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It has been three months since I have left Haiti and I have tried to write this blog several times. However, each time I sat down to write it I struggled with what to say. Do I say all the things wrong with America and have all my friends and family here hate me? Do I explain my emotional state of how hard it is moving back? Do I attempt to explain reverse culture shock and how with time it is suppose to get better? I still do not have the answers to these questions or worries, but here goes my life since moving.

I left Haiti early on a Monday morning. I climbed into the brown truck after a long round of hugs and tears. Brooke, my mom, Brandon, and I rode to the gate and Brandon turned on “our” (Brandon, Katie, Brooke, and mine) theme song that we always listen to when going on a road trip, in need of encouragement, or just because we can shout it out at the top of our lungs! While driving my mind raced in a million different directions. Am I really leaving my home? Am I really leaving Rose? Am I leaving my house, my Haitian friends, and Brooke?

Lets back up to Sunday Morning…

Sunday, July 14th was my birthday.It was the last day before getting on that plane and I was going to make the most of it! The day started off with church, my “last” service while living there which meant I would have to get up in front of everyone and give a little speech. I remember watching Kacie get up in front of everyone three years ago, and thought I never want to do that, but it was my turn.

Pastor called me to the front and I began to talk about leaving, how Haiti became my home, how the congregation became my family, how I will miss seeing everyone in the clinic and taking care of them…I wanted to say something beautiful and eloquent, but could never come up with the right thing to say. So, I said, Bondye Fidel–God is Faithful. Encouraged everyone sitting on the hard wooden benches that God is faithful when we are hungry, scared, happy…and so on…

After church I decided to be sneaky and snuck my babies into my house! It was a day of celebration and without Rose being there and in my arms every second was just not okay with me. So, I spent the afternoon singing, jumping, running around Brooke and I’s 300 sq ft. apartment. We had mangos, soda, candy, chocolate, chips…yep pretty much everything nutritional and healthy so their little tummies would not hurt!! Nothing mattered though, it was the best birthday a girl could only dream of someday!

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After a while, I made my last trek down the dusty, dirt road. Rose snuggled in my arms. I made the rounds and told everyone I would be back, it made me feel better anyways…
After a long emotional walk, I returned to Natasha house and she would not even look at me. She was mad at me, in typical Haitian fashion and did not know how to express her feelings, which I was okay with…I did not want to be a sobbing mess either. 🙂

The kids have made a habit that they want to put us in the road, which means they walk with us down the smooth path from the village to the road. It was time and we all held hands and slowly walked away. Rose still in my arms, with her hands tightly around my neck. I had told her days ago that this day was coming and each time her sad eyes met mine and I wondered if she understood.

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I tried to set Rose down, but her arms only grew tighter. I think she got it. I promised to return, but she did not care. I watched this baby grow up from 6 months old, from only 4 pounds with the odds for her to survive not in her favor, and my heart was breaking. Rose cried and sat on the dirt path watching me walk away. I yelled for the older children to come get her and she fought going back home. I stood and watched as she slowly turned away, until she was safely back in the care of Natasha. I started to tear up, and the walk home seemed incredibly long and painful.

That night the American staff planned a little party where they sat around the room and affirmed me. Their words still bring me comfort, knowing that I am loved and they are proud of the person I have become over the last three years. My heart ached knowing it will never be the same, the 6 of us, momma Cheryl, papa Jim, Brandon, Katie, Brooke, and I would never share life like we did for the last two years.

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So, back to Monday. I got on the plane. I did not break down until I was in Miami just minutes from flying to Detroit. It had become real and it hurt everywhere.

I made it back to Michigan and lived with my mom before moving to Indiana. Needless to say it was a crazy transition time because my mom had sold our house and I spent the next month or so packing up my childhood. However, in the end it was a good distraction and kept me busy.

