Friday, 11 October 2019

Mustard seed faith and a crazy idea

Bethesda has been through and is going through a very difficult time.  The past 18 months have been hard and full of uncertainty regarding the future of Bethesda.  In March of this year our newly formed board made the decision to move forward with buying a piece of property, and making plans to build a new Bethesda.

Once the decision was made, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders, we finally had a firm decision and it was exactly what I thought the decision should be.  Not only were we having property issues (the property is rented from another organisation) but our buildings are old, dirty and not fit for purpose.  Not anywhere near the standard they should be to provide good quality care.


Ms Ketlye's office still looks like the 1960's to me rather than 2019!

But finding property has been very hard.  Property in Haiti is extremely expensive.  Given the size of our clinic now and allowing room for expansion property can range from $200,000 to $800,000 (US)!!  We are now very close to having a piece of property but it has been slow because of the political crisis we are experiencing right now.  It is difficult to get anything done with road blocks, protests and many banks and businesses shut.  Please continue to pray we will be able to secure a piece of property soon.

As I mentioned Haiti is right in the middle of a political crisis. Our patient numbers are very low and because 80% of our income comes from patient fees our in-country income is down.  As the political crisis continues, the price of everything also continues to rise.  What that means for Bethesda is all our medical supplies, medicine and office supplies are getting more and more expensive each week.

A few months ago this box of small bags (which we use to dispense medicine in) cost 600 gourdes.  Today it is 3000 gourdes.


This roll of gauze used to cost 1000 gourdes.  
Today it is 2000 gourdes. 

 I could give you many many more examples but you get the picture.



Our patients are suffering more and more, we have even had patients who cannot afford to come for therapy, which only costs 100 gourdes (80p or $1 US) because of the increased cost of transportation.
Before this past 6 weeks spending the money to come to Bethesda was already a sacrifice.  Today I don't know how anyone is doing it.


I've been pretty discouraged about the whole situation, things are moving slower than I thought with the new building.  Our income is down, our expenses are up and there doesn't seem to be any end to the current political situation.

But then I reminded myself of a conversation I had with Ms. Prudence a few weeks ago.  She had so many stories of patients she had helped she didn't know where to start.  Let me just share a couple with you.

Recently, an elderly lady came to Bethesda with her son.  When they arrived, he was looking around like he was searching for someone.  Ms. Prudence noticed them and went over to ask if she could help.  The man told her his mother had been ill for over a year with bleeding from her womb.  They had been to many different doctors but one time after another she was told she had an infection and given antibiotics but was not getting any better.

Ms. Prudence took this lady into our treatment room, took a history and did a physical examination where she realised this lady had cancer.  As she had been ill for a long time and cancer treatment is very difficult to find in Haiti, Ms. Prudence knew the only thing we could do medically was make her comfortable...but there was something better we could do.  Ms. Prudence explained to the lady she was very ill and unlikely to get better, that there was no medical solution for her illness but there was a solution that could be found in Jesus.  Ms. Prudence had the opportunity to share the gospel with this lady.  She then went to see Dr Rodney where he continued to talk about the gospel and what that meant for her life, that very day this lady accepted Jesus as her Saviour. 

Ms. Prudence told the lady's son what was wrong with his mother and that she would not get any better.  The man, who is already a Christian, explained that, that very morning when he arrived at the gate of Bethesda he prayed ‘Please God help me find someone who knows exactly what is wrong with my mother so I can have an answer.’

This man was overjoyed to see that God not only answered his prayer but also saved his mother. Even though she will continue to get sicker here on this earth they now have hope in Christ that one day she will go to a place where there will be no more sickness, no more suffering and no more death. 



The next story is about a young man who had been ill for a while with a cough and generally feeling very unwell.  His family told him it was Satan making him sick and he really should go to a witch doctor. 

This young man had heard the name Jesus but didn't know anything about Jesus, he really didn't believe in the witch doctor but felt so much pressure from his family that he visited three times.  Each time he continued to get sicker and sicker.  Then he decided to come to Bethesda. 

During his inital consultation he tested positive for TB, he was assured if he took his medicine he could be cured from TB.  He was also told who Jesus was and what He had done for him.  A few weeks later he came back for his follow up appointment, feeling much much better and that day decided to make a decision to follow Jesus.

He told us he hoped that his decision to follow Christ would show his family that Satan was not making him sick and that following Jesus is the only way. 



