Journal from Haiti #4

Family Legacies

Martin Johnson with child  who has Kwashiker

Martin Johnson 1927-1994

This journal chronicles the six months my mother spent in Haiti, working as an RN in a clinic sponsored by a non-profit located in Searcy, Arkansas. Jerry Myhan, Director of the Clinic, had his young family with him. Haitian workers in the clinic served as interpreters, clerks, and medication management. The following is taken from the journal she kept with a little editing on my part.

In October not long after Mama arrived in Haiti, the team attempted to take a weekend trip to the Dominican Republic for a much needed rest. You can read about that trip in “Journal from Haiti #2”. Today’s story is about their second trip.

Journal entry from Christmas, Dec. 1987

The clinic closed Dec. 23 on Wednesday after we saw 100 patients. Everyone knew we would be closed for two weeks, so EVERYONE came. Haiti has a greater celebration at New Year’s than Christmas, so we arranged the closing to accommodate our workers. Debbie and I worked very late that night.

We received six boxes of groceries and toilet articles from the States to be used by us and distributed to Haitians. We had to unpack these, sort and store them, as well as pack some to give away. We still had bags of rice and beans to give away also, And we had not wrapped our presents. I had to give up and fall in bed about 10 P.M.

Thursday when we finally had our act together (?), we delivered some boxes, cooked some food, gathered some groceries and packages; we finally arrived at Jerry and Dianne’s (Myhan) for Christmas Eve night about 5 P.M. We enjoyed their three children’s excitement; we were one big family, and I was the grandmother!

I certainly missed my family, and my thoughts were in South Carolina, Nashville, McKenzie, and Henderson many times during Christmas Day. Debbie was always so good with her dry wit, calling me “Mama”, until I really felt I filled a need.

The one thing that kept my spirits up was our plans to go to the Dominican Republic for a week. MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) would fly us over on Monday the 28th and return to pick us up Jan. 4th. So many things had to be arranged that until we got to the airport that morning, plans were still subject to change. It was impossible to make reservations for rooms, but since we all felt the need to get away so badly, we went hoping things would work out once we got there.

The Myhans found the last room at a hotel, and Debbie and I had the last cabin in a little resort. Jerry rented the last car available at the airport.

Mama's cabin

Mama’s cabin

We were all set to laze in the sun for six or seven days. Tuesday, Debbie and I chose to relax in our cabin, go for walks and get our bearings.

Wednesday when we awoke it was raining.

Thursday, it was raining.

Friday, rain again. Get the picture?

One afternoon Debbie and I went swimming for a short while, and we went sightseeing between showers. We also played 200 games of Uno and PIT with the kids! It was unforgettable week!

Sight-seeing with the Myhan family

Sight-seeing with the Myhan family

A brief afternoon of sunshine to enjoy the beach in the Dominican Republic

A brief afternoon of sunshine to enjoy the beach in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is considered a poor country, but not nearly as bad as Haiti. In the plane you could plainly see the difference between the two countries. The D.R. has a fair road system – narrow roads. But fresh water and electricity are a problem. Neither was available all the time. The food was delicious and cheap. Spanish is spoken, but merchants have a way of understanding and communicating . Many Canadians were there on vacation; non-stop flights were routine from Montreal.

I called Henderson, TN and talked with all the children while they were together at Steve’s house. Connections were really good; it was as if they were next door – well not quite. If I hadn’t been in new surroundings anticipating a relaxing few days, I would have had a bad spell of homesickness.

MAF picked us up on Monday, a beautiful, balmy, sunny day for our return to Haiti. A predictable ending to a rainy vacation in the tropics. Our helpers – Florima, Stifa, and Simone welcomed us joyfully saying they had prayed for our safe return.

So we settled in and reopened the clinic on Friday, never imagining the turn of events later in the month.

                                                                 —-Martin Johnson, Cap Haitian, Haiti

Giving thanks today for

  • this glimpse into a a servant’s life through her own words.
  • the team’s wisdom to take a break away from the daily toils.
  • the generous Americans who gave funds to support this medical clinic to the poor in Cap Haitian, Haiti.
  • God’s grace to give them safety in their travels.

JoyMartell

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