After a crazy year that saw our family living at 7 different addresses in 3 countries, we’re finally starting to stabilize for a season.
A quick recap if you weren’t aware of what our life has been like: -Jan 2020 – Flew to Haiti, super excited and re-energized, ready to spend most of 2020 there. We applied for Jamie’s green card then, so we had our eyes on leaving Haiti when that finished, expecting it to be right around…now (June 2021). -Feb 21, 2020 – Car Accident with Anderson and myself. He still has a bum shoulder, so pray for him. We’re hoping to get him to a surgeon soon, but it’s hard with everything going on in Haiti this year. Me, I have plates on my jaws and cheekbones, but I’m physically doing as well as I could hope to be considering I’m 36 years old and could probably use more exercise in my routine. -June, 2020 – Had to leave the US because Jamie’s visa was expiring. Haiti was still closed, so we ended up in Finland thinking it would be for 2-3 months. Her green card was moving faster than expected, so that was exciting, but we figured we’d get back to the US in September or so. Ended up living in 3 different apartments, but it was an amazing time for our family despite the COVID restrictions. -January, 2021 – Still in Finland. Green card finally arrived. (Side note: While there, I applied for residency in Finland, basically the equivalent to a green card. It took about 3 weeks and $500. Let’s just say the process in the US takes much longer and costs significantly more). -Moved back to the US at the end of January, 2021. Jamie’s green card officially ended our time of residency in Haiti, as we need to live in the US to start the clock towards Jamie getting U.S. Citizenship. (Don’t worry, she doesn’t have to give up Finnish citizenship, not that she would. lol) That’s the long term plan. Then we will be free to come and go from the US whenever we please, and be free to go wherever God would have us next. -February, 2021 – Moved into our own apartment. Sure, it’s above my parents’ garage, but it’s OUR place, so that’s awesome. Jamie killed it on the interior decorating so it’s beautiful, cozy, and very international 🙂 -Same week as we moved in, I applied to a job through a friend’s referral. Terri is a solar engineer and we met in Haiti over 5 years ago when we worked together on a few projects. She said SunCommon may be looking for some more engineers to do remote work. I applied on a Monday and had a job offer by Friday in the same week. Jehovah-Jireh! -Before my start date, I took a quick trip to Haiti for <3 days because of COVID restrictions. It was the best worst week of my life. It was amazing to see all our dear friends, my brothers and sisters down there. It was terrible to pack up our house, without Jamie and the kids, and say goodbye to those same friends.
So what now? F1 Engineering is not done. Things have just shifted. In Haiti, we will continue to rent the shop and support our crew. When work is available, we will continue to do solar work to support missions and organizations throughout the country. I now work at SunCommon as a solar design engineer from a home office here in PA though they are based in Rhinebeck, NY and Waterbury, VT. The work is great and has been a huge learning experience already. I’ve learned more about solar in 2 months than I learned in a couple years in Haiti. Good news, we didn’t screw things up too badly down there. Great news, I now have more knowledge to share with our crew and anyone else I can support in Haiti.
Current Projects: We are very excited to have an active project right now. Wings of Hope, an orphanage for special needs children, is based in Jacmel and started inquiring about solar over 2 years ago. Obviously, it’s been a rough season to work on projects, and it took them a bit to get the funding together, but it’s finally moving forward. This will be the pilot project to see how well I can work remotely.
I’m currently working on assembling the “brains” of the system, including the Inverters, Charge Controllers, and circuit protections in the garage here in PA. That will get shipped to Miami, then on to Port Au Prince by boat. From PAP, we’ll get this crate, along with Solar Panels, Batteries, and other materials purchased in Haiti, and send them on a flight with MAF from PAP to Jacmel. This will keep our crew safe since Route National #2, the only road into PAP from the South, is constantly a hot zone for gang activity including kidnappings and violence.
I also have a couple other projects in mind, but they are still in the beginning stages, so I don’t want to share too much cause things change quickly, especially in regards to Haiti, these days.
