Podcast Transcript: Interview with Dr. David Vanderpool. – 4/10/2019
In Episode 8, Jacklyn has Dr. Vanderpool explain the day-to-day activities of medical mission trips and general mission trips. They also discuss the different internships offered by LiveBeyond in Haiti and how to get involved.
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[00:00] JVB: Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another LiveBeyond podcast. My name is Jacklyn Vanderpool Barnett. And today we’re joined by Dr. Vanderpool to share a little bit about what our mission trips look like, as well as kind of the philosophy behind mission trips in themselves. So, Dr. Vanderpool, thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:20] DMV: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:22] JVB: So, let’s talk a little bit about these mission trips. So, LiveBeyond offers two different types. You can have a general mission trip or a medical mission trip. And since you’re a doctor, let’s start with the medical mission trip. What does this look like?
[00:36] DMV: That sounds great. You know, mission trips are so vital, I think, to the mission effort throughout the world, and medical mission trips in particular are. So, our medical mission trips are very well organized. They’re very programmed. We have built a hospital that has a very vibrant clinic in it. And so as mission team members come down to Haiti, they help our staff who work in the hospital every day, augment their efforts. And so, you come down on our medical mission trip, you’ll be working with the Haitians as far as intake is concerned, allowing the Haitians to come into the complex, taking their blood pressure, taking their temperatures, getting to know what their problems are, what their struggle is, and then helping the doctors and nurses take care of them medically.
[01:34] JVB: Well, and the great thing to about our medical mission teams is, you don’t have to be medical to join them. And so, what are some of the things that maybe non-medical professionals can do on those types of teams?
[01:45] DMV: Well, non-medical professionals are very vital to the effort down there. And so we actually have a training program that we put everybody through to make sure that they are up to speed on taking blood pressures, taking temperatures, knowing the culture of the people, we feel like it’s very important that we all respect the Haitian culture and work within the limitations of that culture, and it actually really pleases the Haitians when we pick up a little bit of Creole, so we can speak to them. They appreciate any stumbling effort that we have, and so it’s great for non-medical people to be able to assist the Haitians into the clinic, but also as they exit the clinic, we pray with everyone who comes and so typically the non-medical people are praying with Haitians. If they are eligible to receive a food bag, then the nonmedical people are helping the Haitians with that. And so, it’s just a very gratifying experience, very critical for the mission as well.
[02:54] JVB: Absolutely. So, what are some of the different areas that you can work in within the clinic? So, things like our maternal health program and maybe even our wound care clinic?
[03:03] DMV: Absolutely. So, the clinic has five general clinic rooms, and so typically, we have doctors and nurses in those clinic rooms. They’ll be seeing routine things that you would see in the United States such as earaches and pneumonias and high blood pressure, that kind of thing. Then we also have a wound care clinic that actually is staffed, typically by non-medical people, and so people will come in with infections. Perhaps they’ve been in a traumatic accident where they hurt themselves and they need to have assistance with that, and we train the nonmedical people to assist in that way. We have a very vibrant maternal health program. It’s an outstanding program. Generally, we have 250-300 ladies in this program. They receive food, they receive maternal education. We bless these ladies. We pray for them, and we also monitor any physical signs that they have, that they may have a disease that we need to take care of. And so people who enjoy working in the maternal health clinic typically are, are very fulfilled in their days that they spend there.
[04:20] JVB: Well, and I know referencing the story that Mama Laurie gave a couple episodes ago when she’s talking about seeing Jesus and that experience, that story that she had from sitting next to Him at a football game, and then that decision, that why she changed, that she had after that, saying, “I never want to miss the opportunity to give Jesus a kiss on the cheek.” Well, one of the things that I love so much about our scabies and our wound care clinic is that you truly get the opportunity to wash the feet of the Haitians when they come in. So many times, you are giving them creams or taking care of them, and it truly is an opportunity for us to wash the feet of Jesus and look for him in the people there sitting in front of us.
[05:08] DMV: That’s absolutely right. And it’s just amazing. These people will come in. They may have scabies. Scabies is the same as mange in a dog, and it’s just terribly uncomfortable. It’s extremely itchy, and these people are miserable. And there is a medicine that we can put on these scabies that relieves the itch immediately and actually gets rid of the infection within a day or two. And so, people working in this area of the clinic do so much good. And there’s really no Plan B for these people. They’re just miserable without this medical treatment so very beneficial to the people in our area.
