I started this particular blog on February 11, 2018 and then became preoccupied with preparation for travels to Haiti on February 20th. Well the greeting below actually is very accurate for today. We are in the midst of inclement weather this Sunday, April 15. Sleet and ice and perhaps it would be called snow. The ground is white; does that count? There are a few green plants attempting to push through the still frozen soil. The warmth of spring is around the corner. With the weather station telling motorists to stay home, and many events being cancelled, I decided that this is my opportunity to get caught up on mail. Here is how I began back on February 11:
Greetings from snowy and rainy Waterloo Region. What a blessing it is to have a warm place to live and good tires for winter driving. Thank you Jesus for safe travels during the winter weather.
It has been a few months since we have connected. How are you doing?
I planned to start this blog by saying “please pray for me as I prepare to go to Haiti with several teams” but that was October 2017. Thank you to all who did pray because you just do that regularly. I will give you some details on the October to December Haiti mission.
Later I decided that I should send off a Christmas note to you. I thought I would start the blog by saying “Baby Jesus went missing this Christmas.” Then Christmas came and went. I did find Jesus. I will tell you what transpired.
We hurried into 2018. Wow even the opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year escaped me. Is it just me or are we all too busy hurrying from event to event and holiday to holiday?
Then on February 11 I said, “we are a few days away from Lent and then Easter will be upon us. It is easy to be caught up in the calendars of our lives and the busy schedules. It takes a concerted effort to slow down and to ‘Be still and know that I am God’ from Psalm 46:10.”
What was that story about the missing Jesus? I wanted to decorate my cubicle at the EMCC office so I went looking for my nativity scene made of glass. It had been carefully wrapped in tissue paper. With little thought, I pulled out all the tissue wrapped pieces and dropped them into a bag. Once at the office, I carefully unwrapped Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wisemen. That was when I realized that baby Jesus was nowhere to be found. Back at home I did what I thought was a careful search of the plastic storage tub. Still no Jesus. Finally at last resort I asked my sister if she would please look as I could not find Jesus anywhere. Have you noticed that often Jesus is missing in the celebrations meant to remind us of his birth and life, death and resurrection? Yes, Ruth did find Jesus and my nativity scene was complete. But more importantly my life is complete because I have Jesus living within me and Holy Spirit is guiding and directing me every step of the journey.
On December 25 I travelled to Clinton to spend Christmas Day with my good friends Barb and Wayne and their family. Two of their adult children and spouses and the grandchildren would be leaving in 2018 for various parts of the globe to serve on mission with Ethnos.
In January and early February of this year, 2018 I prepared for travel with 2 teams to Haiti. During my times away from work, I continued to marvel at the wonder of God’s creation and enjoy the many winter walks in the great outdoors. Such peace and rest.
The first team for Haiti was from Ontario. The role of this team was to disassemble the prefabricated model house located at La Jeune, in central Haiti and send it to Benoit, in the south of Haiti in the department of the Nippes.
These panels were loaded on the truck and shipped the 260km south and west to Benoit.
The roads were long and difficult. But everything arrived mostly as it left La Jeune. The cement pad for the building was in place when the team arrived. Panel by panel the building was erected.
When the last panel was in place. the team stopped; Pastor Lizand shared a prayer of thanksgiving.
Within 2 short days the team took the building apart and another 2 days the building was reassembled, all to the glory of God. Thank you Michelle and Ernst, Joyce, Mary, Linda, John, and Adam for making this happen (even in the midst of the flu). Thank you Father God for strength on the journey.
So what is the big deal about having a clinic in the village of Benoit, so far away from most of the other churches of the AEM and so far from anywhere? It takes about 7 hours to go from Port au Prince to Benoit. Why bother?
Let me share the story of Pastor Lizand and the vision that God gave to him. Pastor Lizand is one of the pastoral team in the AEM Church in Port au Prince. Pastor was born in the south of Haiti.
I have titled his story “Go! Bananas!”
