Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Festivities

Yesterday Nick and I invited several of our friends and their kids over for a "Halloween/Fall Party!"  It was a great way to gather, get to know other missionaries in the area, relax, and talk about how God us blessing each of our missions!  And of course there was a Haitian Hayride and lots of Pumpkin Treats!

Testing out the Haitian Hayride before the guests arrive!

Who else did you think would drive the Tractor?

The Pumpkin Cake the boys and I made for the Party!

All the Kids enjoyed the Playground!

Chante and I had to dig deep into our creative side for these.  I don't think she had to dig nearly as deep as I did!

Woody and Buzz Light Year

Eventz and some of his Friends!

Nick and I have loved watching this Beautiful Princess Grow up!

One of the First babies to Stay with Nick and I!  Love this girl!
A Hawaiian Version of Wedly!
Chante with the cutest Puppy and Princess on the Hayride!

Jillian with Dalencia, Laughina, and two of our Princesses!

Tabitha and Ally with their Pumpkin named Biverly!

Shelia and Buzz!

Me and My favorite Farmer!

Finally, I got that STUPID hat off!

Daddy with his two favorite boys!

Everyone enjoyed the day!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nursing in Haiti

For the past three weeks or so I have been the acting nurse at COTP.  This is the third time I have filled this role, but this time has been much longer than previous times.  Each day is a new day in Haiti and you never know what to expect.  Every morning and night, (and occasionally in the afternoon depending on the medicine the kids are on) I go around to each room and give meds out to those who need them.  Every other day is med set up day and I draw enough up for two days worth.  The medicine our kids are on range from Iron and Multi Vitamins, to several types of Antiobiotics, Anti Seizure Meds, and ARV's for our HIV + children.

I wish I could say that every thing has gone perfectly smooth since I took over this role, but unfortunately when you care for 57 sick and malnourished infants and toddlers in Haiti, there is always something going on.  During my time as nurse, we have had two kids with seizures.  One stopped on it's own but the other one continued for several hours even after a full dose of valium.  We had to keep him on oxygen for a while to ensure his stats stayed high and then eventually took him to the local hospital for tests.  Turns out he had an infection in his shunt that was placed due to his Hydrochepulus.  

Last week I spent 3 full days at the hospital getting check ups and procedures done for our kids.  Two kids had to have abscesses drained because of a staph infection that many of the kiddos have right now.  One was about the size of a golf ball on the poor kid's head!  I have also been trying to get an ECHO done for one of our little boys who has a heart murmur.  The doctors believe it's a flow murmur due to malnutrition, but we will know for sure after the ECHO.  Of course that's easier said then done when you live in Haiti.  He has been to the hospital three times now and has yet to have it done.  We now have an appointment to go back on Monday, so hopefully it will actually happen so that we will know more! There was also a little boy that we rushed to the hospital one night because he was incredibly swollen and looked miserable.  We thought there was a possibility he might have been experiencing kidney failure.  After lab tests though, we found out that this is not whats going on, but he's just low on protein.  We will now be giving him Medika Mamba to help him build his protein back up and hopefully gain some weight.

I am very thankful to have learned how to check ears this week so that I can tell when a child has an ear infection.  Unfortunately, the day after I learned, I went to check someone's ears and the Otiscope quit working.  It wasn't a big surprise as it was on its last leg any how.

Thankfully I have a pretty amazing network that I can turn to when ever I need help with anything medical, which is nearly every day or two!  We have been blessed with having a Nurse Practitioner here one day who was able to walk through the baby house with me and answer all my questions.  We also had a Pediatrician come out one day and do the same.  There is a large group of visiting Docs at the hospital right now who have been a huge help every time I have gone there!  And then there is also our founder, Jan Bonnema, who emails back almost instantly when I have a question for her!  There is no way I could do this with out the help of these people!

The truth is I actually really enjoy both drawing up and administering meds.  It's a great way to go out to the baby house every day and make sure that I say hi and check on each and every child.  If all I did was be the nurse I would love it, but it's to hard to do this on top of everything else!

Thankfully we have a new nurse coming in on Monday for 3 months so I won't be doing this for much longer!  After a couple weeks of training, I should be able to hand the reigns over to her which will be exciting!  Please pray she does well here and that she learns her new roles and responsibilities quickly!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bullet Points

WOW... It's been a LONG time since my last blog post, which can only mean one thing... It's been RIDICULOUSLY busy here!  Nick and I have had several 12-14 hour work days recently.  Our boys have been a bit neglected, but we are hoping this will come to an end soon!  Heres to hoping!

