Sunday, 25 March 2018

Transition and change

They say life changes the most in your 20's, lets just say Bill and I can say yes that is true! The past 8 years have brought many many changes and here are just some of the big ones!  We met  in 2010 and both moved to countries which were not our own, for a year.  We were married in 2011 and finally lived in the same country together. 

Two years later Bill finished studying and started working, we bought our first house, 4 weeks after that we had our first baby.  Two years after that we had our second baby and moved our family to Haiti and all that that entails.

Now almost two years later we are currently adjusting to living in a third different country together (Bill has actually lived in 4 different countries since 2010!) and adopting a baby.

The view from our house

Bill can't wait for the day when we live in one place and don't go anywhere else.  However  I keep reminding him that with us being from two different countries and living in a third that that is very unlikely to happen!

With all that experience I can say we are getting pretty good at coping with big changes.  We know (mostly) what to expect now.

We know to expect to be really tired, even if your resting and not doing much and sleeping well transition takes a lot of out you.  A combination of everything being new and having to adjust to your new normal is exhausting.  And is not only tiring for a few days, but it can take weeks sometimes even months before you adapt to the change and feel like you have more energy.  Anyone who has had a baby can tell you that, maybe they would even say the tiredness lasts for years (around 18 I think!)

After about 3 days in Haiti Sam slept for literally 20 hours!

We know we are going to feel frustrated.  I always tell the story of Bill moving to Northern Ireland and being extremely annoyed at the brush / broom.  They just don't make brooms the same in N.Ireland as they do in Canada and every time Bill swept the floor he ended up feeling annoyed and frustrated. It just wasn't the same as home. Something I didn't expect to be frustrated at in Canada was going grocery shopping.  In fact with such limited choice in Haiti I was looking forward to cooking being easy and eating lots of food we can't find in Haiti.  But, let me tell you it is not enjoyable.  Trying to figure out what some things are, which brands are good and which are not and what is a good price for something is very frustrating.

We know, with change its often the little things that are most difficult.  When we moved to Haiti we were expecting it to be hot, we were expecting the culture to be different,  we were expecting to feel homesick but what we were not expecting was that cooking and eating would be so different.  Even things which were made of the same ingredients still tasted different.  We were not expecting Sam, who was 2 1/2 at the time and not a fussy eater at all to have such a big problem with this change and therefore were not prepared.  We brought absolutely no foodstuffs from home with us.  As a result we struggled with Sam for probably over a year to eat his dinner.  Almost every night was a battle. It was exhausting and sometimes still is.

We know we need be prepared and organised.   The more prepared you are, the easier it is to cope with change.  Before coming to Canada we talked and talked about what we needed and what it was going to be like. I wrote lists of things Bill needed to buy before the boys and I got here.  We talked to Sam and Joel about coming to Canada and the snow and Grandpa & Grandma and baby Jacob. And it helped... a lot.

The boys have gone from sun to snow, from bare feet to snow boots, from outside all day to inside all day and from two boys  to three boys and they have done extremely well with these huge changes happening in their wee lives. 

When we moved to Haiti, Sam pretty much stopped eating, he also stopped being potty trained and we also went through many many hours of screaming and tantrums.  It really took him a full year to settle in Haiti.  So bringing him to Canada I expected things to be hard for Sam. He doesn't cope well with change and likes routine.  However he has been great, we give him lots and lots of rest and I make sure I talk to him about everything that is going to happen and where we are going to go and who we are going to meet.

It has been lovely to watch him with Jacob, right from day one he was calling Jacob his little brother, he said to me ' I love Jacob, his skin is so soft.  I really wanted a little brother who has really soft skin.'  If Jacob is crying Sam brings his dummy or tells me he needs to sleep or needs his bottle.
Ok, so Joel doesn't quite have the snow boots idea he still
loves bare feet!


Joel, on the other hand is very easy going and just takes everything in his stride.  I thought he would be jealous of Jacob because he is a real mummy's boy and loves to be held.  Yet again, Joel has had no issues he has just taken everything in his stride.

