Just couldn't resist sending this picture, taken this morning en route to the airport. Proof that they are all happy, finally all healthy, and all coming home! After all you've heard and prayed for this week, it seems you deserve to see that all is well!
They are at the Port au Prince airport waiting at their gate for a 2:00 EST flight. Flight tracker says it's on time :)
Praising God with you all for a fruitful week of service in Jesus' name to the people of Haiti. Well done, team!H
The team spent their last day back in Savanne, the medical team seeing a whopping 130 patients (including the ones who were turned away on Wednesday, right at the front of the line) and the water team troubleshooting all day long on the water system. It ended with a life and death situation for the medical team, when they were already exhausted and looking forward to packing up after a non stop 7 hours in the heat, noise, and press of people. Literally non stop.
Today the medical team saved a baby's life. It is sobering to think that if they hadn't been there, hadn't been there TODAY, or hadn't been there that LATE, this baby would have died. A 17 month old baby girl, Rose, was rushed in to the clinic by her mom. She was having a seizure, which the docs assessed as being caused by extreme dehydration. The seizure was her body's way of protecting the brain from shut down, but that shut down of the rest of her body had already started. She was on her way out. Acting quickly, the team got her roused from unconsciousness and immediately started an IV. It was a bit of a fight, as even in her state she was lashing out in wild fear. She actually bit the person holding her and her teeth had to be pried off his hand. The IV revived her to the point that the team could stabilize her and send her off with her mom, IV still inserted, to get to the hospital with funds they provided.
Meanwhile, as the situation with Rose stretched on, the team's drivers were patient but getting quite uncomfortable. No one who doesn't have to stays in Savanne after dark. They were anxious and antsy to get out, and the team packed up as soon as the baby was on her way to the hospital and left.
The water team worked all day to solve a "yellow water" issue in the water system in Savanne. Some answers were found, but Living Waters and the Savanne based water board (folks trained by our team when the system was installed) will have to continue looking at possible causes over the next week and report back to our team.
Some bright spots of the day included reuniting with friends such as Jude again. There were several others who are familiar to our "repeaters" and it is almost like a family reunion when they get to see each other. All are doing well.
Another positive development is that it looks like the bug that worked through the team seems to be waning - a few are still weak and on the mend, but as of today, no one was coming down with anything.
Upon their return to the house, they found local vendors who are invited to sell their local art and wares to teams working with ESMI. A little haggling can be fun, and it supports the local economy. Perhaps a little early Christmas shopping was done?
After a final team meeting to process the day, supplies were sorted and packed up to be left at Louis' for use at Cavaillon - mostly vitamins and some meds for the kids.
Tomorrow their day starts early. A coach bus is scheduled to pick them up at 5:00 am EST to start the long ride back to Port au Prince. The flight to Miami leaves at 2:00 EST, then from Miami folks will scatter to Chicago, California, Phoenix, and Milwaukee. It will be bittersweet - they're so anxious to get home, but leaving the team will be hard.
For one final time, please pray for this team tonight and during the day tomorrow, specifically for:
Smooth, safe, and timely travel. Many connections through many miles.
Health tonight, tomorrow, and upon their return home
A gentle re-entry to "real life". Many leave Haiti feeling overwhelmed and bombarded with the reality of the need they've seen. They are physically exhausted, as well. All of that makes it an emotional time. The people of Haiti, with whom this team will leave a part of their hearts.
The leaders in ministry in Haiti - Dony, Louis, Monchera, the Duchitie church planter, Jude, Antoine, the interpreters who serve them so well all week, the housemoms at Cavaillon.
Thank you for taking part in this mission, and for hanging in with prayer. There were 294 email addresses on this prayer list, many of whom represent churches where the updates were circulated. The team is grateful for every one!
“Are we gonna be ok?” “This is NOT missions 101 - this is missions on steroids” “We really need people to pray for us!”
All of the above were heard today in Duchitie. The team got there later than they’d hoped, but the “advance team” of Dony and the church planter of the three month old mission church with local leaders had done an excellent job of setting up space for them to work. And word had spread far and wide that American Christian medical people were coming to Duchitie, to this new Christian church, coming in Jesus’ name. When extreme need meets limited availability you get the kinds of conversations and feelings represented above.
In fact, the team was fine, but a growing crowd caused anxious moments and a lot of stress. At one point, the team leader told Dony to say to the people crowding in and clamoring to be seen “either walk out the door calmly and wait or we’re leaving”. And they did walk out.
The day was complicated by some additional team members and one translator succumbing to the gastrointestinal difficulties that have been circulating around the team. No more than 2 or 3 at a time have been incapacitated, but Duchitie is no place for that kind of issue. Also, the heartbreaking tug of knowing you are leaving sick people - especially sick babies or pregnant moms - behind without treatment is traumatic. The team was wonderful today and very efficient - seeing 120 people, some with complicated and time consuming needs, but they will leave Haiti with a much deeper and visceral understanding of the ocean of need that Haiti is. In fact, some were brought to mind of Jesus’ experience with crowds and the heartbreak he felt on their behalf.
