Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vincent van Dog

This is Rags, our Parson Jack Russell Terrier.  We got him for a very modest $25 donation at an animal shelter about 10 years ago.  In the last 8 days however, he's cost us a bundle and the meter is still running.  First, it was his annual shots, an expense to be expected.  Ka ching!  While he was in for the shots and annual exam, it was determined that a cyst on his belly needed to removed surgically.  Ka ching! The next day when I picked him up after the surgery, one of his ears filled up with blood and he had a cauliflower ear like a boxer (as in, a fighter not as in, the breed of dog.)  I took him back the following day to have the ear drained. There was no charge for this visit and that was a relief!  A couple of days later, I had to take him back when the ear filled up with blood again and this time to drain the blood and have laser surgery to "quilt" his ear so that it would not fill up again with blood. Ka ching!

When I picked him up today, he comes out with his head all bandaged up and looking like van Gough after he cut off his ear.  Although I understand that his ear is still under the bandage, he definitely has that van Gough look going on at the moment.

Did I mention that meter is still running?  He's due back to the veterinarian on Friday to have the stitches and staples removed from the cyst surgery, hear the results of the pathology test on the cyst, and have the dressing changed on his ear.  Ka ching! I'm expecting that I'll need to go back to have that ear dressing removed and checked again.  Ka ching!

Let me be clear, however.  I have the greatest confidence in our veterinarian, Dr. Babette Dixon.  I'm not blaming her for the financial explosion here, I'm just saying that a $25 dog can become really expensive.

I think I'm going to have to put one of my kidneys on eBay in order to pay for Rags' vet bill so if you know of someone who needs a slightly used but healthy kidney, please have them contact me. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mission to Haiti, an epilogue

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth
the opposite of poverty is enough."  

Wess Stafford, Founder and President of Compassion International

What did I learn from the one, short week that I spent in Haiti?  
  • I got just a glimpse, a taste of what life looks like in the poorest country in the western hemisphere and, in doing so, better understand the significance of the Wess Stafford quote about poverty that you see at the beginning of this post.
  • I looked into the eyes of people who routinely eat only one modest meal a day and into the eyes of people who had not eaten in several days and yet still had hope.
  • I began to understand that the basis for that poverty is primarily spiritual, as 75% of the Haitian population practice Vodoo.   Although financial assistance is needed, money alone will never fix the root of their problems.
  • I saw the remarkable difference between kids living in dire poverty and those that are loved and cared for in the same city in a place like Grace Mission's orphanage. 
  • I witnessed both the desperation and the hope of a mother who walked many miles with her small children to the mission when she heard that there might be help available for her sick, malnourished youngest child.
  • I was reminded that loving, caring Christians serving others can make a difference as I witnessed our medical and nursing professionals and college students minister to these people.  
  • My appreciation for those that answer the call to full-time service was renewed.  These are ordinary people that God uses to do extraordinary things.
  •  I learned that my skill set and abilities, while not particularly well-suited to medical missions, can be put to use in serving the "least of these" and that God has called me to tell their story. 

What did you learn from reading this story of Haiti?  More importantly, how will you respond?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Partnering in ministry - Haiti, the conclusion

 "Loving God and loving others"  . . . that's how Jesus answered the question posed to him about what was the greatest  commandment. In his answer, Jesus also gave us the definition of missions in it's simplest terms:   

Loving God and loving others. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feeding the poor - Haiti, Part 7

I began this story (Parts 1 & 2) by introducing you to 2 of the children that Grace Mission feeds at the Poor House in Limbe but their ministry of feeding the poor doesn't end there.  Hunger and malnutrition are enormous problems in Haiti.  Grace Mission in Limbe provides food to the hungry of Haiti on a regular basis.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Orphans - Haiti, Part 6

Grace Mission in Limbe was our home for the week we were in Haiti. Under the direction of founder Paul & Belle Romeus and assisted by missionaries Ray & Bonnie VanSlyke, our host ministry is a wellspring of hope to the suffering people of Haiti.  Among their ministries is an orphanage that's home to 28 children that they have rescued over less than 4 years.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Clinics - Haiti, Part 5

Medical clinics such as the ones that our team conducted don't just happen.  Months of planning and preparation have to take place to secure the medical supplies, package and transport them, assemble the team and prepare them for the mission, schedule the clinics and so much more.  Just the logistics of organizing and implementing these clinics that provide only basic medical care are more than most of us might imagine.  But God is good and the 4 medical clinics that were conducted in Limbe, Bas Limbe, and Acul over a 4 day period went remarkably smoothly. From the initial intake on each patient, to the assessments, to the filling of prescriptions and explaining to the patients how to use them, the team worked efficiently together and more than 700 patients were seen and treated over the course of our trip. 

Our nurses and doctor not only examined and assessed each patient but they concluded each exam by asking patients how they might pray for them.  In doing so, they uncovered many needs and each one was lifted to the One who can meet every need . . . physical, emotional and spiritual. 

