Weather or Not (by Rick)

Weather in Haiti

The weather in Haiti always seems to be a question people ask me so I thought I’d take a minute to talk about it and how it affects what we do here. I heard the other day that the sun shines here 364 days a year, I believe it! I have yet to see a completely gray day here like I see in Indiana. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t clouds, but the ones that are normal are those white fluffy ones we see in the summer. They have two seasons; the dry season and the rainy season plus, the ever popular and overlapping, Hurricane season (July-October).

The dry season is December through April, when day temperatures are in the 70s-80s F and nights are in the 60s-70s F. This is when the dust is prevalent. Most of Haiti is devoid of trees as it was deforested several years ago, that is a completely different blog story! This deforestation has caused massive erosion to the land and makes the countryside barren, dusty and rocky. Many people prefer to travel to Haiti at this time because it is still warm in despite being cold in other parts of the world. There used to be tourism, but that stopped about 20-30 years ago, yet another story to tell at another time. Now missionaries seem to be the only outsiders here and some still prefer the dry season for comfort.

The average temperature in Haiti is considered by many to be warm, if not hot. It stays approximately the same throughout the year in terms of degrees, averaging somewhere around eighty degrees most of the time, although it may vary by about ten degrees in either direction. However, the humidity changes greatly throughout the year, so it often feels much hotter than it actually is measured to be.

The humidity and rain also vary greatly depending upon the part of Haiti. Average rainfall in the rainy spots is over fifty inches per year while there are some areas which get almost no rain at all. In general, there are two different rainy seasons occurring. The first rainy season takes place in late spring, usually around May, and the other comes in the fall. Even during the rainy season, the days are usually fairly sunny, with rain falling mostly at night. The air is usually thick with humidity on these days, though, and this is when it feels warmest.

We are now in late May and the rainy season has started. Over the past week it has rained every evening/night. Some are just light showers lasting 20-30 minutes others are heavy downpours lasting a couple of hours. It feels like a blessing as the front moves through and the air cools but we pay for it the next day. Today, for example, it was 92F with a heat index of 111F.
The weather affects medical care also. For Liz’s wound care area, it means different dressing and wraps. With the high humidity the occlusive dressings cause more skin breakdown. This can be in the existing wound or in any area under the dressing where the moisture builds up. Remember, it is very common for the majority of Haitians to walk several miles a day. So the weather along with body heat and sweat combine for the perfect storm of bad wound care. For my side of emergent care, the humid weather causes an increase of respiratory incidents. Also noted is an increase of trauma as the roads become slick with the rain soaked oily paved roads. Plus the more rural roads become muddy, slick and treacherous.

The weather is a factor in most everything we do here. Yes it’s sunny and warm, plus I get to look out at the beautiful Caribbean Sea everyday but that doesn’t mean it’s easy here. I often say, nothing is easy in Haiti, and that’s the honest truth. The biggest thing we drill into visiting missionary teams is to stay hydrated. I’ve started countless IVs for rehydration on team members along with Haitians. Still, I love it here and wouldn’t change my decision for anything. Thanks to God and his wisdom for guiding us here.

If you would like to follow the weather here try this link:

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Our Haitian Life (by Liz)

We are way overdo an update – apologies all around. The days pass quickly, although the pace slow. I thought a general update of what we do with our days would be good at this point as we have developed routines.

Zach: Zach goes to school every day from 8a-noon. He is in school with 6 other kids (Grayden, Noah, Caleb, Bridgley, Mina, and Anna). He does some activites with the class (music, science, speech) and some of the work his school from home sent to keep him in line with his grade there. He has a wonderful teacher here, Diana. She has been the teacher for 3 years for the ever-changing selection of missionary children grades 1-8. She has a great love and enthusiasm for teaching and the children and is always dreaming up fun ways for them to learn. In the afternoons, Zach usually plays with one, or a combination of, Grayden/Noah/JD and several of the children who live in Hope Village (the orphanage here at Mission of Hope – there are 61 children who call that home). They usually play in the covered gym area – basketball, or rollerblade hockey, or tag… Zach and I also spend a some time working on additional schoolwork.

