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.......





Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Student Evangelism

I was going to write about this but Stacey already has so here is her post....

God at work

They were ready to go, a dear invested brother jumped in and covered the trip (12 people, 4 days and nights, food, water, borrowed sound system, generator, fuel, Bibles, transportation and tent materials...$247 USD) and that's how a part of the Emmaus body spent last weekend.  

My very favorite part about these trips is when they get back.
Leading up to this weekend, 3 or 4 students have been sharing the Gospel in Difou 2-3 times a week. Unlike other places they have visited where they've had little or no interest in the Gospel, no person of peace, and have had to "brush the dust off their sandals", they were touched from the start by the number of people in Difou (the community right past Fev) who were incredibly interested...who seemed to never have heard It...who were anxious to hear more.

And this weekend gave them the opportunity to do just that!  Emmaus can now say with confidence that every single person in this village has heard the Gospel, and continued to hear the Gospel unpacked throughout the weekend.  On Sunday morning, EBS built these small tents, and when they asked if anyone was interested in giving their lives to this God they have been hearing of, forty people (FORTY PEOPLE) said they were all in.  Dozens more said they want to hear more.  Hundreds (HUNDREDS) came for morning worship.

Leme couldn't believe how little Difou knew of "traditional" Christianity.  He said no one knew the hymns they were singing, no one knew how Sunday morning worship worked, no one had horror stories of crooked pastors or divided congregations or denominational disputes or unkind Christians...there is literally no church, no Christ, in the history of Difou.
That will never be the case again.  

The one thing each student and staff member has repeated to me over and over again is how interested everyone is...how anxious to hear and learn more, how great their desire to know Him and be pleasing to Him.  This is rare in ANY culture, and we're all just in awe of how God has prepared their hearts and how soft Difou is...

What an awesome opportunity to give the true Jesus, deep and wide and free.
I wish I had more pictures (always) but I'm just thankful that Leme grabbed a few on his phone the morning they put the "church" together.

(Me heading into a zone like this as a foreigner to take pictures of everyone is the opposite of the indigenous, culturally relevant evangelization and genuine conversions and spiritual growth we are praying for!  No matter how hard I try, as a foreigner I am seen as being in a position of power...and trying to lead people into a true relationship with the Lord from a position of power rarely works)
I'm also incredibly excited to see evangelism happening in Difou, in culturally relevant ways, in the heart language of the people, by men and women living right down the road, and with DISCIPLESHIP following right after...continued.

This isn't a "40 conversions!" statistic and on with life.  This is the planting of seeds of Truth and Hope and Redemption in people's lives, by His power, and then all of the watering and sunshine and TLC that must follow.

Though right now Phida and Leme cant 't stay behind, as begged, can't leave some of the students to live among them...Difou is nowhere near abandoned.  This week, several of the same staff and students went from 1-3, as always.  With so many zones even further than Difou who may have also never heard the full-Gospel, no one is anxious to abandon the road, either.
So, Leme and Phida are praying with the students about which of them God is calling to care for and grow all these new brothers and sisters in Difou (ideally, two of them will stay in Difou, going on weekends and 3 times a week) and the rest of the students will keep moving on.  

I know this is no captivating marketing campaign. I know this is not a complicated or impressive strategy.

But I love how much this sounds like the Bible.

May that always be our strategy.  
Add Difou to your prayers!  Pray for growth, pray for more to follow, pray for our staff, our students, pray for sensitivity and humility and wisdom and great enduring love.
 Keep on helping us do THIS.

thank you

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Busy Busy

Life has picked up pace since we started working.  Bill teaches on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and spends the rest of his time preparing which takes a long time as it is his first year teaching.  Now on top of preparing he has to factor in time for writing tests, marking them and also marking papers.   His general epistles class has 40 students in it which means a lot of marking.

 He is learning lots about teaching and how best to do that but feels a bit overwhelmed at times with so much work to do.  Bill also wants to make sure he is doing his best as it is a big responsibility to teach God's word to young men and women. These students are  then taking the word of God to their communities, evangelising and leading churches.  We believe the only way Haiti will ever change is God working through the lives of individuals.



I have started working in the clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It's been good  to be back and renew relationships with the staff who were there before, my first patients were all staff from the clinic with various problems, shoulder pain, back pain and knee pain.  Simple things that have been going on way too long and are now causing chronic problems because of the lack of treatment.









Between working in the clinic, looking after the boys, cooking, baking bread, pasteurising milk, doing the washing etc it seems there is always something that needs done.  Always something that needs cleaned.  Always something that needs baked.  Always someone that needs help.  Sometimes living here can be overwhelming.  It's at those points I stop and think about our staff in the clinic, my friends, my patients, how much harder life must be without electricity, running water, an oven, a fridge, a freezer, a washing machine, an income, the internet....and I could go on.  All those things make life so much easier.  I can't even imagine being able to live without them.  Just living day to day in Haiti must be so exhausting.


I have a patient , Kerline, she is 41 and 3 years ago she had a stroke.  Since her stroke she has been at home in her house not able to go anywhere.  She has regained some movement and is able to walk with a zimmer frame but Haiti is not accessible for people with disabilities. She doesn't even have a wheelchair if she wants to go anywhere.  With the stroke she lost her speech, her daughter lives in Florida and she cannot talk to her on the phone.  Her mum brings here for physio and I can't even imagine how difficult it is to get her into a taptap which she has to take two of to get to the clinic. Its been a while since her stroke but I am hoping the physio will still help her improve and make some progress so she can become more independent.



