Recently, my Mom was spending some Amazon gift cards she received last year. She was so sweet and bought a little something for each of us. J She gave me a choice between 4 or 5 different missions-related books. I was so excited when my copy of “Walking in Broken Shoes” by Susan Magnuson Walsh arrived! I had never heard of the book until Mom mentioned it to me, but it sounded like my kind of book.
Susan Walsh—a pediatric nurse practitioner—led many short-term medical missions trips to Haiti prior to the earthquake in 2010. The first half of the book describes these trips. The book is written mostly in journal form, with lots of email updates and personal stories.
While I found the book interesting up to that point, my interest really piqued half-way through the book. Susan Walsh was in Haiti with a team during the January 2010 earthquake. She gives an incredible first-hand account of what the tremor felt like, the emotional responses to the quake, and the devastation felt in Pétionville. Thankfully no one on their team was hurt, but immediately following the quake, they found themselves serving at a hospital where they saw every injury imaginable.
Susan Walsh describes their experience as that of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH unit.) People were missing limbs, losing blood at a life-threatening rate, and so much more. Many of the people in the hospital were dead. Her team did the best they could to treat injuries for 6 or 7 hours after the quake, but the number of people requiring treatment was enormous.
Because of the condition of the airport and the chaos, their team—which was supposed to leave the day after the quake—was stranded in Haiti for several extra days. Their ordeal of trying to get out of the country was nightmarish.
She also goes on to describe the trips she made back to Haiti following the quake. The very last chapter gives a very good analysis of where things stand in Haiti today, including the issues that have been dealt with, and the issues that have not been resolved.
I really appreciated the book because it not only gave an excellent first-hand account of an earth-shattering (literally) event that nearly every person in Haiti bears scars from, but it also gives a great look into the tremendous needs of the Haitian people. The issues are complex, sticky, and difficult to deal with. At times it feels like the mess has gotten so big, it can never be cleaned up.
But God is still sovereign over all. He will use tragedies such as the 2010 earthquake for HIS glory and to make HIS Name famous in Haiti. Susan Walsh does a great job of sharing her personal testimony and how God worked in her life through all the situations she was a part of in Haiti.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone high-school aged and up, particularly those who are considering medical missions work. Parts of the story are heartbreaking, but I think our hearts need to be broken more often, because brokenness brings us to a point of action.