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Transition Time

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Our family has been planning on turning the day to day administration of the clinic over to another couple named Matt and Sheri Giesbrecht from Belico California. They arrived in June and have been studying creole and learning the ropes here. We feel so blessed and it seems they are a great fit. Matt is an RN, and their talents and experience are perfect for the position and I feel the transition is going well. We have been working on some paperwork to become Haitian citizens, and even though it is not completed, we now plan to go back to Ontario on Dec 13 to spend more time there. We foresee that we will continue to be involved here, though.  Our family is trickling back to Ontario already. Trev and Mirlene left a year ago, and Zack, who is 21, went back in June of this year to start his apprenticeship in welding, machining, and metalwork. Cam, 17, just left here a few weeks ago to work for his uncle Anthony in harvest time. So now with our two nurses who live with us, our family dinner table is down to 7 place settings. We love life here and will miss the clinic, these dear people, and this land.

The clinic here was blessed by having a Radiologist (Shelly Cederberg from Michigan) come and spend a few days with us, training to do sonograms. Our machine functioned well and it was amazing to see what all can be discovered by ultrasound. Shelly says she saw things here in Haiti that she has never seen in America! Like worms in stomachs, football size cysts, late stage cancer, etc. Matt, nurse Kay Wedel, and our Haitian nurse Chrystelle did well and learned a lot. They are doing sonograms on their own now and examining the unborn babies,  diagnosing kidney stones, ovarian cysts, liver inflammation, and just a host of things. It is also very useful for guiding long needles to do aspirations (draining up to a gallon of fluid from abdomens) etc. It is a very useful tool.
A while ago we had a triple blessing at the clinic. one evening a lady WALKED to our house from 30 minutes away and told us she had just delivered a child at her house but hadn’t delivered the placenta yet and so she wanted our help. Ok, let’s go to the clinic! So when we get there, we detect another child about to be born! Great! We have twins! So after breaking her water again, a man-child was born. I went to the office to prepare something and soon Chrystelle comes running in and says “a foot is now sticking out!” And Chrystelle has this wide eyed excited look and huge grin (that you’d have to know her to understand), and so we had to break the water yet again and a girl is born. Triplets! The family said they were going to name them Mary, Martha, and Lazarus!  It was awesome and the mom was so strong and has cared for these kids very remarkably well. We gave them some milk formula when things started getting tough to keep up, but they are all doing great. Candace went and visited the home one time and found the three clean and well-clothed bundles lying in a row on the bed and mom reading her Bible.
We have had some very frustrating and disappointing situations too. One of our neighborhood ladies has a fist-sized ball hanging off the side of her abdomen. very infected and painful. We Ultrasound it and could not determine what it was that is getting infected and felt she really quickly needed to get an operation. Then we cannot find anyplace that will do it for her. Everywhere we took her they just give her a runaround and keep referring her on to other doctors who sell her a bunch of meds and tell her to go to the next. Finally a couple months later we connected with some visiting American surgeons who came to another hospital and they did it. Found out it was a large fatty growth of unknown origin. It’s just so frustrating trying to get quick help for poor people.
There is so much more we could write about but you have a little picture again.  We still see just under 2000 patients a month, and last month we delivered 15 healthy babies.
On Sunday morning as I was walking to church, I was meeting people coming and going to churches all over the place, some to the Catholic, some to the Baptist, some to a prophet for profit, and some to a local preacher who is known to stand at the church door with a stick and spank his latecomers. So many different views of who God is and how to serve Him. It made me sad that the Devil has had such success at dividing people into different deceptive paths. (The Devil doesn’t do addition or multiplication but is very good at division.) Many people hardly know who or what they serve, or what that means to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Everyone here recognizes Gods existence, but it seems so few really know Him or the tranquility that Jesus gives us. Pray that the Gospel light will shine clearly in the midst of darkness and lots of gray. The clinic example of an anesthetic injection often comes to mind. The devil is trying to numb us all so that he can do his work. He wants to give us his injection and then he can work at destroying us without us hardly knowing what’s happening. Sometimes he gives us a local anesthetic and ultimately wants to put us to sleep completely so that he can operate and remove our conscience, heart, and soul without us even feeling it. Let’s not let him get close enough to give us those injections!
don’t want to paint a negative picture of Haitians and their unity and faith… because I am often impressed favorably with them too. I see LOVE when they sit so close they overlap onto each other even though there is plenty of empty space on the bench. I see CARE for each other when I see a sister reach up and tidy up the hair, patting it in place, even changing a clip, or adjusting the collar of the sister sitting in from of her in church.  I see UNITY of brotherhood when as soon as church is done they all enthusiastically shake hands saying “my brother” “my brother” as they go from one to the other. I see FAITH and TRUST when they resign themselves to the hand of God when they feel they cannot do anything more to improve their lives or their children’s lives, and as hurricanes come and wreck all they have worked for and they have no insurance to fall back on. I appreciate how a small thing like a chicken walking around on the rostrum and pooping on the floor and then walking out, didn’t even distract them from listening to the preaching of the Word of God. I think only we whites even took note of it!  Deacon Todd and Donna Schmidt are still here as church missionaries. We are so glad they came back here for another term!
Ok, my next email in a couple days will talk about the Hurricane Matthew that tore a strip through Haiti. We went to the disaster area and ran a mobile clinic in Abricot by one of our churches.
We thank all of you donors for standing with us and making this medical help to Haitians possible. It’s your work in that sense and we feel humbled to be a part of what God is doing.
We implore your prayers…
  • For wisdom in how to best help people in extreme poverty
  • For protection
  • For our paperwork to advance quickly
  • For the clinic funding to continue
May God Bless Haiti and… actually… the whole wide world!
 
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Posted by on November 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Brother Cyclone

