I have known for months that I need to write this message but I just could not bring myself to do it, partly due to lack of energy and partly due to realizing that writing this message would make it official. I was hoping that by postponing the inevitable, I would wake up and find that this had all been a bad dream or that God would miraculously restore my good health. The truth is: I was in denial. I was in denial when I heard the doctors in Iowa City say I would be well in 3-6 weeks when they actually said 3-6 months and up to a year or more before I would be functioning well at my “new normal.” It has been about 3 months since my last surgery and I still have a ways to go.
As you know, in February I underwent a variety of medical tests in the States to determine the cause of intermittent abdominal pain. Doctors decided to do a laparoscopic exploratory surgery to find and remove the abscess. What you may not know is the hospital stay was longer than expected and I had to cancel my return flight to Haiti before the surgery. In the process of the surgery, doctors tore my portal vein which caused my liver to die and my kidneys to shut down. I was life-flighted to Iowa City where I woke up some days later having had an emergency liver transplant and dialysis. We may never know all the miracles God performed or how many thousands of prayers were said during that time or the heartache my children endured as they made life-or-death decisions in the face of being told that I had a 5% chance of survival even with a liver transplant or how difficult a transition it is for the guys in Haiti to realize I won’t be able to live in their country again and it will be a long time before I can return to visit.
Before the transplant was performed, one of the surgeons told my children, “Whether she lives or dies, life will be very different.” The transplant was successfully done on March 5 and there were some complications requiring additional surgery on April 2. Going into that surgery the doctor said there were two possible ways to perform the surgery and he would not know which way it would be performed until he got inside. His first option would allow me to someday return to Haiti for short visits; the second option would prevent me from ever returning to a developing country. Fortunately, he was able to perform the surgery in such a way as I will be able to return to Haiti eventually for short visits. I won’t be able to live in Haiti again because the liver transplant requires me to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of my life.
Some people have asked me if I still believe in God after all this. My answer is, “Yes! Absolutely.” While I do not profess to understand all of His ways nor do I know what tomorrow will bring, I know that He is in control, He loves me, He loves all people and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He knows everything. In Haiti, we say, “Bondye konnen tout bagay.” (God knows everything.) I know that He called me to Haiti for a purpose, probably far greater than He has revealed. Relationships were established that will be life long relationships. Much was taught and learned, both by the guys and myself. What God will do with that remains to be seen. What will be done with the additional time He has given me to live remains to be seen also.
One of the things I have learned through this arduous medical ordeal is that Cigna Global (insurance company based in Scottland) is a phenomenal company. If you or anyone you know is planning extensive international travel, I highly recommend them based on how they dealt with my family, medical staff and me. I can not say enough good things about them and it is not an exaggeration to say that insurance companies in the United States could learn much from them in the area of customer service.
While I communicate with at least one of the guys daily, some days even three or four of them, it is not the same as being physically present and talking with them face-to-face or working side-by-side. Most of the guys are still working part time with HandUp Global Goods and going to school. Some are still mentoring younger children on the weekends at the home they aged out of. All but one of the taxi businesses are still operational. Two rooms on the lower level of the house are scheduled to be complete and move-in ready by the end of summer. Be The Change Haiti is still reaching out to the children living on the streets and providing monthly meals as they can. The children of Canaan are still being cared for and work is being done to form a legal organization in Haiti on their behalf. NewGES still meets weekly with English being taught to any registered student who is 16 or older. I am very proud of these young men and how far they have come. I am thankful to have been a part of their lives and very grateful to you for your support and encouragement through the years. It could not have been done as it was without you!
For the next six months or more I need to focus my energy on my recovery, both physical and emotional, and can not in good conscience continue to serve as a full-time missionary to Haiti. While I believe I will maintain contact with the guys and may even surprise you with periodic updates, I can not commit the time and energy the position warrants and that your financial support deserves. Therefore, effective June 30, 2018 I will be suspending my account with World Outreach Ministries and they will no longer accept financial donations on my behalf, at least for some time. The staff at World Outreach Ministries has been truly wonderful to work with and has been very supportive during this difficult decision process. In fact, they have been excellent to work with the entire time I served with them. I trust that you feel the same as they handled my home office administrative duties, including your tax documentation. They support missionaries around the world and are worthy of your consideration to donate. I understand you may wish to continue sending financial support specifically to Haiti. If that is the case, I know several good organizations with trustworthy people on the ground in Haiti doing a variety of good work. Please contact me by email or phone and I can help guide you in the right direction.
After reviewing my file, the surgeon who performed my last surgery said, “I know a man in the Bible who has a story much like yours. His name is Job.” Yes, much has been taken from my family and me and life is very different now but we still love God and we are still alive and I still get to begin my testimony with Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Remember, effective June 30, 2018 I will be suspending my account with World Outreach Ministries and they will no longer accept financial donations on my behalf, at least for some time. Please consider donating to them as they support missionaries around the world. If you wish to continue sending financial support specifically to Haiti, please contact me by email or phone. I know several good organizations in Haiti.and can help guide you in the right direction. In either case, thank you for your financial and prayerful support through the years… and please keep praying for my recovery, my family and the lives of the young men in Haiti. Bondye beni ou! (God bless you!)