Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thankful Heart

Doesn't this picture above look scrumptious? That is what I call one beautiful Thanksgiving spread! Today though I am not thinking about that spread. My mind goes back to the young woman who lost her husband three months before she gave birth to her third daughter. SHe is now all alone, no family to help her find food. NO church program or government program to help fill her belly or her children's bellies.

I am thinking about the Haitians that have to spend their days going through garbage to find something, anything to sell to buy some food. There are no fast food jobs to get in Haiti. No minimum wage jobs to apply for. I think of the children who won't be going to school anytime soon because their parents can't afford to send them.

I am thinking about Christians in Iran or other countries who run for their lives or sit in prisons for their faith. As Americans we are not just blessed but spoiled rotten. We have so much "stuff" it is crazy! Give thanks, absolutely but then do something about it.

Go make the day better by helping one person. Can you donate money to feed the poor? Can you partner with a midwife, or a pastor or a doctor to a third world country to serve those living somewhere where freedom is not free?

What about a neighbor who is all alone? Make a difference in the life of just one person. For that I will be tickled pink and God will smile down on you for serving the least of these.

Happy Thanksgiving

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Day at MamaBaby

Here is a picture of the wall in front of MamaBaby. In the next few weeks I will be sharing different pictures and stories. If you haven't read the beginning of the adventure I took you can click on Monday's post.

I was so excited getting to the actual compound that MamaBaby was housed in. What I encountered when I first walked in is called baptism by fire. It would be the theme for the rest of the journey. Life throws us many curves. Some we are prepared for and some we are not. I think my life experiences prepared me for this mission I was on.

Kelli and I walked into the clinic and on the right was the post-partum room. It housed 4 twin beds for use by Mama's who had just delivered their babies. Typically a Mama would stay four hours after the birth. If she birthed at dark we would keep her overnight. One such birth had occurred several hours before I had arrived.

The baby had a hard time at birth transitioning and had to be bagged for quite a while. When we walked in the baby was seizing. There was a quick discussion about the baby and his condition. Now remember, in the U.S. we have 911 to call. An ambulance with trained perimedics come and handle the crisis by transporting the person by ambulance. That is not the case in Haiti. There is no 911 and there are no ambulances. While I watched the situation unfold two Mama's arrived both in labor.

Morgan an American midwife had just arrived the day before and had been at the birth. Kelli assigned me one of the Mama's and Morgan took the other. My suitcases filled with all my supplies had been taken upstairs so I ran to get my instruments. I remember Kelli coming into the room and asking me if I would be okay and calmly said, "sure no problem" where inside I was calming myself down! The orientation would have to wait. In fact, I never did get the orientation. Morgan clued me in as we went along.

Morgan and I quickly became great partners. She is a young wife and Mom who will be traveling to South Sudan with her husband to work out in the bush training midwives. She helped me figure out the forms I needed to fill out and the proper protocol.

Birth in Haiti is nothing like birth in the United States. The current mantra is "Birth Without Fear" which sounds great in the states but is not realistic in Haiti. It has the highest maternal and infant mortality in the Northern Hemisphere. It isn't realistic to tell them not to fear when all around them they see death.

My first Mama was a young woman having her first baby. She came in beautifully dressed in a long flowing dress. Her labor was so hard for her. Typically a cousin or sister or mother would come with a laboring Mom but my first patient was all by herself. These Mama's are so brave in spite of the fear surrounding birth, and she was no exception. She would walk the first flight of stairs in the main room up and down, up and down. I was providing labor support for her by doing counter pressure and we ended up on the floor during the hardest part of her labor. I sang to her, rubbed her back and generally tried to walk with her through all the contractions.

Every four hours or so we would do a vaginal exam to make sure the labor was not stalled. She was only three centimeters but having one contraction on top of another. I assumed it would be a very long night but less than an hour later the baby arrived. My first baby born in Haiti. We would have three more labors back to back that first 24 hours. I loved every minute of it. I was thinking in my head, well this isn't so bad. All the Mama's had relatively smooth births. The first few babies didn't even have a cord wrapped around their necks. I was beginning to wonder what the big deal was in Haiti.

You know that saying, "what goes up, must come down?" My first four births were easy.  That would not always be the case from that point on. I learned to celebrate the births that were "easy" deeply breathing a sigh of relief and thankfulness to God. When things did not go well I earnestly prayed to God for wisdom, strength and above all a clear head. I would need it in the coming weeks.

Till next time,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratituesday November 26th

I have missed 6 Gratituesday's and I for one have missed it! Each Tuesday in Haiti I counted my blessings knowing it was Gratituesday back home.

So what is Jill thankful for this bitterly cold, grey Tuesday morning? I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Haiti and serve at MamaBaby. It was the adventure of a lifetime.

Days that I was not in the middle of delivering a baby I would wake up and go out to the balcony and watch the sun rise. You might not know this but Haiti is a beautiful country. The hills remind me of Glenwood Canyon back in Colorado. They are lush with vegetation year around. The green is a brilliant color. The sky also reminds me of Colorado. Living in Michigan I have missed the deep blue skies. The sun shined just about every day I was there.