So this big big change has not really felt so big, and maybe its because we have become good at dealing with change but I'm pretty sure its mostly because of your prayers for us. Throughout all the changes of the last 8 years but more so the last two months we are so thankful that God never changes.  And no matter where we go or who we are with or what the weather is like that God is still faithful.  God is still leading and guiding us and God is giving us that peace that passes all understanding.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Daddy's home

The boys and I drove to Calgary on Sunday and stayed at Bill's brothers house for the night.  Sam and Joel got some good cousin time with Kaylie and Kian and on Monday we went to pick Bill up from the airport.

Its been a month since we have all been together (apart from a few hours before this last trip to Haiti) and the boys are very excited to have their daddy back.  Sam, especially has been hyper since Monday and just wants all of Bill's attention.

We moved over to the other house on Bill's parents land and are now all getting to know Jacob a bit better and bring him into our family.

Bill had a good trip in Haiti, the course was helpful and interesting and he enjoyed getting some face time with his class. 

We are working on the paperwork for the adoption and hope to have most of it done by the end of this month.

Thank you for your continued prayers, Jacob is a very blessed baby having people from all over the world praying for him.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Better late than never

Well I never got round to letting you know what went on at the beginning of this year so here it is!  January was a month full of visitors here at EBS.  The first week in January we had Pam, Jerry, Joyce, Larry & Verna and their daughter Lauren.  Pam was here for the whole month teaching two intensive course, her first course was Systematic Theology 2 and her next course was Pauline epistles .  Pam has been coming to EBS for more than ten years and was here for a month last year with us.  We also got the chance to  meet up with her in N.Ireland last summer so when she came to our house for dinner Sam wanted to know  'Is Miss Pam in our family?'

Jerry was teaching the Synoptic Gospels for our first year class.  Jerry was also at EBS last year and its been nice for our at meal times to have some familiar faces and get to know our VP's a little bit more.

Larry and Verna were teaching music and theory in the library right across from our house.  There was some beautiful singing coming from the library in the mornings.  Larry's parents were missionaries in Haiti and every time he comes back he brings a different one of his kids.  This time was Lauren's turn.

Joyce was here teaching the very first class in our new Masters in Education program.  This class consisted of 40 men and women, teachers, administrators, principles, missionaries and government officials.  What an opportunity to help these men and women incorporate Christ into their jobs in schools all over the North of Haiti.  Many of these teachers and administrators do not have a lot of training or resources and often things are being done they way they have always been done, which in Haiti mean rouge learning.

This course will have one week intensive class every 6 - 8 weeks for the next 18 months.  And yes you do see Bill in the picture.  This is a wonderful opportunity for Bill to learn and improve in the classroom. The second course is happening this week so Bill is back in Haiti, this weeks course is  studying 'understanding the learner'.  To read more about why EBS is holding this course and to see exactly what the students are studying click here to take you to the EBS website.

The boys and I staying mostly indoors and getting to know baby Jacob.

Poor Joel, he's not impressed!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

What a difference a week makes

Last weekend the boys were doing this...

This weekend they were doing this...

The boys and I left Haiti on Thursday at lunch time and arrived at grandma and grandpas house on Saturday at dinner time.  I have to say the boys were so good the whole journey.  Poor Joel woke up on Friday morning in the hotel in Miami with vomiting and diarrhoea.  Poor me had to try and clean it off his jammies and blanket with soap and water!! At this point I was not looking forward to the rest of the day.  But thankfully he spent most of the day sleeping off whatever had been affecting him that morning (I think it was the KFC from the night before) which is really quite useful when travelling.  Sam was a wee star the whole journey, he carried his backpack, he held doors open for me and when I wheeled the suitcase he wheeled the buggy.

These boys are serious travellers

I really want to thank everyone who prayed us through those 3 days, travelling with two little boys is no easy task but God answered prayers and it really turned out to be a very smooth journey.

We stayed the night at Bill's brothers house in Calgary on Friday night and by Saturday morning Sam could not wait any longer to get out in the snow. Thankfully grandma had sent all the snow clothes so the boys got all the gear on and headed outside.  Literally 2 minutes later there was a knock at the door, Sam was cold and needed to come inside to warm up.

Joel is a real mummy's boy and is very like his mummy in every way.
 This is pretty much how his mummy feels about being cold too!

