Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FINISHING UP THE YEAR



Caption top to bottom:
**prayer before starting mountain clinic.
**attending to a dehydrated youth
** medical team

WINDING DOWN AND GEARING UP

This is my last week in Haiti for 2010, I fly home Friday morning for a 3 week Holiday vacation. I return on Jan. 3rd to start another year in Haiti, it will be my 12th year. The week before I leave and especially the last day are usually hectic as I attend to last minute details that need attention before my departure.

This week we are doing what we can to get ready for the Haiti Church of God annual conference Jan. 6-8 and to also make preparations for the new missionaries who will arrive to live here at Borel in Jan. Two of those missionaries are here this week, Heather Elyse from Rochester, Ind. will be coming to be the director of GAP ministry she will rent one of the houses here at Borel. Besides working for that ministry she will assist other ministries with video production and print and Internet communications.

Randy Broaddus from Tulsa , Oklahoma will be coming to be a volunteer missionary for Project Help, he will be the field tech support engineer for PH-H and other missions who need professional tech support. Both of these missionaries have worked in children's ministries , Heather grew up on the mission field as a MK & PK and is an ordained children's pastor. Randy has served many years as a volunteer at his church in OK.

This next year we will be emphasizing and developing a new outreach to minister and evangelize the young people of Haiti. Just like in the U.S. bringing young people to Christ early is imperative to discipleship. The success rate drops dramatically after the age of 18 so we are targeting two age groups, 6year old's to early teens and mid teens to late twenty year old.

Andy and Theresa Snyder have been confirmed as full time PH-H missionaries and will arrive for a 3 month stay in Jan. Andy will be the new facilities manager for the Borel compound and Theresa will manage the Borel guesthouse together they will be in charge of the short term missions teams and projects they do here.

Last weeks mobile medical team did a tremendous amount of work, over 1,000 men, women and children's health needs were treated and ministered to. Another 250 received eye exams and reading glasses through New Vision ministry an organization we partner with here in Haiti. The medical team purchased 1,000 pair of reading glasses and brought them to Haiti along with the many bags of pharmaceuticals. These supplies were added to what we had on hand as we build up a stock of medical supplies for helping those who are most vulnerable, the poor people who live far out in the mountains and rural areas of Haiti. At least 40 people received Christ at our 2 day clinic in the mountain village of Fretta. In God's love, steve

Monday, November 22, 2010

"DON'T PRAY FOR LIGHTER BURDENS BUT STRONGER BACKS"


Top: where the future Bon Repose church will be rebuilt
Bottom: new church benches.

MAKING PROGRESS

It has been a very unusual year even for Haiti which it seems makes world headlines at least one or more times each year. This year Haiti was in the news all year long from the earthquake, slow progress, broken promises , cholera and Hurricane Tomas. There is still 5.5 weeks left something else could happen before 2011 gets here. I thought I knew what I was up against when I took this job but never imagined my first year as director would be this challenging. Yet I feel God has blessed me by giving me this opportunity.

My first 6 months were really consumed by the earthquake and our medical ministry. Since June I have been able to start focusing on the vision I have for preparing PH-H for it's future role here in Haiti. In six more years we will pass the 50 year mark of working here. We started with a vision and implemented a plan that served us well but plans need revised to achieve success.

The excitement for mission work here in Haiti is at an all time high right now and doesn't appear it will slow down any next year. Thank God for that because it will be on the backs of many that we will move forward and accomplish the task God has given us here in Haiti.

These past few weeks we have hosted some amazing teams that have been helping us get prepared for next year but also help us with serving and blessing many in need right now. We have had 2 surgical teams, a German team working with Cholera, and 4 work teams in the last 30 days. We have completed the work on a new church building in the mountains and built church benches for our church that was destroyed in Port au Prince by the earthquake. We have built a 100 lineal feet of cabinets for our mission houses and guesthouse houses, we have painted and cleaned , built a new guesthouse dorm at Pierre Payen, replaced ceilings and are amazed as our Haitian work crews make improvements in some of our structures here at Borel.

I'm excited about what we have been able to do given the circumstances we have been dealing with this year. I'm not one to spend much time in looking back instead it is the plans for today and the days that follow that make me eager to get up and get going each day. God is blessing us with a great opportunity and that is exciting stuff. In God's love. SJM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GOOD DAYS AND COOL NIGHTS



Above : the Targette church


Another week has passed and things are going pretty smoothly by Haiti standards. Last Sat. our team from Indian Head COG departed , they completed the construction of a new 34 x 65 foot church way up in the mountains at a village called Targette. This sister church project was a 3.5 year undertaking from it's conception in 2006. The roof and truss rafters will enable the congregation to hold church services inside the new building the old church will become a school. They have a water project planned up at Targette for 2011 that will bring water from a spring down the the village.

On Monday the 12 member Great Lakes conference team arrived the worked on projects at Borel till Friday afternoon. Such things as putting ceiling in one of the mission houses, renovating the outside of a rundown house to serve as a Missionary & English language school, electrical and some painting. On Friday afternoon they went down to our other guesthouse to work on a missionary house there that needs another room to sleep extra guests in My wife and I also need a place to stay when we overnight there. Today they plan on relaxing at a beach and maybe going out to eat this evening, tomorrow they fly back to the states.

My wife , Shirley left on Wednesday with a 3 day layover in Kansas City to visit our daughter and grandchildren. She will arrive back in Fort Wayne this afternoon and start preparing for the holidays. I will be in Haiti till Dec. 10th then I fly home for 3 weeks to spend time with my family. Shirley and I will return to Haiti on Jan. 3rd.A

On Thursday a small team from Chicago and Indiana arrived , they stayed at Pierre Payen that evening because the time change in the states put teams arriving on the last flight at 4:15 way too late to get to Borel. Three of them will be building cabinets for various locations here at Borel.
The other who is a mechanic is working on a Jeep we are trying to repair, they will leave on the 18th.

On Monday when the Great Lakes team leaves another COG team arrives from German Town , Md. they will be building church benches for the Bon Repose church in Port au Prince. They are led by their pastor and former Haiti missionary Mark Hosler. On Tuesday new missionaries Ken and Betty McIntyre will arrive to help out for a couple of weeks. After their teaching contracts are up next year they will be spending about 6 months each year helping out at PH-H through out the year.

