Thursday, November 24, 2011

And the Note on the Backside

                      I'm thankful today :-)

7-Yr.-Old Isaac's Thanksgiving Card

                Happy Thanksgiving Today!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Letter from Our Haitian RN Friend Marise to Gene Summerlin, Regarding Our Team

Dear Gene,

Hope that you had a safe trip back home. It's been a pleasure and a blessing meeting you and serving with you.

I did not have time to address the team, so on behalf of my haitian brothers/sisters, would you please express our thanks/gratitude to them at your post trip meeting.

I want to thank them for treating us with respect and dignity, always doing the right thing, taking the needed approach to ensure the right treatment, and maintaining their privacy. 

There was never any rush to care for any patient, every child/infant was carried and cuddled, tears dried, noses wiped. There was so much love felt. 

These  were delivered day or night by all the members of the team, no one was ever too tired to deliver what was needed to help.   

I saw every member of the team as God's several parts separated but equal working together to unite all those parts into one whole with the ultimate goal to reach his kingdom where there'll be no pain/suffering/distinction/the haves and the have nots, because what we do for them we really do for God.

I heard them saying that they saw Jesus and hope in those faces. It's awesome and so true because Jesus does not wear 3 piece suit and live in mansions.

I saw so much humility and compassion and love for us and it was sincere. 

Please thank them for us and convey this message to them.

May God continue to bless us, guide us.

May we never forget that all that we are and all that we have comes from God, so when we  give to others, and do for others we're really giving back to God.

Thank you again,


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just Landed in Omaha!

Picture of Tanya Hsu, Bob Caldwell, Kristine Fry, Sara Parkening, an uncooperative Jesse Anderson (instructions were to smile:-)), Keith and Katie Miller

Bob Caldwell Leaving Plane in Dallas

Just Landed in Dallas

Everyone's doing well!

Husker Game in FLL Airport

Even as we wait for our flight to Dallas, Christine Schuele, Kristine Fry, Elijah Knight and Gene Summerlin are catching the game on Gene's phone.

Welcome to the US Jerry!

At Customs in FLL

Jesse Anderson, Kathleen Smith, Christine Schuele

Just Landed in FLL

Just landed in Ft. Lauderdale, were able to be with 13yr-old Jerry on his first plane flight to the States. Also, Carrie Davidson is on this flight and will turn around and go to the Dominican Republic (on the same island as Haiti) to visit a friend who is teaching in the DR. Frank and Karen Maiorana live in Tallahassee so will stay in FLL with Jerry for the weekend and then attend Pastor Brian Kelso's church on Sunday. Brian is the director of GCA. So the team is still together for a little while longer!

Boarding Plane

Craig Moore, Elijah Knight, Gus Hustad

Ultimate Uno in the PaP Airport

Clockwise starting from left: Jami Pickering, Carrie Davidson, Christine Schuele, Jerry Oscar, Brett Martin, Kristine Fry, Jesse Anderson

Jerry Going "Home" with Frank and Karen!

Are you kidding me? Praise God. Jerry will still spend the school year in Mirebalais but has a 5-yr visa to go back and forth between here and there. This culminate a 3 1/2 yr. journey that has sometimes been very difficult, to say the least. Amazing. Praise God!

Jane Vander Broek Getting Passport Checked

At Counter of AA at PaP Airport

Some Reflections on Yesterday as We Leave

Yesterday started off with a lot of drama as we were eating breakfast. Our Haitian-American RN friend Marise ran through the dining area saying, "Someone is bleeding! Someone is bleeding!" So RN Deb Knight popped up to go down to the temporary tent clinic we worked out of on the property site. In Haiti, it's hard to know when to "react" to a "crisis" vs. when a situation is simply another difficult but fairly "normative" in Haiti. Frank and I, followed Deb who came back up to the GH looking for supplies. Some of our clinicians (specifically our RNs) prepared to work as well. Well learning that a boy outside the Guest House had been hit by a tap-tap and seeing that some of the Haitians seemed to be truly shaken, I came and grabbed Dr. Al Halls who grabbed a pair of gloves. By the time we got down to the site, the boy was being rushed to the local hospital. It turns out he has 4 teeth knocked out and some lacerations and later came to our clinic for some meds as well as liquid food as eating seemed to be a difficulty for him. However, it looked like he was going to be OK- I took a picture of the boy and posted it yesterday.

Well, we got going in our makeshift tent clinic only to see right off the bat a 22-day-old baby who was struggling with breathing. Dr. Al gave her a nebulizer treatment but she really needed to get to the local hospital so he sent her. We are still waiting to hear what happened to the baby. My wife Tanya and Christine Schuele who were caring for this child were amazing. I wear big sunglasses in Haiti because: 1) it's bright I the Caribbean sun but also because 2) I will sometimes have moments I can't hold it together, so prefer crying under the cover of shade; this was one of those moments.  In fact, there are many pictures I choose not to post because they are far too sacred in my mind; this was one of the those  situations.  I choose to have this baby captured in my heart, rather than on film. I chose to cry out to God rather than point and click in that holy moment.

