A Health Update from Dr. Bob

Gentlefolk:  One week ago today I awakened with a severe coughing spasm, followed by excruciating chest pain.  I knew at once I was suffering a heart attack.  Betty rushed me to the nearest hospital and I seriously doubted I would get there alive.  But God had other plans for me, and I survived a total occlusion of a major coronary vessel, and miraculously, with no apparent serious damage to the heart muscle.  My cardiologist told me I was unbelievably lucky (Interpreted: unbelievably blessed beyond all measure)!  Clearly, my work here is not finished.  Still, discretion is “the better part of valor”, so I am forced by circumstance to sideline myself for a time.  I have been advised to take a sabbatical from my mission duties for several months, even to the exclusion of conducting business by email and phone.  My coming trip to Jolivert will have to be postponed for the time being, although the group I was to travel with will go in as planned with several goals in mind (installation of our new xray machine, fine-tuning our solar power grid, vehicle repairs among them). Continue reading

Work Progressing but Funds are Depleting Quickly

November 6, 2011

Gentlefolk:
Some of our directors have just returned from some highly-productive trips to our compound at Jolivert. While each of them will make their own reports on our website, I’ll just summarize by saying they were impressed by the great job our Haitian staff continues to do on a daily basis in serving the poor and sick in our area of endeavors. Dr Asa continued his training at the eye clinic as his wife Jean continued her evangelical work with the citizenry. (She also celebrated her 80th birthday while there)! Nancy and her people made outreach trips high into the surrounding mountains and held many meetings and conferences as well, as her adult literacy still grows by leaps and bounds. Yet most of what you hear in the news regarding the post-earthquake recovery in Haiti is not encouraging.

While the world at large is confounded and frustrated at the difficulties and failures suffered in Haiti by many of the larger, more widely-known organizations such as USAID, UNICEF, Red Cross, Food for the Poor, and many others, it is a well-established fact that the greatest successes in both relief work and re-building since the earthquake have been achieved by smaller NGO’s and charitable groups such as MISSIONS OF LOVE. Our accomplishments, by the Grace of God, have been well documented: we’ve fed many thousands of near-starved people (including almost a half-million meals to hungry kids). In Port-au-Prince in the weeks and months following the quake we’ve rebuilt homes, opened schools, provided hundreds of tents for those left homeless by the quake, operated street clinics and provided surgical teams at the epicenter of the quake at the general hospital. In the early days after this devastating disaster, we were among the first to provide drinking water, food, and medicines with direct hands-on supervision by several of our own directors, often at great risk of personal injury from falling buildings from the frequent aftershocks while the bureaucratic boondogglers at the airport just couldn’t start moving these items off the tarmac quickly enough to meet the enormous needs of those tragic early hours.

Continue reading

Dr. Bob Fall 2011 Update

So much has happened since my last report in April of this year, I hardly know where to begin.  As I reported to you then, Vanessa and Tom Carpenter (AngelMissionsHaiti), having felt called to open a K-12 English Immersion school and home for children at Jolivert, moved into mine and Betty’s apartment  there this summer along with five of their children for a trial immersion of their own into the culture and community of Jolivert.  Some snags, but overall it was a good experience, and they went home ever more dedicated to carrying out their plans beginning in the near future.

They have already bitten the bullet by purchasing  two acres of land joining our compound to the rear and plans are on for Boss Wilson to begin excavation and foundation work in the immediate future.  A new access road is planned immediately to the north of our property as well.

My April trip included a tour of the new hospital at Bassin Bleu (on the site of their old crumbling and neglected clinic so inadequately operated by the Haitian Ministry of health over the past many years).  What a delightful surprise!  It seems a consortium involving three countries (Venezuela, Peru, and Cuba) have constructed a lovely little hospital complete with two operating rooms, an ER, lab, pharmacy, and x-ray (although the x-ray is, like ours, non-functional just now).  More importantly, it is fully staffed by both Haitian and Cuban doctors and nurses, including general surgeons who are operating almost daily.  And here’s the wonderful kicker to it all:  their services are provided at NO CHARGE!   Even limited amounts of medication are provided free by the pharmacy.  What a boon to this desperately poor community; and only 5 kilometers from our clinic at Jolivert.  Needless to say it has practically put our clinic out of business, since we are still required by the ministry to charge a small fee for both medicines and services, including lab.  And it is only by doing so that we can continue to purchase needed meds for our pharmacy and to meet payroll of our thirty-plus employees each month.

