see him at Iowa City church for my cousin's baptism, so that is pretty neat.  Jimmy came back with new ideas and one was to build a storage "room" inside his therapy room.  Before it was just open shelves and lots of wheelchairs and equipment around.  So this really makes things look cleaner and still gives him room to work.

Raya is just starting out working in our Central Supply (medical supply) depot.  David has been in charge of this since Dr Lee left last summer, and he simply doesn't have the time needed to put into making this part of the hospital function optimally.  So he is really excited that Raya is willing to work in there and give it the time it needs.  We hope it all goes well for her there!!

Carrie is a nurse practitioner that is planning to move down here in June.  She came last weekend on a visit to the hospital and we enjoyed spending time with her.  From the meetings that David was in, he is just really amazed with how God is working everything out.  Lordwilling when Carrie comes, we will have 4 american medical providers working administratively.  And each one comes with different areas of expertise, each in an area that is very usable and needed at Hospital Lumiere!  So we are thankful!

We made a special visit to the hospital last week to visit a special new baby!  Our neighbors had a new baby girl, and we are so thankful for Anastasia's safe arrival!

Going to have to add a third category to this post - the beach!  Sometimes you just need a little break from both Home and Hospital, and so for David's birthday, we got to do just that!  Anna stayed with the kids overnight, so we had lots of time to relax and enjoy!

While we were there, we met someone who works with the Hands and Feet project in another part of Haiti.  He was out adventuring with his kids, and as we talked, we found out we knew mutual people and that he used to work for a company in Iowa that helped design GRMC and the ambulance/helicopter shed where I used to work.  What a small world.  We would love to go visit the Jacmel area sometime, so it's nice to have a contact now!

These rose-like flowers were scattered over the sand, and had dropped from the trees.  There is always something new and beautiful to discover each time we come here!

We decided to tent-it on the island, crossing two things off our bucket list:  camping on a beach, and staying on a private island.

We enjoyed having fun with photography, uninterrupted reading of books, watching the sunset, and making a fire.  We were a little nervous about how the night in the tent would go, but when it rained we didn't get too wet :)  The sand was not as soft to sleep on as one might think, but we really had a good time and it was nice to get away and relax.