Well here it is! Almost 5 months have passed since I got off the plane with Emily and Garret and we worked our way through the maze of people at the Port au Prince Arrivals terminal. So much has happened, so many friendships and days of work and play and some sorrows.
I have loved my time here. I smile as I realize the purpose of why God sent me here. It is not always for us to know...but it is for us to listen to Him speak (through the Bible, through others, through the thoughts He places in our heads) and to obey.
I have been working with some amazing people, both "blan" and "Haitian".....when the Haitian kids call at me "hey blan", I call back to them "wi, mwen blan. Ou nwa". There's always lots of laughter at that!
Immediately upon arrival, Joel and Karlyn and Emily and Garret and I started working with a surgical team from Nebraska. Now that I sit in the cool of the Haitian "winter", it is hard to really remember how very hot we were in August. Just breathing made us sweat! It was almost useless to take a shower. It was a great educational experience for Joel and Garret...one I'm sure they won't ever forget in their nursing careers. I loved to have time to spend with Emily and work alongside her and share the time. And I loved meeting Karlyn, my dear friend Rachel's daughter, who is a very knowledgable nurse and amazing person! (just like her mom)
My time at OSAPO Clinic was very special...because of the people I met and worked with and got to know. It is an amazing organization...well run, efficient and very caring in its' health care of the people. As was talked about yesterday when we celebrated our time together, it was spoken of as a family that cares for each other. I enjoyed my teaching time with 5 of the nurses, passing on knowledge of working in an operating room. I am very thankful to Shirley and Annette and Fiona for passing on their teaching materials/courses to me.
OSAPO has been asked to take over the administration of the nearby Pierre Payen Hospital. This is where I worked with the surgical teams in August, October and November. I also worked there last year and so know many of the people well and what is needed to happen there. It has been poorly run for the past few years and basically has become a shell of a building, erratically staffed and has a record of very poor service. OSAPO will make a difference. I've been asked to sit on a Board overseeing the transition of the hospital becoming a "place of good service" again and I'm very happy to do so. To this end, I have said I will return next year. Right now, renovations have started, meetings have been held with the existing staff, recommendations are being considered. It will all take time...but the community will greatly benefit in the long run!
I also was very blessed with the friendship of Ann Hume. If you haven't gone to her website, go now www.bonsamaritan.org Hers is an amazing story and I am so very thankful to have gotten to know her and work with her and share her wonderful home with her and the children. God is soooo good to me. Thank you Ann for being who you are and what you do.
I've had many tap-tap rides back and forth to work at Pierre Payen. I share them with many Haitians and chickens and even a goat once. It's the main method of transportation during the daylight. After dark, there aren't many on the road as they don't often have lights! I ride motos to OSAPO as it's up a road/path into the mountains. Cars can drive up there but it's like 4-wheeling at home! I have been in beautiful homes and in thatched roofs huts. I have always been welcomed whereever I am. I have never felt threatened or afraid. I've learned to drive on Haitian roads and that is an experience everyone should try. The large buses and trucks drive over the center line, as fast as their vehicles will go, and blow their horns for all to get out of their way. It's a very nerve-racking experience at times. I've learned to drive with my eyes on the rear view mirror and if I see one of them coming, I give them lots of room to pass me. Everywhere there are people walking and they're thankful if we stop so they can climb into the back of the truck. There are donkeys carrying produce to market, there are women with huge loads of their heads going down the hillside to sell what they can, only to have to return home later in the day on foot.
Most evenings I have heard people singing...there are many small churches around and people gather as it is dark here by 6 and not many have electricity. Often the churches have a generator and one light bulb. Faith in God and belief in His help is strong here....no one walks around angry at their fate in life. It's just life to be lived in Haiti and as I say "bonjou" to all I meet, I'm always greeted with a beautiful white-toothed smile against their very black faces. A pure joy to have lived here for this short while!