Haiti Hurricane MatthewBrother Cyclone.  That’s what some of the Haitians are now calling my fellow administrator Matthew Giesbrecht. The hurricane and he both share the same name.
I don’t want to bore you with details that you have seen and heard before so I hardly know how to write. And… words can’t describe it. At least mine can’t. I know some people can write descriptive word pictures in just a few words but that’s not easy for me.   I can sorta describe broken trees, and roofs ripped off by a violent and unrelenting wind that seems like it will never stop. I can describe rain that comes horizontally and how in a little over 24 hours it filled a 5-gallon bucket to running over and then the next 6 hours had some of the hardest rains of all. Which amounted to 18 – 20 inches of rain total?  I can try to describe how we clung to Matts roof ridge in 60 mph winds and rain that resembled a snowstorm, while working for an hour stuffing rags into the whole ridge cap so that the wind doesn’t drive rain straight into the house, but it really is one of those things you just have to experience.  And how do I justly describe the poor man who lives in what is best described as a tiny black hole of a dungeon with a leaky tin roof, and all his earthly belongings (his dishes, his clothes, and a couple trinkets) are in the bottom HALF of a five-gallon bucket?  I don’t have words for that!  What I find so discouraging to write about are the feelings of despair many of these people have after a storm like this. They survived and they have ready smiles, and you almost could think they are happy. But the smiles hide a deep sense of fatalism where they believe that they are a cursed people and a cursed nation that will never be able to rise.
When house walls are made of mud and rocks and the rain drives water straight into them for 12 hours, they just fall down. Oriani is far from the eye of the storm that passed but the wind and rain were still quite damaging to our area. Many crops were damaged even though not totally destroyed. Banana tree too. We spent a couple days walking in the little byways checking out the sentiment of the people and the damage… and there was just a lot of damage to the homes. All the homes that are damaged are old, poorly built and inhabited by the very destitute. These are the ones that, to a large degree, are unable to help themselves. The clinic had just a little money that had been donated for humanitarian relief and we used that to help do some repairs. One of our widow sisters had a house fall completely flat, hardly one stone left upon another. We had enough money to be able to offer her some materials if her family could do the labor to rebuild it for her. They started immediately. We have people constantly coming to us and asking for help but we just have to remind them we are here to help them if they have a medical problem. If they are sick… come to the clinic and we will help you! They seem to understand that quite well. We will continue to use special donated hurricane relief funds to repair and build a few more houses for some of the most helpless ones as that opens up.
Matt and I both had a little conviction to use our medical talents and meds to take a mobile clinic out to the real disaster area out west.  Soon we started getting calls from the Haitian Mission Board and they too were encouraging us to consider going. They said they were having a meeting on Wednesday and would discuss it to see if they all felt that way. I told them that if they said to go, we’d go, and if they felt it wasn’t the right time, then we would stay away. They discussed it and told us to go. So Thurs afternoon we headed out. Picked up some more meds, slept in the Port au Prince area, and on Friday left for Jeremy. We didn’t really see a lot of damage till we approached the city of Les Cayes. From there on, it was very bad. It seems like a category 4-5 hurricane does very similar damage as a tornado. Now imagine a 50 mile WIDE tornado sweeping across the country! The vast amount of destruction is hard to imagine. Hardly any houses left complete. Most destroyed. We arrived in Jeremy at about dark, and were advised to sleep in there and go to Abricot Saturday morning. As  we drove out to Abricot the next morning, things just steadily seemed to be worse and even worse. I remember Abricot as a heavenly place. Full of fruit trees of every kind, birds singing, lush jungle, and huge shady mango trees. The best way to describe now is like some pictures I have seen of war zones where all is flattened with just bare trunks of trees standing, almost no green left, and brown hills because all leaves and shrubbery and gardens are stripped. Trees are short stumpy skeletons standing against the sky or else lying flat on the ground. We have not seen all of our church members’ homes here yet, but they say every one is in bad shape. And they say a lot of people here are weak with hunger because they are only eating bare rations and maybe only once a day.
The first order upon our arrival in Abricot was to go down to the government office and sign in that we are working and providing aid for the area. I think this is always an important step to do. It’s a matter of respect, and also collaboration of us with them. If we have any problems, then they are there for us, too. Foreigners sometimes have a tendency to waltz in and do things “our” way, not giving enough consideration to the authorities who are in place.
We got here just in time to see a pair of unmarked American military looking helicopters circling the area. The men in the choppers waved to us to go down the hill into town, so we went and saw them land. They handed out some simple medical supplies that just ended up running off into some of the native’s hands, and then some water and a few jugs of cooking oil. The people were relatively cooperative. The helicopter guys were very commanding and without one word, just hand signals… got everyone in order and lined up to chain the stuff out away from the aircraft. Matt and I were unable to properly talk to them because they never shut down the noisy rotors, but we handed them our business cards and wrote notes to tell them that this community is low on food, and asking them to please send some more because the thieves on the roads are blocking food from reaching this remote town.
Two hours later a very large USA Army chopper armed with missiles (never know when you might need them) came zooming in and landed. These Army guys completely lost control. There were Haitians climbing on and under and even inside, mobbing them as they tried to get the rice and water out the door. It was chaos!!!! Then as soon as they took off, the fighting started on the ground. A rock came flying in our direction, and the crowd started fleeing as two guys with machetes started swinging, trying to attack another group. Soon clubs came out and it was crazy! I thought they were mad at the “whites” because there was not enough food to go around, but some said they were mad at another group that had hit one of them on the head. The half-naked machete-flailing picture of fury was running around trying to slice people, and when he ran towards us, we were all like cockroaches when a light turns on. I will not easily forget the sight of this tall, lean, bareback, crazed, man running towards Matt with a machete raised… and Matt doing his best imitation of a low lean race car, his sandals sending rooster tails of sand and mud towards the madman!  It would have made headlines anywhere!  ROFL (It was only funny afterward… I was pretty scared too!)
We covered the CSI tuberculous clinic (which lost most of the roof) with tarps, and were able to use the facilities here for a general clinic. Before we even got set up, we had patients coming. Some had fevers and some came with injuries from flying tin.
Sunday we went to church with our brethren here in Abricot and I honestly just had to weep as I felt the warmth of the service and the hearty singing. It was so beautiful and in stark contrast to outside the church building where it was so ugly and destroyed. The Mennonite church here is one of the only buildings left complete and was a real shelter in the time of storm for hundreds of people.
Monday morning we immediately had a crowd. We passed out sixty cards ASAP and the rest had to come back tomorrow, but there are so many serious cases that we had to take in at least another fifteen, or so.  So many of the wounds took a good while to dress, and having some people on IV fluids, etc., made for a long day. One lady had seven sliced wounds from flying tin. Several of them were deep and infected. Another old lady had both legs cut and a long gash showing her skull even after thirteen days.
Tuesday, we held the clinic all day again. Lots of fighting to get cards in the morning. Hard to keep order. Once their fists started flying, after which they all got embarrassed and started settling down. The rest of the day went okay. We have been hearing the surf from the clinic here where we work, eat and sleep, and have not even been able to spend even five minutes at the water yet. So today right after work, we guys went swimming. Was so relaxing and calm in the clean blue ocean.
Wed morning, and before we could open the clinic doors, we had already passed out all the numbered cards that we could see for the day. At 8am we heard a  noise down by the beach and when we went to check it out, we saw two Dutch Navy ships off shore with numerous inflatables getting ready to run food onto the beach. These guys had complete control, and commanded more respect than the helicopters guys last Saturday. They are also working with local authorities, which is good. They had a French Canadian spokesperson, although it seemed all these Dutch soldiers (men and women) spoke good English. Several of their nurses (with guns in holsters) came to our clinic and helped us out for a while, bandaging wounds, and doing some consultations. Very good to have their help!
Thursday was another busy day. The locals were so determined to get first in line to be seen in the clinic that they started assembling at 3 am outside our window. Made the awfulest noise with their arguing and angry talk as they jostled each other for place in line. Later I heard that they had forced open the door of the man next to us who was in charge of handing out the cards, and whacked him over the head because he didn’t want to get up so early. The severity of wounds and sicknesses we are seeing is starting to diminish and it feels like we are getting caught up with the most urgent needs.
Friday….we wrapped things up by noon so that we could hire a small motor boat to take us about two hours down the coast to the city of Dame Marie. Having had experience before of running out of gas out at sea… I made SURE the captain was confident that the 6 gallons ware enough. I asked him several times before we left if he was POSITIVE. and finally he told me, “Hey, this is my profession, of course I know what I am doing!”  OK OK, good enough. We headed out past some of the most amazing cliffs and jagged rocks imaginable. I was thinking… wow, if a boat was in distress along these shores… there would be no possible way to beach or even hang onto these razor sharp, overhanging cliffs. A boat would be crushed almost immediately!  Well, we made it to Dame Marie in about two hours under beautiful conditions. There we found a town that was extremely hammered by the hurricane. The land route was just recently opened up and help was just barely starting to arrive, but the storm had stripped and flattened so much of the city it was unbelievable. We saw several HUGE six foot in diameter trees snapped off, roofs off, houses flattened to rubble, and roads which disappeared into the sea. We visited with the residents and, while they were depressed, they were hopeful because roads had been opened and help was arriving. The fishermen in this area harvest conch from the ocean, and the beaches were lined and piled with thousands upon thousands of huge, beautiful conch shells. Sun was lowering and it was time to head back on our two-hour boat ride to get home by dark. Well… we ran out of gas an hour from our Abricot home. The captain kept peering into the tank, saying, “Oh no, it’s not out of gas!” But it kept on sputtering and dying. Every time it stalled, he would readjust the angle of the gas can again and it would start up. Every time saying, “We’ll arrive!”  Darkness set in like a wet warm blanket over our heads just as we arrived beside the aforementioned cliffs of death. Finally, the oars came out and the twenty foot boat filled with eleven people was sloooowly rowed towards a town several miles down and around the curvy coastline. We had our nurse Chrystelle and her friend Charlotte with us and neither knew how to swim and life jackets of course… were only for the sissies in America. So honestly, I was doing a fair bit of praying. I was also checking and shaking the gas tank and I heard and felt no liquid within. While the captain was too proud to admit we were simply out of fuel, I prayed and asked God to put enough in the tank to start it once again and that we could arrive safely.  Soon after it started again and even though it sputtered, it never quite died and it took us all the way in to Abricot! I couldn’t believe it. Thank you, God. We were greeted in the darkness by a couple hundred young men each with a headlamp on the head and a seine in hand. They were seineing for baby eels at the mouth of the river. It was an amazing sight. And I am so glad that communities like this have this huge resource of the ocean where they can fish and make money like this. They will be able to get back on their feet in time.
Saturday morning we headed out on the long drive back to Oriani. I think it took from 6am till 10 pm to get back into our beloved mountains and home.
It was a sobering time, and the damage out there is beyond belief and comprehension, but the people are a tough and resilient people who will bounce back in time. Our church CSI program has started a fantastic house repair project which will be a blessing to many yet. Our church family in Abricot is doing okay. None were killed or even injured, and while they almost all suffered the loss of their houses or parts thereof, they praise God for protecting them.
Continue to remember the Haitian people in your thoughts and prayers. They need it. They feel like they are a people who don’t have any “chance”. If the system doesn’t hurt them, the drought does, and if the drought doesn’t hurt them too much this year… then the hurricanes take what’s left. It is hard to understand why God has allowed some lands and people to advance so much when other hardworking people suffer so much.
God Bless you all,
Keith Toews
director of Confidence Health Center
 
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Posted by on November 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

March update

"Haiti's Mountains - View from Pic La Selle"

“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…

  1. Fix up and furnish a house for Matts to live in by June
  2. 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,

Zachary 21

Cam 16

Chase 14

Christina 12

Ketli 5

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Nov. 24, 2015

OCT REPORT
When we first came to Haiti in 2010, it was easier to write stories about the clinic, about how terrible the people live, and about the miracles and wonders that happen here on a frequent basis (both physically and spiritually). But the longer we are here the harder it is to write. This has puzzled me sometimes and I would like to defend myself and explain some things, but I don’t know if I can put my thoughts into words. Please allow me a minute to ramble and maybe totally confuse you.

We came with love, (Godly love, I trust) and sympathy for the people. We came with a solution and a help for their needs (clinic). The mountain people are so backwards in their understanding and economy and also spiritually that surely they are just waiting for that “hand up”, and then all will be good. And then it’s easy to write about what’s happening. The good things, the bad things, and the things that make us cry. But the longer we are here and the more we scratch deeper into the culture, and whys and wherefores, the more complicated it is. I have been surrounded by Haiti talk for 46 years; I was a missionary kid here. In total, I have over 11 years of living in this country, but I am still just uncovering the layers and depths these people have. And in doing that, there is a constantly changing aspect of love and respect based more and more on understanding and knowledge instead of just tears and sympathy. Am I making sense?

For example … Dieutela is a young woman who has had a terrible existence. She has been used and abused all her life. She has two little children and no house to live in. She lived with her parents until they were so mean to her she was obliged to move out and just “domi kay moun” (sleep wherever). She told me 6 months ago that she wanted to die and be done suffering. That was before she found out she has Tuberculosis and AIDS. Now for sure she thinks life is over. As I drove her home from the special AIDS and TB clinic the other day, I found myself being able to discuss her problems with her and understand from her perspective why it is that she has to sleep around like she does. She can’t say no, because these guys she sleeps with are the ones who support her and her kids, and give her a roof over her head. She knows it’s not good, but without that help she would starve. Here it’s not called prostitution. It’s existence… and everyone helping each other out. So to give her tears and prayers are not enough. She needs Christ, but she also needs frank and practical discussions to help her figure out solutions. Giving her a house and money to live on is not a good solution, because unfortunately, the culture of jealousy and resentment towards someone who comes from so low and then gets help, would destroy her. (She has already had death threats because an NGO came in and built her a small house. Now that that house has been stolen from her, she is more at peace with the neighbors again.) Dieutela is physically ugly and now she’s sick, but her gentleness and soft heart are beautiful. Pray for her, and we’ll keep trying to help her find solutions, too. Her name Dieutela means “God was here”. I hope she knows God is STILL here.

