Sunday, February 8, 2009

Letter from Sue and Brian

When we led our first mission to Gramothe, Haiti, in 2006, our intention was to lead a service trip of advanced practice nurses and nursing students. We wanted to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people in a remote mountain village, if only for a short while. We focused our resources to treat infections, intestinal worms, along with skin infestations such as scabies and fungus. These conditions commonly affect all of the women and children in the village. We also provided vitamins, peanut butter, and educated many women about the benefits of breast-feeding. We taught about how to maintain their clean water source and prevent re-infestation of worms and scabies.
Our first mission was so successful that we returned with a larger group in January 2007, serving more than 1,200 Haitian people in one week. We were amazed to see how the simple care delivered the prior year had improved the general health of the women and children of the village. Naturally, we talked to our friends, family and members of our church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, about our trips and the great need in Haiti. Our excitement over the small but obvious improvement in the villagers’ health became contagious! We were met with an overwhelming support for these mission trips. Word of mouth spread, and unexpectedly, people kept coming forward to offer donations, time, and prayers. Especially surprising was how students throughout Chicago’s North Shore offered their time and talent in many ways to collect basic necessities such as peanut butter, vitamins, and cloth diapers, and to raise funds to buy essential medication. We have been humbled and inspired by the outpouring of this selfless commitment to the well-being of others.
We began Little By Little, a nonprofit organization, to structure and direct this giving by American families to the ongoing healthcare and health education of the Haitian people in Gramothe. Our short term goal is to continue our mission trips to provide basic healthcare, especially to mothers and children. Our long term goal is to advance the maternal child wellness center, supporting sustainability and reciprocity with the villagers of Gramothe.
Little By Little is built on the enthusiasm of average people – no one with great wealth, no one with extraordinary skills, and no one with celebrity. Rather, everyone has simply a heartfelt and unselfish desire to help others in need.
Together, it’s amazing what we can accomplish, little by little.

Sue & Brian Walsh

Haitian Proverbs

Bondye do ou: fe pa ou, M a fe pa M.
God says do your part and I'll do mine. Haitian Proverbs

As I sit here and contemplate what is needed to sustain our mission work in Haiti, an uncomfortable feeling over takes me. I have been trying to discern what that awkward feeling is. It finally came to me…I’m not sure I know what is needed. I’m not qualified to say. I can tell you what I’ve experienced in Gramothe and what seems apparent to me with my pediatric and maternal focus and my heart for compassion, and that’s the best I can do.

“For me, an area of moral clarity is: you're in front of someone who's suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act.” Paul Farmer

As I lay in my very comfy bed, after a nice shower and a full application of great smelling lotions, and my windows open with a soft, fresh breeze filtering in, I’m unable to settle down and relax because I have a few itchy bug bites on my ankles and arms. I think of the Haitian children I know, sleeping on concrete beds or on the floor, straw under a worn blanket to soften the concrete, no shower, no screens, who are scratching their scabies and other infestations night after night, to the point of severe infection, distraction and discomfort. I want to buy enough medication and soap to rid them of these infestations and infections. Effective medication is expensive, but it’s strong and it works. And this suffering is relieved, even if it is only for a few months.

Dye mon, gen mon.
Beyond the mountains, more mountains. Haitian Proverbs

So beyond that first mountain, there are other mountains, other kinds of infections, especially intestinal worms, which also need expensive medication to be effective. I feel miserable, to the point of tears, when I’ve had the stomach flu in the past. All I want is the comfort of my bathroom with all of its amenities, yet I still feel sorry for myself if I vomit or have repeated bouts of diarrhea. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be bloated, nauseous and weak day after long day from the effects of intestinal parasites. Especially with no running water, plumbing, crackers or7-Up, and to continue working in the heat outside – walking miles for clean, fresh water, then having to carry the heavy water miles back.

