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Molly Stroud
I am a 34 year old wife to Joel and mom to four sweet kids. Anna-13, Julia-11, Olivia-9, and Will-7. I lived a fairy tale life until the summer of 2008. My health came crashing down around me, and for the next three years I endured mountains of complications due to a hysterectomy. I've lost my sanity and am now a diagnosed manic depressive.. aka "Bipolar". I hope in sharing my experiences that I may encourage others not to lose hope... and to remind them that sanity is overrated.
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti earthquake.. part two

After running into the arms of my friend, Giraud, who had come to camp just to see me, I sobbed over the task I had just performed. I had never seen death firsthand, and to see it in two small children made it even more difficult. Giraud kept repeating, "Don't cry.. Don't cry.." He has been my friend since last January. He was a translator for us last year, but couldn't make it this year.. along with a few others: Andre, Sedot, and Alain. Giraud, (whom I call Ro-Ro) had stopped by the camp to visit me for our return trip from clinic, when the earthquake hit. I am so thankful he was in our compound, because everyone in our compound was spared. Here he is, hugging me and comforting me, and he doesn't even know if his own family is alive yet.

I pulled myself together, and asked about his family's welfare. He said he didn't know, and then proceeded to stay at camp for a short while to help us translate. He has been starting his ministry as a pastor this past year. He truly has a servant's heart. He is 21 years old. He hugged me again before he left, and promised to come back the next day to see me again.

For the next several hours, the wounded came pouring in. Family members and loved ones would carry in their wounded, and set them on the ground in front of us. At our inner gate, our Haitian workers had the heartbreaking task of keeping scared people out, and letting wounded people in. As the night waned on, and our medical supplies dwindled, their tasks would be even harder. They would have to pick and choose which wounded could be treated, and who we couldn't help.

People came in with severe cuts and scrapes. Dentists, hygenists, and nobodies like me became nurses. There were so many injured people, that if it was "only" a scrape or a cut, we tended to them ourselves after a doctor's approval.

One man came in with his face covered entirely with blood. Half his eyelid had been ripped off, and a 6 inch gash laid the back of his scalp open. As Dr. Bryan and I cleaned him up, he never made a sound.
We had no suture kits left at this point. The best we could do was pick the gravel out, wash it with tap water and iodine, and put antibiotic ointment on it. Our bandages had been resorted to: bedsheets torn into strips and rolled, bedsheets cut into squares as 4x4 gauze, and duct tape.

Throughout the night, there were many crush injuries to limbs, and more broken bones than I can count. A young man brought in either his girlfriend or wife, and her foot was literally hanging onto her leg by a few muscles and tendons. The construction men had rolled out the rubber roofing material we had at camp for the patients to lay on, and when they laid her down, her foot was pointing the wrong direction. Dr. Bryan came over to assess her leg. The only thing we could do for her at that moment was give her something for pain, and wrap her leg in bedsheet rolls with boards on either sides for splinting. I know it had to have been killing Bryan not to have an operating room to give these people better care, but we all made do with the situation we were given.

I honestly cannot recall every injury I helped in treating. There were many patients that I never even saw because of how many we had. I've looked back at pictures of myself helping someone, and truly not recalling who it was. The crying and wailing was all over camp and stretched beyond our gates. It was the cry of those in extreme amounts of pain, and those at the gates desperately wanting to get in. I began to block it out. I didn't have the luxury of breaking down, there was just too much to do. God's hand of protection surrounded me, and I continued on. Several times I wanted to stop. It was after midnight now, and we were all exhausted, but I told myself that I would go to bed when the doctors went to bed. Besides, there was no way I could just walk away from that scene 15 feet from my dorm, and sleep.
I kept thinking that at any moment, the wounded will stop coming... they had to! I was praying silently that the city wasn't as bad as it seemed.. maybe these were just local buildings that had collapsed. My thoughts were interrupted by the screams of a young child. I followed the sound over to our two doctors and two of the nurses holding down a child with a severely injured leg. I took one look at her wound, and gasped out loud. It looked like a shark had ripped a huge bite out of her lower right leg. Her bone was exposed, and the entire wound was covered in gravel. The nurses had put a towel over her arms to keep her from flailing. I knew there was nothing I could do to help, so I laid down on my stomach on the ground and held her head in my hands. I stroked her face, spoke softly to her, and sang to her. She would cease her screaming and look at me.. a bit puzzled that she couldn't understand me, but I believe she was comforted by the loving tone of a mother. Her silence would be broken by a new round of screams, and the comforting process would begin again.

Pain meds were given to her, and during the treatment process, she became very quiet. Here eyes were half open. I would gently pat her face to stimulate her as the nurses listened to her heartbeat. "She's not doing very well." they would say. She needed IV fluids, and an operation, but could receive neither. After they bandaged and splinted her, all we could do was put a towel under her head and leave her there. Some relatives had brought her in, and had left to go find her mother. After about an hour, her mother arrived.