Ok… the above story is one example of real life here but it is one I had a hard time telling. I respect her too much to make merchandise of her story, yet I think it needs to be told.

So even though I don’t always know what to write… I know how important it is that you get letters and reports so you know what that which you have entrusted to us is doing. I will try to portray that to you.

Clinic life has really changed with the departure of our much loved Haitian nurse Githane. She left her husband and went down to Port to live with her family. Trev and Mirlene, our son and his wife, also left for Ontario to work and continue life there. Seems like life keeps moving on and our children are growing up. We now have a new Haitian nurse, Minister Mikel’s daughter, Christelle. She is a bright, happy young lady with a big, ready smile, and lives at our house together with our American nurse, Kay Wedel from Brooksville, MS. Beyond that, we have hired as new nurse assistants, two young moms. They are church members as well. All these changes throw a little confusion and unrest into the smooth routine we had going, but I think it will work out okay. Have a look at the October report at the top of this update and you will see how many different issues we deal with every month. Kay recently had to deal with an axe wound to the foot of one of our neighbors. One toe was cut right off and another almost severed. She artfully trimmed bone back till there was enough skin to wrap over the end and then trimmed again, shaped, and sutured it shut. It looks really good now and he is walking on it. Another boy got his finger cut off and since the mom brought the missing piece in her pocket, Kay sewed the whole thing back on. It was so cleanly cut off we thought there would be a 50/50 chance of healing. It looked well for a few days, but now it needs to be taken off and the stump closed up. We can’t win them all, but we tried. Another sad case this week is of a family who had a gasoline business which they ran from their house. In the evening they were pouring gas from one container to another and, of course, holding a candle for “all the better to see you with”, and guess what… the gas goes BOOM and the house is on fire. The wife had second degree burns on 40 percent of her body, two kids on their faces and hands, and the father on his feet. They will be a long time recovering from this. These are the situations for which we need lots more gauze rolls and non-stick dressings. With this family, we nearly exhausted our meager supply with just two dressing changes.

Some of you have offered layette bundles and clothes and things. We really appreciate all offers of help. I am always hesitant to turn down offers because we never know when we may run out of these things, but the fact is we have enough of these items for now, and with shipping costs very high, it’s hardly worth it. Our biggest need is still money donations. Medicines, workers’ wages, gas, diesel and vehicle parts, etc., cause a constant outflow of money. We also have special situations where some patients need surgeries or other procedures that we can’t do. If these patients will absolutely not go to get these procedures done, (hernia repairs, ovarian cyst removals, bone surgeries, etc., etc., etc.,) because they have no money, then we carefully step in and facilitate, especially if life is in the balance. Ambulance runs are also very costly to us. When Haitians have a request that they lay before us, they often end their plea with, “I thank you in advance”. So maybe I will do that to you readers. So today… I thank you in advance for helping the clinic out.

Our family is basically in good health and spirits. Seems like a common issue we face here is a condition called “ale vit, tounen dousman,” (run to the outhouse, come back slowly), but it’s part of life here. Jenna Toews is our new school teacher and is working very hard for our children. Only God can pay her back for the service she gives. Jenna and Lacey are sisters, who share the same passion for teaching. Lacey teaches at the church school.

Lately, I have been reading a book called, “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good.” What a good reality check for me again. It warns against getting so busy and working such long hours in God’s work. We easily reach the danger point of not looking after ourselves, our families, and others in our primary circle. It also reminds us of how pride and burnout can take over and bring a dark side to all we do. A true heart of humble service is again what I recommit myself to. I think of the heart of Jesus and how everything he did was misunderstood, then was persecuted and finally killed. Yet he loved, and served, suffering it gladly for the sake of the Father’s plan and for us. Why do I get in such a wad about things? I feel ashamed.

A few words about the church here…it is in some struggles. Seemingly, the old traditions and customs and ungodly lifestyles are hard to break from and easy to slip back into in weak moments and difficult times. Isn’t it the same for us all? But here, these people often fall alarmingly far, quite quickly. In visits we have had lately, we are touched by the sincerity of some, but dismayed at the cold indifference of others. We are especially sad that some of the older Christians here seem to be slipping away. The healthy fear of God and a recognition of the voice of the Holy Spirit are two areas where they are seriously lacking. A song with which I have been impressed lately says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go”. I would like to translate it into Creole.

We are in the cold of winter here. Yes, in Haiti it is cold here on the mountaintop. We had 2 nights of frost last week and the day time highs are cool, but sunny. Houses here are not insulated and have no heat source other than bodies, so I find myself getting tired of being cold all the time. Fleece sheets and heavy blankets at night feel good. (I haven’t heated up the cannonball this winter and put it in our bed yet, though!). The locals often blame an August baby boom on the preceding cold December. A couple of weeks ago, my four boys and I, plus the two CSI boys, went on a motorcycle camping trip up into the higher forested mountains in DR. We slept at 7500 ft. No tents, just rolled up in blankets on a nice bed of pine needles. I had a fever that night so with the cold… I was of all men most miserable, but it still was a fun trip. Seven of us, each on a motorbike. I would like to do it again.

Ok that’s about it for tonight. God bless you wherever you are.

Au revoir, Bayi, Adios, Swarrtotmaal, Dosvidaniya, Kwaheri, or “Goodbye” in whatever language you speak!

Keith

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

God’s Promise

Gods PromiseAug 10 2015

Rainbows are frequent here and are a vivid reminder of God’s promises to us.

I would love to have you spend a week here to see the Oriani clinic, have devotions with us, experience the bustle, see the patient suffering of the patients, take in the many varied smells , and experience the blessings etc. Each patient has their own unique life and story that is intriguing and sometimes inspiring.

Dalia is a 33 yr old mother of 5 children who all appear to be under 5 yrs old. When I asked her for the children’s age she gave me wildly varying numbers that were obviously years from reality. After I suggested that maybe she had forgotten, she laughed and said “Yes, I never know how old they are.” Apparently she doesn’t even remember what month OR year they were born. One is crippled and rides on the back of her brother who is maybe 6 at most. Dalia and her children are just in survival mode since her husband left and went to the Dominican, having taken a prettier Dominican wife.

We have many many such “Dalias” in the area here. Children red-haired with malnutrition and suffering from sickness and parasites, gardens and crops completely failed every season for the last 2 years, and existing on credit or charity from anyone they can while living in houses that are deplorable. They don’t even have the physiological needs covered as outlined on the first quadrant of Maslow’s pyramid. We help them with basic health issues and give some education on the advantages to be had in sanitation. I could talk a long time about such a family to try to describe the reality they live in, but it’s hard to convey it, especially the damaged emotions and despair that comes from living without God, morals, and money. We are talking about children half naked and groveling in a parasite-laden dirt yard where there is not one “nice” thing to look at, no flowers, no decorations, no picture books, often not even basic needs like an outhouse available. There is no river, and most people don’t even have a cistern to get water from or to wash in, but just every day… having to beg a bucket of water from some neighbor who may have a little left in their cistern. Often they lack a pattern or example of how to live cleaner, healthier and better. They just exist. The sad truth of the matter is that too many of the women like this end up allowing themselves to be used sexually in exchange for sustenance. They shrug their shoulders and say, “We need to eat”. This numbs the conscience while further tearing down morality, courage, spreading more disease and suffering in the wake.

The clinic sees an average of 80 patients a day, keeping the nurses pretty busy. And then we get called on 24/7 for emergencies. Two nights ago we helped a lady in labor and a healthy little girl was born. Last night’s call was for a man who got shot in the foot by a Dominican border patrol officer. We could see an entry and exit wound, so we are sure the bullet passed through, but the whole foot was grotesquely swollen. With repeated antibiotic injections and faithfully coming to the clinic every 2 days, we feel we can take care of him here. This morning we received a young boy who fell into a 10 ft deep cistern (which was dry), breaking his forearm. Splinting it was easy enough and then we offered to take him down to Port au Prince for setting and casting. The closest X-Ray machine is a bumpy 3 hr ride away. But the family is refusing to go. It’s very aggravating that while it will heal, it likely will be crooked. Every Wednesday is still prenatal care day. The ladies line up to have a class, get weighed and checked, and given the vitamins and medicines they may need for the month. One of the practices these Oriani mountain people have is to give a woman 5 baths after she has delivered her baby. These five baths are still a little mysterious to us, but they involve herbs, other ladies beating the woman with sticks, etc. Then the new mom is wrapped up in many layers of clothes, jackets, scarves and head cloths. Mom is confined to her room for the next 30 days to sweat and suffer. All of this is to ensure that the mom does not ever encounter the most awful thing of all…. “fredzi”. It seems like this “fredzi” (cold air) is what they think is the root cause of half their sicknesses, when the truth is that the overheating and sparse oxygen they endure is what often causes them to lack milk and succumb to more problems. Ancient customs and old wives fables are hard to dispel, but we keep working on it, at least where they negatively affect them. Speaking of fables… I just learned another one. Apparently if a baby is born with the cord around the neck (representing a tie), then that is a symbol from God that he will be a very important person like a minister etc. If the cord is wrapped around the body like a bandoleer, then he will be a soldier or a policeman.

