Each group that comes to serve with Healing Haiti has certain donations assigned to them, depending on the need at that time. Our assignment was to fill "goodie bags" for the 40+ staff down here, and thanks to so many generous friends and family our group did an amazing job collecting all kinds of toiletries to fill these bags with, things like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, lotion, bug spray, etc. We filled our bags for the staff the other night but still had boxes of things leftover. So when the idea of going to General Hospital came up, and we realized we could pack more goodie bags for people at the hospital, we knew it was meant to be. Even though we all had an amazing water truck day on Thursday and couldn't wait to do it again, I did not hear one complaint of disappointment all day from anyone on our team.
We headed to the hospital, stopping along the way for water to bring with us. They don't have bottled water here like we are used to; rather, they have water in small plastic baggies. We asked our driver Maxim how much water we could get for $10, and he came back with 6 giant bags, each full of about 50 small bags of cold water. What a deal!
We arrived at the hospital, a place no one on our team had been before (which is rare since several members of our team have been here multiple times.) We didn't quite know what to expect but came with willing hearts to serve in any way we could. It seems that often when we arrive at a new place it takes a few minutes to settle in and get a feel for how best to help. We were in a children's "wing" (2 rooms with about 50 beds/cribs), most being infants or toddlers but a few a little older. Most of them had their parents with them but a few did not. We started passing out packets of cold water as well as the goodie bags. We came with a large bag full of goodie bags but they were quickly gone. We then started doing whatever we could to bring joy to the patients and their parents. We held babies, brought smiles to the children's faces, massaged the moms, painted toenails (even Travis got some nail painting in - blue polish of course), clipped nails, sang to some, and prayed over others. It's hard to even describe to you what we saw in there but I will try to mention a few stories.
I held a baby there for awhile that was about 2 months old. Her mom was there as well but I wanted to give her a break. I assumed it was a girl by the pink outfit she had on. As I was holding her I could tell the baby was filling her diaper, no problem. I gave it a few more minutes and then asked the mom if I could help change her diaper. She agreed and then started to take her baby's diaper off. She didn't seem to be getting a new diaper out so I went to ask our driver/translator Maxim to ask the hospital staff for one. He said they don't have any, that patients have to bring all their own supplies. It broke my heart to go back to the lady and tell her I had no diaper (which I'm sure she expected, but still.) I also realized that the baby I thought was a girl due to her pink onesie was actually a boy. I realize that a pink outfit on a boy is not that big of a deal, especially here in Haiti where some kids are lucky to have ANY clothes, but it was just one more reminder of the things we take for granted, like a closet full of gender-appropriate clothes and access to an abundance of new diapers.
We saw one baby girl with a cleft palate, another with intestines hanging out of his body, and so many more serious conditions so treatable in the U.S, but perhaps the most heart-breaking of all was one baby girl with hydrocephalus. She was laying in a bed all alone, and based on the condition of her eyes and skin, it was just a matter of time. My heart was breaking as I saw her condition, thinking about a good friend whose daughter also has head/brain issues but access to world-class medical care. My emotions ranged from gratefulness for what we have in the U.S. to sadness and anger that this little one who Jesus loves just as much was laying helpless and alone in a hospital bed. I don't know the full story but God does and his ways are so much higher than ours. We prayed over this little girl, all we could do was leave her in God's hands.
After spending the morning at the hospital, we headed up the mountain, making a few stops on the way for some souvenirs. We had a lot of fun as a team, bartering with the vendors and even building relationships with some. When we got to the top of the mountain we looked out over the city, a city with such amazing beauty but also such poverty, a city full of people loved by God.
There are so many other stories I could share from the day, but it all boils down to the fact that our visit to General Hospital was truly orchestrated by God. From the extra supplies and water we had to the joy we brought the patients and their parents, God truly multiplied our efforts today in a modern day "Feeding of the 5000." Thank you, Jesus, for working through us today.
"They said to him, 'We have only five loaves here and two fish.' And he said, 'Bring them here to me.' Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children." Matthew 24:17-21
Glwa pou Bondye (Glory to God),