Tuesday, May 28, 2013

He Provides

May 25, 2013 
Humm... whir.. .the inverter makes a final valiant effort to power the house before failing and shutting down completely. The lights flicker and go dark; silence reigns. It’s 7:15 on Saturday morning, and our back up batteries just ran out of juice. 

Since Jason is still out of commission due to his back pain, I lift Justin off my lap and head for the key hanger in the kitchen. It takes a few moments to locate the correct padlock key, since our key hanger has at least 50 different keys on it and it’s been quite awhile since we’ve had to run the generator. Normally, even when we go days without city power, if we are careful with power consumption we can keep our house running and batteries charged solely on solar power. With the recent cloudy afternoons due to rainy season however, there just hasn’t been quite enough sun. 

Key in hand, I unlock the various slider locks on our front door, slip on an old pair of flip flops and make my way down the steps. At the generator room, I pause to unlock the heavy black padlock. It’s still kind of dark and I make a quick scan for any tarantulas. I know they are in there, so I do my best not to disturb them as I tip toe to the generator. 

Looking at the array of buttons and switches I search my memory for what to do next. Work from right to left I think; circuit breaker up, master on, then the preheat button... Hmm, did I need to hold it down for 12 or 20 seconds? I think 20... Silently counting I hold it down. When I reach 20 I lift the starter switch up. Rumble, Rumble; with a loud rattle and shake and a puff of black smoke the generator comes alive. 

I wait for a few more seconds to make sure it’s running smoothly and then as quickly as I can exit. Although I’m not particularly afraid of spiders I wouldn’t want one running over my bare foot either. 

Walking up the back steps a giant brown rat crosses my path. It pauses to look at me for a moment with his beady black eyes before slinking away through an open drain pipe. A few months back when I noticed him first, I bought a giant metal rat trap at the grocery store, but after he sprung it once, taking the peanut butter bread with him, he never disturbed it again, no matter what tantalizing morsels I placed in it. I had contemplated the idea of putting out poison too, but Denise was a little worried about it eating the poison, and then crawling into one of the drain pipes where we couldn’t find it or reach it and then having to be stuck for weeks with a horrible decomposing rat smell. So until we come up with a better idea, the rat and possibly a few of his relatives and friends are here to stay. 

After a pancake breakfast and a fun workout session on the wii with Jayden, I get to work giving the house a quick clean up. 

When I reach the bedroom I find Jason, who had just come out of the shower, sitting on the edge of the bed groaning in pain. “I can’t breathe.” He whispers hoarsely as his face contorts with pain. “My back...” Unsure of what to do, I instruct him to focus on taking slow breaths. Then with all my strength I lift him onto the bed. 

The next hours are a flurry of heat packs, pain medication, and massaging but nothing seems to help. When Jayden comes to check on what is happening and wonders how he can help we pray together over his Daddy and ask for some relief from the horrible pain he’s feeling. Feeling a sense of peace and calm come over me I remember the words from Phil 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. “ 

Leaving my husband with Jayden for a few moments I head to the kitchen to grab my cell phone and start making calls. After getting some advice from various sources we decide it’s best to get Jason’s back checked and get some kind of diagnose on what is causing his excruciating pain. A contact in Canada gives us information for a United Nations Argentinean Field Hospital where he can be examined. 

Working hard to make babysitting arrangements for the kids, and compiling the necessary documentation, money, water bottle, granola bars etc., for Jason and I, we are ready to leave by 1:00 p.m.. 

The thought of driving my husband over Haiti’s roads with his sore back is not something I am particularly looking forward to though. Helping him into the Prado, I carefully back out of our driveway and onto our rocky street. Over every bump and pothole his face contorts in pain. The 20 minute drive to the hospital seems to take forever and I cringe inwardly at every bump and pothole. 

When we finally find the hospital on a United Nations compound we are joined by a Haitian friend of ours, Bernard, who seems to show up whenever we need help! Two soldiers roll open the gate. Their field hospital is by no means a public hospital, but with the name of the Director written down and with the help of Bernard who speaks Spanish, we are given access. 

When it becomes obvious Jason will not be able to walk into the field hospital, a gurney is quickly rolled out. Two strong male nurses lift him onto the gurney as Jason tries not to cry out in pain. He is then rolled inside and brought to a makeshift exam room. The hospital is inside some empty shipping containers. It is however clean and organized, for which I am thankful. 

