2008 Medical Trip

2008 Medical Trip

Here are two reports from the August/September medical trip. The first is from Ron V :

Just a few minutes after midnight on August 30th, four people gathered in Keene, NH to begin a week of ministry in Haiti. We knew very little about each other, but when the Lord gathers a team to do His work, He grows those individuals into a unit to be used for His purposes.

Our team included Ruth Ellen Davisson, experienced traveler and team leader (with about 12 previous visits); Ron Veenema returning for the third time; and two first timers, Julie Rossal and Sean Drower. Our assignment was to assist Dr. Ed Amos at medical clinics and thereby meet some of the physical, emotional and spiritual burdens borne by the people of Haiti. Hurricanes battering the island added to the daily challenges of Haitian life. We managed to arrive right after Gustav, worked while Hannah passed, and left just before Ike arrived. While there, Hurricane Hannah threatened to change the plans Dr. Ed had in mind, but all the rain, downed trees, dangling power lines and muddy roads did not result in any significant changes. By the end of the week, we had treated over 200 people for various medical conditions, removed 3 small tumors, pulled hundreds of decayed teeth and repaired many others in Haitians of varying ages.

As Paul says in I Corinthians, “we see in a glass darkly, but then we will see face to face.” I think the full effect of what we do in Haiti or anywhere else in the world will not be understood until it’s all revealed when we get to heaven. Yes, we helped relieve some ailments for a number of people, but we also established and grew relationships as a team and with the Lord. Each evening we gathered on Ed’s veranda to debrief. During those times, it was evident to me that the Lord was working in each of us as we helped the Haitians.

Reflecting on the tremendous needs experienced daily by the Haitians can be overwhelming. Lord willing, I plan to return to Haiti again to make a difference one life at a time. Some of us go, some pray, some give and we can all have a part.

And here is a report from Julie:

Haiti. What an amazing culture shock. It was my first time visiting Haiti. I had heard many stories from others who had gone, but there is nothing compared to a personal experience.  My main purpose for going was to assist Ed Amos in providing dental care to those in pain.  We were a team of four flying down.  Two providing dental care & two providing medical care.

Our first day we spent with hundreds of children doing oral exams checking for decay and teaching them how to brush their teeth.  When we arrived, the children were behind a gate reaching their hands through in an attempt to touch our white skin.  It’s amazing how just a smile and a touch on a child’s head lights up their little lives.  Being my first time, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the little girls reaching through the gates at me and speaking Creole which I had no idea how to interpret.  I sat and watched them for a minute until Ed said to me, “Well, what are you waiting for? Go get touched.” I walked up to the gate and reached my hands through. The tiny girls touched my hands and reached up to feel how different my hair is from theirs. Their smiles and laughter were quite contagious.  After entering the gates I made it a point to touch every child I passed on the head or shoulder, give a big smile and a “Bonjou.”  The need is so great, not like I could have ever imagined.  There were hundreds of children waiting to get their teeth brushed and so many more we were unable to see.  The supplies can’t extend far enough to help everyone.

Our next two days we worked in Port-Au-Prince in a school treating patients in dental pain.  Most of these Haitians had been living day to day with ongoing tooth aches and infections with no means of treatment. We pulled many teeth throughout our days and restored those we were able to.  One man, 28, came to me in pain. “Famal, famal.” He kept saying as he pointed to his jaw.  Famal is the word for pain.  As I observed his jaw I noticed it had been broken and his lower jaw was completely shifted to the left.  With a translator present he was able to tell me this happened when he was only 11 years old.  This man’s jaw had been broken for 17 years and because he had no means of treatment it had healed broken. The only way to fix this was to re break his jaw, which we were not equipped to do or even know how to do. I was only able to remove teeth in the front of his mouth that were causing him pain. He pointed to posterior teeth, but he was only able to open his mouth 1 inch and I was unable to access these areas.  It was difficult to send this young man away knowing that we had not solved his main problem.  When we feel we have reached our limit as to what we are able to provide, God can do so much more.  Prayer is so powerful and God is so great! I did what I was able to do and prayed for each of those people while I was working on them and made sure they knew that Jesus loves them.

Midweek we headed up into the mountains to treat people in a very remote village.  Nothing in America compares to a two hour ride up a mountain in the cage of the bed of a pick up truck.  Residual hurricane effects resulted in tons of power lines down in the roads which we drove over and under (a big no no in the States).  We passed so many men working in the streets with machetes to cut up these enormous trees that had fallen so cars could drive though.  Shortly after reaching our destination and setting up our portable medical clinic we were surprised by heavy downpours.  Pieces of tin missing from the roof allowed the water to come right into the building creating mud puddles.  The thought crossed my mind that we might not make it out of this village tonight.  I couldn’t bare the thought of spending the night in a mud hole without a shower, yet these people do it everyday. This is life for them.  I’m sure they were glad they were in a mostly enclosed area during the storm.  At “home” many of these people’s roofs are made of  a linen clothe held up by sticks.

The lines were long when we arrived to treat people and they remained long even after we left for the day. I began feeling bad for those we could not see.  I soon realized it was so important to stay positive and be thankful for the lives we did touch. There will always be other times to touch many more.

We speak of poverty in the United States, but it just does not compare to Haiti.  My heart breaks for these people and my prayers of salvation go out to them.  I am thankful for this experience. It has opened up my eyes to see outside of this bubble we live in day to day.  Praise God for his provision and protection.  I look forward to my next trip to Haiti.

What a wondrous day it will be when we are all joined in heaven where poverty, hunger, pain and death no longer exists.

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