Friday, April 9, 2010

The LAST POST from Haiti...

Sorry about not being able to post last night. We were having power issues here at the house and needed to power pretty much everything except for our well pump. Life in Haiti...

I'm now posting on Friday morning. I'm trying to recapture all the conversations from last night in order to give you the Thursday recap as well as what we're about to tackle this morning.

Here's the rundown from yesterday (Thursday):

1. Dustin, Amy and Suzanne finished up their time at the ND hospital/clinic. It sounds like it was a pretty uneventful day (by Haitian standards). We planned for them to leave around 3p in order to head to an orphanage that TG has just formed a relationship. They were able to perform simple evaluations of the children in order to ensure their general health. Around 5p these three were joined by Tyler, Matt, Jon and Greg and the eight of us had a rocking time just playing with the children, holding them, loving them and in my case actually trying to jump rope with them.

2. Matt, Greg and Jon were back for a final day with the Baptist team, where we did a little more of what we've been doing all week...digging holes and mixing/pouring cement. Dirty, but frankly, kind of fun. We've appreciated the interactions we've had with these three men and one woman and the unique things that they are doing here in Haiti. One of these three men reminded us a great deal of what Joe Drew might be like in 30 yrs. Ask for a story about'll see.

3a. Tyler stayed out of the sun again today. When we had some overcast skies he was able to jump in on the roofing project with Joe and John. He also tackled some additional organizing here in the house.

3b. Ken spent a good part of the day prepping supplies for the latrine project here at the house. Mid afternoon, he and his new partner-in-crime, Terry headed up the hill to knock out a few things. They have just a couple of small parts to finish up on today (Friday).

4. John and Joe were back up on the roof. Since metal arrived, they made great headway on getting us nearly completed. In the afternoon, while stopping for a break, John had the chance to interact with a few of the local kids in the street out front. He then had an idea, ran inside his bunkhouse and returned with two ball gloves and a ball. He then spent the remainder of the afternoon teaching some local kids to catch and throw. It was awesome to hear this story and realize again that this whole "thing" is about the people and not the project!

And then for today. Our flight out of PaP isn't until 5p, but b/c of possible traffic issues, reliability of vehicles and general Haitian life, we're leaving the house at 12n (keep in mind that the airport is maybe 15 miles away). So we've sent Ken and Terry up the hill to finish what they can on the latrine project. I'm sure the two of them will have a hard time leaving the place where they've invested so much time and energies (into both the project and the people). On the homefront, we've thrown four people up on the roof (I'm supposed to be one of those four, but I snuck away to type this...shhh!) Others are doing a major re-organization of supplies as well as a few other small things that need to get done here.

Despite wanting to get to our families and homes, I know it's going to be a tough day to leave. We've had a fantastic time...God has met us in various relationships have been born, existing relationships have been cemented. We can't wait to see you all...
Today's photos:
1. Dustin and one of the children from the orphanage
2. A shot of the trenches and the concrete work at the Baptist mission site where Jon, Greg and Matt have been.
(a general apology about not having any photos of Ken and Tyler's latrine site. Ken's camera's memory card is incompatible with the laptop. Therefore we'll have to hit up Ken for his photos when we get back home!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday recap...

Uh-oh...I've got no photos for today. Sorry folks! Hopefully we'll have some to post tomorrow.

We continue to meld together as a team, despite the fact that we really only spend the evenings together. It's been great to see and hear people sharing this experience together! Last night, we had the chance to share our day's experience around the dinner table (this is a nightly occurrence with everyone who's staying at the house). We heard a fantastic story from one of TG staff members here about how the work that we think we've planned on accomplishing is really a distant second to the plan that God has in place. Additionally, we listened as Ken shared his heart as it breaks for the children here. He's stated outright that he already plans on coming back someday. (Miriam...I'm sure you'll be wanting to talk with him about this :) ) We had a moving time praying for him and appreciate his honesty and openness.

And now for the rundown of our day.

1. John and Joe. Continued to labor on the roof. Work is going slower than expected (as seems to always be the case here in Haiti). At this point, I'll withhold any predictions about when it might get done.

2. Greg, Matt and Jon were back with "the Baptists" mixing cement, laying rock and building relationships.

3a. Since Tyler had to lay low and out of the sun, he did a killer job of organizing the kitchen here at the house! (With tens of people through the doors every week, chaos seems to be the norm around here)

3b. With Tyler at the house, Ken paired up with Terry (one of the TG staff members)and headed back up to the latrine site. They had some additional work added to their list, so they'll be back up there again tomorrow.

