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Stones and Angels

December 14, 2011

Things here have been pretty routine.  I have little very exciting to write about.

My home is progressing.  The ugly green in my living room has become a lovely shade of blue-green.  The hallway and kitchen are a much brighter shade of yellow than I had planned.  My landlord bought the paint, and when I opened it I almost needed sunglasses.  I asked whether it could be exchanged, but as best I understood he got some sort of deal on it, so it was not returnable.  I wonder why?  Perhaps because it didn’t come with sunglasses?  So I bought some white and mixed it in to tone it down a bit, but it’s still pretty vivid.  But it looks clean and that’s what’s important.  Some of the electrical got done, but we couldn’t find any wire.   This is Haiti.  The steps to the beach are under construction.  I’ve almost got my toilet working properly, but I am still looking for a part.  I realized my septic tank was far too small, so I installed a grey water system.  I got some of the paint from previous paint jobs off of the floors.  Much of the rest is going to have to wait until I return.

At the nursing institute I have been spending my time researching possible funding sources.  I have also been trying to anticipate some of the questions about my work here many of you are going to have when you see me, and am trying to make sure I will have accurate answers for you.  I have made some small initial steps toward starting COPSA-Haiti Canada; I am very excited about that initiative.

This evening Dr. Felix told me I will meet with all the other members of the COPSA-Haiti board of directors when I return.  I will also make the trip promised to me by Dr. Gilles Delatour, one of the other board members, to visit his AIDS clinic at Sainte Thérèse Hospital in Miragoâne, southwest of Port-au-Prince.  I wrote a bit about it in my November 27th post, He Answers Without My Asking.  I will also be treated to another evening at Ville Anne Marie (see my October 23rd post) to get to know our instructors a bit better.

I guess there has been one thing exciting, if you can call it that.  On Sunday I survived the passing of a kidney stone.  Those of you who have had that experience can attest to how much fun it is.  Once I had a nurse who was caring for me tell me she had gone through both passing a stone and having babies, and she would choose the latter hands down.  I started feeling uncomfortable early in the day, and by mid-afternoon I was in excruciating pain.  I suspected what the problem might be as I have had stones on a few occasions before.  But previously the pain had always been in my back.  This time it was in my groin.  I called Chris at Clean Water and he was kind enough to take me to Saint-Nicholas Hospital in Saint-Marc.  I was very fortunate to get a good Cuban-trained doctor who was able to make an accurate diagnosis.  It was very helpful to have Chris to translate.  However Haitian doctors are not big on pain control.  They subscribe to the “suck it up and deal with it” school of thought.  He would give me nothing for the pain.  Very fortunately one of the missionaries here had some powerful muscle relaxants left over from the treatment of a knee problem, and he gave them to me.  They were exactly the kind of medication a Canadian doctor would have given immediately.  I went home and crawled into bed to resort to sleep to escape the pain.  I awoke a couple of hours later completely pain free.  I thanked God that this was by far the easiest bout I have experienced.  Lesson learned:  drink more water.

I always am amazed at the interesting ways God takes care of me.  I have experience a number of “coincidences” over the past couple of weeks.  They all involve Archèlus.  Since moving to my new home in Pierre Payen, I commute to the nursing institute by tap tap.  But at 7PM when I am finished, most of them have stopped running for the day.  If I don’t find one I have to resort to taking a moto taxi home, which is far more expensive than tap tap fare.  One evening when it became obvious there was none to be found and I was about to reluctantly negotiate my fare with a moto driver, a man pulled up beside me on a motorcycle.  I assumed he was another chauffeur.  After a couple of minutes of studying me he said, “You live in Frantz’s house in Pierre Payen, don’t you?”  I was a bit taken aback; I had no idea who he was.  Then he told me, “I am Archèlus.  I live right across from you.  Get on, I’ll give you a ride home.”  On two other evenings this scenario has been repeated.  This has always occurred when there was no tap tap to be found.  Then on Monday morning just as I was getting off a tap tap at the Saint-Marc station, there he was again, ready to give me a ride to where I was going.  I have come to regard him as a bit of an angel.

I am looking forward to being back in Canada for a while and spending time with family and friends.  I will try to see as many of you as I can, but time is always short and there is always so much to do.

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