Despite all the problems facing Bethesda God continues to work through our staff on a daily basis.  We exist to share the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ by helping the sick in a country where it is difficult to find good, quality, affordable healthcare.

I would like to end this post with a crazy idea that came to me today after lying awake half the night last night thinking about the problems facing Bethesda.  I'm not sure if this is from me or maybe the Lord gave it to me.  But here it is: what if we had so many monthly donors that we could actually lower our patient fees?  What if Bethesda was the ONLY place in Haiti lowering prices? What a testimony that would be to the gospel!  We would have a huge opportunity to show people that we REALLY care and that we are there to share the love of Christ.  We can show the people of Haiti that Bethesda is for them especially when it feels like everything else is against them.  The beauty of this crazy idea is that we serve a God who can do it.

Perhaps God is asking you to be part of what he is already doing and going to do in Bethesda.  If you feel led to give once or a monthly donation you can do so online 


Dr Rodney is a man of great faith, I mean who else do you know that does an entrance exam into medical school in a language he doesn't know, passes the exam, and then goes to medical school without a penny to his name trusting in God to provide? 

I hope that I have even a fraction of the faith Dr Rodney has and that God will take my little tiny mustard seed faith and make it move mountains. 

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”  Matthew 17 v 20

Hebrews 11 v 1 
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 


Tuesday, 24 September 2019

We need your help

This last week has been a crazy week, there has been ongoing political instability, more road blocks, no school, some fuel but crazy waiting times to get some. 

Then this day last week we found out our neighbours, for various reasons, were leaving on Saturday.  With only a few days notice Emmaus has been unable to prepare someone to step into their roles. 

So we need your help, we are looking for someone with skills in any of the following areas 

Campus network manager 
Information technology maintaince
Electrical systems manager 
Maintaince manager and / or maintaince help especially with running generators
Teaching English as a second language, English tutoring and grading 

If you have any of these skills and are willing to come or if you more questions about anything please get in touch with us.  You can send an email to hr@emmaus.edu.ht 
There is no minimum commitment, you can come for a couple or weeks, a couple of months or longer and you get to live next door to us (don't let put you off!!). 

In order for Emmaus university to run smoothly we really need an IT manager and right now all of that responsibility is falling to Matt, the president of Emmaus who already has a million things on his plate.  

If you don't have any of these skills please join us in praying for God to send someone to help us here at Emmaus. 



 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Fuel update...

Or lack of I should say.  The fuel problem is still ongoing and its complicated, like most problems in Haiti.  Haiti did have a deal with another country for fuel but that fell apart last year,  Haiti also owes a lot of money to I don't know who for fuel so unable to buy more from whoever that is.  Now Haiti can only get fuel when they can pay for it, which well is not very often judging by the way things are.  There are also rumours of the opposition party blocking fuel trucks to put the country into shut down until the president steps down. So basically we don't really know the whole story with the fuel issues and we don't know what to believe.

What we do know is not having fuel is affecting every area of life.  A lot of schools have been unable to open as their staff and / or students cannot make it due to road blocks.  Others simply cannot afford the price of public transport, which is doubling, tripling and even more in some situations.

With lack of fuel, the transportation of food cannot happen so the price of already expensive food just keeps rising.



The two petrol stations on my way to work have both had no fuel for well over 3 weeks if not longer.  In fact the one station does not even have enough diesel to run their own generator so they have no electricity. 

Over the past couple of weeks tensions have been rising, there has been the odd protest or road block but it seems like things are coming to a head with reports of many more roadblocks over the past couple of days,  protests over the lack of fuel and a cry for the government to step up and do something.  

We are taking it day by day, to see how the roads are,  see if school is cancelled and if I am ok to go to Bethesda. 

For Bethesda this means our patient numbers are low, our staff are making the effort come to work and thankfully many of them live close by and can walk.  But for those who don't they are paying way more than usual for transportation or are getting stopped at roadblocks or walking a long way to get there.


Here is an extract from the Emmaus update


Haiti is stuck in a very bad place, again and still.

Stuck at Emmaus means having class any days the majority of students can come, pushing forward. It means teachers who can come subbing for teachers who can't.  It means working hard to keep food on the many tables, and it means searching far and wide and waiting long and longer to get fuel when we can for the generator that powers our water pumps, internet, lights, fans, fridges.