Woch nan dio pa konnen doule woch nan soley
The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun. Haitian Proverbs

I am acutely aware of the poverty and malnutrition that is occurring in the mountains. It is hard for families to grow food. The soil is rocky, the trees have been braised for fuel. Water is a difficult resource to collect and re-direct. At least vitamins and peanut butter can help. Especially in pregnant and lactating moms, and in children, whose brains are developing, and whose minds are open. Their attention in school is better if they are not suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Kreyol pale, kreyol komprann
Speak plainly, don't try to deceive. Haitian Proverbs

To think towards a next level, to seek out opportunities for prevention, I would love to have a teaching health room, where we could have simple educational programs while the people are waiting for their clinic appointments. To have team members talking and teaching about breast feeding, nutrition, simple hygiene, worm prevention, scabies eradication, malaria prevention, TB, HIV/AIDS prevention etc. Distribution of fortified salt, solar ovens, mosquito netting, clean water sources…

Bwe dlo nan ve, respekte ve
If you drink water in the glass, respect the glass Haitian Proverbs

I think about the news and various talk shows on TV and the obsession everyone has had in the past with travelers who’ve come to America with a multi drug resistant form of TB. The infected traveler has sat for hours on an airplane, exposing a multitude of people to this serious germ. Americans were upset, as they should be! That was the first time I was actually grateful for the self-centered attitude of Americans (and maybe even the world), getting so outrageously upset by this type of exposure to TB. Too bad the appalling attitude didn’t last. I am assuming people don’t realize that TB is still a worldly hazard, and Haiti is really close to our shores. There is no national testing for TB in Haiti. No one knows who may or may not have TB. I have seen mothers die of TB, leaving their young families behind. We should be helping Haiti screening for TB and then facilitate consistent and reliable treatment. This, I believe, is the world’s responsibility, but we can start in a small village, which is better than just talking about it.

Neg di san fe;
People talk and don't act. Haitian Proverbs

Starting an immunization program, of course, would be the ultimate pediatric prevention program, which would be a huge project. Significant research would need to be done prior to initiating and funding something this big. A generator for reliable refrigeration would need to be purchased (we actually would need the generator for multiple other dreams too). I also believe that immunizations would need to be coordinated with the Ministry of Health – likely TB testing would also need to be coordinated with the Ministry of Health. Other expensive dreams would be building a storage room and a simple laboratory with a microscope and simple but reliable diagnostics. We have also dreamed about a computer communication system to confer the more complicated medical cases with stateside physicians. That would mean Internet access at the clinic. We could also discuss fixing up the living quarters for nursing staff (a room has been built above the existing clinic), and both scholar ship money to train Haitian nurses and a salary to retain a nurse. These are all dreams, but I don’t want to just talk.

Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li. Little by little the bird builds its nest. Haitian Proverbs
Little by little we can act together.

Diaries of Past Trips

Feb, 2006: 12 of us took our first trip to Haiti, arriving in Port-Au-Prince one week after the elections for a new President. The elections were postponed several times from the fall of 2005 to Feb, 2006. When they were finally held, Preval was elected. Political unrest was expected, so flights into PAP were canceled and our flights to Miami were waylaid. There was little to no rioting and we eventually made it into PAP with no difficulties. Our first experience through customs was stressful, but successful and we made it to the village of Gramothe by mid morning. We went directly to the clinic and unpacked, stocked the pharmacy and set up our exam stations. Villagers we forming lines and we were eager to start clinic. We saw over 1000 people in desperate need of medical care. We treated many severe skin and scalp infections, multiple respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. Many children also had ear, eye and sinus infections. We treated all the school children and almost every village child who came to the clinic with de-worming medication, also providing vitamins to each child and to all the lactating mothers. The children who were severely malnourished were also given peanut butter. Many infants and children had other gastrointestinal problems, and we were able to provide medications, re-hydrating solutions and intravenous to those in need. Our pharmaceutical supplies never ran out!
It quickly spread through the mountains that “Le blanc ici” (meaning “the white are here”). There had been no medical team there since September 2005. News traveled fast, and we were faced with crowds of typically 200 patients per day, some traveling for 3 days, over 2 mountains to get to the clinic. We started at 5:00am, organizing ourselves, doing a devotion, eating breakfast and then traveling several miles in the back of an old pick-up truck, over rocky, steep mountain “roads” to the clinic. We ended our patient day as the sun went down, around 6:30, sometimes finishing by flashlight, since there is no electricity in the clinic. Some families actually waited all day to be seen, never complaining, and always appreciative. As we returned to the missionary’s home where we stayed, we had a nice dinner waiting for us. We then took a quick “Haitian bath” (which consists of a bin of water and a pitcher), reviewed important clinical information, and found it important to fellowship and share with one another. Bed wasn’t far off, and soon the roosters and the dogs were waking us up for another day. On Sunday we took the day off and worshiped with the villagers in their beautiful hand made church.
Each day was a new and overwhelming experience, and we felt God’s guidance and presence in everything we did. Our brief mission was safely accomplished. It was hard to leave, since we new there were so many more children to care for. We sadly looked into the binoculars toward the clinic as we were leaving for the airport, and saw yet another line forming. Tears came along with the promise of a return visit.
Brian and Sue (2/2006)