[05:51] JVB: And I just remember from one of the experiences that I’ve had while down in Haiti and just to continue to reinforce the idea of the importance of this clinic and having people come down, is when that little girl who was about 3 years old, came into our clinic and she had pulled the boiling pot of beans down on her and burned such a large percentage of her body. And for several weeks after that, she had to come in every single day. I remember at ten o’clock every morning. I hate burns, but I was always there. And you know, we had to put the cream on her and check her bandages and her wounds. You know, we just get to relieve that discomfort that this sweet little girl was experiencing. But just to know that if we hadn’t been there, you know, what would have happened to that little girl, it just would have been awful.
[06:49] DMV: That’s exactly right. And that’s, that’s one of the things that is so dramatic about working in a low-tier country such as Haiti. You know, in United States, everybody has access to some healthcare, and that is just not the case in Haiti. So, this little girl that you’re referencing, just had a terrible burn, and it was just heartbreaking to see the pain that she was in. But we were able to get her medication that relieved the pain, we were able to get the infection out of the wound. And, uh, she did so well. In fact, you can hardly tell that she’s been burned a year later. She’s doing extremely well. She’s in school, she’s active. I’m not sure she likes me very much because I think I probably hurt her a little bit. But that’s alright.
[07:44] JVB: So, what are some of the other things that go on during our mission team weeks? I kind of want an idea of what the day today schedule looks like.
[07:53] DMV: Well, you know, it’s a great schedule. The thing that we do, people arrive on Saturday, typically Saturday evening. We have a welcome time for them. We eat dinner together and we sort of give them a snapshot of what the week is going to look like. Everybody is very tired from the traveling, and so we try to get people back into bed pretty quickly, and then the next morning we get up. We have breakfast, a wonderful breakfast. Our cooks are just outstanding, and typically we have eggs and, and fruit and things like that for breakfast, and it’s just outstanding. And then we have a church service, service that starts at about ten o’clock. This is a completely Haitian-led church that we have on our base. Our pastor is just outstanding, one of the best preachers I think I’ve ever heard, and we have lots of baptisms. We have lots of marriages, lots of baby dedications, and so it’s just a very fun, vibrant type church. And so, the Americans who come down participate in that. And then in the afternoon on Sunday, we typically will go out on visits. A lot of times we go up into the mountains. There is a particular individual that is just outstanding. Her name is Maizie, Marie Therese, and we go up and visit her very often on Sunday afternoons. Then the evening times are spent in a debrief type situation. We will sit around and we’ll sort of talk about the experiences that we had that day. A lot of times people are experiencing things they’ve never encountered before in their entire life, and so it’s very important to talk through these things and let people get things out. We have a worship time where we’ll worship underneath the stars, and the stars are so bright in Haiti, they’re just beautiful. It’s a very, very nice, very intimate time with the Lord. Then, during the week: Monday mornings we are up early. We have a Bible study at 7 that helps us to prepare for the day. And that’s one of the things that we really try to do is get everybody prepared for what they’re going to see that day. We have breakfast at 8 and then at 9 o’clock, we have a chapel service for our entire staff. We have about a hundred Haitians that we employ. And so, getting to know these wonderful people who work as a team down in Haiti full time is just outstanding. And that’s one of the things that I think a lot of people really comment on is how blessed they were by getting to know the Haitian’s there, that, that are on our team. Then after the chapel service, we go, we have our clinic. Typically, the clinic will last for 4 or 5 hours, and then in the afternoons we’ll go out into the surrounding villages on visits; we typically divide up into small teams. One team may go out on baby visit, since with our active Maternal Health program, we have lots of babies, and so we try to see these babies within 48 hours of birth. And so, we’re out, we’re weighing and measuring the babies making sure they’ve got the proper medications and that the mother is breastfeeding well. And that’s a lot of fun to be able to participate in that. We also visit people who are in our at-risk program, these may be elderly people who are struggling financially, maybe they need food or medical care, and so we will go into their homes and assist them. And then we also have evangelism. So, every afternoon part the group will be out evangelizing in a different village. We call it Beans and Rice evangelism, and this is something Jacklyn that you started years ago and that we’ve continued that, and it draws so many people. People are so hungry both for food and for the Gospel. And so, we put those two things together, and it’s a very, very successful piece. Some other people will tour the base, maybe go down to the farm and see the demonstration farm we have down there. It’s just a wonderful day. Generally, people were pretty, pretty tired by the end of the day, so we come back and we have dinner at 6. It’s a wonderful meal. Our cooks are just fantastic. And then we’ll have a short debrief and worship time. And then people are generally off to bed to get ready for the next day.