I am now in Indiana, sitting in my new room, that an amazing friend had decorated and had all ready for me to move into. It was perfect and once again I felt completely loved. Since then I have started graduate school and am blessed to be working with some great girls in the ICU at the same hospital I worked in before moving to Haiti. I have my good days and my bad days. Days I really miss Haiti, Rose, Brooke, and then there are days I think, this is not so bad. I have a great group of friends that have made me feel at home and at peace with where I am at and would not trade this journey for anything else… or at least that is what I keep telling myself. Haha. 😀

So, that is it for now.I do want to say THANK YOU to everyone that has been a friend over the last three months. You have helped make this transition easier and I could never thank you enough.

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Haitian Staff Party for me.

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I woke up tired, but excited for the day to begin. We have three medical interns with Brooke and I this summer and it is a joy to go to work each morning knowing we have three eager nursing students to jump in where ever they are needed. Abby (medical intern) and I had made big plans to go out to the medical container and sort through a few things, check expiration dates on medications, and see where ever else my “A.D.D.ness” took us. So, with our check list in hand, I entered the clinic and made my way into the pharmacy.

As I sat my ice water down on the counter, Brooke called for me and I walked into the hallway to find her holding a tiny, TINY baby boy. The baby weight 0.97kgs, exactly 2 pounds at 2 and 1/2 months old! 2 POUNDS!!!! I was in shock and could not believe it. My mind quickly triggered back to the day I met, Faith, whom I have blogged about in the past. She was born at 6 months gestation and did not have a fighting chance of survival and passed away just hours after meeting her.

However, this baby boy was different. He grasped onto Brooke’s hand and held on with a force that only God can provide. He had a strong cry and a great suck, when breastfeeding. Mom was a sweet, young momma and very proud of her baby. Dr. Chobert called her in and I quickly followed to see what he was going say. After examining the baby, he decided he was dehydrated, but other than being premature he was healthy!

I could not help but smile ear to ear as mom gently swaddled her baby back up. Dr. Chobert noticed a red rag wrapped around the babies arm. After some inquiry, we learned mom had, had another child a year previous that was premature and died, and so dad took the baby to the with doctor to place the dead child’s spirit over the baby. Not real shocked at mom’s reply, because unfortunately, several children have odd things tied all over their bodies when they are sick due to some VooDoo belief. However, what made me so proud was our doctor’s response. He said to mom, do you not believe in God? Do you know only God can protect your child? He went further on to say that God is going to perform a miracle through this child and show you He created him with a big plans in mind!!

I then took mom into a separate room to explain her medications. I asked her about her home, family life, and if she attended church. She explained that her husband was the one involved in magic and she had no choice but to do what her husband told her to do. Crushed by the stronghold men hold over woman in this country/culture, I decided God wanted me to share more. I have no clue what I said to her, but basically that this child is already a miracle. To be that little and helpless, God has made him strong. I told her she better watch out because God has big plans for this little boy and maybe one day he will be president of Haiti. She smiled and humored me.

I then went on to teach about kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is essentially a human incubator, which helps soothe baby to rest better by hearing the moms heart beat and controlling their temperature so they do not waste energy by the body having to maintain their temps. It is simple and proven to be a lot better and cheaper than our American made incubators in the newborn intensive care units. All mom has to do is take off the child’s clothes and place him/her on her chest, under her shirt. Mom was super excited to learn, and will hopefully be back in a couple weeks for a weigh-in.

Ok… I realize this might get a little long, so please bare with me.

After educating mom, some of our malnutrition kids started coming that had missed their Wednesday appointments! Overall, I was pretty happy with most of the kids progress. Mixon, whom is taken care of by his grandmother, graduated today! He is probably so thrilled to know he never has to see me again! Each time he comes in the second I walk in the room the screaming begins until the moment he steps out the door.

Todeson, another kid walked into the pharmacy carrying his backpack waiting for his medical peanut butter! He is such a smart little stinker and has learned which backpack is his and after we fill it, he goes in to get his first sack of peanut butter!

