Archive for “November, 2011”

Progress on many projects!

We had a group in last week from Hattiesburg, MS.  Great group of go getters!  We did a devide and conquer on some of our projects.
School bathroom update…Double the capacity!  We purchased and installed two more toilets in the school restrooms…now there are two options in each bathroom!  The team also ran the supply lines for the other toilets and mounted one of the sinks!
We were also blessed to have an ambitious carpenter in the group.  We gave him the task of building a sun shelter that we can use as a cool place for people to sit while waiting for their turn at the medical clinic.  The angle of the Winter sun has us scratching our heads a bit though…we might have made it too high…we might have to add some side panels to it…It will work great in the Summer, but it is still hot in the sun during the Winter months.  We are all still learning things here!
Ben got the backhoe out and did some work around the school and the houses.  He filled in garbage lake and leveled out a few more mounds.  He also resupplied the piles of dirt / sand / rock that he is using with his brother Josh and his friends Chris and Isaac to build their “Sandbag House” in Jubilee.

This is the beginning of the “Sandbag House” that the boys are building.  It is constructed of rice bags filled with sand and rock.  The bags are placed and compacted.  It will be dome shaped when finished.  The idea is to find a way to build a solid structure that is affordable and that is manufactured from local raw materials.  These guys plan on living in Jubilee when the structure is finished.  Their goal is that once the house is finished and they are living in it, locals will inquire about building a similar structure.  The funny thing here is that usually the Americans come down here and build houses for the Haitians…here  the Americans came down here and the Haitians are helping the Americans build their house!

Back at the house, we have cleared out some space between the house and the wall to build a little structure.  We are going to put together a little “Market” for all of the products that are being produced through “Trade School Haiti.”  They have things like ear rings, bracelets, necklaces, Christmas ornaments, journals, wicker baskets…and more.  All of these items are made in Haiti.  Kathy has created at least 50 jobs here in Gonaives so far through this school.

I am still keeping busy taking care of any maintenance issues that come up.  I’ll be darned if they didn’t figure out that I am somewhat knowledgeable about computers…after seeing everyone use a thumb drive to take their documents to the printer over and over, I “Magically” made it so they could all print from their laptops!  Suprising how what seems like a little issue can mean a lot to others! 
I have also become a regular part of a Sunday night English class.  Neat group of guys that just want to improve their communication skills in English.  Chris and I are working out a plan to give me some responsibilities in his group of English classes that will be starting again in January.
I am looking forward to next week when the next group arrives!  It will be Jim Warren and crew from Journey Church in Gretna, NE.  I hope to have many fun projects lined up for the willing and many fun activities planned as well.  I still enjoy the trip up the mountain with the groups…I am sure we will do that again.

Delivery Truck, Shuttle Bus or Ambulance?

We have another group of folks from Southern Georgia in this week.  Yesterday I got them started painting walls and putting together tables for the school in Jubilee.  We put the new tables in the classrooms and pulled out the old bench / desk units.  Amos and I loaded up all of the benches in the back of the truck to store in our yard for a while.  All of our guests were finished with their projects, so they needed a ride home also.

The back was full the top with benches, the inside was full with 8 of us.  On the way out of Jubilee, a man flagged down our truck to tell us that his pregnant wife was having some pains.  Sure!  Pile on in!  Some people moved around…up on laps…squished together…made room for the pregnant lady.  Through the interpreter we found out that she thought she was at 9 months and has been hurting off and on all day.  Her husband rode on top of the load of benches.  Off to the hospital.

The roads in Gonaives are not at all condusive to a speedy trip.  Considering that I had more than a full load, I had to take it real easy.  About halfway to the hospital, I felt a problem…flat tire!  I pulled over to the curb at one of the main round-about thingies in town.  About 5 minutes later with help from Amos and the opposite of help from Ritaud we got the tire changed.  We got to the hospital and our friendly nurse Martha got her admitted.

A couple of blocks away, we dropped the tire off to the tire guy on the side of the road for repair.  A couple of blocks further, we dropped the daddy off so he could grab a tap-tap back to Jubilee.  A few blocks later, we were home!