Stuck for many and most of Haiti means fasting and praying and waiting and helping one another and stretching and doing the very best possible and praying some more.

Stuck for a few means doing all and anything to get unstuck, which might include inflicting fear, and removing it for a price. It might include breaking, burning, throwing, blocking....maybe something will change if it gets ugly enough. Maybe someone will pay attention if it's loud enough, if the skies are black, if the roads sparkle. Maybe someone will DO something if they HAVE to.


I've been struggling with how to react and respond to yet another crisis in Haiti, from earthquakes to cholera, to floods, to hurricanes, to rising food prices, to political instability and to the current but not first fuel crisis....Haiti has almost seen it all and it has become so easy to respond with despair and hopelessness.


But the situation is not hopeless, it may be terrible, it may be desperate, it may be discouraging, it may even be infuriating but the one thing it is not is hopeless.

God is working in Haiti, people are turning from their sin and giving their lives to him. Men and women are being discipled through the local church.  Evangelists are going door to door sharing the gospel.  Christians are putting all their faith in him to provide all of their needs and He does.

So while things are bad in Haiti, they really are, and we will continue to pray for a solution to the fuel problem, for peace, for the government and for rising food prices,  we can take so much comfort and peace in knowing that during this time of  darkness and for many, hopelessness there are many many Christians across Haiti who can speak light into the darkness, and who can bring hope into such a hopeless situation.



Tonight I watched a simulcast on David Platt's new book, something needs to change. Its incredibly challenging but also encouraging especially for me living in a country with so much need.  He tells stories of hope and encourages Christians to have the faith to believe that God can change things, so that's what where we are putting our hope.

If you have an hour here is the link. https://somethingneedstochange.thegospelcoalition.org/

Friday, 6 September 2019

The reality of life

Coming back to Haiti hits you like a ton of bricks.  I talked about preparing your mind emotionally before you come, but I don't think you can ever really prepare for the reality of what life is really like here.



I have never and probably will never know what it feels like to not have enough money to send my boys to school or to feed them every day, let alone buy them toys or clothes or new shoes.

Statistics tell us that 59% of the population in Haiti live below the poverty line.  I can tell you even for those people who do have a job that what they earn is much less than what they need to get by.  Food in Haiti is expensive, just to give you an example if I go to Tesco's to buy a bag of carrots I will pay 59p for about 12 carrots, if I buy 12 carrots at the market in Haiti I will pay around £1.50 and they will probably be smaller.



Then there is school, every year the price of school goes up and as your kids get older the fees increase and most people are not just sending one child to school.  School fees start with frais d'entre, the entrance fee which can range from 2000 gourdes to 12000 gourdes, depending on the school or what grade you are in. On top of that you need to pay for each trimester, school books, uniform, bag, lunchbox, school shoes and the list could go on.



The reality of life is quite simply that it's hard.

About a week ago I went to visit a couple of friends in their home and I just came away in despair.  They live in a little mud house with a cement floor which the rats have been destroying.  There is one bedroom with one bed which has rusty springs poking out of it.  Their two children sleep on the bed and my friend and her husband lay down whatever they have and sleep on the floor.







This would be a pretty common living situation for many people and its just the reality of life.

I actually started this post a couple of weeks ago but between having what feels like a million and one things to do everyday and finding the words to explain just how things are, I haven't been able to finish it.

It feels like in Haiti, things are going from bad to worse.  Over the past year Haiti has been experiencing a lot of political instability which has led to protests, road blockages and economic instability.


Over these past two weeks its has been very difficult to find fuel anywhere.  As I drove to Bethesda yesterday the roads were empty and school was cancelled for Sam & Joel because of road blocks, protests and other parents unable to get to school as they had run out of fuel.  The boys were already with me so I took them up to play at a friends house and went to work as usual only to look at my phone an hour later where I had a good few missed calls from Bill.  Some young guys had set up a road block  pretty much right in front of Emmaus and Bill was just making sure I made it to Bethesda safely.  By the time I finished work and picked the boys up it was mid afternoon, the road block was still there, they were letting people through but only if they paid money so to avoid it,  I went home a different way which would bring me in on the other side of the road block.  Once I got close  to the gate of Emmaus, 3 or 4 guys came running at the car,  then started banging on the window obviously wanting me to give them some money.  I decided I would not put the window down and just kind of ignored them until they got tired of waiting and then I was able to drive in the gate.  It was a little scary and I am glad it happened close to home.  But it just shows how desperate people are to get money and how sad it is that these young men are sitting around all day, every day with nothing to do so if there is trouble anywhere they will join in because they will get some cash from it.  Many of these so called road blocks are set up by young men either trying to get money or people in power are paying them to do so.