I have so much I want to share but just have not had any time.  I will do a few bullets for now and hopefully explain more later.

-Nick went to the States for a week.  Spent 3 full days building a database for COTP and then drive our new vehicle from Minnesota to Florida in 2.5 days.

-A ladder feel from of from the roof of our apartment and crashed down on the roof of the play room, creating a giant hole in the roof... pics to come!

-Amy and Jenn, two of our long term staff members left Haiti.  Three new long term staff members have moved down.

-I have been playing nurse for the past month.  This means I am responsible for drawing up and administering all of the meds to the kids.  We have also had 3 kids admitted to the hospital during this time, 2 seizures, and lots of other medical stuff going on.  Tomorrow I will take one of our kids for an ECHO to ensure that the murmur we hear is just do to malnutrition and not a heart defect.

-We just admitted a little boy who is in need of cleft pallet surgery.  Please pray he gains weight and can get his surgery soon.

-We have had 3 of our children united with adoptive families.  Several children have been matched with adoptive families!  Many adoptive parents have come down for paper work.

-We are currently up to 56 kids, or is it 57?  Wow it's been a long day!

-From May 1st until September 12th, COTP had 117 short term volunteers who spent at least one night with us!  In these few months, we had more volunteers than we have ever had in a whole year combined!

-COTP received a grant to promote 4 of our current employees into leadership positions.  We will now have a Haitian Nurse, Social Worker, a person to teach an education component for our Mamba and Formula programs, and someone to be our Database Expert!  I am so excited to start these four positions as I have been advocating for them since shortly after moving here!  These four will take a lot of the strain off of our international staff and empower them to make more decisions regarding the operations of COTP!  Now we are in the process of writing up contracts and job responsibilities for these positions.  It will be several months of training, but it will be worth it in the end!

-We have a nurse coming down next week for 3 months!  I'm excited to train her and not be the sole person making medical decisions for the kids!

-I've been on several home visits recently!  Please continue praying for Fritzlin, Edly, and Ederly as their parents learn how to care for the needs of young children!

-While on a home visit for one of our new kids, I found my new favorite place in the world.  Some day I will live on the outskirts of Port Margot, AKA, middle of no where Haiti.  I already have my land picked out!

-Nick was able to get our internet upgraded.  We now have high speed internet!!  I know, amazing right!

-We have made Many trips to Port au Prince recently for kids' adoption appointments!

-Nick went to the DR one afternoon to buy a part for the adoption moto and got back to the border 4 minutes after it closed.  The guard said Nick could cross illegally by walking on the outside of the bridge (this happens often), but he wouldn't let him take his bike across.  Nick tried to convince the guard to let him pay a ton of people to carry it across the river, but he wouldn't.  Nick spent the night in a hotel called "Massacre Hotel!"  NO Joke!

-COTP has a new website coming!  It took us several months to complete it, but we are excited that it is all done and should be going live soon!  I'll keep you updated on that!

-Nick and I now have several friends in Cap (it almost kind of feels weird saying that) and now attend a bible study every week!  It's great to get out and have this fellowship.  Most weeks this is the only time I leave the compound (except for this week with many hospital visits and home visits, I have hardly been here)!  This is such a huge blessing for us and we couldn't be happier to have these friendships and fellowships!

-We are planning a pretty big Halloween party and are very excited for it!  We even requested some supplies be brought in by volunteers coming and from the pilot that brings us our mail!

-I tried carving pumpkins with my boys tonight.  Wedly took a while but eventually played with the mush.  Eventz just stood back and looked disgusted the entire time!  If I tried to get him to touch it he'd fuss and back up!  I've never seen him scared of anything.  I have now found his weakness, pumpkin guts!  The boys are learning to say "trick or treat," not that they'll actually use it!

-Nick has worms AND ringworm.  I recently had scabies!  Oh the joys of living here!

-Nick and his crew ripped up our old baby house floor and mixed/laid 12.5 yards of concrete by hand.  Next month they will be painting epoxy on the floor.  This doesn't hold bacteria hardly at all and should help improve the over all health of our babies!

-The kitten we had for Eventz was killed by our dog the SAME night I wrote a blog post about it.  We were at a bible study the other night and Eventz saw a cat and started calling it Zo.  It broke Nick and I's hearts.

-Our rabbits still have not reproduced after over 4 months.  Either they are faulty rabbits or they are all the same sex.  I thought for sure we'd have about 30 by now!  We are up to 6 goats now!

