“A view of Haiti’s mountain ranges from the top of Pic la Selle, Haiti.”
Hello from my favorite chair in Oriani, Haiti.
Happy Easter! May we all live with the resurrected Jesus in our lives. We are a little exhausted with all the activity lately. It’s been a busy time getting ready for Easter. We are youth leaders here and were in charge of a youth program that we brought to the church here in Oriani and also to the neighboring congregation of Savan Mouton. Practice 3 times a week, along with all the other church services… makes lots of “church” but it’s been good. We have 15 youth here and they all did so well. The young brethren took turns telling the Easter story between the songs … but they all kinda got into preaching which made the whole program very long.
This winter dry season has been not nearly as severe as last year. It’s March now, and some farmers are starting to plant potatoes, corn, cabbage, and beans. Rain makes these people miserable and so happy. How? They sit in their cold leaky huts, and they usually can’t even cook food on their outside fires while it rains so … they are hungry, cold, huddled together in their dark little houses, the paths around the neighborhood turning to muck. Yet they are rejoicing because rain is watering the land, bringing hope for a crop, water to bathe in and water to drink! Rain is LIFE! You realize how very important rain is in an area where there are no rivers or wells. CSI has been working with a well drilling outfit and have drilled 5 holes up here in this mountain now and every one is dry so far. Contracts are being made for some kind of expensive testing to be done now before more money is poured into dry rock holes. Pray that they can find water! It will be a huge blessing.
On top of all the other hundreds of sick and wounded people, there were a lot of babies born in the clinic in the last month. I don’t have the reports in front of me but I think it must have been about fifteen. Most of them were first time moms and were as young as fourteen! Most of these wonderful opportunities to bring a new soul into this world were quite difficult cases, too. We tend to get the difficult ones. Traditionally, the babies are born in their houses, and then when they have issues…they just bring the person to the clinic on a mule, or… four men carry the whole bed to the clinic! Sometimes it seems the whole community comes along. At that point we apply crowd control measures and lock the clinic door so they don’t all pack inside and cause problems. Usually, we allow just one person to accompany the mom, and it’s inexplicable how they choose that person. Recently, a mom chose her brother in law because she said her husband couldn’t handle it. I didn’t agree with that weirdness, so I chased him outa there and got another lady of the family instead. One of the babies born at the clinic was stillborn. Another was starting to cause alarm when it stalled in the birth canal too long and then was very slow to breathe afterwards. Thanks be to God for all the deliveries that were eventually brought to a successful end. Our nurses Kay and Chrystelle have much patience.
Things don’t always turn out well though. We had a man come in to the consultation room with a baby in his arms that looked a little strangely relaxed. Kay called me to come, so I asked him if the baby was sleeping and he said yes, but Kay and I immediately had suspicions that the baby was dead. Kay proceeded to do the consultation and listen to the lungs and heart, and then we had to quietly break the news to the father that his child was gone. His silent acceptance of it was heart wrenching. Another day, one of our favorite church sisters (Se Simon) fell down unconscious at her house, and was carried a mile on a bed to the clinic. The nurses started CPR immediately and kept on for quite a while but alas, she too slipped into eternity to be with her Savior, never to hunger or suffer again. Because she was so loved and respected, the funeral was huge! I counted almost 500 people inside the church and many more outside. The walking procession to a tomb near her house was likely a 1000 people, heartily singing as we walked. It grew into this large crowd as other churches let out that Sunday morning and joined up with us. It was one of those scenes which are totally indescribable!!
Another day, we had two men come in who had gone to work in their garden. When they needed a break… they drank from a gallon jug of water that they had previously hidden in the field. An hour later they both woke up from unconsciousness with a crowd of people looking down at them. Somebody had poisoned the water jug and they were in bad shape with terrible shakes and stomach cramps!! They were brought in and we gave them everything that we could think of because the family did not want us to take them to a hospital. But nobody knew what kind of poison we were dealing with! They received activated charcoal, milk, IV fluids, and then finally, the family just took them home. I had asked the men if they were praying. They said they were Christians but were in too much pain to pray. So we prayed for them. It again impressed me that we all better have our “after-life assurance” looked after and paid up by the blood of Jesus BEFORE we fall sick, because I have seen this often that a person close to death isn’t even thinking of praying! One man died, the other man lived. Reminded me of the account in Luke 17. “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left.”
A very immoral and well known girl of eighteen, who seemingly had no known history of depression or boyfriend breakups, etc., suddenly decided to try to end her life by drinking poison. Her family brought her in. After vomiting and treatment and observation for a while, she bounced back with little or no negative effect. I talked to her and she just laughed… said she was just tired of living and wanted to end it. I asked her if she knew where she would be now if she had been successful? I tried to describe the horrors of hell, she got sober and said she didn’t want to go there. I also told her of the forgiveness and love of God, and how Jesus came and died to save sinners like her, like me, like all of us ….If we repent and call on Him. She said she would think about it. Our hearts ache for cases like this.