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Todeson had been doing great in the program. He went from a tiny tot, to a chubby little thing in about 2-3 months. One appointment he came waddling in and did not look quite right. I started looking at him with Kacie, who was visiting at the time, and I realized his weight gain had turned into edema. Frustrated, I had missed such an obvious thing, we tweaked his treatment plan and went on. His edema slowly went back down, but today it was greater in his legs again.

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After reading a little research I gave him his medical peanut butter, fortified rice, milk, and sent him on his way just in time to have Walens walk through the door.

Walens, is a five year old boy that captured my heart the moment I met him. We started treating Walens a couple months ago and have seen no progress. Taking him into the doctor each time and not getting very conclusive lab results we began to treat for Typhoid and Malaria. However, today I asked mom if he was still sick and she informed me he was still having spouts of high fevers.

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After weighting Walens, tears flooded my eyes and I tried to quickly blink them away. I had him get dressed and then walked him down to the pharmacy to wait for me. I walked back into the room furious with mom. She had missed an entire month of his treatment plan for no reason and he had lost several pounds, which he had no room to lose.

I asked mom how many kids she had? She said 4. I asked, do you like having 4 kids? She said, Yes. I then proceeded to lecture her that she was going to lose one if she did not start fighting hard for Walens. I told her, this is serious! You need to start coming every time I give you an appointment. You need to only give the food to him, or he will die very soon. I told her we had two other kids die this past week because the parents were negligent and did not get their children the help they needed when we were practically handing it to them. I told her it was negligent not to bring Walens to the clinic. They do not live far away and the program is free. I continued to talk until I began to cry. I told her I loved her and Walens and I am in this to fight if she will too. I sat there a few more moments as tears streamed down my cheeks. I pulled it together and walked out of the room for a little bit and when I returned mom was in tears.

I sat down and put my arm around her and told her it was going to be okay. I told her I was sorry for talking so strongly but that this is a serious situation. I then shared with her the hope we can have in Christ and if she continues to walk with Him, HE will continually bring us hope. I told her again, I loved her and am there for her when she needs me, but that she has to do her part too.

They both left and my heart just sank.

In between figuring out what to tell this mom, Natacha, my friend from the village came into the clinic to take me to the kindergarden to sign Baby Rose up for pre-school. Of coarse, Natasha had none of the papers I had already given her for pre-school and told Madam Carleen I would bring them later today.

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I quickly got the money, and Brooke told me she would go get her birth certificate and vaccine card for me from our house. When Brooke walked back into the clinic she told me she should just take the papers because it would probably be better for her to be the spokes person for Rose since I will not be there come fall.

Smack.

More tears…lots of tears, A. as I realized my baby would be in pre-school come fall, and B. I won’t be here to see it. I won’t be here to make sure she has her uniform, shoes, socks, books, pencils, etc. I know Brooke loves her and will take care of her, but man this hurts.

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So, that was my Friday, heavy and yet promising for new life, new hope. I have 30 more days before this chapter ends and I am looking forward to whatever God brings my way.

Thank you for your continuous encouragement and prayers. They are much needed and even though it is hard to leave, I still have a peace within.

Grieving

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I have been trying to blog for over a month now and cannot put my feelings into words. I feel as though sometimes I am ready to leave Haiti, and the chronic weight of suffering behind. I am happy to not have 5 people waiting for me with heart breaking stories before I even make it to the back door of the clinic in the morning. I am excited for simple things like grocery stores, vegetables and fruit. I am excited to choose what I want to have for dinner each night, and not care if anyone else likes it. I am excited to sit and have a quiet meal without constant interruption.

Then on the other hand, I am a mess when I think about leaving Haiti, how will I ever fit back into a world that is constantly spinning and does not ever stop to take a breath? What will I do with literally anything I want at my finger tips? How can I leave my children that I have grown to love on a level I did not even know was possible? Who will advocate for my patients when arrogant doctors and nurses turn their noses because of a social status? Who will make sure Rose gets food on a regular basis?

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I have decided I am grieving. There are five stages of grief according to some person I once knew the name of in nursing school and I am pretty sure I have hit all of them, back and forth on this crazy transition back to the states. I think right now I am in the angry stage, which I am embarrassed to say, but it is true.

