Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Youth in Mission!!

This Sunday our Youth were busy doing God's work!  They began their day by going to the Southside SPCA.  It was the SPCA's Open House.  Our Youth, led by Director of Discipleship, Lyndsie Blakely volunteered at the pet bowl decorating table.

After a busy & productive afternoon at the SPCA they met back at the Church for their weekly FUSION Gathering.  During this meeting the focus on mission continued on a more global spectrum.  The Youth packed 50 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and folded 200 empty boxes for others to pack!
It is amazing to see our youth so active in our missions programs!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Colleen and Rich Return Safely

Rich & Colleen returned safely from Haiti on Saturday afternoon.  Rich said the trip was very good.  He said it is hard to put in words a description of the area.  I am attaching Colleen's photo album for you all to see for yourself.  They fell in love with the children and you will see several pictures of them with the precious poverty stricken local children.  Rich said he left all of his belongings there for the families.  He only came home with the clothes on his back!  Their job while there was to build a concrete security wall around the Methodist House Compound.  They are both already planning a trip back in May!
click below to see the photo album of their mission journey!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday In Haiti...From Colleen!!

Good morning!
It has been quite an adventure so far! It seems we have been here for days already. We arrived in Haiti at lunch time yesterday at the Methodiste House Port au Prince. Last night we had orientation by Mike Willis a pastor from New York who is serving here as the volunteer coordinator. He provided some encouraging news. There are more people here helping on projects for UMVIM than ever...which makes hosting us a bit of a challenge. There are 15 teams here over the next 2 weeks. There is no air conditioning but there is wireless internet. There are plenty of roosters (they began crowing at about 2 am) with dogs barking, horns honking. The staff cooked us a wonderful meal last night. Many are homeless and sleep on the porch of the house and other places on the campus of the church.
We will be leaving in a few hours for our work-site and anxious to get there in the Leogane community. We will be staying in tents with our translator and a few cooks. We've heard a about them and the community and how lovely they are. We are also looking forward to sampling the bread. There is a local bakery with delicious bread we are told. Our jobs will be demo of a school and working on a security wall. We will mostly be hauling material while the more skilled locals do the demo. The church nearby and temporary shelters are being used by the school. There used to be 500 students but because of the earthquake and the economy there are only 100. We have the opportunity to provide scholarships for more students for less than $100 each per year.
We met several locals and artisans yesterday. There are some beautiful gracious people here and I am overwhelmed by there sense of contentment. We already gave a soccer ball and basketball to 2 young boys living on campus. They were thrilled.
We will not have the ability to communicate much if at all until Thursday night. I am journalling so I don't forget other things we want to share with you...and taking lots of pictures!  We feel your prayers and love you all!

Friday Morning

Hello All,
I wanted to let as many people as possible know that we are alive and well - but also hot and sticky - in Port au Prince. We are at the Methodist House, a very nice facility we're sharing with two other teams tonight before making the 2-3 hour trip to Mellier in the morning. Everyone seems to be adjusting well. This will be our last day with internet access (as far as we know) until next Thursday evening, so you may not hear much, if anything, from us until then.
Our flight was excellent and we had zero problems. We enjoyed spending the night last night, eating pizza and redividing our supplies for the trip. Three of us even went by nearby Cokesbury UMC where a Disciples Bible Study class formed a circle and prayed for our mission. We were all up for the trip to Dulles by 2:15 a.m. - thank God we got some additional sleep on the plane.
Port au Prince is a bit crazy and the main fuel for vehicles seems to be the horn! Lots of rubble but also some rebuilding going on. We'll see how things are further out in the country tomorrow.
Grace and peace to all our family and friends - we need your prayers; we feel your prayers; and we believe God hear's your prayers.
In the hope that Haiti will steadily be rebuilt by God's people bit by bit,
Bob Weeks(Rich's Friend)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

God's Blessing...Our God is Amazing!!

I just returned to the office from running some last minute errands before
picking up Colleen and heading to NOVA for our early morning flight to Haiti.
When I returned I noticed the message light blinking on the answering
machine.  When I pressed play there was no message.  I did check the caller
ID on my phone and saw it was a 757 area code so I returned the call. It was
Bob Weeks, the pastor from New Creation UMC that is leading our group.
After sorting out some transportation issues Bob shared an incredible story
with me.  I would like to share it with you.  I think it shows God's grace is
going with us.  Something I very much needed to be reminded of.