Another clinic story that I want to share is about a young couple named Jean and Sanania. They both have syphilis. His symptoms were minor, but she had huge infected patches all over her body where the skin was rotting off. Her ear was hanging with pus, her shoulder and back had almost no skin. 80% of her body was affected. She was so weak she couldn’t walk. Basically she was just about gone. They had tried witchdoctors and herb people, and now her hope and money were about gone. It truly was one of the more pathetic sights we have seen. Mirlene (bless her heart) donned protection and took this lady into the shower to clean everything off. We then gave them the prescribed Penicillin G shots and told them to come back in a week. After 7 days here they sat. Waiting their turn to come in. What a miracle sight they were! I have never seen someone heal so fast. She was walking and smiling and almost every inch of her body was re-growing skin and there was no infection or open sores left! I still can hardly believe it. They both were a charming picture of hope, excitement and life again. Encouragement was given them to seek God now that He has given them such an amazing recovery from the brink of death. We want to follow them and do what we can to promote continued full healing of both body and soul.

Thanks be to God for providing a few short term nurses to keep us going for the last while. After Ang Toews (from Grifton, NC) left in February, Kay Wedel (from Brooksville, MS) came for a month, then Rosalie Nichols (Inman, KS). Then it was Linda Unruh (Greensburg, KS), after that Gina Dirks (Halstead KS). Each spent a month with us. Now on July 15 Kay came back, so we feel blessed and happy to have her back here for a as of now… unlimited longer term. Every one of the nurses who spent time here brought their own valuable insights and help for the clinic, and we enjoyed each of them living with us. We have had an awesome Haitian nurse hired for the last 3 years and now we beg you to help us pray for her and her husband as they are on the verge of splitting up. Likely this will mean she will leave us to go back to where her family is from. We are very sad for them.

Cam, our 16-year-old son, broke the radius bone in his right forearm last week. He jumped over a yard wall to unlock a door and had a bad fall onto concrete. We spent a miserable afternoon and night in the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port. By 5am we were able to leave with Cam only to see with dismay that the cast was poorly done and would need further attention. Since the DWB hospital had treated us so rudely, crudely and then hadn’t done a good job, we opted to go instead to a private Haitian hospital this time. Readily they took us in, quickly x-raying the arm, resetting and then recasting it very nicely. We were obliged to pay full price for everything at this private hospital. They listed all the supplies used, like gloves for the doctor, swab gauzes, the antiseptic wash, the cast material… everything had a price. The x-ray was $20 and all the cast supplies with the doctor’s fee, came to another $20. The grand total was $40 for a nice job with a brilliant blue fiberglass cast. But sadly, a private hospital costing $40 is often beyond reach for many Haitian families.
A nice little God-moment I can relate is this… When Cam broke his arm, he was 2-3 hours drive from where we were. We gathered our stuff and headed down the mountain to meet with him at the hospital. We had thought our fuel gauge was working and we had 1/8 tank left, but… an hour from home the Ford started sputtering and then stalled. We coasted to a stop within 50 ft of a house that sells diesel from gallon jugs beside the road. And this place is the ONLY place that has diesel for sale within an hour and a half drive.

Another God-moment was when we wrote out a cheque for clinic supplies and mistakenly wrote it out for 212 instead of 312. We just paid cash for the remaining 100 dollars. Later we found out the balance in the bank was 22 dollars after the 212 cleared the account. If we hadn’t made the mistake… we would have overdrawn the account and had the bank as well as our supplier furious at us for bouncing our check. 22 dollars is not a very healthy balance. We did get some donations come in to get us going again, but we urge you to see if God touches your heart for the clinic needs. We feel we are providing very good first line health care at very low cost. We have many needs. We are worried about the clinic funding situation, but we trust God that it is His work and He will supply and direct. Help us pray.

Help us pray for direction and wisdom for the many many requests and frustrating situations that present themselves to us. Sometimes it’s very difficult living here. People come to us every day telling us how their children haven’t eaten today, or they are pleading for help to build a cistern to collect rain water, or for money to buy 3 bags of fertilizer because without fertilizer they won’t be able to get a crop. Sometimes it takes me 2 hours to get to the clinic in the morning because of all the people lining up in our yard or along the road who “neeeeeed to have a few words” with me. I must confess that it is a bit taxing at times. I have to deal with my “self” to just have the patience to listen, encourage, and pray with them even if we can’t help them monetarily. I have sometimes felt like going into hiding till the hard times pass again, but we don’t know when that will be. The Caribbean drought that is affecting everyone from Cuba to Puerto Rico, is seriously affecting most all of Haiti. It’s not only in Oriani. Pray that after 4 dry and lean years now, that God will send rain and 4 fat years ahead.

Our family is looking forward to Jenna Toews from Pincher Creek coming in September to teach our children. In June we said goodbye to April Koehn, who taught last year. One of the joys of being here is all the many girls and teachers who live with us. Our family has been enlarged immensely and we have family in many places now.

Ok have a good night and let’s live like we know the Lord is returning soon.
Keith and Candace Toews
Director – Confidence Health Center
Oriani Haiti
Telephone 001-509-3783-9058
Keithtoews67@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Of Economics

village

Feb 20 2015

Haiti… the “Pearl of the Antilles”, a land of beauty, a land of many problems, a land of contradictions. A people that freely give verbal credit to God for most everything, a people who are burdened with many superstitions. A people who are not materialistic but have many material needs. A culture that is so interdependent that they are each the welfare and support structure that binds the fabric of them all together. Communal inter-dependency that is so strong that independence and the capitalistic way is frowned on because greed and selfishness (which are still present here) are not the attributes that can in any way sustain them in hard times. In this culture (especially rural areas) this large social inter-dependency is what pushes poor families to have 10+ children. The more they have the more support, hopefully, the children will produce for each other and to parents as they get old. This mutual sharing has many interesting pro and con aspects. For example, someone who is down to his last two dollars and will still give one away to someone who has none. When they both run out they will suffer together until they find someone else who has three dollars who they can each then ask a dollar from. Another aspect to this way of operating is that it keeps them all more on the same level. Like one said, “Haitians are like crabs in a bucket.” If one tries to get out and get ahead there are lots more who reach up and pull him back down. If someone is getting ahead financially here, there is often criticism that the person is greedy and selfish and insensitive. Otherwise he would surely be helping others until he was on the same level again. This limits incentive. In this culture, your friends and family are the first ones you run to in material or financial need. The banking system is unavailable to you and is too cold and unfriendly. To loan to and from a friend or family brings solidarity and warm feelings of togetherness. To be so materialistic that you would record all crop inputs, shows that you don’t trust God enough to just make it somehow work out in in the end. Some would go as far as to say that if you count your expenses God won’t bless the garden. They do not trust their governments and institutions. They see waste and mismanagement in all officials and too often in churches too. So their “giving” is literally done without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing…sharing the bananas of their yard with the neighbors, cooking their last pot of rice and dividing it to the hungry, all the while hoping and knowing that when they are hungry, their neighbors will do it back. They suffer together. They do not criticize each other for poor management. Church circles are just like any other part of their other support circles. When times are tough, all needs, social, financial and spiritual are met by this life support group. Many of these cultural ways contribute to keep people in equality and in poverty, but yet these people also maintain a sense of community and solidarity that we lack in our culture.

We as North Americans, and in North America, tend to prize capitalism, independence, and self-sufficiency. We seem to see this as the one true way. Get ahead financially and then you will have enough to give to all those poor people in third world countries (at arm’s length). We work long hours, and look up to hard workers. Financial wealth is the definition of “success”. We have learned to trust our governments, and institutions, and churches, so that’s where we give our yearly donations, and get our tax receipts. We tithe, and we are generous. We eschew personal one on one giving to a large extent. We may have a financial need yet never go to our friends and family. We don’t want to owe them, or have them owe us, because we understand that the best way to lose a friend is to get involved with money matters. A friend is for emotional reasons, not financial. Church is for spiritual needs. Banks and government programs for financial needs. If we start helping one another financially, we are uncomfortable, worrying that other person will become dependent on us, or on the church aid, and we “feel it’s just not a good idea”. Much more could be said….. But do you get a little picture of what I am trying to show? Both of these cultures are a world apart in the BASE reason of why they each do what they do. Both cultures have positives and both have negatives.

Living in Haiti is teaching me more about them than what I can teach them about us. It’s hard to try to reform their financial ways and culture. And is that really our responsibility to make these changes? It is a challenge to live and work here among the people we love and keep our equilibrium. We no doubt have made many mistakes. Clearly it doesn’t work to be the rich guy in their community and just throw money around till it’s all gone. To NOT help in quiet, personal ways with the many little needs around us, very quickly bars our hearts from connecting with them and them with us. When we humbly and patently listen to their sufferings and sadness and offer a little help in food or money occasionally, our touched hearts open, making us “grieved with the afflictions of Joseph” (Amos 6:6). This enlarges their hearts toward us and we reap the huge and warm blessings of their trust and friendships. To have a “no personal help” policy would be so out of character and out of culture for them that they may not trust that our gospel is good either.
Gospel in action is what really counts with these people. Talk is cheap.

Two examples come to mind. One of their way, and one of ours. I might get frustrated at a beggar who rails on me and calls me “stingy” because I decided not to help him. I self-righteously think, “How dare he say that when I give so much? I have left home and opportunities to come run a clinic for them!” In the second, a Haitian can get frustrated at me if, when I don’t see him paying his church dues, or tithing enough, I try to instruct him on the subject of “giving”. He self-righteously thinks, “How dare you say that I don’t know how to “give” when my whole life is giving to the ones around me in ways you white men will never understand?”

