Dr. Anne Livingston, Missionary to Haiti since 1987.
Dr. Anne Livingston, Missionary to Haiti since 1987.

Last time I reviewed how I first met Dr. Anne, and how she prepared for her call from God to be a Christian missionary.  We also reported on some of her “challenges” and victories centered around her work in Haiti, which many, if not most, Americans would consider as being too dangerous and too frustrating.  But as Dr. Anne has amply demonstrated, “with God NOTHING is impossible”, and overcoming problems is a result of strong and fervent prayer, even overcoming a fractured hip on the day before she was to return to the U.S.  Recall that Dr. Anne first went to Haiti in 1987.  I’ll pick up her story at that point:

 

I arrived in St. Raphael with a camp cot, a Coleman camp stove, my grandfather’s railroad lantern…and a few household goods.  There was no electricity, and even now it is irregular.  Amateur radio was possible once I had a power source.  Mail and cargo came once a week to Cap Haitien by Missionary Flights.  Getting to Cap meant a 29-mile, three hour drive, so once a week was plenty!  It was years before we had satellite connections; and cell phone communications did not happen until 2008 due to the problems of cell towers in mountainous terrain.

“Learning Haitian Creole was helped greatly by the French I learned years before.  The payoff for the hard work came in a funny experience I had at the new clinic not too long after we opened.  An older lady came to me after seeing a Cuban doctor in the area.  I talked with her and found out what her problem was.  And then she started talking ninety miles a minute—‘it wasn’t like visiting that other doctor—You understand me—He didn’t understand anything!  Sure is nice to have a doctor I can talk to.’  But the episode made me really glad I had learned

the language first.  It’s hard to make a diagnosis or tell someone how to take care of themselves when the two people can’t understand each other.  It’s also hard to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ without knowing the language of the hearer. 

“During a time of (political) disturbance, I was able to go to Cap Haitien and buy medications.  There was a “nudge” to buy a children’s antibiotic we did not usually stock.  Three days later, with all transportation closed down because of strikes, parents carried their sick three-year-old child to the clinic.  She had whooping cough, and we just “happened” to have the antibiotic she needed.  A few days later the parents were praising God for healing their child. 

“Vodou is a very real force in Haiti.  It is not unusual to see patients who have gone to the “bokor” (vodou priest/witch doctor), sometimes giving him everything they have, but without success. The treatment received may actually cause more problems.  A woman had gone to a “bokor” about three years earlier with pain, and his solution was to push a sewing needle into the muscle of her right arm.  She had not been able to lift anything with that arm afterward.  Since then, she had placed her faith in Christ, and then wanted that charm gone.  I was able to remove it, and she was pleased to be free of the needle and also the pain that had kept her from her work.  Both she and her husband praised God for deliverance.

“Some encounters with patients are uncomfortable.  A man came with the complaint that he had not slept at all for a month.  I immediately wondered about a spiritual cause, so I asked Pastor Thelamour to come in.  I was right to be concerned; the man was a “bokor” (witch doctor).  He had gone to a fellow vodou priest who proceeded to throw a rope over the beam of the house and tie the ends to the man’s wrists and raise him so his feet were off the floor, and then knock out his front teeth.  We concluded his sleeplessness was due to his spirit companion.  The man now had missing teeth, rope burns on his wrists, and nerve damage to his right hand and arm.  With all this, he repeatedly said, ‘I love Satan.’  We urged him to leave the kingdom of darkness and enter God’s

kingdom of light, but he was not interested.  He was getting rich and had power, and those were more important to him than a relationship with God.”

Dr. Anne’s article continues for another page, during which she reviews her triumphs and her challenges when dealing with the Haitian people and conditions in that country.  For example, she details that immorality is very common in Haiti, and it isn’t unusual for a man to have relations with, and often families by, several women.  The often resulting sexually transmitted diseases, particularly cervical cancer, wreak havoc among women years later, and many don’t seek medical treatment until it is too late to save them.  She details that she speaks in love to these people, who often have come to her when a cure is impossible, and that she comforts them with the hope we all have in Jesus if we are Christians, and spends much time in prayer with her patients who are incurable using earthly medicines.

With Hurricane Florence headed toward the east coast, Dr. Anne made arrangements to leave Haiti on September 11, 2018, two days earlier than planned.   As if the corruption and political chaos in Haiti weren’t enough of a challenge for Dr. Anne, on the night before she was scheduled to return to the U.S. she fell in her house in Haiti and landed on the cement floor on her left hip.  With difficulty, and with the help of lots of good folks there in Haiti, she was able to get on an arranged  flight back to Greenville, S.C., where x-rays showed a fractured hip, which was pinned two days later.

