Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Give us courage

As we walk through Holy Week and prepare for Easter, I am reading from Common Prayer.
I love the mix of liturgy, songs, and scripture. 

"Save us, Lord, but not us alone: redeem your whole creation."

Some days as I am in Jubilee, my eyes so easily see beautiful things. A little boy learning to walk for the very first time using a walker, every step such a triumph. Our dear nurse, calling to give me updates on a sick cancer patient, telling me she prays for her every night. A musical medley coming from Klinik Jubilee, a room filled with malnourished and developmentally delayed kids playing instruments together.

"Save us, Lord, but not us alone: redeem your whole creation."

Then other days there are haunting faces you cannot forget. A girl in her early twenties diagnosed with cancer. A perfectly healthy baby boy abandoned by her Mom. A pregnant friend who was slapped around by an ex-boyfriend. A little boy with a burned arm.

"Save us, Lord, but not us alone: redeem your whole creation."

So as we enjoy a cooling rain here in Gonaives, I sit in bed and remember that He has redeemed.

"Give us courage to live in a world we cannot fix with hope that is has already been redeemed."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I don't Twitter. I don't Instagram. I don't Snapchat. 
I do old-fashioned things like Facebook, Skype, text, and email. And, of course, blog.
I have noticed the #hashtag phenomenon and, to be honest, it just cracks me up.
Hipsters making normal life sound cool.
But truth be told, my posts would be misplaced and more than a little weird.
So here is short a list of my possible #thirdworld posts.

Power has been out for 20 hours and we just ran out of candles. #thirdworldproblems
Giving blood 3 months after having malaria is a bad idea. #thirdworldanemia
Nothing starts my morning like finding worms in a leg wound. #thirdworldsicknesses
Went to take a shower and found no water. #thirdworldbodyodor
Extra load of laundry today after getting peed on while doing therapy with some kids. #thirdworldnurse
Spent an hour watching kids try and catch a crab in a canal. #thirdworldentertainment
Trees growing on the salt flats! #thirdworldjubilee

Continue to post away, #firstworlders, just avoid showing me pictures of your food. It is nothing less than torture to see photos of your pizza, salads, and ICE CREAM.

Green is coming to Jubilee!
Gardening lessons with Anne.
Giving some blood to stock the hospital up for Karnival.
"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.!"
-Dr. Seuss, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Friday, February 14, 2014

Richer, fuller

“None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterized with holy things.”
-A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken

Some weeks are better than others. This tends to just be a natural fact of life. And this one has been a rough one. Power that blinks on & off, rarely strong enough to power appliances. Learning that an infant we have been seeing weekly was killed by her own mother. Very little sleep. Constant construction and chaos as the city prepares for Kanaval (Haitian version of Mardi Gras). A week where it feels as though ever person who walks into Klinik Jubilee is HIV positive, even a 16 year old who is 7 months pregnant. This week it seems as if the problems of every person walking on the street gets somehow transferred to being very personal. And that makes walking outside the door (ok, let’s be honest, it’s just a gate) a little intimidating.

While weeks like this are emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining, I find myself repenting. My biggest struggle tends to be to meet every person at a time. See each person as an individual. There tends to be a lot of asking in Gonaives: maybe because the country itself has an excess of NGOs or maybe it’s because there are not a lot of people walking the streets whose skin color is different. So my struggle of the day tends to be to attempt to listen to each person and hear each story, regardless of my ability to help.

“Give me one dollar.”
“You’re stingy.”
“What can you do for me?”
…all phrases that I hear frequently on my 8 block walk into Jubilee.

And, come on, I tend to do a great job. For the first 12 people. But heaven forbid you are that unfortunate 13th person to ask me for something.  My patience has worn thin, I haven’t eaten lunch, my phone is ringing, or I am already in the midst of a stressful situation- I have such a myriad of excuses.

In the book of Matthew, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 comes to mind. Remember it from the bread and fishes story during Sunday School? But it is not the miracle of Him producing enough food that I have been remembering. Before that miracle, Jesus was attempting to go into seclusion, to spend some time alone. But the crowds followed Him. And, get this, He had compassion on them.

There it is. Compassion. I read this story on Monday (if I didn’t believe Jesus was God on earth, this alone would have turned me) and have begun making it almost my mantra during that 8 block walk into Jubilee. Calm down, deep breaths, asking for compassion that I have the inability to produce on my own. Simple yet powerful. And I trust He is there encountering each person with me. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes waiting for me to ask forgiveness for my impatience. He has compassion on me as well.

"Oh love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean depths it flows
May richer, fuller be"

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”
G.K. Chesterton

Friday, January 10, 2014

Make Up Your Mind Firmly

January 10th has become a fun day on my calendar. Last year it marked my first full year in Haiti. This year, my second. In addition, Chris & I have officially been, well, "Chris & I" for one whole year! 

