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.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Catch up

The last few weeks have been busy.  Work in the clinic is good, a few weeks ago I had a patient who had suffered from a stroke. She was completely paralysed down her right side and I couldn't believe she had come to the clinic on the back of a motorbike! I can't even imagine how difficult that would be.  I haven't treated a stroke patient for a long time so I was a little nervous that I wouldn't remember what to do!!  After this week's treatment she was up walking with just a little bit of help, which is great progress.

Tuesday was Sam's birthday and all he wanted for his birthday was a minion, a cake and a plate.  So he was pretty pleased to see he got more than that!!  Vedane and the four kids came on Tuesday with a present and we had pancakes and birthday cake. On Friday night we had a wee party for him with the other families here and his Grandma and Grandpa who arrived on Friday for a week.

Joel is as happy as ever.  His only problem is he doesn't know how to sleep in past 5am!!He loves going out visiting people and he is dying to get outside and play with all the other kids.

The rain has finally stopped (mostly!) the days are sunny and dry.  However there is still a lot of mud on the roads from all the rain.  We have been feeling a lot cooler over the last month or so.  Sam has been asking for long PJ's and socks in bed and Joel has actually started wearing clothes without sweating!

 Bill has been working flat out the last month or two, working every Saturday and some evenings marking papers, preparing for class and writing final exams. Final exams finished on Friday and all the students have left for Christmas break.  So this week Bill will be finishing up marking exams and papers and then he will be off!

This was Bill's first year of teaching and he wasn't too sure how he was doing but he had a few encouraging words this week from students which confirmed he should be doing what he is doing.

 ' When you first started teaching I felt stressed out but once I got used to your teaching now I really like it so thank you.'

'Thank you for teaching us, we think you have more wisdom than Solomon!'  (that is my favourite one!!)

'I like how Bill doesn't just tell us the answers but makes us think for ourselves'

On Friday the first and second year students threw a surprise party for the teachers to say thank you for all they do for them.  This has never happened before at EBS.  The students had a little program all prepared and had something to say about all the teachers.  Then they had a time of worship and prayer for the staff at Emmaus.

Saturday afternoon was the EBS staff Christmas party at Matt & Stacey's house.  We started off with a time of sharing.  What really struck me was how the staff feel about EBS.   Its not just the place they come to work, for a few its their home, its where they sleep and eat on weekdays.  The people they work with are not just their co workers but their family.   We're still getting to know everyone but it was really great to see how the staff work together and feel like a family, right from the ladies who wash the clothes to the teachers who have masters degrees.  After that we had some games which were hilarious then we had food, then each staff member received an EBS t-shirt as their gift.

This week we will be showing Bill's parents the sights of Haiti!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Heavy week.....

This week was heavy to say the least. We see a lot of suffering in Haiti but sometimes it just all comes at once and to people you know. On Monday morning I took Sam to school and went to Vedane's house. Vedane was telling me she wasn't feeling good and when I asked her why she said A friend had passed away last night at just about 9 months pregnant. On asking more I found out the friend was called Angeline the wife of a guy I know who lives in Vaudrieul. They have only be married a little while and this was their first baby. The whole community is in mourning and it is all everyone can talk about and think about. Angeline's mum worked in the clinic in 2010 when I was there and since then has moved to Florida. She was due to come to Haiti expecting to meet her grandchild and on Wednesday she arrived in very different circumstances.

I was at the clinic on Tuesday and came home to Michilene and the boys,  Michilene's mother in law had died in Michilene's house on Sunday night. She has a sore stomach that evening and by 2am she was dead.  Michilene's husband is in Brazil looking for work and has been for 2 years, she is on her own with 5 kids and has now lost her mother in law who lived with her. My heart was heavy for Michilene on Tuesday.

On Thursday I had a patient, an older lady who was fine until 2 months ago. Then something happened, they are not sure what and after that episode she cannot see and she cannot walk very well. She was referred to me because of her walking. After I assessed her I really couldn't see anything that physiotherapy could do , it seemed she wasn't walking well because she was scared. Everything is now in darkness and she is scared to walk because she thinks she will fall, or bang into someone or something. There was really nothing I could do. Her family had taken her to the doctor, they had taken her to the eye doctor, they had come to Bethesda today hoping to find answers and something help only to go home with nothing.

