Friday, 24 December 2010

Great is thy faithfulness

Due to a couple of personal circumstances I have decided to leave Haiti a month early before my term ends and head home. I am going to try and keep writing on my blog experiences I have had and ways I have seen God move even as I am at home. There have been so many things I would have loved to have shared but just didn't have time to write.

When I begin to look back at this year the big thing that stands out to me is God's faithfulness. This year has been difficult for me, maybe even to be honest the hardest year of my life and it started right from the beginning. I left home on 9th January to go to Greenwood Indianda and on 12th January I heard news that my granny had died and also Haiti had suffered from a huge earthquake. I wanted to be in either of those places and instead I was in the states. When I think about the situations I have been in this year, if you had have told me before that I would be able to cope with them, I would have said no way I could never do that.  Situations like listening to stories and praying with people who lived through the earthquake and lost everything they had including their family, going on trips to Port to work in tent villages, sharing the gospel boldly, working with patients with Cholera to simple things like driving a 15 seater van (with 15 people in it), being brave enough to kill cockroaches and sleeping in the same room as a rat (one of my least enjoyable experiences). YET God was faithful and give me the strength for all these situations and many many more.

I like to think I am tough but I am not really, watching the film My Girl or ER makes me cry and this past year I have spent each and every day with people who are suffering, suffering because of the earthquake, because of cholera, because of poverty, because of illness, because of death YET again God had given me the strength to build relationships with these people, to help them physically and spiritually and to help carry some of their burden. Before this year I have never really experienced death in my life and this year I have experienced to much death that I care to even remember........I have even watched a 4 year old child and a 23 year old girl die of cholera right in front of my eyes, YET again God remained faithful and unchanging giving me the strength I needed to cope with those situations.

To be honest there are many things about Haiti which I will not miss, the pothole covered roads, wearing skirts, bean sauce, the smell of cholera, flip flops, sweating, the sound of car horns, motorbikes, wheelbarrows, chickens, goats, pigs (basically all those things which are on the road which should not be there!!), mosquitios and hearing Celine Dion's my heart will go on at full volume!!

Saying all that there are many things I will miss, Haiti is so very close to my heart and God has given me a love for the people rather than the actual country. I find it hard to love a place where people are suffering so much everyday but I love the people, I love speaking and listening to Creole and usually if I am not feeling very good walking down the street and someone saying 'Bonswa Cherie' to me usually brings a smile to my face. The thing I will miss the most are my good friends Dr Rodney and Vedane and their beautiful kids. I probably spent time with them everyday, Vedane has become one of my very best friends. I will miss going down to their wee house and Oly greeting me with ' Hello missionary.', Alisha's huge smile as soon as I walk in the door and Wood jumping on top of me as if he hasn't seen me for months. Dr Rodney is a very special man clearly chosen by God to help his people. He has taught me a lot about Haiti and its culture. He has also made us laugh so many times with his Dr Love consultations!!!

Even though the next wee while is going to be difficult I know God will remain faithful as he has been in 2010 and will give me the strength I need for each day. God promises he will never give us more than we can handle and I know that to be true. Here are some of God's promises I have had to depend on over and over again this year.

Psalm 46 v 1 
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.

Isaiah 40 v 28-31
Hvae you not known, Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth
He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable 
He give power to the faint and to him who has no might increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted
but they who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, 
they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not be faint.

1 Peter 5 v7 
Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 46 v 10 
Be still and know that I am God.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not:
As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

    Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see: All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Friday, 10 December 2010


Wednesday  was a hard day for us in the clinic as we lost three patients. We went down to the clinic on Wednesday morning and the night nurses told us we lost one of the old ladies during the night. The lady had been there from the day before and was continually pulling out her IV fluids. Later that morning we lost another patient, another older lady who had come the morning before severely dehydrated and it took a long time to find a vein for an IV. A few times throughout the day we had to change the IV for various reasons and we just couldn't get  fluid into her as fast  as she was losing it.

Later that  afternoon we lost a little girl who was just  four years old. This was the hardest  for all of us, she came in that morning dehydrated but awake, drinking and talking....screaming even  while the doctors were trying to put an IV in. They  tried and tried but couldn't get one, we continued to give her oral rehydration solution continually. Around 3o'clock her dad told her to the bathroom, had diarrhoea  and she lost all the fluid she had in her wee body and stopped breathing right there, the doctors worked on her for nearly an hour but sadly there was nothing we could do.

It was a particularly difficult day for all our staff and especially the families of those patients who died. Please lift them up in your prayers. It just showed me how awful cholera is, I always thought once you get to  a hospital, get fluids in you will be fine however that is not always the case. The key is time, as soon as someone gets sick they need to get to a hospital as soon as possible. And we need to keep working on educating people on how they can protect  themselves against  cholera.

It  reminded me how fragile life is and how at  any  moment for any of us we never know what is going to happen. One minute that  little girl was sitting up talking and drinking and just  a few minutes later she had stopped breathing. Life is so fragile and not just here in Haiti. We really  need to have an urgency about telling people about God and about what He has done for us and how He alone can save people.

On a different note Hannah and I are thankful to have a team here this week from the states, the team includes 2 doctors and 2 nurses. I don't know what we would have done without them this week. On Tuesday the results of the election were announced and people weren't happy. Wednesday and Thursday brought rioting and roadblocks in town meaning very few of our clinic staff  could come to work. Which would have left me, Hannah  and Dr Rodney in the clinic but thankfully God knows what you need in advance. Things are quiet in the cholera 'hospital' this morning and Hannah and I are taking the opportunity to have some rest  before the team leave tomorrow.

