Snip, Snip, Snip!
Snip, snip, snip. I was sitting there in the village of Phaeton, Haiti one afternoon in December watching Nurse Jacqueline cut sheets of paper into quarters. I knew what each piece of paper represented. Each one would become a prescription form given to a patient after seeing a doctor. We were in the process of converting a school building into a temporary mobile clinic, and we would be treating patients the next day. As Nurse Jacqueline was snipping away, I was seeing a problem develop, or so I thought. She was cutting a lot of paper.
Earlier in the day, we were at our clinic facility in Cap-Haitien preparing for the trip to the village. I saw the supply of medicine Nurse Jacqueline had prepared to take. I took Pastor Oris, our mission founder and clinic director aside for a conversation. Having done this many times before, I could see that there was not enough medicine. There would be hundreds of people waiting for us, but we had a very meager looking supply. If it had been up to me, I would have emptied out our entire pharmacy inventory and taken it with us to Phaeton. It’s not our job to fly in from the United States and tell our clinic staff what to do, though. We’re there to be supportive, and it’s their job to operate the clinic. I told Pastor Oris that we would have to rethink the clinic in Phaeton if that was all the medicine we would be taking. We should plan to do a limited scale clinic, and walk out into the village to find the sickest people and hope to be able to treat them. At most, we should plan to treat 50 patients. Pastor Oris agreed that we should not interfere with the staff, and do the best we could.
Snip, snip, snip. Nurse Jacqueline continued to cut paper. I spoke up, and told her she may as well stop cutting, because we already had too much paper. There was no way we could see that many patients. Nurse Jacqueline smiled at me pleasantly, and continued to snip paper. I tried again, but soon realized I just needed to stop worrying about it.
The next morning, I was sitting with Pastor Karry who is in charge of the local church and school. I told him about the short supply of medicine, and that we had a change of plan. There was no way to see hundreds of people the way we usually do. We would need to go out into the village to find the sickest ones, and plan to treat no more than 50. “Hmmmm…. But, we have all of these people…” he said, his quiet voice trailing off. Out we went into the village looking for sick people. Our visiting team from the United States walked with our local staff and church volunteers. God did not disappoint. We were led to many who needed physical and spiritual healing. Some could walk to the clinic, and we brought the doctors to those who could not. We filled prescriptions, and a couple of people accepted Christ as savior. That’s why we went to Haiti, to seek and save those who were lost. All in all, it was a great day. I still wasn’t sure what to do about the next day, though, as we had to be running out of medicine. We already had treated at least 50 people.