[12:29] JVB: This certainly is a jam-packed day, and there were 2 things that I wanted to make sure that I added. First, that another part of our clinic is oftentimes we have dentists that come down yearly, and that is such an incredible blessing. You know, these people, sweet, sweet people in Haiti, they, you know, they’ll have rotten teeth. I mean, I’ve seen teeth pulled and maggots come out, or I think of one story of one of our boys in our school. Sweet Evenz. He was so terrified to get a tooth pulled but was in so much pain. And after about 3 trips of dentists coming down, he finally agreed to let them pull his tooth because he was just in so much pain. But that is such a blessing. Not only to us to get to have these dentists come down, but absolutely more so for the Haitians because it’s such a way to alleviate this consistent and terrible pain that so many Haitians have.
[13:28] DMV: That’s so true.
[13:30] JVB: Another thing, you know, we have a lot of college students come down to Haiti. We have high schoolers come down and college students. And, you know, some of my favorite things about this is that, that is a trajectory change for so many of these students. You know, they’ll come down and I think of one in particular, Reagan Smith, who came down and he was really focused on his major and he was in marketing and after spending time in Haiti, he’s now about to graduate dental school.
[14:00] DMV: Isn’t that amazing?
[14:01] JVB: He saw that need, and he saw just such a clear need, and he did finish getting marketing as well. But I just think it’s so cool that he saw a need and took his passions and mixed them both. But we have incredible opportunities for students who are passionate about medicine to come and get to shadow doctors and nurses or PA’s and physical therapists in a way that they wouldn’t always get to have some sort of, you know, a situation like that back in the United States. So, I always love getting to talk to college kids about that to say “Hey, if you’re interested in working in the medical field, this is a great opportunity to come down and see if that’s really, you know, what you want to do. If that’s really where your gifts and talents lying, you’ll get to see some really unique things.” So, I also want to hear a little bit about people who work with our Johnny’s Kids program and physical therapists and things like that.
[14:55] DMV: Absolutely. Johnny’s Kids is a program that we have that takes care of the mentally and physically challenged, and we’ve named it after Laurie’s little brother, Johnny Stallings, who’s such a blessing to so many people. And so, Johnny’s Kids are a group of individuals who have special needs, and we provide for those needs. So, we have physical and occupational therapy for these. We call them children. They’re not all kids, some are adults. We also have educational avenues for them as well. And so, several of our Johnny’s Kids are mainstreamed in our school, but then others are not quite able to do that, so we have special education for them. So, these people in this Haitian culture that is just so ensconced in voodoo are not appreciated at all in this culture, and it’s, it’s really heartbreaking to see how poorly these individuals are treated. In the voodoo religion, if you have any kind of deficit, whether it’s physical or mental or emotional, you’re considered cursed. And so, these, these individuals with special needs are considered cursed and they’re actually there’s a Creole word for them, and it’s cocobai, which really means sort of broken or trash, and it’s just a terrible type of attitude to have. And so, one of the things that we’ve seen as we’ve taken care of these individuals, we’ve seen that the Haitians will start to appreciate them more. They’ll start to understand that they’re really, that they’re just like we are. And so, they, it engenders a spirit of, of taking care of these people and appreciating them more so we’ve seen a tremendous change in the hearts and the minds of the Haitians who formerly looked down on these folks. But being able to work in Jonny’s Kids is such, such a blessing, and so, typically on a team we’ll have different team members work with these individuals, whether it’s in physical therapy or play therapy or even in their education. And it’s just so, so life giving.
