Monday, November 22, 2010
Top: where the future Bon Repose church will be rebuilt
Bottom: new church benches.
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
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
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