Jake: Jake typically spends 4 hours a day on schoolwork. He is taking 4 on-line classes (physics, english, Algebra II, economics) and 1 class via e-mail with his Latin teacher. The classes are going well although we have hit a small snag. He is ready for the mid-term exams in the on-line classes. Typically, testing in ONLY done at an official testing site. We spoke with the school before signing up for the classes and explained our perdiciment. After they understood that it would not be possible to test at a testing center or a library (in Haiti, really?) or the US Embassy (who, I hope, have more important things to do than proctor a high-school physics test); it was decided that Diana, Zach’s teacher, could receive the tests electronically and proctor them. She even had contact with the school before we moved. However, now that the time has come, they want a mailing address (there is none) and an institutional e-mail. So, we work at sorting it all out. Life is all about logistics! When he is not doing school-work, he often spends time with the missionary teams that visit weekly. They go in to different villages and spend time there. It could be painting/working on houses, playing with children, talking with people, evangilization – or whatever else. Of our family, Jake has been to the most surrounding villages and has started to build relationships with the people who live there.

Liz: I go to the medical clinic from 8a-11a (or so) each weekday. I see and treat the wound patients. Part of my job while here is to train the Haitian staff to care for wounds. This would be easy if I was training them to care for wounds in the US on well-nourished patients. As it is, I have found that the wounds are very difficult to heal with the combination of tropical environment, physicial factors (lots of walking, lots of rocks and hills), undernourishment, weaker immune systems, and co-morbidities that decrease ability to heal and are difficult to treat (hypertension, vascular disorders). Infections are not typically a factor and are usually easily treatable. There are several patients that have had chronic wounds lasting for years. There has been some progress, but it is a slow, day-by-day process. I’m am also begining to take over the roll of working with visiting specialist physicians – making sure they have what they need and that there is coordination for the patients who need to see them. In the afternoons, I work with Zach on schoolwork, or go out with the teams, or do house things – laundry (loving that we have a working washing machine now – no dryer), dishes (no dishwasher), basic cleaning (counters, floors, etc.). There is a constant and continous coating of dirt on everything.

Rick: Rick is in the clinic weekdays from about 8-4. He is also ‘on-call’ at all times for team medical issues, drop-in emergencies, and transfer calls from other locations. Mission of Hope has one of the few ambulances in the country (and there are two). He has been working individually with the Haitian nurses on training for ’emergency’ situations. Only one of them speaks english, he uses a translator for most teaching and patient interactions. He uses both formal teaching methods and hands-on skills, patient care for teaching. It is going well. Rick is also working with a nation-wide group trying to organize a functioning emergency response program. Currently, there is no such service in Haiti.

Thursdays, for two hours, Rick-Jake-and I take Creole lessons. Rick and I also take lessons in the late afternoon on several other days. Creole is easy in that the grammer is simple (no verb conjugation) and some words used for many meanings. This makes it easy to learn and read. However, it is very hard to understand because not only do the Haitians speak fast, but almost everything is contracted and words are often shortened to singular letters.

Here, at Mission of Hope, we work for indigineous mobilization. This means we work along-side the Haitians within their culture to build relationships and functioning programs and then the Haitians run it themselves. This is success. If Rick and I are successful, then when we leave the medical clinical will be completely Haitian run. Medical teams that visit will be dedicated to mobile outreach clinics, specialists, and surgery – not involved in the day-to-day functioning of the clinic. This is what we work for through the guidance of God.

