About my serious side

Not to break the spell or spoil the fun, but you've probably figured out my real name isn't Dummy.

The CTD Diaries is my playground. No one tells the truth in their diaries anyway so I figured I should find another place to get real, where the head lights aren't so bright. I originally thought this would be a good place to post my creative writing, but I think this is just a good place to tell the truth.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blog Across China: Xian Orphanage

Before I moved to Utah and become a proud home owner/loving dog owner I used to have a job.

It was the kind of job where I got to rub shoulders with intellectually stimulating professors and interesting students from all over the world. I got to read engrossing novels and force those interesting students to write boring papers about them. And best of all, I got to travel to exciting places, with exciting people.

Maybe some of you remember that I taught English lit and comp classes at BYU-Hawaii for 12 years. I also taught an interdisciplinary history class called World Communities for several years, which afforded me the opportunity to travel to Mexico, New Zealand and Fiji. And then, as if life wasn't charmed enough, I was lucky enough to travel with the BYU-Hawaii concert choir to China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, and New York City as the tour historian.

It was awesome with a capital AWE.

So last week, the president of the Empty Nesters Club in my Sponge Bob ward called me and said she heard my hub and I do presentations.


I know. That's what I said.

Long story short, my hub and I are doing a presentation. To the Empty Nesters club. About one of our trips.

What do you say to Empty Nesters?

I know not.

But the request has turned my mind to China, so allow me to practice right here. On you.

I'll start with my favorite day in China.

Yesterday on my dummy diaries I wrote about how the spirit it mightier than the body, and how sometimes you encounter people who can't remember you, but who you can't forget.

For me, one of those people was a toddler named Kaisho. I met him in a government-funded Handicapped Children's Rehabilitation & Training Center in Xian, China, which is a fancy way of saying I met him in a Chinese Orphanage.

A lot of the kids there had been anonymously abandoned, and some were sent there near death.

Kaisho reached in and branded his hand print across my heart the moment I picked him up and started tickling him. He had the most contagious giggle. I wanted to steal him so bad. Sneak him out in a laundry hamper or something. Somehow I just had to kidnap him--smuggle him back to the United States with me.

I mean, he was abandoned anyway, right? Why couldn't I have him if no one else wanted him?

I just don't get red tape.

(But I do get red thread. Especially if it is invisible.)

In the end I had to admit, it wasn't such a bad place. As bad places go.

Hopefully Kaisho found a loving family to bust him out of that no so bad place.

Overall, the orphanage experience left our whole group in a state of reverence.

Would it be too much like a Hallmark card if I said we showed up to bring gifts to the children--store bought gifts--but they gave us better gifts. The kind you can't buy at Walmart.

I don't have to spell that out do I?

Just before we left, the children gathered around us and sang, "Jesus Loves Me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so." In English. They learned a Christian song in English, and they don't speak either language.

Sweetest moment ever.

Second sweetest moment was their faces when we busted out the toys.

Allow me to share a few excerpts from some of the choir member's tour journals:

After devotional today we were able to visit an orphanage that had several handicapped, sick or just abandoned children. It was such a touching experience. Many of us let the tears fall as we played with these precious kids. Just to make them smile or hear their little laughs was so awesome. As I was holding two boys on my lap for a picture, they both had their arms around my neck. I looked down and noticed that one of the boys pants had something stitched into it. It read, “A little bit of love from someone is precious for a lifetime.” That hit me hard and I hoped that I was giving a little bit of love to that boy--SPENCER BANGERTER

The visit helped me to know there are always children who need our help. When I saw the babies, I knew they really needed a mother. They have a right to parents and I worry about when they grow up and they ask where their parents are. I know it will be hard for them. I don't want them to think they don't have any hope because their parents didn't want them.--KIT MING LAU

It was very emotional for me to see all the children here dealing with so many challenges. It was really hard not to express any sadness or depression in their presence; I wish I could take every kid here in my arms and hold them for a day and forever.--LOUIS PRESCOTT

As soon as they looked into my eyes and hugged me, I wanted them to feel that familiarity of love. The three kids that were on my lap wouldn't leave, and as I sang little lullabies to them, they held on closer when people would try to lift them away. After a while I had two of them fall asleep in my arms, and they got heavy, but I didn't want to let go, to the point that I got a glimpse of what a mother goes through. I wanted to take them with me, and even for a minute have them feel that love. I just want to keep feeling these things.--GINA SMITH

In one room, we sang Mo Li Hua for the kids. Most of us were crying because we felt sorry for them, but also because we felt happy to visit them. I thought that through this kind of service, we can spread the gospel without any words. I was feeling that the Lord was there with us, and he was shedding the light on them. We had the opportunity to give gifts to them. I can’t forget their happy faces when they received the gifts. I was so honored that we could make them happy--MARI SASAKI

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dear Wonderful Future Kids . . .