We then left Bill to the airport to head back to Haiti for the Masters in Education class in which he is a student and therefore can't miss any classes.  He will spend a week in Haiti and fly back to Canada next weekend where we will finally be in the same country for a while.  It's taking me back to the time before we got married and we were living in different countries.

We arrived at the farm and finally got to meet baby Jacob.  The boys and I will spend the next week or so here at the farm with Bill's parents getting to know baby Jacob and him getting to know us.

This morning we went to church and it was great. I'll be honest I find going to church in Haiti very draining.  It is culturally very different to church at home.  On top of that it's usually very hot and loud and I spend 90% of the time trying to keep Sam & Joel quiet and still while they both fight over who is going to sit on mummy's knee. But this morning, we got to sing in English, worship songs that I knew and it was wonderful.  Sam got to go to Sunday school and actually got to learn a bible story and he loved it.  And I sat listening to the sermon, understanding every word it felt like a big blessing to be there.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

A pretty big change

I've been a little behind and a lot to update you on.  January was a busy month and February is shaping up to be the same!

But first,  we have a big change happening which we want to share with you.  Bill's sister had a baby  in October and she is unable to care for him. So after much thinking and praying Bill and I have decided to adopt the baby.  He is another little boy and his name is Jacob.  This decision involves us leaving Haiti and living in Canada until the adoption process is completed.

Social services were in contact with us at the beginning of February and informed us that one of us needed to be in Canada by 16th February to sign guardianship of Jacob or he would be taken into the care of social services.

So Bill left for Canada on Monday past and arrived in Alberta on Tuesday.  He met with his sister and the adoption worker on Wednesday and they both signed papers giving us guardianship of Jacob and parental consent to adopt. Bill is now at his parents farm in Youngstown,  getting to know Jacob and his routine!

I needed to stay behind to sort out a few things at the new PT clinic at Bethesda, so the boys and I will leave Haiti on 1st March and arrive in snowy Alberta on 2nd.  Bill and I are currently working on getting all the papers together which we need for the adoption application.

This is not a decision we have made lightly, we have prayed and feel that we have a responsibility to our family and we can give Jacob a loving, stable home which is exactly what he needs.  God has given us complete peace about this decision.

Bill will continue to teach his class online and he will back in Haiti a few times as he is studying the EBS Masters degree in Education.  During those weeks he will teach his class in Haiti.  He will also be representing OMS at recruitment events and speaking in churches over the next couple of months to promote the work of OMS in Haiti.

I am wrapping things up at the clinic and making sure everything is in place for Altidor, my Haitian PT tech, to take over.  Altidor has been volunteering with me since the beginning of January and I feel confident she will do a good job when I am not there.  Please pray that we would find the funds to be able to pay her once she starts working full time.

When in Canada I will be focusing on looking after three little boys and will continue to do some of the communication work for Bethesda.

Once the adoption process is complete we hope to return to Haiti for the next school year beginning in August 2018.  As the adoption is family adoption and is being done with the consent of Jacob's mother the process should be considerably faster than an adoption through and agency.

When we left Canada last August, we never thought we would be back this quickly!! The boys are excited about having a new baby brother and also seeing their grandma and grandpa.  Please pray for us as we go through this process. We really have no idea how long it will take and it will also be a big transition for Sam and Joel.  The boys are so used to just running outside to play in their bare feet and staying out all day but in Canada they will not be able to go outside without getting all their layers on! Sam will not be able to go to school either which will be hard on him as he loves going to school.

We have so much to pray for, but we also want to give thanks to God for how he has directed us so far and given us peace. We have our own home to live in at the farm and a car to drive.  The boys and I are very much looking forward to meeting Jacob and welcoming him into our family!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

More of God's provision

The other exciting project which has been happening at Bethesda is the electrical project.  Our electricity supply was highly unreliable, which meant we had lights flickering throughout the day, many of our outlets did not work so our fans didn't work, our fridges where the vaccines are kept were not on 24 hours a day and if when the electricity was down we could not do X-rays.   This affects the standard of care we can provide for our patients especially with the vaccines and X-ray.  We were also having to run a generator all night, every night so we could have power for the emergency department and security lights.  As you can imagine this was costing us a lot of money, fuel in Haiti is not cheap. 