Bob and I went on a mission a trip to Jamaica several years ago. Bob
returned severals time after the first trip.  He met a young man that was in
seminary in Jamaica, this young man was training to be a pastor back in his
home country of Haiti.  At the beginning of this week Bob received an email
time marked 1:50 am.  It was from this young man who is now a pastor in
Haiti.  He told Bob that he had been thinking about him and wanted to know if
Bob had forgotten him.  Bob replied later that morning and told this young
Haitian pastor that we would be in Haiti next week and where we would be
serving.  What are the odds that it would be in the same area where this
pastor serves?  We will be attending his Bible study Wednesday night.  WOW
God is amazing. God's Blessings and thank you for your many prayers.  We will
keep you posted as much as possible during the week.  I hope my legs
remember some of those old soccer moves.
Grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This is my last blog post for this trip.  Lots of mixed emotions today for Julie, Virginia and myself, as well as the Honduran staff and the families here.  It has been a day of play, of worry and concern, of tears and of laughter. 
In my photos yesterday I am a mistake.  I told you that little Genisis, pictured above was 3 months old.  Well, she does look it.  Actually she is 7 months old.  She has been our worry of the day.  Her little heart continues to work very hard to keep her oxygenated.  Her lungs continue to accumulate some fluid, that needs medication to help her body get rid of it.  When she cries she sounds like a little kitten.  But...she will smile at you when you talk to her and is very alert most of the time.  Poor Julie checked on her every hour during the night.  Please pray for her and her mother as they continue to make forward strides.
The only thing we didn´t have weather wise here today was snow and a thunderstorm.  It rained twice, it was foggy twice, the sun came out off and on, the wind would blow, it was warm and then cold.  Not sure now how I will pack for our November trip.  Most definitely will have long sleeves and a jacket.
The Chicken Dance
Play time was a little quieter.  There are only three children old enough to be out playing.  We bowled (a new word for them), we colored, we had a couple of English lessons.  Nancy Haga and Bruce Montgomery will be excited to know there is a Honduran version of the chicken dance, and yes....we learned it!!  Much too funny!
There were many conversations in broken English and Spanish as we all tried to share our feelings about each other and enjoy the last day together.
The flurry of activity started when our newest two post-op patients arrived.  Caroline and Julio both got to the "House" having some problems.  Caroline has a fever and Julio is needing to do lots of respiratory therapy.  Julio I am not so worried about...he has cried often since his arrival.  He will get those little lungs expanded in no time.
The day would not have been complete without another attempt at making tortilla.  Julie did just great.  Mine were a major fail.  I told Berta, our cook, that they could not be used for general consumption.  I had them for my dinner.
I finally got what I call "porch time".  The Barnabas House has three porches that face the mountains and the view is constantly changing.  This is my time to be quiet and listen, to reflect and be thankful.  There are no words, as Edwardo´s mother said to me today, to explain how lives are changed in this blessed place.  If God would allow us to be in two places at once, I would be with my family in Virginia and family here in Honduras.  It is a place of pure beauty, both of nature and people.  It is a place of great need, and great joy.  I will always be thankful that God led me to this place, and has given me the skills to be of service to these people.
Pascuela and Fernando

Edwardo´s mom and I cried together this afternoon as we tried to tell each other how thankful we were that our paths had crossed.  She, and everyone else here this week, have been more of a blessing to me than I could ever be to them.  For the cost of one cardiac surgery in the US, we did procedures on almost 75 children.  That is 75 children who can now live a full life.  75 little hearts that beat stronger. 
It is time for vital signs and evening medications.  I have the last night shift before we leave tomorrow.  The day will be long, but my full heart will get me through.  Thanks so much for listening (reading ) my rambling of the week.  I hope you will keep all these families in your prayers.
One child at a time,


Rich & Colleen Meiser are leaving for their mission trip to Haiti tomorrow.  Rich just informed the office staff that he still has NOT packed!!! 
God called Colleen to Haiti and Colleen feels very passionate about this trip.  Rich is a little nervous about the trip but is excited about the work they will do once they arrive!  Colleen has stocked up on medical supplies, mainly to fight dehydration.  Their primary task while there will be to work with concrete. The weather in Haiti is currently still in the high 90's. 
Colleen noticed that Rich got a little more excited about the trip when ODU donated soccer balls and a pump for them to take to the children.  We look forward to Colleen capturing Rich's soccer skills on camera!