Mother's Day is cool because my hub and kids always make me breakfast and then go around the table saying what they love about me. This year I was a little surprised that all my kids said that they love that I am such a happy mom. My daughter even said that I am funny and fun and she loves that I am always laughing.

I don't feel like I am that way, but I would be so thrilled if I am remembered that way by my children.

I was also surprised when I found this cute open document on the computer. Apparently my daughter was asked to write it as an English assignment, but it was a fun treat to read it on Mother's Day because I remember writing similar letters to my posterity when I was her age, only mine were more gloom and doom and warnings about the corrupt state of the wicked wicked world.

I am so thankful that my daughter has an optimistic eye on the future, and doesn't take life so darn seriously!

I thought it was so cute that I asked her if I could share it on this blog:

Dear Wonderful Future Kids,

Just wanted to let you know that you guys are going to love life because I’m your mother, and don’t worry I’m planning on marrying a great guy. We are going to have so much fun, but of course you are going to learn a lot too. Oh, and you have super tight grandparents. It’s hard to know what to say except tell you how stoked I am to have kids. I can't wait to protect you as babies, remember the cute toddler moments, and laugh through the awkward teenage years.

As I’m writing this I’m still in the immature teenage period. Most of my friends have started dating, but not me. I'm still 15, but I’m okay with it because I think boys have cooties. Future daughters, you aren’t allowed to date until you're 25, and boys you better treat those ladies respectfully!

Look, you don’t even exist yet, and I’ve already made ridiculous rules.

I’ll support you in all of your interests….even band. I can get over my fear of the band room, just because I love you guys so much. I want you to believe that you can do anything, it just takes work. Work is hard, but it’s nothing to be afraid of and it can be fun. Just gotta love what you’re doing. All I know is that you guys are going to be stubborn and tall, unless I marry a short guy…not likely. I’m stubborn and give everyone a hard time, so you’ll probably cause me all the pain I caused others.


Your favorite and only mother,

P. S Smile and Be Happy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

If You Really Knew Me . . .

When I lived in Hawaii I would often take my three sons and their little rugrat buddies to a place called Alligator Pond on Pounders beach where they would spend hours scooping up little damselfish with fishing nets and holding them hostage in left over laundry detergent buckets. On one occasion the older boys ran ahead while my friend’s four year old struggled along the shoreline lugging a five gallon bucket full of water.

“Want me to carry that for you?” I offered. So I did.

I carried it quite a ways down the beach before I noticed it was full of empty water.

No fish.

It struck me as pointless to be carrying a big ole’ bucket full of empty water all the way down the beach.

“Want me to dump this out for you? I said. So I did.

It made me think about life, because everything makes me think about life.

Sometimes we need to help others carry their buckets and sometimes we need to help them empty their buckets.

One semester, while I was a teacher at BYU-Hawaii, I decided to add a metaphorical bucket section to my curriculum. I began by asking each student to anonymously complete the following sentence:

“If you really knew me, you would know that _____________”

It made my eyes sweat to think on all the things my students were carrying around with them so I poured all of their buckets into one huge poem, because sometimes it just helps to share.

Grab a tissue because I’m going to share the poem here for all of you who need your buckets emptied today.

If You Really Knew Me

If you really knew me, you would know that nobody takes me seriously. On the outside everything is a joke to me, but on the inside I am empty.

If you really knew me, you would know that when I was nine years old I saw my cousin drown. I couldn't save him.

If you really knew me, you would know that I was raped when I was ten years old. Now I feel dirty and I hate my body.

You would know that I am recovering from an eating disorder.

You would know that I have a sexually abusive grandfather that ripped my family apart.

You would know that I regret working so much and not spending more time with my children.

If you really knew me, you would know that I want a divorce.

I suffer from depression.

I have a voice in my head constantly reminding me of my inadequacies and downfalls.

