If a family cannot afford even one meal per day, what happens when someone gets sick? How do you offer help to people who are not just sick but destitute?
Students at Crown College heard of the need and wanted to help. Team lead Kris Bristol, a nursing student, encouraged 10 nursing students to serve on a missions trip.
The team partnered with Haiti Nursing Foundation and Nurse Tim, Inc. to help people in multiple mobile clinics and a local hospital in the country, now home to nearly 11 million. They also worked at a children’s home, two elementary schools, a church, and built relationships with Haitian nursing students at their school.
The team spent their first three days in Haiti at the local hospital. There, the team had medications but the patients were not able to receive them unless the families could afford to buy them. And, if a family couldn’t afford it then the nurses had to do what they could to keep the patient comfortable.
Experiencing the reality of this hospital took a toll on the team. The ratio of patients to nurses was incredibly different. For every one nurse there was three patients. Things were always so hectic, it was difficult for the team to keep up. The team could not believe the hardships that surrounded these patients’ lives and everyday situations.
The team learned very quickly how to step out of their comfort zone. It took a lot of faith, knowing that God is in control and he has the best in mind. The team learned the first step toward connecting with the people of Haiti is scary because they don’t live similar lives. Yet, the connection with the people filled them with hope, joy, and a new understanding of the Haitian culture.
The student nurses got the opportunity to teach the Haitians about the dangers of bleeding/hemorrhaging, how to perform CPR, the importance of hand-washing, why rehydration is important, awareness about STDs and HIV, and how nasogastric intubation (NG) tube insertion — a medical process inserting a plastic tube through the nose, throat, and into the stomach — can help ailing patients. This procedure is very common and very important because it provides access to the stomach for diagnostic and therapeutic help.
After a long day, exhausted from working in the hospital, the team went to help the families in the community that the church knew were in need of some sort. They provided the family with food (referred to a family pack). During this time, the team interviewed the families to get to know their lives. Ready to help anyone, the team learned a common Haitian Proverb: “Chans pa vini de fwa.” It means opportunity doesn’t come twice.
That afternoon, Nicole Blake — a junior nursing student at Crown — experienced an encounter she will never forgot.
After helping in the hospital, Blake heard one of the families stories and it touched her heart. She felt the Holy Spirit tell her to ask her family if she could pray for them. Blake was terrified at this thought but she remembered the Haitian proverb “Chans pa vini de fwa.” Blake knew this could be her only time to talk to the family.
When Blake asked the family if she could pray for them, they were dumbfounded. No other teams had ever asked them that question before. So, Blake prayed over the family and she will never forget the smiles on their faces, and the joyful spirit that was present in them. The team continued to pray over all the families that they stayed with.
On the third day at the hospital, Shelby Kranz and Andrea Maher — both second-year nursing students, left the hospital in joy. The team still saw people walk into the clinic with diseases and illness, but on this day they found hope in all the hardship. They watched a woman become a mother for the first time. The mother laid on her mat, holding her baby, and the two of them looked at each other for hours. Neither of the second-year nursing students could explain the happiness on their faces.
“While on this trip, I was able to experience and learn so much,” says Kranz. “This trip was much more fulfilling than ever imagined. I saw God work in more ways, and I experienced and learned so much. In many cases, it was a literal miracle from God that we were there.”
The entire trip was about showing love and compassion to the Haitian people by providing medical care and the hope of the Gospel. They prayed over patients, helped deliver a baby, and prayed over families who housed them. They learned that prayer is so powerful and sometimes when there are no words to say, everyone can just go to God in prayer and thank Him for life and love.
“Going to a part of the world that is so poor and has different values and cultural beliefs will stretch you and your beliefs, so finding strength in Jesus will help you persevere,” says Blake. “He knows what He is doing, and when you’re in a place like Haiti you have to keep your eyes on Jesus otherwise you will fall apart from the inside out.”