About 8 years ago, Pastor Lizand had a dream. In that dream, a “person” came to him carrying a large stalk of bananas. The person told Lizand that he was to go to the village of Benoit and share the bananas. It was just a passing dream. But about 2 years later this same “person” appeared to Lizand again. This time the person asked, “How is it going with the sharing of bananas in Benoit?” This time, the “person” had Pastor Lizand’s attention. Immediately he went to Pastor Josue, the lead pastor at the church in Port au Prince, where he also served, and asked him what the dream (vision) could have meant. Pastor Josue responded by saying that it means that we are to go and share the good news of Jesus in the village of Benoit. Soon after the initial contact there, Pastor Lizand began to visit regularly. A little group of followers of Jesus began to meet and they planned to build a small church structure. During one of his weekend visits in the village, Lizand heard that a young woman had died following the delivery of her infant. This impacted Pastor Lizand greatly. There is no 24/7 medical care for 20 km. And there is no transportation either, day or night. Immediately Lizand reported this to the AEM Assembly at La Jeune. Soon Pastor Lizan wrote up a “proposal” to submit to the AEM, asking for assistance in the areas of water and health care, education and latrines. In October 2016 catastrophic hurricane Matthew struck the southern peninsula making the situation in Benoit even more difficult. The little church that had been erected was a pile of rubble. Homes and gardens were destroyed. Pastor Lizand did not give up hope. He is a man with a big heart. And he is a man with faith in our big God. Lizand says that when he prays God answers those prayers.
The rubble of stones from the original structure was replaced by a solid block church in December 2017 (see story below). But Lizand still had a bucket list which included a clinic and health care. And thus “Dispensaire de Benoit” came into being in March, 2018.
The clinic was designated for use as church on the first Sunday of it’s completion. What a wonderful way to “inaugurate” the building. At that point it was still just a building with 4 walls and a roof and 4 rooms inside. One could not really call that a clinic. A lot of work needed to be done yet. In mid March a group arrived from Saskatchewan. It was a combined team; medical and building. Within two short weeks, the prefab structure became a busy clinic setting. There was a real buzz going on with half the team constructing tables and benches, shelving and desks and the medical staff seeing patients in every corner of the small clinic.
The building crew worked outside; the medical team inside.
As soon as the furniture was completed it was put to use. Shelves were stocked. Supplies were put in place. Electrical was added at the end of the day. Thanks Eric and Acner.
Thank you Elva and team from Regina. Your love of Jesus and heart for the people of Haiti shines brightly.
Thank you Father from whom all blessings flow. Please pray for the call of God on a team of Haitian followers of Jesus who are health care workers to serve in this community and medical clinic full-time.
Thank you to the Team Regina and Team Haiti for two weeks of amazing kingdom ministry in the village of Benoit.
Team members from L to R, back row, Helene (lab), Sammy (MD), Don, Elva (RN), Doloros (MD), Murray (pastor), Melanie (Admin), Lynnise (RN), Ruth (nurse), Margie (NP), Herlynda (Admin.) front row, Gerta (nurse), Sheila (RN), Rosemyrta (nurse), Sharon (RN), Martin.
God is pouring out His blessings on this community through the ministry of Pastor Lizand. Two nights before the team would be leaving, a baby was born in the new clinic. Dr. Sammy was present as were several nurses. Pastor Lizand’s prayer to have a clinic in the village was answered. And not only was it answered but a new little one was born in the clinic as a testimony of God’s faithfulness over sickness and death. Praise our wonderful Lord.
Story of new church structure in Benoit:
Following catastrophic hurricane Matthew in September 2016, I led a small group to Benoit to provide some emergency relief and an assessment of damage in that local area. (see previous blog post). Eric and Karen Klarholm joined that small group. Eric has participated in the construction of many of the church builds for the AEM. For Eric, this was just an opportunity for another church construction project. Funds were raised by Eric’s home EMC church in Macoun, SK and the Palmerston EMC in ON. Partial funds were sent ahead and with the partnership of a team of Haitian block layers mostly from Port au Prince, the foundation and walls were erected. (Oh, did I say that all the blocks were hand made on site?) The small team of Canadians arrived in November, 2017. A Haitian carpenter and several day labourers added to the team that would build the roof trusses and get the roof in place. Here is how it progressed:
Thank you to all the team members from AB, SK and ON as well as Haiti.
When the roof was on, Pastor Lizand invited the church members and a celebration of God’s goodness was held. Remaining funds covered the cost for locally prepared windows, steel doors and a cement floor. Electrical wiring was added in the new year.
Thank you friends at Macoun and Palmerston EMC’s for your faithful support of our Haitian brothers and sisters.
I praise God for all the ways that he has cared for and protected our teams over the many kms of rugged travel. He has kept us healthy and safe. He has provided faithfully for all the needs of the projects and team members. Praise His Name.
And now let me say thank you to you. You have faithfully prayed for and blessed me. I praise God for you.
Thanks for sitting down and enjoying a cup of java with me. I have so much more to share but it is time to go. Next time I will tell you about the new Senior’s Centre in Pignon as well as the team to Gens de Nantes to provide optometry exams “That all may see.” Once again thank you. I must be off until next blog. See you later. I hope to hear from you soon. Blessings. Marilyn McIlroy