I lose hope often. I am discouraged. I yield to the screams of temptations. 

I was arrested for shooting my stepfather with a paintball gun.

 I got teased constantly as a child for being overweight. 

I ran in the face of danger. I hate myself. I suffer over the grandmother’s death. 

My cousin died of breast cancer. I was on probation for six months for beating up a kid in Jr. High. 

I don’t respect my father. 

I cut myself regularly to make myself feel. 

My cousin took his own life . . .

If you really knew me, you would know that I am sad. 

I am angry. 

I didn’t tell my father about my mother's boyfriend.

If you really knew me, you would know that I am heart broken and I don’t feel any happiness.

I'm thankful for the good folks over at Service Soapbox who are working together to make a dent in the world.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Drawing Heaven

This video made me shush any whining and complaining going on in my head so I could look at things BIGGER!  

It's a tiny glimpse into the incomprehensible capacity and power of God. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Letters from Haiti

These are the last two letters from Haiti. Craig, Steve, Gary and Chuck are home. DARNIT! I wish they never had to come home. I have so enjoyed seeing the happenings through their eyes.

FRIDAY, January 22, 2010

We are sleeping on the tarmac at the Port-au-Prince Airport. Not too much more I could say. We were evacuated--iit felt literal--from Leogane this morning at about ten. We had just enough time to talk to the Bishop and pass along a bunch of money, and say goodbye to all of our friends from Bavaria, Cuba and Menonite--I know its not a country. We had just given the Cubans all of our supplies in anticipation of having to get out quick with the helis and then Tim Mooney and Stan Phillips showed up with the helicopters. They are in for an adventure! We took a few minutes to orient them.

Just like everything else we have experienced here there were a number of small miracles that took place. Everything that the ward in Leogane has done for us to make us comfortable and safe. For instance, Frere Eddy has been our driver and computer provider and good friend for the past week. I really wanted to make sure that he knew that Stan and Tim were here and he was needed to pick them up tonight, etc., etc. I had just asked the young man from the ward that Bishop Pierre-Louis had assigned to us for the day, to go and let everyone (Bishop/Frere Eddy) know that there were guys there to replace us and they needed the same help and voila! Frere Eddy shows up.

The helis dropped us off at the heli landing zone at the @ Port-au-Prince airport, in other words, the tarmac.
I broke down a bit on the helicopter ride out because I am so grateful for the opportunity we have had to be here and help a few people. This has been such an incredible experience. Seeing the growth and maturity of the church has been extremely satisfying. Chuck gave one of his classic analogies. When he was Branch Pres in Leogane 20 years ago they planted a little mango tree in the front part of the grounds by the chapel. Now that tree is a beautiful 30+ foot Mango tree with 100s of mangos (unfortunately not yet ripe). That summarizes the growth we witnessed and were blessed by. I had to catch myself the other night when I met the Stake President. I thought he was a young man looking for church activities and then I met the mission president who looked even youger than his missionaries! I almost congratulated them on how self-sufficient the church is here. How there are no foreign missionaries (and there hasn't been for some time). They don't need us and its awesome and then I quickly realized that that was about me and the fact is it is about the church, that is the way Our Heavenly Father wants for things to go! He just needs good people to live the gospel and he will make it all work regardless of the place or the circumstances.

There are huge military transports landing and taking off every half hour or so. And there are tons of pallets and supplieshere at the airport--I hope they start to make it out to where they are most needed. The airport is a little city all by itself. After a few hours hanging here with Arthur Brice and Chris Roberts from CNN--yes we talked and yes they said they were going to do a story on us--they were waiting while their photographer went for a helicopter ride with Jeremy. Anyway, after just sitting here the choppers took us over to an orphanage--House of God Orphanage, I think its called. The doc from the orphanage flew down with us to Santo Domingo. They are buzzing right now because there is a good chance the kids will all be able to get out soon. In fact I just overheard one of the guys talking about all of us flying out tomorrow with the orphans in a military transport leaving around noon?! The orphanage was a blast. We just sat with the nannies and the kids came and jumped all over us. Gary has never been so worked over. He had a child on each knee one on his left shoulder and a cute little girl that combed every hair on his head. We had fun talking with the nannies. They have seen a lot of white people--adoptive families--but this is the first time they have seen white people speak their language. Most of the kids are spoken for, but it sure was hard to pry them off of us and return here to the airport.

