Wednesday, October 27, 2010

And Now for the Good News!

Update on Jules

On Oct. 24, Jules celebrated his 56th birthday. He is doing very well. He’s anxious to get back to Haiti as soon as he can. The majority of his doctors have cleared him to return. The current issue is that he’s still having significant pain in his back (a dear friend arrived from Haiti recently and, not realizing how fragile Jules was and the possible consequences, gave Jules a joyful, giant bear hug, injuring his back). He is getting treatment for it and those doctors believe it will clear up in just a few weeks.

If all goes well, Jules would like to return to Haiti in November. Pray for his continued recovery and financial needs. He sends out big greetings and thank you-s to everyone. He is very appreciative of the many financial gifts he’s received as well as the phone calls, cards, letters and especially the prayers of so many people.

We’ll keep you up to date on his departure plans.

The Hope for Kidz Hot Lunch Program has begun!

ti jean 2 tunedThe start of the Haitian school year, in the middle of October, marked not only the beginning of a “normal” school year – a good healing point for Haiti – but it also marked the beginning of the the Hope for Kidz Hot Lunch Program in specific pilot schools. It was estimated that this pilot year would feed 800 children with a hot, nutritional lunch. However, when word got out that those schools would be serving a hot lunch, families responded in droves, registering their children in those schools. The result is that we are now feeding 1,300 children each school day! The kids were very excited about getting a meal at school.

benson giving a box tuned

unloading5 cropped tuned

unloading4 tuned

Update on Katelyn Pfister

Oct. 13 prayer was asked for a missionary family on the mission center (Not an RMI family) whose 9 year old daughter, Katelyn, was medivaced to St. Petersburg, FL. She is doing much, much better. She was diagnosed with ADEM acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. It sounds like it is a post immune response to viral or bacterial infection and should not be reoccurring. It resulted in a dangerously low sodium condition in her body. After treatment and slowly improving, she was released from the hospital and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House with her mom for several days where she continued to recover. They are leaving the RM House and staying with family for a bit longer as she regains her strength, finishes her medications and has her last checkups before they return to Haiti in November. Thank you for your prayers for her!

What about Cholera & RMI’s Ministries?

You have probably heard that cholera has broken out in Haiti in the last couple of weeks. We wanted to address your concerns about what it is, where it is, the treatment and more importantly that our staff, missionaries and teams are safe.

First, here is a map of Haiti, showing where the current outbreak is located (the Artibonite area) and where Les, Cayes, RMI’s headquarters, is located. It is more than 150 miles away. The Haitian government and aid agencies are vigorously working to isolate the breakout areas, educate people on cleanliness, provide clean drinking water and to treat those that are ill. There have been 5 confirmed illnesses in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but they are all people that had recently traveled from the Artibonite area. Thus far, no cases have been discovered south of Port-au-Prince.

Current Cholera Area Oct. 26, 2010

Cholera is rightly called a disease of poverty. It is true. Cholera spreads because, and only because, of poverty. The two essential components for the spread of cholera are lack of access to clean water and sanitation and lack of access to information about how to protect yourself. Even if cases of cholera found their way out of Haiti and made it to the US, the conditions do not exist in our country to allow for an epidemic to take hold.

Wikipedia states, “Cholera[1] is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Transmission is primarily through contaminated drinking water or food. The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Primary treatment is with oral or intravenous rehydration solutions. Antibiotics may be beneficial, and in certain cases they are used. Cholera is a major cause of death in the world.”

Missionary doctor, Dr. Jim Wilkins, who works at a hospital just south of the capital, shared that the main loss of life is from losing fluids too quickly and not getting them replaced. Especially at risk is small children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who are already weak or sick. Oral rehydration drinks with salts & sugar in them and/or IV rehydration is the best, quickest and most effective treatment. Prevention is the key to keep it from spreading: clean water, frequent hand washing, using toilets/outhouses instead of in rivers or water sources and proper food preparation. It seems that the rate of new cases is beginning to slow down.

At this point, RMI’s staff, missionaries and teams are far removed from exposure to the Cholera area. The water that we supply our visiting teams with is from the mission center, which operates its own clean, capped & chlorinated well and water system. It is almost the only place in Haiti that you can actually drink water out of the tap. Our staff also travel with oral rehydration packets in it’s first aid kit should someone get sick. It’s not very tasty, but it does the trick and makes you feel much better in a short time.

All this said, we are definitely taking the appearance of Cholera in the country very seriously. We will not knowingly put a team at risk of exposure. If you have any questions, feel free to call RMI, toll free, at 877-RMI-5439.

Pray for Haiti. As difficult things hit the country, we keep thinking, “This country can’t take any more!”, yet things continue to happen. Pray for the missionaries, doctors and ministries that are in the Artibonite area. Ask God to halt this terrible disease and keep it from spreading.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update on Amy

Amy has seen the retinal specialist and has surgery scheduled for November 1. Here is what she wrote in her blog:

I am stateside. I arrived with absolutely no problems. I left my house at 3am, was at the airport by 7am and on the plane about 9am. Both the flight from Port to Miami and from Miami to Jacksonville left right on time and I was safely in Jacksonville a little ahead of schedule.