Jan. 2007:
Our team of 16 volunteers took our second medical mission trip to Haiti, where we go to a small mountain village about an hour away from Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The clinic where we work is in the middle of a very steep and rocky mountain, in a very poor village, where people have very small, concrete houses, no running water or plumbing (no toilets or showers), no electricity, which means they have no appliances, they cook on a fire outside, they have no roads, no cars, no stores…they eat what they can grow amidst the rocks, they have very little live stock, only a few chickens or goats; a few have a pig.
The villagers have to walk to the middle of the mountain where a cistern has been built to collect water from a fresh spring at the top of the mountain which then comes down the mountain and out of a spigot, where they fill their buckets with water, then carry the full water buckets on their heads back to their homes, miles away, to use for drinking, cooking, washing and watering their fields. Phew - It is a very difficult life.
The missionaries who we stay with have built a church, school and health clinic by the water spigot, so the children can go to school during the day, and bring water home after school. For the children who live too far to travel everyday, there are no public schools, and no clean water.
The reason we go to this village is to provide health care to pregnant women, infants, children and their families, who would otherwise have no health care at all. There are no vaccines, no preventative medicine, and no treatment for anyone when they are sick. They are far away from the city of Port-au-Prince, and there is no form of transportation for them and no money to pay for health care, even if they could get to the city.
They suffer from many kinds of diseases, infections, fungus, skin infestations, intestinal worms and malnutrition – mostly from the intestinal worms, which consume all of the nutrition from whatever food they eat. Since they have very little eggs, milk or meat, they are also anemic which affects their energy level and ability to concentrate. They are very uncomfortable, and it is extremely sad to witness this level of suffering which is so easily treatable. The fortunate children, who live close enough to the school to attend, receive lunch during the school week of rice and beans, vitamins and de-worming medication, which all really helps to keep them much healthier. This may be the only meal they have for the day.
During the time we are there we are able see and treat over 200 people daily. We provide them with medications for infections, infestations and worms, for illnesses we can safely treat; we give each child, lactating and pregnant women vitamins, and we give peanut butter to children who are extremely malnourished – peanut butter is perfect since it is high in protein, high in fat, does not need refrigeration, and tastes great! We also try to provide soap and tooth brushes to as many as we can.
So why do we go to a country which is so far away and on the State Department’s list for travel advisory? That’s a hard question to answer. We believe that God depends on us to do His work. We are his hands and feet. He tries to tell us what he wants us to do, if we just take the time to listen. He gives us a heart for doing something special. We all know that each of us has special gifts, and we glorify God if we use those gifts in ways to help others. It has taken me a lot of years caring for sick children in this country in order to have the confidence and courage to go into a strange country, with unusual diseases and conditions, but God put the situation in front of me, and I listened. I felt it in my heart that I could do this. I just needed to find others that also felt they could serve in this way. I trusted God. Over the year that I decided to try to put together a medical mission team, 11 other people came to me, and we organized our first team. Lots of kids, parents, friends and parishioners heard about our dreams to bring medical care, medication, vitamins and peanut butter to Haiti, and they joined in to help. God has been certain to provide us with what we have needed, with safe travels, and with lots of support from people of all ages, with all kinds of gifts to offer up in service. Children, good health and doing something exciting and adventurous are all my passions, so I guess God knows me pretty well and has given me the opportunity to really enjoy serving Him.
Sue Walsh (1/2007)