This morning, I followed Amos and Martha on my dirt bike up to an orphanage on the edge of town.  Martha was putting a feeding tube up the nose of a 3 week old baby that the hospital in Port au Prince had given up on.  He is a fighter and he is hanging on, helped by the strength of his mom and help from the community.  In the states, he would be in the middle of all kinds of contraptions and have constant medical supervision.  His mother pushes the formula down the feeding tube with a cyringe and he gets a visit from our nurse as often as he can.

I really appreciate those of you supporting my work down here.  I feel alive more than I ever have.  I see God working every day.  I start every day with a set of plans of what to I want to do, but He always changes them.  Today I think I got one thing done that I planned on doing, but in the process, I got to clean oil base paint off of a little girl that for some reason didn’t understand me when I told her that the entire wall we just painted was still wet.  Maybe I should work on my Creole a little more!

Backhoe, Big Groups and More Shelves!

Has it really been since last week that I put something up here?  Must be because we are busy here!  We picked up lots of people at the airport on Saturday.  24 extra people in the house until Tuesday when one group went to Port for another day, then back to Jacksonville.  We still have a great group from Southern Georgia here until the weekend.  Man they talk funny!

We unloaded the second trailer and got the backhoe out.  It is a John Deere front end loader with a backhoe on it.  I got to play a little yesterday, leveling out some piles, moving dirt around, digging holes!  That is going to be a great tool if we can keep it together.

I spent the day today at Jan’s orphanage with a few of the funny talkers from South Georgia.  We built some shelves and clothes hangers in one of the spare rooms.  Plenty of space to organize all of the kids clothes and school uniforms.

15 cubbies for kids clothes and and upper and lower closet rod.  Just something I threw together with plywood and 2 x 4’s, but her reaction was like I moved mountains.  It felt real good!  That is what I am here for.  We all had a good lunch there and got to play with the dozen or so kids that were running around the house after school got out.  Many thanks to the Georgia group and Jan’s son Jake for his help and his tools.

Great dinner with the group tonight…rice with chicken and vegetables on top.  Trying to figure out what tomorrow is going to bring…I am sure we will come up with something!

Getting around on my own!

This week I spent some time working on my room.  I bought a mattress and I built a loft bed kind of like I had in college!  I made several trips to the hardware store myself…what a rush.  Hop on the dirt bike, ride downtown to the market area, navigate through a street full of tap-taps, motos, people, wheelbarrows, goats…find a place to park and head into the hardware store.

The hardware store has all of their items available for sale attached to peg boards in the aisles.  There are a couple of workers that will write up a ticket for you…I just grab one of them and bring him to the item and point at it!  You then take that ticket to a window to pay for it, then over to a counter to pick up your item.  They always remove the item from the box for inspection and testing if it is electrical.  They box it back up and send you on your way!

I had help from a local carpenter that I met when I was here in August…Jean Philippe.  He builds furniture at his home when he can…kind of “on demand” because he does not have anywhere to store or sell his products.  He speaks very little English, I speak very little Creole, but we were able to communicate through the language of construction.  We taught eachother as much language as we could while building, naming every tool that we used in both languages.  He helped me build the rolling locker cabinet pictured below.

Today should be the day that we get the second shipping container…It was supposed to be here several times, but things happen here at their own pace…and I am completely comfortable with that!  The driver is leaving Port au Prince at 10am, so, he should arrive around 1 in the afternoon.  We have plenty of people here, so unloading it by hand should not be that big of a problem.  The exciting part is that there is a backhoe on this container.  We will have to build a loading dock (shovels and sweat) to get the backhoe off of the container, but it will be worth it!

We have a large group coming in on Saturday, so the dymanics of the house will change quite a bit.  There will be so many people here next week that I have to be in my new room with some room mates.  We (the long term folks) might have to fend for ourselves for a couple of meals due to the large number of guests.  Not a big deal, I am starting to enjoy the local food from street vendors…almost like fast food…they stand there and prepare it right in front of you.