Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The big 50!!

This year is a big year for Emmaus as we celebrate 50 years of existence.  That means for 50 years Emmaus has been training men and women to be Christ like leaders for the transformation of Haiti.  Emmaus was founded in 1967 by missionaries Eldon Turnidge, Dave Graffenberger (who is still here in Haiti) and Marilyn  Murphy (now Shaferly) along with Gaudin Charles.  Emmaus was initially opened as a vocational bible school and in 2001 changed to teaching theology exclusively.

Dave Graffenberger - one of the founders

Celebratory events kicked of in January with a service in the Vaudrieul church, a couple of the founding members were there, along with alumni, current students and staff and many people from the community in Vaudrieul.  It was a service of reflection of God's faithfulness, looking back over the past 50 years at what God has done in EBS and looking forward to the next 50 years with anticipation as to what God will do.

Last Friday was the next event, a football (soccer for my North American readers!) match in the Cap Haitian Stadium, against the Local Cap Haitian professional team.  Emmaus had a team consisting of staff, students and alumni, to say they were excited would be an understatement!!

It was a great afternoon, there were loads of people from the community in Vaudrieul and from the other OMS ministries who all came out to watch.  Its fair to say Haitian people  love football so it was a great atmosphere and we didn't even lose (it was 0-0, which is pretty good considering!).

I think Joel has inherited a love of football from his bampa & Auntie Leah  - he actually sat and watched some of it!!

It's exciting to be here this year and be a small part of what God is doing through our staff and students at Emmaus.

Thursday, 9 February 2017


Bill doesn't get much of a say on here, he's not a blogger......... but if you think of it say a prayer for him tomorrow (or today if your in the UK by the time you read this).

His first class is tomorrow and he is teaching revelation and New Testament eschatology and is going to teach in Creole.  I am not even sure I could  do that in English never mind Creole! So he is all prepared to teach in Creole and will have Leme (his co worker & translator) on hand just in case. Class is from 8 - 11 then he will preach in English Chapel at 11.30am.

That was short and sweet and to the point and anyone who knows Bill will know that is exactly how he talks. We will let you know how it goes!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Community Fridays

Friday has turned into my day of community physio visits.  I leave Sam to school at 8 then Joel and I head off to people's homes to do their physio.

This past Friday began with a visit to Alex & Astrid, my friends who were in Milot hospital (you can read their story here).  After almost two weeks of sleeping outside the hospital but not able to leave the grounds because they haven't paid their bill, they got home.  The surgeon who performed Alex's surgery saw them outside and told them he would pay the bill so they can leave, he took their electoral cards and now they owe him the money.  It is a much much better situation for them to be in, they still owe the Doctor the guts of $300 (US) but at least they are sleeping in a bed and are with their kids.  They are staying with family who will look after them until they are back on their feet.  Alex really needs the physio and Astrid will need hers once her cast comes off.  It was so good to see them at home much more comfortable and to see their two kids happy as they hadn't seen their parents for over a month.   The only thing Astrid had to say was how thankful she was to God.  She was getting desperate and could not see a way out of the situation.  They had exhausted all means they had of getting money together and could not see how they were ever going to leave the hospital.  They (and us) were praying and praying that God would provide a way for them to get home and he did.

Next we headed to another patients house in a different area.  This little girl is 12, she is unable to walk or use her arms well.  I first went to see her last week where it was very difficult to get a good history and figure out exactly how she ended up the way she is now.  It seems she was able to walk then about a year ago she fell and hasn't walked since. So we are trying physio to get some strength back in her legs, to prevents contractures and see if we can get her a bit more mobile.

If you remember please pray for this little girl  (I can't remember her name, next week  I will write it down).  To have a child who in unable to walk here is so hard, they don't have any of the equipment we would have at home like a wheelchair, a hoist, splints and the list could go on.  Her mother carries her on her back to sit outside most of the day.  Last week I had the opportunity to share the gospel with the family too.  Please pray that physio will help and that the family will come to know Jesus as their Saviour.

While I was there a young guy about 30 came in, he had broken his leg last year and it was put in plaster for a month.  When they re X rayed they saw the bone did not heal properly,  He was told he needs an operation but he has no way of paying for that.  He showed me his X rays which were taken 3 months ago and wanted me to do some physio to try to help which I can't do.