The Haiti response plan establishes an organizational structure for United Methodist Volunteer in Mission (UMVIM) teams to help with recovery and rebuilding in Haiti.
 Priority projects have been identified by the Eglise Methodiste d'Haiti (EMH, the Methodist Church of Haiti). Find out more at the web site

Please join us in praying for a safe and successful trip for the Meisers.  Stay tuned for updates through out their week long journey!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


"Pastor" Pascuela
Wow! What a day we have had here.  The day started with rain and only one child going in for surgery.  Pascuela led us in wonderful devotions, reminding us that when we give the little that we have, it gets multipied many times.  Throughout the day four of our most "active" kids went home, including Nerlin.  But not before I had the pleasure of rocking him to sleep one more time.

We had a surprise visit from one of my favorite translators, Raphael.  It was good to see him and catch up on life.  Unfortunately, while giving him a hug hello, I was bitten by some nasty bug that has left my right arm very sore and a little swollen.  Doctora Moncada is watching it closely for me.  Sadly enough, I got extra attention from Pascuela in the form of an hour massage!  It was really tough to deal with....NOT!!  She does have magic hands!
3 month old Genisis

8 month old William

Ok, I know what you are thinking...where is the busy part of the day.  It came in the form of 5 new arrivals.  Four of them post surgery, with three under a year old.  Little Genisis was a add-on to Monday´s surgery list.  She is a failure to thrive baby with a huge hole in between her ventricles.  She was very close to death when she arrived at the hospital.  We are continuing to watch her very closely.  Crying makes her oxygen level drop quickly and she continues to have some fluid in her lungs.  Julie (who has night duty tonight) is going to be busy keeing a close eye on her.
It took us about two hours to get everyone settled, assessed and charts written on (yes, in Spanish...that has been a challenge).  Just as we were finally ready to sit down to eat dinner, Genisis and her mom came to the kitchen door.  Genisis was crying and obviously having some difficulties.  As we called the hospital for instructions on new medicines, I was amazed as I watched the other mothers gather around this frightened young parent.  They gave her words of encouragement and prayed with her.  They all have watched and worried over their children this week.  They have made their own support group.  God is working miracles through everyone here.
Going home!
Our day has ended as it started, with rain.  It is cool outside but our hearts are warmed.  There is joy here that many of us will never understand.  Only God´s gives that kind of joy.
One child at a time,

Monday, October 4, 2010

A new week begins

My night shift ended at 8am with a flurry of acitivity.  At 4:30am, Anna and Carla headed to Hospital Cemisa.  Anna is scheduled for open heart today and Carla is to have an echo for evaluation.  The moms woke up all on their own.  Good thing...I was catching a few z´s at the time.  At 6am, the compound begins to stir.  Vitals signs are done on all the post-op children, incisions, heart and lungs are assessed and medicines are given.  It is no small feat to keep 13 children straight when there are no arm bands to check and no bed tags to read.
The Honduran staff arrives at 8am, and I proceeded to get a nap until 12n.  Melvin Flores, the Honduran FOBF director, came by for part of the day.  We had an awesome lunch of cheese empanadas (Honduran grilled cheese) with slaw and pickled onions.  Melvin also brought a cake to share with those of us volunteering for the week, as well as with the staff.  We all sat and shared coffee cake together, celebrating the wonderful things God is doing in the lives of these children.  We spent lots of time playing with cameras this afternoon.  So much fun and tons of laughter.  These kids know how a digital camera works, and know that the picture shows up on the back of the camera immediately.  Little Madeline would snap the picture and immediately turn it around to show you what she had done.  Usually before the flash went off!!  :)
Edwardo welcoming Fernando to the House

