Merry Christmas from the Fisher Family!
This is only the second of four Christmases (Is that a word?) that we've spent in Haiti since moving down here and so it certainly doesn't quite feel like Christmas time. Looking at the weather forcast for Colorado looks like it will be pretty cold! Here...... Not so much. Our high will be a bomby 92 degrees with the low right at 70 (Brrrrrrrrrrr, we might need to crack the blanket out overnight. Seriously though, you get accustomed to the heat and 70 is actually blanket and jacket weather). I think I might change the temperature gauge to Celcius. That might help it feel more like winter.
In other news, we have jumped right back to it since being back a few weeks ago. A few days after our arrival we got all of our paperwork together and sent to the government of Haiti to obtain our Permis de Sejours (Residence Visas). The Haiti immigration system only has two types of Visas, Tourist and Residence. The tourist visa is automatically granted for 3 months when you enter the country, but if you want to stay longer you need the residence visa. It's not quite like establishing residency in the US, it's more like a work visa, but that's the only wording they have for it. We should be receiving our Permis' within a couple of weeks. We will take pictures and post them when we have them!
December is historically a slower month for us as a mission. We don't typically receive any teams (though we did have 2 the past couple weeks). What we do use December for is wrapping up work and projects for this past year before we really gear up and get busy in the first few months of the new year. Before valentines day this next year, we will have hosted 3 teams, our board of directors, and started 2 new schools! In other words, quite the busy time. Please be praying we will be able to have sustained energy in that time and that our equipment and vehicles can stand up to being used almost non-stop for those 6 weeks.
Our final bit of news this week is that we will be headed to the Dominican Republic next week for 4 days. One of our good friends is getting married and asked Kate to help run the reception and decorate. We leave on Monday the 26th and should be back for dinner on the 29th. I will be driving one of our campus buses over (There is a group of us from St. Marc that are going). Dominican driving can be difficult. Here in Haiti, there aren't many driving laws and so you fully expect people to not obey non-existent laws. The Dominican however has the full and complete driving code just like the US, however it seems only half the people follow it. So it's pretty common to see cars or even buses just drive right through a red light without so much as slowing down. (How there aren't a million accidents I may never know.) In any event we will be headed to the YWAM campus in Azua for the wedding.
For the time being however, we are enjoying being together as a family for Christmas and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!
Isaac and Evie also want to share a Christmas greeting. They insisted on typing it out themselves after seeing me type. Here is their message:
honfnfshektmvndhs FBRC ZCCC CCCCAG ZJ'
I'm not sure what language that's in, but I can only imagine that it says "Merry Christmas and we love you!"
Wow! We haven't updated you all in a while! Brace yourselves, this is a more lengthy update, but one that I hope will cover the past few months well and get you caught up with what is going on with the Fisher family. There has been a lot going on these past few months. Most notably:
Evie gave us quite the scare at the end of September!
We went to change her diaper one morning when all of a sudden she looked like she wasn't really "there." She was zoning off into space and pretty soon her face started turning blue. We had a similar scare a few weeks prior when she had a really bad cold, the mucus would stuff her up and she couldn't breathe. We assumed this was residual sickness from then, but then she just kept doing it. That day she had an episode twice and a couple more the next day, but then they stopped. For a week she was just fine, no episodes, no symptoms, nothing.
Then on Sunday, September 25 she had 4 episodes before 2. One of those times lasted almost a full minute of trying to get her to breathe again. We called the airline, Delta in this case, and they were able to put us on the first flight back to Denver the next morning. That started a flurry of activity. We had to pack and prepare our apartment and various campus responsibilities for our absence in a matter of hours. Normally, we would spend a few weeks gradually getting everything ready, but this time we had one evening. Needless to say, you find out whats important to pack when you are in a rush.
We left our home at 4 the next morning to be able to reach the airport in time for our flight. No seizures that morning. Then we had a 4 hour flight from Port-au-Prince to Atlanta. Again no seizures. After a small layover, we had a 2 hour flight to Denver. We arrived there at about 4 in the afternoon. And hallelujah, again no seizures. My Mom met us at the airport and we drove straight from there to the Children's Hospital. (The Children's Hospital has a fantastic staff and they already had Evie's information in the system from her aorta repair last December.) They got Evie checked into the ER, an Echo for her heart, and an overnight EEG for her brain,
She really did not like having all of those wires and leads stuck to her head, but she eventually was able to go to sleep for the night. We all had a good night's sleep, considering Kate and Evie shared a stretcher and I slept on a chair. After about 30 minutes, Evie had another episode. The nurses all rushed in and made sure she was all good. Then over the course of the morning Evie had three more. All of them were captured by the EEG.
The neurology and cardiologist teams came to talk to us and we got the first news since everything started. The cardiologist said that her heart looks great and that her aorta repair was still progressing well. (Originally there was a thought that her heart was maybe causing the episodes.) Then the neurologist said that they reviewed the EEG data and that it looks like the episodes are and are caused by seizures. The seizures start in the back right part of her brain (this part of your brain controls vision), which explains why she will kinda zone out during the seizures.
The neurologists started Evie on an anti-seizure medication called Keppra. Or at least thats the common name for it. I can't spell or even pronounce the medical term for it. That medicine has stopped the seizures since they started her on it. They also scheduled her for an MRI the following morning to check for structural damage in her brain.
She was one happy camper when they moved us up from the ER to the general ward. They took the EEG leads off her head and disconnected her monitors and IV lines. You should have seen her run around the room and play for the first time. That face says it all! She did have sticky EEG hair for a few days even with a bath and multiple comb throughs.
The next day she went to her scheduled MRI and the results came back clear. Good news that there isn't any problems in her brain, but still no answers as to why the seizures started. After a few more hours the doctors decided that since the medicine is working and that there isn't any obvious problems with her brain that they would allow us to go home and come back for a check-up to make sure things are still going well.
We ended up staying with my Mom for a few days and then spent the rest of the past couple months with Kate's family here in Pueblo West. It has been great seeing everyone and being with friends and family. We were able to share a bit about Hurricane Matthew passing through Haiti and the work that YWAM has been doing to help in the aftermath.
Speaking of Hurricane Matthew, it passed through Haiti soon after we returned to the US for Evie's seizures. The southern peninsula and the tip of the northern peninsula were hit pretty bad. We had friends in the South that we did not hear from for almost a week and didn't know how they were. Our town is sheltered in the bay and is surrounded by mountains so we faired well considering the high winds and rain. The biggest threat facing our city was the high storm surge that washed away some houses or parts of houses along the coast. Our campus lost a tree and one gate blew over, but that was a simple fix for the awesome staff weathering the storm.
That same awesome staff spent the better part of a couple weeks helping clean up the houses and debris along the coast that were damaged. To date, they have repaired 9 roofs, 3 homes, and totally rebuilt 6 more homes. They have been busy and our town and us are grateful for the hard work they put in after the hurricane. It really is no surprise though they're awesome like that. They had some help too, in the dance camp kids that the campus has spent the last three years discipling. These young people were also affected by the hurricane but came out anyway to help clean up.
At the end of October, we celebrated a HUGE milestone. Evie turned one! She was so excited to have everyone over to celebrate her first year of life, and would just walk (yes WALK) around the house visiting and playing. It is so crazy to think that this little girl, who had all of these issues and has been hospitalized not once, but TWICE during the first year of her life, has lived in Haiti and is a living testimony of what God can do, is thriving above and beyond what anyone could imagine!
We are super excited to be back home in Haiti this next week to be with this amazing bunch of people! Thank you all for your help and support during this unexpected trip. We really have been so blessed by everyone's outpouring of love. We love you! Thank you!