[17:15] JVB: I know for me, you know, Johnny was my uncle. And to see the way that the culture approves of this treatment of children born with special needs just absolutely enraged me. And there was a moment during our summer camp, one year when we were mainstreaming all the kids together so that they could be working in the camp together. But we wanted our kids in Johnny’s Kids to have a partner with just some of the other kids in the summer camp rather than having you know, only American team member partners. You know, we really wanted to encourage partnership between the students and Johnny’s Kids. And I just remember when my mother, when Mom asked, “Who wants to be Lancy Belle’s partner?” I saw about five of these girls, their hands shot up in the air. Immediately, they ran forward. They embraced sweet little Lancy Belle, they grabbed her, said, you know, “I want to be her partner. I’m gonna watch out for her. I’m going to make sure that she gets to each station, you know, correctly and she participates.” And that was just such a moment of pride for me. And just to get to see like this is going to be of a generation that views children born with special needs, completely different.
[18:37] DMV: Absolutely!
[18:38] JVB: You know, when these kids are in school with children born with special needs, you know they’re going to be their champion for them, they’re going to, they’re going to fight for them to have all the same rights as other children, but then when they get older and start having kids of their own, I’m excited because that village will be completely different. The way actually see these children will just be a one-eighty from what we’re seeing right now. And so, I am just thrilled, thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about that.
[19:06] DMV: I think that’s a great point, Jacklyn, and one of the things I think that is so apparent, especially in low tear countries, is the culture is really defined by how it takes care of its most needy citizens. And these are certainly some of the most-needy citizens in Haiti, and if the culture is not taking care of these people, it really harms the entire culture. And so, modeling for them how to take care of these individuals. How to care for these people, I think, is vital.
[19:38] JVB: Well, we’ve talked a little bit about our medical mission teams, so I’m a little bit curious to hear what our general admission teams look like and how they’re different from our medical clinics.
[19:48] DMV: Absolutely. You know, the, the general mission teams are just as much fun or more so I think that the medical mission teams. People get to spend really a lot of one-on-one time with the children. We have a large child nutrition program where we feed about 3,000 children a day in this program. And so, people actually get to go out into the communities into the schools and weigh and measure these children, see how much weight they’re gaining through our ability to feed them. We give them vitamins and deworm the children, take care of the parasites that they have, and it’s just an amazing part. You get to see how the culture lives, how the individuals live. You get to see the type of schools that they have. Often times, it’s just a teacher sitting under a palm tree. That is the whole, whole part of the school, which is just amazing. And so, getting to be able to be there and to impact that is just fantastic.
[21:00] JVB: So, for our child nutrition program, what will our teams do when they come down on these general missions?
[21:06] DMV: Well, this child nutrition program is so important, almost half of the children under 5 in our area are moderately to severely malnourished. And so, this is a vital program. It’s absolutely vital that we feed these children, give them a well-balanced diet so that they’ll gain weight. Actually, malnutrition is the number 1 cause of cognitive development delays in the bottom-tier countries such as Haiti. And so, this program is vital. So, one of the things that we look for to see if we are successful in our endeavor is that we weigh and measure these children and we record this information. We generate a lot of data on these children, we’re able to see which kids are gaining weight, which kids are not gaining weight, and if we have a group of children that aren’t gaining weight, we’ve got to find out why. And so, this allows for us to drill down and try to find out what it is that these children are still lacking, that is causing them not to gain weight. Often times there’s micronutrient deficiencies that we need to tackle so that these children will then have the potential of living a good, well balanced life.
[22:27] JVB: Well, one of the things that I love so much about what LiveBeyond does is that we do have a base on 65 acres, and we have walls and everything like that. But we don’t just live within that base. We go outside it, we see the way that people live, we see the way that the schools are. So, I love our general teams because it’s an opportunity for our American team members who come down to get to go into those schools and to get to weigh the kids and see them, see what those schools look like. I love when we have high schoolers come down and they go in and they see how vastly different they’re learning environment is from the way that these, you know, Haitian students are learning and what their schools look like. So, it’s a really cool way to get to go in and be involved in that. Another thing that we do a lot on our general teams are building projects. And so, tell me a little about those.