Needless to say, it has caused us to re-examine our medical role in the area and decide upon a change in focus. One such change revolves around a brand-new full service x-ray machine kindly donated through Lumier Ministries. A huge need will be met for the area at large by providing a good x-ray service which is currently non-existent. Moreover, Dr. Blanc, our American-Haitian physician who donates his time to our clinic by holding a busy clinic there each Friday, is also trained in ultrasonography, and one such unit has been donated through the Carpenters that will be on site soon. This can save many lives of young mothers with inadequate birth canals who can timely referred for C-section births.

We are pleased to have been able to have procured a recently gifted laptop computer to present to Dr. Blanc for his invaluable services to the poor of our area. He has needed one badly to assist with his opening a school for nursing in Port-de-Paix. We are sponsoring a student from the Jolivert area to begin classes there next month, and also for several of our medical missionaries to accept his invitation to teach there for varying time slots each year.

Finally, Lumiere Ministries has also procured an anesthesia machine for us, and along with our new Bovie electro-coagulation machine will now permit us to equip a state-of-the art surgery for visiting surgical specialists to use. Lumiere will also provide us with teams of such surgeons who can come in for a week or two at a time to do elective cases in such badly-needed areas as urology, orthopedics, gynecology, ophthalmology and the like; many of which are not available at Bassin Bleu. One small problem here: our present surgery is a temporary one employing our x-ray room. But now that we will be installing a new x-ray machine, we must begin construction for a free-standing combination operating room, recovery room and sterilizing room in the very near future. And, while we have practically all the equipment needed for these rooms, we lack the funds for the blocks and mortar to raise the building itself. Thus God provides us with yet another fund-raising challenge to sink our teeth into over the coming weeks. One thing we’ve learned over the years at Jolivert: God has all the money in the world, and if it’s in His Will, IT WILL COME! We have only to “trust and obey.”

A final word regarding the new hospital at Bassin Bleu: a wise man once said, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” There are already rumors that the backing promised by the countries mentioned above will peter out in another year or so, and we’ve learned that already many of their employees are not being paid their promised salaries. Therefore, our trusted old friends and colleagues, Blaud and Christophe, have warned against closing down any of our services at the clinic; especially the free malaria treatments and testing so generously provided us by our Malaria Fini partners. Thanks to their gifting we are one of the few clinics in Haiti utilizing the new instant spot tests for malaria, and who’ve passed out thousands of mosquito nets to area families. In fact, our clinic has gained such recognition that we have now been approached by CDC and CARE to become a major center in the northwest of Haiti for testing, treatment and counseling for the hundreds of HIV-positive and AIDS patients in the northwest. They have also scheduled a recognition ceremony for Christophe, Nurse Evelyn and the rest of their staff for their outstanding service to the northwest through our safe water program; now serving over 18,000 families and which has become a model program touted by the CDC throughout the Third World. And a heartfelt thanks again to you , Bill Gallo, wherever you are!

Bottom line: secular services and humanitarian programs seem to come and go in Haiti down through the years, but MISSIONS OF LOVE is all about God’s Love….and His Love is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So long as we have you dedicated and compassionate supporters and prayer partners we, the officers and directors of MOL will carry on…for the poor and lost of Haiti, and all to God’s Glory! God bless all! Dr Bob

Dr. Bob’s May 2011 Update

On April 8th I flew into a different Port-au-Prince than the sadly demolished one I flew out of only a year ago. I could scarcely believe my eyes at the amazing progress that had been made in cleaning up this rubble-strewn city in such a brief time span; and this with mostly pick-axe, shovel and wheel barrow. I actually saw men sitting atop piles of rock and cement breaking them into smaller rocks with hand-held hammers. What a tribute to the indomitable spirit of this courageous and resilient people! Continue reading

Merry Christmas from Dr. Bob and Betty

The Christmas season is upon us once more, and as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, this time of good cheer reminds us again of how very blessed we are to live in this great land, culture and society called America.  And if we heed the teachings of the reason for the season: Jesus, (Matt 25:35-40) It should also make us ever more keenly aware of the huge deprivations and inequities of those less fortunate struggling for daily survival in places like Haiti, Bangladesh, the Sudan and hundreds more countries and locales where the toll of human suffering remains horrendous.