Through a translator, I told her that her daughter's injury was very serious. She began to cry and say there was no way she could keep her now; that she would have to give her to her sister. Daphne, our translator, was telling the mother that her baby was still good, and she needed her mom. I asked the baby's name.. "Whitlyn". I left the scene, but noticed that the mother stayed and held Whitlyn in her arms. About an hour later, the familiar wail of grief resounded through the camp. Whitlyn had died. Her little body just gave out. In a strange way I felt relieved. I understood the suffering that child would endure before she got well... if she got well. The mother covered her face and rocked her and sang a haunting, mourning song. I couldn't stand and watch... I couldn't even cry with her... I had to keep going.
As hard as theses stories are for me to tell, the hardest ones yet are still to come.... continue to pray for the Haitian people.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti- Day one

As I packed my suitcase, preparing for my trip to Port au Prince, Haiti, I pondered each and every item that went in.

"Do I need to pack a head-lamp? I have two.. why not just bring both?" I thought to myself. I remembered sweating constantly from the trip I had taken the year before, so into my bag went two hand towels as well. I'm thinking that this stuff is just silly and I'll probably never even use it. I had also been gathering outfits outgrown by my children the whole year. I bagged and labeled each one as I stuffed them in.

"Do I really need THREE pillows?" I asked myself. So I used Spacebags to make sure I had my luxury items with me. By this time my bags were so heavy, that I pondered not even taking my laptop.. but the American in me said.. I HAVE to have it!

I crammed about 100 packs of peanut-butter crackers into a giant ziplock bag. Joel and I kept weighing the bags over and over. I knew I would have to pay a hefty fee if my luggage was too heavy. For a minute or two, I thought about leaving the snacks behind. "They're just treats for the kids there... what difference would one snack really make?" Ultimately, I decided to pack them anyway.

I filled my travel Tylenol bottle thinking I would need them for my minor aches and pains. I had tons of childrens' clothing, toys, and snacks. When realizing how much I would have to pay the airline for my overweight bags, I reconsidered all the items. In the end, I hoped that God would bless me with financial relief to cover it. We got them zipped (somehow) and I headed off for what I thought would be a medical mission trip just like the January before.

On a normal medical mission trip, we spend the first evening sorting, counting, and dividing pills for clinic the next day. We put all into ziplock bags and label them. It's tedious but entirely necessary for our traveling clinics. Medication for acid reflux, minor pains, infections, and intestinal worms make up the bulk of our stock. We pack everything up and turn in for the night. We rise early the next morning, have breakfast, pack the bus, and head out to our clinic destination. The bus ride is hot, bumpy, and dusty, but we always find fun in joking around with our translators. After arriving at the villiage, we get dirty and sweaty unloading the bus and seeing patients all day long. The people are kind and thankful to see us, and after a full day, we reload the bus and head back to camp. Usually, this is the time we unwind, take our cold showers (since there isn't hot water) and make friends with the local Haitians. Mission trips for the past 30 years have happened this way with no major interruption. Our plans were to have four days of clinic, and three days of Haiti relief. (handing out food, clothes, and shoes) My, how our plans mean nothing when God's plans come into play!

After arriving back at camp from our first day of clinic, our bus driver, Pastor Brucely, turned off the engine, and we felt what we thought was the sputtering of our repainted old school bus that had seen too many years of use. The small vibrations very quickly turned into a violent rocking. Someone on the bus yelled, "EARTHQUAKE!". I looked to my left, and the mango tree we were parked under was shifting from side to side while the fruit and leaves fell like rain. I did not feel afraid, I was just confused. As I'm watching the tree flailing about, our director's wife, Anne, flew down the stairs and out into the open yard. When I saw the look on her face I realized, "This is bad." She had spent time in Haiti for 30 years, and if she looked scared, we were in real trouble.

As soon as the violent shaking stopped, I remembered that our construction crew had been on the roof of the medical building on our grounds.
"The guys are on the roof!" I yelled. Every man in that bus scrambled to get over there to check on our men. Miraculously, no one was hurt. No one even fell off the scaffolding they were standing on! Since our buildings and team members were all in tact, I still was not grasping the gravity of what had just happened.