Jan. 2008: Hi from Haiti!
Our team of 18 made it through our travels safely and has arrived at the village of Gramothe! We had an angel at the airport who arranged our bag tags and "heavy tags" for our luggage, so we paid no fines for several bags which were definitely over 50 lbs and she allowed us to bring 3 extra bags J Our plane was delayed leaving Miami, so we arrived in Port-au Prince late and had to travel through the city and into the mountains in the dark. We did not have our usual UN escort, which made the journey a little scary and possibly unpredictable, but that's when we felt the presence of your prayers the most – which was a great way to start our mission. As typical, we woke to the roosters and dogs at sunrise and the first thing I did was look through the binoculars to see the people already lined up at the clinic, and walking from every direction to the center of the mountain where the clinic is located. We've had 3 productive clinic days so far, seeing so many in need, with bad infections, skin infestations, worms and more. The good news is that there have also been many healthy pregnant and nursing moms, healthy babies and returning patients coming back to the clinic for refills of their medications! Also, we have with us a wonderful Haitian nurse, who is helping us in so many ways. It would be great if she can continue in the clinic between medical teams! Tomorrow we are going to church and then 2 orphanages to care for the children, then back to clinic Monday and Tuesday. We've had a few heart breakers, with children being very sick, but also with some amazing elderly couples, and our good friend, the 77 year old village midwife and his wife – who asked us if we might have just a little rubbing alcohol we might spare to use for his deliveries (and he was very happy with his new cowboy hat!). We had enough money to purchase everything we needed, and to provide vitamins and peanut butter to all, including the 600 school children here in Gramothe, for the next 6 months. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers, keep it up – we won't be home until Wednesday! Brian and Sue (1/2008)

Hi from Glenview!
We made it home safely last night, grateful for the country of abundance we live in, but sad to leave our friends in Haiti who are still in so much need. Again we were able to see well over a thousand people in our short clinic week, along with providing everything the 600 school children might need for the next 6 months. We also were able to see, treat the children and provide access to medications and vitamins to 2 orphanages in Port-au-Prince. Brian and David actually had the privilege to help prepare a new home for the orphans with their carpentry work, and move their belongings into their new home during the week. The reconstructed beds and new shelves were very much appreciated!
Another new experience for us this year was to go into the mountains of the village to treat a few people who were too sick to travel down to the clinic. One woman was in congestive heart failure and certainly would not have survived beyond a few more days had we not intervened. Not only were we able to turn around her condition, we also were able to teach our new Haitian nurse, Euclid, how to continue to evaluate her symptoms and provide the necessary mediations, nutrition and nursing advice to keep her stable. Euclid will also be able to do the same for many other villagers we saw who were unable to travel. We all gained such honor and respect for each villager as we climbed just a short way into the mountains, with our healthy bodies, nice shoes, comfortable back packs and fresh water bottles. We saw many patients who walked over 1 or 2 mountains, taking a few days, either being sick themselves or carrying their sick child/children, sleeping outside in the cold mountain air. It’s really unimaginable!
Many of the children were sicker than we’ve ever seen before, with very bad infections and conditions such as kwashiorkor. We had “extra cash” that we were able to use to provide extended care for these children in a hospital in Port-au-Prince. God definitely brought to us those very much in need! But ironically we also saw that the school children were healthier than ever, and we saw many very healthy pregnant women and young infants – all were breast-feeding. We also had the unexpected pleasure of having several people who were so old they actually didn’t know their age, accompanied by grandchildren or great grandchildren, find their way to the clinic. Many were blind from cataracts, but otherwise were in surprisingly good health (no teeth). We provided them with vitamins, arthritis pain medication, eye drops, medication for acid reflux, sun glasses, hats, and gained so much pleasure from seeing such happy, healthy Haitians, who have worked such a hard life – we all were about to burst! You were all definitely there with us, helping us with thought and prayer.
Now we’re back home, many of us off to work today, in our comfortable, clean and well stocked clinics, health care access all around us, seeing the inequity of life, but thanking God for the opportunity to balance things out just a bit, little by little.
God bless all of you!
Brian and Sue (1/2008)

