Saturday, 13 April 2019

Should I stay or should I go now?

Well its been a while. Sorry about that!  Anyone who has 3 kids in 4 years will understand that any free time is non existent and by the time the boys are all in bed well, lets just say I'm not too far behind them.

When we first came to Haiti in 2016 we committed to two years, then we stayed for another one and these past months all we have talked about and prayed about and talked about some more is what we were going to do next.

We searched for jobs for Bill, emailed pastors and bible colleges and we found nothing.  People often say a closed door is as good as an open door.  we kept praying, talking and looking.  Then at the beginning of March Emmaus asked Bill if he would stay on and take on the job of the registrar as well as continuing to do a little teaching.

We took a few weeks to pray and think and pray and we really felt peace about the decision to stay in Haiti and committed to two more years.

There are going to be changes at Bethesda too which led into our decision to stay but more on that coming next week (or maybe next month by the time I get round to writing about it!).

This was not an easy decision to come to,  with adopting Jacob, moving the boys 3 times in about 8 months this last year has been a lot and I was really looking forward to going home, for life just to be a bit easier.  Adding on an extra baby and yet continuing to do all the things I was already doing has been exhausting and at times overwhelming. 

But God never told us life would be easy instead he promised he would be with us, he promised he would strengthen us, he promised he would give us peace and he has given us all of that and that is where we are trusting for this next two years.

Our plans are to come home in June for a time of rest for about 6 weeks. We are thanking the Lord we already have a place to stay and are just in need of car for about 4 weeks in June.

We will then travel to Canada to speak in some churches and follow up in the places Dr Rodney spoke at last February in order to find more support for Bethesda.  We will return to Haiti on 6th August for another school year.

We are so thankful we serve a God who is in control, who goes ahead of us and in whom we can trust.

As always we appreciate your continued prayers,  we know many of you pray for us everyday and during those overwhelming times that is what holds us up.

Saturday, 9 March 2019


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Please pray for our newly formed board as board meetings take place here in Haiti today. Pray for a sense of leading from the Holy Spirit and that God would reveal his plans for the future of Bethesda.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Back to normal?

Sorry I've been slow on the updates its because I've been back at work since last Thursday and the boys are back to school and were all back to busy!  This week things here in Cap Haitian have returned to normal.  Schools were back on Monday, businesses and petrol stations have been open, full of fuel and hundreds of motorbikes!

We are so thankful that things have calmed down, the protests have stopped and life is back to normal.  But we would ask that you continue to to pray for Haiti.  These past weeks of shut down have affected everyone,  from the lady selling some rice and oil from her home to the big hotel owners.  The price of food has gone up and stayed up.  The price of public transport has risen.  And life is still just really difficult.  So even though things are back to normal...normal is not really great.

Believe it or not this is 'normal'.  A 4 way junction, no stop signs, no traffic lights
 just force your way and hope no one hits you or you don't hit anyone else!

Yes we are praising God for many answered prayers for Haiti over this past month and we are so thankful that fuel has arrived, protests have stopped and school is back for Haiti's children. But it doesn't stop at that, the people of Haiti have endured years and years of suffering, physically and spiritually.  So we ask that as you thank God for how he has moved to change the situation of hopelessness over these past weeks please pray that God would continue to work in Haiti and that moving forward we would start to see a different Haiti.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Ayiti Cherie... Haiti dear

I am sure all you are seeing and reading of Haiti this week is rioting, protests, violence, anger and frustration.  Yes those things are happening but they are not the only thing that is happening in Haiti right now. Let me show you a different side to Haiti.

 Life here in the north was resuming to somewhat normal with more public transport than we have seen in a couple of weeks, friends going to the market in Cap Haitian and reports that protests were on hold for the weekend to give people a chance to get out and stock up on food and other supplies.

The boys and Bill had not left the Emmaus campus for almost two weeks so with things a little calmer it was time to get them out somewhere...anywhere!

We drove two miles down the road with our neighbours and took a water taxi to Amiga island....a deserted island with a beautiful beach and it was exactly what we all needed.  The boys spent all day in the ocean and playing in the sand, we explored the island and brought a picnic lunch.  I must admit it felt like a really strange thing to do in the middle of everything that is going on but it was good.

And just beautiful is Haiti.  Haiti has so much potential, it has beautiful beaches, places to snorkel, mountains for hiking, forts, colonial cities, vibrant culture and beautiful people.  So much potential and so little opportunity.

Today we walked down the road to church where Bill was preaching and it was both encouraging and refreshing.  After all the negative we have heard for the past ten day days, the photos we have seen of riots and road blocks, the videos of people making petrol bombs, setting cars on fire and more.  It was so refreshing to go to church and see the people of  God coming together to worship.  And worship they did!

It was also encouraging to see our brothers and sisters in Christ throwing their arms in the air and worshiping God for who he is and what he has done for them.  How easy it would be to sit in a church service in Haiti this morning and question God.  But that is not what we saw today.  We saw a people grateful for an opportunity to come together and praise their Lord despite the daily suffering they experience.

