Where to start? We resolved to start early today in our mobile medical/dental clinic in Chiraque. Along the way, we encounter a village up in arms over the death of a Haitian mother and child during childbirth. The village believes the hospital is at fault, and blocked our path. . .which happens to be the ONLY road to take, and the ONLY route between Jeremie and Port au Prince with debris fires, tree trunks and large stones. After an hour delay, the local authorities have cleared the road and we begin our trip to Chiraque only to encounter the villagers having set up another roadblock this time with burning tires. Through it all, we never really felt threatened as our ground crew sort of shrink-wrapped themselves around us (think figuratively, please), and they engaged the village organizers. . .they probably knew some of them, but probably also explained what our two truck/six motorbike motorcade was intending to do today. . .and also greased a palm or two! We were sort of escorted to and through the protesters’ choke point a second time and allowed through. I suspect some of us found this random chaos a rather extraordinary start to our day. . .and I also suspect that our loyal ground team it was just another day. . .a normal day. We’re glad we hung in there as there were many waiting for us in Chiraque when we arrived sometime after 10 am. . .after leaving at 7:30! It would have been difficult to replan the rest of this week, the weather was clear and dry (always something we pray for on the steep, deeply rutted, dirt roads that is The Road to Chiraque. . .what a number Hope and Crosby could have done! But I digress. . . With the help of 3 Haitian Doctors, 1 Dentist, and 5 Haitian nurses, nearly 300 persons were seen and treated today. They all saw a Doctor or Dentist and they all received medications. We didn’t depart Chiraque until about 5:30 and our ride home. . .apart from being a lot like riding a mechanical bull. . .was further extended by road work near our hotel. Yes, fans, I said roadwork. . .remember the earthmoving equipment I mentioned yesterday! It was an exhausting day in the clinic as we see and attempt to treat illnesses and conditions that are less frequently seen anymore in our country. Alongside this work, we also distributed donated clothing and dresses sewn by BFUMC seamstresses. The heat and humidity today added to the assault on the senses. . .the commotion of folks angling to get seen, or their loved ones seen, by Doctors they might never get close again in a year’s time. . .the commotion of folks angling for clothing and sandals that they might not obtain for free in a long while. . .the commotion of noisy and uncontrolled school kids in the adjacent school buildings, but knowing their teachers weren’t getting paid regularly/the children (grossly) underfed/the school lacking in basic instructional materials (we fixed that)/and many children had no place to sit (we’re fixing that very soon). . .the sadness we feel when little ones sidle up to us desperate (to our eye) for something, anything bordering on interest and affection. . .and certainly a simple piece of candy that they certainly don’t get at home.
All of the above we regard as extraordinary, and depressing. . . .but it their normal. We take for granted OUR normal, and days like this remind us of how good we have it and of the many gifts and blessings we have in our lives. Those of you who follow along probably have such “aha” moments as well. Let’s resolve that somehow, someway, we’ll lean into the less fortunate. Nancy and John, Jackie and Paul, Sarah and Mick, and Anne