June 2008: Hi everyone - we made it safely to Haiti, and just wanted you all to know that, since many of you have been thinking about us, and praying for our team. Our bags (all 24 of them from Chicago) did not make it to Haiti with us...long story with a convoluted saga about them possibly being on their way to Russia...Brian, Willem, Mary, Laura and Amy learned a new kind of patience waiting in the airport hour after hour, flight after flight...finally the last airplane that came, and the last on the conveyor belt, well after dark, had all the bags with our precious cargo!!!! We have had a lot of rain, which has prevented us from using the trucks up and down the mountain - very, very slippery, which would be unsafe for the trucks.... up so high and so steep. So we have walked back and forth to the clinic - a challenge for many - but we all saw so many people waiting in the rain, having walked much farther than we, with ailments and carrying sick one questioned what we had to do. But our day had to end before we were able to care for everyone, so many slept outside of the clinic in the mud and rain...please pray for all of these people. We are off to clinic this am, and it is not raining yet - in fact I think I might see a shadow!!! :) The rain, wetness and slippery rocks and mud just don't seem to bother the Haitians...they are so patient, gracious, lovely, strong...we are in awe of them and are learning so much from them!!!!I will send more later. Many thanks for your thoughts and prayers (please continue) - Brian and sue (6/2/08)
Hi again -
We've had a wonderful week of clinic!!! God has brought to us many, in spite of the difficult weather conditions, who've been in need for some time. Many women and children, babies and healthy pregnant women have also made their way. In spite of the rain and clouds - the smiles and hugs from the beautiful people here have brightened our days and we don't even miss the sun!!! As you may know from previous pictures you've seen, the village people get very dressed up to come to the clinic, wearing their best clothes - out of respect for us...which in this weather is not very practical... however, yesterday a little toddler was completely enchanting as she toddled around the clinic with smiling eyes and wearing fancy white party shoes, twirling around and tap-tapping her way into our hearts forever :) What a joy this experience always is for us!
We've had enough medications, vitamins and peanut butter for everyone!!! It's been such a blessing. Thank you to so many!!!
One team member, who had been studying the Haitian history and culture including voodoo specifically to share with us and help our understanding, made an interesting observation - she noticed that in spite of all the hunger, strife and malcontent that has been in the media about Haiti in the past 6 weeks and has been part of Haitian history for the past 200 years - here in Gramothe there is a recognition of peace in the villager's expressions, even when they are not engaging in eye contact - just as they walk, work or wait - she did not see that in other cities as we drove from Port-au Prince towards the mountains. These people have so little, but yet they are content...we are all trying to wrap our thoughts around that and to adapt that same attitude - when we are completely honest and open with ourselves, it's not as hard as you might think :)
We'll be worshipping with the village in their church this morning, which is always very moving. We're hoping to get to the orphanage this afternoon. We leave, reluctantly, tomorrow morning.
Thanks again for holding us close in thought and prayer this week.
Brian and sue (6/9/08)