The weather has been really exceptional except for a few days before and after hurricane Tomas when we received some rains. The evenings have been cool with early morning temperatures at 70 degrees. The daytime temps are mid 80's with lots of sunshine.

My goal this trip is to get ready for the arrival of our new missionaries in Jan., and the many visiting short term missions teams. We have every week filled with teams through March and are working on filling up April , May and June as well. Those months are starting to fill up with 3 teams booked for April, and one each in May and June, no doubt we have have them filled by the first of the year. The COG Haiti conference will meet here at Borel the first week of Jan. so I'm also concentrating on having the place really looking nicer and more orderly than it has for several years now. If you haven't already check out our Project Help - Haiti site on Facebook where a post pictures and happenings each day. If you want even more about Haiti check out the GAP-Haiti blog site and website for what will be happening with that organization in 2011. In God's love, SJM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NOW A HURRICANE, FLOODING & MORE CHOLERA




top to bottom: Artibonite valley, shower time, Targette Church, setting rafters

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN NEXT?

Wow what a week!! In spite of Hurricane Tomas it has been a good week here at Project Help- Haiti. The good news for us is that our work team from Indian Head COG in Pa. can say "job accomplished". A project 4 years in the making got completed on Wed. evening. I received the call from the team at about 8:00 pm that evening informing me they had put the roof, rafter and doors on the new church in the village of Targette high up in the mountains above the Artibonite Valley. They would be hiking the 2.5 hours down from the village to another mountain village called Gilbert the next day. This village has an accessible mountain road where we could send a truck to pick them and the equipment up at around 10:30 am.

If you have never worked in remote areas where no roads exist maybe you have never thought how do they get materials and equipment up there short of a helicopter. Well everything goes on the backs of pack animals or is carried on the backs, heads and in the hands of people. Take for instance the gas powered 12 HP. Honda welder/generator. It was transported in a manner of the Ark of the Covenant , two 12 foot 2x4's were slid under the top frame and transported on the shoulders of 8 men , 2 on each corner. The trail is no flat land hike, in fact at one point it goes down into a mini Grand Canyon where you cross a mountain stream. You eventually come to a waterfalls where you take a very steep trail up to the village.

Getting done a day early was a great blessing because on Friday the day we had estimated they would finish, Hurricane Tomas hit Haiti. In our area of Haiti this meant high winds and lots of rain. Such conditions mean very hazardous travel in the mountains. In fact most all travel including buses , tap taps and air carriers were suspended. Also most filling stations, banks, schools and govt. offices. Our team members were able to leave on Sat. their scheduled date but all flights were postponed 3.5 hours still allowing them to leave by 12:30.

The areas where we live and work didn't receive direct hurricane damage but many rivers had minor flooding. The biggest threat was the near torrential downpour Friday night as most Haitian housing is in very precarious condition.

The Hurricane of course may worsen the cholera epidemic especially in the refugee camps and cities with cramped housing conditions. Three of our employees or friends have informed me of deaths in their families this week. I know for sure one was from cholera and probably all were. Haiti is certainly not a place to live or work in if you can't deal with a "what could possibly happen next" mentality . It can wear you down fast if you can't adapt quickly to the fact that things can and often do get worse when you live in a poor country like Haiti. Thank goodness God is our employer and leader. In God's love , steve

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CHOLERA UPDATE

12 year old who died from blood clot
15 day old preemie weighs one kilo

WHAT'S NEXT ?




Shirley and I arrived back in Haiti on Sat. 10/23 I had been expecting this trip might be different and we could start establishing a mission routine not so filled with drama. That was not to be as I received an e-mail on 10/20 informing me of the cholera outbreak in the Artibonite valley where we live. As more and more cases were showing up at the hospital in St. Marc the largest city in our area we made plans to set up a cholera ward in our PH-H clinic in Pierre Payen. On Friday the day before we arrived they treated 20 patients by noon on Tuesday the number was up to 112. Fortunately we had already scheduled a medical team from Pennsylvania to arrive on Oct. 23 rd so we quickly asked them to resupply with IV fluids and antibiotic. Some reports are showing the epidemic is slowing down and from what I have seen from my travels this may be true.

Our medical team had been scheduled to do surgeries ( general & Ortho) , we also had two ultrasound techs come to train and do exams and a gynecologist. They have kept busy not only doing those things but with several emergency patients including car accidents, examining babies such as the little 15 day old who was born in the 7th month of pregnancy. The mother has been very sick so she was unable to breast feed but the baby has hung on by getting a little bit of formula down.

Perhaps the most disturbing was the 12 year old girl referred to us from the Mission of Hope at Titayian. She had fallen off a donkey 2 weeks ago and was not getting any better so they brought her to us for a possible surgery. Our lead surgeon examined her and felt she had a broken or fractured femur and possibly a lacerated liver. He scheduled her for an ultrasound and Xray. I told the ambulance driver and nurses who brought her to go on back to MOH and we would contact them later with the results. I had just finished eating lunch and someone came to tell me she was dead I at first couldn't believe it so went over to see for myself . I was shocked to see that someone who 15 minutes earlier had been sitting in a wheel chair eating a cracker had died. Our doctors felt terrible about this but suspect a blood clot broke loose during her 45 minute ambulance ride up to Pierre Payen. Even though we are able to do a lot of things to bring better health care to Haiti it is still disturbing for me each time someone comes to our facility with hope that we can help them and they die at our hospital.



Monday, September 27, 2010

LEARNING FROM THE OTTERS



Top to bottom: Crystal River the Homestead, drying off in the sand after a swim, a few minutes of fun and relaxations on a catamaran.


This past week Shirley and I took our annual Fall trip with my mom , my sisters and brother in-laws . We have been doing this since 1999 and all but one year have gone to Michigan, where we usually rent a condo on Lake Michigan at the Homestead in Glen Arbor. This year we especially enjoyed a family or a group of six otters that were in the Crystal River near the outlet to Lake Mich. Part of the reason the otter were there were the large quantity of salmon coming in to spawn. This was my first opportunity to observe otter in the wild and during 4 days of seeing and filming them I learned a few admirable characteristics they display .