All in all, our family is doing reasonably well as we finally get to settle in one location and establish some routines in this seasons. Mara and Aiden are growing so fast, and they are really smart. It’s great to be around my family for a bit, and it was a blessing to be with Jamie’s Mom for much of our time in Finland as well. It was a rough year, but there were some pretty great highlights as well.
Please keep us all in your prayers as we are still recovering, mostly in an emotional/mental/spiritual sense, from a tumultuous season, but also praise God with us that we are still alive and doing well.
While I posted the video clip from Easter, I also wanted to share in writing about the life changing situation our family has gone through over the past couple months.
On February 21st I was involved in a car accident with my Haitian brother Anderson, in Petit Goave, Haiti. As a result, I ended up being evacuated to West Palm Beach, FL, where I underwent 4 surgeries.
First, the trauma team had to clean an infection from a large laceration under my chin. Then, two surgeries helped rebuild my eye sockets, nose, and jaw, as I had completely broken my face. Next, a 4th surgery was done to repair my left forearm. Additional, “self-healing” injuries included 4 fractures in my spinal column, a broken bone in my left ear, a punctured right ear drum, and a probable torn rotator cuff.
Despite everything, God has been so, so good to our whole family, and especially in moving my healing along quickly. I am much further along than any doctor, nurse, or therapist has expected. A couple weeks ago., they finally opened my mouth which had been wired shut for weeks. I still need another surgery to remove the remaining wires from my mouth, but that, along with occupational therapy and most other follow up, has been postponed due to Covid-19.
Hopefully, tomorrow’s spinal appointment will see me cleared for lifting/working again, then my only remaining issues are the wires in my mouth and some hearing loss. Beyond that, I am in a range where exercise/therapy should see me recover nearly fully.
Looking at my injuries in a list, it is obvious how easily God could have brought me home that day, but He decided to showcase His splendor in a different way.
I think the craziest part of this whole experience is that, in the end, I don’t remember pain, only the ways that God took care of myself and my family. Altogether, this accident has been a testament to the love of the family of God, and how He used His children to pour out that immeasurable love on our family in our time of need. He started immediately after the accident, as I received help from a bystander that I didn’t know. Then, word got to my dear friend, Pastor Lex, as the accident occurred “near” his mission. Honestly, the only thing I remember prior to the hospital is hearing his voice saying “Travis, it’s Pastor Lex, I’ve got you.” And to me, those words were words straight from God to me. I knew in that moment that not only Lex had me, but God saw my situation and would walk through it with me. Everything would be ok. I was overwhelmed with peace in the midst of chaos.
Once we got to the hospital, another dear brother was there. Eric Lotz had heard I was in an accident, but no more details. He simply headed to the best hospital in Port Au Prince, and searched for me until he found me. He and Lex took care of me, paying for treatment for Anderson and I, which in Haiti has to be paid up front or they won’t do anything. Eric didn’t leave my side until I was on the airport tarmac, being lifted onto the air ambulance. His voice is my only other memory of that day. I knew he was there, and, again, I knew that meant HE was taking care of me.
At the same time, God was using his other children to take care of my family. Chase and Kimmey, our fellow Jacmel missionaries, took in my wife and kids for the night, so they could have functioning internet, and help in coordinating how to reunite our family. Our dear friend, Gala, was also driving Jamie everywhere she needed to go to get ready for whatever would come next.
By Saturday morning, Jamie and Gala had managed to catch a small charter flight to Port au Prince and almost as soon as they got to the hospital and were brought up to speed on my status, arrangements started to be made to med-evac me to Florida. At one point they were trying to figure out how we would get our children to the U.S since air ambulances generally only allow one passenger to accompany the patient (which would have been Jamie), but when the company we were working with heard about our dilemma, they immediately said that our family should stay together and as long as the kids could make it to Port au Prince in time for the mec vac flight, that they would allow them to travel with us. Once again, God in His grace provided a way.
