I Left a Piece of my Heart in Haiti
by Dr. Nhi Pham
...I feel so incredibly blessed to be back safely in the U.S., in the arms of my precious family and so thankful for everyone for their thoughts and prayers during my amazing mission trip with Medical Relief International. However I ask the Lord, "Why are you creating in me a restless spirit, why does my heart hurt a little today and why doesn't the sleep come when I pray for it?"
It took me over 15 years to prepare for this mission trip. It was my true heart's desire when I graduated from dental school. But when I had the time, I didn't have the means or the funds...when I had the means, I didn't have the time nor could I release the responsibilities I carried in my family or the practice. After an incredible week of serving and pretty much back breaking work of surgeries and battling some of the worst decay, removing wisdom teeth with the most dense bone and longest roots in some of the most primitive conditions,I thought for sure I would achieve some sense of accomplishment or at least feel some contentment in my heart.
As we begin Holy Week, I pray the Lord renews my spirit and answers some of the questions left in my heart. Although my hands were constantly at work with barely any time to spare for the bathroom or even a sip of water, the realization dawned that the focus of this mission trip was not really about the dentistry...it was about giving hope and allowing God to enter the liv
es of those being treated.
As the crowds would gather daily, the word was spread and Pastor Johnny and the volunteers, including full-time Haitian missionary, Mason (my newly appointed Kid Brother) would spread the Word in their native tongue of Creole and ask those seeking help to open their hearts to the Lord. It was the most beautiful thing that I have been a witness to.
I really tried to find joy in some of the most unpleasant situations. My husband pointed out that this picture spoke to him, in the fact they were three little Haitian girls almost identical in ages to our own daughters that had spontaneously gathered around me when I turned the corner to our makeshift dental clinic in the the region of Canaan (the promised land) in the town of Corail. I am forever grateful for my Haiti Family and teammates, Michael Karr, Bill Mays, Steffan Clements, John Judd, Mason Young & Lauren Young. I hope that we can spread the vision and mission of Medical Relief International.
Journal Entries from the 2010 Haiti Mission:
Janet Darling reports (March 22): End of day and we are beat. 125 patients-85 med/40 dental. Shed a few tears for the interpreters. One lost his 20 year old ...son. The other lost a college friend who was sitting next to him in class. Still the Haitians smile.
(March 23): At 4:45 each morning we awake to a Haitian church service. Now called "The Church Over The Wall." The preacher begins by singing several songs over the bullhorn and then preaches a firey 30 minute sermon. Jesus said to let them preach and to rise early to worship. We are repenting for not being able to sleep longer but they are full of joy and gathering every day! Father please forgive us!!! (March 24) So tired...Assisted with 85 year old for cleaning & 1 tooth extraction. He really had beautiful teeth. But then a young girl had 5 teeth removed & really needed more. I now know how to clean, extract, fill, file, & make partials. Don't fall asleep at my place when I get home as I have a new hobby!
(March 26): Its our final night in Haiti. Phone is having difficulties with some keys. Worked in Merger today. Most fun was the classes we had for kids. teaching them to brush their teeth while at the same time giving them a floride treatment.
Zack Mays reports (March 23): Not hard to see how so many people died when you see the devastation! Unreal some of the things we've witnessed!!! We are seeing around 130 patients/day and everyone on the team is well. We've also rebuilt one of the houses on campus that crumbled in the quake. Still much to do and never enough time.
Michael Mays reports (March 27): Today was bitter sweet...said bye to half of the MRI team as they left this morning, we miss you already! Monday and Tuesday we will be going to a place that has not had any medical attention since the quake so we will need all the prayers we can get. Miss you all!
John White reports (March 27): Just a short note. We have been here in Bolosse for 10 days. I have been an Ophthalmologist for 3 days and Dental Assistant/Dentist for 3 days and a construction worker for 3 days. I haven't really used my french in 22 years, but it is coming in handy especially when we are short on translators. It's great to see people smile when you are able to help them read without trouble or relieve them of tooth pain or rebuild the wall to their home.
We also spent some time in Merge, a small town of 2500 in the middle of sugar cane fields that have no business infrastructure left. The people in the shanty towns of Port Au Prince have many times what these people have.The only thing going on in that town is prostitution, gangs and voodoo. There is only 1 small church in the middle of town that is trying to pull the people out of their poverty. The main street is a 2 ft deep ditch that runs the length of the town.
We are heading out to Carforfeuille (sp) on Monday and Tuesday. It's been 2 months since the quake and they have not seen any medical or dental relief. About half the country has not see any aid at all. We'll do what we can with what we have as half the team has had to head back to the states (about 14 persons remaining).
Bill Mays reports (March 29): Today we set up clinic amidst the rubble at a church in a town that has not yet received aid. My friend, Dr. Milo and his wife were killed here.
John White reports (March 29): I took some time on a break this afternoon to fly kites with some of the kids in Corfuviel (this area has not seen any medical relief since the earthquake). They make them out of 5 pieces of stick, some twine and a plastic bag. We had 20 kites flying in the air from the rooftops. They taught me how to make them dip and do circles. It was definately a highlight.