Ok, enough said on that. Nurse Angela Toews heroically fulfilled her one year here, and a month ago headed back to her digs in North Carolina. Rosalie Nichols, an RN from Kansas, is here now working for a while till another nurse can come. The people here appreciate about the clinic is open every day, and they can count on that. We don’t shut down for lack of nurses, and we don’t run out of meds. Although people who walk from long distances are sometimes hampered by rainy weather, there are still plenty of patients each day! Recently I visited a similar sized clinic in another part of Haiti. They just had a small trickle of patients coming in, allowing the four nurses and one doctor to spend a nice amount of time with each one. I envied the personal time and care they were able to give to them. But, with so few clinics or health care providers in our whole area here, we are generally buried by the work load of 50-120 people every day. Recently, having not seen one of our patients (a single lady named Rosalyn) for a while and knowing she is sick and needs her meds, we decided to pay her a quick house call. We found her in her bed sick, and out of meds. The children were very sick, too. So sad. I convinced her to come to the clinic the next day and we were able to give her and the children what they needed. That night a man who had been coming by her house for “favours”, came by again. She had earlier declared to us her intention of becoming a member of our church and on the strength of that desire, she refused him entrance. He got mad and beat her to death. We were sickened and heartbroken. Those three young children she leaves behind haunt me.

Though not all born in the clinic, there are several set of twins in clinic care. One mom had triplets. The locals laugh at moms who have multiple births and call them “mama goats”. Seems like these people struggle enough to feed a child without having to be blessed with twins. Too often the breast milk doesn’t last long enough as it is and then, of course, kwashiorkor (protein deficiency) sets in with many resulting problems. Most of the ones who come to the clinic are women, and women with children. I doubt 20% are men. Because these women lack vocabulary to describe their issues, making a diagnosis always challenging. What do phrases like “waist is broken”, “water under my heart”, and “milk mounted up into my head” really mean?? There are many such things. One recent interesting case is of a young boy who got his finger chopped off. With Todd and Angela’s good efforts, the bone was trimmed back (with a sterilized wire snippers), the skin shaped, and sewn around the end nicely. It seems to be healing beautifully. Recently, I was reminded of the advantages of having Haitian church brethren here to help guide us and give us sage local advice. During our revival meetings, a couple of the Haitian ministers were visiting with me about the clinic, and they warned me that we need to start watching that the clinic profile doesn’t get too big, drawing too much attention from the government. Jealousy and envy of a good clinic could cause enough feelings that they would look for ways to take us over or shut us down. Help us pray that doesn’t happen.

The church here seems to be in good spirits and founded on the Rock, Jesus. Last weekend while the world celebrated Mardi Gras and carnality, our Haitian church gathered at one of our congregations for an annual three day fellowship time. I was sick the whole three days, but what I was able to take in was inspiring. About five hundred people were there. I have been lately reading history and the personal faith stories of many of our martyred brethren from 800 AD to 1600 AD. It impresses me that the active faith that I saw and felt in St Marys while we were there is the same active faith I see in Oriani, and I see the same faith in the old accounts in the Martyrs Mirror. But why am I surprised? God is the same yesterday today and forever. What a security we can take in this.

I could mention that during this last two weeks I have been quite sick with DHF Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and a double whammy of kidney infection to boot. I want to really thank you all for your prayers and support that I felt. Honestly, I was very low for a couple days. My white blood cell count was dangerously low according to the doctor who read my blood test results. I seem to be on the way back up even though I feel very weak and tired.

Our family went back to St Marys, Ontario, for Christmas and then we stayed to participate in revivals and communion. What a wonderful time we had. The snow…. So white, so pretty, and so cold!

A tailender story I want to tell is about a poor, lovely, lonely little 11 yr old girl called LoveMy. She is Christina’s friend and one day when Christina had a lot of yard work to do, LoveMy wandered over and started helping. LoveMy’s dad is not with the family and they often don’t have enough to eat there, so when the work was finished I thought it only good to give her a little money for her effort. I was going to give her 25 GDS which is about what a child could expect, but I decided to double it to 50 for her. She was so happy! She skipped out of the yard towards town. But in 10 min she was back. She had used most of the money to buy a Coke just to be able to give to me. I just about cried. I really enjoyed that Coke. Computer says I have typed 2271 words. Time to go to bed.
G’nite, and God bless each one of you in His service.

Keith

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The country is weeping

Haiti Tears2

The country is weeping. The lips are the Haitian flag.
A street artist spray painted this on a tree trunk in Port au Prince. Two weeks ago this pic was on a Haitian news site after 325 violent prisoners had a jailbreak.

To those of you who have been asking for an update on the Oriani clinic, I say sorry for my tardiness. But it’s been an eventful last couple months! One of the things that dominated our time and mental energies was the robbery. A couple months ago while we were gone to church someone broke into our house. The only way in was thru a 7and half inch little glass window on top of the door. He broke it and squeezed in, which cut and scraped him up considerably. The thief leaked blood everywhere he went while he ransacked the house. He stole some money and my laptop and a few other minor things. I could write a 4 page article of all the drama that ensued, but the ultra short version is that he was caught a week later and he admitted it all. He was caught when he returned to the area, reportedly with a gun, and was seen walking by our house at midnight one night. Some of the locals wanted us to allow them to beat him with a bicycle chain, but we didn’t get involved, and police were called up to come get him instead. We understand that he is still in prison although there is a question about that because the main prison in Port that held 899 prisoners had a big jailbreak recently and 329 of some of the worst prisoners broke out taking the prison armory with them. So we are all on alert and we ask your prayers for continued safety.

The clinic is still steaming along. Angela Toews, RN, has been here since Feb and is planning on leaving us in October, so we are imploring your help to find another nurse. We feel the vision of good Christian care to these poor sick people is best continued by keeping an American or Canadian nurse on staff all the time. Please pray for this need. All prospective nurses should email us with info on who they are and what conviction they have to serve here. We feel a single female nurse is the best fit at this time… RN or even LPN. Our local missionaries Deacon Todd and Donna Schmidt are a big help when needed, especially for difficult situations. That’s when Todd’s long experience as a RN comes in handy. Donna’s occasional help with computer filing is appreciated, too.

I don’t want to plead for funds because I feel strongly that God has always provided in the past and I trust He will continue, but this I can say… our patient numbers were at an all-time high last month and that means a lot of meds and supplies to purchase to keep things running. And I guess I could let you know too that our funds here are at all time low too. Remember us.

One night there was a bad truck wreck a few miles from our house. The truck was loaded with potato sacks and people way up on top of that. It rolled over and many people rolled under the huge sacks of produce as it spilled its load. One lady died on the road in front of us and another had a broken neck and was paralyzed. We sent a number of them down in the ambulance but one still died later in Port au Prince. About 12 were injured enough to need medical help. That was a busy and dramatic night.

And of what should I say more? For time would fail me to tell of… Boozy, Denise, Jemima, and Kawol. Of healthy babies born, of a mom of 9 who tried to abort her 10th child and then came to the clinic too late and bled to death, of infected DONKEY bites, of sicknesses and infections, of cholera infected children who barely survived but are now healthy, of prayers and victories, and inward cries which feel like defeat, and we have to submit people to the care of a loving Father. But we are happy that even the name of the clinic… “Confidence in God Clinic” lifts up God and that people who come here often are able to get that boost of confidence in God and medicine that many didn’t used to have. We are open 8am-4pm five days a week and 24/7 for emergencies. Seems a lot of the after-hours stuff falls upon us “whites” to look after and that makes for tiring days and evenings, but we find that God gives strength and blessings for it all. Honestly, we love the work here and it is a blessing to us. God has done so much good for our family while here in Haiti that I will never complain about it being too much work. It’s the least we can do in return. Is there any other (young?) family that is interested in filling our place here as administrators if our time would come to go back to Canada? May the Holy Spirit guide us in this.

This has been a very pleasant year as far as weather goes because usually it rains every day in summer, but this year, while comfortable and dry….the crops and cisterns are severely lacking water. If we don’t get rain soon the crops will be failed and the cisterns won’t be full for the long rainless winter months. It is so sad that there is no water available in either wells or rivers here in the mountain top. And if we start the fall/winter season with dry cisterns… wow… it will be very tough. Please pray for rain for Haiti. But not too much rain!!! One time in a three day spell we had 30 inches of water come down!! That was terrible too.

We feel blessed to have a teacher lined up for our 2 school children. April Koehn from Farwell, Texas will be joining our rambunctious household of 8 at the end of this month. She will be coming in time for the wedding of our previous teacher Sallie Mininger, who is marrying Frantzy Dorleus, a fine Haitian brother from Port au Prince on Aug 31. We look forward to this marriage and we think the world of them both. If you will recall… our previous nurse Heather Isaac married here in Haiti as well. To a fine young man named Isaac. (Good thing it isn’t tradition for the man to take the bride’s last name or he would be “Isaac Isaac”.) Frantzy and Sallie, and Isaac and Heather will be close to each other and will all be members of the same church congregation in Cazeau, by Port au Prince. Interesting how this is all working. Our son Trev married a Haitian girl too, named Mirlene, and we love her to death. She very much feels like a daughter to us. In our church in Haiti they say it’s all good now because they have 2 girls who married white boys and now 2 white girls got Haitian boys. These 4 marriages include 2 Canadians and 2 Americans. (Derrick Johnson from KS married Mary Vena, a Haitian girl, several years ago). Due to many Haitian’s prevalent national and racial inferiority complex, it is always interesting and animated when discussing with them that God only created one race… the human race. What color was Adam? They say white. I say we can’t know, but that many scientists who study DNA coding tell us our earlier ancestors were dark and genetics are making us lighter colored. Does God even notice or differentiate how much melanin we have? Seems everyone involved with Ferguson, MO does!