After that a young friend of mine came to visit, Phaly. In my time at the clinic before I had about 4 or 5 little boys who always used to come to my room to visit. They are all teenagers now and Phaly comes every few weeks to say hi.  He is a typical teenage boy and doesn't talk too much but when I asked him how everything was going he started talking.  He told me things aren't good because his older sister is sick and has been for 4 months. Has she not been to the doctor? I asked. 'Its not something you can go to the doctor for' he replied. 'She has an evil spirit.... he continued, 'sometimes it causes her to talk a lot, one time she looked like she was dead, she can't go anywhere or do anything. My father has taken her to a witch doctor but that didn't do anything and anyway I don't believe in that.'
I don't even know what to say to him, imagine having to deal with that at the age of 15. The only thing and the best thing I can do is pray for her.

Claudin is on staff here at Emmaus, his wife was pregnant, she had some bleeding last week and they took her back in hospital on Tuesday because she was leaking amniotic fluid. On Wednesday night she went into labour and delivered a little girl, Daniella at 28 weeks.   Not old enough to be able to survive. I talked with Claudin today who came to work, he is so grateful that his wife is ok. He told me 'if it had have been God's will for us to have this baby we would have, we trust in him because he knows.' What faith they have.  

These situations, people and circumstances are on our minds a lot we are trying to do something or say something that will help.  But we are so grateful that we serve a God who is bigger than all of these circumstances, who can comfort those who are mourning, who is more powerful than Satan and who can provide strength for those who need it.  

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Rain rain and more rain

We keep waiting for the rain to stop and it just doesn't.  It has been raining almost everyday since the beginning of November as even I sit here tonight the rain is falling steadily outside. November is usually wet but never this wet, so everyone tells me.

Last Thursday the rain came down in buckets and we heard reports of flooding in lots of areas.  Almost everyone I talk to has some sort of flooding inside their house.  All of their clothes are wet and they are sleeping on wet beds.  One of our nurses in the clinic lives in Plaine du Nord and the water was as high as her dining table inside the house.  Everything was covered in muddy water and the rain washed some of her things away.  We heard of other houses in that area that the rain was as high as the door with people losing everything they have inside.

Yesterday in the clinic Dr Rodney was talking about the flooding asking our staff how things are where they live.  He said that people can come to work, they look well, they look happy, they are talking & laughing but we can never know what is going on at home.  Some of our staff have some water inside their homes and others are completely flooded.  Dr Rodney went on to say 'God has enabled Haitian people to live in a way which we can't understand, in a way that doesn't seem possible.....that is called a miracle.'

Monday was dry and sunny so everyone spent the whole day washing clothes and sheets and putting them out to dry.  I left Sam to school and went to visit a friend in Vaudrieul.  Varesca showed me where the rain has been coming into her house and explained there was a leak onto her bed so she had to sleep with a little bowl on the bed to catch the water.

Oh Haiti always has something that is making life more difficult.  As if life is not difficult enough already.

Please continue to pray for Haiti and her people.  Pray for this election results.  Pray for a good president who is going to do something for Haiti.

Pray for so many who have been affected by the rain.

On a more positive note we got to meet baby Victorieux, baby brother to Victoria, Victory and Victor.  Lucner is a teacher here at the seminary and his wife Luna is a student. The baby wasn't due until December  but decided to come a few weeks early and thankfully all went well.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

A faithful follower

On Thursday I had a new patient at the clinic, her name was Henrietta.  When she came in it was obvious she had had a stroke so I was expecting the subjective assessment to be quick and easy.  When I asked her what the problem was, she started with ' Since I was born......'  My first thought was 'oh no this is going to take forever and none of it will be relevant as to why she is here today for physiotherapy!!'

It turns out none of it was relevant but it was great and encouraging for me.  This is her story.....

Since I was born God chose me to serve him.  As I grew up I believed in what God had done for me and I have spent my life serving him. I did not get married or have children because I was serving God.  I was born in Cap but heard God calling me to Port au Prince as a missionary to tell people about what he has done.  My life had been difficult but we should expect to go through suffering when we are serving God.

I was in an car accident in 2014 and hit my head and was paralysed all down one side. I was in hospital for 2 months.  My family have abandoned me because I am a christian, I don't have a home and I just sleep in the church that I belong to.  When I find a little money I eat, I have gone 10 days or so with no food but I know that I am suffering for Jesus. the life of a servant of God is not easy.

I tried to encourage her and tell her the bible tells us we will suffer but we know our hope is in heaven and when we get there, there will be no more suffering.  Her face literally lit up with the thought of heaven.  I don't think I have ever seen anyone's face light up like that.  She agreed and sung a song about it! I can't say that has ever happened when treating a patient before.