But then the day seemed to "smooth out" out a bit and we ended up seeing well over 200 patients, our "biggest" day by far. It was a good day. In the evening we debriefed and shared. Many thoughts were shared, mainly how amazing the Haitian people are, their thankfulness, patience and kindness. And then a lot of sharing went on regarding the amazing way in which our team worked together, loving one another well and collaborating to care for people. Dr. Halls said, "this week reminds me of why I got into medicine in the first place." Dr. Keith Miller shared as to how this was a new but amazing experience for him, to directly care for such people. I shared how much I admired each team member for their work and contribution. Gene Summerlin shared from Isaiah 53 about how Jesus himself was "rejected and despised by men" and then I was able to share from the end of Revelation about the healing of the nations is promised us and the Haitians. Also, opportunities to partner with GCA and future follow-up meetings upon returning from Haiti were talked about as absolutely crucial, that in some ways the post-trip meetings are even more important than the pre-trip meetings.

Well, so we're here at the PaP airport waiting to go home. I'm looking forward to seeing my kids but I have to say, what an amazing group and what an amazing time.

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!

In Line at PaP Airport

Unloading Bags in PaP

Left Guest House at 5am this morning.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Construction Workers on Clinic

We learned a few years ago that there isn't much benefit to bringing people to do construction here. Why? Because we take jobs away from locals if we do. Whereas American doctors provide a level of care for patients that few Haitian doctors are able to provide at this point, at the same time, Haitian construction workers have a skill set and knowledge of building in Haiti that American construction workers are unable to match. I guess "partnership" is the key word here. As a friend of mine said to me a few years ago, in the Church, "we should be helping people to do what they do best and freeing them to do so."

Outside the Clinic

In this area where cinder blocks are piled for construction, eventually will be a garden "waiting area" as patients wait to see the "doktes."

Construction of Pharmacy, View from Inside

Medical Clinic Construction Underway!

In partnership with friends of Great Commission Alliance (GCA) and friends of Grace Chapel of Lincoln, NE, we have partnered together to raise $96k of the needed $106k for construction costs for a community medical clinic on the GCA property. Here is a picture of the pharmacy portion of the clinic that is being constructed first; it will be air-conditioned. These are exciting times!

In addition to closing the gap on the construction costs, we are seeking to raise another $30k for outfitting the clinic as well as associated expenses with funding the clinic on the back-end (maintenance, utilities and ongoing expenses to run the clinic once it is up). If you are interested in partnering with us financially, please let Grace Chapel's Haiti Ministries Coordinator Gene Summerlin know at . Blessings and thanks!


To clarify the last post, the American doctor is not charging for the procedure but there are costs associated with transportation as well as hospital stay. It's a great deal for the child and his mother; we'll find the funds needed.

Also, we did see the girl with the skin condition again- she is looking much improved after five days- praise God!  The docs are very encouraged.

Bev Celebrating with Marise

On Monday we met this despairing mother since her little boy has a uretha that is not connected to his penis. His urine comes out at the base of his penis, above the testicles. Today we found an American doctor who is willing and able to perform the necessary procedure in Feb, for $375 dollars! Here Bev and Marise are celebrating. The mom has a smile on her face, something that was absent on Monday when we first saw her. Hallelujah.

Tanya Hsu with a Snuggle Bug of a Kid

Dr. Al Halls Consulting with Patient, Translator Novak Present

Dr. Keith Miller Doing an Exam

Dr. Gus Hustad Doing Exam

Have I Introduced You to Samuel?

I can't remember if I sent this, but this is Samuel.

Boy Andilou with "Cool" Glasses

RN Carol Agate Giving OTCs to Kiddos

RNs Christine Schuele and Carrie Davidson Checking Kids, Lambert Translating

Kristine Fry, Tanya Hsu and Jane Vander Broek Taking Heights and Weights of School Children

Injured Young Man

Before clinic, a panic hit our quiet morning as we learned this young boy was hit by a tap-tap. We sent him to the local hospital- he had lost 4 teeth and had some lacerations but it looks like he is going to be OK.

