By Kathy Melvin, Presbyterian News Service
Gwen and John Haspels, second-generation mission co-workers who spent more than 40 years planting churches and doing community development work in remote areas of Africa, have safely returned home to Halstead, Kan., to continue medical treatment and recuperation. They were injured October 1, 2014, when their car was attacked by armed bandits on a rural road in Ethiopia.
After the attack, John drove Gwen four hours to the nearest hospital in Aman, Ethiopia. They were then transferred to a top trauma center in South Africa, where they stayed for several weeks. There they were joined by their children and visited by several World Mission colleagues, who helped arrange their medical and spiritual care.
John, who was hit in the chest by bullet fragments and suffered deep graze wounds near his eye, has lost sight in one eye. Gwen, who took bullets to her face, was in critical condition when they arrived at the hospital. She has undergone several surgeries to repair the damage to her face, tongue and jaw and will require additional surgeries. But she remains positive about her recovery.
The couple stopped in Ethiopia to say goodbye to friends and colleagues on the way back to the U.S. Michael Weller, Presbyterian World Mission’s regional liaison for the Horn of Africa, says the couple is greatly loved by the people of Ethiopia.