In the last few weeks, I have found myself angry at poverty and the people living in it. I am angry at Roseline, Baby Rose’s mom for abandoning her. I am angry she comes back to Chambrun once every other month to visit and it makes Rose a mess. I am angry that Davidson’s mom is pregnant again and shows up to grandma’s house when she needs help. I am angry she does not parent her current children and expects grandma to take care of them, plus the new baby to come. I am angry when 10 year olds show up to the clinic and they are the size of a 1 year olds. I am frustrated with parents who do not return to the clinic for free to get their child’s dressing changed, and they come back with a worse infection.

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Then I am angry at myself because how can I hold mom’s to the standard I think they she be at when they were never parented themselves? How can I be mad at families, who literally have nothing when they don’t return for follow-up when it costs money to get to the clinic by moto-taxi even if the healthcare is free? How can I be angry at Rose’s mom, when all Christ asks me to do is love her?

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Clearly, I am struggling with the idea of moving out of Haiti. However, God is faithful and just. I lean on the fact that God loves each and every child, mom, dad, sister, brother, etc. and knows them all by name. He will provide for them. He will love them even more than I can imagine. I have just over a month left in Haiti and I appreciate your support and prayers over the last 3 years. Please continue to pray for me as I transition back into a vastly different culture.

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I sat in Chambrun today on the edge of the rough, cement wall near the well at the children’s home. My eyes were fixed upon a white, 5 gallon bucket of water underneath the spick-it. Water was slowly dripping into the bucket, one drop landing in the center and than rippling to the outside, just in time for the outside to send the ripple back into the center. Than after several drops it continually rippled back and forth till you no longer knew where the first drop began.

As I continually watched the water drip, I felt like the drop of water making waves back and forth, only skimming the top layer of the bucket. When dropping into the center and trying to make a difference, I bump the outside wall and end up back where I started.

Rosemene was a 18 month old baby girl we treated in our clinic for malnutrition. She was skin and bones when we first met her and had little hope of survival. A lady brought her in and we thought that she was mom, and after getting a few different stories each week, we finally discovered Rosemene was from a Children’s home. Rosemene’s caretaker brought her into the clinic faithfully, and month after month she slowly gained weight, strength, and more importantly hope. However, in November she quit coming and we had not seen her again.

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A few days ago there was a mom that had a baby on each hip walking into the clinic with her head down. Brooke and I asked what she was doing and she said she needed vaccines. Brooke told her where to go, but first unwrapped the baby’s face that was covered by a sheet to protect her from the hot sun and dust. Immediately, we both knew who she was. Brooke asked mom her name, and sure enough it was Rosemene!

After sitting down with mom and talking through the details, we found out that she had placed Rosemene and her sister Mirlanda in a children’s home, because she could not take care of them and hoped the home would. After peeling back more layers we found out mom is 23 and has 7 children. She does not really have a family support system and tries desperately to provide for her kids. The oldest is 7 and the youngest is 3 months, leaving Rosemene at 1, twins as 3, Mirlanda at 5, and two others at 6 and 7.

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As I talked with mom, I saw her desperate, hopeless eyes that just needed some kind of support and love. I talked with Brooke trying to bounce ideas of how to care for this family well. The kids she carried in were severely malnourished and needed immediate intervention. I started searching for an inpatient malnutrition program that could take these kids and nurse them back to health. I asked the ministry of health department in Haiti where I could send the kids, and they told me a few different places.

I began emailing everyone I knew in Haiti to help these children. I found a couple places that would look at them and see if they were a fit! Ah…victory. However, we are not allowed to use NVM vehicles and so I went to my good friend Clerice for help. When I told him I needed his help, but to not feel obligated, he asked me if I think he could help with the situation I was about to present. I smiled and said yes, and began explaining the story. Clerice came over to meet the family, and was immediately broken by their story. He agreed to help me find away to help the family get to the hospital. Thinking I broke free from the ripples bouncing back and forth in the bucket of water, I jumped for joy!

