We are pleased to let everyone know that we were blessed this past week by a visit from a very intrepid group of people from Avera Health System in South Dakota.  Avera has been bringing medical groups to help us out in our clinic three times each year but with the recent political unrest in Haiti, we thought that routine might get interrupted.  After much discussion and monitoring of the situation in PAP right up to the last day, the group decided to go ahead with their plans for a visit, in spite of the potential risks.  We were very grateful to have them here and extremely relieved that their transportation from PAP and back was accomplished without any adverse circumstances.  The Lord is good, indeed!  Our prayers were answered.

The team consisted of team leader Kathy English RN and her OB/Gyne husband Gil, nurse practitioner Jamie Miller, Tracy Barton-Opdahl RN and her carpenter /contractor/teacher husband Nick, carpenter/teacher Christian Swenson, ultrasound technician Jodi Lienhard, teacher Sandra Dostal and school secretary Becky Borer.  Here is the team minus the carpenters with our clinic staff:

Avera with staffSitting:  Vetelie, Marie Esthere, Marie Vierge, Marie Laura, Fineaud

Standing:  Jodi, Jamie, Tracy, Gil, Sandra, Kathy, Adrien, Katie, Junior, Becky, Cherlie

Dr. Gil English has become a regular part-time physician at our clinic with visits here three times a year. Not only does he do Pap smears on our patients, he follows up with all the abnormal results, doing colposcopy and LEEP procedures when necessary.  In addition, he does general patient consultations and even gives some of his elderly patients reading glasses!  He is definitely a one-stop shop!

Gil glasses

Dr. Gil English helps a patient try on a pair of reading glasses.

Here’s the end result of his efforts:


Happy patient with her new, snazzy glasses.

Kathy English did a wonderful job in getting everyone oriented prior to their trip and helped direct their tasks in the clinic each day.  She spent her time assisting her husband in doing Pap smears, as well as distributing clothing and gifts to the clinic patients.

Kathy preparing patient

Kathy English prepares a patient for a Pap smear.

This was Tracy Barton-Opdahl’s third visit with us and she felt right at home!  She helped the physicians, gave out gifts and became fast friends with everyone she met, including this man she met along the road outside the clinic:

Tracy friend

Tracy befriending a man along the road outside the clinic. 

Nurse practitioner Jamie Miller helped with patient consultations and Pap smears.  Almost 300 patients were seen in the clinic in the four days the team was here.

Jamie with patient

Nurse practitioner Jamie Miller doing a patient consultation in the clinic. 

Jodi Lienhard did both ultrasound exams and xrays for us.  Our pregnant patients were thrilled to learn the sex of their unborn infant! This was Jodi’s second visit to us and she was a huge help to us in improving our patient services.  We had scheduled dozens of patients in advance for ultrasounds and xrays and the results helped significantly with our patient care.

Jodi ultrasound

Jodi does an ultrasound on a pregnant patient. 

It seemed to Cherlie and me during the week, that it must take a special person to be an elementary school teacher in the US.  And, special is definitely the word we would use to describe teacher Sandra Dostal. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious and her stories about her students back in the US kept us laughing all day (especially the one where a student thought she was too old to be making this trip to Haiti!).  She helped out everywhere, making friends quickly and laughing her way through each day.

Sandra patient

Sandra befriends a patient. 

Sandra receipts

Sandra did sit down periodically, helping Adrien write receipts in the registration area. 

We’ve never met Becky Borer’s 90 year old mother Lorraine, but we feel like we know her well.  Each year she and a group of women friends in Atkinson, Nebraska make the most beautiful pillowcase dresses for us to give to our patients.  In the pocket of each dress, Lorraine puts a plastic frog with a little note from her that tells the children about her and lets them know why she puts a frog in the pocket of their dress.  The note says, “I’m sending you a frog.  A frog means: Fully Rely On God.”  That’s pretty special and the kids love the frogs!

Lorraine is unable to take such a long trip so Becky came to Haiti instead and we loved having her. Becky’s warm demeanor was a blessing to us and to our patients.

Becky with patient

Becky sits with a new friend, one of our faithful patients. 

Nick and Christian had their hands full during the week as they built and mounted 9 doors inside the residence building.  They worked so quickly, we couldn’t believe all that they accomplished in such a short time.  At home, both are teaching right now, Christian in a high school and Nick in a technical school.  Nick has years of experience as a contractor and builder in addition to being a skilled carpenter.  We felt blessed by their expertise and dedication.

Nick with guys

Nick preparing wood with Viel and Lubin. 

Nick and Katie

Nick discusses strategy with Dr. Wolf to be sure they’re both on the same page! 


Nick and Christian stand in front of one of the doors they just built.

A few months ago, another Avera team gave us a gift of a hand-made quilt showing a map of the US and Canada.  They then hung it up on a wall in the residence quarters where all of our visitors stay, with the idea that each team that comes to visit can sew a button on the quilt to show where they came from.  Last week’s team sewed on their button and Tracy and Jodi show the location:

Jodi and Tracy map

Tracy and Jodi point out the location of South Dakota where their team hails from on the quilt in the residence quarters. 

We feel blessed to have had such a wonderful team helping us out this week and we’re grateful for the Lord’s watchful safe-keeping as the team travelled back and forth between the US and Jérémie.  Kathy did a wonderful job of preparing them for every eventuality and organized their activities during the week so things ran smoothly.  Thanks to everyone for your prayers and thanks to the Lord for safety.

– Dr. Katie Wolf

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