Friday, July 27, 2007

Part One

“we are pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned - struck down but not destroyed.”

(quoting a song that is quoting a smart guy who wrote some good stuff in a really good book…{Yes Lord, Apostle Paul, The Holy Bible}…maybe you’ve heard of them)

In Haiti, we’ve learned over and over, and over, and over – things are not always what they seem.

If you asked me last night for three words to describe my experience in this country here they are: “I hate Haiti.” I was standing in the yard reflecting on the day where we spent a lot of time and resources trying to help a helpless child, only to realize that the child’s family was trying to rip us off, and has more interest in getting money out of the ‘blans’ than helping their sick child. I was trying to reflect and calm my nerves and pray while I listened to another child in the village being beaten and crying for mercy. I heard his father yelling in Creole “don’t ever look at me again”. I don’t know the reasons for any of it, but it wasn’t right regardless – and it made me hate this place.

I trust you can deal with honesty if you are still reading this blog after all this time – and this will be nothing but honest. So if you can’t handle that, stop reading now, because you’re probably already offended.

I actually love Haiti, and have never been happier or felt more fulfilled or more blessed or more in the center of God’s will for my life. God is good. He is refining me. Refining isn’t always fun and beautiful. Sometimes it hurts and makes us curse and want to give up. The only way to get through it is to surrender yourself to Him and let His Spirit lead you. That isn’t always easy for a fleshly sinner like me.


Britt and Peter and I drove to Deschapelles to visit baby Marius in L’Hopital Albert Schweitzer. It was a beautiful drive, although the roads try desperately to break your bones along the way, and we got to see parts of Haiti we’ve never seen before. We arrived in the Artibonite Valley region and marveled at the flat land and farms and lack of mountains. We’re not used to that sort of terrain anymore. For a minute, I thought I was in Nebraska.

We were excited to see the hospital that is so well known in this country, and to move forward in helping baby Marius. It was like a road trip and adventure and short-term mission trip all in one. The hospital was exactly as I expected it – I had been warned – it has an amazing reputation in this country, but when you look at it relative to the rest of the available health care here…an amazing reputation in this country isn’t saying much. It is a large dilapidated compound that seems understaffed, overcrowded, and saturated with the feeling of desperation and hopelessness, without nearly enough people around who give a damn. By Haiti’s standards, it is still amazing.

We talked to three separate staff members (including the head nurse) about baby Marius and heard the same story from each one. They all remembered him well. The father and Marius had been there last week, but were sent away because the surgery he needs could not be performed at that hospital. They were given a referral to go back to General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince (the hospital that referred them to Deschapelles).

They left Deschappelles on Friday of last week. Friday…The day before we made arrangements to get involved and raise money and try to help this poor child. On Saturday, I had spoken with the father and was excited to hear that they found someone to do the operation, and that it could be done so cheaply, and that the hospital in Deschapelles had been so helpful. I told him to return last Monday so we could make arrangements. We then asked for help from our blog readers last Saturday night to provide funds for his surgery (and the surgery for Madame Felius).

The funds were all accounted for by Sunday afternoon. We were elated, to say the least, and anxious to see God’s plan and provision unfold for baby Marius. The father told me that the doctor at Deschapelles could do the procedure for $300 dollars US. I told him the funds had been provided and we would take him back to the hospital on Thursday to pay for the surgery. The father never showed up on Thursday morning. We sent people looking for him, and were told that he’d “already gone up” - so we went on our way to find him and his baby boy.

When we arrived in Deschapelles, I learned that no doctor ever said they could do the procedure, or asked for three hundred dollars. The father and baby Marius were nowhere to be found. I checked and double-checked, but the story was the same all over the hospital, and not only was there no one there who could perform the operation, but Marius had been sent away six days before I arrived...and three days after the father was still telling me that the baby was there in that hospital.

We left the hospital and drove home confused and concerned; where was Marius? Had his father returned to General Hospital in Port without telling us? Why hadn’t he kept his appointment to go to the hospital, and who had said they would do the surgery? The questions went on and on. I sent word to the father’s cousin that lives in our village that we needed to find them. She came later that night with the rest of the story. Or at least some version of some story that may or may not be true – and once compared with the learned facts – turned out to be all lies.

The story changed further with every question and explanation – in the end, I was extremely disappointed, disillusioned, and saddened.

I still have not spoken with or seen the father, or baby Marius – but I learned that they are in Montrois (a city about an hour north of here) and that they are awaiting our help.

Their current story is that the person in Deschapelles who could do the surgery “went back to America” (not true according to the people at that hospital) – and now that same hospital that sent them away last Friday gave them a referral the following Wednesday (the day before I arrived) to go to another hospital in Cange. Conveniently enough, I can’t drive to that hospital and check things out. It is true that there is an amazing hospital there – it apparently isn’t true that they were ever referred there. From our investigations, it appears that once the family saw our interest in helping this baby, they saw it as a money-making opportunity and wanted us to hand over the cash for a surgery that couldn’t and wouldn’t be done.

Not a dime of the money that was donated for this cause has been handed over to baby Marius’ family, or any hospitals/doctors that may or may not have been trying to help him.

After learning all of this last night, I had the ugly “three words” experience I mentioned earlier.

Then I prayed.

Then things started looking up.

If you asked me Friday morning for three words to describe my experience in this country here they are: “There Is Hope”.

This story will be continued – Friday in Port was a whole other adventure - but for now know that we have made contacts who may be able to obtain a medical visa for baby Marius so that he can have an operation performed in the States. Please pray for guidance, direction, and provision so that this can take place.

The money donated for the surgeries is being held in reserve while we figure out how to get help and where it will be best used for the intended purpose. Please also pray for discernment as we figure that out.