** FELLOWSHIP: High level of social interaction they thrive on the need to be together and stay together. When separated they could often be heard calling the members of the group with a whistle like noise.
** TEAMWORK: They worked together in rounding up fish in the water and in grooming themselves.
** SHARING : They shared with the others in the group the food they caught from oldest to youngest (biggest to smallest).
** POSITIVE ATTITUDE: They seem to never have an attitude of we can't accomplish this task. Even when the fishermen chased them off they would regroup and do something else for awhile then resume with the task.
** JOY: They display a real zest to enjoying life every minute of each day. Everything I observed them do they seemed to go about with a sense of enjoyment, this is definitely tied to having a positive attitude.
** EFFICIENCY: They seem to make wise use of time and whether on foot or in the water they move very quickly. I'm sure they take time for rest but they were always in motion of doing something.

I have heard some of my friends talk about a profile test where your leadership characteristics are given the designation of 4 different animals and if I remember the otter is one of them. I'm not personally familiar with that profile test but from what I observed we could all take some pointers on how to live life from the otter.
In God's love , steve

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

GOD WHERE ARE YOU ? ( part 2 )




SALT AND LIGHT !!

The following thoughts in today's blog have only come to me recently. Several factors have played an interest in shaping my thinking in the months since the Earthquake, here are my thoughts.

First I ran across this short little paragraph in a book I'm reading, it is a quote from the Los Angeles Times by writer/columnist Joel Stein: " Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring, Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can't wait to go , like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than hell."

I don't know what your thoughts are after reading that but possibly somewhere between angry and offended to slightly amused, after all it is what I first thought as a 5-6 year old starting to learn about Heaven. Of course as an adult I know there is no Biblical support for Mr. Stein's view. I don't even know if he researched his facts, if he is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or even a believer at all. The problem I have and Mr. Stein isn't alone in this, is that we the people of the church are letting others tell our story. The news media right or wrong , conservative or liberal , even those supposedly who portray themselves in the middle have hijacked our message the greatest story ever written and twist it to gain reader / viewership, political support or whatever the latest attention grabbing need is at the time.

Secondly June 12th marked 6 months since the disaster and Haiti was revisited by the national news media. One of the things they tried to imprint upon their viewership was the lack of planning, cooperation and progress made since the Jan. 12th disaster. Once again we are letting those with an agenda that is usually tied to gaining the most media attention paint a broad picture of ineptness, corruption and self centered actions of a few indict the vast majority who have accomplished a great story that doesn't get told. Many of my best friends and even strangers who know I work for a large organization in Haiti ask me what is happening there. They want to know if progress is being made. What have we been doing , what are our future plans and often how can they be a part of it? Usually they have heard , read or seen the media present the Haitian government as inept, unprepared, lacking a plan of action and a history of corruption. My response is I can't defend or denounce the Haitian government as I'm not involved in their decisions. I'm too busy to be concerned about what they are doing or not doing other than how it pertains to the plans of our organization. What I can tell is the success stories of Project Help-Haiti and so many other organizations who mobilized so quickly to make a difference in the days and weeks after. Now our organization and others are moving into new ministry areas for the next phase of recovery and that story isn't getting told near enough .

The third thing that has impacted my view is that my home church in the states has just embarked on a new ministry series for this Fall entitled "be one make one" based on the Beatitudes in Matthew . In particular for this blog post Matthew 5:13-16 more commonly know as the salt and light verses are on my mind. They start by reminding us that we are the salt of the Earth and if we lose our salty taste we are worthless in fact it says " we are worth nothing and must be thrown out for people to walk on." It goes on to say we are "the light that gives light to the world." Further more a light shouldn't be hidden it should "shine for all people in the house that they may see." The best part is we as Christians are called to be "a light for other people," to live so they can see the good things we do. "Live so that they will praise your Father in Heaven", that is a story each and everyone of us should be distributing everyday!! Now that gets me back to where I started "WHERE IS GOD?" Well He should be shining in you and me each and everyday for all to see and praise Him in Heaven. I will be the first to admit it isn't always easy and sure it is tempting to say to ourselves that there is enough other people out there speaking but if we as Christians don't speak up others will take our message and portray it wrongly. When we no longer have a salty taste we run the risk of our message being trampled under foot . When we hide our light we run the risk of it being extinguished and many may be lost in the ensuing darkness. I have memorized a little verse by St. Francis of Assisi as to how easy this process can be " Go and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ everyday and if necessary use words." In God's love, steve

Friday, September 10, 2010

GOD WHERE ARE YOU? (part 1)


HEAVEN and EARTH
The theme of this post actually came to me back on Jan. 10th as I was traveling back to Haiti. It is somewhat ironic that many of the thoughts I'm sharing now came to me just 2 days before the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. I intended to write this blog sometime after I got to Haiti but circumstances intervened and I forgot about it till just recently as I flew home from Texas through some beautiful cloud cover again. Maybe it was intended that I should wait 8 months to give more thought to what I was thinking about that morning in Jan. My thoughts back then about what I wanted to post were probably more light hearted than provocative.


I'm not one who likes to read or do computer work when I fly, so I usually either sleep, get into a conversation if I have a talkative seat mate (sometimes my wife) or often gaze out the window in deep thoughts. That day we were flying 32-35,000 feet over some beautiful clouds high above the Earth. So as we passed through those clouds I got to thinking about visions of Heaven and how as a young boy I would lay on my back out in the yard gazing up at the billowing white clouds high above in the sky .I don't know about your thoughts as a youngster but mine were shaped by visions of winged angels resting on clouds possibly singing and playing harps watching out for us humans far below. Somewhere up there was Heaven filled with friends and relatives residing with God in a city filled with many mansions. Much of this was imparted to me as a young boy at Sunday school and week long summer VBS classes. I'm also sure that some of my thoughts were molded by my grandfather passing away when I was seven years old and the comforting reassurance of my parents and grandmother who stayed with us for awhile after his death.


Those reassurances in my young mind about Heaven were quite welcome as were also those of Santa Claus at the North pole and the Tooth Fairy. Somewhere in those years of course I out grew those childhood images we form in our minds about life and replaced them with mature Christian ones. Now as an adult I have a different perspective, for one thing my job requires flying quite often each year. Those flights often allow me to look at those clouds not as before from down on Earth but high above in the sky. Many many times I have flown over them and through them in state after state and even out across the oceans. I have yet to see one angel nor a glimpse of that great city full of mansions in Heaven I imagined up there as a youngster, ( this is the light hearted part).


