Sunday, 29 March 2020

Home and some other thoughts

We made it....its been a surreal few days! I want to share our journey with you and  share God's faithfulness and goodness.

On our way home from the airport on Wednesday (which now feels like a week ago) the British embassy contacted us to say the French embassy were putting on a flight from Port au Prince to Paris on Friday morning for french and EU citizens.  Thankfully, in terms of travel the UK is still considered under the EU until the end of the year.

We needed to tell the lady at the Embassy if we wanted to be on the list by 4pm, this was at 2pm and we got home at 3pm and started trying to figure out how we were going to get to Port, and if Jacob, who is only a Canadian citizen, would be allowed on.  So we told her to put our names down and we would figure out the rest of the details.

We contacted MAF to see if they could fly us to Port au Prince and checked to make sure if we were still able to enter France.   We also phoned the French embassy and some other important people (I have no idea who, Bill did it) to make sure Jacob would definitely be able to travel with us.....we did not want a repeat of Wednesday.  Everyone we talked to said there would be no reason why Jacob could not travel with us.

Honestly by the time we got to bed I did not want to try again, I was so tired and just wanted to stay in our Haiti home where we have everything we need.

Anyway on Thursday morning we confirmed everything, did some shuffling of our bags as the weight allowance is only 15 kg, packed some more snacks and headed to the airport....again.

We even got to stop by Bethesda to say goodbye to Altidor, Echebert, Dr Rodney and some other staff.  MAF flew us from Cap to Port on a 9 seater plane which the boys thought was the best thing ever.  When we landed Joel shouted ' That was some great flying!'

We stayed in a basic guesthouse right beside the airport and arrived at the airport at 7.  It felt very surreal, almost like we were in a movie, many people were wearing facemasks and gloves and there were a lot of policemen there.   The mood was very somber.  We had to queue up outside as they were checking everyone's names  off the list on the way in.  It was such a relief to get checked off and be able to enter the airport.  We had 5 suitcases and 5 pieces of carry on and a buggy so it was quite helpful it was a slow moving queue because there were no airport trolleys. So every time we moved forward, Bill had to do two runs to go and get our suitcases!After some more waiting we got checked in and were glad to get rid of our suitcases!Again it was relief that we were actually on the flight. 

Around 11am we got on the plane, it was the biggest plane we have ever been on, must have been 400 people on board.  We sat and sat and sat on the runway after about an hour the captain told us someone had been feeling ill and they took them off the plane, then had to take almost all the luggage out to find their luggage.  We sat for another hour and finally the captain told us to sit down we were leaving....everyone cheered!It was an 8 hour flight and after sitting for 2 hours already we must have been on there for at least 10 hours.  Now the boys, especially Sam and Jacob usually cannot even sit still to eat their dinner every night but for some reason on a plane they will sit for hours! I am sure it is because of people praying.....maybe you should start praying for them to be calm at dinner time aswell!!

We left Pam in Paris for her to get her connection to England.

We landed in Paris about 3am Paris time, hung around a very empty, cold airport until our next flight to Dublin at 11.30am.  By this time the boys had only slept about 3 hours on the Paris flight and were still going strong,  I can't say Bill and I felt the same.  Our flight to Dublin had about 12 people on it! Sam is still convinced we didn't actually fly because he fell asleep the second he sat down and woke up after we landed.  The airport was empty, no problems at immigration even with Jacob's Canadian passport, got our stuff and were ready to go.

These boys know how to travel!

My sister Leah and brother in law, Robert drove down two cars to come and get us and we drove  home.  Thankfully I am still on my mums insurance from last summer.  We called by my mum and dads to talk out the car window so they could see we arrived and then did the same for my sister and her boys. 

We are staying in the same house which we stayed in last summer so that has been really helpful to bring the boys somewhere they have been before.  I want to say a special thank you to my sisters who got the house ready for us.  It was so overwhelming to walk into a house full of food, toiletries (even toilet roll) toys, books, colouring stuff, clothes, shoes, socks, coats especially as we have to quarantine for the next two weeks and have no idea how long we are going to be here, we are assuming it is going to be months and the heat was on which you know is important for us!!

A huge thank you to anyone who sent clothes, food, books and anything else for us, the support we have had has been amazing and such a blessing.  The last few days have been a whirlwind and to walk into a house which has everything we need is really amazing, especially for me.  Everyone looks to mummy when they need a drink, something to eat, socks to wear, a book to read, a coat and shoes and a million other things so to be able to just give them what they need and want for this next two weeks especially, is such a big weight lifted off my shoulders.  So often I have to say we can't get that in Haiti, or we can't do that in Haiti or there is no where to buy that in Haiti and now on our first night home I can give Sam blueberries and raspberries in the middle of a pandemic when everyone is telling me its really hard to get fruit but someone (my sister I think) thought to get that for us. Thank you doesn't seem like enough.