4. Amy, Suzanne and Dustin were at the ND hospital/clinic. Suzanne has shared some great stories of seeing "patients" coming back the day after they received treatment and show huge amounts of thanks and appreciation. She's expressed some serious amazement at this and loves how it gives her proof that what she is doing is benefiting others. Dustin, Amy and our housemate Abby staffed the ER today BY THEMSELVES. Amy told me about the great day she had (today she worked with a translator). With the help of the translator, she was able to pray and share with her patients which, like Suzanne, gave her a much needed boost allowing her to experience Haiti and it's people at another level. Lastly, Dustin had the chance to give sutures TWICE...something he'd never have the chance to do in the US. He's loving learning new skills...I'm pretty sure he's in the midst of some great times.

Only one more full work day. We're still not quite sure what Friday will look like, so we're gearing up for trying to finish projects tomorrow. As for the weather here, it's been hot, but bearable. Today was 94, without much humidity and a nice breeze. I don't think anyone is considering a full time move here, but we'll see after tomorrow!

Our love to each of you!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It's hard to believe that we're practically half way through our workdays here in Gressier. Last night we were joined by several of the "big wigs" of TG who are keeping an eye on what's going on and working to establish additional networks. Crazy small world in that two of the guys who are part of this contingency are direct co-workers with the father of one of team members, Greg. Additionally, as a group you can see how we're really forming relationships with others who are here, both full time and short term. Needless to say, we're having a blast!

Here's today's rundown:

1. Ken and Tyler were back up at the latrine. They didn't quite get it done, but had a phenomenal time building relationships with local kids. Let's be can't beat that! Please pray for Tyler...the sun has been hitting him hard, despite the massive quantity of sunblock. We're going to rest him in the shade tomorrow and get him back to 100%.

2. Joe and John were back up on the roof. Framing is 95% done and we did get word that the metal for the roof. Therefore, they'll be able to spend at least a day or more on this project.

3. Suzanne, Dustin and Amy were back at the ND clinic. They continued to work relentlessly, seeing case after case. We continue to be thankful for the way each of them is specifically plugging in. After dinner, we had the chance to pray for the patients they've been caring for. (They were joined by one of the new people at the house Abby, who contributed one of today's photos).

4. Matt, Jon and Greg spent the day with Wes (a full time TG guy) and Eric (one of the team members from a group that's here from Kenosha, WI). We spent 10.5 hours away from the house...5.5 of them driving. We went to a school/church site hosted by Jesus in Haiti on the north side of the bay...virtually due north of where we are in Gressier. While there, we were hoping to upgrade a pump well and install water storage tanks and a filtering system. In the end we could only install the tanks and filter. We didn't have the right tools to upgrade the well :(.

Again...we love and miss each of you. Thank you for joining with us!
Today's photos:
1. Matt looking sexy about to jump in the water tank to install a fitting (in the end, Matt determined he was "too broad" and Jon got sent into the tank)
2. Dustin just outside the medical compound checking out the street side booths selling various wares and food
3. The supply room of the clinic where Suzanne, Dustin and Amy have been working

Monday, April 5, 2010

First day of work...

Well...we did it. We all survived our first real day of work here in Haiti. A quick rundown of the day (as it was best recounted to me by various team members).

1. All were up around 6am and ready to depart to our various work locations by 6:45am.

2. Joe and John M stayed here at the house and worked on the roof of the house where we are staying (we're currently use the first floor of the house and the second floor is being finished.) The photos of today are from their work. We most likely won't have the metal that will finish the roof off before we go, so they're going to focus on the framing and let a following group complete the project. Maybe another day on this project.

3. Tyler and Ken joined with Wesley (a fulltime TG team member) and headed a short distance "up the hill" where they worked on some final assembly of a composting latrine that a previous group had started. This latrine is one of five that will eventually be built as a service to the local community. (If you aren't able to read between the lines, the majority of the community members live in the poorest of conditions and have no functional bathrooms of any kind). It sounds like there are a few things to be completed here in the next day or so.

4. Amy, Dustin and Suzanne joined up with medical care facility that TG has just formed a new relationship. Turns out it's a clinic/ER/pharmacy/etc that was established by University of Notre Dame and is staffed almost exclusively by ND grads and staff. Sounds like our team had some fun conversations about our home area. I know that each of our med team had the chance to use their specific training and will continue to be an asset through the week. This team could have possibly been the busiest of all of us today. Dustin shared that he treated over 50 patients in the ER today. And he and one other EMT will be the sole staff on duty there tomorrow!