Haiti is a Carribean country. Each morning, I walk down a hill to the clinic and have a view of the Carribean Sea with it’s beautiful blue-green hues. The sun is always shining. The people are always smiling. It is hot – rainy season is begining (which means it may rain every day, and sometimes hard, but not for very long). It usually rains in the evening which helps cool down the temperature for the night. Whenever it rains hard, turning the dry dirt to mud, I wonder about the thousands of people still living in tents. When I see the mud flow down the hill, I think about the dirt washing off the mountains because of the lack of trees and how nothing can grow there because no soil stays.

The Haitian people are resiliant. They are strong in spirit. They have stong faith in God. We learn much more from them each day than they learn from us. We are walking a path together.

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Sewage and Traumas: An Average Week in Haiti (by Jake)

This past week has been quite an interesting one. It has been a learning experience that they don’t teach you in high school. My week ranged from walking in sewage to pinning down an accident victim. You just don’t get that level of quality life experience as a teenager in the States.
I will begin with the sewage. This occurred last Friday, and is quite a truamatic experience for me. It started out like a normal day, I was sleeping in, Mom and Dad were already at the clinic, and Zach was at school. I first awoke to the sound of Trigger barking. Trigger is a dog we are watching while some other staff members are on vaction. Trigger likes to bark at people walking by, other animals, cars, and the occasional rock, so I ignored him and went back to sleep. Moments later, Trigger came into my room and licked my hand and my face. I rolled over and ignored him again. This was my first mistake.
Eventually, Trigger began to bark again, from outside this time. I grudgingly got out of bed to see what he was barking at. I walked outside and saw nothing out of the ordinary, so I turned around to go back inside. That’s when I saw a refelction in the floor out of the corner of my eye. I realized that there was about a quarter of an inch of water in our living room. Confused, I knelt down to smell it. It smelled like Pine Sol. We had mopped the night before, so I was unsuprised. It appeared that someone had mopped again. I was still half asleep, so I did not realize that no one had been in the house for two hours, and it was completely illogical to leave that much water sitting on the floor. I, still ignorant, decided to find the source of the water. I walked through it, still in my pajamas and barefoot. That was my second mistake.
I wandered through the house, still trying to wake up. I walked into the bathroom and found that the water there had a current. Not quite awake still, a though popped into my head. Our house sits at the end of the septic system. If the system backs up, it come through our shower. I check the shower, no water. Still confused I tried to think of where else water could come from in a bathroom. Oh yea, the toilet. I opened the toilet lid and found… it was spilling water all over our floor and my bare feet. I woke up real fast at this point. Keeping my cool, I gathered what I thought I might need, including wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and my boots. I walked out onto the porch and proceded to wet wipe and hand sanitize my legs from the knee down. Then I closed out front door so Trigger wouldn’t wander back inside, and speed walked down the hill to the clinic. There I collected my dad, and we rushed back to the house.
I was probably gone from the house for ten minutes, and the water was already rushing out from under the front door. Trigger was sitting on the far corner of the porch, avoiding the water at all costs. We went inside and tried to rescue what we could, moving untouched furniture to higher ground and damp furniture to the porch. The water had spread from the bathroom to every room in the house but the bedrooms and where our TV and couches are. It smelled awful and was two inches deep in some parts. We called the plumber and began to clean. I wiped down furniture on the porch and distracted Trigger while Dad mopped out the sewage. In all, he mopped up 8 five gallon buckets. The flood was caused by a block in the septic system right outside our house, and the toilet upstair constantly running. The water from the toilet upstairs had nowhere to go because of the block, so it found the next best outlet, our toilet.