Once in the U.S, the ambulance brought me to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, which was only 20 minutes from an apartment that Jamie’s aunt and uncle had available for our use. Another way God perfectly orchestrated the details.
Since then, God has overwhelmed us with support from friends and family, near and far, old and new. Here in Florida, we have been blessed to find a community of believers, including a great church that welcomed us as family. God provided clothes, food, transportation, and even toys for our kids through His family here and through the mail. I can’t count how many of you have reached out to us with prayers, finances, and so many other ways of support. We love you.
Altogether, this accident has proven to me the words of Christ in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God’s family has poured out His love on us in extraordinary ways, from all over the world, Haiti to Malaysia, Uganda to Finland, and all over North America. People I have never met seized this opportunity to reach out in prayer and offer support. He truly connects us all, and it shows a tremendous power and love that we can all lean on in times of need.
I want to encourage each of you in this time of uncertainty. Just as God walked with me through this incident, He is with each of you now. If you have a need, cry out to Him, and don’t be surprised if He answers in unexpected ways, rallying His children to your aid, even ones you don’t know or haven’t seen in decades.
Moving forward, please continue to pray for my family. My body is healing well, but this has taken an emotional toll on us all, and with the virus rolling in during my recovery, I’m not sure it has fully hit any of us yet. We also need to figure out our next steps, as we cannot return to Haiti yet due to Covid-19, even if I was fully recovered.
Please pray for Anderson as well. Thankfully he did not need any surgery and was discharged from the hospital only a few days after I was flown to the U.S, but he still has a ways to go, as he has injuries to his shoulder and foot. He was scheduled for therapy sessions and an appointment with a visiting orthopedic doctor this week, both of which have been cancelled by Corona virus, so please pray for his healing, as it is now in God’s hands since he, like me, falls into the non-emergency category of care now.
And on that note, please pray for the country of Haiti. Our team is scared, as there is insufficient healthcare on a good day in Haiti, combined with worse “fake news” than you can imagine, such as superstitious remedies floating around or rumours that the whole virus is a hoax. Pray that God would move in a mighty way, protecting the people of Haiti from an outbreak, and showing that He is the one in power, not any voodoo spirits they try to call upon. If sickness hits, pray that there would be believers raised up to heal the sick in the Name of Jesus Christ. I have said over the past year that He is their only hope as a nation for political reasons, now He is their only hope for health and safety as well. May He do great things in this time of crisis.
Thanks again, to all of you. For your support, prayers and encouragement. It has meant more than you know.Please check out the video posted below for the testimony I was blessed to share at Wellspring Church, here in Florida, and be on the lookout for us to post more services from Wellspring, where we have found a “home” here, and you may even catch Jamie and I leading worship sometimes, as we did on April 26th.
The entire government is corrupt, and this past year the population finally grew weary and began an uprising. Sadly, even this uprising has been wrought with corruption.
It has left
the country cut off from supply routes of food, medicine, and any materials
needed to work, leaving thousands of people starving and sick.
ground the economy to a halt.
It has cut
the income out from under most of the population and bled the small savings of
the lower-class people dry.
It has left
the country literally in the dark as fuels to run generators, including the
power plants, have been cut off many times in the past year.
It has even
left the children out of school. The entire fall semester was cancelled due to
protests and safety concerns, and schools have only recently re-opened since
their summer break.
say, poverty has gotten much worse.
The price of everything from food to fuel keeps rising but the incomes of most people remain the same, that is if they are lucky enough to still have a steady job with the increasingly common downsizing that has taken place in the work force, particularly in the tourism industry. And all the while the local currency is worth less and less. When I (Travis) first moved to Haiti, the exchange rate was 40 gourdes to a dollar, but in recent months it has more than doubled to nearly a 100 gourdes for a US dollar.
has swept over the country as I have never seen before. This famously resilient
people who have endured devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, cholera, viruses
and many other issues, is breaking into despair.