I heard commotion to my left, and a woman covered in white dirt came running in wailing and screaming. My translator, Giraldo, told me she couldn't find her children. As I was trying to get an answer from this hysterical mother, I realized that part of our outer compound's concrete wall had crumbled. I made my way over there to see Tina, Dale, and some others already on the other side running into camp with gravel-covered children. Haitian's came from out of nowhere, running into our camp screaming and crying. I leapt over the wall, minding the razor wire, and came upon a toddler covered in debris in the arms of one of our men. He handed me the child and I took off toward camp. As I was headed back, I glanced to my left, I noticed a concrete house that had been standing five minutes before. The roof had fallen all the way onto the floor, and was totally flat. It was at that moment I realized, "people are dead". While gripping the child for dear life, I ran back over the collapsed wall and into camp. I began to cry and hyperventilate while trying to relay what I had just seen. With no time to break down, I rushed the child over to a table to asses her needs. She was scared, covered in dirt, but not injured. I bathed her off, and her father showed up to claim her. Right beside me, our orthopedic surgeon Bryan Den Hartog and his neice Alissa, an RN, were attempting to treat a three year old boy who's big toe was nearly severed. All the while, people are running into camp panicked and screaming. A woman who had lived just outside the inner camp was carried in with a broken leg. Her husband was frantic. The doctors began attending to her right away. I heard more screaming, so I put on a pair of gloves and followed my teammates to the commotion just outside the inner camp's iron bars.

I came upon a scene I will never forget. I saw Haitians and Americans alike pushing concrete chunks aside, speaking rapidly, and pounding giant slabs of a fallen wall with sledgehammers. In short order, the digging revealed a two year old child trapped and motionless underneath a huge section of wall. When the wall was broken enough to move, our team pulled her out and placed her on a piece of plywood. She was ferried over to the side and assesed by two of our nurses. I saw them with stethoscopes, listening for hope. The child's father, who was the husband of the woman with the broken leg, left his wife's side, and when seeing what was taking place, began screaming. His cries were so loud that the nurses had to silence him so they could determine the fate of his crushed child. I watched as they talked in hushed tones, shook their heads, and covered the child's motionless body. The father's cries turned into hollers, shallow screaming, and mindless chanting. His body rocked back and forth over his baby's body.

I then heard someone say that we had to find the other one. My stomach turned over inside my body. "There's ANOTHER one under these walls?!" I carefully crossed the debris to where two Haitian men were pounding on a slab with their sledgehammers. When the slab cracked and broke in half, six people counted to three and tried to lift it... it was still too heavy. The pounding resumed on the smaller half, and as soon as it broke, the team lifted it up to reveal a totally flattened baby, about one year old. Steve, an RN, pulled her up quickly and ran her over beside her sister's body. They laid her out on a board and the hopeful listening resumed again. When I saw Steve's shoulders slump, I knew that she was gone as well. The father then went into absolute hysterics.

Tina and I were instructed to strip them of their clothes and wash them off for their parents. All we had available was a bucket with two rags, full of filthy water. I had never experienced death first hand. I began working on the little one. My hands were shaking and I found I couldn't bring myself to just douse her with that cold water, even though I knew she couldn't feel it. I began to cry... Tina kept saying to me,
"Molly, they're not here. It's okay, they're with Jesus... they're not here."
I was shaking so badly that Tina came over and stripped off the child's clothes for me. I bathed her crushed little body. When I came to clean her face and head, I turned her head to the other side and nearly shrieked in horror as I saw the entire side of her head and face were flat.
"Her little head is flat!" I cried. My tears turned into sobs as I finished and covered her.

I came back into the camp and noticed that four men were having to hold down the father to sedate him. He had gone into complete hysterics and was in danger of hurting himself or someone else from his violent flailing and rolling around on the ground. I just stood there sobbing, not even knowing how to process what I'd just seen and done. I can't even remember if anyone hugged me or spoke to me. I was shocked and stunned. Every fiber of my being wanted to cry and never stop, but I kept hearing this voice in my head saying, "Go on... just go on." So I changed my gloves and moved on to the next patient.

That is the first small chapter of the day that forever changed my life. I will write the next chapter very soon. God bless those broken parents, and I look forward to seeing those tiny angels, whole and happy in Glory.

This is the video of their recovery from
the rubble...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Lord works in mysterious ways!
Many of you may already know that I was in Haiti when the earthquake struck on January 13. I went as part of a medical mission team. Joel and I both went last year, and it was a wonderful experience. He didn't go with me this year, but I was accompanied by three other members of my church: Jim Myshka, Jean Greene, and Dale Gupton. I have known Jean and Dale most of my life, and had not gotten to know Jim very well before this trip. Our plan was to have four days of medical clinics at local villages, and three days of handing out food and clothing. I have learned that our plans mean absolutely NOTHING! God's sovereign plan is mysterious and wonderful, even in the midst of heartbreak.
I will be starting my story from the very beginning and will take you all the way to our miraculous homecoming. I have to write in small sections because the wounds are fresh, and I am praying for God to bring every detail of His work to my mind. I pray as you follow along that God does a work in your own heart, for I am writing this to give Him ALL the glory!
I will be adding pictures as I go, and just to warn you, some are difficult to look at. This is not meant to scare or offend anyone. It's just to let you catch a glimse of what we all endured.
May God bless this story