Please pray that we can get a few hrs sleep tonight and please continue to pray for us to make it home soon! We can feel those prayers very easily and know that they have been answered to allow us just a little time away to help these incredible people. Hope to see you soon!

Craig, Gary, Steve and Chuck

SUNDAY, January 24, 2010

Well, I guess this is it. We are finally on US soil!!! I suppose we have to go back and start from the beginning. We slept on the tarmac. Maybe I can paint the picture a bit. We were unsure about our departure time (and our departure) so we decided to stay really really really really close by. We were across the tarmac from the big transport planes that were coming in and out all day and night. Chuck took one of the tarps off of a pallett of 'stuff' and rigged it up so there was space for 1 and 1/2 people and then Steve, Chuck and I jumped in and Gary eventually joined us down by our feet. Gary said I kicked him all night, I thought it was mosquitos biting me. The most suprising part of the whole night was that it was cold! Gary ended up putting on 2 surgical gowns to get warm!

We woke up not knowing if we were going to spend a few more days (weeks, months) in Haiti or flying out on any one of 5-6 different options.

Gary and I hopped in the helicopter fairly early on and headed back out to Leogane. Gary has this ability to 'have stuff find him,' and we had procured a bunch of really needed supplies. We jumped out of the helicopter and delivered the casting stuff to the Cubans--even at the Univ of Miami hospital located at the airport, casting supplies are scarce.

When we talked with the Cuban general surgeon we learned that they still had not been able to get their x-ray machine working. The holdup is a box, a simple plastic box where the film gets dipped into the exposure fluid--antiquated system but incredibly crucial. Rest assured that Gary and I almost missed our flight out because we were on the helicopter again going back out to Leogane to take an x-ray fluid box. The box was delivered while we were on the plane thanks to Jeremy.

The first evac option was with the orphans from Maison des Enfants de Dieu--featured a bunch on CNN. Their doc flew in with us last Sunday and we spent the afternoon at the orphanage yesterday (friday). We were waiting for any word that the kids were on a bus headed to the airport. Gary and I had just taken off for the return trip to Leogane when we were called back because the bus was on its way! From what we know or heard there was a lot of politics involved but just over half of the kids received approval to be flown to the US and go to either adoptive families--best guess is that 90 percent plus had already been promised or adopted--it is just a very lengthy process. By now you have all seen the pictures and videos of all of us carrying the kids from the bus to the transport plane. It is almost impossible to describe our feelings about the opportunity to put a lifetime event like that in perspective or in writing. What a way to end our trip! We were so overwhelmed by those kids. I think there were 83 orphans that got out. Each of us, including all of the St George team that we flew in with - Bryce, Jan (nurse who delivered baby in Leogane) Keoni, Kurt Troy, Boyd and James and Marc Martial (team leader for church's Haitian Creole translation and good family friend who was down in Haiti with the lds church's official group), had kids crawling on us, wetting their pants on us etc etc. Steve said the little girl on his left knee was so scared to get on the plane that she instantly wet her pants and he just let her because he didn't want to make her feel bad.

The plane was awesome - while it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride in an Air Force C17, that was not even close to the story. Right after we got on and I sat down next to Chuck and the two kids crawling on him I noticed that Youmilde, the 7yr old little girl I held for about an hour yesterday at the orphanage, was crying and there were a bunch of little ones crying so I jumped up and put her and another baby on my lap. While the kids were all very excited they were also extremely afraid of flying and all the other unknowns ahead of them. After loading and buckling all the kids and escorts they opened the plane up to the line of Haitians and others with U.S. passports, the majority sitting on the floor. Once we were completely loaded they tried to get a count that would match the manifest so we could take off. It became a huge mess when the numbers didn't match up and we sat there for at least 2 hours until Chuck jumped up and grabbed the microphone and read each name so they could match names to people. Needless to say he captivated the audience with his jokes and the way he spoke their language fluently, yes he put on a show. The problem was, there were a number of people put on the list as escorts for the orphans that didn't end up going with us. Anyway, we finally took off and the light in their eyes and the curiosity about flying was really fun to watch. The flight took about 2 hours but felt a bit longer with the smells and the diaper changing and the kids running around! After helping drop them off at customs in the military airport here in Orlando we were on our way!