A church from Salem, Oregon had been praying about how to help with this project.  Over a period of time a team of 11 electricians came forward and began to plan their trip to come to Haiti in January.  There was only one obstacle, they needed to raise $30,00 (US) for all the necessary supplies and equipement.  The project involved re-wiring the whole clinic, installing new fixtures, new lights and two inverters.  At the beginning of December the church had raised $10,000.  The church then set up a matching fund up to the value of $10,000 until 15th December.  I have to admit I highly doubted they would ever get all the funds they needed before the team came in January.  Well I was wrong, I received an email on 13th December saying the current total was $34,000!! We are so thankful to God for his wonderful provision.

some of the original fixtures

Phase 1  and 2 have been completed.  Now two wings of BMC have been re-wired with new fixtures, security lights and two inverters have been installed.  This means we can turn the generator off at night and have power which will also keep our two fridges running for the vaccinations.  The electricians are currently planning Phase 3 which is re wiring another wing of Bethesda in preparation for the installation of a new digital X ray system.

When I started working in Bethesda in September 2016 we had very few supporters each month and were definitely not making ends meet.  I really feel over the past year God has been blessing Bethesda.  In just 8 months we have completed a new physiotherapy building, and 2 out of 3 phases for the electrical project.  We are also up in our monthly support and have started fundraising for a new digital X ray machine of which we are 20% funded and also have a wonderful opportunity to have donations doubled up to $24,000 (US).  It is has been amazing to see how God has provided. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

God's perfect timing

As soon as I arrived in Haiti Dr Rodney sat me down and said ' I have a dream to build a new facility for therapy.  Since you were here in 2010 we have had no therapy and I want Bethesda to have this service even after you leave.'

The first PT room in 2008 and 2010

I worked on a hospital bed often beside patients who were on the observation ward!

The next PT room in 2016, a better bed but still very limited space.  After about a month in here the electricity stopped working!
So we started the process of planning for this new building.  We started funding in early 2017, construction started in June, little by little we got all of our funding and on Friday 29 December we officially opened the new building.  The very next day we used the building was with a team of 6 PT's from the states.  In the morning they were treating patients and  I spent the week learning as much as I could especially on treating strokes and paediatrics.  We used our staff devotion time to educate our staff, giving them assessment tools to decide when they should send a patient to physiotherapy.
The new building!

On Wednesday and Thursday afternoon we had 18 Haitian PT techs come from 2-5pm for education sessions.  This was especially exciting for me.  I have worked really hard to set up the PT network and its been up and down, getting people to be committed and see the benefits of the group has been hard.   Doing the training was one of the reasons why I wanted to set it up.  We want to promote sustainability and when we have PT's coming to train me, I want them to train as many other therapists as they can.

On Friday afternoon we invited doctors and nurses from Bethesda and other clinics to come and learn more about PT particularly in regards to neurology and how physio can help.  We also gave them some assessment tools to help with referral.

The next step was to employ a Haitian PT tech.  The day before we opened the building I spoke with Dr Rodney that we really need a PT tech, especially after the team because there way no way I could see all of those patients for their follow up.  I had a girl in mind, who lives in the area, who has been very committed to the PT network and treated a patient for me over the summer.  Dr Rodney agreed with me and said he had someone in mind.  Turns out it was the same person! Unfortunately we don't yet have the money to pay her salary but she has been volunteering with me and she is great.  We would really  like to employ her full time as soon as we can.

A group of students from the PT tech school also came to shadow.

It has been so clear to me that this is God's plan for therapy in Bethesda and it is really even a miracle that the whole thing is completed, that the team has been and gone and that we already have a Haitian PT tech working alongside of me.

One of the things I wanted to do in this new space was to run classes and for the past two Monday's we have had our stroke class.  The first week each person stood up and told their story of how long they have been sick and how having a stroke affected their lives.  I could just tell this was really important to them and they had not had the chance to meet together with other stroke survivors.  Needless to say we didn't do any exercise the first week! Last week we did our 30 minutes of exercise then had a visiting nutritionist talk about the relationship between food and blood pressure.  Each week we will take a different subject and educate patients and every 3rd week Pastor Daniel will come and do a devotional.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support for this project, its pretty exciting to be here and see the whole thing come together.  Please continue to pray that within this new building patients would not only find the physical help that is so needed but above all they would find spiritual help.