Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wrapping Up Dec Haiti 2019

All of our team members are back in the U.S. safe and sound! As a final blog we wanted to highlight some of the things accomplished this trip.
  • Approximately 180 individual patients were seen throughout the two weeks. This number does not include the people seen from the mobile clinic. And many of those 180 patients were seen more than once for follow-ups.
  • We extended our reach with home visits to those who had great difficulty in getting to the clinic. These were eye-opening and humbling. We saw how the average people live with little material goods, while being rich relationally.
  • We had our first mobile clinic in a town 30 minutes outside of Vaudreuil. Many of these patients then travelled to Bethesda for follow-up visits the next week.
  • We continued to deepen personal and professional relationships with the other medical professions at Bethesda in order to grow referrals from each entity.
  • We held our third formal education course to PT techs.
  • All along the way, we mentored the PT staff of Bethesda. They will continue to provide excellent care after our departure. 
All of these accomplishments are only possible because of God. Without his guidance, provisions, blessings, mercy and grace, none of this would be possible. It is a privilege to work alongside Haitian PT techs, nurses, doctors, radiology techs and more to serve the community. It is more and more evident every year that despite the political turmoil and unrest, God is still very much moving in this country and in these people.

Thank you for your prayers and support to the team this year. We all look forward to returning again some day soon to continue building on the work God is doing. Will you be joining us?

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Last Day in the Clinic

Today was our last day in the clinic and it was a busy one. A highlight was surprising the staff of the Bethesda PT clinic with an iPad that will enhance our ability to provide ongoing training and consultation with them between trips. 

Due to fatigue and getting to bed late, today’s blog will be a series of photos. Enjoy!

Perfect Fit

This week has gone by very quickly, but it also seems that so much has happened we feel like we have been here for months. I (Josh) have not actually spent much time in the clinic but instead have been making many visits to people’s homes (as well as working on a special project). Before we came to Haiti, Julie sent us information on a few people that had a need for wheelchairs. We were blessed to be able to bring six different wheelchairs but it was not clear if these chairs would fit the patients. Before it was time to take the wheelchairs to the patients, I had to unpack and reassemble several of them. In the process, I discovered that an important bolt that supports the backrest had fallen out of the chair. I was very disappointed as this particular type of bolt is custom to this wheelchair and I was sure that we would not have a suitable bolt to replace it. I went ahead and looked in the kit we brought; there was one random bolt that someone had thrown in that was a perfect fit! That trend of perfect fit continued as we went to each patient’s home. On multiple occasions we selected a wheelchair to try with a particular patient and every part of the wheelchair was a perfect fit. It is clearly God’s hand guiding us and providing for the needs of our patients.

The special project was a custom lift built to help a mother transfer her child that has grown too big to transfer by herself. Many people pitched in to build and test the lift (thanks to Jessica, Neal, and Emily). It turned out great and will be a nice help to this family.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Provisions and Plantains

This week has been full of heart wrenching stories, but significant amounts of hope. Today was full of many very unique opportunities thanks to God’s provision. 

Today started with a celebration of December birthdays at the clinic, including Bev! The Haitian staff went out of their way to include us in this celebration, which has not happened in previous years. I think we can thank our entertaining acting skills for showing them that we know how to have fun too. We got to laugh, be goofy, and fellowship alongside them as part of their staff. 

We had 4+ patients travel an hour to come to Bethesda that we treated at the mobile clinic last week. One even showed up carrying a full sack of fresh plantains and avocados. Disclaimer: Haitian avocados are much larger and harder which could account for our previous back pain patient. 

The man with the plantains from the mobile clinic was a man who had a long history of swelling in both of his knee joints. I (Abbey) got to treat him last week and when I recommended he come to Bethesda for X-Rays he said he could not pay, but would find the resources for a motorcycle to get him there. He also promised 10 plantains when he showed up. And boy, did he show up! With a massive bag of plantains and two avocados to boot! He was all smiles and so excited to see us again. I got to follow him through the entire medical center process of getting registered, getting his X-Ray pictures taken on an antiquated machine, getting the film developed in a completely black room, to visiting with the nurse in a small exam room, tracking down the Doctor across the campus, and getting him the medication and treatment he needed for his swelling. While that may sound like the least exhilarating day to any American that has used the U.S. healthcare system, it was one of my favorite days. The Plantain Man was carefully watched over and taken care of, he was listened to, and his story was considered by every medical professional he saw today. How many of us can say that? God used us to show the Plantain Man his importance, to show him community and love. 

Another woman came in expressing pure gratitude for our time with her and stated it was the highlight of her week. She stated that me (Tara) praying for her was incredibly powerful to her, and renewed her faith and hope in her life. I was able to create a fun modified kickboxing program to help improve her Parkinson’s-like symptoms. She had an enormous smile on her face the entire treatment, and filled the room with positivity, joy, and laughter. It was empowering to me to use such creativity to make such a fun and therapeutic day for her, with minimal equipment. At the end, we had a powerful talk about God’s provisions, plan, and timing. Despite having daily struggles, she had full confidence that God has a plan in her life. The emotions expressed throughout her sessions and our heart-felt talks were incredibly moving and inspiring for me. 

