Spring 2020

March 22, 2020   

Good afternoon from my home in Waterloo Region (Elmira), Ontario.  Grab a coffee or a tea or even a hot chocolate!  Let’s get caught up.  

Happy Spring!

You are likely at home today as well.  I will take this opportunity to share what has been happening since my last post in “Where in the World is Marilyn, 2019.”

We are in a new season.  As an EMCC World Partner living in Canada, I have been working from my home predominantly for the last year.  Also, significant unrest in Haiti, beginning mid 2018 and throughout 2019, limited my travel to that area.

Let me focus on present and then I will give you highlights of what has gone on over the past months.  I along with Ellen Krahn and Lisa Nightingale had joined “Women Together” to travel to Kenya as a Ministry and Medical Team to work in the city and several communities to the east of Nairobi.  We were to have travelled March 15 returning April 2, 2020.  Our team leader was already in Jordan.  Then Wednesday, (March 11) as I worked at my casual job at public health I was beginning to feel quite unsettled about travel. Later in the evening I spent time reading and praying and was unable to relax; I had this “niggling” discomfort.  Finally, an email came from our team leader informing us that it was essential to cancel the trip.  She was at the airport in Jordan at that time trying to book flights back to Toronto.   I was relieved; a sense of peace overwhelmed me.  This was not the time to be travelling.  Our team leader arrived in Toronto on Friday, March 13.  That country closed their borders on March 14.  Thank you Jesus for taking care of Margaret.  Well, my suitcases are still packed; I will leave them in the garage for the time being.  I have taken my Dukoral.  I am ready to travel when the borders reopen, when it is safe to do so and as God leads us.

Most of you are aware that I work casual hours at Region of Waterloo Public Health to keep my nursing license current.  My job is in the Vaccine Preventable Disease department, which is part of Communicable Diseases.  I worked on the Friday, prior to our planned departure on Sunday, March 15.  Since I was not travelling, I informed my manager that I would be available during these weeks.  All school clinics had been cancelled, as were suspension clinics.  As a result, I was trained last week to work phones, responding to calls around Covid19.  This centre has been in operation about 3 weeks but as you are aware, the calls have just continued to increase.   I had not yet signed up with availability.  

Well, as of Friday, several of the team are being redeployed to a new area. We will receive another training on Monday to provide response to Covid 19 within longterm cares throughout the region.

Please pray for me for wisdom.  Pray that I will truly portray the “peace that passes all understanding” that people are searching for in the unknown.   

I have always trained team members when we travel, that it is important to be F.A.T. (flexible, adaptable and teachable, trainable). I am learning quickly to put this into practice myself. Again, your prayers – appreciated.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again – rejoice! Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard you hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  

Philippians 4:4-7

I did travel to Haiti in the past 6 months.  In November, 2019 Nicole Jones-Qandah, William Knelsen and I travelled with 3 women from Albright EMC in Winnipeg, to Gens de Nantes (GDN) in the northeast of Haiti.  The focus of that trip was to meet with the community leaders, listen to their concerns and facilitate visioning of changes in their area.  My role was to connect the team with the partners on the ground.  William travelled with us to meet, interview and prepare video material in preparation for the 10th anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake.  Appreciation to William for this presentation.  

William did many interviews and took lots of photos and videos of the different initiatives that EMCC W.P. has partnered with over the past 15 plus years.  It was wonderful to be able to share the breadth of the activities with Nicole and William.

Nicole spent the greater part of her time in a retreat held in a hotel in Ouanaminthe.  Invited guests included representatives in agriculture, education and health in greater Gens de Nantes as well as an excellent translator and the EMCC WP representative in Haiti, Herlynda Philogene.  I was not involved in the actual retreat; I did get feedback during a debrief when we arrived back home.  It was a successful gathering.  As a result of the retreat, the following initiative has been developed: the Integrated Education and Agriculture Initiative in Gens de Nantes, Haiti.  I will update you when the link for donations is up online.    

Team meeting with Nicole (L) in session

Many of you have prayed for Andre Philogene, the senior pastor at the GDN AEM (L’Association des Eglises Missionnaires) church.   He has been struggling high blood pressure and for the past 6 months has not been able to get control of it.  As a result, he had a stroke, the hypertension remains unstable.  Continue to pray for Andre, and his wife and their family.

Then in January, a team of 4 traveled through the Dominican Republic to Ouanaminthe and on to Pignon in the central part of Haiti.  This team hung out with a group of trades folks to move the Senior’s Facility closer to completion.  Although we would like to say it is finished, it is not.   Things did not progress rapidly; materials are not always readily available.  If they are available it is an all day search to find them.  For example you purchase ceramic tile in one place, then you search all over town for grout to go with the tile and you come up with 1 bag.  No super stores and in fact not even any smaller “Home Hardware” type stores in which to shop for a few building supplies in one spot!!  A fellow missionary who works in another country reminded me that this totally makes sense.  One person has one item for sale; that is his/her small business.  Another person has another item.  Well, I guess it is quite sensible; everyone gets to have a small business and a little income.  We are anxious to see the building closer to completion and to have some seniors move in.  

A few weeks after we returned home, we received the above photos. Mr Marius became the first resident to move into the Pignon AEM Seniors Village. (Well that is what I am naming it!) We are happy to see this become a reality. Pray with Abdon and the committee from Pignon as they make decisions regarding future residents.

Today is Sunday. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, we are living in a new normal. I watched a live stream service where 3 folks (maintaining social distance) led worship. Then the pastor spoke. No one was in attendance accept those streaming from home. Then in the afternoon, Ruth and I went out for a long walk on a trail outside of town. It was a lovely, sunny day even if cold.

We have walked almost every evening in the last week. It has been healthy for us. It keeps us encouraged and we do enjoy our bird sitings.

On that note, let me conclude. Thank you for your prayers during these ever changing days. I have been spending time in Psalm 121 this week: “I looked across that landscape today on my walk. Where does my help come from? My help – our help – comes from the LORD, the creator of Heaven and Earth. As you have your eye on the sparrows, so you are watching over us. And further more you do not sleep, you do not even take a short snooze!” Thank you Jesus. Praise your Holy Name, Father God.

Until next post: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Marilyn McIlroy EMCC World Partners; mmcilroy@emcc.ca