Yet just because the image I had of Heaven as a youngster was reassuring then and that I can now visibly see my image was compromised that doesn't at all deter my faith that I will be joining God in Heaven someday wherever it is. The fact is I see God and He is with me all the time. I join him each day and He works through me as He does through so many others at home and around the world. He doesn't distinguish between whether we are doing little acts of kindness and love or doing huge Kingdom building ministries by proclaiming the "good news", by planting the seeds, bringing in the harvest, bearing fruit that lasts, taking care of the lost and hurting peoples. He loves us and He calls us to love others by making an "eternal difference" in their lives. As a youngster I of course put faith in my parents reassurances about all things, they didn't steer me wrong as they explained things in a way a child could understand. As an adult Christian I depend on God to expand all aspects of life,death and eternity as I grow closer to Him through Faith and empowerment of the Holy Spirit as I follow His will. So far what I have written is what I intended to share in my blog 8 months ago. In my next blog I will continue with my thoughts that have been expanded over these months as things have unfolded after the earthquake. In God's love , steve

Monday, August 16, 2010

A SUNDAY HIKE










































































Top to Bottom: Foot bridge, heading across the river, the cable ferry, Cathedral




Usually on Sundays we try to offer our teams an opportunity to get out into the Haitian communities where we live and work. We gave the Barkeyville, Pa. Church of God team an Indiana Jones type adventure when we visited Ti Riviere . Petite-Riviere de-L'Artibonite is a historic town across the river from our Project Help-Haiti Borel compound. The cable ferry is the quickest way to cross The other options are to go down the road about 2 miles then drive back to the Dam that impounds the water for the irrigation canals cross over the river and follow a bumpy road 2 miles back to get to the town. The other crossing is about 9 miles back to the bridge at Pont Sonde the 10 miles back on the opposite side.

The cable ferry is the route of us locals, once you cross you can walk the less than a mile road into town or take a motor bike or tap-tap if your not into hiking. The second advantage is this little jaunt offers some Indiana Jones type adventure. That starts when you park your vehicle and cross the rickety foot and motor bike bridge across the irrigation canal. you have to walk about a quarter of a mile to the river through some fields. The cable ferry is quite ingenious in that it is propelled each direction by the river current. The ferry is just 2 steel boats with a wood platform fastened on top . Two small cables with pulleys attach the boat to a large cable that spans the river and is anchored onto concrete posts. To catch the current and cross just requires changing the length of the lead cable to pitch the degree of the boats angle to the current.

The town itself is very attractive with a central city square , a cathedral, a palace, a fort and great views of the river running through the valley below. Though we never got wet much of the trip threatened an afternoon rain which kept the heat down. Part of the reason we went over was to look for some artwork as there are several artists living in town who paint some unique pieces of art.

Friday, August 13, 2010

LIFE, DEATH AND REJUVENATION
















































Top to bottom:
The mobile Mountain Medical Team. Large Growth on jaw bone. 26 year old woman with renal failure, died that morning

THE MOUNTAIN MEDICAL TEAM
Life is a journey a series of events your either going somewhere or going nowhere . Life is a period of time, for some it's short others 70, 80 even over 90 years. So even if you choose to go nowhere with your life's journey your always moving towards the end of your journey. My journey took an unexpected twist when I came to Haiti eleven years ago on a short term mission trip. That week has turned me from a nice retirement to full time missions by founding my own mission organization, G.A.P. Ministry, to recently becoming the director of Project Help-Haiti. Most of the mission people I met here on the mission field 1o-11 years ago have either left Haiti by choice through retirement or completion of their terms. Some have departed because of health issues but unfortunately many if not most have left through frustration.

Haiti is a tough missions field to work in, it can and does wear you down. Some of my friends were really down after the earthquake after years of making some progress they felt defeated by the aftermath of the quake. Some of my friends left for other reasons but in the end frustration is the key word. When I get down a quick trip into the mountains can be a tonic for rejuvenating my spirit. I love the beauty of the mountain landscape the discovery of a bubbling spring of fresh water cascading out of rocky crevasses. The wonderful sound of water rushing down a mountain stream, the sounds and sights of birds and flowers. Beauty is everywhere if you look closely but life is harsh and often very impoverished among all the grandeur of nature and creation here in Haiti.

That is why we took a mobile medical unit of doctors and nurses into the mountain village of Frettas on Wed. and Thursday. The trip involved a moderate hike of 45 minutes from the roads end to arrive at the school building where we set up a clinic and spent the night. I come to this village often to stay and work, I know it's needs and health care is one of them. During our 2 days of working there we treated 300 people. The majority of the cases were nutrition involved, anemic, worms and vitamin deficiencies for children. Several cases required that we take the patients down to Pierre Payen for hernia and for an abdominal mass surgeries. We had one young 26 year old with a large growth on her jaw bone she will require a surgery once we diagnose her illness. Another young woman who died later that day was in renal failure and we could do nothing for her.

This type of ministry in the mountains is much needed and brings hope and a better quality of life for those we treat. We are putting together another medical team to work in the mountains in early Dec. To see the needs and to be able to minister to these people is uplifting for me. The beauty of the mountains rejuvenates my soul and the ability to serve those in need fires up my passion and desire to stay the course and finish strong. In God's love , steve

Sunday, August 8, 2010

WORKING IN THE MOUNTAINS
































Top: the Borne church
Bottom: At the Bon Repose church

This week I had another chance to visit some of the COG conference churches that sustained earthquake damage with CCM director Pastor Don Dennison. I revisited the Bon Repose church near Port au Prince on Tuesday to see how we can speed up rebuilding there. Right now we await word from the Haitian government on what guidelines they have on construction there. Since it was the school that was leveled and the church had never been finished and didn't sustain damage we hope to avoid restrictions by putting a metal roof instead of concrete on the church. We will have an engineer look at it to give us a good assessment.

