Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Let me tell you a story about trip I took last week. A team was here that has an interest in agricultural development so I took them up the mountain to Fontina, the typical trip in the back a pickup bouncing around for 60 min. I showed them around the church and school and we met a few of the people. Then we went looking for the nearest water well. I love off road driving as much as the next guy so this was great. Of course we were not really off roading but on La Gonave’s substitute for a road, aka off roading. We found the well and had a good conversation with the locals about how the well was being managed. On the way back, we climbed over one of the many rock piles that we call a road, the crew in the back banged on the roof of the cab for me to stop. We all pilled out and climbed up the little hill to a house. I forgot to tell you that Madalyn, my three year old, had come along to help Daddy drive the truck. She has a great time riding shotgun. Maddie and I were the last up the hill and we met by a little Haitian boy. Maddie told me not to look at him because he did not have on any panties. She soon got over that and was off playing with the boy and his tiny little kitten. We all went around the house because they had something to show us. There on their rain water cistern were six clear bottles filled with water and sitting in the sun and beside the cook house was a dish drying rack. You may say what is so great about that? Now the exciting part: 4 months ago these people did not know about these life saving methods. By placing water in clear bottles in the sun for six hours the sun works as God’s perfect UV filter to purify the water and make it safe to drink which prevents such things as Cholera, typhoid and other bacteria intestinal problems. Drying your dishes in the sun after washing them kills bacteria that may grow them because of the water they were washed in. It was encouraging to me to have proof that people are listening. It does not take much to change your outlook just a little proof that people are reading what we write or are listening to what we say. Thank you each one for your prayers, letters of encouragement, comments on our posts and gifts to help our ministry. Please continue to pray with us as we plan more training and hope to expand into new villages. In the next month we have plans to teach a class on personal evangelism which will confront both our teachers (who are not required to be Christians because the community selects their own leaders) and then each family in Fantina with the decision of “What will you do with Jesus?”
Sunday, October 24, 2010
2. Brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink
3. Always wearing shoes outside
4. Worming my dog each month… and my child because she won’t remember shoes
5. Feeling the need to take stock in a company that makes
Bug spray and sunscreen
6. Eating homemade bread or rolls everyday
7. Cold showers because it’s the only option
8. Not having to cook very often
9. Having people repeat themselves just to find a few words I understand
10. Being cold when it gets down to 80 degrees
Thursday, September 23, 2010
So my wife keeps telling me I need to blog. But I have not figured out how to express the feelings and thought that rush through my head. Such as, as I type a funeral processional is passing by our gate. The band is playing and then it stops and you hear the wails of the grieving. I don't know who died but this in much louder than the normal. Was the person young? Was it a wayward son or daughter? Was it the mother of a young family? How do you express the feelings and thought of living in such a place as La Gonave? To see the beauty of the sea and mountains but yet live among the pain and poverty that belongs to this island. Some days I truly feel like I'm in paradise and the next, the slip of the tongue "Hades",is not far off. The people are beautiful and full of life but also seem to suck every last drop of energy from you. Its crazy that at 80 degrees we start looking for blankets for the bed. This is my world. We drive for an hour to go 6 miles. We pray that our truck that is 15 years old does not fall apart. We pray that soon we will have money to buy a new one. But here is a place of peace and contentment for me. It is not so much a physical place as it is an place of action because for the last month every Wednesday, myself and 2-4 of my CHE helpers climb the mountain for our gruelling 60 min. of "off road" road travel. A friend Justin Dowds took the trip with me a week ago and the question that kept coming up is 'Where is the road?' The answer is 'where there is no grass'. Over rocks and boulders and mud pits filled with rock known as the "Bobble Head" road. Just talking about it make me feel tired and sore. But then we get to our meeting for the Fontina Community Health Project. It last from one to three hour and the meeting is not all that great but the enthusiasm that is seen and felt is invigorating. We teach simple things like digging a trash pit or building a dish drying rack that set in the sun and kills bacteria in pots and dishes. My pockets are always empty meaning I'm not coming with money or new gadgets but simple ideas and concepts that save lives and transform and develop communities. The best part is that when we come back several will say "I built that dish rack or I started my compost pile". This week we sent out a survey with the agents to find out how many homes have trash pits, latrines, vegetable gardens,and how many have been sick in the last month and what were they sick with. We have so much work to do and this is only one zone on this Island of 175,000 people, but these days... are the high light of my life here in Haiti.