Our interest is piqued with the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and other places in Africa. Wow. Read up on it if you haven’t already. The stories are heartbreaking. It touches me because, even though the death rate here wasn’t as bad… I can relate to some of those Liberia stories because of our cholera experiences a couple years ago. Overwhelmed, under-supplied, and understaffed. Death and panic, and uneducated superstitious people. Let’s continue to pray for the Ebola situation in Africa, especially for the brave doctors and nurses who are literally laying their lives on the line.

God Bless you all, and “over and out” till next time.
Keith Toews
Director- Clinique Confiance en Dieu
Oriani, Haiti
Tell- 011-509-3783-9058
http://www.chcenter.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Us? A Married Child???

May 5 2014
images
The Wedding And Our Family
I have neglected writing the last couple months. Our son Trevor’s wedding was a very nice day. As you all probably know, he married Mirlene Henry who was/is our translator here in the clinic. She is a great girl for him and a joy to have as a daughter in law. The wedding service was in Fond Parisian at our church there. Food was served in the benches for most of the people (400), and the reception for friends and family(another 135) was in the backyard of a little hotel close by. The breeze was blowing off the lake as we sat under the thatched roof, eating… RICE and BEANS! And BANAN PEZE and such good food. (I always said I would never write a missionary letter about “what we had for dinner” but I just ate my own words). It was so neat to have all my family and all Candace’s family here for this great event. We put up tents in our back yard some nights to be able to keep them at our place. There were lots of other visitors here too that helped make it all a very warm special time.
Angela Toews from Griften NC is the clinic nurse and is living with us and is part of us now. We and the kids love her dearly.
Our teacher, Sallie Minninger, who has been here for the last 2 years, will soon be going home. She feels like part of our family and we will really miss her.
Candace is a busy mom of a big family and keeps us all going somehow. I can’t figure out where she gets her endless energy from. She says from “exercising” but I think it’s her Penner/Troyer bloodline. Cam Chase Christina and Ketli are all growing concerns. Cam would be soon in “youth group” back in Ontario if we were there. He has youth age Christian friends here which we are thankful for. Chase and Christina are busy with school and neighbour kids. Ketli is completely in love with her new puppy and it seems vice versa too. Zack is just a natural at understanding and fixing things, so he’s been the unofficial motorcycle repairman locally. He’s been studying and is now comfortable enough to open a little repair shop here in town. He won’t make much money but that’s not really the goal either.

Clinic
An axe through the foot, machete wounds, a badly infected dog bite, a knife fight to the head, blood pressure of 247/152, babies being born, MRSA boils that squirt, 287 pregnant women per month, casting simple fractures of an arm and another of a leg, tummy aches, ear and throat infections, respiratory problems, asthma, suturing large cuts from having motorcycle wrecks, cutting out arm cysts, and people sick from a host of misc diseases and fungal infections are all part of the 1900 people we see (and can treat!) per month. But… compound break to the leg from a motorcycle wreck, hernias, cancer, large keloid removal, etc etc are things we refer the people to Port au Prince which is 3-4 hrs away at best. We have connection with a few hospitals and when they have surgical mission teams from USA in, then they let us know. Yesterday I took some people down for surgery at a mission hospital close to CSI compound in Roche Blanche. I got to observe one of the minor operations. I really want to watch a hernia repair yet. I got to observe a dead baby removal, and an extreme D&C once. (rather high on the yuk scale)
Todd is not a full time nurse at the clinic, but since he is an RN he comes in very handy when needed. Angela is our fulltime RN and is doing just great, fitting in very well to both the clinic and to our home. She has had some Creole classes and is getting the language quite well. Trev’s wife Mirlene is Ang’s assistant and translator.
People are still streaming in from extreme distances. Monday a mom and her daughter came in that had left home Sunday morn and walked all day arriving in the evening, slept in town and came to the clinic in the morn. A suspected TB case. In the mornings “Dr” Ozias has devotions with the porch full of people, and he encourages them that beings this clinic is called (in Creole) “Confidence in God Clinic” that they should leave off their heathen beliefs and practices, put their confidence in God and in medicines instead of witch doctor things. We hear the witch doctors are mad at our clinic so that must mean the people are listening. Praise God! We have had a lot of “tet foo” people lately. Tet foo means crazy, mentally challenged, whatever. Some have been humorous, and others make you feel so bad for them that you cry. There just is not a lot of good help for these people here. There is an asylum in Port, but so little that these mountain people here could really do, so they wander the streets and roads, causing real problems. Sometimes they get mad and throw rocks till others tie them up. Other times they undress, or steal clothes from washlines etc etc etc. Just a few nights ago a tet foo man climbed over our yard fence and came back behind the house and knocked on the door. He is an innocent soul that is totally harmless so I just told him to go back out and he smiled, said “OK”, and left. We have had numerous young women who have seemed to been under a satanic spell or influence too. The Christians here call it Satanic persecution. Sometimes they come to the clinic to see if it’s a medical problem, but it’s not medical, and it’s not something we are used to in our culture. Often they come out of it with stories of terrible visions and a sense of being far away and in chains with serpents and evil people. Often they then hear a faraway voice of a loved one praying, or they start quoting a verse to themselves, and they feel themselves leaving that “place” and they suddenly come conscious again. It can last for several days at times. Prayer services are often held for them repeatedly. Recently one of our young converts was attacked this way and as the church was praying for her, the Devil spoke aloud and said “I can’t stay here, it’s too much pressure for me” and within a few minutes the girl stopped grinding her teeth and writhing, and a little later opened her eyes and awoke, asking for food. All this doesn’t make me fear the devil more, but it makes me realise and respect that all the devil’s ways are nothing to mess around with. He attacks us all in whatever way he can best enter. But let’s all remember that our weapons are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds”. He gives power, He gives grace, He gives victory if we are in Him and He in us.

Church and Community
The community here has been thrown into a confusion over a new business that opened up within a 150 ft of our church building. A brothel! Seems a lot of people viewed it as a legit business and even as “development” of the town to have it. Wow. Well, we didn’t see it that way, and as we started to see the negative results of this thing in our midst, and the pounding music during our Sunday afternoon worship services… we got a little more active in telling locals what the Bible says and how it will ruin our tranquil and happy little town, and also the youth of the area as they begin to pass idle time around there. We went and offered to buy the ground, building, sound systems, TVs and whole kitandkaboodle and… The owner AGREED!!! We thought our troubles were over. Well, not so… this news got the local vakabos (bad guys) stirred up and they threatened the owner and threatened the community that they were going to hold a protest, burn tires, and cut trenches across the road if this “wonderful” place shut down. The owner then reneged on his agreement with us and decided to keep it. Our church then had a two prayer meetings especially that this evil would shut down and leave our community and …. It’s amazing… since then it hasn’t been operating the last 4 weekends. Now this weekend we hear they started again and that they had a robbery there… and so we’ll see what happens. We know God is surely working against it behind the scenes, and the community is now saying too that it may be a bad thing for everyone.
Todd and Donna Schmidt, the missionaries for the church here are learning Creole and even though I still translate the sermons he preaches, I no longer have to translate everything like at first. The church is growing and God is still calling sinners to Himself. Seems the gospel light is exposing what likes to hide, and people in the shadows of darkness are coming out of it. I recently was inspired as I met one of the new converts who is about 55, a widow, and lives in the bottom of a deep ravine. She’s crippled in her legs, is in very poor health, and walks 2-3 hours one way (alone) to come to church. I asked her if it isn’t too hard to come like this all the time? She lit up and with just abit of consternation in her voice, heartily declared that coming to church here is LIFE for her. She said “I always come home with a heart full. The love I feel and the preaching of God’s Word keeps me alive spiritually and I will keep coming until I DIE!!!” Wow! God bless her. In this land of extreme poverty it is important to watch that people come for the right reasons and not for hope of material gain. Examining convert’s testimonies for true repentance, encouraging them, and teaching them while looking for a change of heart and life, becomes very important. This is where Holy Spirit’s leading is very crucial. We were at mission meetings this last week with all staff, leaders, and boards, and I feel they are strong and on a good footing in general. Pray for the church in Haiti. As they continue to hear cries for missionaries from many areas here… how can they respond? It’s very difficult for them to supply and fund very many missionaries on their own. People are very hungry for the gospel.
We are happy to have my cousin’s son Kayle Friesen serving here as one of the CSI boys at the volunteer unit nearby. We have quite a nice “American” style youth group when all the American and Canadian youth here get together. The CSI unit up here is still building houses, latrines and cisterns for the very poorest in the area. People who can’t do anything for themselves. We too had some money brought in to build a couple of simple houses for some extremely deplorable situations. I wish you could see their joy, their courage, and the changes it all brings to their lives to have a dry place to sleep.

The School
I also wish you all could see the school. 180 students crammed together. The conviction for a Christian school is here, but it is not an easy vision to accomplish with poor facilities, few supplies and undereducated and underpaid teachers, but… it’s working! (sorta). Merci Bon Dieu. I think in next yr, with a few changes again in the administration, it can be improved.
We found a local source for some help to feed the children in 3 local schools. Love-a-Child organisation gives packets of premixed, prepped, rice and soy protein that can be quickly heated up and is very nutritious for them.
In the words of Lacey Toews who is working with our church school here….
“Hunger is a big problem here now in these spring months before the gardens are ready. Lately I have been noticing more and more how lethargic and listless some of the students are. They sit there heads in their hands, eyes half-shut, no energy. It’s very hard to teach a student like that. But that changes… huge yells of excitement go up when the steaming pots of food comes in. They shovel it down, talking about how good it is. I have seen some of them stop in the middle of filling their empty stomachs, as if remembering something. They then say, “I’m taking the rest home for my little brother and sister because they don’t have anything to eat”. They then tie their bowl in a rag and carefully put it somewhere so they can take it home later.
This meal truly makes a difference in our students lives. They look forward to it all morning. And the joy and energy after the food is amazing! Wow!”