On Wednesday we also drove into the mountains as far as possible then walked 1.5 hours to one of our more remote churches at Borne. This village is located high in the mountains above the Mountrouis river. This church was founded by one of our early missionary pioneers Lois Habecker back in the 1980's. Possibly because of the remoteness and difficulty of getting materials there inferior construction was used to build the church. Thus even though it was located a good 60 miles from the earthquake it sustained some damage to the end walls. The best way to repair the church is to tear down the end walls leaving the roof and sidewalls this way we can enlarge the church by another 24 feet . We hope to recruit a team with at least 1-2 masons and some carpenters to spend several days at Borne and rebuild yet this year or early next. Anyone who might be interested can contact Kara Norris in Findlay, Ohio CCM headquarters or myself. In God's love , steve

Monday, August 2, 2010

WELCOME BACK

As I look back at the last time I blogged on this site it was into the second week post earthquake. Jan. 12th forever has changed Haiti and those who live and work. If you work in missions and haven't made adjustments in your organization and added or dropped some ministries you may soon find yourself sitting on the sidelines.

When I agreed to take over as director of Project Help-Haiti late last year my desire was also to keep GAP Ministries going as well. I thought maybe I could direct both ministries, the earthquake and resulting disaster in Haiti quickly proved me wrong on that thought. I had suspended writing this Blog during the medical disaster as I could barely find time to write the Project Help-Haiti blog. So it is good to be starting the blog back up and once again be sitting here writing to are followers. Many have told me they keep looking to see if we have posted and how disappointed they are to not find something.

Today marks something new for GAP Ministries and a major announcement. First: it became apparent I needed to relocate GAP to another location from where we had been based since 2006. I talked to my boss at Cross Cultural Ministries about this and we agreed that we could have GAP run from out of Project Help-Haiti's Borel Campus. Much like our previous arrangement in the Montrouis area with another organization we would partner with PH-H in bringing teams and funding projects. Another agreement was that Gap has several ministries that would be beneficial to PH-H rather than they starting similar ministries. This solved a major stumbling block for keeping Gap going.

Second: I needed help in running the day to day operations of Gap in Haiti and the states. This was much more difficult than one might think. Finding good missionaries can often be the downfall of many organizations. God can open doors we never even know about, He can and He did. So I would like to announce GAP's new director Miss Heather Elyse. On July 20th she interviewed and met the Gap board of directors a week later by e-mail vote she was unanimously approved. Heather and her 7 adopted children will be moving to Haiti early next year, they have been here with me in Haiti since July 23rd but will fly back to Indiana where she can finish up her duties as Children's Ministry pastor at Olive Branch Church of God. She brings a lot of good things to our ministry, besides being a children's pastor she has a production company that films commercials, has a large network of people to call on for help and is a great public speaker. She grew up as an MK & PK (missionary & Pastor's kid) and has a passion for children and helping the lost and downtrodden of the world.

Heather will be starting to blog on the GAP site soon and time to time I will as well. I will continue to remain as executive director of GAP. This bog will also be linked to our new Project Help website at www.projecthelp-haiti.org along with several other important blog sites. We also will be updating and changing some aspects of our GAP website which will also have a link to the PH-H website. Many of you have told me you can't get enough of following what is going on in Haiti so hold on were about to launch an awesome communications network to keep you. updated. In God's love , steve

Monday, July 5, 2010

LIFE IS GOOD

Last Fall as I was preparing to head off to Haiti I made a last minute run over to our local Gander Mountain outlet, a chain of outdoor hunting and fishing stores. Just by chance I ran across a marked down "Life is Good" cap. These regular sell for $2o -25 but this was a closeout at $9.00 .

I was proud to show off my new dark green cap which proudly proclaimed across the front Life is Good. What I really liked about the cap besides being a bargain and looking pretty good on my Bic'd head was that inside the cap was printed "like what you do, do what you like ". I never got a picture of myself in that cap because I lost it in Haiti. Maybe I will find another someday but if not I think for me Life is Good no matter what I have on my hairless head. I consider myself a lucky person because I really do " like what I do and I'm doing what I like," everyday.

I don't know too many people who can honestly say that. It seems too many people, Christians included, settle for less than what they would like to be doing and for sure what God planned that they should be doing. It is never too late in life to make the decision to follow God's plan for your life, I'm a good example for that.

Long before Map Quest and GPS ( I just love it when I alter routes on our Garmin and it says recalculating ) God gave us some directional help for life's journey. If you have gotten off course or never even had a map to start with then stop and recalculate. Spend some time reading the Bible, God's word and direction book. Pray, God's version of Skype, a direct communication link to your Father in heaven. Wait and be empowered by the Holy Spirit, God's guiding presence in your journey with him. Pursue and follow these three steps and your on your way to leading the Good Life. In God's love, steve

Monday, June 28, 2010

SWITCHING GEARS

















Automatic vs. 5 speed manual shift

I'm not sure what the ages of my blog readership may be but if it mimic's the ages of those who come on mission trips with PH-H to Haiti it probably ranges from 17-mid 70's. When I came of age to drive it was the era of the "muscle car" and if you had the real thing you had a manual transmission. A "4 speed on the floor" was the phrase we often used and though automatics had been around for decades they just didn't seem appropriate with the big horsepower engines of the 60's and 70's. Manual shifts are still available but today they are associated more with fuel economy, cheaper to buy, or power to haul heavy loads and climb steep inclines(hills & mountains).

I know by now your thinking you may have gotten on the wrong blog site. Possibly Auto Trend or Hot Rods & Muscle Cars but no this is the official site of Project Help-Haiti a blog dedicated to missions. A short story will get us back in that direction. My foreman at the Borel Missions Campus is fondly called "Big Ben" he is not big and his real name is Joseph he isn't sure why everyone calls him "Big Ben". Several weeks ago I sent Ben and several visiting Americans to Liancourt a nearby town to buy 50 cement blocks so we could elevate some reclining chairs for our visiting dental team. That day they had borrowed Ben's brother's Toyota 5 speed truck. Ben was shifting through the range of gears and as he shifted from 4th to 5th the gear shift shift lever came unbolted to the transmission, Ben who is mostly unflappable and never for a loss of words looked over at the Americans and said" this isn't good I think we got a problem". To continue on down the road and accomplish the task at hand that morning one of the guys reached down through the floor board and as Ben pushed on the clutch engaged the transmission into gear with his fingers. The rest of the trip back to Borel was made in a mid range gear a good choice for that situation. If they had chosen first gear they would have had to creep along at under 10 mph if a higher gear they would have struggled to take off with such a heavy load and would not be able to climb any sort of inclines.