I would appreciate any advice from doctors /orthopaedic specialists who are reading this!!

Our last stop was Mano's house.  Mano has cerebral palsy and probably epilepsy, he has seizures  once or twice a month but has never been diagnosed or given medicine for the seizures.  I used to go and do physio with Mano once every couple of weeks when I was here in 2010 so its great to have the chance to go back.  He has done really well with keeping his mobility and is able to walk about the house as he needs to.

Mano in 2010
Joel loves being out and everyone loves Joel so our Friday mornings work great and once were finished we go and get Sam from school.  

 I love getting out and treating people in their homes but I usually have to go because it is so difficult for them to get to the clinic. The other side of this work is the pressure which I feel. Often people have been to many doctors and have given up on getting any answers.  It feels like people expect me to have the answers, to know why that person is sick and for me to be the one to make them better.  With no neurologists, pediatricians, MRI scanners and other diagnostic tests, I often don't have a diagnosis, I just treat the problems and pray that the physio will help. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Busy Busy

EBS second semester started back on 9th January with the first block on intensive classes.  Pam is here from England and we also had Jerry Caskey, Larry Lain and Brookes Morton here all teaching the following....

With visitors here, we always have a trip to the beach which were not objecting too!! Although strangely enough it was cool and windy with the occasional shower! We were on the beach with cardigans on and it sort of reminded me how we go to the beach in Northern Ireland…..Cardigans, wind and rain!!

Jerry, Larry and Brookes all left at the weekend and Gail, Marc and Aline arrived.  We took them to Belony’s (one of our staff members) church on Sunday and Bill preached his very first sermon in Creole.  He did really well and even threw in a few jokes.  The previous week the church had had a visiting speaker and he did not preach the truth.  He was telling the church things like if someone has hair extensions then they are going to hell.  If they wear certain colours then they couldn’t possibly be saved and the result would be going to hell.  Belony spent the whole week explaining to the congregation this was not true, the Bible does not say any of these things.  Bill felt led to speak on Revelation ch 2 v 1-7.  He talked about false prophets and how they will try to deceive us.  About how we need to know which doctrines cannot be changed and which doctrines we can have different opinions on.  He reminded them that it is our love for God and for others that is the most important thing.  This echoed exactly what Belony had been trying to say to the church the whole week and was obviously what God wanted to speak to the church at Favil about. 

This week may be the busiest week at Emmaus ever, we are into our second set of intensives.  Pam is teaching church history to 1st and 2nd year,  Emily is teaching Christian Counselling to 3rd and 4th year and we have two Masters programs running!  We have our own Emmaus Masters classes taking place with Gail teaching Building Christian Community.  The other Masters program is run by Indiana Wesleyan University, they have 20 students in their program with 5 of them being on staff here at Emmaus. Marc is teaching Christian worldview and his wife, Aline is teaching French for Thesis writing.

Phew......I am tired just writing that, there is a lot going on here at Emmaus this month and it’s all for students to dig deeper into God’s word, to learn more and to be able to minister better here in Haiti. 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The health care system

I have had a good few patients recently who are a lot worse than they should be because of the system or lack thereof.   One young guy, just 30 years old came for Physio last week, 2 years ago he had some pain in his back which traveled down his leg and got so bad he couldn't walk.  He went to loads of doctors who all no idea what was wrong but just gave him painkillers.  As a result he stayed in bed for at least a year until the pain improved.  As the pain improved he began to start standing and walking again except now he cannot move his hip, knee or ankle to their full range of movement. It sounds like he had a disc protrusion (you have probably heard this described as a slipped disc) which with a few months of physio probably would have gotten better.  Now his leg will probably always have problems because he didn't move for a year!But he wasn't given any advice on what else to do and the belief in this culture is stay in bed until you get better. 

Yesterday I visited friends in Milot hospital.  Milot is a private hospital and has the reputation for being the best hospital here in the North, and it is.  My friend was in a motorbike accident 3 weeks ago, he was driving round a bend close to where we live when a big truck came flying round the corner, in the middle of the road, hit him and another motorbike (which had 4 people on it).  Alix broke his leg, arm and hand. He had to get a metal plate put in his leg and in his arm.  When you are in hospital in Haiti you have to pay for everything including the bed you lie on. Every time you need medicine you go to the pharmacy to buy it.  Your family have to basically stay with you to do everything, to get you washed and dressed, to take you to the toilet and to bring you something to eat and drink everyday.  Alex's wife, Astrid has been staying with him to look after him.  Last Sunday night she was outside the hospital getting something for Alex when she slipped in the rain and broke her leg.  Now they are both in the hospital and she is still trying to look after him.  

