Isaiah 30:21 - Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Christerline's Story

It is with a heavy heart that I'm writing this post to tell you about Christerline's story.  I first met her when her mom Esther brought her to Canaan one warm January afternoon for help.  Esther had brought her to the clinic several times already from fevers and infections due to her medical condition.  She heard of Canaan, how it helps those in needs, and now she needed this help her for her daughter.   You see Chirsterline was born without an anus.  If she had been born in the states she wouldn't have left the hospital, but this is Haiti, and people will go months or years before getting the medical help they needed. 

Pastor Henri had talked with her in depth about her daughter's situation and came to us one day at lunch saying there was a reason God brought this baby to Canaan and we needed to help her and so we prayed.  We prayed that doors would open for her to get the help she needed.  We prayed that we could do everything possible here to help this mom and daughter; and so on that January afternoon I went down to the chacoun with Ricky and Amber to take pictures of Christerline to send to doctors in the states to asses her medical condition. 

I've gotten used to seeing small babies, weak babies, babies that are so tiny that you wonder how they will ever make it.  Her condition made it impossible for her to keep and gain weight.  She was so small when I first saw her that she looked like a dressed up doll.  We knew there was no way she would get the help she needed here and so the work began to look for a doctor and hospital in the states that would handle her case.  

Ricky took charge on the Haitian side of sending information back and forth to the doctors and found a doctor and hospital in Missouri that would take Christerline.  The Hlavacek family graciously opened their doors to the family and took charge on the state side of working with the humanitarian parole board with the mounds of paperwork needed to make this all happen.  

A couple of weeks ago I got more involved with finalizing things on our end here.  I saw God work in getting the needed information because things in Haiti don't often go as planned.  It was a simple task, get Esther and dad's signature on a form, get her address, and tell her to come to the Pierre Payan hospital on Tuesday so the American team of doctors could do an ultra sound and complete the medical records for her surgery.  I called and called the only number I had for her and never heard back.  I thought how is this going to work if I can't even get in touch with Esther to tell her these things?  But God knew.  I tried calling her again one morning and the clinic and couldn't get a hold of her.  Not 20 minutes later who showed up to the clinic but Esther and Christerline.  I explained to her what we needed and told her it was very important to show up at the PP hospital Tuesday to get the exam done.  Tuesday came and as the doctors were getting ready to head over to the hospital who came walking up the hill with her baby but Esther herself.   

During that week Marcia Hlavacek told me the humanitarian parole board wanted someone to accompany Esther and Christerline to the states.  The board knew how overwhelming it can be traveling for the first time, especially for someone coming from a developing country.  I can only imagine what would be going through someone's head coming from Haiti to the states and seeing paved roads, street lamps, green grass, cars all driving on one side of the road, loud speakers, toilets that flush automatically; and so I told Marcia I would love to accompany the two to her house in Missouri. 

It was only a matter of a couple of weeks before Christerline would be heading to the states for the surgery.  But God had other plans and this past Monday Esther walked into the clinic and with tears rolling down her face told us that baby Christerline had passed away on Thursday.  I can't begin to say that I understand His reasoning but I take hope in knowing that she is no longer suffering.  Please pray diligently for Esther as she grieves for her daughter.   She is not living in the best family situation.  She told us she didn't remember the past couple of days after her death and found herself on Sunday near the beach not knowing how she got there. 

For some reason I couldn't stop thinking about Esther today.  I prayed she was doing ok.  I wondered if she had eaten.  I worried that she wouldn't remember the last couple of days.  She had been on my heart all day so after work I asked one of the girls at the clinic to come with me to her town not too far away to see if we could find her.  We drove back and forth up the main road, picked up two people who joined in the search, met one sweet family that had an Esther but wasn't the one we were looking for, saw the house where she should have been at but wasn't, and finally drove back to where we originally started the search when one of the guys we picked up told us to pull over.   After about an hour of searching we found Esther standing outside her cousin's house on the road.  We started talking and asked how she was doing.  She was holding up she told us.  She remembered everything that had happened this past week.  She had eaten.  Then she told us before we came she was lying in the bed trying to sleep.  She was tired and decided to rest for a bit.  For some reason she got this feeling that someone was coming to visit her.  She couldn't shake it so she decided to get up and go stand outside her house.  At that exact moment she went outside we pulled up in the truck.