Dr. Anne began home physical therapy, which was “a challenge at first”, she reported.  I recall speaking with her a few times during the Fall of 2018 and then on into 2019, as she was using a walker, doing her best to get stronger and better in order to return to her work in Haiti.  During her physical therapy she wrote:  “It seemed like all the muscles around the hip and thigh went on vacation and did not want to return to work….  Much of my time since returning from Haiti in September, 2018 has been occupied with recovering from my hip fracture…. The doctor said on my last visit (early December) that he thinks the bone will heal and it will not be necessary to do further surgery.  I am making progress in therapy and can now drive.”

God had other plans, and Dr. Anne took what happened as His direction to keep her in the States longer than she hoped and expected.  In a letter that she sent out early in 2019, she wrote:  “The hip pinning failed, which meant a total hip replacement on January 16 (2019).  This surgery was successful, and all the therapy I did before has helped recovery.  At the time of my first visit three weeks after surgery, I was able to walk without a walker or cane and started driving again.  I am still doing physical therapy to get in the best shape possible before returning to Haiti. (Political unrest and violence broke out in February of 2019).  The situation in Haiti needs much prayer.  There are threats of more strikes, which not only are violent, but also close schools and businesses and make people afraid to go outdoors.  There have been reports of robberies and murders in our area.  Please pray for a peaceful and just solution.  I need wisdom for my return to Haiti and how to use the time between now and then.”

Being a medical missionary in one of Earth’s poorest and most violence prone countries can be a challenge even for the most faithful Christian.  In one of Dr. Anne’s newsletters from South Carolina, she wrote:

I remember being in Haiti in 2004 when there was violence, break-ins, stopping of buses and robbing the passengers, and the threat of a civil war.  Missionaries in our area asked for wisdom for God’s will, and we all believed He was directing as some returned to the U.S. and others stayed.  Conditions were hard, but it was possible to manage. (But this time is very different from 2004).   Three of my workers (at her clinic in Haiti) let me know (in June of 2019) that I should not return to Haiti. These people are living in different areas: inside Cap Haitian, northeast of Cap, and in St. Raphael….  The violence is greater in Cap Haitien, but no area seems to be immune.  The workers in St. Raphael said that there have been buildings burned, that murders are common, and that coffins are being pulled out of family mausoleums.  Today, the man living northeast of Cap was thinking of getting a motorcycle ride from the bus station in Cap, but had to leave because of the rocks and bottles that were being thrown.  It was probably a good thing he did not go to St. Raphael, because there are gangs along that road, and they are lurking in the area just before the road goes up the mountain.  If they do not get money, they cut the people’s faces.  This is much worse than fifteen years ago.

“There have been political divisions since the early 90’s, with much unhappiness over the ouster, and then return, of Jean Bertrand Aristide as president.  The crime rate went up, there was talk of civil war, and there were undoubtedly many who took advantage of the unrest for their personal gain.  The election in 2015 was contested, with complaints of fraud.  The run-off was in 2016, with a winner declared in spite of very low voter turnout.  The political situation has continued to be unsettled since President Moise took office in 2017.  There were calls for a major strike this February 7 (2019) with demands that the president step down, the visible part of what is going on now.  Another strike was called for June 9, and there were reports of buildings burned, roads blocked with burning tires and scattered rocks, and sporadic gunfire.  There have been problems with fuel since Venezuela no longer sends it.  That has helped prices skyrocket.  There are complaints of corruption and who is to blame, sadly nothing new.  And wicked people are taking advantage of the unrest for their own gain.”

It would appear that the U.S. isn’t the only nation experiencing a degree of political turmoil.  Obviously the situation in Haiti is much worse that in the U.S., but is a “microcosm” of events that could rapidly escalate into something similar here in the States if we continue to experience deliberate turmoil and political violence that is being fomented by the increasingly anti-Constitutional  adherents of the leftist/progressive “Socialist Democrat” Party!

I spoke with Dr. Anne just recently, and she informed me that her mission board, Baptist World Mission, is uncertain as to when, or if,  she will be able to return to Haiti.  In one of her recent letters, Dr. Anne requested prayer for the following, which I pass along to you, our readers:

  • For the country of Haiti—for the violence to come to an end, for stability in the government and in the economy; for wicked people to repent;
  • For the Christians of Haiti—that they would grow in their trust in the Lord, that they would be a shining light of witness to their neighbors, and that God would supply their needs;
  • For Wisdom—for me to use the present time wisely and to know God’s will about a date to return to Haiti.

And ALL of God’s people say: AMEN!

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Mike Scruggs