Sep 24, 2010

Fievel in Haiti

When I was growing up my parents kindly allowed my sister and I to raise all sorts of animals. We tried gerbils, hamsters, bunnies, puppies, kittehs!!1!, and Becca even had a guinea pig. Annie had some fish once. I always wanted a horse, but we settled with letting my have horseback riding time every Saturday with Nikki Steidl. That is, until the horse died. And then all my dreams were shattered.

Moving on.

Needless to say, I like animals. In general I don't like to kill things, unless they are spiders or cockroaches. All other animals may live. Especially the cat-sized rats from the depot. Those I don't even attempt to kill.

So a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon the little mouse who had taken up residence in our house, I didn't mind. He kept to his corner and scuttled away if he came anywhere close to me. When Diana came home and moved back in, we started to notice him more. Then we started to notice his...problems.

He moved sluggishly. His fur stood out at odd angles. He looked rather malnourished. I am guessing Mother Mouse never really loved him. We keep our food locked up tightly, so he probably starved much of the time he was here.

One week he made appearances more often and was getting bolder. It was probably the hunger that sent him to madness. He would run under our feet like a crazed lunatic. He would hide under our couch and chair. He would not move when we tried to shoo him away - he stood mighty as an oak...a mangy, matted oak.

Diana wanted to pound him with a flip flop. I told her no, that we just needed to get him to run out the door and close him out. So one night I grabbed a broom and Diana grabbed a tiny tupperware bowl and we set out to capture him. He would run one way and I would try to corral him out of the corners into the bowl. We got him right to the front door, and in a moment of attempting "DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!", I hockey pucked him into the door.

I have horrid aim, he flew into the doorframe, and scuttled back underneath the fridge. He escaped for that night.

A few nights later, the show down began again. This time we were much more prepared, and I was much calmer, much more focused. I got the mouse to the door and gently guided him out the front door. Success! We helped him down the stairs away from our apartment, where we were promptly greeted by two young boys who live on the mission.

They were very interested in our mouse and set about trying to capture it. I was thankful the mouse was gone, instructed the boys to leave the poor guy alone as he has surely been traumatized, and went back inside. I felt proud of the fact that I had saved the mouse's life and that he may be able to make it in the wild.

That was promptly ruined by the entrance of one of the boys.

"Diana, you don't need to worry. The mouse is far away."

"Oh that's good, where is it?"

"It's up in the sky."


"It's dead?"

"You KILLED it?"

"NO. We were trying to save it, but I accidentally kicked it."

I gathered it had a seizure at that point and died. So much for trying to save it's little life. Probably for the best though, the cats would likely have found him.

That or the depot rats. Those things are monsters.

Sep 12, 2010

every breath brings a chance for redemption

The sight that exposes our sin is the exact same sight that reveals God's grace.

Taken from Kevin Cawley's words from Martin Luther in June 2010, heard today in Haiti.

The last week has been full of reminders of grace. Thank you all for your messages and e-mails and notes about Clermond and Pierre. The amount of response to the last post was overwhelming.

Clermond is doing as well as one could hope. His surgery went very well, and his leg looks wonderful. The people at Adventist did an excellent job. We will continue to follow him for wound care and therapy and explore the possibility of getting him to the States for continuing oncology care.

Pierre - oh Pierre. How I love this little boy. If there is a lesson of grace and hope in this world, I see it so clearly in him. He has been moved into the Hope House for the time being. We do not know where he will be taken or if he will stay with us for good. All we know is that each day he grows healthier and stronger. He has begun to hold his head on his own for short stints and is smiling and laughing more and more.

To think that out of such a broken moment, left under a bench with pneumonia, in one week we would see such a turn around. It is a testament of grace. In those moments of pain and suffering and despair, we can see God's grace in the possibility for something other.

In the last week I have laughed and smiled and felt more joy than I can remember. I know part of it was our incredible medical team this last week. Now none of you go getting a big head - I know you are reading this to see if I actually would blog about you. There you go - you guys are awesome and now the whole blog-dom of Sarah knows it. Peace an' Blessings.

And while those five people would be enough to make a week great, when you have encounters with Hope, when you have an invitation into those moments to DO something, and then you do it, and then you see the glory of the Lord - those are the moments that provide such a sheer amount of joy.

For the first time in three months, I have seen and heard the invitation. We are invited to step into the brokenness and the muck and the pain. We are invited to mourn alongside and to help move forward. We are invited to experience God's grace in our own lives and then speak it out.

We are never meant to pretend that pain isn't there. We should never ignore the hard questions because their answers scare us. We never have to fear what happens if we don't have all the answers, because we never will.

I think as I have begun to realize this, I have found freedom.

The moment of Despair is the moment of Hope.
- Tim Chester

Sep 3, 2010

Clermond & Pierre

What does the face of injustice look like? What does it look like when injustice manifests itself in the flesh, in your face?

Meet 21 year old Clermond.

Clermond came to the clinic 3 weeks ago with what was thought to be an abscess. The first set of doctors to see him said they thought he had a sarcoma. The second set of doctors said it definitely wasn't cancer, just a cyst. The third doctor performed a biopsy - and the news came back yesterday.

Clermond indeed has cancer - a stage II osteosarcoma. Today I sat with him for an hour, told him the news, and told him that his only real option for treatment was an above-knee amputation. I was also the one to inform him that there was a hospital willing to do the surgery for him on Sunday. After a long conversation about what cancer is and what treatment looks like, we took a trip to see his father and told him the news.

How wretched for your only feasible option to be an amputation. Clermond said he would consent to the surgery but that his life as he knew it was over. I did my best to speak hope into his world. But in that instant I saw injustice in the flesh, in the tumor that protruded out from below his knee.

Later on that day I transferred a patient to a hospital in Port-au-Prince and got a call on my way back to the mission that there had been a baby abandoned at the clinic. The young mother had gotten news that her 2 year old baby boy likely had muscular dystrophy and would not make much of a recovery. She agreed to return with him on Monday, left him under a bench, and walked away. He became the responsibility of the government today. After trying to transfer him to three different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, the officials left him at the mayor's home tonight.

Injustice in the flesh: a boy in a country with no resources to help his teenage mother care for him. An environment that can be so unforgiving. Muscles that are not developed. A prognosis that is grim for a boy even well-nourished.

With no medical care at the mayor's home and a very malnourished, dehydrated, underdeveloped baby with a possible lung infection, several nurses and myself decided to try and get him back to the mission. With the approval of our Haitian director, I made my way to the mayor's house in the little ambulance and asked to take care of the baby's medical needs. Permission granted.

So, where do we go from here? When injustice is so in your face, what do you do?

As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:
he gives rain to the earth
and sends water to the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
and from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.

Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
-From Job 5

As for tonight little Pierre sleeps on our living room floor on our mattress. I will accompany Clermond to and from the hospital this week. And I will join in the groanings of this world and wait in anticipation for the day when He makes all things new.

Until then, may God show us ways to shut the mouth of injustice.