God Bless you all, and we need your continued prayers!

Keith and Candace Toews
Administrators- Confidence Health Center
Oriani, Haiti
keithtoews67@gmail.com
Tel – 011 509 3783 9058

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Cannonball in Bed

cannonball
My letter will be short. Its been cool weather here in Orioni lately. This morn it was 7 degrees Celcius. (43F) Some nights I have resorted to heating my cannonball (Haitian souvenir of the Napolean era) that is solid cast iron and putting it in bed with me (and Candace). I have found that if I put it on the stove burner for exactly 1 min 45 seconds it is a perfect temp to have in bed with us and warm our toes up. It will actually hold the heat for 3-4 HOURS. Its amazing. You all need one of these back in North America with this cold winter! But just remember that even here in this cool temp of the high mountains of Haiti we have no house heat. We actually wear jackets or sweatshirts in the house alot of time.

Our BIG news is that our son Trev has fallen in love with our translator Mirlene Henry (min Enel’s daughter). They got engaged and will be married on Mar 16. Seems so fast! Us having married children? WOW. But we are so excited. We love her so much and because she has been living with us we have grown to love her almost like a daughter even before the two of them got engaged. Mirlene has been working as a nurse assistant and translator in the clinic for a yr and a half and is one incredible girl. She has alot of responsibility in the clinic and is in charge of alot of things. Very capable girl. Trev has been the maintenance guy and is also learning the management of the clinic, so they both will continue working in the operation as before.

Our new nurse Angela Toews of North Carolina is doing really well. She fits right into our family and we love her. She has been breaking into the clinic work and is doing really well. Mirlene is translating for her till the end of Feb and then we have a Haitian translator coming to fill in while Mirlene and Trev settle into married life for a few weeks. Mirlene will resume her position again in the first of April. We have our nurse Jeetan soon going on maternity leave so we have another Haitian nurse taking her place. Vaneet is her name. She is a really compassionate type that seems to really love her job as well as her patients. Nothing gets her in a flap.

A clinic story I can tell you is about a woman who had such a long standing abscess on her butt that all her family and neighbours had given up on her. She was basically put in a room to die. She was not fed any more. No one went near her. The stench of rotting flesh could be smelled from even outside the house. All were just waiting for her to die. Well… we found out about her and started treating her with antibiotics and daily dressing changes. Every day one of the nurses (or often just Mirlene) lovingly went down to her house to endure the smell and repack the abscess and change dressings. The word “awful” doesn’t describe it, but after a month now… this lady is alive. She is eating… even walking to the clinic for her own dressing changes. I believe she will make a full recovery yet. Praise God!!!!

Clinic patient numbers have backed off lately. I was glad because it gives our nurses a break when the days aren’t so long. I asked Ozias why this was happening. I thought it was because just not as many people are sick, but he reminded me that we are in the dry season and times are tough for people. He didn’t think they can afford the 1 dollar US fee that we charge for consultation and all medicine. So I am reminded again how tight things are for people in the winter season of drought. We are having to use Holy Spirit discernment on who to let in for free and whom to have pay. I would feel bad if sick people stay home and suffer or get worse because of the impossibility of paying the 1 dollar fee. I hope I am also following the direction and vision that you donors have in this.

We have 26 people in Bible and Doctrine class. Our missionary Todd and Donna Schmidt are in charge. (it is so good to have Todd’s here). Seems more and more people are seeing the gospel lived out in truth in the lives of our locals here and are pressing in. We stand back and wonder how it can continue because this is now the biggest church in the community and may soon have to separate into two congregations soon to be able to function properly. 300 plus people attending on Sunday mornings. Pray for us all, and that direction for the future may be clear. Everything we do here…. the clinic… and everything… is ultimately for the “good news” (gospel) of salvation.

If I could convey to you the sub-human poverty that we keep seeing around us I would, but words fail me. One man that we found recently is living in a straw pile hut that requires him to almost slither in on his belly. the door is literally knee high. He has a straw mat to sleep on and yet has a fire inside this hut to keep him warm in the cold nights. (I don’t see how he can keep a smouldering fire low enough that his roof doesn’t catch fire!!!) Things like this make my eyes wet when I see it, but thankfully there is a gracious donor that has already offered to help build this poor man a house. The man’s name in Creole is “Two Black Lines”. This man is in bad shape, but is not the only one. We keep finding these “forgotten ones” every once in awhile. If any of you have a desire to help lift this kind of poverty to a more humane level, please contact us with how much you can donate to this, and we will help these kind of people! This man’s neighbour has a house that is falling in on itself, but he never is asking for anything for himself, just help for his neighbour. The whole community swells with enthusiasm when one of these very low people get help. I can say with assurance that God is always glorified when the community sees these kind of people receiving help. It is the love of Christ (Christians) at work.

My field that I had with a widow sister failed miserably. It only recovered half of what we put into it. So I guess that’s a good example to me of how difficult it is for these people to make a living. I thought we did everything perfectly, gave fertilizer on time and kept it sprayed etc. It looked so good but the potatoes just weren’t there to even cover half the expenses. Kind of a bummer. Try again next season! Isn’t that the world wide “farmer” mentality? HA

OK God Bless you all wherever you are.

Keith Toews
Director- Confidence Health Center
Oriani Haiti
tell- 011 509 3783 9058
chcenter.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Candace’s family letter