The next day Clerice helped this mom get to the hospital with her kids. The doctors and nurses were shocked to see the size of the babes and even more shocked that mom was only 23 with 7 kids. People were gawking, judging, and whispering, not helping care for this family. Clerice had enough and stood up for mom, even while getting slandered himself, because everyone thought he was dad and how could he let this happen.

The hospital agreed to take the kids, and asked Clerice to bring the rest of the children to get checked out. I was completely shocked when I heard this, and praised God the hospital was willing to help. However, Clerice was not sure how to get there day two because the entire COUNTRY was out of gas, and the ripples in the bucket continued to rumble back and forth.

The “gas” shipment was not coming till Friday and so we looked for help once again. Another good friend let us use his truck because he did not need it, and we were able to get all the kids to the doctor. After discharging some of the kids the hospital told them they could be in the out patient program for malnutrition and they could come get medical peanut butter every weekend for all the kids at home! Did I mention this is all for free?!?!? 😀 However, for this family to get to the hospital and back costs money, time, and is complicated in ways I cannot even describe.

Rosemene is still in the hospital getting treatment, with mom and the three month old at her side. Clerice talked the hospital into keeping the three month old so mom could breastfeed the baby. Surprisingly, the hospital agreed. Mirlanda, the five year old has been discharged and we are working on a plan of how to get her home.

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There are still many details to be worked out in this story, and even though we may have broken through the surface layer there is still a long way to go. I introduce mom to one of the ladies in the women’s outreach ministry at church and asked her to pray for mom and check in on her from time to time, because they are from the same village. I invited mom to church and it brought tears to my eyes when I walked in and saw my friend’s arm around mom while they were worshipping God together before we took them to the hospital.

There is a Haitian proverb that says, “There are Mountains Beyond Mountains.” There is always a deeper issue after you get past one issue. Here in Haiti a simple problem like finding a hospital is so complex. The hospitals are over populated and under staffed, and often turn away critically ill patients. Then there are the transportation issues, getting from tap-tap to tap-tap, and what do you do when the entire country is out of gas? Then lies the deeper issue of trying to help, without building a dependency.

In this situation mom has no family support, no food, no money. I have been helping in the acute phase but I am not a long term solution. My first mountain was getting the kids to the hospital and after reaching the peak of that, there are a whole slew of problems that are bouncing off the sides of that 5 gallon bucket back and forth, back and forth.

I am not hopeless and know God can provide for this woman, but me being white, “rich,” and accessible to resources is not the long term solution. It is the depth of the five gallon bucket that needs to be reached, and only God can provide away to restore this family.

Please join me in praying for this mom that needs a support system and good friends to meet her where she is at right now.

Family is Priceless

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with the presence of having my Aunt Cindy, Uncle Dale, and Grandma come to visit me in Haiti. I was so excited to show them a world I have grown to love and call home.

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For the last three family Christmas gatherings, Haiti is usually brought up at the dinner table, which typically ends with me frustrated inside because I cannot fully explain the complexity of where I live, what I do, and why I do it. It is impossible to explain what life is really like here, until you come see the patients lined up outside the clinic at 5am, smell the burning charcoal fires in the air, and feel the hard rocks under your feet as you walk back and forth to Chambrun.

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A year ago I had asked my grandma to come visit me in Haiti, and she felt she just could not do it, which I understood. I do not know what it is like to be 80 years old—sorry grandma for spilling your age. 🙂 However, she told me she would pray about it. A while later she decided that coming to Haiti was something the Lord was putting on her heart and told me that she was coming to visit! My aunt and uncle joined the team and we started making plans for when they could all come.

I had happened to be in Michigan for a close friend’s wedding and was able to travel back to Haiti with my family. After a rough start due to lovely Michigan’s weather we ended up missing our connection flight and staying in the Miami Airport a little longer. We finally arrived in Haiti around 4 o’clock and we were welcomed by Brooke and Claire!