Its pretty cold!

Bill jumped straight in the had been a few days! and I got everyone's airport clothes straight in the wash.  We unpacked our pjs and left everything else and ordered something for dinner which again I can never do in Haiti.  I am sure the food really wasn't that great but after eating mostly snacks since Wednesday (everything in the airports was closed!) having a hot dinner was amazing!!

We are so thankful to be home safely but our hearts are heavy for Haiti.  Its hard to leave especially in the middle of a crisis.  Its feels like you are abandoning your friends and like your health is more important than theirs. It is so hard to tell your friends, the people who look after your kids and the people you work with that you are leaving knowing one of the reason is because Haiti does not have any good hospitals.  We know we did the right thing and God very clearly provided a way home but we will still wrestle with those feelings of leaving.

Thank you so much to anyone who prayed for us, it has been overwhelming (again) to look at facebook and see people from the UK, Canada, the US and Haiti praying for us, friends of friends who we have never met or maybe had no idea who we were before Wednesday.  So now we are home safely I am going to ask all who prayed for us to start to pray for Haiti.  Coronavirus could be utterly devastating in Haiti and it would only be by a miracle of God that it won't be.  Like everywhere there is some good advice out there in Haiti, wash your hands and stay at home but there is also a lot of false information.  When we drove to the airport in Cap Haitian Haiti just looked like any other normal day, so not many people are following the advice.  As of today Haiti has 15 confirmed cases out of 105 tests.   We know testing will not be easily available so looking at statistics will not give us a clear picture of what is going on.  Please pray with us:

- Pray that people will follow the advice given.
-We know it is impossible for people to stay home in Haiti, most people have no electricity or       running water pray that those who can especially older people, vulnerable people and those with pre   existing conditions will be able to stay home.
-Pray for God's protection over Haiti.
-Pray for doctors and nurses all over the country, they do not have the supplies necessary to protect   themselves or treat patients. 
-Pray, somehow supplies will be sent to Haiti.
-Pray, that is the midst of yet another crisis in Haiti, that many would turn to Jesus.

Thank you again....we hope to see you sometime.... there is a lot more on my mind but that will have to wait for another I had better go wake everyone else up!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

what a day

**Disclaimer....I am writing this off of two hours sleep and  a crazy day so please excuse the spelling mistakes or terrible writing.**

These past couple of weeks have been very up and down.  We keep asking ourselves should we stay or should we go because of the coronavirus.  Once the cases were announced on Thursday evening, Haiti closed all their airports and the decision was made we have to stay.  OMS told us if there was any possible way of leaving then we should do that. By monday there were a couple of flights getting permission to land in Port au Prince, one of which was a chartered airline costing $1200 per ticket!!!!

Then last night at about 8.30pm we received a call from MFI (missionary flights International) that they had permission to fly and were coming in to pick up our team.  Right away we went next door to see if everyone else had got the call.  Our neigbours, the Ayars are finishing up their time in Haiti and had planned to leave in May, now they had not even one days notice to pack up a lot of their stuff.   This was not really how we imagined our last night together after 4years of being neighbours. But time was short so we started packing and once we finished we  tried to see if it was possible to get a flight to the UK from Miami.  Finally got one booked and fell into bed at 3am, to be woken up by the boys at 6.15am.

We told the boys we were going and left for the airport with the rest of our team.  We had been there about 30 minutes when we got a phonecall from MFI saying we could not board the plane because they only have permission from US border and customs to bring US and Canadian citizens.  A restriction that has been put on because they are a private airline and not commerical.  We called the UK embassy, the US embassy and back to the UK embassy...who were extremely helpful. The lady  tried as hard as she could to get permission but after 3 hours of waiting and many phonecalls back and forth we were denied.  We want to say a huge thank you to MFI who, I am sure felt under a lot of pressure and to the pilot who waited as long as he could.

We said goodbye to the rest of our team including the Ayars, who we have no idea when we will see again, and Nikki, the Emmaus intern who lives with us and had just gotten some awful news from home.. We left with Pam (who is from England and here for the semester) and headed back to the Emmuas campus.  Poor wee Joel was devastated and cried getting into the van, then again once we got home. It has been a very long day.