5. Matt, Greg and Jon had the chance to join with another new partner ministry site. This site is a church/school affiliated with the American Baptist's and Cooperative Baptist's. The school sustained enough damage from the quake that it needed to be leveled and will be entirely rebuilt. The three of us jumped in with eight Haitian nationals and worked to dig out for the foundation of the soon to be rebuilt school. This group was easily the dirtiest at the end of the day.

Now we're waiting for dinner (which smells delicious!). The weather today was beautiful...low to mid 90's, a nice breeze and low humidity. We're all feeling very good about the day! I'm sure we'll all be in bed pretty early tonight, as the day's work catches up with us.

Thanks for checking in, commenting and just generally expressing your care. We love and miss you all!

The photos:

1. Looking up at the end of the day through the newly framed roof
2. John on a ladder setting the top plate

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen...

Happy Easter! It's been a lovely day here in Gressier.
At an informal "service" we had here at house, Matt G. gave us the charge to consider the fact that Easter is an even bigger holiday than Christmas. And how true...Jesus birth was big...but his resurrection from the grave. Wow! That's crazy stuff! We hope your day has been a great one as ours has.
Here's what we did:
5:30am had us at an Easter service about a 5 minute walk from the house. We spent the morning lounging, organizing the house and preparing Easter dinner (ham, potatoes and carrots). Joe, Amy and Suzanne...thank you for making us a great meal!

The afternoon had John M and Tyler doing some light work to spruce up the living conditions. Jon, Dustin and Ken went with Thelma (a full time worker here) to a community meeting where we discussed how Touch Global might partner with the area and help in the construction of a school. The members of the gathering expressed great thanks that TG showed up and was investing in the local community. Each of us even got to "sign in" as delegates to the meeting :) As well, many of us did some hiking to see a possible location for an orphanage that TG might be involved in, as well as just to see and be seen in the area.

Tonight we'll eat dinner together and welcome the newcomers to the Haitian Queen (we almost feel like regulars now that we've been here for 24 hours!). Tomorrow has us out on projects that are still getting nailed down. We're praying for a great day!
The photos:
1. Jon, Suzanne and others on a hike
2. Greg and some new local friends

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wow...not only am I on a computer here in Port au Prince, the connection is actually pretty good!

So the travel couldn't have gone better. The only casualties so far are a lost cell phone and a lost jacket. We arrived in PaP midafternoon and piled into two vehicles for the 45 minuted journey to "the Haitian Queen". (Of course in true Haitian style, there were four of us sitting on top of the luggage as we drove through the mayhem). We even had the chance to drive by the National Palace that we've all seen on many newscasts. ..surreal seeing it in person.

After the house tour (women have an indoor room and the men are sleeping in an outdoor "bunkhouse"), we set out on a nice hike through the surrounding area. It's quite a rural setting and already the sound of crickets and night birds is filling the air. On our walk we had the chance to walk and play with tens of children. They all seem to know how to say "Hey You!" in English. Many of them just wanted to hold hands and walk (Suzanne was the biggest one time I counted at least 4 children trailing off her!) Now it's just getting ready for dinner and continuing to settle into life here in the house.
Oh yea...there were already nine others here at the house and we're expecting another group in tomorrow...bringing out total to 28 occupants...whoa!
And tomorrow is Easter. It doesn't matter that we're half a hemisphere away from our friends and family. Today Jesus is in the tomb and tomorrow he comes out. Distance, culture...nothing refutes that. Tomorrow we celebrate!
A few photos from the day.
1. A home nearby the Haitian queen.
2. A flattened building in PaP.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Today is the day.

Today is the day. As a Christ-follower and today being Good Friday, today is the day that leads up to THE day. Wow...with all the craziness of prepping for this Haiti trip, it's been easy (unfortunately) to almost forget about the significance of this weekend that's upon us.

Of course, today is the day also has a "more immediate" meaning for many of us. For this team of 10, it means that it's the day we've been gearing up for over the past 2+ weeks. We're heading out in just a few hours to begin our weeklong journey. We'll be in Port au Prince (actually just to the SW) in a little over 24 hours. Keep tabs on us here. Post a comment if you'd be great knowing people are out there! If all goes well, I'll be writing a little each day...and it might even be something worth reading.

So for now, it's update my email accounts and voicemail greeting with "out of office" replies, eat a bowl of mini-wheats and get ready for my ride to pick me up!