Happy New Year 2017

I started this blog post January 2, 2017.  Just like the freshly fallen snow that we enjoyed here in Waterloo Region those first few days of January, we have a new year ahead of us that is unmarked and yet to be defined.

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Jeremiah 6:16 says this “Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”(NIV) 

We are at the crossroads of the new year and quickly moving into it.  In which direction are  we travelling this year.  On January 1, my pastor James, spoke from 1Kings 3:5-15.  God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted.  King Solomon responded this way in verse 9:  “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.”(NLT)  Solomon chose wisdom that he would be able to do govern well.

Just as Solomon prayed for wisdom for the tasks in front of him, I too desire God’s wisdom and guidance for this new year.  I do not want to be satisfied with the status quo.  Psalm 25:4 says “Show me your ways O LORD,  teach me your paths…”  Even though I have not walked this way before, God has the plan in place.  As recorded in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.”

So what is in store for 2017?

EMCC has been in a relationship with SHIATS University and Yeshu Darbar in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh State, in northern India for several years.  EMCC was invited to bring a medical team to work alongside staff at the Hayes Memorial Hospital on the SHIATS campus.  January 13 to 28 will find the team of 2 doctors and 2 nurses, an assistant physiotherapist and helper/cook travelling to Allahabad as EMCC’s first medical team.  This is a new experience for me; new culture and new languages.  I will be learning right along with the team.  We are trusting God as he takes us to this new place.  Please pray as God brings us to mind.  And as always, if time and internet services permit, I will attempt to send along some notes and pictures from the field.

Let me update you on the last few months of 2016:

September 10 – 29 in Igoma (Mwanza Region), Tanzania

A  team of 6 Canadians partnered with the health care professionals from the Urafiki clinic in Igoma to provide village clinics over 8 days.  These village clinics provided immediate care for the patients as well as assisting some with followup including surgeries and other examinations that might be considered just routine here in Canada.  Many people came not only for physical care but emotional and spiritual help as well.  The team prayed for healing and salvation for several people; Pastor Ellen and Pastor Edah spent many hours of their day praying for patients’ healing and release from spiritual bondage.  We praise God for many answers to prayer and for new members added to the family of God.

Along with the medical clinic aspect the team did health education seminars over the first weekend.  During the second week Pastor Ellen held a Retreat for pastors and leaders and wives.

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October 2016 –

Back home in Waterloo Region, I was kept busy doing reports and preparing for the next five weeks of travel to Haiti.

As often as possible, I enjoyed quiet and refreshing moments with God and crisp fresh air on the walking trail in Elmira. All of the beauty of creation pointed to a loving Heavenly Father.

November 1- December 5, 2016

During this period of time a combined medical team, from Regina and Kitchener, and a construction team from Macoun, SK along with another group travelled to Haiti.  The medical team along with the construction crew worked in the community of Gens de Nantes.  The “other” group travelled down to the southern peninsula to assess the damage resulting from Hurricane Matthew, in the Department of the Nippes, in the village of Benoit, and a brief visit to the city of Cayes, which is further south and west.  In both areas the AEM has sister churches.

Visit to the Nippes and the South following Hurricane Matthew:

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AEM Church Pelerin, Cayes       Klarholm’s & Pastor Mertens, Pelerin

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Destruction of Homes in the Nippes

We held 2 days of medical clinics in Benoit, with a team of volunteers from PauP.  Along with medical support we were able to donate food and clothing, bedding and towels for those families who had lost their homes and animals.

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Family receiving Blankets/Sheets         Home away from Home for us.

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Nurse Volunteer                                                      Dr. Sammy (born in GDN)

This visit to Haiti felt a little bit like it must have felt in the days of Noah. It rained and rained and rained some more.  (In fact I have heard that it is raining again in the north).  Rivers were high and roads were muddy.  The local farmers suggested that their crops of peanuts would be “rotting” in the fields.  There was significant flooding in Cape Haitian.  One of the AEM pastors, Andronique and his wife, had to move out of their home, located in a low lying area, due to the flooding and contamination from the extremely polluted river/ocean and sewage.  The little nation of Haiti certainly struggles with natural disasters and those man made as well.

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In the midst of the difficulties there are lights of hope and encouragement.  At the national level, there was a successful election in November, 2016.  Just a few days ago, CBC news reported a “new president” in place.  Praise God.  At the local level in the community of GDN, the clinic continues to function successfully.  I am grateful for Dr. Emmanuel Saint Hilaire, who has completed his first year of employment.  What a blessing to have someone who loves and cares for the patients in the community; who desires to see the clinic move forward and who has initiative to make changes as needed.  We are wonderfully blessed to have him serving as a physician in GDN.

See June, 2016 update for a photo.

Then there is Pastor Andre, always there, ever faithful to see that the clinic is open for business, even when all of the trained staff have been called out to various seminars and government training sessions.  As I hear repeated often, a health facility never shuts its doors.  Someone must be there to care for the emergencies.  Thank God for Pastor Andre who loves Jesus with all his heart and soul, mind and strength and who loves his neighbour as himself, as is evident in his availability to serve in the clinic, day and night.        dsc00749

The medical team never would have thought that they would be called upon to assist in some veterinary medicine.  Mis Marg Brown, retired EMCC missionary nurse to both Nigeria and Haiti, was on this particular medical team.  Mis Marg comes with years of experience in nursing (and medicine in general).  She also brings to the team, the gift of story telling and does she have some stories!  “Sister Margaret” told stories of her attempts at veterinary medicine during her 10 years in Haiti.  The Merck Manual for veterinarians was invaluable especially since Marg grew up in the city of Toronto and had no experience with animals large or small.  On a rainy late Sunday afternoon a local Haitian farmer came to the Guest House in search of some help for his “newborn calf.”  Let me explain that in Haiti, an animal is part of the family’s bank account, so to have a new calf born meant adding to that “bank account.”  Suffice it to say,that Sister Margaret and several of the nurses on the team were eager to help in whatever way they could.  In the end, they did a surgical procedure and had prayer.  The calf continued to live for a number of weeks.  Since I am home I have not received any updates.  Thank you Sister Margaret and team for “stepping out of your comfort zone” and for putting “scope of practice” aside to help a family in need.  Psalm 36:6b-7a says “You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.  How precious is your unfailing love O God!”  That passage jumped out at me; wow, God cares for the animals too.   

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The building crew to Gens de Nantes, from Macoun SK, funded and helped to construct some out buildings for the medical staff housing.  They also did some renovations to the interior of the staff house.

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Outdoor cookhouse and storage.

The medical teams helped the health agents go door to door doing vaccinations and weighing of infants.  Because of heavy rains and lack of vaccines the month previous, the mothers were not able to attend their usual health posts.  So we brought the health post to them.  It was a slippery, muddy challenge but a wonderful privilege to participate in “life in the community of GDN.”  The nurses did work alongside the staff at the GDN clinic as well.

Thank you Father for your care for the teams and our travels in 2016.

Psalm 121:7,8 “The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

You indeed have watched over our comings and goings in 2016; in the same way we trust you for this new year.

Thank you to all who pray and who give faithfully to carry out Health and Community Development beyond our Canadian borders.  I thank God for you.

Until the next post,

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Marilyn McIlroy, EMCC Health and Community Development