Candace Writing here… We’re now in the new year…for several days already. Today is a relaxing day for us after a couple of really busy ones. Our New Year’s Eve activities were a first for all involved. Only Lacey was here besides our household, and she expressed a wish to do something she had never done before. As we were talking she remembered that she had brought some black and brown face paint to Haiti with her. She went to get it and we started smearing it on Keith’s face to see how it would work. Since several of the others wanted to use it, too, and the tubes of paint weren’t all that big, we mixed up some water and cocoa to use in his beard. Zack, Sally and Lacey got the face-coloring treatment, too, and I wish you could have been here while it was happening! It’s really good to laugh like that once in a while!
Once the four of them donned toques, hoods and unusual clothes they were ready to hit the town of Oriani and put the inhabitants to test. Keith first of all freaked Todd’s whole household out. Dallas was sure it was a thief, and Donna nearly fell over in fright. They were very certain that Keith was the ugliest black man they had ever, ever seen. Then when he stuck his face in through the brightly lit window opening of Fre Bartelmy’s store, all the children started wailing and screaming in fright about this devil. In the darkness of the street itself, no one gave a second glance, in fact, some guy bumped into Keith on his way by with never a word. The group of bad guys who stand on the corner swore at them as they passed. When they reached the little house where some of the brethren were visiting together, there was complete silence for a little minute. Then,”Who are you, who are you?” Keith just said, “It’s me.” When they all finally realized what was going on, everyone erupted into hilarious knee-slapping, foot-stomping mirth! After things settled down, they had several songs and prayers to usher in the New Year. Then the brethren said they had to go home, wake up their wives and children to pray with them in the New Year.
Too bad the rest of us couldn’t have been there to witness all that, but it would have tended to spoil the effect, I’m afraid! New Year’s Day we spent here making and eating New Year’s cookies and pumpkin soup. Keith and I took a number of plates of cookies to some of our neighbors. Pumpkin soup is their tradition and New Year’s cookies are ours. I think it’s fun mixing both. We invited the other two households and Dallas’s to our place and then in the evening we packed up wieners and wood, etc. for a picnic in the forest. The very next day, Virgil and Delma paid us a visit, bringing with them the three orphanage girls, Laura, Beth, and Maggie, plus Wichie, one of the orphanage kids, and Marie-Josie, a French sister from Quebec. Delma also brought a delicious stew with sausage from back home in it. We had a great few hours with them till they left at around 4:00. At that time I was at Donna’s with the ladies and Keith called me and asked if I could excuse myself because he needed me. I had a little idea of what it might be all about and I was right. Dallas’s had left the Oriani area that morning and he was carrying with him a marriage proposal from Trevor to Mirlene. He met with Ministers Nason and Enel, Mirlene’s dad, at Enel’s place to bring it.
After finding no objections on any of the minister’s parts, they called Mirlene in and asked her if she would accept this offer of marriage from Trevor. She immediately answered in the affirmative and so it was settled.
Dallas called Keith with the answer, Keith in turn called me home and we had the joy of telling Trevor! Wow! Trevor kept smiling involuntarily and couldn’t seem to stop…he still walks around somewhat aimlessly at times.
Maybe you are puzzled as to where Mirlene really is right now.
She left our place before Christmas to spend the holidays with her family and to prepare for her sister’s wedding which was on the 29th of December, last Sunday. We didn’t know when to tell Mirlene to come back to work in the clinic because of this proposal thing! It was almost getting a little awkward already, but that’s all over with now!
When she does come back, she will live at Todd’s place. There’s an extra bedroom outside next to Lacey’s. Tomorrow our two families will meet and make plans for the future.
January 5, 2014
Sunday morning here…an unusual time to be at home, but since it is raining and very cold, we’re sure there is no church service. The phone service is out, too, so we can hardly call around to find out what’s really happening. Last night and this morning have got to have been the coldest yet. And this rain is very unusual. Another reason to be disappointed is that we had planned to make Trevor and Mirlene’s wedding announcement this morning…oh well, not much can be done about it. We went down to Pastor Enel’s with our family yesterday afternoon.
We had a wonderful time with them…also got to see Jephte and Daphne again…who would have thought that Trev would someday be Jeff’s brother-in-law! We agreed on a date for the wedding-March 16th-and ate a delicious supper with them and just had a good time generally. Later today…we did end up going to church late, the rain finally let up for a while, at least. So the big announcement was made to a smaller than usual crowd. Everyone seems to be pretty enthused about the whole thing…everyone loves Mirlene. The idea of a white marrying a Haitian doesn’t seem to stress anyone out. Todd’s invited us for dinner which was special, especially today.
January 9, 2014
We have revival meetings starting this afternoon now. On Sunday for the first time that I can remember, we had a vote on whether we wanted the meetings to start at 3:00 or 4:00. No one voted for 3:00 that I could see.
Last time around, Fre Ozias just told us the meetings would be starting at 3:00. At that time, the three ministers told the leader brethren, maybe Fre Ozias in particular, that they needed to step back a little and let Todd take the lead since he is an ordained brother. I guess that has happened to some degree as shown by the vote about the starting time. It’s all a little awkward since Todd doesn’t know Creole well enough to speak on his own, and I’ve heard there’s some confusion among the brethren about the order of things, but hopefully, now that the revival ministers are back, things can be cleared up. The work at the clinic keeps on…Mirlene is back at her job there since Monday, the 6th. I was at the clinic several days back near quitting time, but things were still humming. There was a young woman on the exam table who was miscarrying and wouldn’t stop bleeding, so Fre Bartelmy was preparing to take her down in the ambulance. During all that, we received word that another lady was being carried in, as she was in such pain she couldn’t walk. That lady turned out to have a severe urinary tract infection. The first lady was on IV, and was put on oxygen for the ride down. As I watched all that, I felt almost overwhelmed that we actually are able to help people in this way. So many others have made it possible for this to be happening. The ambulance has not been in very good shape. Keith and the boys have been working on it to keep it on the road, but what is really needed is that our mechanic, John Beasly, come with parts to fix it properly. I breathed a little prayer that it would make the trip safely down with the sick lady so she wouldn’t die. Well, it did, but it didn’t get back up. This morning, Keith and Zack drove Todd’s truck down to Terre Froid where the ambulance was left by Fre Bartelmy, got it running again and drove it all the way up.
Thankfully, John is coming tomorrow.
January 14, 2014
John Beasly has been here and worked on the ambulance. On Sunday it made a trip down with a number of people who were scheduled for different surgeries in Fond Parisien. They needed to be taken Sunday
already so as to be ready first thing Monday morning. But now the
starter went, so Keith and Zack have worked all day on it. Trev was occupied with putting a new roof on the old clinic. That’s the first step to turning that place into a little honeymoon house for he and Mirlene. We also got word today that the new transmission for the Excursion is in the country.
January 20, 2014
Last Friday exactly, Keith went down to pick up the new transmission from Roch Blanch, thus missing the celebration of Trevor’s 21st birthday. I worked most of the day on a double layer chocolate cake with fancy icing. Of course I thought about Sonia and Shelly all day! I was pleased with the result, but it was still a far cry from one of their cakes. There happened to be company at both the other missionaries’ houses and Karen happened to invite us all to their place, so that’s where we ate supper. We were a group of 26, I think, 15 of which were young people. One of the CSI guys, Sheldon, has three of his friends visiting, and Lacey has her dad, sister, two cousins, and a friend here to do an eaves-troughing project. I heard that they did three different houses one morning. That’s a worthy project…anything to help people collect more water when it rains. It’s getting pretty dry…the dust flies when a big truck roars by. Last week Sunday was the end of the revival meetings. We concluded with a five hour communion service. There weren’t even any baptisms to make it take that long…I don’t know how it happens. Only three members did not go to communion. Fre and Se Jantzi have made a decision to leave our church for a different one, which makes us all really sad. Pray for the congregation here…it’s still so young. To switch subjects…Ketli comes up with some little jewels once in a while. Here’s what she said to me the other day.
“Trevor has a airplane at Canada, at Montreal.
It’s a big one; I saw it.” I told her, “No-o-o, he doesn’t.” She snaps back, “Oh, it’s Zack’s?”
January 25, 2014
Today is Saturday; I think we’re going to the market in Fore. I was up long before everyone else and have three loads of laundry drying in the sun.
The Excursion is fixed now…Zack put in many hours during this last week getting the new transmission in. Yesterday Trev, Zack, and Mirlene took it down to accomplish various things. Mirlene needed to sign for her passport and also buy fabric for the wedding.
It’s so nice to have a working vehicle again. The work at Trevor’s little house is progressing, albeit slowly. The masons have worked for two days filling in the gaps on top of the wall up to the new ceiling.
We were laughing the other day about how this house which Trev and Mirlene are planning to start out in, is far beyond the reach of any one in this area…yet at home, in North America, there wouldn’t be one, not one young man who would consent to live in a house like that! One day during the week I had gotten up, and was outside near our bedroom window which has some metal grill work at the top. I noticed that honeybees were starting to swarm around the feed sack we have stuffed in around the bars. I didn’t pay too much mind till Keith started yelling for help from his bed. He told me to pull out the sack to let the bees back out of the bedroom, but I couldn’t get near enough to do that. So he was trapped in the bed while several hundred bees buzzed threateningly around the room! Only when we started spraying them from the outside did the bees decide to start their retreat. I don’t think we actually killed that many, but they decided, apparently, that our bedroom wasn’t the friendliest place to begin a new hive. I had just made a comment to Zack that very morning that he should consider becoming a beekeeper here in Haiti and export honey to the rest of the world, seeing how the honeybees are dying everywhere. There seem to be a lot left here.
February 3, 2014
There’s been a lot of coming and going during this last week…Todd’s have guests…friends of theirs from Scott City…Casey and Jamie Nightingale. They came the day that Lacey’s crew left. Our new nurse, Angela Toews from North Carolina, arrived on Saturday. She is thirty-three, an RN, grew up in Michigan and Kentucky, and moved to North Carolina some years ago. She is a cousin of Craig, Lyndsey’s husband. We haven’t had a completely new person here for long enough that I have to keep reminding myself that no, she does not know anything about us or Oriani yet. It was hardly two months ago she heard about our need here and she’s already come!
Seems to me she’ll be a good fit. I don’t believe I mentioned that Sallie flew home for a week to attend her grandfather’s funeral. So suddenly the kids had some days off of school…an unexpected treat for them. I had to scramble a little to come up with ways to keep everyone profitably occupied.
We got a good little bit of clean-up work done in the yard.
Lacey’s sister, Jenna, wanted to substitute-teach for a couple of days which worked quite nicely. Jesse Lancour, the missionary I’ve mentioned who has settled not far from us, went with Keith the day he went down last week to pick Sallie up from the airport. Jesse’s wife, Kirsten, wanted to spend the day with me, which she did. She walked here from where they live…an hour-and-a-half walk, and she’s seven months pregnant. She actually spent the next day with me, too, because our dear old Excursion gave Keith some more fits while in Port. He managed to get to Roch Blanch and spend the night and then work all day the next day on it. Zack and Cam took Todd’s truck down so they could help with repairs. Christina had gone with Keith so it suited her just fine that she got to play with Jerrod’s girls for a whole day! Jesse seemed cheerful about it all, too. Kirsten and I had a good time…we walked around to see the school and the clinic and Donna, plus talked a lot…she’s a great talker. When Keith and everyone finally did return home, Jesse’s stayed the night. Now it seems, notice I said seems, like things will settle into a bit more of a normal schedule, what with a nurse proper living with us again. One problem we will face is what to do about a translator for Angela when Mirlene goes down to get ready for her wedding. We thought we had someone lined up but that’s not working out. Bon Dye konnen…God knows. We’ll trust Him.
An interesting tidbit…for the first time, Ketli asked how to say something in Creole. I had just given her an egg for her breakfast, telling her it was a hot egg. Then she asked me, “How do you say ‘hot egg’
in Creole?” That tickled me. I’m impressed that she’s starting to process the difference between the two languages.
February 11, 2014
I’m listening to a wild chorus of Creole singing, courtesy of Sally and Christina…they know I’m writing about them so now they’re singing gently and impressively! They both are very good at Haitian-style singing.
We’ve had a crazy weekend…lots of people around. Two guys from Ballico, California, Matt Jantz and Benny Friesen, came to see the clinic and the Lastic project. Sadly, Matt got really sick on Saturday and couldn’t go to church at all on Sunday. He felt better by evening but missed a lot. Sam Wilhite has returned to Haiti to work in Lastic and he was up here for the day with two others. The Oriani congregation has organized a ‘choral’, a choir…and the twenty-four or so of us practice at 3:00 every Sunday and Wednesday. That helps to make my Sunday very busy indeed, but it’s fun and they’re all doing very well. So, to take a look at Keith’s schedule of services in a week…Sunday morning; 3:00 in the afternoon in charge of choir practice, then the service; Tuesday afternoon from
3:00 to 5:00 translate for Todd at the doctrine class; Wednesday lead the choir again at 3:00 in the afternoon and after that the Bible Study, and on Friday translate the doctrine class for Todd again. Add to that the duties of the clinic and everything else and you’re looking at one busy man! Chase is really enthused to be in the doctrine class…there’s a number of young people. David, Mirlene’s brother, is up here now helping Trevor with his house.
Just maybe I’ll get this emailed tonight before this computer goes to Canada with Zack. God bless everyone and we’re looking forward to seeing some of you at the wedding March 16
Love to all, Candace

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized