OLEZ AND MARC LORY

Posted: December 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

Many of you reading this are familiar with Olez and Marc Lory, her handicapped 12 year old son. Many of you have visited her house with us in the community of Corail and have met Olez and Marc Lory.  He often could be found lying on a sheet on the cement floor. Clearly he had medical issues, but every time one of you took time to bend down and interact with him, you could see his excitement and the light in his eyes.  I’m sorry to write that this special young boy, who had been ill for several days, died Monday evening of undetermined causes. Olez had taken him to several hospitals but nothing seemed have helped, and sadly Marc Lory passed away. Beth writes below about Olez and her family.

Like many Haitians Olez goes by a few names: Rose Marie and Olez are two of them. I would name her Persistence, Strong, Bent but not Broken, Staying the Course, Fighting the Fight, Weary Yet Pursuing.

We met after the earthquake when the landscape was dotted with tents. On every vacant plot of land a community of tents sprung up all over the city. Olez and her large family lived in one. The baby, her grandchild, got stepped on in the tent so she came to the Heartline field hospital by night to find help for the baby. The child’s mother, Olez’s daughter, had died in that night of all nights on January 12, 2010. Crushed beneath the weight of cement she lost her life. Life itself almost crushed Olez. Hardship and loss are exacting their price, as weighty as the cement blocks when the earth shook.

Lise and Marc LoryAt the hospital Olez met Lise, (pictured left) a Canadian nurse volunteering at Heartline. Lise had been a child raised by her own grandmother after the death of her mom. Their shared grief instantly bonded them. They love each other still.

We have kept a relationship going with Olez. We moved her from the tent to a cement house in “Jerusalem” in the land of “Canaan”. A tribute to Haitian wit, this area was thus named after hundreds of tent cities were closed and families were relocated to this desert plain.

Unfortunately the old poverty moved into the new Jerusalem but in safer surroundings. Olez relocated with several family members. Her elderly mom, her husband, a few daughters, a deaf son, another son, and Marc Lory who looked like he had CP, all moved in together.

Our field hospital closed and we couldn’t keep up with the mounting health issues this family had. One young adult daughter was emaciated and in and out of the hospital. The husband had a variety of ailments. Grandma seemed ok. Olez worked on keeping them all together. Then one by one death took them. The emaciated daughter gone, the husband gone, a son gone, six in total since we met this dear woman. Their quality of life was poor, hospitals are over crowded, lab work was left undone, meds are often not understood-too little care too late. Doctors write prescriptions for medicines people can’t afford. Pills can’t cure a lifetime of bad nutrition and little health care.

The crowded house dwindled down to the sweet, twisted body of 12 year old Marc Lory and her deaf son. I sat with Olez once and asked her the story of Marc Lory, her handicapped son. This boy has spent his life on a sheet on a cement or dirt floor.   He was often soiled and undressed but his hair was braided. Braids of love. Braids that said his mom cared about him even if she couldn’t keep up with keeping him clean. Braids that said his life mattered.

She told me she had a uterine rupture and she lifted her blouse revealing a ragged, vertical cesarean section scar. The doctors at the government hospital got the baby out in time to keep him alive but not without profound damage. My midwife’s heart sank. Preventing such obstetrical catastrophes is one of the reasons we exist. Hospitals are crowded offering too little, too late once again.

RoseMarieOlez deeply cared, but she had to work and provide for the few people left in her household so Marc Lory was often left unattended for hours. We offered to try to help find a place that would care for this little guy and get him therapy and meet his medical needs. He died in the wait.

This little guy’s brokenness touched our own. I had a visitor to Haiti say to me recently that meeting him was the most profound thing that happened to her during her entire stay.   Seeing injustice, seeing unrelieved pain, seeing brokenness brings us to the cross where we look to the kingdom where things will be made right.

Come Lord Jesus. Come.

Beth McHoul

I have said often, that of all the people I know in Haiti, Olez  has suffered the most.  We would like to help her with the funeral cost which is way beyond her means. The cost of the funeral will be $2000.00.  This is for the services of the funeral home, the casket, the burial service, the location and food for a reception. Perhaps you have met Olez and Marc Lory and would like to help.  If so please click here and designate your donation to “OLEZ-FUNERAL  EXPENSE”, which you can do before sending the donation.  This morning Olez came to the office and she looked so tired, so weary.  Please, as well, lift Olez and her family up in prayer. Pray for strength in this difficult time.

John McHoul

The enemy of our souls always targets the little guys, the helpless ones, the tiniest. God in His wisdom created all breast milk good. Moms in fancy houses and moms in third world shanties can all feed their babies this liquid goodness. It is a gift. It is sterile, the perfect temperature, and is complete nutrition. So, why is breastfeeding such a hard sell? Why do moms who are resource poor disdain breastfeeding? Somehow they got the wrong message.

Every Wednesday morning we midwives and helpers pile into our ambulance, armed with gift packs, a guitar, and hope as we travel 4 miles to a government run hospital. The paint is old, the rooms overcrowded, the moms and babies are often two to a bed and the nurses don’t have modern, working equipment. The NICU sports a line of bassinets with too tiny, yellow colored, still, doll like babies. Their moms sit hopeful. We sigh. We pray.

We gather in the large postpartum ward and like singing minstrels we belt out a jingle each week with rhyming words admonishing moms to breastfeed their babies as soon as they are born. We clap, we dance around, and we make a scene. The nurses seem to like this and join in. It’s a little like church as we sing the praises of colostrum and mother’s milk. It’s a lot like church in that the enemy is lurking, attempting to harden hearts and block ears from such a worthy message.   We pass out papers with the lyrics, we pass out gift packs and we attempt to get the new moms hooked on what we are singing about.

We go from bed to bed. Most often the baby is bundled and ready for the Alaskan winter. Mom sits by weary with the cares of her life, she might be eating, visiting, or just staring, trying to recover from her birth experience.   Her life is hard whether she is a teen mom or a 40ish mom of six. Life isn’t easy and now she has another person to look after. Not much hope abounds in the weary, overcrowded, ghetto neighborhoods of Haiti.

Midwives, comrades and nurses, we spread out and visit each bed. Sometimes those beds hold a lone woman whose baby died. We cry with her, we pray with her. Other beds have twins. Still other beds hold two moms and two babies, strangers till they shared a hospital bed, blood and fluids mingling from one mom to the next.   We try to engage each woman. We attempt to help her baby latch on to begin the process of receiving life-giving nutrition. Most times moms state they can’t put their baby to the breast till the milk comes in. That could be two, three or even four days after birth. Word has it, from grandmas and aunties that colostrum is bad and must be thrown away. This first milk is full of exactly what a baby needs. Throwing it away is like throwing natural vaccines and health down the sewer.   So we strum the guitar, belt out the lyrics and try to beam the message across to the moms that baby needs this liquid gold and baby will thrive if given breast milk.

Moms light up when a baby who they thought couldn’t feed latches on and sucks heartily. We light up too! We feel like we are starting a little revolution that moms can join and their babies will be healthy. Lies are broken, superstitions are exposed, and light breaks through every time a mom who would not nurse puts her baby to the breast.

It’s deadly if they don’t: Diarrhea from bad water, foods babies can’t digest and fillers that rob their bodies take thousands of precious lives. If moms only knew. We are here to tell them.

After a few hours we pile back in our ambulance and drive the few miles back to our safe haven. Our maternity center looks more beautiful when we return. We check in with our postpartum mom who is in our bed with pretty sheets, in a clean nightgown with her almost 9 pounder at her breast. We sigh. Tears come as I think of the dozens of ladies we left in such bad conditions.

But superstition is never far away. The enemy is prowling and grandma is trying to buy off the devil. She states she must make a tea from boiled cockroaches and feed it to the baby to keep the newborn safe from evil spirits. Her daughter-in-law rises up in new mother indignation and threatens to call the police if grandma tries such a thing. Battle won. Mom listened in class every week of her pregnancy and she will have none of this! The maternal grandma tells us that she too is pregnant and has been for years. The baby just isn’t born yet.

These lovely grandmas, these matriarchs, these women who could be giving the new mom sage advice instead give wives- tales and fear based admonitions. It is their truth, their old ways, their paradigm.

So, week-by-week we bring the good news in prenatals and class at our Heartline program; in song and pamphlets at the local hospital.   Jesus came to set us free from superstition and beliefs that strangle our souls and kill our babies. Like Herod of old, the enemy wants to kill the children. We say Jesus came to set them free and they shall be free indeed. Darkness flees when light comes in. Babies thrive when moms understand to breastfeed. When superstition is broken and God’s light pours in, a culture changes and grows. The difference is eternal.

Beth McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

GUERDA: Mademoiselle Miracle

Posted: August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

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We met Guerda right after the earthquake in 2010. She was 8 weeks pregnant and came in for a prenatal visit. She wore a Donna Karan cap with dollar signs all over it. It would be her signature lid for months. I knew her by her cap. That was just before I started to know her by her blood pressure. At her first visit I took her BP. I was a new midwife and the stroke level numbers the machine read made me stop, stare and go get another machine. Not possible. A young, thin, healthy looking girl can’t possibly have this high of a blood pressure. But, she did. She still does. We just know how to manage it better now 5 years down the road.

g2 We were still picking up the pieces from the earthquake and the Heartline Field Hospital was in full swing. As Guerda’s pregnancy advanced and her BP went even higher we put her on bed rest at the field hospital. She had a cot in our makeshift community and she joined in on church every night. She believed. She trusted. She lost the baby like she had lost several before.

Jonna Howard and I were the midwives on staff at the time. Every few days we would check Guerda, shake our heads at her BP in spite of meds and check the baby. Heart rate still galloping along. And then it didn’t. Stopped. Silent. A precious baby girl had slipped away and Guerda was left with the grueling task of labor and delivery. We attended her with tears of sorrow rather than joy. Guerda was quiet, sad and accepting.   Her husband was quiet and loving.

Guerda came back looking for work from time to time. I am still mocked that I tried to get her to use a solar oven to make cakes and sell them. Troy rolled his eyes when I asked him for the solar oven. Guerda hadn’t a clue. It was a fail. She came back looking for work again and we hired her to help out Cherline at the maternity center. She once again became part of our family.

Pregnant again and back on bed rest she went. This time we gave her a bed and a TV. No more earthquake conditions. Guerda set the TV on the Haitian gospel station at full volume and never turned it off. We joined in whether we wanted to or not. She prayed, she sang, she took her meds, she rested, she believed and her baby grew. This time the heart beat never stopped. Her BP continued to taunt us with high numbers but the baby girl persevered in growing and developing.   Meds that costs $15 US daily were donated to keep this high-risk pregnancy going. A box of meds costing thousands was worth millions and millions for the life they were saving. We all got involved, we all dared to love and believe. Day by day, heartbeat-by-heartbeat we were daring to believe that Guerda might have a living baby. We held our collective breath, prayed without ceasing and scheduled a cesarean at 34 weeks.

g3 Guerda, the girl who lost several babies at different stages of pregnancy came home to us with a living, perfect little girl! Guerda, who watched moms come and go in our program, now has a baby of her own. It is precious watching her lovingly care for this tiny miracle baby. Cherline calls her “Mademoiselle Miracle”! Indeed she is! I am so grateful for Guerda’s persistence, her trust in her Savior Jesus and the skilled team who took care of her.

“Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning!”

Beth McHoul

I feel an urgency to sit at the keyboard and spill out the story, lest my own heart forget. I don’t want the events to die away like the soreness of my leg muscles. Each day since Marathon Monday, I feel less aware as the glory of Boston fades, and I re-enter Haiti life which I love so desperately.

Like the Gatorade stands that gave energy and water, so God energized my soul through the process of marathon training. Like volunteers with paper cups of water God met me at every mile, washing me clean with heaven sent help.

I had only one goal and that was to finish the 26.2 miles. I’m older and slower than I was when I ran my first marathon 12 years ago but I knew I could still reach the finish line. What I didn’t know was how complicated training would become and how many people it takes for a runner to cross the finish line. My heart is so very grateful for the team of people that made this happen. I’m still overwhelmed by their goodness and love to me.

I flew into Boston a week early to enjoy my family who live there and settle in with my running sister Charleen. When I arrived the house had been taken hostage by a virus, causing hours of vomiting and diarrhea and days to recover from. Fear started knocking on my gate. After training in over 90 degree heat I was looking forward to a spring time marathon day. Day two after my arrival there was snow on the ground. Isn’t it spring yet? I couldn’t thaw out. I walked around in layers of clothing, dodging kisses from recovering virus victims. I did silly things like buy hand sanitizer and a fleece running jacket. The journey back to trust needed to happen. I needed to look back and see the hand of God through my training. I needed to drive the stakes of God’s mile markers back into my heart. I needed to remember He is faithful.

He is faithful indeed. Marathon Monday was a lovely day with spring sunshine and my fleece jacket got tied around my waist and given away as soon as possible. I felt great and was eager to run. The joy was palpable! Runners, at the starting gate,  seemed ready for victory. Fans cheered and there was not a stretch of the entire 26.2 miles that had an open space. Every spot was filled with fans who stayed from the start to the finish, many hours later.  Speedy elite runners and recreational charity runners all got support and encouragement. What a gift! What fun!

At mile 13 I saw Troy and Tara! Troy, the PR man had the camera and Tara was in running clothes. I pulled her in and we ran together the rest of the race side by side. It was fitting, we trained together and now we ran together.   Such joy!

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Beth and Tara

At mile 20 John, his sister, our daughter Morgan and others were there to greet us and cheer us on! What fun! Adoptive mom Karen came down from Vermont. Other friends were scattered throughout the miles and I heard their cheers.   At the finish we met up in the family area where cheers of joy greeted us. My speedy sister and Joanne from Calvary Chapel had finished earlier and were waiting for us.

Only the black toenail remains. Clothes were washed, planes boarded, and we are home in Haiti again.

My finisher’s medal is tucked away in my keepsake drawer. Marathon accomplished. I’ve slipped back into the never-ending race of life in Haiti.   It’s a race with lots to laugh about and some hard struggles with mile long hills. Heartline, with all its different programs, seeks to provide opportunity for men and women to succeed. So often all someone needs is a chance, a class, an opportunity, a skill and they are off and running.

We are still needing funds for the race. The marathon is finished but the race to help Heartline help others is still on. Join us! Run with us!  Click here to give to reach the total of $1000 per mile or $26,000

Beth McHoul

 

 

 

Monday, Monday

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 ImageMonday. Monday usually means back to work. The start of a new week. Alarm clocks, deadlines and workday accomplishments.

 Last Monday I ran the Boston Marathon. I ran it leisurely and with joy, but it was still hard work. I look back and I see God’s faithfulness through all the training. I see answered prayer over and over. But it was still a huge effort. My muscles hurt, and I had to put one tired foot in front of the other. It takes a lot of energy to run a marathon, and you do a better job when you have a team. I had one. I’m so very grateful for them.

 This Monday I watched a marathon. I was not the runner, but part of the support team. Emma had a marathon labor, and at the finish line she met her new daughter Fritzline. It was hard work. Oh yes, we saw God’s faithfulness and answered prayer, but it took a lot of energy to push out a baby. She cried and asked God why this couldn’t be easier. We wondered that too. This marathon took so long I finally curled up on the birth room floor and went to sleep. You can do that when there is a team. Emma labored on. Eventually, after 24 hours of hard labor a yelling, gorgeous, baby came. The joy of the finish line!

 ImageEmma’s whole life has been a race without a team. She has lived in extreme poverty and has been forced to make painful choices.   When she came to us I doubted she would be able to come to prenatals every week. Her hemoglobin was so low I wondered how she would find the energy to get up from the corner of the one room house she lived in and come. She did. She never missed a week. She also never missed Bible Study. Not once. She lives in a volatile area where bullets fly around in the night and woe to the woman that goes into labor in the pre-dawn hours. Knowing this we moved her in with us for a few weeks before her due date.  

 Emma is at the very heart of our maternity program. This young woman had no family near by, no support, no way to keep her children. Circumstances took her children from her. She was alone and found herself pregnant again. Would she be forced by her lack of opportunity to give this child away as well?

 Emma gathered her courage several months ago, believed us, came to prenatals, became part of our lives and put herself in position for success. These are hard hills to climb. The hopelessness of poverty can steal away any flicker of life and change. Emma is doing it.   She is running a new race, she is going to raise her baby, she is going to succeed. We are standing on the sidelines cheering her and encouraging her. She and Fritzline – they are going to win!

Beth McHoul

Heartline Ministries

Beth ran for those that can’t.  Although she has run and finished the 2014 Boston Marathon, you can still help support those for whom Beth has run.  Click here to donate so that others can runs their races,

 

 

The Training Miles…

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

The training miles are done. Like 30,000 other runners I followed a 16-week program that started out with few miles and peaked at 2 twenty-mile runs and then tapered off. We run with little variation from programs like these since they are scientifically proven to get you ready for the big day. The marathon. 26.2 miles. Boston!

For 16 weeks, at our maternity center, different women reached their 40-week mark of pregnancy-swollen and ready, but not a one of them went into labor before a long run. A runner’s sleep and food are as important as the footfalls on the road. Not a run was interrupted. So different than last year when we could count on labors every weekend. The forces that bring about labor stayed still while I labored on the roads.

As is true in all of our journeys through life, some runs were easy and some were incredibly difficult. Each step was labored and awkward. Without reason my body, breath and soul found each step like lumbering through water and mud. Some days were just off. I had to push through. That’s where heaven steps in.

Other runs were easy, or sort of. As ultra-marathoner Barry McDonald reminded me, “Most runs are hard”. Indeed they are. Life is hard. Indeed it is. We push on, and that’s the point. The key is to run on with joy and with eyes to see the mile markers of God along the way.Image

In every marathon the miles are marked. Each runner counts them down as they run. From 1 to 26 to the finish, the mile markers are beacons of progress. The math gets blurry around mile 18 and the one thing you know to do is to keep pushing ahead, keep moving forward. Am I at 17 or 19? Did I pass 18 yet? Just keep plodding, one foot in front of the other and eventually a sign pops up.