The hotel and everything else is nice. It is hard to maintain perspective. We spent a little time talking to Marc Martial about the team that went down from the church to replace us. They had some struggles including lack of organization and too many chiefs - this is the first time the church has sent a team of medical pros into a disaster--they are learning as they go just like we did.

Probably the most lasting memory I will have, and I think Gary and Chuck and Steve agree, is of a humble Bishop doing his job, magnifying his calling and being magnified by his calling as he cared for everyone he could, including us.

The opportunity to spend time with a few of the best men I know was a huge side benefit.

We are all a bit intrepid about the attention and excitement we have generated--iit is fun to poke at each other about the misquotes and pictures. Gary crying on the front page of CNN is classic classic stuff. Steve and Chuck and I were on the verge of tears every minute while there, but it is Gary that gets the story! Our goal from day one was to help Haitians and we were able to do a bit of that. Thank you so much for your patience and prayers and for letting us come. I am starting to cry sitting here at Dennys so I gotta stop.

See you in a few hours.


Steve, Gary. Chuck and Craig

Friday, January 22, 2010

Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary: Letters from Haiti

More fascinating letters from Haiti.  (See previous post for explanation)


Wednesday . Jan 20 . 2010

Pretty tough to know where to start. Sorry if this is too viral now--our intention was not to do anything other than keep a journal of a few of the special, memorable stories and let you all know that we are alive and kicking.

Today we continued our efforts with the Cubans. It is a remarkable, comical setup. You have the Mormons the Cubans and the Menonites (the Canadians said that sounds like a joke).  They have joined up with us the past few days and have helped with crowd control and basic medicine and wraps. We are all in a little compound or school with hundreds of people laying around waiting for help. Back in Leogane the Canadians set up in the field where our choppers landed with us Monday. We are starting to see some great cooperation!

One of the most amazing parts of this whole setup is the way we have been supported by the ward here in Leogane. The Bishop has anticipated and cared for every little need. We have a great, secure place to sleep with the generator running (most of the time) so we have fans. When we need drinks, the members go grab them so the boys don't get dehydrated. There is a member here with a truck (SUV) and he has taken us everywhere we need to go. 

We discovered today that Frere Eddy lost his 11 yr old in the earthquake. He is the one with the computer that allows me to write this epistle every night. Every night when we come back from a lifetime's worth of stuff in 10 hours, the members have a great meal ready for us. Gary is now begging for rice and beans and chicken sauce!!! We came thinking that we would provide help for them and they have done nothing but serve us.

Okay just a few stories: 

Today we were joined by the EMTs and nurse from St. George and Dr. Ray Price and Dr. Creig McArthur from the church's delegation that came down Sunday. I think we entertained them completely. Chuck did toes two and three and Steve did toes two three four and five. Chuck and Steve turned a guy into a shooter--thumb and pointer remained.

Probably the most amazing story of the day is a follow up to yesterday's story about Edgar's niece. Today at about 4 o'clock a haitian group came to our compound and had space for 6 people to transport to Port-au-Prince to receive immediate surgery. We had a bunch of people with open fractures that we wanted to get on there. I quickly thought of Edgar's niece-- she is the little girl who was one of two survivors in her school class of 34. Edgar had been with us earlier but it is impossible to get in touch with anyone here. Cell phones are spotty, etc. As I walked over to see if he was still there, a small SUV pulled up and it was her!!! I can assure you that there is no explanation for timing like that other than prayers. She got on the truck. While Steve and Ray Price (it was fun for us to have Ray join the team and jump right in) were cutting off toes 2,3,4,and 5 - sorry Stan and Tim--A really nice German doc came over and held the flashlight for them for at least an hour so they could finish--yes we were doing surgeries in the dark, but we had good flashlights! ;) 

There was an 18 yr. old girl who was home when the earthquake hit. her whole family died except for her--she was hit in the head and has brain damage. Her body was writhing and she has extension posturing in the right side of her body. She continually yells out and hasn't slept in five days. Because her whole family died her classmates from school have taken her in and cared for her, trading off day by day. Imagine someone requiring constant attention and not being able to sleep, but they stick with her.

One of the funnest stories of the day was when Jan--the nurse who came today with the EMTs--part of the St.George team, delivered a baby. The mother found us with an IV and everything totally ready to go. Jan discovered her as the baby was coming and delivered her. When the baby came out, she wasn't breathing so Gary grabbed her and, as he said, tossed her around a bit then held her in the air and everyone cheered! 