We cleaned all day, wet wiping all the furniture and bleaching the floor twice. After the bleach, we Pine Sol-ed the floor and bleached the part of the porch that sewage had cascaded down in a glistening waterfall. The cleaning took all day Unfortunatly, because of all the shenanigans, I was unable to do homework.
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, until we reach today. Today started out like any other day, I was sleeping in, Mom and Dad were already at the clinic, Zach was not at school (he’s on spring break). I woke up and decided I wanted a glass of water. I went to get the water, but our jug was empty. Zach and I then journeyed down the hill to grab two full water jugs. Unfortunatly, the jug I grabbed was wet, and slipped from my hand as I went to put it on my shoulder. It came crashing down on my foot. Mind you, these aren’t little water jugs, they’re the five gallon Culligan ones. After a quick inspection, I found that the jug had somehow left a two inch long gash on the top of my ankle. I cleaned it out in the bathroom, and then Zach and I journeyed down to the clinic, where Mom was working wound care. She quickly tended to my wound.
It was nearly lunch time, so she said she would walk up the hill with us if we waited a moment. As we were waiting, a Haitian ran up to the wound care door and tried to get into the clinic. That door is an employees only door, so the woman guarding it told him to go to the front of the clinic. He started yelling in Creole and pointing to the little ‘parking lot’. I got up to investigate and saw something very bad. A group of Haitians were pulling a man out of the back of a truck and were trying to put him in a wheelchair. Haitians are not at all gentle about the things, the man was getting shaken around a lot. The most alarming part of it was that the man wasn’t protesting his treatment. In fact, he wasn’t moving at all, he was completely unconscious. I ran and got my mom and Sarah (a nurse), who ran to the front to help the unconscious man. I went back to where we were waiting when one of the interpreters ran past me trying to get a spinal board. I ran with him and helped him grab part of the neck braces. We ran around to the front and I tried to help spinal him, unsuccessfully. He was collared, so I put some gloves on and held his head so the doctors from the team could look him over. He had a gash on his forehead (which bled on my hands), a circular laceration on the back of his head, and a possibly sprained ankle. He was fading in and out of consciousness and smelled heavily of alcohol. Eventually, I ended up restraining his legs, which I did until he was tied down. He struggled a lot when they stapled his head and kicked me once. I was practically laying on his legs, it was a tough job.
Two more patients came in while I was restraining the guy. One of the new patients was in much worse then the first one, so the doctors went to him, leaving a Haitian nurse, an American nurse, the translator, and myself with the patient. The translator and I restrained him while the two nurses stabilized him. The American nurse then tore a sheet into strips and we used it to tie the guy to the cot so he couldn’t fight us so much. Then the Haitian nurse and the translator went to help with the other patients while the American nurse and I watched our patient. It was my first trauma.
I found out the story later. My patient was drunk, and was riding a motorcycle. The two other patients, a man (also drunk) and his wife, were hit by the motorcycle. The man who got hit eventually had to be taken to Haitian General Hospital. His wife was ok, except for a contusion on her leg and a hurt neck. My patient was sent home at the end of the day with about twenty staples and some stitches in him. All in all, a crazy experience. It wasn’t until a nurse pointed it out that I remembered the gash on my foot that brought me to the clinic in the first place. It’s funny how these things happen.
So there you have it, an average week in Haiti. Life moves quickly and unexpectedly here, you never know what a new day might bring. Please pray for our trauma victims, I’m sure that they aren’t to comfortable right now. Also, please pray for Paige, our dog, because another attempt to get her here has failed. And please pray for us, your prayers are always appreciated. We are in need of many things right now, and your support is always good. Finally, please pray about being our financial partner. Anything you can do to help is very much appreciated. I hope this week goes a little bit smoother then last, but only time will tell. I guess you all will know if it doesn’t!