The adventure began as we road back to campus in the big tap tap filled with about 30 people and all the luggage on the bumpy Haitian roads. We made it to campus, had dinner, and I was able to introduce my family to my friends. In Haitian culture it is important to introduce your family to everyone or else someone will get offended. Everyone was excited to see my aunt and uncle, but were so impressed my GRANDMOTHER came to visit as well.

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The next few days we all worked in the clinic. Uncle Dale hung our curtains, while grandma and Aunt Cindy helped count pills. They were all a huge blessing for all of us in the clinic, they were willing to do anything! Later that day we visited Chambrun and they were able to meet some of my favorite kiddos! Rose wasn’t too sure about grandma at first but grandma was determined to hold her! Everyone was excited to meet my family and we could not walk more that a step without another person coming up to meet them. All my friends were ecstatic that my grandma had made the trip all the way to Haiti just to meet them! I was very proud to show them all off.

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Aunt Cindy being a fabulous assistant, she did not even pass out!

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It would not be a full experience without the beach, and so on Saturday we drove up the coast to enjoy a restful day at one of the resorts. We had a lot of fun floating in the water, bartering for souvenirs, and eating an amazing lunch buffet. I could not have asked for a more perfect day.

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The week flew by and before I knew it, they were packing their bags to travel back home. They said good-bye to 90 degree weather and hello to 30 degree weather with snow. (Now, who is the crazy one??? 😉 )

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As I walked out of the airport I felt a rush of sadness and choked back tears. It was so much fun having them here and teaching them about Haitian culture, what I do everyday, and why I have not been able to move back to the states. Their presence here was such a huge blessing to me. It was a breath of fresh air that is much needed from time to time.

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Church on Sunday
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Haitian Food!!!
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Malnutrition

Malnutrition, literally meaning bad nutrition when broken apart. It is a lack of vital nutrients the body needs to survive. When I learned about this disease in nursing school, I never thought I would be seeing such drastic extremes of malnutrition. When I first became a nurse, the pendulum swung, and I was taking care of 500 pound patients that required high tech equipment to survive. Now, swinging in the complete opposite direction, I am taking care of 2 and 3 year old toddlers that weigh as much as newborn babies that only need food to survive.

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2 years old, just learned to walk.

It was a little over two years ago when I met my first severely malnourished child. I am sure you all know which child I am referring too. Baby Rose. Baby Rose, was 6 months old and about 4 pounds when I first met her. She had not eaten in a week due to the infection surrounding her month, but more than that she was starving to death. We could not keep her awake long enough to drink formula. So, Kacie and I ended up placing a feeding tube down her nose, which ended up nursing her back to health. After meeting Rose, my eyes were open to a completely different world. A world that is a painful realization that children literally starve to death in our world in 2013.

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3 years
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About 8 months ago Dr. Edmond started talking about developing a malnutrition program, to treat the children we see diagnosed with malnutrition. We began seeing an increase in severe malnutrition and were not truly helping our patients by treating them with medications, when protein is what would truly cure their aliments. We decided to ask 20 parents to come back every 2 weeks to receive a fortified medical peanut butter and education on treating malnutrition. As our program went on we started adding, fortified rice and beans and milk to our treatment plan.

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I started educating these 20 parents each week by researching what foods they could buy in the market for a good price. After months went by we slowly began to see amazing improvements in these children. Not only did we see an increase in developmental milestone and weight gain, we began seeing a change in the parents and families. They came to the clinic with a new hope and excitement in their eyes that
I formally did not see.

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Jonny, has been a star in our program coming to us at 12 pounds as a one year old, he is now 21 pounds, after 5 months of treatment. He came to the clinic with his dad, skin and bones, both hopeless. Now, just a few months later he is walking, and one of the fattest kids in our program. Dad greets me with a kiss on the cheek and a smile from ear to ear each week. It is so rewarding to see the hope that shines in his eyes.