A special thank you to those who took the time to pray earlier today. That quick request went out with only the team leader knowing, yet not long after, a few team members told him they felt a sense of calm, and even the feeling that people - lots of people - were praying. When he told them tonight that was indeed the case, they were awestruck and grateful. Please do NOT underestimate the role you have on this team. The rest of the team certainly does not!
Now the team is back in Cayes, sorting and prepping for another day, after a dinner and a team meeting that allowed them to decompress. There was a lot of stress-reducing laughter at dinner, finding some of the funny things that happened today. It felt good, and they feel better being at the house, working together and processing their thoughts and experiences with each other. A good night’s sleep will help a lot, too.
On another front, the LaHatte water board came to Cayes today to sign the covenant required by Living Waters so that they and our team could work towards getting their system up and running again - the surest weapon against cholera in their community. It was a covenant pending the raising of funds, so all committed to pray. A rough estimate at this point puts the task at $14,000.00
Tomorrow, it’s back to Savanne for both medical and water teams. It will be another busy and stressful day, but all want to finish well and do what they can with the time they have. In the evening, one more round of repacking supplies, this time to organize what can be left their for ESMI’s medical staff. The van to pick them up for the trip back to Port au Prince will come very early Saturday morning, starting a long day of travel back home.
For the people of Duchitie to see the gospel and embrace the gospel
For those who were treated for very difficult or chronic things, such as malnutrition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and infected wounds. Medical care is minimal, difficult to get to, and expensive so many go without
For the team to process their experience today and this week in ways that grow their faith, give glory to God, and incline their hearts to see the mercy and love of God in all things, even hard thing
For God to provide the resources to repair the LaHatte water system
For the teams' time in Savanne tomorrow - that the water system would be repaired so that it functions well, and that many would be physically and spiritually nourished by attentive and caring actions from by team.
For the health of our team, physically and in spirit, and for good nights’ rests tonight for all.
For the wrapping up of the pastors' training work being done in Jeremie, by Sean and local pastors being trained to train others
The team arrived in Duchitie a little later than they'd hoped and the crowds are quite large and growing. It's probably pretty clear that many will be unable to be seen given the time available, and people are getting a little desperate and impatient. Please pray that the crowds would be orderly and patient, and that our team would be able to focus on just what they can do and stay calm. Louis and Dony are there, as well. Pray for safety for all.
Thank you for praying for the team's day at Savanne. They were definitely answered.
The medical team saw 86 patients today. Although hot and crowded, it never seemed out of control or chaotic. Our team worked like a well oiled machine...but a machine full of compassion. One woman who was taken to the head of the line because she was in full asthmatic attack and likely a few minutes before full respiratory failure, was able to say afterwards "I have never been loved like this, or experienced such kindness. I will never forget". Several team members found themselves serving in unusual ways (pastors checking urine samples for pregnancy tests? "okay!") and doing so with joy.
The day was extremely well organized by Pastor Monchera and his team of leaders/volunteers. He even brought a bullhorn so he could be heard giving directions above the din. He stopped accepting people into the line around 2:00 so by the end of the day, all but 15 people had been seen. Turning people away is very hard - they could have been waiting for 11 hours! - so when one of our team members went through to apologize he was astounded to hear nothing but gratefulness that the team had come. They will be back for another full day on Friday!
The repeaters on the team were able to see changes in the people of Savanne. There was not the air of desperation; people were carrying themselves differently, dressing with more care. There seemed to be more pride and hope.
Our friend Jude was there to greet the team - he was the "guy in charge". His conversion was one of the first in Savanne after hearing the gospel at one of our first clinics. From voodoo strongman and bully, he is now a tender hearted servant in the church the community, and seeing the changes in him has led many others to Christ. He was there all day shadowing the team making sure all was well.
The water team was able to spend the day checking and troubleshooting the water system installed there last year. They made good progress and will be back to work on Friday. This community water system has brought a great deal of pride (to say nothing of better health and even some jobs) to Savanne, and the water board is anxious to have it run at full capacity.
Often, by midweek and especially after a day at Savanne, the team is beginning to feel a little frayed and fried. Not so this time. Everyone is tired, and now 5 or 6 have had significant intestinal upsets, but they are still feeling energized by the tasks at hand and looking forward to yet another new destination tomorrow - Duchitie, which is 90 minutes away (likely by four wheel drive truck - the best seat is the bed of the truck to see the views, although bumpy and windy!). There's a new church recently planted there, but the village is so remote the residents have never had a doctor visit. It's certainly influenced by voodoo practitioners. Yet the church is planted and the gospel is being preached. So tomorrow, a new adventure.