My mile markers were many through this journey. Others labored with me and held my hand and kept my feet moving. When I was faltering on a road of puddles and mud (literally) my friend, Tara, stepped in as coach and changed the road and the plan. It made all the difference.

Week after week, without fail, my fellow midwife Beth KJ would wake in the night and send me applicable Scriptures to wake up to before running. Over and over I would sing, chant and recite those heavenly words. Apples of gold in settings of silver. The spiritual Gator-aid.

Troy and John did drop off and picks ups so we could run on better roads and avoid the mud, traffic and diesel on our local roads.

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Tara and Beth

Mid-stream I needed to remind myself why I am doing this. I’m doing this because we face evil, we don’t let bombs stop us and we come back when terror visits our lives. I’m doing this to raise awareness for Heartline. That every day women, against all odds, get up, have their babies, raise their children, learn to read, learn to sew, learn to cook and grab hold of success! Every day young men start up the ovens, shape the bread and learn the skills of life while they sell the bread of life. Every day Haitian women and men who have found their way to Heartline succeed. I run to shout their names and support their efforts to have a normal, successful life.

I’m asking if you will give money for every mile marker I pass on the Boston Marathon on April 21st. Haitian men and women face a marathon of their own each day trying to find work, feed their families and keep a home together. Heartline helps them to do this. Will you support them with us?

As we celebrate Easter I’ll be eating pasta rather than the traditional turkey in preparation for the marathon the next day. Christ is risen and that gives us the power to run whatever marathon life gives us. Let’s join together and help Heartline help Haiti!

Port au Prince, Haiti

Beth McHoul

Your support makes a difference.  Click here to give your support as Beth runs for those that can’t. 

 

Slinging Mud – A Gift From God

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

My weekly long runs are increasing in mileage as the date draws closer to Boston Marathon Monday!  There is no way around the weekly long runs.  They have to be done.  The body has to know how to put one foot in front of the other and pound the pavement for hours.  There is no short cut, no cheating, no passes, no talking yourself out of it.  

 Most of the obstacles on the road, I can block out.  The vehicles, the people coming and going, the trash piles, the goats, the occasional donkey, the dogs, and the heat are all part of living on this island.  I find comfort in these surroundings.  They are home to me.

 The one foe I have been losing the battle with is dust.  We are in the dry season.  Stretches of road have inch thick powdery dust, and as I run through it, I pretend I’m running through snow.  Now this takes a lot of imagination since it’s 90 degrees, sunny and I’m sweating profusely. 

 Each week after my long run I’d return home with an annoying, non-stop, incessant, aggravating cough thanks to the clouds of dust (not snow) that I has been plodding through each week.  If you know what Kegels are I need to say I have not done enough of them and coughing so much has been bringing me very close to needing Depends!  When my daughter jokingly asked, “Mom, do you have TB?”  I realized this cough was dominating my life. 

 I hate rain.  I just do.  Our roof leaks in every room although many visiting groups have tried to fix it.  Our neighborhood roads flood quickly when it rains; it causes traffic jams and all sorts of third world, lack of infrastructure havoc.  Never mind that it fills cisterns, waters plants and makes our little island green again.  I still don’t like it.

 Last night I set out my running clothes, my goo, my watch, my water money and my sneakers.  I set my alarm (which plays “Chariots of Fire” for encouragement).  Then I heard it: Drop, drop, drop, it was raining, and it pounded on our roof for several minutes.  It gave just enough of a downpour to make some mud, cause the dust to settle, put a puddle here and there and give me smooth sailing through the dusty stretches of my run.  My feet slung up mud, my shoes got wet and I filled with tears at the goodness of God.  Just a few minutes of rain and my run has become so much easier!   

 When we feel God nudging us to do something hard He has such wonderful gifts along the way.  My praying friend, Beth Johnson always messages me before a run telling me she is praying for me.  John always holds my hand and prays with me before I head out.  Tara meets me to run beside me when the miles are wearing me out. 

 Today He sent the gift of rain, the gift of prayer and the gift of friends.  Right at mile 10 Jen and Tara showed up to help me take it home. 

 It’s a gift doing something hard, when you get to meet God in new ways.  I see Him at every birth. A woman feels she cannot go on.  The labor is too much.  She feels weak and powerless.    God gives her the strength and she comes through victorious and beaming.  I see Him when we are at the end of ourselves.  I see Him in the rain.

 Beth McHoul

 You can join Beth by supporting her as she runs for those that can’t.  Click here for more information.