This past summer, Rusty & I had the privilege of going to a conference at Duke Divinity School. The best part of the week, hands down, was being able to sit & talk with a lady who had worked in South Chicago for over 40 years. Listening to her tell stories, give wisdom, or simply ask questions & let us wrestle. One of the most vivid things I remember her saying was simple: Celebrate. She said if you are going to wait to celebrate until your whole ministry is a success or you reach the "light at the end" of the tunnel, you will never celebrate anything. So pick things- simple things- and make them a big deal. Get excited about where God has brought you. Look back at pictures and tell stories. Give a gift. Eat, laugh, and remember. Don't forget to celebrate.

"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

"Oh my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing!"
Psalm 103:2- The Message

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Even wondered what Haitian music sounds like? Well, check out this music video! This song is written and performed by some of our neighbors, who also own and operate a recording studio. It's a hit! We have some talented people living on our block!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cold Prestige and Banana Bread

Happy New Year from Haiti! The first of the year here does not only mark the beginning of 2014, but it is also Independence Day. This is a much larger celebration than Christmas. Days leading up to December 31st, the market is hopping! Streets are full of vendors, bustling shoppers, and noise- everyone out to buy new things for their families. As we walked around the square before midnight last night, the market booths were still selling, lights blazing. We rang in the 2014 with fireworks and enjoying a gift from an unlikely source.
The new house. Well, just the top floor.
Our gift came from someone we call "The Big Man." We had the privilege of moving into a new house this fall. Living on the same street, still enjoying our neighbors, but a new house. Plus a new landlord. We refer to him as "The Big Man." He lives on our street and owns a very prosperous soda distribution center. I'm not going to lie, we have had our ups and downs with The Big Man. Bugging him to get us running water, power that actually runs our appliances, ect. It has been quite the adventure. 

So yesterday, Chris & I took an Independence Day gift to The Big Man. Homemade Banana Bread. He smiled at us, thanked us, then asked if we could wait for a minute. He went into his depo and brought us out around $35 U.S. in drinks. 7-Up, Pepsi, and a case of Prestige (Haitian Beer). Despite our ups and downs, we may win over The Big Man yet.
Independence Day Gift
So as we enjoy a cold Prestige on a cool, breezy evening in Gonaives, we are thankful for friends, new & old, near & far.
Enjoying glow sticks from my Mom.
Christmas fun!
Two years in a row celebrating Christmas with this little guy.
"Life's a game made for everyone
And love is the prize."
-Avicii- "Wake Me Up"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas, from our Klinik to yours!

Today, I had the privilege of being Santa Clause or "Tonton Noel" for our staff. Delivering little gifts of fun, plus their end of the year pay and bonus. I have the privilege of working with some fabulous people. 
I have had a fellow nurse & Canandian named Ang work with me these past few months. She has not only worked with us in Klinik, she & her husband are some of our housemates. Her cooking skills are unreal, she's always down for a board game, and going to the market together is a guaranteed adventure. She & Phil are returning home to have their own little bundle of joy early next year. But we will miss her at Klinik Jubilee. It has been amazing to watch people respond to hearing that she is pregnant, plus the change of calls on the street- from "blanc" (white person) to "gwo vant" (pregnant lady). Their sweet baby is going to be one lucky kid.
Meet Vanel- or "J.B." are we tend to call him. He graduated from the nursing assistant program here and began working with us this summer. His smile and response of "no problem" to whatever comes his way makes working with him stress-free.
Samuela has been with us since the very beginning of my working in Klinik. She was a graduate of the very first nursing assistant class. Not only is she insanely smart, but she has a kindness that makes her a favorite of most of our elderly people who come for our blood pressure program. Don't let her soft spoken voice fool you- she has a spunky attitude that is perfect for her work at Klinik.
Joining us in May, Wisline is one of the newer members of our staff. She is the class clown, always having a funny joke or comment. She never fails to keep us smiling and laughing. She is also the only nurse I have met that sat for the national exams and has an actual nursing license in Haiti. One great lady!
Although Oscar has left us during the week, his presence is still felt during rounds in the village of Jubilee on the weekends. He goes to nursing school for 12 hours, 5 days a week, then goes visiting on his days off. We can't wait for Oscar to graduate!
Oscar's buddy for Jubilee home visits in Valmy. Not only was he in our wedding in Haiti, happens to be one of my husband's dearest friends, and loves my dog, but is a huge asset to our Klinik. His gentle spirit is perfect for his visits in Jubilee.
And although she has been gone all fall, we cannot forget Keziah! She was a built-in BFF when I first moved to Haiti. I'm counting down the days until she can come home. It does not matter if we are cooking dinner or stitching up a little kid who stepped on a glass bottle, everything is better when she is around.
So as we finish off another year in Jubilee, we wish you a "Bon Fet Noel" or Merry Christmas from hot, dusty Gonaives. 
Bon Fet Noel, from our Klinik to yours!
"What if Christmas doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
-Dr. Seuss-