Manual transmission vehicles are the choice of most mission's operations in Haiti. In fact the new truck PH-H is purchasing will be a 5 speed manual transmission. The landscape is varied and often brutal in Haiti. There are very few paved roads, mountains that peak at 8,000 feet, rivers to ford, hairpin curves, steep inclines, mud during the raining season and sandy beaches and desert like areas. Missions organization rely on manual shift 5 speed transmissions that is a fact when they choose a vehicle.

To my way of thinking the mission organization itself needs to be operated like a manual shift transmission. An automatic is made for ease of operating comfort but with an automatic comes some limitations. Yes you just put it in drive and go but often you lose touch with the machine and the road. You are limited to pulling, pushing, climbing, slowing down on steep inclines with out burning up the brakes, and getting unstuck in sticky situations. If you are a missionary or visit the mission field or manage or sit on a mission board you know that your organization encounters all those types of situations at some point, at times it seems all in the same day.

I took over as director of PH-H on Nov. 1st 2009. Project Help-Haiti is an organization that was established in 1967 , we aren't the oldest mission around but we are approaching a half century. With those four plus decades comes a lot of baggage ( problems). Jan. 12th 2010 not only changed the landscape and lives of Haiti and it's people but also the mission organizations working there. PH-H started out in 1967 as a manual shift organization and then we traded it in for an automatic, we often do that as people and organizations. My first two new cars after marriage were manual shift out of necessity and practicality, later on we switched to automatics out of comfort. Now as the new director of Project Help-Haiti I believe the switch needs to be made to make our organization once again a 5 speed manual transmission , I've discovered myself saying of late, "this isn't good I think we got a problem". In God's love, steve

Sunday, June 27, 2010

LAST WEEK
































I arrived back in the states last Saturday evening from Haiti. After church on Sunday Shirley and I headed over to Decatur Illinois to attend the annual meeting of the Churches of God's Midwest Conference. We spoke on Monday afternoon about the direction of our work in Haiti and the affects of the earthquake on those efforts. On Monday evening along with the Church of God missionaries from Brazil and Sweden we were honored at a mission dinner. I was able to surprise Gordon Avey who with his wife Annie are the missionary in Brazil with an official Team Brazil soccer shirt. On Tuesday after attending the Avey's presentation of their mission work in Brazil we headed back to Indiana. Saturday afternoon I invited the designer of the new Project Help website which we hope to launch soon and some other mutual friends who are involved with our work in Haiti to a cookout at our lake home in northern Indiana . We planned the menu around a Caribbean theme with Jamaican barbecue chicken, Bermuda style hamburgers, white rice, bean and creole sauce, pickles , ti malice, fresh fruits and assorted snacks and side dishes. It was a fun way to kick off the start of summer and my short 4 weeks before I head back to Haiti.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FAMILES

































top:
Two of the Snyder kids playing with Clona
bottom:
My wife, daughter and grand daughter

Sunday, June 13, 2010

HELPING OUT















Here at Borel we have two young men who work for us who are deaf mutes. Their name are Dukenson and Phileas. I know I have the spelling wrong but that is how their names sound phonetically. They grew up here in the community and I first met them when I worked here for several months in 2002, they were probably 14-15 years old and would show up each day to help me with whatever I might be doing that day. After I left here a COG mission team arrived and took them on as a ministry outreach. They gave money to send them to Port au Prince to learn to sign to learn a trade and for Dukenson to read and write. Eventually they came back to Borel to live. Last year when I came back to Project Help to be director I gave them jobs here in the compound. They are good workers and show up every morning at 6:00 to start work. They would often tell me in sign about their house and how the roof leaked. Now since we are in the rainy season we went to look at their small one room abode that they call home. The team decided to take a day to put on a roof that doesn't leak. Everyone agreed this was a very rewarding project. Yet to describe how pleased and proud they were about are willingness to help them is beyond my writing abilities but believe me it is a cherished memory that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

GETTING A MAKEOVER
















































Our Project Help compound at Borel has been in existence since 1967 . Some of the buildings we built during our first five years others were built during the years American Fruit Company held ownership from 1920's to 1940's. Though several of the the houses have been torn down for construction of other building five of the former mission houses still exist. The largest house though built as a home for the Jim Wallace family in the late 60's now serves as the main guesthouse. The house I live in has at times over the last 8 years served as the missionary house or a guesthouse. Three of the other houses range from livable to needing a serious makeover. The fifth house which is in the worse shape we have at times considered tearing down but since it's still I think we can find a use for it.
With new missionaries arriving soon we are working hard to prepare a nice family home for them by Jan. It is my hope we will recruit a few more missionaries to help with the abundance of work at hand in the coming months and years ahead. If you read these blogs you know that we are embarking on a new path as we refocus and direct our work here. With the existing medical ministry and the new agriculture, community development and micro loans work we are planning. The Borel compound will become once again a hub of activity. most of our teams coming our helping us give the compound a new look and bring many of the unused buildings back to use. We will have one of the houses finished later this year for the Snyder family. Earlier this year we converted the old butcher shop to a mission team work shop. The poultry barn is planned to become a tilapia fish rearing facility. The original mission dorm may become four small apartments for our visiting agriculture experts and short term volunteers. The present guesthouse is in need of some serious updates to provide more of a guesthouse appearance than a ranch house style. New rules are being implemented for our workers and daily visitors, tighter regulation of the day to day operation will soon be forthcoming to better control how the facilities function. These things don't happen over night especially in Haiti but progress is on the way. Teams this week have been cleaning up much of the junk to be disposed of at a scrap yard in Port au Prince and trash is being cleaned up to haul to a land fill. A new incinerator and trash holding area are being built . A new security building that all visitors must pass through will be built before the end of the year. I'm looking at new infrastructure to make things such as communications, water and electricity more dependable. We have already installed a smaller more fuel miserly generator and battery inverter system for the mission houses and more dependable and quicker Internet and phone service. I'm looking at locating a central dining and cooking area in the bottom of the LDTS building as better than having it located in the guesthouse where it is crowded, hard to clean and attracts rodents. Instead of each missionary having a separate fully equipped kitchen they eat together and only have a small fridge and microwave or small apartment stove in their houses. These are all plans that may be coming in the months ahead, some are being implemented as each new team arrives to help out. An extreme makeover maybe not but a makeover for sure.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ACTS TEAM

