Jan. 2009: Hi everyone!
We arrived safely in Haiti 2 days ago – thank you all for your prayers for traveling mercies! As is typical, we had no internet for several days and a few luggage glitches, but considering we carried over 1 ton of supplies – literally (40 suitcases each with #50 lbs + our carry ons = >1 ton) things went pretty smoothly with all medications and supplies eventually finding their way to Port-Au-Prince. The weather is lovely, the people are welcoming and there are no political issues here – wouldn't you all rather be in Haiti right now?!? We've had 2 full days of clinic; with lines forming before the roosters have awakened. We have not yet been able to see everyone before nightfall, but we have been able to see all babies, sick children, elderly and those traveling from very far away before we leave for the day. The others wait overnight and are happy to be seen sometime the following morning. It gets chilly in the mountains at night and they huddle together (perfect strangers) to keep warm. Their needs are great, and so is their patience and humanity.
I have so many stories to share, but for now I will share just 2…
Many have scabies (skin infestation of mites frequently becoming infected) so we have a makeshift area in the clinic where patients go to have medicated cream applied – males in one area and mothers and children in another. As you can imagine, towards the end of the day we are trying desperately to see and treat as many patients as possible, so the clinic gets very busy and full. So there was a child, a man and a women waiting for scabies treatment. One of our team assumed they were together, so she ushered them into an area and asked them to help put the cream on the child and then on each other in the "private and difficult to reach" spots. As it turned out, not only was the child not their child, but the man and the women were not "together" either – they didn't even know each other! It was great comic relief to realize that we had asked perfect stranger to cover each other in lotion – especially after a very difficult, emotional day…
We saw many sick children, but early in the morning a mother with her infant was urgently brought into the clinic as soon as the line keepers saw the child. The child's entire face, only sparing her eyelids, had been burned and was charred and crusted - her bed sheet lit on fire from a fallen candle on the day we arrived. The small miracle lies in the fact that the rest of her body and her hair was not burned and that just a few minutes prior, we accidentally found a much-needed burn cream in a very unlikely place. We were able to immediately care for this precious child, Melissa, with tenderness, compassion, tears in our eyes and the right medications!
Please pray for those in need J We have many more days ahead of us.
Fondly, Brian and Sue et al (1/09/09)

Jan. 2009: Hi again –
Tonight is our last night in Haiti for now… We closed the week seeing almost 1000 patients, and will provide de-worming medication for 600 more school children (and 20 team members!) We have seen many from Gramothe, the surrounding villages and villages several mountains over, who have carried their sick children for days back and forth to the clinic walking 5,6,7 hours or more each way. One family actually came twice in 2 days for a sick asthmatic child in order to receive nebulizer treatments! Another family with a severely malnourished child returned several days later for us to see how much better the child was doing!!! This distance and their efforts are inconceivable to me and I truly cannot imagine the difficulty of this walk, just for rudimentary health care. Conveying our emotions is very hard to do in such a short email….we have so much to tell, many stories with so many special people behind those stories, and so many wonderful pictures. (I think I'm going to set up a blog when I get home).
It seems like the level of sickness was higher this trip, but we had enough team members, medications and a newly set up lab to all work together for improved care for our Haitian friends.
We appreciate your participation in this mission through your gracious giving and helping, caring and prayers. My hope is that you all somehow feel a part of our trip!
We all have heavy hearts as we pack and prepare to come home - and it's not because of the snow and below zero weather in Chicago - but because there is so much more to do here!
God bless -
Sue and Brian and the rest of the Little by Little team (1/14/09)

5/20/09 Hi Everyone -
We arrived safely to Gramothe, Haiti and have quickly moved into "high achievement mode". ALL of us and our 40 suitcases made it with absolutely NO glitches!!! And when we arrived into the village that evening we found almost 200 people waiting for us...they had heard we were coming into town on Wednesday, and thought there would be clinic that day! The day came and went with everyone just waiting and waiting (patiently, I might add), your prayers for our safe arrival and for God to bring us people who need our care were definitely heard!!! We got up to the mountain first thing Thursday morning to full smiles and hearty "Bonjours"! Just imagine...that would never happen in the states!
It has been raining here constantly, but somehow the downpours have been very strategic with our plans. No rain during the long truck ride from the airport AND no rain until every suitcase was completely unloaded - no rain going back and forth from the clinic - including our walk outside back and forth to the school for lunch!!! It has been amazing to watch God keeping us safe and dry.You may not be able to appreciate this little miracle to the extend that we do - but believe is very significant!!! And the best part of this is that Willem (from Mountain Top Ministries) has completed the waiting/education room which holds more than 200 people sitting on benches and has standing room beyond that, so most everyone patiently waiting for us has been kept dry.
Our team is very prepared and is working so very hard to see everyone during the day so no one has to stay overnight, but again, your prayers for people to find us have been answered...there are so many waiting, we have to give return numbers to more than 100 for the next day - and people are walking from farther distances than ever, and have many unusual ailments.
We started right away with our TB screening, so our timing will work out well to read the skin tests we are placing. We were welcomed at the school with the kindergartners singing to us and showing us there good manners with formal greetings in french :)
We also had the opportunity to send a small team to another school in Petionville to care for the children and teachers. This team was also greeted with song and smiles! How precious everyone is!
We are caring for a man with congestive heart failure, stopping at his home each morning and evening, trying to develop a safe medical plan to save his life. He is in a bad way - so please pray for him. I am more than humbled (is there a more expressive word for that in english?) as I walk into his little stone home. It is one small room with one concrete bed, a small table, several ragged blankets and towels, a rope to hang the few clothes they have, a bucket to urinate in, and at least a dozen family members around this patriarch, loving him and doting on him. Children were sleeping on the floor, along with a woman sitting crossed legged with her nursing infant on her lap (can't imagine the back ache). As we entered this home there was an aura of contentment that is beyond our American comprehension!!! How can I bottle this peace and love the Haitians seem to have in spite of their harsh living conditions and political disaster of a failed state?
Thank you all for remembering us as we carry you along on this journey - we feel your prayers and support!
Love, Brian and Sue and all our team

