The team is back from Haiti, and I think we’re all still processing our experiences. In short, it was amazing, and you played a big part in that. Your prayers and donations made this possible. I wanted to thank you and give you a brief report. On arriving in Cap-Haitien, the second largest city in Haiti, our team set up a clinic on what is basically the roof of New Jerusalem church. We had a vitals/triage station, three assessment stations, a testing station (for HIV and malaria), a wound care station and pharmacy. During the four-day clinic, 834 people received free services, treatments and medication!
My role was assessment: evaluating illnesses and distributing needed medications and treatments. Though intimidating at first, the huge volume of patients left little time for self-doubt and my Haitian teammates, Lamazan and Oleane, and I quickly fell into a good rhythm. I assessed, Oleane translated and Lamazan helped provide relevant health teaching. The team as a whole saw HIV, malaria, intestinal parasites, fungal infections, diabetes, hypertension and many wounds and other ailments. I even had the opportunity to put in a temporary dental filling—a first for me and, thankfully, successful.
Our aim was not solely to minister to physical needs; we came to minister to the whole person. During the clinic, there was a Haitian Creole audio Bible playing for those waiting and people to pray with anyone who wanted. Most received prayer and ten people made a first-time commitment to Christ. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to worship with the people of New Jerusalem Ministries. Pastor Joseph asked the team to sing and for each person to speak. While our singing wasn’t on par with their amazing choir, we gamely jumped in and did our best. I shared briefly about how impressed I was with their enthusiasm for building their country and Christ’s Kingdom.I also felt led to share Jesus’ words from John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is a healthy, growing church serving the neediest. I was encouraged to know the seeds God planted will be nourished there. Pastor Joseph is a humble man widely respected for his service to the city. When I asked if he had any children, he laughed and gestured to the crowded streets. “These are my children.”
One of the many joys of this trip was working with a great team, both American and Haitian. God’s hand in bringing us together was evident, each person bringing unique gifts and knowledge. Our common faith and purpose created a powerful sense of unity. It was amazing to see such selfless labor, compassionate hearts and Christ-like service. And laughter. Lots of laughter. ☺
Haiti is materially poor but rich in culture and hospitality, much like I experienced in Kenya and Uganda. Scenes of great beauty and extreme poverty are butted right up against each other. While we encountered a few hostile people, most were kind and appreciative. Haitian history is complicated with colonization, slavery, racism and all kinds of abuse, including religious. We tried to be very mindful of this as we worked there, intentionally acting as co-laborers and being cautious not to present the “American way” as the only or best way, valuing the wisdom and experience of our Haitian brothers and sisters.
Our sending organization, Nurses for the Nations, did a great job of coordinating our trip and arranging for the purchase/donation of medications and supplies. Maryland Community Church (my church) provided support in multiple ways. Missionary Flights International was arranged through N4N and flew us into and out of Haiti in their beautiful DC-3s (a great adventure all on its own). And Pastor Joseph Saintil and the New Jerusalem congregation were gracious and welcoming hosts in Haiti.
So what’s next? Feedback from Nurses for the Nations states this was a very successful missions. Cap-Haitien is in dire need of healthcare and there is discussion of possibly setting up a permanent clinic there with support from us with a long-term goal of training and staffing the clinic with nationals. A 2015 trip is being planned through Nurses for the Nations and several ways of cutting costs and maximizing impact have been identified.
I am so thankful to have served on this mission and continue to keep the people of Haiti and my teammates in my prayers. I hope you will, too. Thank you for helping to make this trip possible and touching the lives of so many.
Blessings, Nate Coleson RN