Two weeks ago we had a group here from the University of Findlay. They did some work projects for us but mostly they came to do ministry work. This included showing the Jesus film at 3 locations. On the next to last day they visited the refugee camp where they entertained the kids with some skits and songs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

TEAMS, TEAMS AND FAMILY































It has been very busy for me here in Haiti the last 4 weeks what with teams every week and now the next two weeks I will have multiple teams. Last week I caught a cold and sore throat and still feel lousy what with the awful heat we are having . Last week my wife joined me and brought our daughter and granddaughter, Alysia and Whitley, for them it is a first visit but probably not the last. It is always good when families get to enjoy a mission trip together and one of the things we like to promote. Two of our team members have traveled with their son and daughters on a combined mission team from Ohio and Pa. Missions impact lives not only for the people in the countries they go to but they shape the lives of those who come. I receive letters and talk to many so many who are living proof of it.

In a way it is good that my daughter and granddaughter can be a part of a mission team experience. Yet I hope when they can come again that we can have more than the 2 days we had this time just as a family. We tried to make the most of those 2 days by having supper and swimming first evening at Club Indigo . The next morning we spent time with Dr. Kerry and Joy Reeves who we consider some of our closest friends here in Haiti. Their kids enjoy having my wife Shirley as a surrogate grandmother here in Haiti. It was great that Alysia and Whitley could meet them. In Haiti you make the most of good friendships not only for companionship but for someone you can count on when you need to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2011 PHASE 2






















































(captions T to B) Haitian bee hive, field we may lease & new irrigation canal


WHERE THERE IS NO VISION THE PEOPLE WILL PERISH

Last week I spent four days here at Borel with the advance team from Mt. Olive College. We drafted a proposal for a partnership for working together to advance agricultural here in the Artibonite valley and even in the mountains beyond. I shared the first phase of that vision that we hope to start as early as September this year. In 2011 we would like to take lease options on some of the farm fields that lie to the back of our compound. One exceptional piece of land has a new irrigation canal going through the middle of it and one irrigation ditch borders one of the boundaries and a third irrigation ditch crosses at another point. Land like this can grow 3 crops a year. A typical rotation is rice, then corn and rice again, other crops that may be grown by some of the farmers are sweet potatoes and beans. The farmers know that it takes fertilizer and nutrients to grow exceptional crops but for lack of money most can't afford to use them. The field work is mostly still by hand labor with hoes and picks their are a few large rototillers being used and a few small tractors with tillers or disc plows. The farmers usually start at dawn which is around 5:00 this time of year and work till 5-6:00 pm when it starts to get dark.

The goal of us leasing farm land is to promote new techniques, crops and practices. Having land out along side other farmers with our crops in view we hope will demonstrate and convince others to try what we are doing. We will be hiring farmers to help work our fields which will also give employment to some in this area. They will also be a voice or good advertisement for promoting what works as we experiment. The crops we produce will be offered at wholesale to area vendors to sell in many of the area markets in the valley. It is hoped that at some point we can organize a small cooperative among our neighbors and make our equipment available to them. We would make the equipment available with our operator to work in their fields for a small fee to cover wages, fuel and maintenance costs. To make it possible for them to change to better agricultural practices we will being offering small micro finance loans. I will talk about this in the next blog.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

OUR VISION FOR 2010 AND BEYOND

















FUTURE TILAPIA FACILITY

In my next several blogs I would like to give a brief outline outline of the vision that is starting to unfold for us in the Project Help-Haiti Partnership. It has always been my belief that it is often the small to medium size organizations that get the majority of the work done on the mission field. That isn't to say that the big boys don't add a significant contribution to what gets done, I have great admiration for the efforts of Samaritan's Purse and World Vision's efforts here in Haiti. Yet it is organizations like ours who have established through a long view approach to planning and transformation a grass roots base of support. This has allowed us to acquire local and national acceptance and respect as part of the communities where our multi-site operations are located. It is this long term commitment and longevity (1967) as a government recognized mission organization that has allowed us to be just as successful maybe even more so than the big operations who move on to the next disaster and media hot spot so quickly.

Another reason we can hope for success here at PH-H is that we have recognized the need for building partnerships inside and outside the country. This is allowing us to go outside our traditional Church of God denomination to build our funding, our manpower and our expertise needs. This has been so evident as we receive inquiries from organizations, denominations and individuals who want to partner with us in our efforts here in Haiti. Several of these inquiries have now moved on to developing partnerships like that with the Original Free Will Baptist denomination , Harvest Connection and Mt. Olive College.

It is hoped that by as soon as August we will be starting Phase 1 of our agricultural project with these partners. The plan for 2010 is to develop a Tilapia farming enterprise by building a series of 4 x 12 foot concrete tanks in the unused 45 x 120 foot former poultry barn. Some very new technology that is having great success in Asia will be applied in this operation. One of these is the application of what is called the NANO BUBBLE aeration system. This new technology also has great potential in water purification and keeping our food sources safe. The fish we would raise through this new technology would grow quicker (to the market in less time) and have less mortality than the present methods. Our fish would be available for sale from our farm to entrepreneurs at wholesale so they can market them as fresh fish in the local markets and to processors who would sell them as frozen fish in grocery stores.

The nutrient rich waters from our tanks would be used as a source of fertilizer in our demonstration test plots, our gardens and our shade houses where we start vegetable seedlings and nursery stock. We also have proposed the construction of a hydroponic greenhouse where vegetables will be grown without soil in nutrient enriched water.

This is the vision we have for agricultural projects that we hope to start implementing yet this year. In the next blog I will outline the plans we have for implementing in Jan. 2011. This is a massive project and certainly one that PH-H could have never attempted without partners . In late June we will be gathering at a summit at Mt. Olive College in N. Carolina to present our vision at an open forum in hopes to take this from the visionary / planning stage to reality.