Even as I pen these notes, hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still homeless after the earthquake, and thousands are dying from a cholera epidemic which seems never to abate.  The official body count estimate is over 2000 at this writing and most experts in-country agree that it is more likely double that number and growing steadily, as more and more Haitians are forced to resort to polluted water sources for drinking and cooking.  I am so proud of our Safe Water Project personnel for the wonderful job they are doing in providing safe chlorinated water for now over 5000 homes in the areas around our clinic at Jolivert. Continue reading

Dr. Bob’s July 2010 Report

Gentlefolk:

It is now roughly six months (27 weeks)post-earthquake in Haiti.  Millions of dollars of aid are at long last pouring steadily into the country for ongoing relief efforts  through USAID, UNICEF, WHO, Red Cross and literally hundreds of other smaller organizations;( most of which are faith-based as is our own MOL).   And yet, it is a frustrating and baffling fact that many warehouses of these various missions are jam-packed with items the suffering populace are in terrible need of, but somehow are not being efficiently distributed.  I’m here to tell you that our warehouse at Jolivert was virtually emptied within two weeks of the boat’s arrival with tons of donated and purchased relief items.   Across the country food programs are still hugely in need, as are rebuilding projects, temporary shelters, and medical interventions from a variety of sources.  Many of the volunteer medical personnel have gone home and left  Haiti with a crucial shortage of desperately needed health care.  As I mentioned in an earlier report, our clinic at Jolivert has become a staging center for many of these efforts and our staff is busily serving ever-growing numbers of refugees and overburdened locals whose meager households have become overwhelmed with relatives and friends left homeless or jobless by the earthquake.  What has become very clear is that widespread hunger and disease are still rampant throughout Haiti.

The good news is:  MOL  has played a crucial role in this terrible disaster by having provided tons of relief supplies; including several pallets of meals-ready-to-eat, medical supplies and dressings, and about 130,000 packaged meals for children.  I have just ordered an additional 130,000 meals which will be distributed later on this summer, and if funds are provided,  for months to come as the effects of the earthquake will be felt for months; even years ahead.  Just yesterday a 2 ½ ton Army surplus truck (donated by the kind folks at Crossroads Church in Evansville, IN) arrived on the dock at Gonaives.  It’s packed to the brim with additional tents and tarps and assorted other relief supplies including thousands of garden seed for the local farmers.   This truck will be leaving for Port-au-Prince right away where we continue to employ our dwindling earthquake-related funds in several areas of need.  I’m also pleased to report that MSPP (the Haitian ministry of health) has provided our clinic with a full-time physician with the fiat that we pay a portion of her salary.  Our share will be $300 US per month.  We are also in full partnership with the MSPP nowadays with HIV/AIDS testing and ongoing immunizations, and will receive much help from WHO and others with lab supplies and testing materials.  Betty (my wife, an RN and chief operational officer for the mission) will be leading a surgical team during October to perform many hernia repairs and other elective surgical procedures for the first time ever at Jolivert. I also spoke by phone today with a Navy lieutenant aboard the USS Iwo Jima  who informs me that a large Navy medical team will soon come ashore at Port-de-Paix (only 20 miles north of our clinic) to make a huge medical intervention in that area.    So please be assured the work goes on, God is still in charge, and I can see a much brighter future for Haiti emerging from the rubble of this horrible catastrophe one day.

On the evangelical scene, we’re supporting our group of Haitian men evangelists, the Soldat Valiant, in their efforts to build a new church in Bel Air.  This extremely remote and inaccessible mountain community has no church and the people must walk five hours to attend a church.  We’ve provided Soldat Valiant with tarps, food,clothing and a small generator to use for their ministry. They are providing help for the people of Bel Air. Soldat has to walk five hours to  do this ministry, as there are no roads. I wonder how many of us would be willing to walk five hours each Sunday to spread the gospel?  Our secretary, Pat Duarte, will be leading an evangelic team in on August 6th, where a pastor’s seminar will be held at our conference center with around 100 pastors attending.  A revival will also be preached by Rev. Darrel Cook of Evansville Ind.  These seminars have been extremely popular over the years, and we try to have one every six months or so.  One of our director, Dale Breedlove will be teaching one this winter on the Holy Spirit.

Thanks once more for your faithful support and I pray you will be moved to continue your prayers and financial support at this crucial juncture for MOL and the Haitians we serve to the glory of God.  The fact is, our monthly operational costs have nearly doubled and we need more than ever many supporters willing to send a small check every month.  I’m praying for more churches to come on board with monthly donations of $100 or more; and remember, individuals can become a ministry partner for only $20.00.  Be blessed!

Dr Bob, Hartford, KY, 12 July, 2010

Our Condolences to Dr. Bob and his family with the loss of his mother Ezma Johnson.

