| Mar 10, 2010
We finished our medical mission and received 12 incoming volunteers who with big hearts still came to be our relief despite the loss of Matt. They’ll be a great team. Two docs joined our docs, two paramedics and a nurse joined Penny and me in the pharmacy / wound tent area. We had a VERY sick postpartum mom who received IV fluids and antibiotics and observation for several hours. I had the privilege of giving her newborn infant a shot in the thigh (haven’t done it on such a tiny thing for about 20 yrs.)
Penny is a well seasoned Medical Teams International volunteer with 25 yrs experience and LOTS of great stories. She and Dr. Ian go way back to Rwanda. Working with Penny and then welcoming the legendary Marie Davis, RN who arrived (over 40 Medical Teams International trips), I felt like a neophyte. At our nightly meeting and debriefing, I sat with them on the couch and in unison at introduction time they said they were labeled “loose cannons”. I turned to Penny and said “I wanna join the loose cannon club!” She paused, giggled and said “oh honey, I think you already have!” Yahoo! I’d LOVE to go on another trip with these gals… tender hearted, seasoned and full of faith in our Lord Jesus…
The night before our team was scheduled to return, Karen, the team’s psychologist, wanted to do an “activity” with the team that was leaving and had experienced the loss of Matt. She is an amazing person who is world renown for working with traumatized children following events such as 911. She was here developing a mental health program for the children of Haiti. She gave each of us a piece of paper and 2 bowls of crayons were on the table. The simple task was to draw a picture of our experience here in Haiti. We each drew, some with reluctance saying “I’m not an artist” but the outcome was amazing and powerful. After drawing time Karen asked us each to share the meaning of our picture. I’ll give some examples. My memory may be fuzzy on the details but I’ll do my best. I don’t want to mis-represent my teammate’s views.
Ian shared his drawing of a pyramid of people, like you do as kids on a lawn. The pyramid was adjacent to a large wall and the top person was above the wall so he could look over it. A sun beamed on the other side of the wall. He explained that he’d been on many wonderful teams over the years (about 25) but that he had never experienced the teamwork that this one did. The wall represented the wall that we had overcome. He went on to comment about each person symbolized in the pyramid, recognizing each ones gifts and contributions to our team. My favorite was to gentle Rob, our young paramedic. He complimented Rob and said “you have a bright future Rob”… way to encourage Ian. Rob truly was a kind young man, always willing to help. I told him when he left to be sure and tell his momma that she’d done a fine job.
I was next to share. What came to my mind at the request to draw was not the rubble, the loss, the pain in Haiti but a team. I drew a football field with lines and dots representing the two different teams. Our side had a score of 28 and the other had 7. I explained that I’d never been on a team like this and that despite our circumstances I felt we had definitely won. We took care of each other and did the jobs needing to be done. I followed Ian’s lead and complimented each person’s unique gifts. I had witnessed the body of Christ with each member of the body having a different part... it was beautiful.
Dr. Jeff drew a two sided picture with a street through the middle. The left side was of rubble and destruction, the right side had organization with mounds of rocks, little stick/plastic covered hut houses and the beginnings of a community. He explained that when he first arrived he saw destruction everywhere, but that as the time went on the destruction was becoming more organized with people gathering and separating similar parts, round rock piles, somewhat re-usable cinder blocks, scraps of tin roofing, piles of bent but maybe reusable rebar, etc. He explained that the Haitian people were strong and were re-building their communities. He’d seen a lot of it unfold as the scenery changed while driving the same route over the weeks.
Dr. Don described his first reaction of being here. He himself had been displaced with the complete loss of his 30 yr. home due to Katrina; this had been a healing trip for him. He first saw all the destruction and despair when he arrived, but as the weeks went on he began to see the bougainvillea, the purple flowering trees, and other beautiful things here in Haiti that at first he simply could not see.
Karen ended the session with an artistic drawing that included rows of colorful circles and lines that connected the rows in different directions. She explained that the rows represented different groups of people; the top row was our team. She was thankful for what she had learned from us all and was taking the memory of us home in her heart. I can’t even try to write the rest. It was so beautiful and hard to describe. She of all people will have to go home and de-brief herself. Karen was present at the loss of Matt and has her own trauma from the memory. She assured me that she has her own way to de-brief when she gets home from her disaster work. Karen was always busy watching out for us. The memory of this team will be in my heart forever...
My team all left for their plane; with torn hearts and smiles…can you have both? We had experienced a bond that no other team had.