Today we saw reporters from Time, People and BBC. Chuck talked to the Swedish reporters--Chuck is fluent in Swedish Chef.

Gary has been helped every day by a girl from Connecticut who is here on vacation. She has become his personal translator --yes I have been replaced -- it is amazing, she keeps returning to help and she is very useful.

These are such great people. Gary has remarked many times how the kids and the people love to touch you--shake hands, hand on shoulder, hold your hand, etc. They are very endearing. The kids don't care that he doesn't know the language, they just love to follow him around and smile at him, etc. We have tons of pictures, hopefullly we can remember some of the faces and put them with the stories...

Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary

PS the aftershock got us out of bed early this morning but wasn't too scary...

Thursday .  Jan 21 . 2010

Not positive but I think maybe the fourth aftershock of the day knocked out a tower in Leogane?? 

My phone hasn't been working and the internet wouldn't do anything.

Today was a day of branching out. Some of my stories are more second-hand because I took Dr. Price and Dr. McArthur into Port-au-Prince with Frere Eddy. Let's start there.

We couldn't get Dr's Price (Ray) and (Creig) McArthur back to the main group of docs who came down with the church. They are in Port and it got too late, so they stayed with us here in the chapel in Leogane. We took the 2nd Counselor with us, Frere Matthieu. He has been helping us since we arrived in Leogane. The Bishop assigned him and Sister Patricia (a recently returned missionary from Leogane) to shadow us and help us with anything and everything. They have done everything from opening instrument packages during surgeries to washing the blood away to holding patients during procedures. We discovered that Frere Matthieu's wife gave birth to a baby boy at 1 a.m. Thursday morning in St. Marc, about 100 miles away so we took him with us into PAP so he could catch a bus to meet his brand new baby! Their first! We wanted to pay him for all he had done to help. When I tried to do that he refused saying 'you are here serving us, what I did was service too.' So we gave money to the Bishop who gave it to him as a gift for the baby!!!

When I got into PAP I was happy to meet up with Alex Laguerre right when we got to the Stake Ctr. We knew it as Chapel Central while I was serving in Haiti 20 years ago. I was walking up the drive and a man and woman were walking towards me and the guy said, 'you look like Craig Nelson' I grabbed him and gave him a big hug. He was such a great missionary and leader. 

I stayed there at the Stake Center for about two hours waiting for the church contingency to figure a few things out, including providing us with much needed supplies. Another highlight was running into Kristin Larson's husband and Marcia Peterson' brother, Dan Egan. I wanted him to come back to Leogane and let me take care of him and translate for him a bit. I gave money to the Stake Pres for members in PAP and I gave money to him for Mildors wife in the event that I couldn't track her down. Frere Eddy and I drove over to the Delmas Chapel to try and find Aurore, but was unsuccessful. On our way thru Port we were sitting at an intersection and the truck started shaking. I thought the big bus next to us hit us, but then everyone around started talking abt an aftershock. 

It was good to talk with Frer Eddy on the drive back. He teared up when he related how his 11 year old Kristine, who stayed after school to get extra tutoring, was killed in the earthquake.

Now to the docs in Leogane. When I returned to our setup here the Mormons the Menonites and Cubans had been joined by the Germans. A group of medical pros from Munich found us here. Gary, and the St. George guys--Kiani, Kurt, Troy and Jan did some great bartering with them and they invited Steve into their tent to amputate a lady's foot! She had a bad foot wound and the outside of her heel and the whole foot was badly infected. The tent was way more sterile than anything we had used for surgeries before. But don't be too dismayed, Steve used a leatherman saw--yes it was sterile--to saw off the tibia and the fibula. Steve said its called a bologna amputation. (Sorry, I guess it's spelled belowknee...)

Gary and Bethany, the young Menonite lpn did a burn debrievement--took off dead skin for a 6 year old little girl who was in their house while her mom was preparing dinner and the earthquake caused her to have boiling beans spilled on her right arm and chest--the entire right front quarter. The drugs were extremely helpful, she screamed and yet was really tough. 

 We cannot thank everyone enough for donations and especially Taylor Drug and IHC Am Fork hospital for what they gave us. The suffering is overwhelming and the ability to provide even a little relief almost makes it bearable.

