The small rural hospital where we serve in Haiti has been essentially “roadblocked” from receiving a consistent flow of supplies and personnel since September 2022. So, one evening last week when I received the message that every bed in the hospital was full and the nurses had just given the last available bag of IV fluids onsite, I was concerned. Okay, I was worried. And many other adjectives: anxious, angry (at the situation), hopeless, and despondent, to name a few. You see, cholera cases, due to the inability of the general populace in the area of the hospital to access clean drinking water, have been increasing quickly. With cholera patients losing up to a liter of fluids per hour (due to vomiting and diarrhea), IV fluids are critical to the recovery of every cholera patient in our care. Most often, multiple liters of IV fluids are necessary.
My question to the hospital administrator was: “How many of our patients in the hospital have suspected cholera?” “Most of them,” he responded, and then confirmed the need for IV fluids. “Can you help us find some?”
I am currently in the United States, as our particular living and working situation in Haiti does not lend itself to our safe presence. The distance from where we are in the US to the hospital is around 1700 miles. I had just been asked to not only find IV fluids but to get them through the perilous roads to the hospital in rural Haiti, and to have them to the patients within 24 hours. It didn’t seem like a request that was possible. Let me repeat my feelings: concerned, anxious, angry, hopeless, and despondent.
About 30 minutes after receiving the message, and after getting my heart rate and blood pressure lowered to closer-to-normal, I sent a message to some friends in Haiti who manage a clinic in the mountains. After explaining the situation to them, out of the goodness of their Christ-following hearts, they said they would get 4 cases of IV fluids to us by the next morning. WOW! How in the world could that happen?
AND IT DIDN’T STOP THERE…
Understanding that we currently had an ER full of patients in need of treatment, and we are expecting to continue receiving additional patients with suspected cholera, I knew 4 cases of IV fluids would not last very long. Subsequently, I contacted a physician friend who manages a small hospital. He described his situation of reduced supplies and difficult travel, but said he had been able to “pay the way” through the roads so that one of his drivers could get some medical provisions. In fact, he added, his driver was currently in Port au Prince (the base of supplies), and if he could locate his driver by phone, the possibility existed that he could find some IV fluids for our hospital. I expressed my deep appreciation, and waited. Our communication efforts were then thwarted by technology failures, and the day finished.
The next morning, I received a message from the administrator at our hospital. He was thankful to report that our physician friend’s driver had just delivered and 30 cases of IV fluids. Again, WOW! Within 24 hours of the initial contact from our hospital staff, nearly 400 liters of IV fluids had been delivered!
What have I learned from all of this? Two main lessons were obvious:
- In this time of divisiveness in the world, what a blessing to work together with fellow Christians who sacrificed of themselves and their resources to assist others in the name of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)- “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
- Stop being concerned, anxious, angry, hopeless and despondent, but instead, pray more and learn to trust the One who has it in His hands.
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
I wish I could guarantee that I will not falter and doubt again. As a matter of fact, I am sure that I will frequently fall short of having the attitude I should have. Being used of God more is one of my desired goals. But to quote A.W. Tozier:
“God never uses anyone greatly, unless He tests them deeply.”
Lord, let me be up to the test.