Ezma Johnson

Published: Sunday, May 30, 2010 12:12 AM CDT
HARTFORD — Ezma Johnson, 98, formerly of Owensboro, passed away Friday, May 28, 2010, at her home at Dogwood Retreat. She was born the daughter of the late Thomas Jefferson and Hatha Smith Dunagan on Sept. 24, 1911, in eastern Kentucky. She was a member of Buena Vista Baptist Church in Owensboro, had worked as a clerk at Dawson Shoe Store for a number of years and was a LPN. She was preceded in death by her husband, J. Lewis Johnson, in 1980.

Survivors include two sons, Dr. Robert (Betty) Johnson of Beaver Dam and J. Lewis (Sue) Johnson Jr. of Calabash, N.C.; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Sula Kellner of Horse Shoe, N.C.

Funeral services will held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Bevil Bros. Funeral Home in Beaver Dam. Burial will follow in Rosehill Cemetery in Owensboro. Friends may visit with the family from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to Missions Of Love, P.O. Box 292, Hartford, KY 42347. Online condolences may be sent to bevilbrosfuneralhomes.com.

Dr. Bob’s April Report

Palm Bay, Florida, 8 May, 2010

Gentlefolk:

My apologies for the huge delay in getting this report out to all our supporters.  Fact is: I became quite ill while in Haiti during April and remained so until now, at which time I’m finally beginning to improve.  Actually, three of us became ill (Nancy Bukovnik, my wife Betty and myself – apparently a flu-type virus, and undoubtedly related to the fact that we were all exhausted and stressed out after a MOST productive trip to both Jolivert and Port-au-Prince).

The Haitian people never cease to amaze me.  I know of no culture or people on Earth with more resilience, resourcefulness, or just downright raw courage in the face of  disaster of such unspeakable proportions as the recent earthquake and its terrible aftermaths.  Returning after six weeks following the medical teams we led in on February 1st, we found the rubble still piled high, bodies still being extricated, tent cities of thousands of homeless with the worst sanitation and toilet facilities imaginable.  And yet there was a huge difference.  The rubble, hand-shovelled and hand-carted in wheel barrows to discrete piles throughout the city are now being slowly but steadily removed by huge endloaders lent by other countries .  In its place the streets are being neatly swept, and even in the tent cities there is an order and sense of cooperation and compassion for each other that brings me to tears.

The pulse of life beats on, as the streets are teeming with tens of thousands of vendors, hawkers, and roadside cookeries who just  keep on “keeping on.�  Yet the disaster is far from over, as diseases such as diphtheria, colera, and other waterborne illnesses continue to take a high toll of life.  Open air living on the streets with its attendant lack of protection against mosquitos has led to massive outbreaks of malaria.  Intense and ongoing medical interventions will be needed for many months to come, and sanitation becomes a daily worsening concern for us all.  Kudos to University of Miami who operates a huge tent hospital at the airport and continues to shuttle medical volunteers in and out by air every few  days.  Food and water is finally being distributed at several  centers  by the larger relief organizations. Continue reading

Cap Haitien Earthquake Not Felt in Jolivert

Many have concerns over today’s report of another earthquake in the Cap Haitien area that claimed some lives. I just spoke by phone with one of our directors, Karen Becher who assured me that no tremors were felt at our clinic compound in Jolivert.  She returns tomorrow after several exhausting days of sorting, inventorying, and distributing tons of relief supplies (food, medicines, dressings, etc.) from our depot there.  Much still to be done, though, as two more truckloads of supplies are being delivered to the docks in Miami.  They will be on the next boat leaving for Port-de-Paix in a couple of weeks.  At least two more teams are going in over the next four weeks to facilitate the ongoing distribution process.

Meanwhile, our food and tent distribution program in the Charbonierre region of PAP is still ongoing.  Rumors have it that schools in PAP hope to resume in April.  But we don’t depend on rumors, so we have already resumed primary school for 150 children, having provided shelter and hired seven school teachers.  We are also supporting two orphanages with a total of 35 kids.  On the other hand, many thousands are pouring out from Port-au-Prince into the rural areas and other metropolitan areas such as Port-de-Paix in search of food and housing.

While we’ve sent most of the tents gathered thus far on to PAP, we’ve shared tons of other crucially needed goods with hospitals and clinics in the northwest.  Also, thanks to much hard work by our Haitian physician, Dr Guerry, he has re-instituted our health outreach program in six remote mountainous areas around Jolivert.  This program had been siderailed for some months due to having our Child First-donated medicines held in Haitian customs on the docks at PAP for some seven months.  These meds make it possible to save hundreds of children’s lives each year in areas that never see a doctor or nurse.

God bless all who have supported us in these herculean efforts, and to the many churches and other missions who have and are partnershipping with us.

Stay well! Dr Bob