I had an appointment made for 8am but was told it may be a long morning as I will have to be worked into the schedule. Just this morning, the Ladies from the Bible Study I attended before I left for Haiti prayed that God would give me a connection with a Doctor who had a heart for Haiti and a heart for the work I am doing there. My mom got a call today saying that the Dr who would be seeing me had changed. When she talked to that Dr. my mom found out that she has been to Haiti numerous times. God has definitely been working in the details!!

The appointment yesterday morning wasn't actually for the surgery- it was a consult to see what the problem really was.

The surgery has been scheduled on November 1. I have to be at the surgery center at 8:15am.

Bottom line, there is more substantial damage than just the bleeding. There is scarring at the back of the retina and if not repaired, it could mean detachment of the retina and eventual complete blindness. the bleeding was actually a separate yet related problem. I consider it a blessing over all as the problem could have continued and become completely non=repairable.

It is a problem associated with diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugars (I guess Haiti has been harder on my system in that way than I realized but I am working on getting them under control and will just have to continue changing what I do when I return…) As of now, the laser surgery can help stop the bleeding and remove some of the scar tissue. The recovery process, he said in general is a two month process. If the process goes smoothly, then after two months he will sign off on the recovery and I, ideally, will be free to return to Haiti. As far as my vision, I am at 20/25 in my right (good eye) but at about 20/100 in the left eye. There is a 3 in 4 chance it will improve some and a 1 in 4 chance it will not. I am trusting and believing for the former.

I am working through what this all means and what life will look like over the next couple months. While things have turned out differently than I thought, I know that God’s hand is in this and I will trust Him to continue to guide me through.

I am missing Haiti very much today. I woke up to find news of a cholera outbreak in the North Western part of the Haiti. My heart breaks for a country whose people has already experienced enough grief and tragedy in the past ten months to last more than a lifetime. Keep Haiti on your mind, in your thoughts and in your prayers.”

Continue to pray for Amy. You can find her blog here. We will post updates as we receive info from her.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Urgent Prayer Needed

Amy & a friend, Tiburon summer 2010 RMI missionary, Amy Long, is in need of urgent prayer. She is experiencing retinal bleeding in her left eye. She is not in pain, but does have very blurry vision in that eye. This seems to be an issue brought on by her type 1 diabetes. She was able to go to a special eye clinic in Cayes on Monday to get this diagnosis and was told that she needed immediate laser surgery.

She is flying home to Jacksonville, FL tomorrow (Wednesday), and will be staying with her parents. God’s hand has been working for Amy already. Her mom has been able to get her an appointment with a retinal specialist at 8 a.m. Thursday morning! It is possible that she’ll have surgery the same day.

Pray that God will give the doctor wisdom as he diagnoses the problem and performs the surgery.

Pray for peace for Amy as she flies home leaving responsibilities (RMI has 3 back-to-back teams right now!) and facing some serious unknowns regarding her eyesight.

Pray that surgery can be done quickly, that the damage will be minimal and her eyesight will be fully restored.

Pray for Amy’s financial situation since this medical crisis is unexpected. Her insurance will cover some of the costs and some gifts have already been received to help cover her deductible. She will need finances to cover her plane flights and other unforeseen expenses. Any gifts for Amy’s expenses can be sent to RMI designated for Amy’s ministry account.

If you want to send Amy a card, her address is: Amy Long, 3114 Starburst Way, Jacksonville, FL 32223. Her email is She will updating her blog regularly, too. We will also post updates as we receive them as well.

At this time, it is uncertain as to how long she’ll be in the US. It will depend entirely on her medical situation and her doctors.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prayer Request from the Field

Sunday, a sick little girl was flown to the states with some of the Agape Flights volunteers and staff who were here in Cayes hosting a picnic and ice cream social for the missionaries here in the area the same weekend.

Katelyn Pfister lives here with her family, Rich and Amber Pfister, and their four other children. Last week Katelyn grew quite ill and spent a few nights in the clinic here on the mission center. She was feverish and slightly delusional and was treated for both malaria and typhoid (VERY common treatments for most patients with any kind of persistent fever who check into the hospital). Her mom and dad spent the nights in the hospital with her before she was released but after a very short while at home, it was obvious she wasn’t getting any better. Concerned, it was decided to send her and her mother to the states with the Agape Pilots. The family had contacts in South Florida who met them upon their arrival and got Katelyn admitted to the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. She is being seen by some very capable doctors and is undergoing tests and treatment now. The last word that we got was that they still didn’t know what was making her so ill but there was a suspicion that it might be cerebral spinal meningitis.