Inside, the Director has already been briefed about our situation by our contact in Canada so a Cuban Doctor, who only speaks Spanish, immediately begins to examine Jason’s back. As he pokes, prods and massages he questions Jason with the help of a Haitian translator. 

Watching him, I start to feel light headed . It doesn’t help that the container shakes every time another soldier or nurse walks in either. Excusing myself I clumsily make my way outside. Unlocking the Prado I search under the seats for the water bottle I thought I had brought with me, but can’t seem to find it. 

Remembering I had seen a water dispenser in the front office, I head back inside and help myself. Sitting down, I take a quick drink, and then zip open my purse to find one of the granola bars I had previously packed. I’ve hardly eaten a thing today, so the food and water revives me somewhat. Bernard joins me and I offer him a bar too. While Jason’s examination continues, Bernard tells me how he likes to put in his own IV’s and give his own injections. I laugh. Our talk turns more serious when I start questioning him about old politics. Bernard has a wealth of information about Haiti’s history and I am interested in his opinions. 

20 minutes later I look up in surprise to see Jason actually walking on his own towards me! The Cuban Doctor, with the help of the Haitian translator, explains that he is pretty certain Jason is suffering from a pinched nerve which is causing the painful muscle spasms. He then writes out a prescription for an anti inflammatory pill and some special B vitamins to help heal the nerve. He also gives us a tube of cream. There is no charge for his services and after a friendly hand shake and a profuse thank you on our part, we head back outside. 

Since Bernard knows a pharmacy close by he instructs us to follow him there. Although Jason is walking again it is still difficult for him to get into the Prado so I hoist him up as best I can. 

As we pull out and turn on the AC a belt starts to squeal so I quickly shut the AC off. This only happens when the car is parked in the sun and gets hot. Now we will have to wait for five or ten minutes to run the AC. I push the automatic buttons for both our windows to go down. 

A few minutes later as we wait for a traffic light to turn green we are suddenly surrounded. On Jason’s side a Haitian man is trying to sell us icy, bottled drinks. Momentarily distracted I shake my head at him. “Non mesi.” Turning my attention back to the road I suddenly realize I have two men on my side pushing my window down with dirty hands. “Ou gen bel madam.” (You have a beautiful wife. ) They shout at Jason. “She should be MY beautiful wife,” the young man on the left jeers, his dirty fingers griping my window. More annoyed than afraid I tell him to stop it. I try to push the window button up but the power windows are no match for his strength. “Pa fe sa!” I tell him again, this time prying his hands off the window as I push the button. The window slowly creeps upward. The two other Haitian men tell him to back off and just as the window is about to close on his fingers he lets go. 

“That’s the last time I drive with my windows down,” I turn to Jason and he nods. I change my mind about 30 seconds later though, when the temperature in the Prado becomes almost unbearable. Since we’re moving again and the sidewalks are empty I lower the windows half way down this time. 

A few minutes later we arrive at the pharmacy. Bernard helps me in and examines the different drug options for me. The total for the drugs and vitamins only adds up to 600 Gourdes, about $14 USD, so it’s fairly cheap. 

Back home again, Jayden and Justin, who Denise had been watching , are happy to see us. 

That night as clouds gather and thunder rumbles and mosquitoes buzz around me, I sit on the front porch for my weekly phone call with my parents. It’s nice to hear their familiar voices and feel their love and concern for us even though they are far away. As we chat the street light in the corner of our property flickers dims and hums; obviously there’s a problem with city power again. 

Back inside again I go around and lock and secure all our exterior exits. Turning the kitchen light on I pause momentarily to count 18 baby cockroaches skittering over the counter. I’d better remember to run a bleach cloth over the counters in the morning! 

Over head thunder cracks and lightning flashes. The sky opens and a deluge of rain water hammers our tin roof. 

I head to the bathroom to help Jason into the shower. Thankfully his pain has subsided and he is somewhat mobile again. Since city power isn’t working to power the pump the shower water barely trickles down. Reminding each other that at least we have indoor plumbing, and a comfortable home sheltered from wind and rain our voices join in harmony in a song of praise to God.

Deuteronomy 2:7 says: For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing. 

And it’s true. All that we needed His hand has provided.

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