Last Thursday, Dr. Smith, the pediatric urologist, who graciously agreed to do James' surgery flew in Haiti. The plan was for him to talk with Momma and Poppa James on Friday about the surgery and then fly back with James on Saturday for surgery the following Tuesday.
This Spring President Martelly decided the day before daylight savings started that Haiti was going to participate in it this year. Now most people didn't seem to like this but I on the other hand thought this was a great idea because it means the mornings are slightly cooler and it stays light longer at night. What this also means is that because Haiti decided to do this so close to the time change the airlines don't recognize this and so we are often a little late or early depending on how you look at it when picking up people from the airport. It just so happened today that Stephen and I were almost late to the airport because we were at the supermarket doing food shopping for the team. We picked up Dr. Smith who immediately began telling us stories of how he came to Haiti after the earthquake and all the adventures he had during his travels. He also told us about Chevy, another boy at Canaan, who he operated on and how he was glad he was going to be able to see him again. Of course later that night when Chevy saw Dr. Smith he started screaming! I think it was because he wasn't used to seeing older white males try to pick him up but after a bit of time Chevy warmed up to him.
Friday I gave Dr. Smith a tour of Canaan, the clinic, the school, and the Mamba clinic. We also went to visit Momma James at her house so he could see where James and his family lived. Later that afternoon we sat down with Momma James and Eddy, our translator/body guard when we go to Port, to discuss the surgery. Dr. Smith did a great job explaining everything he was going to do for James. The most amazing part in all of this was after we were done talking some of the clinic staff saw we were in there talking about a major surgery and came in to pray for James. I know through this whole experience God has had His hand on this little one. We left telling Momma James to be ready to go at 6:00 am to make sure we could get to Port in time for the plane and just in case there were any issues with immigration we would have plenty of time.
Six in the morning comes quickly when you're not a morning person but that morning I was too excited to think about it being early. Stephen and the doctor loaded in and we headed down to the clinic to pick up Momma James, Poppa James, James, Poppa James' niece and some other random boy who was with them. Down the road we went where we picked up Eddy and dropped off the random boy. I never did figure out who he was or why he needed a ride at 6 in the morning, but in any case we started driving again and I was getting excited thinking after months of waiting today was finally the day we were going to get James to the States. And then I saw them.
Rows of tap taps and motos were lined up along the side of the road. People were climbing down from the huge trucks carrying their fruit and walking towards the cars. There was a riot.
Eddy told us to pull over and he would go check it out. He came back out of breath from running and told us tires were burning and people were shouting and that there was no way we were going to be able to pass. Eddy being the resourceful guy that he was found someone who was going to take us a back way and into the truck climbs random man who tells us to turn around. No problem I thought because we can't get through the other way. The only problem was random man didn't know the road to turn to go around all the rioting so back we turned towards the riot.
As we pulled off along the road discussing what we were going to do five shady men started walking towards our car. Out of the car goes both random man and Eddy who tells us that those men are part of the rioters. Eddy started yelling at the guys telling them we have a baby that needs to go to the States for surgery and telling them they have to let us through. Well of course there was no way the truck was going to be able to get through this huge riot so Eddy, Momma and Poppa James, and the Doctor all got out and hopped on a moto who was going to take them through the riot and once across they would get a tap tap to Port. Once the rioter guys found out it was an emergency they actually were pretty helpful.
It all happened so fast that before I knew it they were gone. Stephen, the niece, and I breathed a sigh of relief that despite the major riot James would still get to the airport on time. Or so I thought because as the car turned around I realized that I had forgotten to give Dr. Smith the paper, something immigration requires, stating that the parents agreed to let him travel with James. So the options we had were 1. Send the niece through the riot to catch up with them to get them the paper. 2. Go myself. Or option 3 send one of the rioters we had just talked to who was conveniently walking back to us at this point.
I don't really know what other word could describe this guy except shady. He had this side to side walk coupled with his dreads and missing shirt made him well...shady. Now normally I wouldn't want to talk to a guy like this but desperate times called for desperate measures. So I rolled down the window and hollered for him to come over here. I explained to him the situation and told him it was extremely important the Doctor gets this paper. As shady rioter guy ran off I thought to myself well I hope he makes it cause there's no way I'll be able to get that paper back if he doesn't.
I called Eddy to let him know shady rioter guy was coming with the paper and to not go any further than they already had. Apparently there was a second riot up ahead so they hadn't been able to get far. After what seemed like an eternity Eddy called and said shady rioter guy made it with the paper! Praise the Lord! We waited again for the guy to come back so I could give him some money.
While we were waiting more and more cars and trucks came, saw that the road was blocked, and pulled over to wait until the road opened up again. After what seemed like another eternity shady rioter guy returned and collected his money for safely delivering the letter. As we were pulling away this lady with a huge smile on her face flagged us down and said she recognized the Mamba truck and asked if she could have a ride back to Montrouis. Of course we said and she ran happily back to the stranded tap tap to collect her fruit.
While we waited for her another lady approached the truck and said Caroline are you going back to Montrouis? Can I have a ride? I didn't know either of these ladies but they recognized me and the Mamba truck.
Sure I said again and turned to Stephen and said Haiti really is a small world. We made it safely back to Canaan and Eddy called a little while later saying they took a moto the whole way to the airport but they made it. The Doctor and James were on the plane!
This past Tuesday James had his surgery and it was a success! Dr. Smith was able to repair both the hernia and open bladder. James is now recovering in the States and will be there a couple more weeks to make sure there aren't any leaks. Thank you to everyone who kept James and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
|Eddy, Dr. Smith and Momma James after we talked together about the operation|
|James after the operation|
|James with his host family|
|Discharge day from the hospital!|