God’s hand, though, has been evident in this situation from the very beginning as Katelyn and her mom were able to fly out with Agape (who had two passengers drop out just before coming to Haiti so there was room on the flight). They have said she is in one of the best hospitals in the country and her first nurse was a Haitian lady originally from Petit Goave, an area outside of Port au Prince. As her dad reported in an e-mail yesterday, the nurse said that as soon as she saw Katelyn come into the ER, she started praying. Rich’s mom arrived in the country on Saturday and is taking care of the other 4 children here in Haiti, while Rich and Amber take care of Katelyn in Florida.

With no news today, we are hoping that is good news. But please continue to keep Katelyn, her parents, her siblings, her grandparents, and all the doctors and nurses who are overseeing her care, in your prayers. Please pray for wisdom and knowledge for the doctors to have a definitive answer as to what's

wrong in order to give her the precise treatment that she needs. If it is cerebral spinal meningitis there are potential long lasting effects that stem from it so please join us in praying that there will be no long term damage and that healing and restoration will come quickly.

We’ll keep you posted. Keep praying!

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

5 Week Report Card

Remember the dread you had in school when it came time for report cards? It has been 5 weeks since our Staff Strategic Planning Meetings at the end of August and the start of the fall team schedule. We can honestly say that we don’t have to face this “report card” with dread, but with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord and with excitement. Here’s why, in the last 5 weeks…

2 Sister Churches visited their Haitian brothers and sisters.

  • NewChurch Georgetown (Austin, TX) / Abricot Sister Church Visit
    • Satellite church visit
    • Youth meeting
    • Open air service (three people accepted Christ)
    • Installation of fans in the church
    • Hope for Kidz meeting
    • Deacons Meeting
    • Ladies Tea
    • Town Carnival Day (The church met at the town square and had the whole town involved. Kids and parents from all around came and participated in games, activities and face painting.)
  • Schuylkill Valley Bible Chapel (Mohrsville, PA) / Camp Perrin Sister Church Visit
    • Visited three satellite churches
    • Distributed 75 bags of beans and rice at each location
    • Ladies Tea
    • Deacons Meeting

2 Homes for Haiti teams came to build homes & do additional projects

  • Grace Lutheran Church (Seattle, WA) Homes for Haiti work team
    • Built home panels
    • Took an inventory of the entire HFH material supply
    • Visited their Sister Church for a Sunday morning service
    • Installed a house at Grand Goave for Pastor Bien-Aime, his wife and their 3 children.
  • 2nd Cape May Baptist Church (Marmora, NJ) Homes for Haiti work team
    • Installed two houses, 1 at Croix de Bouquet and 1 at Delmas 33
    • Visited their Sister Church for a special Tuesday night service
    • Worked around the mission center:
      • Installed and tiled new kitchen counter at the RMI Guesthouse
      • Built and installed a new folding buffet table at the Guesthouse
      • Installed ceiling fans in 2 RMI Offices**
      • Did electrical work at the Guesthouse and the Thompson's house
      • Prepared and poured the foundation for the HFH model in the RMI Depot yard
      • Networked the office computers
      • Created the building plans for the new Haiti RMI Office**

39 people have come on these teams.

And this is the “short” list! It means that many lives were touched, much ministry happened, and projects were accomplished. This is an exciting “report card”, don’t you think?! One that we know our Father would be proud of.

It does need to be mentioned that this kind of intense activity (4 teams in 5 weeks!) means an immense amount of work, coordination, long hours, a lot of travel, blood, sweat and tears for our missionary and national staff. And this in tough, hot, unpredictable Haiti conditions. They have labored through rain, broken vehicles, stress and time away from families. Pray for them as they continue to do God’s work with a smile on their faces.

Rejoice with us about this excellent report card!

**RMI’s Haiti office on the mission center has been officially condemned due to damage by the Jan. 12 earthquake. We have temporarily moved the offices to several rooms at the Guesthouse until a new office building can be built on the 2nd story of the RMI storage depot. More details will be forthcoming in a few weeks so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

In Twos

Two teams, two Haitian “bosses”, two locations, and two houses. In two days!

The Homes for Haiti team from Cape May, New Jersey sent ten men into Port au Prince on Friday, October 1 to work on two houses in two separate locations. The original plan had been to send the team to another location outside of Port but plans were changed last Tuesday when days of rain made the road impassible, a (STILL) broken truck made delivering supplies insolvable, and a yet to be prepped site made working on it impossible. Fortunately, God had other plans which He orchestrated perfectly.

Despite days of rain- there was nothing but clear skies! Despite missing pieces- a container truck which was being unloaded on the Mission Center in Cayes on Saturday and returning to Port the same day was available to transport the parts we were missing directly to the site! Despite searing heat, back breaking work, and not a lot of shade- not one team member got sick! And despite all the complexities of working in Haiti which make completing most any task in a timely, efficient manner difficult- in just two days, two new homeowners were handed the keys to their new homes!

new owner croix de bouquet

The new homeowners (two ladies in the center of the photo) at the Croix de Bouquet location with some of their friends and family. They will live here with their children (One has 2 children and the other has 1 child).

team with new owner delmas 33

The new owner (standing on the back row) with the team from Second Cape May Baptist, and Wilfrid, the RMI “Boss” for the Delmas 33 location.