Yesterday went extremely well. There are still ways many ways in which we can increase our effectiveness by growing and conforming to best practices in the clinical setting. But the beauty of all this is that there is much conversation between our leaders, GCA as well as our healthcare providers. The word "collaboration" keeps coming to mind and it is a sight to behold when you observe a group of 29 (our 27 plus 2 others who have joined us) working together to serve one another as well as the Haitians and to do it with excellence and humility. God has been very gracious to us this week. He always has been when we come down to Haiti.
Last night I was reflecting on why it is that yesterday went so well, when in some ways we were anticipating a rough day at Tou Tou's orphange; I have a few thoughts.
First of all and primary is prayer. A lot of people back home were praying for us; we knew it and we sensed it. My doctoral mentor Steven Garber has said regarding involvement in Christian Mission, that you can: a) GO to various parts of the world to serve (whether in your backyard, to Haiti or even farther out); however, also you can b) GIVE farther out than you can GO and finally you can c) PRAY farther out than you can GIVE and GO. But you see the point? We're all in this together, that the marvels of the collaborative efforts of our team here in Haiti is really a microcosm of the Church family back in Nebraska as well as all around the world. Those of you reading this blog are a part of something marvelous. 1Cor. 12 refers to it as a Body with all its various parts doing their work in order build and strengthen.
Secondly, preparation has been key. We've spent much of this year preparing for this trip, working together as a group, doing fundraisers, having monthly meetings and reading the book When Helping Hurts together. Despite the fact that many different churches are represented in our group, nonetheless, we all know one another, have already worked together, enjoy one another and are comfortable together. This all matters once you get "on the ground," sometimes in pressure-filled situations and need to depend on one another or respond quickly under stress.
Thirdly, leadership. We have strong leaders who care so much about this ministry. Gene Summerlin is Grace Chapel's Haiti Ministries Coordinator and not only Gene but his entire family have very much committed to serving the people of Haiti. Gene is knowledgeable to Haiti as well as the work of medical missions here. Craig Moore has been a longtime Haiti Goer and provides much knowledge in terms of medical practice and pharmaceutical products, ethics, etc. Craig and his wife Shirley are very dedicated to Haiti. Carla Pisel-Nixon has been on every trip with me since 2006 and is the "Mother Teresa" of children here- she loves those kids so well and I wouldn't want to go to Haiti without her. Her husband Rob has never been to Haiti but has always been a huge support to Carla and our teams, especially as a financial advisor helps with our donor questions. And then Carrie Davidson, Jane Vander Broek and Jami Pickering are Haiti veterans who have provided significant types of support to our teams as co-leaders. Finally Frank Maiorana of GCA has been with all of our teams since 2006. Frank has been in Haiti for over 10 years and with his wife Karen has given his life for the people of Haiti.
Fourthly, location, facility and some distance from the earthquake. The Guest House was completed only recently (May of 2010). Our last team stayed in the local Wozo hotel before the GH's completion. We saw the structure go up but were yet to be on-site. Plus, we've only been in Mirebalais for just a little under 2 years. Our first 5 years of involvement were in Southern Haiti in Cayes. We're a little more "situated" in Mirebalais these days. The development of the site, in addition to being almost 2 years removed from the earthquake rather 2 months (as was the case with last year's team), has taken a little bit off of the "edge" of being here. Our March 2010 trip was a tough trip emotionally, despite being comprised of a group equally- amazing as this one. However, that sense of "acute crisis" is gone, though suffering here continues to run deep. There is a Haitian proverb that says, "It's not surprising that there is suffering but that suffering can have no end." We all felt extreme helplessness and brokenness over the devastation of the people back in 2010 and we still do on this trip (plus we still have a few days here where anything can happen); however, life is in some ways "back to normal" with living standards once again raised to the average household living on a bit above $1/day. The PaP University students who survived the earthquake, many are back at the University. Cholera is now endemic to this country because of lack of clean water but the people seem to be getting along. Of course the point here isn't to be sarcastic but to highlight the resiliency of the people while reminding of the dire straits of their condition as well. These "stabilizing factors" have led to a kind of emotional "settling" among the team and our leaders. Again the 2010 team was amazing but I think going in such proximity to the devastation of the earthquake took a kind of toll on us that I don't sense this group suffers.
Finally, the Grace of God in Christ. We owe all to Him and It. As Garber (my doctoral mentor) has said, "'Grace' is a word that changed the world," so thank you Lord. Merci Senor!
Please keep praying for us. Today we travel to S'Eau Deus an orphange of 40 kids also run by the mayor of the town. Bonje Beni! Merci! (God bless! Merci!)