We also were able to co-treat a few complex pediatric patients. It was inspiring to all work together to make functional improvements in each kids life. It is so cool to leave Bolivar having the same basic knowledge of a specialty field, go our separate ways to different clinical experiences, and reunite in Haiti to collaborate and provide the best possible treatment for the most precious kiddos. 

All over the clinic, PTs were having uplifting conversations about who God is and His role in our lives with the patients. Stepping stones are being laid with an open path ready for these patients to start a journey with Christ. 

Haitian PTs are being trained with sustainable information and educated with material that will lead them forward in their careers. Wheelchairs are being fitted, lifts are being manufactured, and equipment is being supplied for those in need. Big things are happening every day!

-Tara and Abbey

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Week 2, Day 2- Kicks and wicks

Bonswa family and friends!

We started our day with an entertaining educational session to the Bethesda medical staff on when they should refer a patient to physical therapy or not. It was so good to see all of the smiles and laughs from the staff throughout this. 

We had a busy day ahead of us, but we were all eager to get started! Josh and I were able to go on a house visit to make modifications to a wheelchair for a pediatric patient. We were able to teach the two Haitian therapists how to use certain tools, and how to best modify the chair. It’s refreshing to see how eager they are to learn anything and everything. The rest of the team continued to treat lots of patients in the clinic. There were complex cases throughout the day that really challenged us all. At times we could only turn to God and send him our prayers. 

At the end of each day, each individual from our team shares the good and the bad from our day. We decided that we’re going to call this “kicks and wicks” from here on out. This is one of my favorite parts of each day. I love being able to connect to one another through these unique experiences. God continues to fill each of us with joy and hope as we continue to put our trust in Him.

Please pray for clear minds, focus, and energy for the rest of the week. 


Monday, December 16, 2019

Group 1.5 day 1

Today was the first clinic day for us newcomers (the Layman’s, Emily and I) after arriving last night. Our drive in was a pretty eye-opening experience (which didn’t help with all the dust in the air) for many of us and helped us change mindsets pretty quickly. Our first full day was pretty packed with patients, which was a blessing in that we were pushed to get right into the thick of things and keep it moving. We have already built relationships with interpreters and the other staff members and found how the flow works in the clinic. All that being said, by no means do I feel that I have everything (or really even many of the things) all figured out when it comes to treating each individual that comes in. Thankfully we have professors and colleagues that we can rely on to back us up, and that support system has meant a lot to my confidence already.

What has stuck out to me most so far has been how well many of the people understand what it means to follow Jesus. After talking to one patient about God and getting some mixed signals about his understanding of Jesus when asking him certain questions, I tried a different strategy; I asked them to tell me what they knew about Jesus. The reply I remembered best was, “Jesus is everything to me. He is our saviour, without Him I would have nothing, and we should do everything in service to Him.” Many patients gave  similar replies. There are lots of times I wish I would have been able to give an answer as simple and accurate as theirs, and my current plan is to just steal that reply for the future.👍

You can continue to pray that God gives us wisdom in our treatments and interactions, and that we will be lights for His Kingdom.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Haitian Adventures

Bon Jou from Haiti! We have had a wonderful weekend full of fun and delighting in all the Lord has shown us this week. On Saturday the team took a hike up the mountain range behind the OMS campus, led by two very patient Haitian men and one of their sons. We chased five year old Das up the mountain and were in awe of God’s landscape with each step. One of our fearless translators joined us for the hiking adventure which allowed us to get to know him outside of the clinic and on a more personal level to develop greater relationships. Saturday afternoon you could find us all sitting by the pool at a beautiful resort just down the street. With palm trees providing shade over the lounging chairs and sounds of victorious yells by the water volleyball net. Our team, the Haitian therapists, and local missionaries with their families thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing evening. Later Saturday afternoon, we made our way to the beautiful Emmaus University campus and enjoyed a Haitian pasta dish and celebrated Bev’s birthday again with some delicious chocolate cake! We spent the night catching up with Julie (the OMS missionary and physical therapist) and enjoying fellowship with each other. Sunday morning we woke up to drink coffee and watch the sunrise over the trees. We ate fresh pineapple, homemade bread, and got ready for church. We attended a Haitian church where Bill (Julie’s husband), a Canadian missionary and Emmaus professor, preached in Creole. Luckily we were able to get the English notes prior. We swayed to the handmade beats of their worship and enjoyed the melodic singing. We enjoyed the rest of Sunday relaxing and preparing for the unknown of the week ahead. Please pray for energy, wisdom, and perseverance as we work through the week.