Tomorrow I will bring Junior to the clinic to see a neurologist who we have visiting here for a week.  He still hasn't been able to go for the CT scan he needs as he doesn't have anyone to take him and again taking public transport when you are paralysed is extremely difficult. It will be good to get another opinion and see if we can make a plan for him.  If you remember please pray for Junior, he is fed up being at home.  He wants to work but finding a job in Haiti is extremely difficult and even more difficult if you are in a wheelchair.


About a month ago I was able to give a wheelchair to Alix, he loves it, he loves being able to go out and go to church.  In fact I think he is pestering his mum and granny now he wants to go out all the time.  But it has created a new problem, Alix has no bladder and bowel control which as you can imagine is difficult when to go anywhere.  Yet we cannot find nappies for kids his age in Haiti.  Thankfully we had friends who were in the Dominican over the weekend and were able to buy a packet for us but this will be an ongoing problem.





A guy that works for the seminary here, Junel, has family in the south where the hurricane hit and he travelled down last weekend to go and see them.  He said it was awful, everyone has lost everything their houses, crops and livestock.  His father was a fisherman and he lost all of his nets. But they are thankful to be alive.  In the area his father lives they have not received any aid yet.......nothing.  He said the biggest problem is cholera, people who survived the hurricane are now dying from cholera.  He told me a story of a guy from Port au Prince who went to visit his family in the south after the Hurricane and he died from cholera.  I worked in our cholera clinic is 2010, it is truly the most awful thing I have ever seen.  People get sick extremely quickly and can die within 5 hours of first getting sick. Please pray that for help to get to the right places and people.




I know this hasn't been an uplifting post but this is the reality of life for people in Haiti. Its difficult, everyday for most people.

 Saying all of that I had a great conversation with a guy who works in the clinic, I was treating his shoulder and we were talking about the USA.  He has been three times and I was asking if he liked it. He replied
' Yes but there is one thing I do not like,  people in the USA do not talk about God, they do not care about God.  They fill their lives with stuff, big houses, cars, technology and other things but they have nothing.  Because if you don't have God in your life you have nothing.  When I was in the USA I never heard anyone mention God on the TV or on the radio,  anywhere.  In Haiti we can talk about God where ever we are, we can hear about God on the radio.  I grew up with just my mother as my father left us when I was young, my mother was very poor but the biggest thing she did for us was she introduced us to God.  Without God in your life you have nothing.'



And that is the hope I see in people in Haiti, its true most people here have nothing materially but for those who have God, who have put their trust in Jesus they know this life is only temporary. They know God is giving them the strength they need for each and every day.  And they know the suffering they are experiencing right now will soon be gone and one day they will live with Jesus in heaven forever and that is where their hope is.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Graduation

I've know Dr Rodney and his wife since 2008.  Dr Rodney worked just across from me in the clinic and Amy & I used to go and visit them in the evenings in their home.  Vedane is probably one of the reasons I learnt creole  because we became good friends quickly and she couldn't speak English so I had to learn!

Back in 2010

Ever since I have known them they have been talking about their dream.  This dream is what they feel God is calling them to do.  Dr Rodney went to medical school in the Dominican Republic, doing his entrance exam in Spanish, not being able to speak a word of Spanish (that's another story)  and was working there after he qualified.  He felt very strongly that God was calling him to return to Haiti to serve there.

2010

Their vision for Haiti is to be able to care for people and show the love of Christ to them by opening a hospital in Haiti which provides a high standard of  care, both physical and spiritual.  Part of their dream was to open a school to train health professionals.  In 2012 they did just that.  Bill & I were here in August 2012 and Dr Rodney showed us the building he was  renting for the school, however within a few months the building was too small and he had to move.  Now the school is run from the old seminary buildings on the OMS compound.

The first building 

There are four courses, nursing, laboratory technician, x - ray technician and Pharmacy technician. Part of the vision for the school is that students will come from remote villages, do their training and when they graduate they will be able to return to their villages and be the local health care worker.


Last Friday we were able to go to their first graduating ceremony.  They had  60 students graduate in all four courses, around half of them were nurses. It was a great ceremony and a big celebration of a great achievement by Dr Rodney and his team.




All the students were dressed in their graduating robes and hats for the first half of the ceremony.  Most of it was in French so we didn't really understand what all was happening!! However as soon as Dr Rodney got up to speak there was a huge cheer, mostly from many of the current students who were there. 


One thing which struck me was when the students received their diploma they not only shook Dr Rodney's hand but they went along to each member of staff (those you can see in the photo here) to greet them.  While each student was getting their diploma they had a little bit to say about each one.  It was very personal and you could tell the students were close with the staff and the staff were extremely proud of the achievement of their students. 



After this all the students left and came back in in their uniforms, clean, crisp and pure white (I still have no idea how anyone gets anything so clean here!!)




Meanwhile Dr Rodney gave his thank yous which of course included his mum and his wife!


They nurses took their nightingale pledge.....


Then received their nurses hat and badge.





Even though we couldn't understand a lot of it, it was a great ceremony. 



Their plans continue on as they have bought land and plan to build the school complete with dormitories so the vision of people coming from remote places to stay, study and go back to their own communities to provide much needed healthcare can become a reality.