Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Mother's Day in Haiti!

I've been in Haiti for 11 days now and so much has happened. I'm sorry I haven't posted anything until now, but I really didn't have Internet access until this week, but now I should for the rest of the summer; unfortunately, it's not always the most reliable. I hope I can upload pictures, but we'll see how that goes. So much has happened, so I'll try and update you thus far, share a few stories, but then from here on out, I hope to be more regular with updates and stories.

Here's a list of things that have happened/ I've experienced:
  • Arriving in Port au Prince (PAP) was difficult to see since the earthquake. Some areas were really obvious that destruction had happened. In those places, the best way I can describe some of the buildings was that as I was driving through the city, I felt like I was walking through a Fun House with buildings with walls half missing and torn of, roofs sunken and collapsed in, piles of rubble still standing... The most obvious difference were the thousands of tents everywhere that people are still living in. There are "tent cities" everywhere that now house people. People live in tents whose homes were destroyed or whose homes may still be standing but because there are still frequent "tremors" here, people are afraid to sleep in their homes and have thus moved to a tent. Other times, I would see a crack in a road or a building but couldn't tell if it was a result of the earthquake or if it was just Haiti. There are definite visible changes in this country, but the people are still the exact same, and I love them so much.
  • I felt my first tremor last week while I was praying outside with a teammate. It took me a second to realize what it actually was, but I can now say I have officially felt an earthquake. Before it happened, I was actually pretty excited and waiting to feel one, and honestly, it is exciting to say that I felt an "earthquake". But at the same time, I have talked with so many of my dear Haitian friends and have heard them recall their nightmare experiences they had on January 12 that I feel guilty for wanting to experience a tremor because each tremor, no matter how small, brings back horrible fear and memories for the Haitian people. A man, Jase Freeman I believe, was here at Lifeline shortly after the quake and made a documentary called "After the Ground Stopped Shaking" and it has been played for the workteams. It brought tears watching it the first time with some of my Haitians friends, seeing only a small part of what they experienced. Working in clinic has also made it more real since most of my patients were injured in the quake.
  • This past Sunday (yesterday) was Mother's Day in Haiti. I was here last Sunday for Mother's Day and it was the most incredible church service I had ever been too. So, happy Mother's Day again Mom! I love you!
  • After church yesterday, I went to the ocean with the team and got stung by a jellyfish! Ouch! I told, Katrina, the other intern who's been here for 4 weeks and is leaving with this team, to pee on it, but she didn't have to go. I think it's probably a myth, but I was willing to try it and see if it would work!
  • Also at the beach, I was able to try some new Haitian cuisine: fried fish- the whole thing (I wasn't brave enough this week to eat the head because I could still see it's eyes through the breading staring at me) and conch!
  • I road in a TapTap (Haitian taxi) for the first time ever on Saturday!!! It was about a minute ride, but check, done that in Haiti!
  • One of my main roles this summer is to do therapy with some of the Haitians who were injured in the earthquake. God and I have talked a lot about this because though I was super excited to have this opportunity (therapy in missions is what I've thought I've wanted to do for a while) I was so overwhelmed thinking I am so unqualified and inexperienced to do any of this- for goodness sake, I just graduated from college 3 weeks ago with a degree in athletic training. I've always had someone over my shoulder helping me if I needed it. And that was with college athletes, not people who have amputated limbs, paralysis, or who knows what else. God was SO faithful though. I tried to come up with a list of things last minute to take down here with me to start my "therapy clinic" (which I now like to refer to as Lifeline Physical Therapy :) and I was blessed beyond measure with things to take (thank you SOOO much to everyone who helped!). I had more than what I could bring! My objective last week was to do evaluations on people to see what we were working with and if therapy would even benefit the patient. Unfortunately, though I knew I needed to depend on God's strength and not my own (and I did), I left clinic that day so overwhelmed and wishing I had 100x more experience and knowledge than what I do. I saw 12 patients and didn't have a good idea on what to do with any of them. I could have been missing so many things in my evaluations and if I don't know what's wrong, how do I treat it? Thankfully, God is still so good and so faithful. I have my "healthcare email network" of people at home that I contacted about my patients to pick their brains. TO THOSE OF YOU WHO RESPONDED TO THOSE EMAILS, THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! YOU DON'T KNOW HOW HELPFUL AND BENEFICIAL YOU WERE!!! Today, I returned to begin treating some of those patients and felt like I had you (those on my email list) standing over my shoulder walking me through. It also helps that this new workteam (arrived this past Saturday) consists of 4 doctors who are very experienced in Haiti and with Lifeline, and are more than willing to help, teach, and share their wisdom, knowledge, and experience with me. I'm hoping to finish therapy early this week so I can run over to clinic and observe them doing surgeries and learn whatever I can. (to my roommates from school: I have a "super-human thirst for knowledge" to learn whatever I can from them ;-). I'll share a couple of stories after I post this about a couple of my patients that have touched me so much already and the incredible ways God has been working through me and answering prayers to help these people function better despite their injuries. Thus, today was the complete opposite of last week, and I left clinic today so encouraged!
  • Another highlight was that I got to help build a home last week for Mykenlove, the first girl that my parents and I began sponsoring 7 years ago. If you don't know the story of Mykenlove and all the miracles that have happened in her life, just ask me, but basically she was abandoned and living on her own at the age of 10 when on my second trip to Haiti in 2006, we found her. She is now living with her father, step-mother, brother, and 2 half sisters; they are a wonderful family and love Jesus. Last year when I met them for the first time, they were living in home they did not own and was not in the best of shape. My parents were scheduled to come a week after the earthquake in January and build a new home for her and her family then, but because of the quake, their trip was postponed until couple weeks from now. It was just really neat to be able see Mykenlove go from an abandoned little girl to having this home being built for her and her family, knowing it will be in her name so it will always be her home.
  • Last Friday, I went to visit Mykenlove and her family at their home (old home because they have not yet moved). It was the first time I had been there since last year. One of Lifeline's translators, Gary, came with me, and we all sat on the porch and chatted for a while. It touched my heart to be sitting on the same porch as Gary and Mykenlove's father because after we found Mykenlove abandoned, Gary was the man who welcomed her into his home for a year and a half until she went to live with her father. Both of these men have taken care of Mykenlove and love her with their whole hearts. Her father is an incredible father, and Gary still considers Mykenlove as his own. It was just an incredible miracle that I never would have imagined when we first started sponsoring Mykenlove.

That's all for now; I know it's really long, but that's been the highlights of the last week. Hopefully tomorrow night, I can share some miracles and answered prayers that have happened already. God is so good! (Bon Jezi Bon!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Items YOU can donate

Hey there! Below is slide show to pictures I have uploaded from Shutterfly. You can view them from my blog or clicking on the album will take you to a link to view them larger with comments I have made. (These are pictures from me at school this semester, but was a test more than anything to see if I could make it work.)

I put together a list of things I am trying to pull together in the next few days before I leave that will be useful to do therapy/rehab. If you want to donate any of these things or have connections to these items, let me know: soft tape measure, goniometer, latex gloves, rubbing alcohol, saline solution, bandages/gauze, peroxide, Clorox wipes, Lysol spray, Theraband/Theratubing, kids' outdoor bouncy balls, weighted bean bags, putty (silly putty or a similar consistency), sheets/pillowcases/towels, dyna disk, crutches/canes, pillows, duct tape.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The end of a season means the beginning of another...

This is my first official blog post. I don't know how much time I've spent trying to figure this thing out since I'm a newbie. Just to keep everyone up to date, I graduated on May 8th from Northwestern College with my major in athletic training. I leave for Haiti on May 20th for 10 weeks and will return July 28th. Once I return, I'll begin the fun of job hunting, hopefully doing athletic training. The thing I lack most in athletic training is confidence, and I know the only way I'll gain confidence is through experience, so for now, working seems to be the best option. I'm pretty sure there will be more schooling within the next few years, likely in the area of physical therapy. I'm not sure if I will apply to a doctorate of physical therapy program or a physical therapy assistant program. We'll see if God reveals anything to me this summer along those lines.

I just got an email today from Gretchen giving me a better idea of what to expect this summer. (Gretchen and her husband Bob DeVoe founded Lifeline Christian Mission about 30 years ago, though all the credit they receive they give right back to God.) Gretchen will be there for the first couple of weeks I'm there, but after that, it sounds like it will be me and a couple who serve as the Laborlink Coordinators who will be overseeing the workteams that come down throughout the summer. Gretchen is planning on me spending most of my time in clinic doing rehab and therapy with the Haitians who were affected by the earthquake on January 12. I am so excited because doing therapy in missions is what I have wanted to do since beginning college, but honestly, I am scared out of my mind. My therapy experience consists of working with college athletes and assisting in a PT clinic at home, not organizing therapy for people with amputated limbs and who knows what else. As scared as I am, for the same reasons, I am so excited and can't help but laugh. I know that God doesn't always call the equipped but more often equips those He calls. He is calling me, and I feel SO unprepared and unqualified with no professional work experience. The verses I'm sure I will be clinging to this summer come from 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that the power of Christ rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I have no clue what will happen this summer or how God will reveal Himself to me, but I am SO excited to learn. I know God is good, and I pray that you will be encouraged as you read my stories and thoughts this summer. I want to be as much as an encouragement to you as anything. Though I am the one who will physically be in Haiti, it's all of us, working together as the Body of Christ, who will be able to impact this world for the sake of the Kingdom. Thanks for joining me!