If you would like to give to this particular ministry please look for the Community Health Evangelism link.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
You know the saying 'Today is the first day of the rest of your life?' Well today is the first day of a new way of life for the community of Fantina. Today we did our first training of Fantina community health Agents. We identified 414 families in this 5 village zone. So we are training 40 Agents to each teach 10 families. We intend to train every family in life changing skills such as water purification, sanitation, first aid, composting, personal evangelism, kitchen gardens, prevention of diarrhea, typhoid, malaria, HIV and the list goes on. This I believe will be the most thorough education project to date on this Island. We purpose to transform this community one family at a time. Of course we know there will be bumps in the road. All you have to do is take the one hour ride up the mountain to know about bump. But I have a sense that this is something much bigger than me. God is at work. We have the opportunity to influence and transform over 2000 people through God's word and the work he has laid out before us. Pray that we will not be swayed by the evil one and that our focus will remain on Him who has brought us here.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Today the bay is almost glasslike and our things are loaded onto the boat quickly. Deep breaths of salty air and I am convinced that heaven will be a lot like this. My heart is filled with Gods vastness and loveliness. As we move across the water, I watch for them. They just make me happy, the silly little flying fish. I first thought that they were birds diving but they never came back up. They defy the laws of fish nature, fish swim. Nobody told these guys and they make me happy. Skimming across the top of the water…escaping reality. The reality of something wanting to eat them for lunch, of doing what normal fish do, swim. They get to see the sun and experience more than the surroundings they were born into.
I come full circle now, I think of the people in Port, in tent cities, and wonder how they escape a predator named reality. I might be stretching too hard here by making a connection between a fish and a desperate people. The fish do what they were created to do, take a big breath of underwater air and jump and glide through the air for a few minutes in the sun away from what could harm them. It’s a little more complicated for people because we don’t naturally do what we were created to do but I know my God is good. So once again, I pray. That they will have enough: enough bravery to trust God when it doesn’t make sense, enough knowledge of God to know he is always good even when life doesn’t feel good, enough wisdom to call on God because he always answers. I pray that they will jump into our Father and feel the hope the Son can bring and as they face their overwhelming reality and that they would know how to truly believe God understands. I know…I know… I have never had the reality of being homeless and of not knowing how I was going to feed my family or of seeing masses of my friends and family buried alive. I also know that none of these prayers are too big for my Father.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Camping is one of my favorite "reality escapes" but I am always glad to get back home with all the ease my house offers. I saw the tent cities again. Reality is they have been living there for months now and when I saw the tens 6 weeks ago they still looked new but now the rains have come and pounded them day after day. The tents were made to be used a few weeks a year, by now some of the tents look like rags flapping in the wind. Reality is here. As we drove out of the city, I saw things being rebuilt and was so excited and grateful to God for the help that has come. Then I saw something that will replay in my mind over and over. We saw a tent village of two room pole houses covered with tarps. One was just over half way constructed and as the adults worked on finishing the last of the tarps the children danced around and clapped like they were getting a mansion built for them. Reality… again I am humbled by all that I have…