No story was more poignant than the one of a mother of young albino boy at the clinic in Acul.  After completing the exam of her and her children, Mike asked how he might pray for her.  After getting up to leave, she turned and sat back down.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our Purpose & Team - Haiti Part 4

I mentioned in an earlier post that there are 10,000 NGO's (non-governmental organizations) providing aid in Haiti.  So, why did the group of which I was a part go to Haiti?  What could this small band of 9 folks hope to do that would make any difference there?  Our group traveled to Haiti under the auspices of  Oaks of Righteousness, a small, non-profit organization based in Satellite Beach, FL, whose name is taken from a Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV.  The organization's purpose is to provide free medical care to those who might not otherwise have access to such care in Haiti and in other third world countries and in response to God's call for Christ Followers to serve others. It's as simple as that.  Our purpose was to be obedient to God's call to serve others.  We understood the role of the Holy Spirit in this effort and we understood our role as one of the sent ones.  Our mission was simply to be the glove and allow the Holy Spirit to be the hand inside the glove, the One that directed everything we did.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drinking from a fire hydrant - Haiti, Part 3

As I began to process the week that I spent in Haiti, I found that taking it all in is a bit like trying to drink from an open fire hydrant.  There's so much information, so many mental images, so many questions in my mind, that I'm challenged to organize my thoughts so I just start telling the story beginning with the images of the Poor House in parts 1 & 2.

Admittedly and intentionally, the first two parts of the story are dark.  Drilling down to the level of the Poor House and seeing some of the people that live there is how we put a face on poverty. I think it's important to realize on the front-end of the story that there was a great deal of pain and suffering in Haiti even before the earthquake in January of this year and even in a part of the country far from the epicenter and only marginally affected by the earthquake.  Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it's important for us to be able to put a face on that distinction.  Most Haitians live at a level of poverty that many of us Americans, myself included, would struggle to even imagine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

He's one of the fortunate ones - Haiti, Part 2

This boy is one of the fortunate ones, at least compared to the boy I introduced to you in yesterday's post.  He, too, waits at the Poor House when Ray and Bonnie come to bring food but he has a bowl from which to eat.  He doesn't have to pull up the tail of his shirt and motion for you to spoon the rice and beans into it.  This will probably be the only meal that he has today and he's thankful for the "blanc" (white man) that brings it.  "Merci", he says, "Merci."  Thankfulness is one of the virtues that I saw again and again in the Haitian people.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Look into his eyes - Haiti, Part 1

The Poor House in Limbe is located next to the cemetery.  It's  a convenient location since many of it's residents will end up in the cemetery soon anyway.  This is where the poorest of the poor end up  . . . young men with AIDS, old people near death, homeless children.  The building was originally used to store bodies and prepare them for burial.  In a sense, it still does. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Best laid plans . . . "

"The best laid plans of men and mice often go awry."  Robert Burns

It was my goal to blog daily or as often as possible during my trip to Haiti this past week but alas, Burns was right!  Internet connectivity (or the lack thereof) threw me a curve ball.  The team arrived safely back in Florida last night and Mike Mahoney and I drove through the night back to Alabama arriving home about 4:30 AM today.  After I get a little more rest, I'll start processing the experience and sharing it you with beginning tomorrow. 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Haiti - Arrival Day

I don't plan to post on Day 1 of our Haiti Mission trip as we will be traveling much of the day but I thought I'd show you the airplanes that Missionary Flights International uses to transport mission teams like ours.  I don't know which one we'll be on but it probably  will be one of these DC-3's built in 1943 and 1944.  You can read more about this very fine support organization at the link to their site on their name above. 
You probably don't know that I have a private pilot license, although I have not piloted an airplane in 25 years.  Having that training gives me an understanding of and appreciation for how airplanes of this age can still be a reliable and safe mode of transportation.  I have an enormous amount of respect for airplane mechanics!

Time and connectivity permitting, I'll post an account of day 1 on Wednesday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Island Time

Mike and I  leave on the first leg of our trip to Haiti this morning, driving to the east coast of Florida to meet up with the rest of the mission team .  I've been trying to familiarize myself with the culture of Haiti, their history and current situation prior to the trip by researching and reading a good bit.  I've been interested in reading blogs and other first-hand accounts of people serving there in the recent past and especially since the earthquake in January.

My son, Peter sent me a link to a podcast that he had listened to from This American Life on national public radio about Haiti that may very well have been the most insightful information that I've reviewed.  You can download the podcast or stream the episode, as I did here.  Part 2 of this report is specifically about Limbe, the city where we will be serving this week and it gave me valuable insight into their circumstances and history. I was surprised when I  heard the actual voice of Joanna on this radio broadcast, a woman whom I had read about earlier this week in another article I found when researching ministries in Limbe. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Beyond petroleum, my ass!"

I laughed out loud when I heard Rachel Maddow exclaim, "Beyond petroleum, my ass!" on her show last night after finishing a segment on the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ready or not Haiti, here we come

Mike Mahoney and I leave on Monday to drive to the east coast of Florida where we'll join 7 other people and depart for Haiti early (very early) the next morning.  Mike is a local physician and he and I are joining a team of folks from Oaks of Righteousness, a Christian organization whose purpose is to provide medical care to those who don't otherwise have access to medical help in Haiti.   We'll be working somewhere in the vicinity of Limbe, a city near the north coast of Haiti and directly north of Port-au-Prince, from June 8th through June 15th.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A light-hearted look at a heavy-hearted problem

 funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

I live on the Gulf Coast and the oil reached our beaches here in Alabama today.  I'll bet you didn't even know that Alabama had beaches, did you?   Our Gulf beaches are not as expansive as our neighbors in Florida but they are beautiful, none-the-less!  Presumably, this oil that's washing up on them now would be the oil that escaped from the wrecked BP oil well when the accident first occurred about 40 days ago. 

Know what that means?  If the oil well was capped right now, we'd have 40 more days of this stuff washing ashore to which to look forward as well as an undetermined amount of damage.  Know what else?  The well is not going to be capped today or any day soon, so we have a real mess on our hands!