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Getting Settled – Part 2 (by Liz)

This is the delayed ‘Part 2’ which I promised to write when our container came. That was two weeks ago today. We had been waiting and watching for our container every day – especially once we found out it arrived in Haiti before we did (February 9th)! Due to some paperwork issues, it was delayed in Port – so we waited. Each time we would go by the warehouse area on the mission, we would look for the container (Rick loaded it and knew what it looked like).

That Friday was a special day for the school kids – they were celebrating the end of their 1st semester and the beginning of the 2nd. To celebrate, their teacher (Diana) took them to the beach for the day. Jake and I also went. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time, although I did break my little toe on a chair (I think I’ll pretend it happened a more dramatic way)! When we came home from the beach, Jake and I took a close look at the warehouse for our container – knowing that if we didn’t see it, it would be the next week. No container. 😦

Rick was waiting on the porch for us… along with ALL OF OUR STUFF!! The container came and left while we were at the beach and Rick had it all moved to our front porch. YEA – forget the toe. We had to get everything into the house before we went to bed so that they did not become inhabited thoughout the night. (There has been no more mouse activity in the house after the initial 7 mice and 1 rat terminated and many holes removed). We had to be careful that no mice had taken residence our things during the stay in port.

We spent the weekend unpacking – it was like opening up presents! Some things did get left in Indiana, but mostly we have what we need/want. I still don’t have my washer hooked up – it has proven to be a complicated task. Three concrete walls have had the pipes fit though, but still waiting on a few parts. Unfortunately, there has been a pipefitter from the US working on it and he leaves in the morning. Maybe there will be a pipefitter/plumber next week!! The only other ‘big item’ we need to attend to is purchasing and installing the oven/stove.

All of the wiring, plumbing, etc. is very ‘creative’ here – often causing professionals from other countries to shake their heads in disbelief. However, the key is function in Haiti – not quality. Every time we use our microwave, it trips the breaker. When you pull the metal chain on the fan in the kitchen, you will get an electrical shock. So, we keep trying the microwave in different outlets (haven’t found one yet), and don’t touch the kitchen fan’s chain.

We are thankful for our furniture and other container items, the generator, the water that is trucked in many times each day. Life in Haiti makes you realize the importance of basic function and that everything doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be a great way of living. Our interior walls here are cracked and puttied from the earthquake – it’s all superficial, and it doesn’t matter.

Not only have we gotten our house settled, but our life has also entered a routine. Zach, Rick, and I go to breakfast each morning between 7a-0730. Zach then showers and heads to school (8a-noon). Rick and I head to the clinic by 8. I finish in the clinic by noon and go back to the house where Jake is (or should be) working on his classes – usually, he is reading all of the news headlines first. Jake, Zach, and I eat lunch together – then Zach either goes to play with his friends, or, if it’s Wednesday, goes back to school. Jake continues his class for the day. I do dishes, laundry, and all that fun stuff. Rick and I go to Creole lessons from 3p-4p (M’ap aprann Kreole dousman). I am learning words quickly, but have a hard time putting them correctly into sentences. And, as in any culture, the people conversing talk fast!

I feel like my blogs are not as fun, but more the functional side of life. We are still working on getting our dog, Paige, here – we’ve had many ‘so close’ moments and keep trying. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers – asking God to give us wisdom as we face new challenges each day.


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The Baby House by Zach

Here at Mission of Hope we have an orphanage and part of that is the “baby house”. The baby house has five babies. I go down there almost every day to play and see them. I thought you might like to see them and hear a little about them.

Matthew is a little boy who was found at another orphanage. He was extremely sick. The people that found him made arrangements to bring him here to Mission of Hope. He is living here now and is strong and healthy. He likes to play with everybody but dislikes it when his toys are taken from him.

Angele is a little girl who was abandoned here at the health clinic by her family. It’s unknown why she was left here. Today she is very playful and likes to talk and sing! She has plenty of smiles for everyone. She can walk but she prefers to scoot across the floor. She is one of my favorites because she’s so fun to play with.

This is Teagan, one of the other missionary kids here, she is holding Hanna. Hanna is very shy and doesn’t play much. She mainly just likes to be held.

This is baby Pierre. Pierre was left at the clinic of the mission this past fall. He has a lot of medical problems; you may have read some about him on mom’s facebook page. He doesn’t walk or crawl. He does like to smile at you when you play with him though.

We couldn’t find Jeremiah for a picture but he is a boy who likes to play a lot but can be very aggressive if he wants something you have. Sometimes we have to be stern with him and make sure he shares.