As an example, we have a friend Franz that works at the local hotel. He always has a big smile on his face, and is a wonderfully friendly man. Yet, as I sat talking with him some weeks ago, I asked him what he really thought of the life these days. His response? “Ayiti pa gen la vie.” Haiti doesn’t have life. Haiti is dead.
the restaurant manager at the best hotel in Jacmel for over a decade. His is
one of the steadiest jobs around, and even he has suffered from lay-offs
because of all the protests. After all, tourists aren’t exactly flocking to
visit a country where insecurity is increasing, sporadic gang violence has
grown, protests are almost a daily occurrence, the people are restless and a
shaky government is barely holding things together.
can their hope, their help come from?
The Opposition party?
The UN or
other foreign aid groups?
All of the
above have either failed in the past or left the country to fend for itself (or
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Haiti, this year has been rough on us personally as well. Every step we took
forward seemed to yield one backward in return. Every time we fixed something,
like one of our trucks, another one broke down. We would wake up in the
mornings with plans for the day, only to find out that roadblocks had us stuck
and isolated in our house once again. And yet, for Jamie and me, this was a
year that showed the beginnings of a spiritual renewal in our lives.
For a while, we had both felt more akin to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree (you know the one…a pathetic little twig of a stick with no more than a few pine needles to keep it company) than one bearing good, spiritual fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, etc. were sorely lacking. Yet ironically, as life became harder and more unpredictable, God was using this time of drought to sprout new leaves in our inner beings, and to remind us that our hope depends solely on Him. That without Him, we can do no thing. Nothing.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
trees don’t sprout overnight, we still have a ways to go, but it’s a start. And
we thank God for it. And it may take a while before the fruit is ripe and
visible again as the roots grow deeper, but we’re trusting that God will be
faithful to finish what He’s (re)started in us.
setbacks, including our personal ones ,this past year has actually been a time
to see growth as well.
For one, our
relationships with other missionaries and local ex-pats have grown. We have
found more than ever that we need each other, and that has bonded us together.
At one point
we had even started praying as a group with other missionaries whenever we
would gather together rather than just waiting for a “church
service.” Our discussions would center on what God is doing in our lives.
And we could encourage one another. And actually pray. Whether there were four
of us or a dozen.
On one such occasion, God taught us another valuable lesson. As we finished up eating dinner together, our friends received some alarming news warning us about an incident that was supposed to take place the following morning. While we couldn’t be sure of how legitimate the rumours were, just the potential disaster had us all worked up with dread and full of worry. At last, after a couple hours of allowing the “what ifs” to consume our thoughts, work up our emotions and steal our joy and peace it’s like the light FINALLY clicked on and we looked at each other and said, “How about we actually pray about this?” So we did. We may have been a little slow getting there, but at least we finally did. And what a difference it made! As we turned our eyes back to God from the looming waves around us, His peace came resting over our hearts, quieting the questions and doubts.
It was then
that God reminded me (Jamie) of a verse He had showed me that very morning.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy —meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
it had stood out to me on this particular day was because it had showed up as
the “verse of the day” on my phone in a translation I wasn’t in the habit of
reading. One part in particular caught my eye as the wording was different from
what I was used to. “Whatever things are of GOOD report…” I thought back on our
evening and how we had allowed a bad report to completely derail it. A report
we weren’t even sure was true, a rumour that was definitely not lovely, pure,
just, praiseworthy etc. Instead we had meditated on our fears. No wonder we had
been so restless and worried. We had focused on the waves and not His face. But
the moment we corrected this and turned back to Him, He graced us with His
perspective. He reminded us that He already knew what tomorrow held, after all,
He was already there. No matter what was going to happen, He was already aware,
and we could continue to trust Him with everything concerning our lives.
Therefore, we’re not writing all this to bring a message of despair and gloom that Satan would like us to see all over the land of Haiti, and in our own lives, but bring you all a good report: the message of what we have learned, received, and heard from our Father in heaven in this time.