I asked her how she knew we had physio here in Bethesda?  She told me a few nights ago she had a dream where two ladies told her she should go to Bethesda because there would be someone there to help her.  Anyway we continued to talk as I treated her, every now and again she would say   ' Thank you in advance Jesus for healing me.'

It was encouraging for me to see someone following the Lord so faithfully in the midst of such suffering.  Some days I think we are suffering by moving here.  There are many things we miss from home such as family,  friends, being able to take the boys to the park, going for walks, nipping out to the shop to get what we need,  church, our home culture (although Bill isn't quite sure what his home culture is anymore!!) It would definitely be easier for us to live in Northern Ireland.

Other days when I see how people are suffering here I think we are not suffering at all.  God has given us so many things to be thankful for.  We have a lovely house to live in,  we can eat everyday, we have clothes, shoes, toys, books,  our OMS missionary family, good internet (mostly) to keep in touch with family at home, friends here and many many more things.

However with or without the material possessions Heneritta and I have one major thing in common we both believe and trust in the same God. We are both thankful that even though we will have suffering in this life, it is only temporary. And when we are going through times of suffering we have a God who is able to help us, who will strengthen us and who will give us the grace we need for each and every situation.

Romans 5 v 3-6

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
 because we know that suffering produces perseverance,
 perseverance character; 
and character hope.  And hope does not put us to shame.

1 Peter 5 v 10 

And the God of all grace, 
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, 
after you have suffered a little while, 
will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

We're back!!

After over a week of no internet were back online and here is an update I wrote last week....

We literally went from one world to another. The boys and I (poor Bill had to stay in Haiti to work) spent a week in Florida with my mum, dad and sister. It has been 5 months since the boys saw their Granny and Bampa in person and not over facetime! Sam was a little overwhelmed and shy when we met them in Miami airport but he didn't take too long to come round. Joel was his usual smiley self for them.

We had a great week together, Sam had been looking forward to the trip to the zoo for months so he really enjoyed it. In his own words he ' actually fed a giraffe!!' We went to the beach, the pool, the park, had ice cream, ate strawberries & blueberries, went on a boat trip, saw dolphins and even stroked a baby alligator!! It was funny for me to watch the boys and their reaction to America. Joel eyes were wide open the whole time taking everything in. Sam had definitely forgotten about somethings from home. In the airport he was asking me was the escalator was and was scared when we got in the lift which was strange because he used to love going in the lift!

After a week Leah had to fly home as she was starting work again and my mum & dad flew back into Haiti with us for a week.

It was raining when we arrived and has hardly stopped all week. Bill told us it had rained really heavily on the Saturday night. When he was driving to come and pick us up the road was covered in mud which had come down off the mountain. By the time we arrived it started raining again.

Mud which has run down off the mountain onto the main road

It has rained and rained and rained all week and now Cap Haitian and surrounding areas are flooded. We have heard reports that 9 people have died in the flooding. Almost everyone I talk to has water inside their house and everything is wet. Some people have lost their homes and many of the few possessions which they have. The roads are terrible, schools have been closed for the week and once again Haitian people are suffering.

With no infrastructure to cope with the amount of rain that is falling is causing a lot of problems. Often it feels like Haiti has so many problems its impossible to know where to start even trying to fix things.

The traffic on the way to the airport, it took us over 2 hours a journey which normally taked 40 mins. 

The election is supposed to take place on 20th November, this is the same election which was supposed to take place last October as in 2015. It has been postponed many times with the most recent one being just after hurricane Matthew hit.

So one week we were taking a boat trip around one of the richest cities in the USA where the houses cost millions upon millions and are just holiday homes for people to use for 2 weeks a year and just a few days later we were driving through a flooded city where people are losing their possessions, their homes and for some their lives because of something as simple as rain. It is quite a difference and hard to get your head around.

Maybe your tired hearing about Haiti's problems, it seems like the people never get a break, as if life isn't difficult enough Haiti gets hit again and again and again. We ask you again to pray. Pray for the rain to stop and the sun to come out. Pray for the election, Haiti needs a good president, a good government who are going to work to improve Haiti. Pray for those suffering from the rain, who don't have any dry clothes to put on or who are getting into a wet bed every night. Pray for wisdom for us, there is so much suffering and so much need all around us that we would know who and how to help.

****Thankfully the rain has stopped, the clean up is happening and the roads are still terrible but its dry.  In other news Sam had his first day in school on Monday, he is going to Cowman School the OMS school here in Haiti on Mondays and Wednesday's at the minute.  He was excited to go and a little nervous when we went in but he seemed to like it.  

Meanwhile Joel has discovered oreos.......