Tuesday, January 17, 2006

tuesday afternoon in haiti

On Monday and Tuesday we worked at the health clinic at Tovar, which is an hour's journey by jeep from Cap Haitien. Our team of 16 (25+ counting translators and local staff) saw several hundred people in these two days. I was in the vital signs area. I would call the name of a person, greet them, take their temperature, blood pressure, pulse and then weigh them. I would say a few words in french along the way, try to smile at them, some were friendly, some sick, some scared. Then I would say "sheetah", which means "you may sit down" in creole, and then "merci", which is thank you in French. Mary also worked in vital signs, and my daughter Liz and another college student did vital signs for children. We kept at this pace solid until a lunch of a peanut butter sandwiche and cold water, and today also a half a tuna sandwich. Then back to vital signs.

Half of the meaning of all of this is the journey there and back. Yesterday a tire fell off our jeep. We discovered that it was only held on by three of the possible six lug nuts. We were in the middle of nowhere. As soon as we stepped out of the jeep a young guy came by and laid out about eight brightly colored paintings, the most memorable being the crucifiction of Christ with a UN soldier taking the place of the roman soldier. We found an extra lug nut and returned with four.

Today a different truck broke down and we were stuck in plane du nord, which is a notorious voodoo village (I remember Bernard telling me that I needed to preach against it). We caught a tap-tap, sort of like a pick-up truck crossed with a cab, and rode 45 minutes to Cap Haitien; the cost was one American dollar. There we ran into a former staff member, Eddy Joseph, who was a "tooth puller" on the medical teams. He gave us a ride in the back of his truck.

People I will remember from today: a little boy with anthrax; the kids I kicked the soccer ball with at the Orphanage, adjacent to the clinic; a young girl with diabetes (450 glucose level) who walked two miles to get there and gives herself insulin; the dedicated medical people; Alice White's amazing leadership; the joy and humor of the haitian translators; my daughter Liz holding really tiny children and weighing them; the quiet of the Tavar Methodist Church, built, interestingly, by the local Haitians and some people from First UMC in Arlington, Texas, where my friend David is pastor.

Dinner will be soon. We are all hungry. Tomorrow I have lunch with 70 Haitian Methodist pastors. More about all of this later.


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