I've prayed a lot the past couple of days.  Things are happening here at Canaan aside from this and we could all use your prayers.   It's been a rough couple of days and I think we all here are emotionally and mentally exhausted, I know I am.   One verse that keeps coming back to me through this time is Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  And so I take comfort in knowing that God has a plan for my life, for Esther's life, for the lives of the kids and staff here.  Though I don't pretend to know why His plan was to take Christerline from us I take peace in knowing that His understanding transcends my understanding in Christerline's story.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Standing on her own

She couldn't stand her mom said.  She's too old not to be able to stand.  I take her small framed body from her mom's lap into mine.  She's small for her age, but then again all the kids that come in to the program are.  

Twelve months and he weighs the same as a two month old.  Fourteen months and this one can't crawl yet.  A year and a half and she's only standing.  Eighteen months and he weighs sixteen pounds.  They've gotten up early this morning and waited three hours for their turn.  It's only 11:30 but they haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon.  

Sometimes after finishing a Mamba day I look back and wonder how these people do it day after day.  I'm in awe of their perseverance, their resilience, the fact that they will walk two hours or more to come to the clinic every Tuesday.  

The most frustrating part of running this program isn't working in sweltering 90 degree heat.  It's not the fact that I've been peed on multiple times or have seen more baby poop than I can count.  It's not the endless snotty noses I've wiped or the countless marriage proposals I've gotten if I give away the mamba, it's seeing the kids that need it the most not gain any weight or not come back at all; but, I have seen more moms than not persistently and faithfully give their kids the mamba.  I see the smiles on their faces after I tell them I'm proud of them that their babies did well this week.  I see their heads lift and shoulders rise as they hear where their boy or girl started at and how much better they are doing.  I hear the concern in their voices and stern words they say to the other mom in the room when I tell one that her child didn't gain.  I love that these moms truly do love and care for their kids and want what's best for them.   

The other week one of kids in the program graduated.  When she first started the Mamba program she was too weak to stand.  Her mom couldn't afford to buy her the necessary foods she needed.  After six weeks in the program she gained her goal and was ready to graduate.  When I called her name for her turn her mom came in the room with a huge smile on her face.  I could tell she was excited and happy about something.  She pulled a wallet size photo of her daughter out from her purse and handed it to me.  

This is for you she said.  My daughter can stand now. 

Dyenika Louisa

Graduation day

The picture the mom gave me the day she graduated

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sweet Grandma

 Last Friday Annie and I went up to a little village about 45 minutes away from Canaan to see if they needed mamba up there.  We saw about 50 kids but they all were pretty healthy except for a few who just needed some amox.  Annie has an orphanage in town for handicapped children and one of her kids cam from this village past Pierre Payan.    When we got there Renall's (the boy living at Annie's place) grandma came rushing out of her house as fast as she could towards Annie and gave her a big kiss on her check saying don't stay away so long next time.  She was precious.  I took some pictures of her, and Renall's family, so he could have a copy of them.  The first one I took was just of the grandma.  Then she wanted a picture of her with her daughter...which turned into a picture with the whole family.  All these people kept coming up trying to get into the picture and I would tell them it's just for family and they would just reply, I am Renall's aunt, I am Renall's sister, Renall's cousin, Renall's uncle, Renall's are a few pictures.
Renall's grandma

Take 1:  Grandma's not looking too happy about this picture.  The lady with the coke bottle is Renall's mom and the two girls behind her are Renall's sister...note the resemblance.  The others are nephews, nieces, an uncle, and cousins.
Take 2:  Grandma's still not sure about this picture taking thing
Take 3:  Finally I took the camera away from my face, looked at them all, and put both hands up to my cheeks pulling them back into a big smile.  Then I told them to show their teeth and smile.  The result is this picture.
Take 4:  Smiles all around.