Pharmacy in Full Swing

Pharmacists Bob Caldwell, Katie Miller, Tech Jami Pickering and Pharmacist Craig Moore at Work

Jesse Anderson and Brett Martin Working on a UA at Lab

UAs, Hemoglobin, Glucose, Pregnancy Tests Here

Carrie Rush Team Photographer

In addition to being amazing with the kids, Carrie is one of our team photographers (along with Bev Braun)

Poor Dan

Dan Sayer is always doing crowd control or "guarding" certain entrances to the clinic, so I felt bad that my pictures of Dan are always "just Dan" on his own. Out of sympathy for Dan's "alone" pictures and fearful that we give the impression that Dan has no friends, I decided to take a picture of me and Dan! :-). In all seriousness, we all love Dan as he has been such a remarkable blessing. Of course he did comment the picture on whole is off center with me being in the "center," implying that's where I most like to be in pictures. Hey, in my defense, it's not easy taking pictures of yourself!

Andrew Hustad Taking Blood Pressure

Entrance of Clinic

Crowd control guy Rob Hemmer discussing some things with Pharmacist Katie Miller. Haitian-American RN Marise working with patient.

Waiting Area as Patients Await Docs

Intake Table

Deb Knight with Translator Anthony and Elijah Knight receiving patients; Gene Summerlin is taking vitals

Haitians Packed Out for Clinic

It's going to be a full day with many people to see.

School's in Session

As we get going, here is the school on the GCA property. Our docs will see the kiddos a little later.

Preparing for Last Day of Clinic and Thoughts

It's been a tough but rewarding week in so many ways. In Haiti, we grieve as we work because so many things are unfixable in the near term. But also we are changed because God is at work here and these people are remarkable people in so many ways. The problems run so deep, yet the hope of the Gospel runs even deeper. Our devotional last night was on Col. 1:15-20 where we are told that Jesus is the "firstborn over creation." What this means is not that Jesus was "born" at some point in the past, for He was "begotten, not made" as the ancient creed goes. Rather the phrase means that he is "pre-eminent" over all of creation, i.e. "the first among many." John 1 says that "He was with God in the beginning," indeed "was God." What this means is that Jesus is the Creator and just as He made all things, so now He promises to make all things new again. And the Col. 1 passage tells us that because of the Cross, all things (whether in heaven or on earth) have been (and will be) reconciled. So Jesus has "saved" us certainly but also He is committed to feeding, clothing, and restoring everything else that is broken as a result of the curse of sin on this world as well. We and the Haitians do have hope; in fact, our hope runs deeper than the problems in Haiti or the United States. This isn't always easy to believe because the problems here are so "in your face," but it's true. Praise God it's true, so we work, grieve, rejoice in these people and above all HOPE.

On the medical side of things, we learn a little bit more each time we come. While Grace Chapel has oversight over GCA's medical arm, there is a huge learning process regarding how to best treat people here in Haiti. We've only been here in Mirebalais since early 2010 and the actual physical clinic is only now being built. However, Dr. Keith Miller and I had a very insightful conversation last night about finding what literature exists regarding providing meaningful medical care in greatly impoverished places like Haiti. You see, we can't just carbon copy medical practices in the US and reproduce them here in Haiti: one simple example, when you take Ibuprofen back home, what is a fairly regular piece of advice? Here it is, "don't take it on an empty stomach." But what if EVERYONE'S stomach in a place is likely "empty" most of the time? And what about where hydration is questionable at best? If there is inadequate food and water in a place, while well-intentioned, how many of our meds that we prescribe stand to be more harmful than helpful? To what extent might the kidneys get pummeled (that's a technical medical term you know? :-)), despite putting medication in the hands of people meant to help them?

In Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains on Dr. Paul Farmer, Kidder documents how Farmer became an "international player" on the stage of world health. Farmer was finding TB flourishing and doing the worst kind of destruction in impoverished areas that had actually received minimal levels of medical treatment from outside groups. So there was a minimal, substandard level of treatment in those areas rather than NO treatment and TB became nearly untreatable in those regions that had received help. What was that all about? Well, what Farmer found was MDR TB (Multi-Drug Resistant TB) had ravaged regions where people had received medication for their sickness, but had not received the proper follow-up or accountability, where there was no viable medical infrastructure to communicate to the patient the absolute importance of following through with the entire treatment program from beginning to end, that taking the medicine, but then NOT to complete the treatment schedule, could prove more harmful than beneficial in the long-run (wow,... that was a long sentence). Bottomline; in those regions, NO treatment would have been better than some.

These are not easy questions but we have to ask them in an ongoing fashion, that we might actually do more good than harm; I know this is how Jesus wants us to treat the Haitians, in a way consistent with their dignity, their "honor and glory," as Psalm 8 says. So we're asking these kinds of questions and continue to need much prayer. Please pray with us.

Today we are back here at the Guest House site doing clinic where we did on Monday. We are hoping to see a young girl again that we saw on Monday, with a skin condition. Also, we plan on treating the GCA school kids as well. This is the case on Monday where we consulted our dermatologist friend in Lincoln, Geoff Basler.

Pray that we would finish strong today, that God would uphold us as we are tired emotionally. Also pray that God would be glorified and the Haitians blessed. Thank you friends. God bless.