We arrived in Port a Prince Monday afternoon and my brain recognized random verbs… lots of going, coming, needing, wanting, agreeing…and again I pray that God will touch my brain and help it absorb more of the language and not let it drift through to Robin's equivalent of cyber space (forever there but not able to be used) The thing with Haiti is the extreme emotions that I feel, they change so fast that I struggle to keep myself on level ground. Many buildings still left the way they fell after the earth quake begging me to remember the people who died there. Then the buildings in various stages of "rebuild", some are just being broken into pieces by men with hand tools so they can be loaded onto a truck and hauled away, others lots are leveled and signs of new structures can be seen. Next there are people...lots of people. I found myself praying first for the individuals that I saw and then my imagination started thinking of every other group of street kids begging, everyother young girl with no one to protect them and I prayed more, I saw a group young men cleaning their motorcycles, one man scooped water from the ditch with a cut off soda bottle and when finished launched the bottle and popped a friend on the head. The group broke into laugher and words were exchanged and I'm just guessing that one friend threatened the other because more laughter erupted. I prayed that they would know Jesus as Lord. People… People with emotions and thoughts and dreams and plans just like my neighbors at home. I saw street venders selling everything imaginable under umbrellas along the side walk, next to beautifully painted business', next to a charcoal cooker with roasted corn or some kind of meat for sale. There was garbage and animals and city taxis and UN trucks and donkeys all sharing the road. As I read back through what I just wrote and reflect the emotions, I asked myself what do I want people to do with all this information. I just want you to see Haiti through my eyes and remember it is not a "country" destroyed by an earthquake some 6 months ago but People who still need help and prayer and for us to do what we wanted to do when we first heard on Jan 12, 2010.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
We finished a new training team this week. We now have 8 young men trained to help develop Community Health Evangelism. Friday was the first test for the new guysand they passed with flying colors. We went down to the Saline to the church there were we have done clinics the last two medical teams. We gave them a vision/awareness seminar. We talk about the difference between relief and development and the talked about health. Health has 4 parts physical, mental, social, spiritual. It also involves being in harmony with God, harmony with ones self, harmony with others and harmony with nature/the environment. We then read a story about a CHE project in Uganda and the success that they had in changing there lives and community. One of the Trainers named Max got up at the end and made a very clear point that the community in Uganda that did so well was successful because they did this work themselves and did not wait on the outsides to make life good for them. I then taught a lesson on world view/ beliefs and how they effect our lives and the success that we have in development. The best part was that the new trainers really did well. They understand the concepts and are able to teach the principles from their hearts. We are praising God for this answer to prayer. I have given them permission to hold these vision seminars while I back in the states. The goal is to give them the lead in all projects. When we do trainings they do most of the teaching. The goal altimate goal is that the trainers will do all of the training and I will give direction. I ask that you pray for these young men that God will give them courage and wisdom and a passion to reach the communities around us with this new method to deliver the Message the transformes lives.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Another awesome part about this trip is that Lexi, the second child in my family, is along with me to make a difference in the lives of the people here. We set off from home around noontime on June 1, 2010, to the Newark International Airport. Our flight was scheduled for 4:45pm on American Airlines, but it got cancelled because of the nasty storms that were brewing up. AA set us up on another flight on the same route on Continental Airlines; so we said our good-byes and got into the security line.
We figured since we had 12 hours of layover in Miami, we might as well get to know the airport a little bit and try to have some fun.About 5:30 we were able to get our luggage and headed off to check in at our gate. After a safe flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we stepped out into the blistering heat and boarded the shuttle bus to get to the immigration stations. . After finally getting our bags, we held hands to stay together, and headed out into the black wilderness. It was a different experience for Lexi, knowing that every person around you was eyeing you head-to-toe; but after a few minutes, we saw some familiar white faces and rushed over in glee to Robin and Cassie Adams…..
