While in Haiti, we keep an older model vehicle in the US for our use when we visit our Indiana home. Sometimes (read: often) someone we know, whether it be a friend, or family, or acquaintance, will need to borrow a vehicle, and we are happy to be able to provide one to help out. Today was such a day. On the way back from the hospital, our friend who had borrowed the vehicle for the day apologetically sent us a text stating that his return trip to our garage with our car had resulted in the side of the car having a brief encounter with the side of the garage. The attached pictures showed a small scuff on the vehicle and an equally small scuff on the side of the garage. I understand the remorse of our friend, but I also hope that he understands when I say, as my dad did before me, “you’ll never know it a hundred years from now”, which translated means “in the grand scheme of things, this really is not a big deal.” This is a lesson that I relearn often in Haiti.
Let me do a brief re-cap of the day prior to the scratch: Kathy and I left our apartment in Port au Prince at around 6:00am. A few minutes into the trip, our first call came, informing us that a cancer patient that had been seen during a recent house call would finally be able to make his way to the hospital. Great news and heavy news, but we will be happy to see him! The trip continued winding through stretches of homes with no running water, no electricity, dirt floors, with children busily playing with whatever items they found to create the latest toy. The familiar turn into the hospital area opened up to moms on both sides carrying their sick kids to the pediatrician, people limping along to see the orthopedic surgeon, and others being carried by loved ones.
Upon arrival at the hospital building, two moms were moaning in labor, and a motorcycle accident victim was being stabilized. The din of the crowd of patients awaiting the doctors, lab work, x-rays, or vaccines paled in comparison to the sounds of the more critical patients from the emergency room. We ascended the stairs to our office space, and began responding to requests for anything from fuel for the ambulance to medicines for the patients to otoscopes to payroll information—and the list goes on. Eventually the cancer patient, whose friend arranged his visit earlier, arrived and the situation was bleak. The necessary treatment was not available in Haiti and the possibility of referral to another country was also beyond our grasp. Due to geographic restrictions, we quickly moved into a plan for palliative care for this young man with a wife and young daughter. The day continued with more requests for help with malnourished kids, a 5-year-old battling meningitis with limited to no resources, an elderly lady whose post-stroke care will be beyond the family’s ability, and another motorcycle accident.
On the way home from the hospital, stuck in traffic, Kathy and I digested our day together. In the midst of the discussion, the message arrived about the scratch and scuffs on our US car and house. As we placed the small accident by our friend amidst the events of the hospital day, we almost laughed at the minuteness of the problem. I am pretty sure that “no one will know it a hundred years from now”… or even in the next few days. It is really not a big deal! I truly loathe the helplessness we feel so often when we cannot provide the appropriate care here in Haiti, because of the economic and logistical restraints. I am thankful, however, that this daily grind has allowed me to appreciate the perspective that a small scratch of a piece of metal and wood has in the grand scheme of things. Maybe this is what God is trying to teach me!