For starters, while many of the people that were part of this community have now left Haiti, we are thankful for the fellowship and encouragement that we did get a chance to have with them while they were here, and trust that God will not leave us as orphans but continue to bring other opportunities and people to do community with.
In positive news, our staff at the workshop has grown. We now have 10 guys working with us. And among them we see growth as Gayly is now married and his son just turned 1 year old. Anderson and Fleury are building houses. Kily, who lost a baby last year, now has a beautiful daughter again.
growing in their skills as well. Gayly, Waly, and Anderson are working as
welders and electricians, getting work independently from our solar
installations.They are providing for their families, and supporting each other,
as a contract for any of them means work for most of the shop. And this is
extending the ministry of F1 as now we can bless other missions with solar installation
work even when I am out of the country.
have been in the U.S, our crew installed solar for a family running a community
center about 15 minutes from our home. This couple has opened a youth center in
their house to bring young people to Christ, and they even take it to the
Jacmel prison where they have been doing the Alpha course with 10 young adults
each week. Recently, they shared that an older inmate had been
“eavesdropping” each week and prayed with them to accept Christ into
the difficulties of the year, we have been blessed to complete 8 solar
installations supporting missions all over the country. We have 3 more
installations lined up for when it is possible to get back to work as well.
And we have
had blessings to share within our own ministry.
As we’ve said, it’s been a hard year. Our vehicles are perpetually broken, yet somehow we have always had one functional when we’ve needed it, even it was a loaner (pictured below) from friends while they were out of the country.
was blown up by a lightning strike, but God provided that we could get a new one
even despite the roadblocks.
lack of fuel, we’ve been able to sustain our power station outside of our
house, to share our solar power with our neighbors, and still manage to keep
our own house powered through the night. That alone is a miracle as the math
shouldn’t work out and yet we’ve been abundantly blessed with enough power to
travel issues, we’ve been blessed to be home with Mom twice this year as she’s
been going through important stages in the treatment of her cancer, and to be
here with my Grandmother when she passed away earlier this year, and as a dear
friend went to be with the Lord at the years close.
And we were
blessed with a trip to Finland this summer to see Jamie’s family. We thought it
would be good to see her grandparents as they are getting more frail, and that
was good. But He also used it as a chance to get medical treatment for Mara for
an infection she had gotten in Haiti that was starting to go wild just as we
arrived in Finland where the doctors were able to sort it out.
And we now take great comfort in the fact that this trip was a chance to see her uncle one last time before he was unexpectedly called home to heaven by a brain aneurysm.
And despite everything in Haiti growing more expensive, God has continued to sustain us financially and meet our every need.
He has taught us to trust Him, and that He is in control. And strangely, He has taught us the lesson even more clearly by putting us in a position where life seemed more out of control than ever before. I felt like this was a year that I (Travis) couldn’t plan anything. My mind has been stuck spinning in neutral, constantly turning, but getting nowhere, and now I see that He was with us each day, and had everything in His control.
So I offer
that encouragement to you today. No matter what storms life is throwing at you,
look to Him, above the waves. He has you, and will hold you, and will sustain
you if you are his child. He is your loving Father and will answer your cries.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Reflections On a Rocky Year
But for me, I wanted to focus a little more local.
We are in our sixth week of protests down here. I keep updating my family at home that we are safe, as that is the biggest concern I hear from friends and family abroad, but there is a bigger issue at play here now as well.
We are here to be a light in the darkness, and these days, the dark is literally more frequent than light. City power has been even more sparse than our typical schedule. Now, we are lucky to get 8 hours of city power per week. Solar keeps our lights on, but most people are not so lucky. We frequently have 20 people outside our gate charging cell phones at the station we put up.
Even those people who have generators are struggling. Fuel is scarce, and when it is available, you have to be ready to sit in lines for several hours, standing aggresively to not lose your place, just to get a few gallons.
But amidst the darkness, there is another, growing concern, the silence.