We really need some more help down there, the cholera problem isn't going to go away anytime soon. If you are a doctor or nurse or a physio who knows how to change IV bags and flush out IV's would like to come on a short term trip to help in our clinic please get  in touch with me. We need people asap and I would say willl be needing them for at least the next  couple of months.

On days like Wednesday its hard to look at the positive side of things, but we have treated well over 100 patients some of whom have come in very close to death yet  they have got better and walked out of our wee hospital which we praise the Lord for. On little girl, Neissa was there last week when she came in she wasn't very very sick but we got her IV in and kept her in, she got worse and worse with cholera. Basically you have to let cholera run its course through your body and staying hydrated with IV fluids, antibiotics don't do much because usually patients just throw them up again. Anyway she had 3 full days of being very sick gradually got better. I was out in Vaudrieul the other day and I heard this litte girl say hi Julie, I looked at her said hi and walked on. I never think much when people do that, they always say hello Julie and I never have any idea who they are or I can't remember them!!Anyway I thought about it and figured she just  was one of the loads of kids who know who I am. I stopped to visit someone at their house and she came in. I looked at  her and said 'Neissa' she said yes Julie. I couldn't believe it she looked like a completely different child I didn't even recognise her.

So we are grieving with those families who are grieving over their loss but also rejoicing with those who get completely better. I am thanking God for his strength, if anyone knows me they know I need a lot of sleep and I don't have very much stamina!!!However the only place I am finding physical and emotional strength from is in the Lord and he is enough for what I need. Every now and then I just  look at the things I have done in Haiti this year and if you told me that before I came I would have said no way I could never do that. Yet when you are open and willing to be used by God he gives you what he need for what he has called you to do.

I have quoted this verse a few times but Im just reading through the Christmas story and it comes up right there.....
Luke 1 v 37

'For nothing will be impossible with God.'

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas, Culture shock, Cold and Cholera!!

After being at the clinic for too many hours everyday and night working with our patients who have cholera I hadn't even thought about Christmas. However on Thursday Hannah, Matt, Stacey and I had to go to the Dominican to renew our visas. We have to leave Haiti every three months and unfortunately for us the quickest and cheapest place to go is the Dominican Republic. Hannah and I were more than ready to go on Thursday afternoon when Matt and Stacey came to get us as we were both in need of some rest.

We got through the border no problems even though Hannah and I had been working with cholera patients just a few hours beforehand. As we were driving through the DR it started to get dark and then I saw the first Christmas tree. After that every time any of us saw one it was like look at that one, look at those was like we were kids again and amazed at everything. We had the Christmas music on looking at the Christmas trees, then we arrived at the ridiculously cheap all inclusive hotel. As we pulled up we saw this huge Christmas tree, straight away we had to get out and look and take photos of the tree.
of course then as soon as we got back home we put our Christmas tree up in the house. Its so hard to even think about Christmas in Haiti especially with people suffering so much. The other reason is because it is hot and sunny and it really only feels Christmas at dark time when the Christmas lights go on.

Our christmas tree

Back to the hotel, while we were waiting for our rooms to be ready the guy at the desk told us to go and eat.  We went into the huge dining room and all 4 of us just wondered around for a while (Im sure we had our mouths open) before we even knew what to do. There was so much food, we didn't know where to start so we started with the drinks. Hannah was the best, she went over to get some coke, it was like the drinks machines you see at Mcdonalds. Hannah filled one glass up, drunk it and continued to do the same thing over and over was hilarious!!Finally we chose something to eat, thing we could not get in Haiti.....Pizza, pickles, fries, cucumber. and strawberry ice cream.

Talk about culture shock. On paper the Dominican is a third world country yet I felt like I was in the States. The roads were all paved, all the houses had electricity (with christmas tress!!), there was road signs, traffic lights,  the shop was about the size of Tesco's and you can find everything you need. It was just overwhelming to go from working in our cholera clinic and just that morning seeing a little girl arrive with cholera who was already dead in her dad's arms. To a place where we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted and lie by the pool, go to the shop and find what we needed or just what we wanted (granny smith apples!!). It actually made me wonder how the human mind copes with that sort of change in just a few hours. I felt so far away from Haiti........yet it was just a 5 hour drive away.

One of the things I find hard being in Haiti is being a 'blanc' and all the things that come with that. No matter how long I live in Haiti if I speak Creole perfectly, carry things on my head, hand wash my clothes do everything Haitian I will always stand out just by being white. Being in a resort full of 'blancs' it was so nice not to stand out. Saying that we were the only people wearing jeans and hoodies in the evenings when everyone else was out in their summer dresses!!! The next day it was cloudy and overcast, still crazy british people were out by the pool in their swimming stuff and then us, the missionaries from Haiti feeling cold!!Jeans and hooides again for everyone.We were sitting by the pool with Lily (Matt and Stacey's daughter who is just 22 months), there was a lady beside us reading a book and Lily went over and said 'is that your bible?' It was too cute and she was very dissapointed to find out it wasn't, the lady actually apologised because Lily looked so sad. Maybe we didn't blend in as much as we thought!!!

The trip was mainly to renew our visas but we also got a time of rest, we had lots of fun together especially as we dont see Matt, Stacey and Lily much because they live in Sakenvil at the seminary. We were also able to buy lots of supplies for the clinic thanks to a very generous donation to some people from home. There are so many supplies which we need in the clinic which are so difficult to find in Haiti and if we do find them they are very expensive. We were able to buy lots of baby formula, nappies, baby bottles, baby wipes and sheets all of which we desperately needed.

We are back to work in our chlolera clinic which still has a steady flow of patients. In the past 2 weeks we have treated over 60 patients and all of them have got better and been sent home. Thankfully this week we hae two doctors and two nurses here on a team which is great. We are thankful for the rest, for the supplies we were able to get for the clinic and that we had no problems getting there or coming back.


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