Year One - Sandy Wilkins
Sandy is historically a nurse, but she does it all. She was my main contact at Christianville before I moved and my primary coach and cheerleader once I arrived. I would have been more than a little lost acquiring meds and supplies without her advice and Excel spreadsheets. She and her husband, Jim, showed me around Port, invited me over for Bible study and movies, and made sure I was progressing in understanding the culture. As Americans, most of our interactions happened over food. The first time we sat down to a meal together she told me she was recruiting an American Physician Assistant for their clinic and we could probably get married. Which brings me to...
Year Two - Teresa Murphy / Price
Well I don't like feeling manipulated, but this instance worked out great! Teresa is a controversial pick for Y2 MVP because she is family and my MVP every day, but she so overshadows everything else from that year that I must hand her the award. Besides all the lovey-dovey stuff (she turned me into a poet, exhibitionist, board-game player and happily married man) she showed me a new, winsome side of the island. I think it was the South West.
Year Three - David Elliott
I met David and was married in his Eustis, Florida church in Year Two. He and his sweet wife Evelyn were here for the earthquake of early 2010. Looking back on that time, I think I would have been content to sit looking at my broken clinic with ashes on my head. David was understanding and encouraging and helped me get to working and thinking again. We blacked out a school room together to serve as a temporary clinic, salvaged a lot of the stuff from our old building and talked about what it would take to restore / rebuild. I think he even let me beat him at cards once.
*Honorable Mention - Joe Jasperse
It was always great to get UNLEASHED with J.J.
Year Four - James Gray
Everybody, consider dropping the hand-wringing about your life plan and go James Gray style. If the Lord puts you here or there just go at it 100%. I hate to use a cliche speaking about James, because it's remarkable the way he doesn't use any. I stopped by to visit with him and his wife, Val, just before my Titus was born. Their crazy, wonderful, vibrant house was a reflection of the life they were living together. I don't know how James took my ramblings and sketches and turned them into a blueprint for an eye clinic, but he did and it's going up now.
Year Five - Chris Thompson
It was great to have my brother-friend here for several months. I admire Chris for all the work he put in to get to Haiti and what he did with his neighbors while here. It's easy and normal to feel isolated in a different culture, but Chris was a good example to me of opening up and enjoying the nationals. His kids and marriage are older than mine, so I was able to pick up a few things about being a dad and a husband. I'll miss our trips to Port together, talking books and movies and his clothing choices. (Keen sandals, cargo shorts and a Warren Moon jersey aren't acceptable as attire in any government offices in any country)
Year Six - Teresa Price
Yeah, yeah. Don't even start about her eligibility. She's been a champ for me and becoming stronger in so many areas. Moving like we are is a difficult thing for me after six years here, but Teresa has been in Haiti twice as long and feels ten times more at home here. Even with that as background she's been nothing but supportive during our time of change. I am now almost used to how she takes care of her patients and family, but it has been a year of delight (and sometimes, incredulity) at how she takes care of her relationships.
Year Seven - TBD