Chuck took a 65 year old and with Gary they took off left ring finger and toes 1 2 and 3 on the right foot. Gary was excited to be able to share with a German gu--1st year resident who showed up with a German news crew and preened in front of the camera for a minute or two-- good looking young guy who they used to get the word out about the german contingency here.

We shared patients with the Canadians and the Menonites helped us transport them over. 
I got transfered to the Canadians and Steve is my new/old comp. The Menonites took us over so Steve could do a surgery or two with their orthopod. Steve put an external fixator on a broken femur without xray guidance! The patient was a 16 year old we had cared for @ New Mission and then transported to the Canadians. His name was Wishly, he lives out in Ti Riviere about 10 miles away. 

I worked with Sam, a doc from Zimbabwe who now lives in Canada. I did a bunch of translation stuff.  The most interesting was a 20-year old who was in school with 54 classmates when the earthquake hit.  She was one of 5 who got out. She had a double femur fracture and the doc tried to explain that they couldn't operate but needed to put her in bed and put the leg in traction. Her brother and Sister were caring for her and they both looked up at me real quick and said "we don't have a bed, we don't have a house." They are living in the tent city here in a little soccer stadium. 

I know I have been here too long, I got choked up when, after showing them how to put the leg in skin traction with rope, tape and a cinder block, the doc told the bro and sis to come get him in a week and he would come with them to their tent and check up on her.

Steve and I then came back here to the chapel where the members had cooked a bunch of extra rice and beans so we could take some to the Canadians - they only had MREs. They were so excited about the food that they have planned to come over here to the chapel this afternoon to watch the girls cook it so they can replicate!

All of the uncertainty has been difficult. Not knowing when and how and where we are going is tough but everything has worked out so far. It sounds like the choppers are coming to get us around noon Friday. My phone isn't receiving or sending texts or emails but when this gets through please know that we are happy and full of faith. Please keep praying that we will see you soon! 

Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Helpers in Haiti

I received the following email from my good friend, Mags and I immediately asked permission to post it here.  


My brother Craig who served a mission in Haiti 20 years ago but still speaks fluent Haitian Creole (he translates for General Conference for Haiti), went with a group of doctors that included two former mission companions. He got there Sunday to the Dominican Republic. Yesterday was his first full day in Haiti.



We are in Leogane. We went to Jacmel first and landed with at least 12 - 15 other doctors from Houston with more expected soon. We had heard that there were a lot of problems in Leogane without a lot of doctors and Chuck's dreams were answered. Chuck was Branch President here 20 years ago. My best guess is that we treated around 30 people today. Each individual needed procedures - fractures, dislocations, head trauma (including a sweet little girl who is a member of the church - 8 years old - with exposed bone and infections all over her head).

There were a number of individuals whose infection was beyond our treatment level and needed immediate surgery (amputation) but we cannot do anything other than clean and give antibiotics and pain meds. Everyone we saw needed a lot of help. 

We are setup right in the LDS Chapel here in Leogane. Chuck Steve and Gary were incredible. We feel extremely fulfilled and tired. The church members here in Leogane are very helpful too. I think there are probably 200+ people living here in the chapel --right now we are in the same room where we did all the work today, it is the chapel and multi-purpose room. There are 20 kids/people watching a church movie on a TV. There are two or three families asleep in the middle of the room and there are a bunch of people milling around--that's just in here. There are at least 100+ sleeping out in the front area or parking lot. We just had dinner--they made us rice and beans with chicken sauce!!! We are going to sleep in the Sunday School room where they put up drapes and mattresses. There is a generator but Gary still doesn't know how he's going to take a shower --no running water.

Flying over Port-au-Prince and Jacmel and Carrefour and Leogane was tough. There were a lot of really pancaked houses and there were tons of people displaced. The sad thing is, it didn't look that different except the really affected houses, etc. These people have endured so much, we were all on the verge of tears so many times today--seeing the kids was especially hard. If I had time I would spend a couple hours and write about every one of the little kids that Steve and Chuck and Gary put casts on or reduced dislocations or stitched up. There was even a 3 month old that Chuck put a cast on his right ankle which was broken --this is almost one week after his house fell on him and busted it!!!


How can I describe what happened today...