The problems are all still there, there is still no fuel here in the North, food is still way to expensive, schools and businesses are still closed and life is still way way too hard for everyone.  But a chance to step back, take some rest and worship with our Haitian brothers and sisters helps us remember the other side of Haiti and gives us hope for Haiti.

These past ten days of riots are a result of years and years and years of suffering that the Haitian people have endured.  The president addressed the nation on Thursday, last night the prime minister spoke and we are praying these changes that will be implemented will spark a change that will make Haiti different for the next generation.

We don't know what this next week holds so we continue to pray for Haiti and her people.  Praying for the protests to stop, praying for wisdom for government,  for fuel, food and water supplies to get to those who need them, for schools and businesses to open and for the voice of the church to be loud proclaiming love and peace and joy in the middle of chaos. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

At a standstill

Its been almost a week since I last updated and unfortunately there is not much change. I went to Bethesda on Monday for a couple of hours, where we had around 30 patients for general consultation which is a lot less than our usual 120 - 150 on a Monday morning.  Today Dr Rodney told me not to come, there were very few patients there and we do not know when a road block might go up.

Emmaus was having classes up until this morning but now classes are cancelled until further notice.

We are waiting and waiting for this these protests to stop, for the president to say something or do something.  People are calling this 'payi lock' which literally means a locked country. 
Haiti truly needs your prayers at this time.

This is the Emmaus update from yesterday...
President Jovenel Moise's announcement last week that Haiti is in a state of true economic emergency was no surprise to anyone.  For the last several months, food prices have been rising almost daily, fuel has been becoming more and more scarce and more and more expensive when found, and the value of the Haitian currency has been decreasing at an alarming speed.  For over a week now, all elementary schools, most businesses, banks and gas stations have been closed. Protests, barricades and general desperation and frustration abound, making travel difficult and often dangerous. 

  The day is dark and uncertain indeed. The country is at a stand-still, seemingly locked in a bad place. 

What does all this mean for Emmaus?

We are still having classes this week. 

Those who are on campus or who can come are coming, those who cannot are not.  What we can do we are doing. What fuel we have we are using, what food we have we are cooking, what classes we can we are holding.  We do not know what the future holds.  THANK YOU for your support of Emmaus, which has enabled us to have these things that are suddenly of great value, food and fuel and help for our staff and students and community.

We are waiting on the Lord.

Any or all of this without the Lord would be entirely hopeless, completely discouraging and render despair.  But NONE of this is without the Lord, and there is nothing He cannot do.  What a joy to see our staff and students continue to wait upon the Lord with heavy hearts, trusting Him.

We are fervently asking for your prayers.

In a situation that seems to have no solutions, we are depending upon The Answer to answer the mighty prayers of many.  We need prayers for peace, prayers for help, prayers for the leaders, prayers for the people, prayers for solutions, prayers for movement, prayers for Haiti. 

We are lights in great darkness.

As Emmaus--a group of His children far more than a place--continues to come and go and live throughout Haiti, the need for courageous Christian community leaders abounds.  The need for a shining light in oppressive darkness is great. And that is exactly what Emmaus it.  Pray for each person who is boldly living out His Light in a dark land, in a dark time.  

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

Amen. May it be.  

Thank you for being a praying, giving, going part of developing Christ-like leaders for Haiti, for such a time as this.

Stacey Ayars, for the Emmaus family

Friday, 8 February 2019

Prayers for Haiti

Its been a while.... life has been busy and updating you has taken a backseat! Sorry.  But today I am supposed to be at work and the boys are supposed to be at school but we are at home because of protests which started yesterday.

Last week we heard rumours of demonstrations that would take place on 7th but we never know what is actually going to happen until it happens.  So I got up and drove to Bethesda and  the roads were empty, I passed one tap tap (normally I would pass upwards of 30 maybe more!!) along the way.  When I got to Bethesda there were 4 staff members there including myself and no patients for general consultation, our emergency department was open and we maybe had 10 patients there.

There are a few big issues right now fueling these protests,  one of them being the gas shortage which has been going on for about a month.  I don't know all the ins and outs but something to do with Haiti owing money and not being able to pay.  When there is gas there are hundreds of motorbikes at every station with people waiting all day to get some.  This then means the price of public transport, tap taps and moto's has gone up.

Another issue being the rate of the Haitian gourde against the US dollar.  With Haiti importing a LOT (maybe more than 75%) of its goods from the US the exchange rate is very important.  When  I was in Haiti in 2010 the rate was 40 gourdes to $1 US, this last September it was 65.  Over the past few months the rate just keeps going up and up and now it is sitting at 80 gourdes to $1 US meaning that the price of everything is increasing.  But what seems to be mostly affecting people is the price of food and we know, we buy it here and food is expensive.  Yverose told me today in September a cup of rice was 20 or 25 it is 40.  That is almost double in less than 6 months.