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AFTER

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Like Jonny’s dad, the parents get excited each week to find out the progress of their child. After I weigh the children I show the parents on a growth chart their progress, and we all clap and chant “bravo” for the kids! The smiles and excitement in the treatment room is a true joy that touches your soul and sometimes brings instant tears to my eyes at the amazing progress the children and families have made. These families make enormous sacrifices to be in the program. Some walk miles and miles way before I even rise in the morning, traveling over large mountains to make it to the clinic at a good hour.

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3 years old

This past Monday was Malnutrition Monday and I was greeted by the moms trying to clean up the room and make it pretty before I walked in. I feel so completely honored and blessed to walk along side of these families and see them and their children thrive versus the customary reality of death many face. Recently, we were granted another gift to purchase more medical peanut butter, giving us an opportunity to take several more severely malnourished children and give them a chance at life. If you would like to learn more about how you can help, please email me at aubree.dell@gmail.com I would love to tell you more stories of the amazing parents and children I see every other week.

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1 year old, just learned to sit up on her own.

Todeson almost 2 years old just learned to walk.
Before:
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After:
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Triplets, 1 year old. Just started treatment.

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Coming back to Haiti has been a mix of emotions. For the first time in 3 years, I have an end date to my time in Haiti. An end to a chapter, a home, a life that will never be the same again. Yes, I can come back to Haiti and live here, but things are in a constant state of change, never stopping, and it will never be quite the same. I think it has finally hit me that I am moving back to the states. Maybe it is the fact that today is January 12th, 3 years after the earthquake that hit just outside of Port-Au-Prince, but coming back to Haiti this time has brought a flood of memories that are racing around my head.

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In the last three years, I have seen trauma like I have never experienced before. I have had my hands inside the leg of a man, trying to clamp off one of his major arteries while watching him bleed to death. I have worked on a friend for over 45 minutes in the back of a pick up truck, tasting his burnt flesh as I tried to breathe life back into him. I stood over a man that was hit on a motorcycle, trying to quickly assess his broken, mangled body while 30 Haitians stood around me expecting me to have the right answers. I have held a child in my arms that was starving to death, and if he did not go to a hospital that day he would never see his next birthday.

The deep pain I have experienced in Haiti has been a heavy burden I have tried to bury. For so long I have tried to look at my challenging experiences as blessings, is that not what Christians are suppose to do? However, I think it is okay to allow them to be heavy burdens. To look at my life and say yes, it is hard and that is ok. I am blessed to be able to walk with these burdens and hand them over to Christ who is waiting and willing to carry the pain for me, for the families, for the friends, for the children and so on. But it does not mean that I do not feel equally burdened some days.

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I am feeling that leaving Haiti in a way is “failing” the people I have grown to love. Admitting it to the world through this blog, is not easy. My pride gets in the way, and I want people to think the best of me and that I can handle anything and everything that comes my way. The truth is that being a missionary is hard. It is not all rewarding and pleasant, in fact a lot of the time I am practicing patience, grace, and love for Haitians, Americans, and the community of 6 I live in. I am constantly trying to deny myself, my needs, and I do not think this is the right way of thinking. Christ does not ask us to sacrifice who he created us to be, in order to serve Him. Christ asks us to follow Him, where He leads.

Overall, I guess I could say, I am struggling being back. I am struggling with leaving Haiti and the people I have grown to love. I am struggling with moving back to the states and living in a world that has become foreign to me. I am struggling with just being present where I am right now. I have been reading the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and a few days ago I read about how we as humans want to rush God’s timing. We want to get to the next thing, the next calling, the next chapter whatever it may be, but we tend to miss the present. We miss what God wants us to learn from the current path we are on. We miss the quiet whisper that says this is why you are waiting.

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The very last sentence of the devotion said, “Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My presence.” Whatever journey you are on I pray that you can slow down and enjoy it. I pray that I can slow down too and not worry so much about the future and where I will be in the next year. I pray I can be present in Haiti with each person I come in contact with over the next 6 months and offer myself grace through this transition. Thank you for your continual support and prayers as you journey with me.

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