When I went to see them my physio brain kicked in, what did the doctor say? Are you allowed to put your foot on the ground? Do you have crutches? Have you had any physiotherapy? The answer was this ' The surgeon came after the operation and told me to try what I could. To try to walk if I felt like I could it and he hasn't been back since.  We don't have enough money to buy crutches yet so I have just been getting people to help me.  There has been no physiotherapist come to see me.  They said I am ready to home but we can't go until we have paid the bill.'

Then I asked about the driver of the truck, surely he should be responsible for some of the bill as the accident was his fault? After he hit the motorbikes he drove away, however they have found him but he denies hitting any motorbikes and also said if they pursue him again or go to the police he will go to a witch doctor and put a curse on them. This is a huge problem in Haiti with so many people practising voodoo.

No one explained to Alex that if he lies in bed for the next few months until he feels the pain is gone that his hip, knee and ankle will become very stiff, that if he doesn't weight bear the bone won't heal properly and his other leg will become weak from not using it. So I got Alex started on a few bed exercises and hopefully once he gets home I can go every week to get him moving and strengthened up. 

And as for the bill, it gets bigger everyday the longer they are there, the operation is the biggest part and they simply don't have the money for it.  There is no NHS and no insurance so they will have to stay  in the hospital grounds until they find the money to pay for it. Yesterday they were in the ward in a bed but now the hospital needs the bed so they are sleeping outside tonight until they can pay.

I am not sure how to finish this post off, pray for Alex and Astrid, pray that the Lord will provide what they need to get home.  Pray that they will both heal well over the next few months and pray for their kids ( aged 4, 6 and 10) who haven't seen them for 3 weeks as children aren't allowed to visit in the hospital. 

Being in the hospital yesterday has really shown me how much physio is needed here, how much good healthcare is needed and how we need to work hard in Bethesda to provide the best care that we possibly can. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

O You of little faith.....

Just after Christmas I had a new patient come to the clinic.  She had suffered a stroke about 5 years ago, she was mobile but had very little movement in her left arm and just a small bit of movement in her left hand.  When I assessed her her left arm was very stiff for me to move it.

I asked her a questions I ask almost all my patients ' How did you know to come here for physiotherapy?'

She replied ' Around 3 months ago I had a dream and in the dream God told me to go to Vaudrieul.  I ignored it and didn't go.  Then I had the same dream again but I still didn't go.  I had the same dream again a third time but this time a friend was in the dream and she was encouraging me to go to Vaudrieul.  I knew God was telling me to go to Vaudrieul and he also told me I would find a 'blanc' (me!) so I came to Vaudrieul, to Bethesda and I found you here.  The blanc in my dream looks just like you.'

I was surprised but it seems in Haitian Culture God quite often speaks to people through dreams and that has happened to me before with another patient.  So we continued on, I explained to her that its been 5 years since her stroke and the normal period for recovery is up to two years so I didn't really think therapy would  make any difference.  She told me 'its ok Jesus is going to heal me'.  She said it over and over again throughout the session so I didn't have the heart to tell her not to come back, that physio probably won't do anything.  We agreed to try for 6 weeks and see if she made any progress.  I was pretty sure there would be no improvement.

She came back yesterday and when I asked how she was she told me she was better!  Her arm had a lot more movement in it, it was easy to move and she was able to open and close her hand.....something she was unable to do just two weeks ago.  I almost couldn't believe it.  I told her I was surprised.  To which she replied ' I told you Jesus would heal me and look what he is doing, he is healing me, its a miracle!'

There you go, I don't need to say anymore.  It's amazing to see people of great faith and to see God at work.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Christmas and New Year

I haven't been very good at staying up to date so here is the last month.....

We had a good week with Bill's parents the week after class finished.  The boys both really enjoyed having them here and Grandma had to read Sam's bedtime story every night.

