So when Charlene contacted me last week regarding another event they'll be doing and mentioned she'd just gotten back from Haiti, I begged her for details.
She forwarded me the emails she'd sent back home during her time there. I want to post them here over the next few days. When you're done reading them all in the series of posts, I think you'll understand why. Here's Charlene's first few emails:
Just to keep you up to speed.... we are in Ft. Lauderdale and will be flying out at noon today on a private plane to Haiti. We are with 3 ER docs from San Diego and another guy from Ridgewood Rotary who has orchestrated this trip. We will not be Port-Au-Prince. We will be in the outlaying areas that have not seen any relief as of yet. We will be in LeCayes (sp?) setting up a Medical subcamp for medical help.
So I guess I will be an ER nurse for a week! Whatever they need, that is what I am there for...glad I enjoyed watching all those hospital/medical shows on TV my whole life!!! But seriously, we will be fine, I'm sure and will do our best to make a difference for the least of these in Haiti with their unimaginable despair and loss.
I will try to keep you updated as I am able but not sure what that will be...As far as I know at this point, I think we will be gone for 6 days but again will let you know more when I know more. Thanks for letting me go on such short notice, you too, are being the Hands of Christ by being so liquid to allow me to leave my responsibilities at work
I will try to keep in touch.
We are still in Florida.... the private jet needed to change the fuel tank so we are waiting to hear from them that they are finished and we can leave. We will have a 2 1/2 flight to Haiti from Florida because the smaller private jet does not travel as fast as the commercial planes.
Frustrated but realizing at the same time God's hand in our frustration... Still in Ft. Lauderdale. Couldn't get the plane fixed fast enough and with the additional earthquake today it limited the airport landing option in the location we were to land. So, we are scheduled to fly out 6 a.m. tomorrow morning now.
One of the Doc's on our team did get out on a plane with another group to get to Port Au Prince because he had to pick up his "son" who he is adopting.... so we are down to 2 Docs who are limited with their time. Made one phone call to my friend, and personal doctor, and she is on a plane tonight to join us in the morning! God is sooo good.
Went shopping today for more supplies so the day was not wasted. The Docs were able to go to a local hospital this morning in Ft. lauderdale and they donated a "boat-load" of meds for the trip. We got the saline solution and IV lines and multitude of ointments, medications, pain
killers, glucose, lidocane, etc. Nothing like going face to face with someone asking for a donation..... it is easier to say "no" to a telephone call or a letter than it is to say "no" to two physicians standing right in front of you. Once they found the right person in the hospital to speak with, the flood-gates opened up. Praise God!
We fly into Cape Haitian and then a little plane from there to Les Cayes. So we can't fly into Port Au Prince because we can't then get another flight to our final destination in Les Cayes. So we need to fly into an alternate airport in order to get ourselves and all the supplies to the "hospital" in Les Cayes. We are needing these flights to work from each location so we can get on the ground and help these people. We have been told that today there were 250 Haitians sitting outside the hospital in the town we are headed toward just waiting for the doctors to come. So, I'm sure they will spend the night on line just waiting for these doctors to get to them.
The organization putting this trip together and paying for this trip (International Humanitarian Aid Foundation) are paying a fortune to get us there! These private airlines are gouging people for the flights and it is crazy. But the Foundation is committed to getting these medical supplies and physicians on the ground to help the people so we may need to do some fundraising for them upon our return.
I am so blessed to feel the support from you and know that we are being upheld in prayer.
Well, it was a challenging day to say the least and we haven't left USA yet! But it has been a day of seeing God's hand obviously with us which is such an awesome assurance as we head out tomorrow for Haiti. As I previously said, due to the second earthquake today the airport we were going to fly into was shut down to one runway so we were forced to wait until tomorrow (or is it today at this point?). We were originally going to leave at 6 a.m. but that was going to cost this group boucoup money..... like $16,000. The charter company found another group that would share the plane with us and therefore, share the expense, so we have to wait for them and can't leave until noon time.
Then the ER doctors from San Diego that we have with us bailed out of the trip and decided that it was taking too long for us to get there and they had limited time so they went off and made other arrangements to go to Port Au Prince by themselves. That leaves Bob, myself and our leader, Peter, alone on a medical missions trip -- which wasn't an option frankly. So we prayed and I called my physician and she is due to arrive here any minute. Then we needed two more doctors.
So what did I do after praying some more???? Facebook, what else? Well I posted our need and chatted with a few friends and by 11 p.m. we had two doctors sign up to come with us and are due to fly in tomorrow to get here on time to leave with us at 12 Noon. Now if that isn't confirmation that God is with you the I don't know what is!
Not sure what our internet situation will be in Les Cayes in our "hotel" so hoping to be able to update at least once a day.
OK. Today is day one in the hospital.... We went last night and checked out both of the hospitals. The hospitals are actually better than I had expected them to be but there are patients laying everywhere. They need orthopedic surgeons here BAD. There is also a tent city established that we will go to check out as well to see if there is any help that we could provide to these who have not been able to make it to the hospital as of yet.
If anyone has any connections with hospitals or physicians PLEASE make the plea for their help. If they are able to come at any time and help they should email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
There are soo many patients just laying in beds and mattresses or sheets on the ground with broken bones or amputated arms/legs. We met one gentleman last night who was a police officer in Port Au Prince and he was buried beneath rubble and cut is own arm off in order to get free.
Unreal! It is like walking into a war-zone. But at the same time, it is still better than I had expected to see. Every day there are more patients showing up as they are traveling from the PAP area to find resources and help for their injuries.
Our trip here yesterday was uneventful but interesting. We took a private charter plane from Ft. Lauderdale to Cap Hatian after stopping off in the Bahamas to refuel. There is no gasoline in Haiti so the planes need to be strategic. We then got on a plane that was smaller yet and flew from Cap Hatian to Les Cayes where we are now working. We came with 1,000 pounds of cargo (luggage) with medical supplies and most of that will be going to the UN to be distributed where it is needed.
Whatever could not be stored below in the plane was taking up seats on the plane -- actually looked quite funny. But we were able to get down here everything that had been donated so that was wonderful. The organization we are working with here is quite amazing. It is just a small group but they are doing great things. International Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHAF).
There are missionary flights that are coming down frequently and can potentially get physicians down here if any can come. IHAF is also putting together containers to be shipped here as well.
For now, we have had a night in the hotel (no sheets, no blankets, no pillow and no towels for the shower)..... sleep? NOT! But today is a new day. Please pray for protection and for energy to get through the day. There is so much need here but trying still to find out where our place will be today. Most likely we will be triaging patients in the hospital with the two physicians we have with us and rebandaging wounds, etc.
I think we are also going to serve a hot meal to the patients today as well. There will be locals setting up a tent and IHAF is supplying rice and beans for the women to cook up and we will then distribute the food to those around. One of the hospitals is a private hospital - and they have a kitchen and food source but the other hospital is a local public hospital and they do not provide any food to the patients or their many family members who are camping out with their sick family as well.
It is in the low 80's already this morning at 8 a.m. so am sure it will be a warm day.
Blessings to you all and we would covet your prayers.
Au Revoir, Charlene
Can you believe how long it it took for her to fly into Haiti? And the costs for a 2 hour flight there from Florida?! I can imagine frustration mounting as you are so eager to get in there and help, yet you are grounded at an American airport. Thankfully, they made it. And after all that, I would just want a hot shower and a comfy bed - not available in Haiti. Come back tomorrow for more of Charlene's journey because this post is already way long!
Thankful for my saftey and the comforts of home.