1. Teamed up with Cubans
2. Australian Reporter
3. Guy died in Gary's arms
4. Chuck and Steve cut off a bunch of fingers
5. Really, really tired

We started off the day by deciding to set up a clinic at a location other than the LDS Chapel here in Leogane. We went over to where Chuck and Steve had been yesterday where there was a small team of Cuban doctors on their way and a lot of people needing help. We found the Cubans were there and had plans for a pretty nice setup. While Chuck and Steve got things going, Gary and I decided to run back over to where Doctors without Borders (Medicine Sans Frontiere - MSF) was working with the Japanese team. We (Gary and I) wanted to connect with someone so we could help with more acute medical situations. We needed X-ray capabilities and possibly even surgical or amputation abilities. When we got there the Japanese and the MSF were fighting and there was a news team from Australia there trying to find someone to help them get a good story about the needs so I grabbed them and we took them back over to where Chuck and Steve were setting up. They hung with us for about 3 hours or all morning. They interviewed Gary and Chuck and Steve and I and they took about 1 1/2 hrs of video - promised to send it to us!!! They wanted to get a story or two about children receiving attention in dire or difficult situations. That was pretty easy.

They took the most footage of Steve and Chuck putting a body cast (hip spica) on a little girl named Beauvais with a femur fracture. She was really in bad shape--imagine having an 8 year old daughter break her leg--her femur and then just sit around for a week. The whole operation (if you could call it that) was done on the ground or on cinder blocks with a large group of Haitians surrounding us and holding her.

We were setup in an old school with a number of buildings and rooms with old desks or chairs in them--nothing was even close to sterile let alone clean. Gary was over in another part of the compound helping to administer drugs to people in post op situation. The Cubans were performing amputations --probably 6 or 7 --and Gary helped them with pain --he is really good at that. While helping Steve and Chuck with a few things and talking with the reporter, Pete, Gary came running over to us and asked for an ambu bag or battery/hand operated suction. When I got in there he was holding a guy about 20 years old who had just had his leg amputated. Because he aspirated his own saliva and Gary had no way to get the stuff out a pretty healthy young guy died (other than just undergoing an amputation of an infected leg with sepsis without anesthesia).

Chuck is telling me about a 2-month-old baby whose mom died on top of her and she survived but was trapped for quite awhile --who knows exactly how long. The baby had some pretty bad mental issues --moving, but not very well, eyes continuously crossed and uncrossed, weak cry, etc., either hypoxic or intracranial bleeding.

Chuck and I are trying really hard to keep laughing. We both just discovered that the tears will not stop once they start -- it's a good thing he's such a goofball.

GRAPHIC STUFF - Chuck and Steve spent at least 45 minutes amputating a little boy's left pinky. It was burnt and had bone sticking out. They had to put a tourniquet on him to stop the bleeding and Chuck got some spine instruments to cut the bone.

Then they spent at least an hour helping a 60+ yr old lady whose pointer, middle and ring fingers were completely destroyed and rotten. I put a couple extra tourniquets on her because she kept bleeding. There was an extremely comical moment -- if you can get over the sick, twisted, disgusting nature of it. As Steve was taking off bandages and beginning to cut off rotten fingers, there were maggots falling out. Steve was very gentle and helped all the maggots out carefully with his scalpel - he said, "move along little doggies." After a lot of manipulation and cutting she is now much much better off and can easily do a hang ten.

Edgar's niece (Edgar is Chuck's best buddy and former 1st Counselor in Leogane Branch) was in school with 34 kids/students. She is one of two who survived. She had a bad leg and it was splinted by a local doctor. It was an open broken tibia and fibula everything was swollen and infected. She needs amputation. She is getting X-Rays tomorrow because she might have a broken femur too. Edgar is family. Chuck couldn't talk, it hurt so bad. He told Edgar and his brother that she needed her leg amputated. The little girl's Dad--Edgar's bro said to Chuck, "No problem you can cut off both legs if needed, she is alive and for that we are grateful."

Please do not be overly concerned. The good that we are doing here is amazing. We could go home today and be totally fulfilled. The needs here are overwhelming but every person helped is another opportunity to live a long, healthy life. The people have no idea that there situation is so bad and therefore for them it isn't. They are happy and tough and resilient - seriously when you see the ugly or painful situations that little small children are in and then they smile it all melts away. thanks for letting us come and thanks for dealing with the consequences - I know that Heavenly Father loves these people. I feel it every time I get one of those smiles. Your prayers are being answered.