We are looking into the possibility of flying from Port au Prince to Paris and then home.  This was the route the British embassy suggested for us on our way home from the airport.  We should be able to confirm tomorrow.

Today we were completely overwhelmed with how many people who were praying for our situation.  I was getting messages all day and seeing my facebook post being shared by our friends and their friends, who have no idea who we are, are praying for us. so even though I am not too happy with the US today we have many many people from there praying for us right now.  It is really unbelievable how the body of Christ comes together.  It is one of the many things I love about being a christian, no matter where you go in the world you always have brothers and sisters in Christ.

So please continue to pray.  Pray for things to be worked out for us to travel through Paris and if not pray for God's peace to stay in Haiti during this time.

Pray for our families, they are concerned and would really prefer for us to not be in Haiti at this time.  Pray for peace for them.

We have much to pray for in these day, no matter where you are and we are humbled that so many would take time to pray for our family.

We will try to update you as we can but for now, I am going to bed.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Here we are

Last Thursday night Haiti’s president announced two confirmed cases of coronavirus (6 as of today).  Measures were put in place immediately to stop the spread which include closing schools, universities, airports and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

We knew it was coming, after all it’s almost everywhere else but hearing the news and knowing what that means for Haiti took my mind straight back to October 2010 when cholera first came to Haiti.  Honestly I am not sure what to say about cholera except it was really awful.  Haiti has gone from one crisis to another and actually is still not really out of the political crisis which has been going on over the past 18 months.

Emmaus closed on Friday morning sending all staff and students home not knowing when they would reopen again.  With all the political unrest this year staying open has felt like a battle and now, 5 weeks before the end of the semester we had to close.

Bethesda will be closing all it's non essential services and putting other measures in place of how we can continue to treat patients and screen those for the virus. I will update you on that as I know more.  The PT department is currently closed so I have not been to Bethesda.

As you know, Haiti does not have the level of healthcare or resources needed to cope with the coronavirus.  The people of Haiti have been advised to stay home and keep good hand hygiene but even this is almost impossible.  The vast majority of people do not having running water in their homes, no electricity  for refrigeration to keep food fresh and not enough money to bulk buy.  Most people will still need to go to the market on a daily basis.  Social distancing is just simply impossible.

Once again we are asking you to pray.  We know and understand that you are also facing this crisis wherever you are in the world and please know we are praying for you.  We know Northern Ireland is at a critical point in the battle and we are praying for Gods protection over our family and friends.

But please, while your are at home please spend sometime praying for Haiti.

Pray for the virus to be contained.
Pray for healthcare workers and hospitals all over the country.  Specific hospitals have been identified as treatment centres. Pray for wisdom and protection for doctors and nurses.
Pray that, where possible the people of Haiti will comply with the guidance to stay home.
Pray for Emmaus staff and students.
Pray for Bethesda staff and patients. There are many, particularly those in our HIV, TB and malnutrition who need to come and get their medicine.

As you can imagine this is not an easy time to be away from home.  Like you we are concerned for our family and friends but we are also concerned for our friends in Haiti. Unfortunately we are in a position where we can't really help either of them, it feels so much like the opposite of what we are here for.

The Emmaus campus has shut down and we are staying home.  Please pray for protection for our family, Sam has asthma, thankfully well controlled and Jacob has also had numerous respiratory viruses since he was a baby. As we have done since we moved to Haiti, we are trusting the Lord with their little lives.

The whole world is changing daily if not hourly and it is so tempting to be scared.  Not one single person can tell us what things are going to be like tomorrow never mind in 3 months time.  There are so many unknowns and  I am so tempted to be asking myself all sorts of questions which could make me extremely worried, what if Sam get sicks?  What if my mum gets sick and we can't go? What if we are stuck here for months? What if things turn violent in Haiti....are we safe? I mean the list could go on and on and on.

BUT, Praise the Lord I am depending and trusting in a God who knows the answer to all of these questions, who is in control and who tells me 'Who of you, by worrying can add a single hour to your life.'. (Luke 12 v 25) 

Four years ago we were packing up our house and getting ready to move to Haiti with our 2 year old and newborn baby. At that point we had no idea what the next four years would bring. We never imagined we would have experienced an earthquake, political instability, property issues with Bethesda, moving to Canada to adopt a baby, more political instability and now a worldwide virus and not having the option to leave Haiti.

Here's the thing, God has been faithful throughout all of these trials, yes they have been hard but God has proven himself throughout them all and He will do the same with this one and the many that will come after this one.

Why am I telling you this, you might be thinking. here is the reason, first if your christian to encourage you to not be afraid, God is in control, even when it doesn't seem like it.  The hope that we have is in knowing our salvation is secure and no matter what happens one day we will stand before Jesus, face to face and get to spend eternity with him in Heaven.

'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.' John 16 v 33

Then if your not a christian, please consider what Jesus has done for you.  He died on the cross for your sin and for mine so that our relationship with God could be restored.  He wants to have a relationship with you today and give you the peace that only HE can give, even now, right in the middle of a pandemic.

Monday, 9 March 2020

A catch up

Well its been a while! Let me give you a brief catch up of lots of things but I will start with a wonderful testimony from Bethesda.

Just 3 weeks ago we had 21 year old girl come who was very ill, she had been ill for months and her family had spent around $1500 (US) on 5 different witch doctors.  One of those witch doctors lived around 4 hours away.  Even after seeing all these witch doctors she still continued to become more and more unwell.

By the time she visited the 5th witch doctor, she was so weak and was barely able to walk, she had a fever, a cough and even difficulty breathing. The witch doctor told her that he could not do anything for her and she should go to Bethesda because at Bethesda she would find help.

So she came.  On her first visit she tested positive for tuberculosis.  She also had a couple of infections and was anaemic.  During that first visit Ms Prudence explained why she was so ill, what we could do to help and also took the opportunity to share the gospel with her and her mother.  She was given medicine and told to come back a week later.  She returned one week later, already feeling and looking a lot better and stronger.  She and her mum both said they wanted to accept Jesus as their Saviour but had to pay their debt to the witch doctor first.  The reason for this was that once they accepted Christ they didn't want anything to do with Satan at all anymore.  They came back for another check up on Friday, the girl has been taking her medication and is doing great.  On Friday this girl and her mother both accepted Jesus as their Saviour.

Classes are going well at Emmaus.  The students are just about halfway through the semester which began with two weeks of intensive courses in January.  Bill is teaching just one course on Friday mornings and the rest of his time is doing the registrar job.  At the beginning of February one of the other members of staff joined Bill as assistant registrar.  Bill is certainly appreciating the help!  This week Emmaus has three different masters classes going on Masters in Leadership, Masters in Education and Masters in Theology which means in the afternoons there are over 150 students on campus!

We had great design team and board meetings the first week in February. It is really amazing to see the people God has brought to work on the project to build a new Bethesda.  We had 5 engineers here from EMI (engineering ministries international), two world class architects and 3 constructions workers all working on building plans.  There is so much work to do before we can even start building! With Haiti having none of its own infrastructure then our team have to figure out how we are going to get water, what we are going to do with our waste water, how are we going to create electricity, what we are going to do with all our clinic waste and rubbish and a lot more!

Here are some of the initial plans, which may change a bit as the design is refined, but don't they look great!

We are still continuing to work on fundraising and God has been good and continues to provide.  In February our valentines events raised over $60,000 (US).  In April Dr Rodney will be travelling to Western Canada to share about the project to build a new Bethesda.  We are still looking for lots more personnel to get involved so if you have any abilities in the following areas and are looking for an opportunity to serve then please get in touch.  

Photography / editing videos / human resources / fundraising / marketing / finance / medical personnel / prayer 

These last few months of political instability, fuel shortages and unrest have taken their toll on life in Haiti.  The Haitian gourde continues to lose value which means the prices of food keeps rising.   Many people are desperate and we have heard of a rise in crime, robberies and kidnappings.  Most of this is happening in the Capital city, Port au Prince, about 100 miles from us. However to be safe we really don't go very far, mostly just to school and the clinic.  Haiti continues to need our prayers. 

In February we spent 5 days in the Dominican republic with our missionary team for spiritual retreat.  It was a refreshing time, not just because I didn't have to cook or clean up, but we had a great family time aswell as a good time with our team.  With not really being able to have gone anywhere these past 5 months the boys really enjoyed going to the pool, eating ice cream and we enjoyed being able to go somewhere without the stress of thinking about whether it would be safe or not and whether of not we should use the fuel. We listened to a sermon series from David Platt on 1st John and had some discussion time. As always David Platt was great and fed our souls.

Believe it or not the past few days have been windy, rainy and cold!  Our thermometer is telling us its 22celcius but we are finding it hard to believe as it feels much colder than that.  We have our hoodies on and are sleeping with extra blankets 🙂.


 One of the things I was able to do on during my time at home in Northern Ireland during covid was some more training, specifically in paedi...