That transportation would arrive on time and in good order, so the team can get away around 7:00 EST for the 90 minute trip. They need to be on their way back well before dark (not safe to travel those roads after dark), so arriving early will maximize their time. Pray for safe travel.
For their work with the residents of Duchitie. With no medical care available, they could be in rough shape. For sure they will need to hear the gospel from our team along with physical care.
Pray for the team's health to stabilize or remain good. They'd all like to finish the week strong. Pray for good rest in cool space.
The relative good health and especially the change in the feeling in Savanne. The gospel is making a a difference. Praise God for people like Jude, now faithful servants and leaders in the church, and Pastor Monchera, who leads so well.
The many ways the medical and water teams contributed to the lives of people in Savanne today. Their gratefulness was genuine and so encouraging to the team.
The way the team has molded together to work incredibly hard and incredibly well.
Thank you so much for praying! Enjoy the pictures from today...
The team's second day at Cavaillon was as productive as it was fun. The rest of the children were checked out by our medical teams, there was time for some fun, and a pictures were taken to go with their medical charts. A great day!
There were also breakouts for the hygiene trainer to remind the adults and kids about clean water practices (like what to use clean water only for, like brushing your teeth); since the water purification system provides the first reliably clean water the site has ever had this is learning curve for them! Their previous water supply was an untreated well, and finding frog parts in the water wasn't unusual. Any engineer will tell you that clean water takes care of more health problems than medicines, and we're hoping that the benefits to the kids at Cavaillon are huge now that they have this reliable supply of truly clean water.
Dr Daisey also spoke to the housemoms and the older girls about womens' issues and hygiene, as well. The housemoms really appreciate this, as it gives them more information to resource the girls and also gives them a chance to share personal concerns - not something that happens a lot for women in Haiti, with very limited access to health care.
The team loved spending time with these children today. For many "repeaters", it's a chance to renew relationships and rejoice in how the children are blossoming. Those who came to Cavaillon in the early days despaired at their circumstances; now, although there's room to improve in important ways, the quality of life for these kids is like night and day from those early days. Truly something to praise God for, and celebrate what the generosity of financial sponsors have been able to do over the last 5 years.
The water team spent a VERY profitable day in LaHatte with Living Waters, their water purification systems installation partner. The system at LaHatte is old and not in good working order, although the team was able to pinpoint problems and do a temporary fix for some things. They'll be going back tomorrow to do more, and talk to the village leaders about entering into a contract for oversight and maintenance with Living Waters and our Friends of Haiti non-profit board. If they all agree, they can work together to fix the system and keep it running. The village leaders are anxious to do so, since they say "when the system works, cholera goes away. When it doesn't, it comes back". That's significant motivation and also a telling endorsement of the power of clean water to maintain health.
Our under the weather team members are rallying, but unfortunately the bug is spreading. But the best medical care on the island is on our team, and the medicines seem to be helping.
Tomorrow will feel very different for the medical team. Instead of an orphanage in an out of the way place, the team will be going into the poorest part of Cayes, a city in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our teams first visited about six years ago in conjunction with a new church being planted there by ESMI, and it was literally the first time the residents had access to medical care. In Haiti, you "pay as you go" for medical care, and these poorest of the poor had no access to that. The team's presence and their verbal witness sparked the beginnings of a revival which the church planter was well equipped to respond to through his own evangelism and preaching ministry, and the church thrived. The community, always greatly influenced by voodoo leaders who intimidated with fear, now began to change. As the team went back year after year, the changes were obvious. Gang leaders were now believers and leaders in the church. Savanne was calmer, cleaner. People were trying to find work. Children were more well cared for. People who had serial relationships now married the father or mother of their children to make a family unit. It is not an overstatement to say the gospel is changing Savanne.
And yet, tomorrow will be chaotic and hot and loud and stressful - because the people are needy and numerous. Louis St Germain will bring translators (as always) but also will pay church leaders, some who have become friends to team members over the years, to provide crowd control. The team will see as many people as they can by working as hard and as fast as they can, and at the end of the day, many residents will be disappointed by being turned away. This is exhausting and heartbreaking for the team, but they focus on doing what they can and only what they can. They also know they'll be spending a second day there on Friday, which will help a bit. When you go to Haiti to serve "the least of these", the overwhelming sense of need is the hardest thing to weather.
That God goes before the team tomorrow to give a sense of peace and calm in the face of what seems to be a chaotic situation, and that they can do their best for these folks, feeling safe and secure knowing that other Haitian friends are watching out for them.
That the gospel, which will be shared over and over, will not fall on deaf ears but that some will gain spiritual healing even though they came seeking physical healing only.
For our sick team members to fully rally for the remaining days of ministry, and that none others would fall ill. Please continue to pray for good rest and for air conditioning, as they go hand in hand.
For the children of Cavaillon; that God would grow them into disciples of his and that they and other young people in Haiti would provide a firm spiritual foundation, and this this country would once again thrive under their leadership.