Friday, June 18, 2010

Joy and Great Food

Our kitchen will never be the same. Since our new Haitian friends arrived on Saturday, Guerda has taught me a thing or two about cooking.  She made for us: trout (head and all, by the way) and chicken, both cooked in sauce that you want to lick from your plate; rice and beans with black bean sauce; butter cake; sweet potato bread (like a bread pudding) with grated coconut, lime, sugar and spices; potatoes and cooking bananas (the green ones) with meatballs; and more. She can cook anything and do it well. We anticipated that Bertha would be on a liquid diet given her tumor but, that is not the case. She eats everything. You can imagine our surprise on the first night when Guerda took a full plate of food upstairs for her, and a clean plate returned a few minutes later. Her nutrition is good; the strength it gives her will allow her to better tolerate the surgery.  Bondye bon....God is good.

We spent yesterday at Vanderbilt for Bertha's initial appointment. Kari, the nurse who saw Bertha in Haiti then took on the US government to plead her case and obtain her humanitarian visa, drove from Knoxville to join us. It was a joy to witness their reunion. Bertha had a CT scan followed by a visit with Dr. Netterville, the surgeon. She negotiated the IV, the CT scanner, and the doctor's exam with ease. She does not speak English but, between the wonderful care of the Vanderbilt staff and Guerda's explanation of what was happening, the language barrier meant nothing. She was, in Guerda's words, "Relax!" Dr. Netterville, a distinguished head and neck surgeon, is a man with a heart of gold. He is an outstanding physician who embraces the opportunity to serve those less fortunate.  He and Vanderbilt are offering their services free of cost. We will tell them as often as possible: thank you.

Over the past week, bits and pieces of the women's story have surfaced: the story about Bertha's tumor, her quest to find someone who could help, the prayers and dreams of Guerda, and, once they heard the news about coming to the US, the difficult road to obtain a passport from their own country. That last one doesn't make sense, but such is the state of affairs of Haiti. For comic relief, there is the tale of their trip to the US. Guerda told this story to us yesterday while we waited at the hospital. I understood a lot of it (she speaks with me in French), but I didn't need to. Her facial expressions, her gestures - they told the story. We were rolling with laughter by the end.

Many thanks for everyone's prayers and offers to help. Bondye bon!


Tina said...

I am praying for you daily! Love you so much!