First Day of Medical Clinic
Bonswa!! As always I hope you are all loving life and finding amazing adventures. We had a very successful first day of the medical clinic and the team is currently unwinding before a traditional Haitian dinner. For the medical clinic this week we wanted to focus the project on the deaf community but will also be serving the hearing residents of the surrounding area on Thursday and Friday. Everyone scheduled for today showed up as well as a few dozen other friends from the deaf community. We all enjoyed the time in fellowship with the deaf as many people hung around all afternoon in order to teach our team members as much sign language as possible. Observing the development of relationships between the members of Frazer UMC and the residents of the deaf community was a true and beautiful illustration of mutual encouragement.
Our non-medical personnel spent the majority of the afternoon running our makeshift pharmacy, learning sign language, and putting almost a thousand pounds of rice and corn-meal into hundreds of plastic baggies for dispersal to everyone who attends the clinic throughout the week. Starting tomorrow, half of the team will be spending the mornings engaged in educational activities at the deaf camp which should go very well – activities will include communication activities, dance, art, etc… I am very excited for the team that is here this week as they are truly the first team from Frazer to come down here to work specifically with the deaf. There will be many more medical clinics run over the next several years and we are blessed to have experienced, knowledgeable and extremely flexible people. There will be some changes made for the next clinic but I am confident the rest of this week should go well.
I am re-learning what it means to be attempting work within a time frame in a true island culture. Promises are always made and we are assured that tasks will be completed by Monday morning and we find that nothing happens in the meantime – we just need to constantly remind ourselves that we are in Haiti. To do things the American way will never work here and would be an inappropriate approach to a mission with the Haitian people and our friends in the deaf community. Schedules, deadlines, and tasks to complete are often extremely nebulous concepts down here. I think that many who know me back in the US would consider me to be a very laid back person. Down here I definitely need to kick it up a notch again in working hard but trusting so much more in provision, similar to our style of life in Samoa and throughout the South Pacific.
The young boy in this picture showed up at the clinic today and hung out all day with us. We have no idea who he is, where he is from, or where his parents were. We quickly figured out that he is deaf and also has no language at his command. The majority of the deaf people we are working with are able to communicate in a sign language that is very similar to what is recognized by interpreters of ASL. However, the young man we hung out with all day today was not able to communicate with anything that was very recognizable. In a very cool situation that occurred throughout the afternoon, Gabriel, a ten year old boy who came with his parents on the mission trip this week tirelessly attempted communication and the two young boys were inseparable by the end of the day laughing together, giving goofy poses for pictures and communicating ideas in small ways to one another!!! Way to go Gabriel!!! I have no doubts that our friend will show up again tomorrow to spend the day with us.
I want to briefly address tonight many of the struggles faced by our friends in the deaf community as the joys of new relationships and big dreams are almost always interspersed with the extremely difficult challenges and fears our new friends face on a daily basis. Today a young man from the community came to us to discuss events that occurred several weeks ago in the camp. For many women in Haiti, especially those living in the tent cities and temporary houses, physical violence, rape and kidnapping are daily occurrences. Several people today sat down to discuss with us many of the things that have happened to themselves or their families in the tent cities. It is heartbreaking to reflect on the fears that everyone is living with when we also talk with people who lost much of their family in the earthquake last year. Another young man shared with me today that he is the only one left from his immediate family. He is my age (26) and lost both of his parents and two brothers in a building collapse last year. While there is hope for a new future in a much safer community for everyone currently living in the deaf community, these people have already endured a lifetime worth of suffering by the time they are teenagers. It is with this in mind that organizations like 410 Bridge, Frazer UMC and dozens of other organizations have set out to work very hard towards helping and encouraging our friends to find a sustainable life with hope for a future of their own choosing.
Lord, tonight we pray to You in the recognition that you are the source of all healing, all peace, all love and all comfort. There is no excess of hope in You God – and we pray for your guidance, provision, clarity and discernment in hoping for the right things and trusting in the right things. In Your most holy Name we pray. Amen.