Friday, May 14, 2010

WHERE THERE IS NO VISION THE PEOPLE WILL PERISH





On Monday I arrived back in Haiti after a five week absence to return home for business, visits and rest. The rest never happened as I found myself constantly busy with phone conversations, e-mails and travel. One of my travels took me to N. Carolina to meet with Harvest Connection a mission outreach of the Original Free Will Baptists denomination and also the agri business school of Mt. Olive College. This week it was their turn to travel as they sent an advance team to Haiti to draft a partnership proposal between themselves and Project Help-Haiti. The team consisted of two college professors from the Ari Business center of Mt. Olive college Dr. Peter Appleton and Dr. Phillip Hamilton. Their task was two fold** to identify areas of cooperation between PH-H , the MO College and the Original Free Will Baptists ** to prepare a proposed partnership between PH-H and MO College in agriculture at our Borel Facility. This proposal plan will be presented to the Original Free Will Baptists at their annual convention at Mt. Olive College this Wed. evening 5/19 and then at an open to the public summit at Mt. Olive College on June 28th. It is possible that we will be moving forward to implement some of areas of the agriculture plan as early as this Fall Sept. --November. The rest of the plan will move forward in 2011 as we start up the field operations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BACK HOME AND BUSY

































I arrived back home as scheduled on April 1st and 3 weeks have almost flown by now. I knew it was going to be busy but I never imagined this busy. This week out of seven days I will be home in Indiana only on Wednesday. This afternoon I'm sitting in the Charlotte N.Carolina airport waiting on my flight to Dayton ,Ohio and then the 3 hour drive back home. Thursday morning my wife and I head out to several cities in Pa. to speak at several churches on Sunday, to meet with some of our friends from previous mission trips and to talk with our new mission candidates.

I don't want to speak too soon but it appears God's hand was at work in this 2 day visit to Kinston, N.Carolina. Harvest Connection one of the ministry outreaches of the Original Free Will Baptist Church denomination contacted us about a long term agricultural partnership in Haiti. Their denominational supported Mt. Olive College's agricultural center leadership felt one of the best ways to help Haiti rebuild would be to create sustainable agricultural projects that provide jobs and food so Haitians can feed Haitians.

One of my desires as the director of Project Help-Haiti is to bring us back into two of our early ministries of agriculture and community development. One of the wonderful assets I'm responsible for is the Borel Compound in the Artibonite Valley. This area is blessed with flat, tillable and irrigated farm land. It is my hope that agricultural test plots can be established on land adjoining our property. That greenhouses, shade houses, plant and tree nurseries can be established.

A plan is taking shape to get us there. Two professors from Mt. Olive college along with a representative from The Harvest Connection will be joining me in Haiti in mid May for several days of fact finding, discussions and videoing. This information will be presented to the delegates attending the annual convention of Original Free Will Baptists Churches in late May. In June a summit will be held at Mt. Olive College with invitations going out to N. Carolina political leaders, successful farmers, agri-businesses, farm equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and experts in sustainable agricultural practices. It is hoped that by year end or the first of the year we can actually have this ministry up and going. This is all very exciting but quite an undertaking that can only come together through the involvement of lots of people pulling together to make it happen. As I travel to Pa. this weekend and in the weeks and months ahead I will be encouraging people to pray for our success in this worthy endeavor. In God's love , steve

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DR. TIM





















This week is our last disaster medical relief team, they will be leaving on April 1st. There after we will start bringing in medical teams one week out of every month. We will be adding extra teams some months to do mobile medical outreaches in the mountain villages. During these last eleven weeks we have had three transition people Dr. Joe Miller , Dr. Terry Letsinger and Dr. Tim Pratt. These guys have stayed multiple weeks to give our visiting teams continuity and the ability to start work as soon as they arrive. This morning I took Dr. Tim who has been here a month to catch a plane back home to be reunited with his wife. He will be concluding his medical studies in several weeks before establishing his family practice in Sheffield , Ill.

I have often heard it said by those short term missionaries that come here that they come to serve and give but go home with more in their hearts than they gave. Dr. Tim signed on to come down here nine months ago thinking he would serve a half a day Monday through Friday each week at a clinic for the month of March and complete some of his residency requirements.

Jan. 12th the earthquake changed those plans. Dr. Tim like those before him spent countless hours keeping charts, making phone calls, doing rounds, doing emergency life saving procedures, calling other hospitals and organizations finding patients and even delivering babies. I think Tim goes home with a wealth and possibly a lifetime of experiences that will serve him well over the years ahead. I know for a fact that we were blessed and those he served and befriended here at the hospital hated to see him leave. Dr.Tim of course will be a great doctor wherever he goes and sets up a practice but I will always think of him as first and foremost a missionary doctor. In God's love, steve

Monday, March 29, 2010

EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAM






































Over the 11 weeks we have been doing disaster relief all of us here at Pierre Payen have had to be willing to step up and do things we really never trained for or possibly signed on to do. Last night being a make shift ambulance driver was one of those jobs I didn't sign on for. Yet medicine and missions go hand in hand.
I normally don't live here at Pierre Payen, I have my home up at our other compound at Borel. During the last last 80 days I have stayed here at our medical compound all but 20 of those days taking care of the needs of our visiting medical teams. This time spent here though physically exhausting has brought to life a small glimpse of Jesus' work of bringing hope to the multitudes of the sick. I can feel for Jesus when I read those passages in the Bible where he was overwhelmed with requests to help and heal everyday. Last night after I had returned from a day of working at Borel and being stuck for 40 minutes in the middle of thousands of people participating in a large street parade called a Ra Ra, I was ready to call it a day. At about 9:00 pm Elizabeth Bonnell, Dr. Ric's daughter, knocked on my door and wanted to know if we had a vehicle to transport a small baby to the University of Miami Hospital in Paup. I had a choice of 2 vehicles to take either a large stake side truck or my small 4x4 truck the big truck ended up being the only choice as it had good bright lights which is a necessity when driving after dark here.

The little eleven month old was near death when she was brought here by her parents it seems she had chocked on some pureed bean sauce. Our doctors worked frantically to revive her but had pretty much given up being able to save her . Yet a few minutes after a group prayer the little girl showed signs of hanging on to life. The decision was made to transport her with a full medical support team with oxygen and IV the 1.5 hours to University Hospital. Though always dangerous to travel at night the road was clear of traffic and there was a full moon to give a better view of the road. As of this writing we don't know the fate of the little girl but before we left at 12:30 a m to go back to P.Payen she was greatly improved . Bedtime arrived at 2:30 last night for the ambulance crew. In God's love , steve