Friday, November 18, 2011

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.

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