At 4:30pm, our newest post-op children arrived on the bus.  Daniel and Fernando had their surgeries on Thursday.  Carla also returned.  She is now to possibly have her surgery in the states, depending on what the next echo shows.  Time will tell.  It was amazing to watch the children as they welcomed and supported one another. 
I had two new experiences today.  I made my first tortillas, three in fact.  Was quite proud of myself.  I also took a trip out into the sugar cane field and had my first raw sugar cane to chew on.  Not a great thing for your teeth, but...oh well.  New word for the day...plastacina...playdoh...who knew.
The day is beginning to slow down now.  It has been a much cooler and cloudy day today.  Plan on drinking some tea made from the Jamaican rose (tastes like cherry juice) and head to bed early.
One child at a time, Patti
Consultation with Julie, Doctora Moncada and Madeline

Fun with the camera

Edwardo and his mom

The ever active Nerlin

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday full of play

Was awakened this morning at 5:45am by birds, children and mariachi music.  Welcome to Honduran mornings.  A hot shower got me going, along with corn flakes, peanut butter toast and good coffee.  First order or business was respiratory therapy, ie. bubble blowing.  It was truly a group effort.  We went through two bottles of bubbles in no time.  I learned new words doing this little activity also. 

At about 10:30a our next two post op patients returned to the clinic.  Edwardo, who was doing amazingly well and proved it by proceeding to walk three laps around the clinic porch.  The second patient is Sheily.  She was not quite as active but said she had no pain.  My little post-op friend from yesterday, Yadira, slowly improved through out today and is now eating well. 
At 11am several of the ICU nurses from the surgical end of this team and one MD came to visit the clinic compound.  A much needed day off for them.  They really enjoyed seeing the children and took pictures of all of them.  We shared devotions together on the topic of love in action. 
The rest of the morning was filled with playing on the swing set.  One 5 year old girl proved her skills as a nurse.  She used my stethoscope to listen to my heart and stomach.  Was really good at listening in all places she needed to.  
Lunch today was amazing.  Beef soup full of veggies and...wait for it...green bananas!  They tasted like potatoes.  Really! 
Peek-a boo in any language

The afternoon has been nap time.  It is quiet and peaceful with a cool breeze blowing.  Tonight is my turn at night shift.  We have two children who will be going into the city for evalution and or surgery.  4:30am is departure time.  Continue to pray for our doctors and nurses.  No cardiac caths were done today, but the surgeons continued on, doing two open hearts.  We are half the way through.  God has performed miracles and sent his angels to watch over us all. 
One child at a time,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Estoy aqui (I am here)

Wow this a happening place!  Left Richmond at 7:30a, to Miami by 9:30a, off to San Pedro Sula by 12:30p landing in San Pedro Sula at 12:45p.  Imagine that!  Stopped at Cemisa Hospital to see what was happening there.  They have completed 15 cardiac caths and 5 surgeries since Weds.
Sadly enough, two of today´s cases had complications.  Pray for Kevin and Jervin.  Kevin is not able to have his surgery, and has a projected lifespan of maybe 6-7 more years.  Jervin developed complications during his cath.  He will not be able to have surgery either.  This hit the doctors and nurses as hard as it did anyone. 
I traveled on to the Barnabas House in a bus full of children and family members.  The first two little girls to have cardiac surgery were with us.  Both are doing amazingly well.  We did have to turn around about a quarter of the way to the "house" to go get one more little girl who was discharged at the last minute.  Needless to say the trip was a little longer than expected. 
Everyone at the Barnabas House was waiting on the lawn for us as we pulled in, waving and cheering the first post op patients back to the place of healing.  It was so good to see my old friends here in Honduras as well has my American coworkers for the week; Julie, Virginia and Dr. John.  There are 5 other children here already.  And let me tell you they are active!!  I have already colored, taught colors, been colored on and called "hey"  hundreds of times. 
We are learning as we go how to be of help to the parents and the staff here.  Julie graciously is taking the night shift tonight, so Virginia and I can sleep.  I think I get tomorrow night.  The Honduran staff has already told me "no more english for the week".  Hope a good night sleep works miracles on my brain!  :)
Weather is balmy.  The crickets are chirping.  My pillow is calling. 
Much more tomorrow with pics of all the activity and sweet faces.
One child at a time,
Patti Wagner