Please pray for the babies and all our orphans here at Mission of Hope.

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In the beginning by Rick

Well we have been in Haiti for two weeks now and still no container with our furniture and supplies. It is in port and waiting to clear customs which can take several weeks. We are comfortable in our new home and the mice we originally hired have been let go of their positions. The economy is still bad and there have been several (7) cutbacks in that department. The boys seem to be adjusting to new friends and their school work. Liz has been really working with them so they begin with good habits.
I started working more in the clinic this week since there is not much more to get done in our home until the container arrives. So far I have seen 3 leg fractures, 1 heart attack and 3 methanol overdoses. The fractures have been due to motorcycle accidents. It is a daily occurrence to see several motor vehicle accidents. Some minor, some major. The heart issue just that and the methanol overdoses were something completely different. Rumor has it that several people have died as a result of a voodoo priest giving out a coke bottle full of methanol, “The Magic Bottle”. If it is fully ingested it starts with acute blindness then to convulsions and finally cardiac arrest. Needless to say I haven’t taken any bottles of pop from a stranger. Again, that is the local rumor. The positive thing that did happen from that is we here at the mission did our research on it and sent a patient to the Ministry of Health with our assessment and proper guidelines for treatment. They adopted it and sent out a statement to all local health treatment centers about signs and symptoms and how to treat it, another first here! 🙂
Another visiting medic from Canada started some basic training with the nurses and my ambulance driver (yes I said ambulance driver, which is his only job!). We basically taught a first responder class to them. The final was a mock MCI (Mass Casualty Incident). Zach and his classmates were the patients. I’m proud to say all the nurses passed! I have attached a picture of Zach in proper spinal immobilization. It’s a great start and my students loved the didactic and clinical lessons, even Jocelyn the driver. He is taking more notes than the nurses!

We did do a little getaway with some other staff members. I attached a couple of pictures from high above Port Au Prince. There was an awesome lookout point where we could see for miles around, it was so beautiful. It’s not until you get down into the city do you see the massive destruction and poverty. Still the Haitians have a beautiful and god loving country. They are proud, strong and looking for change. I hope that with God’s will we can assist in that.

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Life in the Haitian Nation by Jake