The beauty that surrounded the compound reminded me of something Solomon said. Everything under the sun is folly. If I looked all around on ground level I saw deep poverty. But when I looked up I saw the beauty the LORD had created. It also gave me a wonderful lesson in the temporal versus the eternal.

As believers we know this world is not our home. We have something being prepared that is far greater than anything we can imagine here. When I look up I remember that this life is just temporary. There is something more beautiful and wonderful waiting for us. God made Haiti a beautiful island. For that I am truly grateful.

The story continues tomorrow.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Am Back From Haiti!

Good morning to all of you. It only took 29 hours to get from Cap Haitian Haiti to Michigan! What a trip it was. I have so many stories to tell. I journaled while I was over at MamaBaby.

Before I get to any stories though I am want to say thank you for all my prayer warriors. Going to Haiti for six weeks was an adventure I will never forget. I can also tell you that without the constant prayer support it would have been impossible to do the work God called me to. If you prayed for me I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. The knowledge of people praying for me is what I clung to in the really hard times.

When I got off the plane in Cap Haitian I entered a whole new world. The temperature was blazing hot with enough humidity to fill a swimming pool. There was a little Haitian band on the run way playing music for us as we walked into the "terminal". The room we walked into was shoulder to shoulder. When it was my turn to get to the desk I handed the man my passport and he wanted to know where I was going. MamaBaby is all he understood. He wanted an address and I had no clue. Once through customs I walked into another room that was total chaos. Kelly, the President of MamaBaby was there to greet me along with the director, Santos. Kelly was easy to pick out, she was the only white woman. There was so much yelling going on I was in shock. Kelly told me to come stand by her and be quiet. Not that I had anything to say with all that was going on!

Santos was up at the front of the room with my three huge suitcases and an extra box of supplies opened up on a table. I watched as they went through all of my things. What I later learned was the Haitian government taxes all things coming into the country, especially supplies brought to help the Haitian people. Apparently after the earthquake crates full of supplies poured into the country and they taxed it all, sometimes thousands of dollars at a time.

It seemed like it took forever for the men to decide what they were going to charge for all my stuff. Thankfully they didn't hunt too hard in suitcases because had they seen all the supplies they would have charged alot more for me to get in. Finally I was told to follow Kelly and Santos out. The sidewalk was lined with Haitian men on either side. It felt surreal.

Once we past the entry way into the parking lot a dozen young men or so flocked around us. They all wanted to carry my luggage. They all jostled to see who would get them. Kelly was walking so fast I was having a hard time keeping up with her. I wanted to yell to her, please don't leave me here by myself. I felt like a little kid again in a busy store trying to find my mommy! 

When we got to the car all the young men followed with my bags. That is when a discussion was started as to how much to pay and to whom. Seems that those that walked along side who didn't actually carry my bags wanted to get some of the money too. After another long discussion that I could not understand I turned to get into the car when little boys came up to me. "Please Misses, some money please" I had been warned not to take out a wallet and just have a few dollars I could get to quickly but I was told to get in the car and there the boys stood, at my window with pleading eyes.

On the outside I looked cool, calm and collected but on the inside I felt like Jonah when he was swallowed by the great fish. I was not where I was supposed to be! Those pleading eyes stayed on me through the glass. I tried to get Kelly's attention saying what am I supposed to do but she was busy trying to get us out of the parking lot. Men flanked the car as we left staying right with us through the airport parking lot.

When we were finally free I breathed a big sigh of relief which didn't last long because we turned onto the main road in Cap Haitian and what I saw stunned me. Years before we had lived in the Azores so I knew what it looked like to step back 100 years into a society that seemed to have stood still. The road was filled with huge pot holes. There were no traffic lights or signs or any rules to go by driving down the road. There were motorcycles that zipped in and out, there were "tap-taps" filled with people standing up in the bed of a pick up trucks and taxis which were like a mini-van crammed with 10 or 15 people. New York city taxi drivers have nothing on the Haitians! 

On either side of the road there were little open markets. There were men making bricks, there were women selling bananas and mangos. There were people selling little baggies filled with water and there were children walking aimlessly. There were honking horns and chickens. I just sat in the back seat with wide eyes trying to soak it all in.

I remember praying as we drove that God would use me to be his hands and feet. That I wouldn't do any harm while I was there, that I would be a blessing. I prayed for all the hungry people. The farther we drove the less populated it became. We went through one village after another. We finally turned off the main road and wove our way back to a road that housed Mama Baby. 

I was supposed to get a tour of the birth center first. That was the plan and what I learned quickly is there are no plans at MamaBaby. When we walked in the plan for orientation was thrown out the window. I would not sleep for the next 36 hours. That story is next...

Till then, I am thrilled to be back on American soil. I loved working in Haiti. It is a beautiful country. I love the people and I loved the experience. I would go back in a heart beat but first I have to tell the stories! Tomorrow I will share with you what greeted us as we walked into MamaBaby.

In Christ Alone,

 Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".