…..As we jumped into the “Contair” (big pick-up truck with caged-in bed), we found out that Robin and Cassie came with a Haitian driver, named Judain; and that they had been there since the day before getting groceries. Driving through Port-au-Prince, we saw a little bit of what the earthquake had done, and how much there is yet to pick up and rebuild. We saw a “tent city”, where thousands of people are living in simple tents because their homes were destroyed. Also on the way, we stopped at a plant to pick up some boxes of frozen chicken to take over to the island to eat. Some other sites along the 2 hour drive to the boat port were: massive grave sites where the whole family is buried in the same little grave house; little towns with very little infrastructure; wide-open fields with tents and animals scattered throughout the land; beautiful beaches along the coast; and high, majestic mountains all around us. The roads outside of the city got a lot better, but the driving didn’t…We were constantly yelling over horns beeping and trucks and school buses flying by. It was an amazing contrast between the hectic, crowded city, and the beautiful, tranquil countryside. There were Haitians everywhere, and as soon as they figured out that there were white people in back of the truck, all eyes were directed towards us. We arrived at the dock after a while, and for the first time, we got some relief from the heat by wading into the bath-water-temperature bay....
... After about 6 miles into the boat voyage, we had the awesome opportunity to watch a school of dolphins play around near the boat. Everyone else came up to the roof in the front to watch the show. They said that it was the biggest gathering that they had ever seen of dolphins on the way over, so it was pretty amazing. They jumped for us and even scooted along the top of the water on their tails like they do in the Sea World shows. :-) Also on our way over, we had the privilege to get acquainted with the famous flying fish…They are pretty cool to watch as they jump up and skim across the top of the water. As blue as it was, the ocean water was contaminated with garbage all along the current that traveled through the channel. We learned that the trash comes out of Port-au-Prince as the rain comes down at night and washes it around. Anyway, we arrived to the island dock around the middle of the day and were greeted by Lowell and Maddie Adams, along with some other Haitian guys. We loaded up the truck and jumped in to head up to their house on the missionary compound. We asked lots of questions and found out that the island is around 30 miles long and about 10 miles wide. It has 40 to 50 different communities living on it and the population drastically rose after the earthquake damaged so much of Port-au-Prince.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Brief report to update CHE
The last week of April, I completed training with 3 men that will help me do community awareness and training. Our first assignment was to visit a community call Fontina. There is a church, from Canada, that wants to partner with that community in doing school clinic and primary health care. We have taken two visits to Fontina to do community assessment. There is good potential there for development and community health training. The church is the center of community. Population is about 3000 people and covers over 5 square miles. The area school is run by the local Wesleyan church partnering with Compassion International and has 257 students. There is no clinic in the area and the hospital it over an hour away so preventative medicine is greatly needed. They already have a community counsel, this coupled with the fact that they seem to be a motivated farming community, causes us to believe that we could have good success starting our program here. One of the first problems is that they have two wells that have good water but both hand pumps are broken. Deep Water Wesleyan church is interested in fixing them but we must first establish local ownership of the wells and develop a way to collect funds for future repair. The soil is good in this valley and there is real potential for Ag business /micro-enterprise.
We also have traveled west down the coast via speed boat to find access to the village docks. We are looking for easy and affordable ways to get medical teams to coastal villages to the west. We plan to go east to look for access to docks and do some community assessments within the next week.
Tuesday we are going to a community meeting for the Saline Church to explore CHE on the Saline. One possible project is "back yard" raised gardens. One of the problems on the Saline is that you get high tides and standing water after rains that is brackish or salty. So by creating raised beds on a base of rocks we can keep the salty water out. There are lots of plastic bottles around that we will collect and cut in half and lay out flat on the rocks. Then we will overlap them creating a semi permeable barrier to hold soil and moisture. Topsoil will then be put on top and seeds or plants planted. We will the cover with a palm branch shelter for those plants that need shade. There is also need for health education and micro enterprise. Of course all of the projects are to be community lead.
Pray for us this week as we present to the Saline community and also to Fontina the vision of Community Health Evangelism. We need them to see this as a community lead project and not some rich outsider who is going to feed everyone and make everyone happy. This is the first requirement for us to begin work in these areas. Also, on Saturday we have 30-40 people coming to a CHE training on Soil and Composting. I’m not an export on this but I’m the teacher so pray that I will have wisdom and the ability to present this information in a way that will make it easy to understand and embrace.