The day after they left we headed to the Dominican for a few days break, its so nice to have somewhere to go just next door.  We had a great time....... mostly, I ended up with a GI infection so spent one of the days in bed! I think Bill's highlight was not having do dishes to do.  One of the worst things about cooking everything from scratch is the mountain of dishes.  It was nice to have a rest and come back feeling refreshed (sort of!).

We got home a couple of days before Christmas and enjoyed Christmas eve and Christmas day dinner with the Heckmans and the Ayars who live next door.  It was strange being in Haiti at Christmas, it is one of the only times in my life I have missed being cold.  We didn't have any of the normal Christmas things, turkey, ham, gravy, Christmas carols, Christmas parties....etc.  It really made us think about what we were celebrating especially because it didn't really feel like Christmas. Even on Christmas day Sam wasn't sure what Christmas was, he kept asking if we were going to drive to Christmas!!However he did enjoy getting presents!!Thank you to everyone who sent the boys presents....they were spoilt!

You know you live in Haiti when you wrap Christmas presents in Haitian shiny congratulations paper!!

Now starts a really busy time at EBS, this year is the 50th anniversary and there are lots of events planned throughout this year starting with a big celebration at the Vaudrieul church on Sunday morning from 8- 10.30 (ish!!).  Pam, one of our regular VP's who has been coming to Haiti for 11 years arrived in yesterday.  Bill was at the airport today for 3 more visitors and then throughout  the rest of January we have visitors coming and going.  Our intensives and masters courses start on Monday along with a special anniversary service here at EBS.  Lots of visitors means lots of cooking over the next month or so but with sharing the load between 3 of us its not too bad!!

Bill has been back in his office and is thankful he is only teaching one course this semester so he will have time to really focus on his Creole. Last semester he marked all his papers and exams in Creole and French so this semester he is going to start teaching in Creole.  His first class will be the first week in February. The next month for him will be spent preparing for class and doing his powerpoints in Creole. 

My work in the clinic has been busy, I am seeing more and more strokes and starting to do a few house calls for people who can't get to the clinic.  I have had a couple of babies come who probably have cerebral palsy, their mums have been to many doctors and no one can explain what is wrong and what to do about it.  So that ends up being my job, which is one aspect of the work here that I really don't like. However this does provide good opportunity to then share the Gospel with those mums.

I     I have also been trying to do more publicity for the clinic, updating our fb page,  making flyers and response cards for teams and working on the content for the website.  Yesterday Dr Rodney, Vedane and their son Dahendjy flew to the states for a month of fundraising and speaking events for the clinic.  Please pray for them, they have 15 flights to take and are staying in many different houses.  Pray for the trip to be fruitful and that people will come alongside Bethesda and support the work in the clinic.

      Sam started back to school on Wednesday and is going Monday, Wednesday and Friday this year.  He was so excited on Wednesday morning when he woke up, he loves his teacher and loves going to school.  We were having a hard time with tempers with Sam and going to school has really helped, he is a lot more settled at home now.  He was starting to go a bit stir crazy at the end of the school holidays so its good for him to be back.  Moving to Haiti has really been a big adjustment for Sam, he was so used to going out everyday, to mums & toddlers, the park, granny's house and for walks.  To move somewhere where there is none of that has been hard on him. So we are really thankful for somewhere for him to go to school even if it means I have to drive to Vaudrieul EVERY day.....the road is not exactly what you would call smooth...

The road outside Sam's school.....except there is no water in the 'potholes' now!
      Meantime Joel is as happy as ever, he is 11 months and just starting to talk.  I really want him to walk (he weighs almost 25lbs!!) but he is not interested because he can crawl so fast.  He has FINALLY started 'sleeping in' and he now up between 5.30 and 6 am.  He has had his first haircut already and now looks about 18 months old!

      One more exciting piece of news, we are travelling this summer with our task being to raise funds for both the seminary and the clinic.  So we will be in Northern Ireland the month of June and Canada for the month of July before we head back to Haiti in early August.  We are in the process of planning meetings and events so if  we could share at your church, your home or you could hold a fundraising event please get in touch  ( .  In Northern Ireland we can go anywhere and in Canada we will based  at Bill's parents farm in Youngstown.   We are excited to be able to visit both places and see friends and family as well as help the ministries we are involved in here in Haiti.