5/27/09 It's the time of the morning when the crows are still active but the dogs have settled. I can hear the quiet sounds of the river, no longer angry with the rapid rush from the full and fast rains from the days prior. The sky has broken and I see the contrast of the beautiful Haitian blue peaking above the quilted green of the mountains. Its not yet bright - the sun has been very shy this trip, but the peace and calm of this moment reminds me that this is God's way. We've experienced a week of high energy, resilience and peace, with the Haitian people as our example. I am repeatedly amazed how a person suffering from anemia/malnutrition along with an array of ailments and a life of poverty and difficult weather can be so strong in body and heart.
We will always have visions of parents and siblings carrying children over one or two mountains, through rocky, muddy, steep paths, waiting all day for medical care. We will remember the man with a year old foot injury whose foot and ankle were swollen, his heel bone was exposed. He was wearing sandals that were pure trash. I remembered him from a year ago, when we saw and treated him with several antibiotics and anti fungals, shaking our heads, thinking that he was surely going to loose his foot. We even had our doubts of him surviving overwhelming infection, but yet here he was, telling us that he was better and thanking us for this care and a new pair of sandals. How did this man get to clinic? We can barely handle walking with our healthy bodies and the best all terrain shoes we can by?
Your prayers and God's perfect timing have been evident throughout this trip most specifically as our team pulled together yesterday. Our goal was to NOT leave the clinic with anyone not seen (every night we left with heavy hearts that 70-100 people would have to return the next day). We had our perfect plan - we had become a well oiled machine! We have seen many pregnant women, all doing amazingly well, so I was not surprised to see another sweet woman, looking about 7 months along, patiently waiting on the bench for her turn, her countenance calm. About a 1/2 hour later, I am told that her water bag very unexpectedly just broke, and she is having contractions. We were not prepared to deliver a 26 week premie...we cared for her as we waited for a truck to take her to the hospital. Over the wet, rough mountain roads her contractions increased in frequency and intensity, passing the bloody mucous that indicates that delivery is eminent. But we made it, and she was quickly brought into the hospital. Through all of this, the rest of the team continued seeing patient after patient, and at the end of the day, each person waiting was seen. We never had a down pour, just some light rain which was actually refreshing after such a sweaty day.
Melissa, the 18 month old who was so badly burned in January, was pure sunshine as her mother brought her back to see us. Miraculously the skin on her face was fully healed. She has scars, but not nearly to the extent we were anticipating. And most surprising is that the new skin is pigmented. She was toddling and smiling, well nourished and her mom was absolutely beaming!!! The joy of these moments are really unexplainable.
We are packing up to leave for the airport, and with each wet, muddy piece of clothing we are putting into our suitcase, we are remembering each experience, each tear, each smile...if only we could pack up this Haitian strength, resilience and peace...
Thank you all, over and over, for joining us on this journey. We have felt your interest, support, and prayers!!!!!
Brian and Sue and team