Our house is typically noisy with the sounds of the workshop as the generator powers grinders, welders, and many other tools all day long. Yet, the shop has been silent for most of the 6 weeks of protests.
With no power and limited fuel, no work can be completed. Then, no income comes in for our crew. Any savings they managed are long gone now, especially for our 3 men with small children.
So the silence signals a lack of work and income.
Our house is on the main road, so we normally awake each morning to the sound of trucks passing by, sometimes way too quickly, carrying produce from the rural mountain communities down into town for the market.
But the road, too, is silent most of the time.
And the silence once again screams the lack of income for the rural communities, and a lack of food supply for the cities.
Food prices are rising, but employment is extremely difficult to find. With all of these protests, lay-offs have even become common. Many jobs which are typically steady are unsustainable now. Our local cafe closed. Other restaurants and hotels have laid off staff to the point that they have a skeleton crew, and still they are losing money. Unemployment is spreading.
So, we must be praying for this country, and the prayers must start with “give each person here their daily bread”, because we need God to continue to support the individuals in this country when the government is failing so badly.
And then, on a practical note, I would also encourage you to give money, if possible, to whoever God would lead you to give it to.
The crazy part is that the lack of employment is not due to a lack of work needing done. Haiti is a land where everything takes more work. Dinner may take hours to prepare from scratch. Houses require hours of cleaning almost daily. Laundry can take a whole day for those that don’t have a washing machine.
And everyone down here has maintenance tasks and a “to do” list that is a few miles long.
Plus, with power issues being so rampant, some people are even in need things ranging from cell phone backup batteries, to even generators or even solar power if they get enough money.
So, my encouragement to any of you who have read this far is simple. Find an organization or person that is in Haiti, and send them some money with the charge to hire someone local to do something, or to purchase something local to support local business. Many people here, both ex-pats and Haitians have a pretty small budget to start with, so even we may be hesitant to spend in this broken economy, but we need to. For any of the businesses, farmers, laborers or tradesmen in this country to continue to feed their families, they need customers.
If you want to support your friends in Haiti, from any organizations, or individuals, this is big. Even if the individual you know if doing OK and is safe and possibly reasonably well taken care of, the mental stress of knowing that their friends in the community are struggling is huge as well.
And pray life crazy for this place, because life is getting harder each day, and there is not an easy fix in sight.
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Support your friends in Haiti
It’s been 16 days since protests kicked up in Haiti and shut down travel throughout the country. Last weekend, the protests took a break for the weekend and never really kicked back up.
The government made an announcement that they would take a few measures to address the issues at the heart of the protest. They announced a desire to subsidize staple foods, and that they would audit the import taxes and make sure they are enforced properly to get the money they need to do so. They also announced that they will investigate the wasted money from the PetroCaribe loans, which was another major rallying cry of the protesters.
So the general population is waiting to see what will happen. In my opinion, this is far from resolved. This is a pile of embers after a blazing fire. All it will take is a little more fuel and it will kick right back up, or if it sits long enough, maybe it will fizzle out on its own.
Unfortunately, despite these small victories, the protests have kicked off what could be an even more brutal economic collapse. As a result of the protests, many foreign governments have classified Haiti as a “no travel zone”, or in U.S. State Department terms, it is under a level 4 travel advisory, similar to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, etc.
Some may disagree with their assessment, but it is probably fair to say that the only people I would advise to be in Haiti right now are those that are familiar with the culture, politics, and language and are willing to be in a place that has the potential to go into lockdown again with little to no warning.
This means tourists, including short term missionaries, will not be coming to Haiti any time soon. In turn, -Hotels are closing, or reducing staff, meaning hundreds are getting laid off -Taxis, Food suppliers, and other “support services” to the tourism industry don’t have clients -Construction on new tourist projects will come to a stand still -Restaurants and Boutiques that cater to tourists are struggling
For missions organizations, this means that short term teams won’t be coming.
