Saturday, June 30, 2012


One of the odd things about clinic here is that things tend to come in waves. We'll go weeks without seeing something funny enough to send someone for an HIV test. But then 3 weeks ago, we sent & received 3 people with positive results. The past month or so we have had an incredibly high number of burn patients. One 9 month old little boy with old burns from a house fire who we sent to Port Au Prince to get some skin released. Hoping that he will one day learn to walk despite his extensive burns. A man who burned his face from oil. Praying that his vision will return to normal with time. A 2 year old little girl from Jubilee who was in a bed when it caught fire. Convincing myself that the cleaning and pain will be worth it. And remembering when, months ago, a friend & little girl who got plastic burned on her face. How heartbreaking it was for her to scream my name as we held her down & cleaned her face. 

To have her now come visit me in clinic, hang with me at the house in Jubilee, & walk my little dog around to visit our neighbors. The waves come & there is no predicting them. 

"Go and find Jesus when your patience and strength give out and you feel alone and helpless. He is waiting for you. Say to him, 'Jesus, you know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and you know all. Come to my help.' And then go and don't worry about how you are going to manage. That you have told God about it is enough. He has a good memory."
~Jeanne Jugan

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Naje pou soti

Naje pou soti.
I have the amazing privilege of taking Creole lessons from a friend here this summer. Our lessons consist of me telling him a story...after which we walk through what to fix of my grammar in the story. Then we switch: he tells me a story, I listen, & then I tell him what I heard & ask questions. This phrase came up last week. This apparently is a common Creole phrase which means "swim your way out." This phrase is rooted in politics, but apparently is also used in day to day. President Preval was the one to initiate it- hoping to encourage the people to improve the country: build & improve schools, hospitals, roads, & the agricultural climate. To empower people to help themselves and not depend on the government for everything. 

But things have changed. Now, Haitians use the phrase to mean more like "swim to survive." And it can be used as an excuse. To steal, not look toward the future, or participate in not-so-honest business dealings. To just get by. With the UN having a constant presence here & so many aid organizations here to "fix" the country's situation, the survival mindset lives on.

But we have a God that lives amongst us. In the suburbs, the cities, & the slums. So we join with those who see God amongst the struggle. And we may swim, but we swim in the clear waters of a beautiful Caribbean island. And in the trash-filled waters of Jubilee.

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the world; yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hand with which God is to bless people now."
~Teresa of Avila

"People may come to our communities because they want to serve the poor; they will only stay once they have discovered that they themselves are the poor."
-Jean Vanier

Friday, June 15, 2012

Abnormal Normality

"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off & away!"

I ride a moto taxi to work...and a taptap home.

Losing power is a regular, at least daily, occurrence. I have to leave my headlamp in the same place to know where to go when it does flip off.

Buying groceries involves visiting a different person for each single item.

I haven't worn close-toed shoes since January.

"Out there things can happen & frequently do to people as brainy & footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening too."

My dinner table is sometimes a table, sometimes a blanket on the roof, & other times a water barrel in Jubilee.

I now greet people with a kiss on the cheek.

I find myself attempting to translate conversations with Americans into Creole.

To walk into a room with AC makes me feel as though something is wrong.

"I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too. Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you. All Alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you'll be quite a lot. And when you're alone, there's a very good chance you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some that can scare you so much you won't want to go on."

I walk to get minutes for my phone at a bar down the road.

I light my stove & oven with a match.

The excitement of my week can be running water, a new doorway, finding watermelon for dinner, or receiving an unexpected, encouraging email from a friend.

CLIF bars are my preferred lunch.

"Clean clothes" now mean clothes that do not smell horribly, have no clearly visible filth on them, or are nice & stretched from hanging in the sun.

"On & on you will hike. And I know you'll hike far & face up to your problems whatever they are."

When cleaning a wound, I try to use as little gauze or cotton as possible to not waste.

I routinely do dressing changes with one glove, to save on supplies.

Sometimes I ask for follow-ups on my days off; for their health & my peace of mind.

My days off can involve a trip to the river. Or my days off can sometimes be busier than my days on.

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way!"
Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

IV placing practice

"God, give us discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, & superficial relationships, so that instead we may live deep within our hearts. Grant us anger at injustice, oppression, & exploitation of people, so that we may wish for justice, freedom, & peace. Bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done."
-Common Prayer

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Hurricane Season

June First! Today marks the beginning of hurricane season. It is something that I'm choosing to recognize, especially as Isaac & I sat on the porch last night and watched a beautiful storm blow in. I now live on an island in the Caribbean. An island that routinely gets hit by hurricanes & has flooding issues. Hmm, maybe tonights plans should include an anti-hurricane dance on the roof...
Hangin' on the roof with Kelly
I love to read. That is something that has been passed down to me from my parents & grandparents. My kindle has been broken for awhile so I have been living off of books here. I have been reading a book called Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle by Kent Annan. If you ever want to get a pretty detailed idea of life live here, read this book. He has this ability to be so truthful in his writing that it's a bit scary. I spent a few hours today escaping to read in the boys house in Jubilee. And then to walk outside and live in the world I was reading about was a bit crazy. Sometimes my eyes are focused to where I see fun, beauty, growth, & change. While some days I am wallowing in the Pit of Despair (yep, just like in the Princess Bride). Kent Annan does an amazing way of telling the story of moving here & doing life here.
The fevers continue
"Being pushed to my limits in every way brings back Jesus' question to the rich young man. I've answered in part but I still feel like I'm being asked, "What are you willing to give up?"... These days, whether living around the corner from a Burger Kind or living here, where the nearest bacon double cheeseburger seems a million miles away, I think part of the answer is another pair of questions: What is in the way of my loving more? And what am I going to do now to starve this desire- so I can hunger for something better?"
~Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle, Kent Annan

Clinic cleaning involves a dance party- ALWAYS!
"The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility. If humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, if it is not before us to focus on, if it is not beside us to lean upon, if it is not behind us to fence us in, pride will wrench from our hand any good deed we do at the very moment we do it."
~Augustine of Hippo