[23:23] DMV: Well, that’s a fantastic program that we have. You know, many people in Haiti, live in a little mud hut. Perhaps they have a thatch roof or a tin roof. Many times, the roofs leak when it rains, and in the rainy season, we get a tremendous amount of rain. And so, it’s just a, it’s a miserable existence for so many people. And so, we actually build houses for people. We have some floor plans that we have available. We do it in a little bit of a unique way. These people that we build the houses for, we put them through a personal finance class that we offer every week. Generally, this finance class is 8 to 10 weeks, and they learn about how to take care of their finances, how to save. And then we mortgaged the house, and so the people have the opportunity to pay for their house. We think this is a very important principle in the developing world, that they’re not just simply given a house, but that they actually pay for it. Now, we don’t charge interest, and the amount that we do charge is something that is easily handled by the amount of money that these people make. So, it’s not burdensome in anyway, and it teaches them how to accommodate a mortgage. And so, we have Americans come down. We have a Haitian building team, and so the Americans who are interested in building work alongside the Haitian building team, and we could get a house pretty, pretty well built in 2 weeks. And so, the Americans who come down make a big impact on that. It’s a lot of fun, too, because you get to know, the Haitians who are working alongside. You get to see what their lives are like, what their struggles are like, and you get to see the joy that these people have. They don’t have any material goods, but they have lots and lots of joy, and so it’s a lot of fun getting to work with these guys.
[25:31] JVB: Well, I think what is so important is giving dignity. Everybody, regardless of where you’re from, deserve dignity. And I think when you perpetuate this handout concept or when you perpetuate this idea of just, you know, giving and giving and giving, you’re taking so much of their dignity away. You’re taking away from them their, their ability to take confidence and building up for themselves. and in regards to our building project, I just have to share this story about Guerline. When I first me Guerline, I was a junior in college. So, I guess that was about 4 years ago, the summer after my junior year, and I was going out to the villages with Pastor Sargesse and Loubens, and we got up to Jacasse where she lives, and we were sharing the gospel and Pastor Sargesse and Loubens were just doing such an incredible job. I mean, they’re on fire for the Lord. They are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they were just sharing the gospel and sharing the love of Jesus. And this woman stepped forward and she said, “I want to accept Jesus, but I can’t.” And so, you know, we kind of looked around and we said, “Well, why can’t you? You know, the gift of the Holy Spirit the gift of the gospel is free to anyone?” and she said, she was explaining her situation, and at the time, still, my Creole wasn’t that great. And Loubens looked at me and said, “Her husband has died and she has five children. And the way that she feeds her children by prostituting herself. She knows that she’s living in sin and she’s so ashamed of it. Uh, she wants to accept Jesus, but she just doesn’t know what to do.” And so, I just looked at her, and we prayed together and I said, “Guerline, do you believe that Jesus loves you?” And she says, “Oh yes, I believe that He loves me.” I said, “Do you believe that He, you know, that the Lord is a Good Father?” And she said, “Yes, I believe it.” And I said, “Do you believe that good fathers provide for their children?” And she said yes. And so, I said, “Leave prostitution behind you, step out in faith, you know. Don’t continue that anymore, and come and get baptized.” And so, she said, “OK, last night was the last night I will ever commit to that lifestyle.” And on Sunday she came to the LiveBeyond church and she was baptized and she brought all of her kids with her. And on Monday we offered her a job because the Lord, He does provide and He is a Good Father, and we felt like it was on our heart to give her a job, and she has now entered into our financial planning class. And y’all just finished building her house. And I remember the first time I went to her house. She, she now has 7 children, and it was a tin oven. It was so small. There was barely any room for one bed, and there were 7, 8 of them living in there, and it just absolutely broke my heart. And I got to see a picture a couple weeks ago, her standing in front of her house, this completed new beautiful home, and just the pride that she had. And just to see how long, how far she’s come, you know, from that first story of being so broken, even acknowledging her own sin, to now, y’know, being so free, free from sin and, and a daughter of Christ and amazing provider for her family.