-Eventz and Wedly absolutely LOVE music and dance like little goons every time they hear it!

I'm sure there is WAY more that I'm not adding, but that gives you an idea of what we have been up to the past few weeks!  Life is hectic, crazy, stressful, and frustrating, but Nick and I both agree we wouldn't trade it for the anything!!

If we got paid over time here (or just got paid) we'd be rich!  This place offers a great retirement package though, it's out of this world!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


There have been many instances since I've moved to Haiti that I have been truly humbled.  I witness something happen and realize what I've taken for granted every day of my life.  Sometimes I just cant believe whats going on.

I often travel to Port au Prince with the biological families of our children for appointments.  It's amazing on these trips what I am able to witness and help with.  So far this has been a first time trip for everyone I have gone with.  None of them have ever done anything like what they will do on this trip.  For me, it doesn't seem out of the ordinary at all until I watch them struggle through little tasks.

I have learned many things to make these trips go smoother.

On the drive to the airport I make sure I ask the family what their birthdays are, and if they don't know it, which most don't, I tell them and inform them that they'll be asked at the counter when we check in.  If they forget there, I answer for them.  Having them know their birthday saves a lot of embarrassment for them.

I have also learned that it's best if I just open and close the car door rather than telling them it is time to get out.  For most this may be the first time they were ever inside a car and they have no idea how to open the door.

I think about cars in the States and how parents have to use child locks on them so that toddlers don't open the door while their parents are driving.  You assume it's something everyone can do, but for those who haven't been in a car everyday of their lives since they came home from the hospital, they may not know how to open them.

I'm going to make the assumption that anyone whose reading this right now thinks that it's annoying when flight attendants stand in the front of the plane and teach everyone how to buckle and unbuckle.  Maybe it's just me, but I always used to make fun of this because I assumed that everyone could figure this out.  But again, for people who have never been in a car or plane before, seat belts are a foreign concept.  I normally end up buckling and unbuckling the person I am traveling with.

On my last trip, I saw the lady I was traveling with holding her ears as we descended.  I had never thought about explaining that when we come down there might be pressure on their ears.  This had to have freaked her out as she probably had no idea what was going on.

And then we get to the embassy.  We walk through a metal detector; talk about foreign; and then into what is most definitely the biggest, nicest building they have ever been in.  A building with drinking fountains, running water, flush toilets, massive amounts of lights, and air conditioning that's a little over the top!  Their heads have to be spinning as they take all this in, as they walk through the court yard in between the buildings and see sprinklers.  In a country with such little easily accessible water, here is a building using water to make it's grass pretty!!

If they have to go to the bathroom, that's a whole new experience in itself.  Can you imagine never seeing a toilet before and then going into a room with multiple stalls.  On one trip I went to the bathroom with someone to make sure they figured it out ok.  When she was done I handed her a disposable bottle of hand soap and she just looked at it.  I had to teach her how to pump it to make soap come out.

This was by far the most humbling thing I have ever seen on one of these trips.

I tell these story not to give off the impression that the people I work with are unintelligent.  Not to make fun of them for not being able to open the car door, buckle themselves, or the knowledge of how to wash their hands.  In fact most of these people are smarter and harder working than any of us could imagine.

I tell these stories because I have realized how BLESSED I am.  I am blessed to know how to open a car door, to know how to buckle myself, and to have the knowledge on how to wash my hands.  I have grown up my whole life having a car.  I had a car of my own since before I was even 16.  I've been on an airplane countless times, all for recreation and going to fun exotic places of course!  As a toddler I'm sure I expressed my desire to be independent and demanded that I put soap on my hands with out the help of my Mom.  I've grown up with the blessing of having flushing toilets in every building I've been in, where theres always soap available, and if there isn't, we complain.

Still I live in Haiti, next to people who don't have these blessings, but I do.  I still have soap in every bathroom that I go to.  I still have flushing toilets in my house (albeit we have to flush one with a zip tie as it's been broke for about a year).  I've grown up having sprinklers not just to water the yard, but to play in, for recreation.  When kids my age were hauling buckets of water for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes, I was playing in gallons of water that I let fall to the ground.  Why?  Because it was fun!  And I'm no different now.  I let Eventz have pool days several days a week even though right outside our gate, people line up to haul the water we provide them.

So the next time you go out to eat and use a public bathroom, make sure you have some patience if they are all out of soap.  Take a second before you complain to your friends about how awful of a place you are at because the soap ran out and realize that your complaining because once in your life, a blessing that you have grown accustom to having isn't available.  A blessing that so many live without every day!