Sometimes it’s a fight to be able to help these people. Yesterday a mule stepped on a twelve year old boy, and he had an open fracture of his leg; the bone ends were protruding. After pulling and setting it, the nurses splinted it and prepped him to go by ambulance on a rough three hour ride to a hospital. Now, I had noticed the woman who brought the boy looked dirty, acted distant, and disconnected. I began to question her about how to plan the hospital run and I kept getting strange answers. She said we could do nothing till the father came, and he was several hours away. I soon had a strange sense that this woman was hiding stuff and likely was a witchdoctor’s wife. We pleaded with them to let us take the poor lad to the hospital but they refused. Finally, all of them walked away leaving him alone with us for several hours! We soon confirmed that we were indeed dealing with a witch doctor family. After a few hours the witch doctor father came on the scene and refused to allow him to go to a hospital. They just took him home! We felt sick about it. I told that man in very clear terms what would happen if infection set in and that his boy could lose his leg. I also told him that my master Jesus and God were more powerful than his master Satan, and that God would severely punish him as a father if he made decisions for his boy that ended up going bad. He didn’t like that, but I felt a strong feeling to cut him no slack. Before we released the boy to go suffer at the hands of a negligent, devil worshiping father, I prayed with the boy and implored Jesus to touch him, heal him and also reach through to the conscience of the father. That’s when they took the boy away. A couple hours later they were back, and… the witch doctor asked us to take the boy to Port au Prince! I was thrilled. I was impressed to see this proud arrogant man with an air of humility about him and even softness. I pulled out my Bible (I had been on the way to church) and just gave it to him, telling him to place it in his shirt pocket close to his heart and see if it warms his heart. I told him I wanted him to accept Jesus and become converted, and that I want to talk to him about this some more someday. He accepted it! So away they went to the hospital. I was so happy I felt like shouting HALLELUJA!
The other day, we had a man who had been in a machete fight. His cousin had gotten mad at him and tried to kill him. His head was hacked half way thru his skull, his arm was laid open to the bone. His neck was chopped open just below the jawbone. That one alone almost killed him. He had lost a lot of blood. In total, he had eight cuts. The nurses stitched tendons and, in some places, sutured three layers deep. In all… they spent six hours cleaning, suturing and bandaging. Well over 100 stitches were used. So far he is doing well.
Matt and Sherri Giesbrecht from Ballico, California are planning on moving here to work as administrators of the clinic starting in June. Matt is a RN and brings a lot of good experience with him. We are thrilled at how God provides people for the needs we have here. The Lord willing, we would then go back to Ontario for some time. We are in good health and enjoy our life here in Oriani, but we feel God is leading this way for now. The clinic has bought a house next door to ours here, and we are starting to remodel it and add on to make it more habitable for Matt’s when they come.
Our church has had revival meetings in the last month which I was very thankful for. Some things were set in order and several reconsecrations also happened. I think we will have a few more meetings sometime soon again. Now and again we hear of the struggles of the church in North America and how “materialism” (often extravagant lifestyles and the pursuit of “more”) can be a hindrance to fruitful Christian life. In Haiti… in a sense, “materialism” (the gnawing worry of poverty and how to get ahead materially) can have a very detrimental effect on these Christians as well. Keep praying for these dear Christians here too. Sometimes we would feel like helping them, but then at times we can complicate things if our “help” is done in the wrong way too! So also pray for wisdom for us.
There is a song in English which says…
“Thank you Lord for your blessings on me.
There’s a roof up above me, I’ve a good place to sleep,
There’s food on my table, and shoes on my feet.
You gave me your love Lord and a fine family,
Thank you Lord for your blessings on me.”
Well, we have a lot of friends and dear members of our own church here who couldn’t sing ANY of that except the part “you gave me your love Lord….”, but even that is sometimes hard to see when they are suffering. Can you imagine?…. no rain-proof roof, no good place to sleep, no food on the table, no shoes to wear to church, no fine family….
Of course we can’t lift everyone above the poverty line, (and God isn’t asking us to), but I feel God is asking us as His church through His name and in His love, to reach out and help certain situations which He brings to us. To just say, “Be ye warmed and filled and give them not those things which they have need of”… leaves us outside the blessings God has for us, and often closes our door to share the Gospel. I wish the clinic could heal people like Jesus did, with just the touch of His hand, but so far we still need to buy medicine and give it to the people. Wages also need to be paid to employees so they can feed their families, and many other expenses like ambulance service, etc., need to be maintained. This, unfortunately, takes some of God’s money which He has allowed each one of us to use and to serve others with. We encourage you to remember the Haitian people, and give to the clinic as the Lord directs you.
Two rather major needs we have for funds right now are…
- Fix up and furnish a house for Matts to live in by June
- Replace our current ambulance with a better diesel model
We thank you for your prayers and support, and may God bless you all.
Keith and Candace Toews and family,