With fuel being so scarce it pushes the price up of everything.  One of my patients told me she normally pays 25 gourdes for a motorbike to come to Bethesda, yesterday she paid 100 gourdes.  Today fuel arrived in the north of Haiti and I am sure all the gas stations were full of hundreds of moto's, cars and trucks.  We have a friend who arrived at a station at midnight last night and stayed there all night to get enough fuel for us to fill up all our vehicles and get some diesel for our generator.  He arrived back at Emmaus around 2pm today, so even when its here it not particularly easy to get.   But this doesn't solve the problem, we now have fuel for a little while but who knows when it will run out again and we will be back to the same problem.


Once you start thinking about all the problems and unable to see how life will ever get better it is so easy to lose hope for Haiti.  But yesterday Dr Rodney shared with our staff about perseverance and endurance.  We know we will have difficulties in this life and as living in Haiti becomes more and more difficult its so easy to become discouraged but the word of God tells us to persevere, to endure through suffering because of the hope we have in Christ.

Romans 5v3

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.'

It's so hard to see how Haiti will get out of the mess that she is in and I am sure Satan is doing everything he can to keep Haiti in his hand but we know that God already has the victory and that He will deliver Haiti in his time.

I know this is kind of  a lot of jumbled thoughts not very well put together but please lets continue to pray for Haiti and her people.  Let's keep praying for his word to go forth across the island, pray for peace on the streets, pray for the government who have a huge responsibility in so many areas of life, pray for some solution to the ongoing (over a year now) fuel problem.






Sunday, 18 August 2019

Catch up


Well we've been in Haiti almost two weeks and it goes without saying that it is hot!In fact I don't think its been this hot since we moved in 2016.







All our travel went well, even waking up at 2.45am to catch a 5am flight from Dallas.  Arriving into Cap Haitian is always crazy chaotic!It took us about an hour to get our bags and leave the airport.  Everything arrived and our cheese was even still a little cold! 



When we arrived Carol (thank you Carol!) had done some sorting so our house was at least livable! We spent the next few days unpacking and sorting and by Friday the last box was unpacked. We are thankful to our neighbours too for feeding us for a couple of nights so we could focus on getting sorted, especially seeing we cannot pop out to the local chippie or get a pizza delivered.

I started back at work on Monday and I didn't think it was possible but the road is much worse than it was a couple of months ago and as always I am reminded of God's protection on the road especially when I have the boys in the car.





Altidor and Echbert have been doing a brilliant job while I've been gone.  We had patients non stop on Monday and most of them, if not all of them are improving.



 On Thursday we had a patient who started therapy right before I left.  She had suffered from a stroke and had a lot of back pain.  When she first came she arrived in a wheelchair and was able to walk a short distance using a walker.  She had been to various hospitals and was not getting any better.  A friend told her to come to Bethesda for therapy even though it would take her over an hour to get there.  Now just three months later she no longer needs a wheelchair, in fact she is walking very well completely unaided!



Bill has been in his office every day, preparing for class, doing registrar duties and in meetings as the new semester starts on Monday.  It's been a very busy week for him and he is preaching in the church down the road today.  Please pray for Bill as he adjusts to the new role....its a lot of work!

After a few unsettled nights the boys have settled into our new home well.  They are happy to be back and see their friends (and our cat!) and love being able to play outside all day.  Sam & Joel start school on Tuesday and they both can't wait to get back. Jacob's new favourite thing to do is to go and sit at the front gate and watch the cars, trucks and motorbikes go past!


Joel and Nora getting married!

As always thank you for you prayers for travel, prayers for adjustment and prayers for Bethesda and Emmaus.


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Getting prepared

We have had a good trip here to Canada, the boys have loved being on the farm and spending time with their cousins, we visited and spoke in some great churches and had some good family time.  I even had time to get some things done which have been on my to do list for a long time.




But its time to start thinking about going back to Haiti. Part of that process is making sure we have everything we need that we can't get in Haiti, part of it is saying goodbye, part of it is packing and weighing, packing and weighing and making sure we use every ounce of weight allowance we have and then part of it is preparing your heart and mind for the reality of life in Haiti.