To add these extra issues onto an already difficult living situation and seeing things just get worse and worse the people of Haiti are tired.  Tired of being hungry, of not being able to afford to send their kids to school, of waiting for hours at the petrol station to pay for a little gas and the only way they know how to get any change is by protesting against it.  So yesterday and today schools and businesses are closed, there is no public transport on the road and everything is at a stand still.

On Tuesday the president declared Haiti to be in a state of economic emergency but whether the government is able to do anything or not I don't know.

So Haiti needs our prayers,it is even hard to know what to pray for but here are a few requests..

Pray for the exchange rate to stabilize.  Over the past month the rate has been going up almost weekly.

Pray for Haiti's president, Jovenel Moise for wisdom and leadership and for his government. 

Pray for the protests to stop, most people live by buying the food they need for that day.  As long as the protests continue, the market will be shut and finding food will become more difficult.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in people's lives and that Haiti would turn from its voodoo beliefs and culture and put their faith in Jesus.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Establishing Sustainability

I'm a little (a lot) behind on updates here but I do want to rewind a bit to the week before Christmas when our PT team from the south west baptist university came to work with Altidor and I at Bethesda.

This is the same university who sent the team in January and brought all of our supplies and equipment for the new building.  It was so great to have them come back and to continue to support the therapy work at Bethesda.

Our team including translators 

Two of the team members arrived the week before and treated patients with Altidor and I, at the same time provided some great on the job training.  They were also able to bring down 3 paediatric wheelchairs which are almost impossible to find in Haiti. We spent most of Friday fitting two of the chairs as best as we could.  Once Yvelinda's was fitted and her mum pushed her around she could not keep the smile off her wee face.  This is a huge blessing for these families, not only to be able to take their kids for a walk but to have somewhere safe where they can sit at home.  And the chairs have lots of room in them for growing space so they will last a long time.

The rest of the team arrived on Sunday and were straight into work on Monday. Each morning in staff devotions the team educated our staff on various subjects and also shared a devotional everyday.

Over the next 4 days we treated over 100 patients, many of whom were also prayed with and one young girl gave her life to Jesus.  In the afternoons we invited local Haitian PT techs to come and complete a course in the management of low back pain.  I love this team coming because of the training aspect they bring.  My working life hasn't exactly been career orientated given that most of my therapy work has been in Haiti so for us to have a stroke specialist, an orthopaedic specialist and students who are just about to graduate with so much fresh knowledge and up to date research is really great as they pour that knowledge into Altidor and I so we can treat our patients better.

Here are some highlights and specific patients which our team members felt stood out to them during the week....

'For me personally, working with the patients in general was incredible and solidified why I want to be a physical therapist and that I choose the right profession to pursue! But to be honest the highlight of the trip was being the lab assistant to Tom during the classes and watching the PT techs start to teach themselves towards the end of the week and we just backed off and watched them. We talked about this as a group, but I felt as if that was a depiction of our entire trip. We weren’t there just to do something, but to try and teach so that the impact will last longer.'

'I worked with the woman who was carried in but walked out. That was also the patient that I challenged Altidor with, and she took over the treatment session and was very effective! Hopefully she continues to come to therapy and Altidor can see her make big improvements over the next few weeks.'

'The first is the man who told me that he is “not yet” a follower of Christ, because he owes a debt to the devil. I saw a tenderness in him as he told me, but I could see that he was paralyzed by fear. I had the chance to speak some truth to him about Christ paying all of our debts for us. I will continue to pray for truth to penetrate his fear.
My second favorite patient was one of the oldest people I saw that week. I think she was 88. I asked her if I could pray for her, and she got very excited. She said she has recently given her life to Christ, and asked me to pray for her spiritual growth. That really struck me. I saw how much the church is alive and well in Haiti and people’s lives are being transformed. As long as people are living on earth, they can still be transformed- even at age 88. That gave me hope for the other man. God is big enough to forever change hearts and lives, one at a time.'

'I've been to Haiti three times and I have only had one patient tell me they were not a Believer or hadn’t given their life to Christ. As I finished my session up with this 18 year old female, Tousson, I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes and I asked if she went to church around where the clinic is located in Vaudreuil, Haiti. She said she attended church but hadn’t given her life to Christ. If I’m being really honest, I had a minor freak out moment. I had never had a patient tell me that before and I didn’t know what to say next. Thankfully, the Lord spoke to me and reminded me my job is not to convert or change this girl, but to just speak truth. While I was having this mini conversation in my head, my translator, Ruth Daniella, turned toward me saying that Tousson wanted to give her life to Christ. Some background on her story is that her mom is in the US and for unknown reasons is not able to get back to Haiti, and her father is deceased. She attends a Christian church but hadn’t ever submitted her life to Christ and accepted Him as her Saviour. Long story short, we cried, prayed and Tousson gave her life to Christ that day. One of the things I love about this story is that after this all happened, Ruth Daniella immediately got her phone number and told her she would check in with her and continue to encourage her in her faith. It was such a relief to know that the Lord was already lining people up to be able to mentor, disciple and encourage this girl. This experience was a highlight of my trip.'