Monday, May 10, 2010
It was probably the most unusual Mother's day that I have had. We started out by going to church and then came home and packed to go out on the boat. With plans to leave by 11:00 we were on our way around noon. First we went south to the next village down the coast. We were greeted by several teens and children. We learned that the village has a school building but not teachers. There is a teacher that lives there but travels into the town we live in to teach so that she can help support her family. I don't know if the numbers are right, but the story is there are 200 children in the village and surrounding hill that don't have a school. They have a water system which gets turned on every afternoon for a few hours to make sure there is enough water for the next day. Yet, it was a orderly, clean little community. We met the pastor of the Wesleyan church there and have plans to go there for service sometime in the near future. I was afraid to ask, but found out church is from 6am until 11am.... quite sure sitting that long will be beyond me. Glad I have Maddie as an excuse to have to go outside some.
Then we headed north to see how long it would take to get to the village of La Souse. We drove there a couple of weekends ago and it took nearly 4 hours going under 10mph most of the way over extremely bumpy roads. So we were pleasantly surprised when 45 minuets later we were flying by it.... OK so that is the part that troubled me, the flying by part. This was the plan. Time how long it would take to get to the village by boat for future teams to do a medical clinic and then stop for lunch and some snorkeling. But we didn't stop... Lowell was having way to much fun flying in the speed boat. After several hand motions and confused looks, he stopped and asked our guide how long to get to the end of the Island. With a mixture of laughs and moans we persuaded him to turn around and let us eat!! We explored a new reef and saw several flounder, sea slugs, jelly fish, star fish, sand dollars and a rainbow of beautiful tropical fish. Cassie and I paddled around in circles an inflatable kayak (with plans to get to Cuba but we don't know why) and laughed at our lack of coordination.
We returned home tired and sore and happy. What make it a strange Mothers Day? It wasn't until we were getting ready for bed and Cassie hopped on to Facebook and saw all the mothers day posts that we realized it was mothers day... She said the traditional "Happy Mother's Day" but what made it happy was just being with her and laughing and exploring and living my life. The cherry on top was when just as Maddie fell asleep she looked at me and said, "Your my Mommy and I love you"
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
So here we are, with it taking us 3 hours to drive 20 mile on “good” road and my friend Caleb 5 hours to drive 20 mile is it any wonder that our Hospital is only accessible to one third of the Island. Caleb got a quote from a civil engineer on building a nice two lane paved road going 60 km across the Island. One million dollars per kilometer of road, times 60 km equals Sixty million dollars. Anybody want to pay for this project? So our emphasis is going into the unreached areas with healthcare and community development. We soon will need to buy a vehicle to help transport medical teams and get training teams to these areas. A good strong 4x4 will cost forty to fifty thousand dollar. That is much better than sixty million.
If you like remote areas and love to help people La Gonave is a great place to come and let God use your skills to bless and bring hope to the poorest of the poor in Haiti.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday evening we decide to make pizza pockets to take on our picnic on Saturday. I opened that cupboard door to find ingredients and from behind was buzzed by a VERY large flying roach like thingy. It landed in the cupboard and as I screamed Lowell came running to my rescue. He started pulling out items to search for it. His plan was to chase it out of the kitchen and spray it with bug spray, so he opened the door below the sink to get spray and informed me I might want to leave the room. My mighty hunter found a long stick and "speared" a mouse. It was a very traumatic evening. We did get our food made and finally made it to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night I had to take care of one of my kids and then walked into the bathroom. Something ran across my foot!!! Now I am standing on the toilet yelling for Lowell, who says it is gone by now. I respond that I am not leaving the toilet perch until he turns on the light!!! Now Lance comes running to see what I am screaming about and as Lowell turns on the light a balloon goes rolling by..... I have never seen 2 grown men laugh so hard. I made Lance take my balloon mouse to his room and meekly returned to bed....