Life here in Haiti isn’t what most people expect. People expect danger, disease, and other things to people who move down here. Let’s take a moment to review these things I’ve experienced this week. The danger I’ve been in so far: I saw a couple mice the other day. The disease: I sneezed a couple times. Other things: I’ve had peanut butter and jelly almost every meal, that’s pretty scary.
Hopefully, that proved that Haiti isn’t the scary place that many people think it is. Sure, there are some places here that I wouldn’t walk at night, but the same is true for the States. I’d walk anywhere on this mission at night feeling perfectly safe, but I dont think I could say the same about my neighborhood, and I live in a good neighborhood.
Today marks our One Week in Haiti milestone. Already, I have gained more life experience here than I would have in a year in high school. So far several things have happened here. I scavenged for furniture and other small household items for our unfurnished home. We have several mice that we are waging an ongoing battle with. I started my online classes. Oh, and my personal favorite, I helped suture a girl’s head.
When we first arrived here, we had several bags with our personal items, but we had nothing else. I decided to make it my mission to track down temporary furniture for our house until ours arrived. I have some previous experience in finding things, so I knew what I was doing. I managed to find a couch, two matresses, several larges fans, a Battleship board game (with all the pieces), a few plastic chairs, and a number of other small things that are being put into use around the house.
We discovered that we had a mouse living in our closet when we moved in here. It was kind of cute, and we didn’t see it as an immediate issue. We then found two more in our kitchen. We decided to name them all and give them jobs. The one who lived in the closet was Elicia, and she was the maid. Francois was our chef, and he had a suis chef named Jacques. We set out two or three traps just in case. It wasn’t until my mom saw eight mice running around our house that we decided to crack down. It was a good choice, they were terrible at their jobs. So far, four mice have been terminated, and more job cuts are to come. We just don’t have the funds to employ eight mice!
On Tuesday, I started my online classes. So far I am 10% done with both Algebra 2 and Chem/Physics. Later today, I plan to finish 10% of my Economics class. I’m not used to online courses yet, and not having a teacher in front of me makes it hard for me to concentrate. Hopefully, I will get better at it as time goes on.
The most exciting thing that I’ve done so far was help suture a girl’s head. A girl came into the clinic here on the mission after the clinic had closed and the staff had gone home. The medical team that was here was on a mobile clinic and weren’t due to return for two more hours. My dad and I went down to the clinic to see what we could do (I went with him cause I can find whatever supplies he could possibly need). The girl had a two-inch long gash next to her left eye. It was really deep, and it was obvious even to me that she needed stitches. The problem was that my family had recieved a half-hour lesson on how to suture from a plastic surgeon a couple days before we came here. I was the only one who had even messed with a needle since then. My dad told me to run and get my mom, which I did. My parents then began to suture this poor girl’s head while I gave directions on how to tie the knots and stuff like that. I also ran and grabbed several supplies from different areas. The end result was a decently stiched up head, done by three inexperienced people. I think it makes a nice joke: How many Malmstroms does it take to suture a head?
That has been my first week here as I’ve seen it. Hopefully, there are many more experiences waiting out there for me. If you guys out there want to help us down here, please pray for us and for our house, so it sells. Also pray about being our financial partners. Finally, please pray that our dog can find car transport to Atlanta or Orlando, Florida so we can fly her down here. I miss her. All prayers and assisstance are appriciated. Thank you.

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Getting Settled – Part 1 (by Liz)

After a fairly uneventful trip, we arrived to our new home at Mission of Hope in Titanyen, Haiti on Thursday. When we left Fort Wayne, the temperature was -11F. When we arrived in Port-au-Prince, it was 90F. However, even though the temperature is high, it is SO much nicer than July or September. There is a breeze and the humidity is lower as it is dry season. And, it is great to see the sun shining all day, every day. My mother-in-law, Rita, came with us to help us get settled. There has been so much construction on the mission, it’s hard to believe. In Port-au-Prince there have been minimal changes – a few canals cleared and repaving of a walkway at the airport. Staff housing is in one long, two-story building with different size living areas. Ours is a bottom, end area that used to be a kitchen/common area for the groups that come in weekly. Now it has been converted to a 3-bedroom, 1-bath, kitchen, living area home for our family. We also have the largest yard and porch. We are very grateful and many people put in a lot of work to have it ready for us.

There are a couple inconviences of having a home converted from a common area kitchen. First, we have several (very clever) mice. We have seen 3. We also have roaches. Luckily, we have no food at this point so hopefully with traps and no food – they will be gone soon. Second, as our home was a common area and many people are return volunteers, we have had several instances of people just walking in (and one even using our bathroom)! That should taper off too as time goes on. We are keeping our gate closed both to deter the occassional wanderer and to be in practice for when our dog arrives (unfortunately, the weather did not agree for her to come with us on our flight – we are hoping to have her here in the next few weeks).

We have spent the first few days settling in to our home – unpacking the 10 suitcases, cleaning, etc. Rick replaced several of the screens that were torn with some extra mosquito netting (we shipped screen on our container, but that won’t arrive for many weeks). We hung curtains, set up our phone. We found some spare pieces of furniture to use while we are waiting for the container (thanks to others and the scavaging of Jake). Today, Zach and I met with his teacher in his classroom and discussed his education plan. His teachers and school at home (St. Charles) did an AWESOME job of working out an education plan for him. Tomorrow, I will work with Jake on his plan with the on-line classes he will be taking (thanks to Bishop Dwenger for helping find the necessary classes).