[29:11] DMV: And so that’s such a great story. Just amazing. He is. Oh, no, she is such a dear lady. And when we were going through her house last week, the children are so excited with their rooms, they have different rooms, and so they’re so excited to show me the rooms and where their bed is going to be. And this is like you mentioned, she lived in a tin house that was so hot, it was just unbearable to step into it. I can’t even imagine trying to sleep at night. And so, this is going to give her a tight roof that won’t leak. It’s also going to give her security, since she doesn’t have a husband. Security is a big problem, but with the strong wooden doors and the concrete sides and the windows, she’ll have a lot more secure environment to raise her children.
[30:03] JVB: I’m tearing up right now because she’s just such an incredible woman, and just to see the transformation of the love of Jesus, what it can do, just gets me every single time.
[30:14] DMV: It really does. And you know, one of the things that I think it’s so amazing is these people are so proud of their houses, you know, and these are five or six hundred square foot houses, I mean these are tiny little houses. But there’s so much better than anything that they’ve ever had, and they’re so proud of them, they’re paying for them. We actually will have other organizations who will come into our area and offer houses for free. But the people want to pay for them, and so they will prefer to come to us. Let us put them into our personal finance program and then have to pay a mortgage. That’s what they prefer. They don’t really want it free because they don’t value it and they know that. And so, the pride and ownership and the dignity that it gives them It’s just immeasurable. It’s so much fun. It’s something I really enjoy seeing.
[31:14] JVB: Well, moving on, we also have internships in a summer camp which, personally, those are my favorite weeks out of the year. I absolutely love the 3 weeks of summer camp. It’s a blast. Water balloon fights every Friday. What’s not to like?! Tell me a little bit about those internships, the different kinds that we offer and then even a little bit about summer camp.
[31:39] DMV: Okay, well, the internships are fantastic. And so, uh, these internships are of variable lengths. It really fits into the schedule of the student. Whoever is wanting to sign up and we offer general internship. So, people come down and help in the school and Johnny’s Kids, or perhaps with teams who come down. But we also have medical internship. So, people who are in a pre-health or health track in school can come down and work in the clinic. We have a wonderful physician’s assistant who is working down there in our clinic. They get to work with her. We have a Haitian doctor who works in the clinic as well and as several Haitian nurses. And so, they get to work alongside these people, get to see what lower tier medicine is really about and how we can make do with what we have and provide excellent care at the same time. The, the other internships that we have, we have a research type internship. This is usually people who are in medical school and they get to look at some of the data that we have, and we start writing research papers with them. There is an approval process for this, and typically it’s research that we’re already doing on going that they could participate in. So, this is a great importance to people who are wanting to get into medical school or get into a better residency after medical school. It really is a fantastic way to be published as well. And then summer camp is just outstanding. It’s 3 weeks. As you said, we involve the children who are in our school and in our child nutrition program. There’s lots of painting and soccer playing and water balloon fights and devotionals and Bible stories and things like that. You get to know the children very well. You get to help them with their English, help them with their school, but then also helped them learn more about Jesus, learn about the Bible and become deep, more deeply in love with Jesus Christ as they get older.
[34:03] JVB: Absolutely well, we have a list of all of the internships that we have on our website. Some of those, we even have agriculture internships, where you get to teach the local farmers in our region better agriculture techniques. We have a business internship where you can work in our business office, which is so incredibly helpful to us. If you are interested in going into a PT or OT or speech pathology or something like that, you can have a Johnny’s Kids internship as well. So, we have a vast, vast array of different internships that we have. One of the things that LiveBeyond really prioritizes is taking the gifts and talents of each individual team member and having a place where you can use those. We believe that the Lord has given gifts to different people, and we want to make sure that everybody who comes down has a way of using those to advance the Kingdom of God. So, Dr. Vanderpool, thank you so much for joining us today.
[35:05] DMV: Thank you for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.
[35:08] JVB: It’s always a joy to talk with you. Well, if you are interested in learning a little bit more about LiveBeyond, our internships or our mission teams, you can go online to livebeyond.org where you can apply for a mission trip and see all of our 2012 and 2020 mission dates. You can also fill out our application for our internships and summer camp. And if you feel like the Lord is putting on your heart, you can also click that donate button to set up a recurring or one-time donation. Thank you so much for joining me today and don’t forget, go out and LiveBeyond.
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