Going back after a little time away is seeing the poverty and suffering with fresh eyes, and its shocking every time.  It's not something you get used to or ever should.





Everyday we meet people in need, people who are hungry, people who are sick, people who need money for school, for their homes and the list could go on.  Its one of my biggest struggles living in Haiti is knowing who to help, when to help, how much to give, is it ok to give money, should I do something else, how can I possibly do nothing?


David Platt says explains those feelings exactly in his most recent article.  I don't know what the answer is but we need a lot of wisdom and discernment to make those decisions almost everyday.

There is also a lot to do when we get back, were moving next door and right now this is where our stuff is...



We are however thankful to have neighbours & friends who will order us some groceries before we return, and have our house in a little bit of order so were not arriving into complete chaos!

We are spending the weekend with Bill's brother and his family and doing what Sam has been wanting to do all summer.....go to the zoo! Its going to be a long journey back, we leave Calgary on Monday afternoon, stay over night in Dallas to catch the 5am flight to Miami then down to Haiti.  Please pray for the journey back, I am not looking forward to it at all.  Our boys are all good sleepers and will not appreciate being woken up at 3am to head to the airport.  The only positive of that is they will more than likely sleep on the next two flights!

A couple more prayer points....Dr Rodney is in negotiations regarding a piece of property for Bethesda.  The property is a very reasonable price and in a very good location, we ask for your prayers for all of the legal paperwork to be taken care of smoothly and quickly.  IF the property is finalised then EMI (engineers ministries international) have agreed to send a team down to Haiti in September to survey the land and being drawing up building plans.  Having this team from EMI would really be a huge blessing and put us right on our timeline.  Please pray the property would be finalised and all the legal paperwork completed very soon.  Pray that EMI would be able to recruit the team and all the logistics would come together for the team to come in September.  Pray also for the funding of this project, that God would provide all that Bethesda needs over the next two years.

Bethesda will be sending out regular prayer updates and needs and ways for people to be involved if you would like to be added to this list please email me (julieedler@hotmail.co.uk) your email address and I will make sure that you are added to the list.


Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Answered prayer

Thank you for praying for our journey to Canada....after 22 hours of travel we made it to Calgary.  Lets just say it was a very long day.  The boys did really well on the flights....but by the time we got off the flight in Calgary they were done.


I asked for specific prayer for Jacob, well out of the 3 boys Jacob was the easiest the whole day.  Jacob had a pretty heavy cold from Monday and by Wednesday he was really snotty, coughing, wheezy and short of breath so I took him to the doctor on Wednesday afternoon.  The doctor told me he had a viral respiratory infection and put him on inhalers he also said I would advise that you do not travel with him tomorrow.

Now we know you don't mess about with respiratory infections, having Jacob short of breath and wheezy half way across the Atlantic was not something I position we wanted to be in.  I went home and talked to Bill, trying to think what we could possibly do.  We thought about a couple of scenarios but really we were just coming to the conclusion we had to travel tomorrow.

We started Jacob on the inhalers and I quickly contacted our missionary team in Haiti on whatsapp asking them to pray for Jacob.  On Wednesday night Jacob slept all night, he woke up on Thursday morning much better, there was no wheezing, no snot, his breathing was back to normal and he had a little bit of a cough.  Throughout the day Jacob was in good form and I didn't clean his nose once.



Whats interesting to me is that starting Friday morning, Jacob's nose was streaming again, he was coughing and even this morning was a little wheezy.

Sometimes we pray maybe not even really expecting God to answer.  But he does.

There have been so many times we have felt your prayers over this past three years.  Travelling is a great example.  We have taken way too many transatlantic flights with too many small boys and yet have never had a problem.  We have never had any of the boys lose it on a flight.  That doesn't happen by chance, that is God's hand on our travels.

We spent the weekend at Bills brother's house, enjoying more time with cousins and celebrating his mum's birthday.  Then I spoke in a church in Carstairs giving them an update on the clinic.  On Sunday the boys and I traveled out to the farm and Bill headed back to Calgary and onto Winnipeg to spend a few days with his friend.


The boys all have colds and coughs and are pretty tired so were glad to be out in the country for a bit and enjoy easy going farm life. I am taking advantage of not really having anywhere to go and trying to work through my list of things to do before we head back to Haiti in 3 weeks.