As for work, Rick is up and going! He went to help with medical team orientation this afternoon and at the end of that there was a call for difficulty breathing (close to no breathing) out in the community – so off he went. Soon he will begin teaching some physicians about emergency medicine for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He will also have the physicians come in and learn when he is treating patients in the emergency side of the clinic. I will start woking with the organization of physician specialists that will be coming in and making sure that patients are lined up and come when the physician. I will also start training the Haitian nurses wound care – the goal being that the Haitians will totally run the clinic/ER areas and visiting medical teams will do outreach medical work.

I call this ‘Part 1’, as Part 2 will be when the container arrives. So – another update soon!!! Thanks to all of our friends and family and others for the thoughts and prayers. We could not do this without you!!


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The Final Countdown (by Liz)

Here we are at the one week countdown! People ask how I feel – my mind if full of about every emotion, except anger (although Jake says the anger will come in the last few days as I try to get things done – he is probably right!). Tomorrow is my last day of work and the boys’ last day of school. Rick’s last day of work is Saturday. We have already figured out that our 5 checked bags will not fit all we had hoped to take with us on the plane. We do consider it lucky we have 5 checked bags instead of 4 as my mother-in-law will be going down with us to help get settled and she won’t need a checked bag. Our shipment went down from Chicago last Friday (furniture, refridgerator, fans, washer, household items, mattresses, kitchenware, books, etc.) – I guess we should have sent another box in it! We will probably not get the container that our things are on until we are there for a month – so I tried to leave some stuff out that I thought I’d want before that. That may have been a poor choice! We will definitely already have things set aside to take in May when we are back for a visit.

Our final week is full of odds-and-ends to do. A small sample:
1. Boys to get 2nd Hep A vaccine
2. Zach to get braces removed for the year (a temporary pause and restart when we come back)
3. Final meetings with the schools to be sure the education plan is on track
4. Show the house – and sell it???? (fingers crossed)
5. Figure out how to fit 10 bags of checked items into 5 bags
6. Obtain extra insurance to cover us returning to the U.S. for emergent medical care and to cover military assistance if we need to leave Haiti due to unrest (as Jake calls it ‘mercenaries for missionaries’)
7. Have back up plans finalized for the dog and house if the house is not sold and it is too cold for the dog to board the plane
8. Final visits and hugs with close friends and family
9. Last feast for all of our favorite foods
10. Pray we remember most everything that needs done

One thing we ask all of you – please pray that on February 10th at 0630 EST it will be no less than 20 degrees in Fort Wayne and that on February 10th in the afternoon in Haiti it will be no greater than 80 degrees. These are the requirements for our dog, Paige, to board the plane. 🙂

We are sad to leave our friends, families, and the comfort of life here. Yet, we are SO excited to see again our friends in Haiti – both those who are serving and those for whom Haiti is the only home they’ve ever known (some we know and many we have yet to meet). A piece of writing from Anne Frank summarizes completely the people of Haiti and the work we hope to do there: ‘Whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!’


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News Worthy (by Rick)

This past week has been a whirl-wind of media frenzy over the Malmstoms! At least that’s the way it felt to us. Liz made the front page of the local evening paper and then a local news station caught the story and did an interview with her and the boys. It all started due to the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. They were looking to talk with relief workers and were given Liz’s name. It was all surreal and we now have become celebrities in our work places and schools. I have heard the news video was played throughout Indiana and even as far away as Jacksonville, FL. We hope that it will raise awareness of Mission of Hope, the need in Haiti, and to follow the call to serve even if it seems crazy 😉 We are all called to serve in different ways. Just because we’ve been called to Haiti doesn’t mean we are better or worse than any other servant. This is God’s call to us. He may call you to serve elsewhere and in a different way. We believe he has given us a talent for His purpose and that going to Haiti in this position is His purpose for us at this time. We pray that each and every one of you hear God’s calling and you serve Him as He calls.

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