Each organization is different, but here are a few of the results of teams getting cancelled. -Support staff will be laid off. There are no teams to cook for, clean up after, and work with. -Direct funding for projects is down, as a percentage of team fees go to the ministries’ general funds. -Engagement and Awareness will be down. Each person that comes on a trip talks about it on social media and with their friends and helps to get more people aware of, and supporting, their host organization.
For at least one ministry I talked to, this will lead to lay-offs of workers, and a near complete halt on any capital projects, such as construction, moving forward.
Beyond the fact that ministries may not be able to do what they had hoped to do, this is also a time when many have become aware of new needs for a more sustainable future. Gasoline, Diesel, and even Propane are still in short supply and remain on the edge of running out if the government falls behind in their payments again. One of the major differences in how people fared during this last protest was whether they had any solar power to sustain them through 10+ days of receiving no city power. Now is a season for missions to install solar to prepare for continued blackouts in the future, but these are costly investments, especially in a time of economic recession.
So, all of this is to say.
Pray for Haiti, and support your friends and missionaries in Haiti more than ever.
If you had planned to go and can’t, please consider doing a social media campaign to spread awareness and raise support to those who you already care for. Maybe even try consider a fundraiser for them.
If you have means available, support anyone you know in Haiti financially at this time. While there are corruption and heart issues at the core of the current problems, it is most manifested as an economic crisis, so money is at the heart of most ways to help right now.
If you have friends in Haiti, check in with them. Pray for them. Ask good questions about how they are doing and find ways to help them in their struggles. Heck, if you want to help the economy and them, you could even offer to send them to a couple nights at a local hotel, where they can relax while still benefiting the local economy.
Above all, pray for Haiti, and for those you hold dear that are still there. These protests kicked off a chain of events that will results in short term struggles. If things work out well, this could be a revolutionary even in Haiti and it could usher in a much better period for Haiti, but it will not come without short term struggle.
Also, pray for wisdom for those of us who are out of Haiti at the moment. It is hard to be away from home, and we are seeking wisdom for when it is best to return. For us personally, we will take every opportunity while we are the in states to spread awareness and prepare well for our return, which we are hoping will be in March.
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Current Situation in Haiti
Today I want to focus on a topic that we don’t often discuss on the F1 site, health and safety.
Haiti’s healthcare situation is rather rough. The hospitals exist, but often times lack equipment, organization, power, and even proper staffing.
As a result, Jamie and I have helped patch up our crew multiple times after moto accidents, which are the most common injury we see. Unfortunately, sometimes it is beyond our ability to do anything. So, in those cases, we offer financial support for our guys to go see a doctor. Sadly, we can’t even trust this outcome either.
Right now, Waly and Anderson are dealing with lingering issues from moto accidents. Waly’s accident was in November, and his wrist is still causing him pain. Ander’s accident was the whole way back in July. Both of them went to the hospital and received treatment, and I thought the would be properly checked out and healing.
Then, a few weeks ago, they both went to get x-rays since their bodies were still being so slow to recover. For Waly, I can’t tell much, because I don’t know what a hand/wrist x-ray should look like. However, when I saw this picture of Ander’s foot, I knew we needed to find a course of action.
Please pray for us as we have an orthopedic consult with CCH on tomorrow (Sunday) for both of these guys. There is a team of orthopedic surgeon’s visiting this week, but they may already have their schedule’s booked up tight so I’m not sure what the consultation will yield. At least we will get some answers on the next step forward. If CCH can’t do it, surgery would likely be in the thousands of dollars for Anderson, so I don’t know how it would get paid for, but I am sure his foot needs some work.
Also, please keep my mom in your prayers, as she had another surgery this past week. It was a followup on last year’s major surgery to remove thyroid cancer. She is in good spirits and anxiously awaiting her release from the hospital.
P.S. CCH stand for Community Coalition for Haiti, a non-profit based out of Northern Virginia which has a clinic and surgery center here in Jacmel. They offer physical therapy services year round and bring in surgical teams periodically for these kinds of issues.
My resolution for 2019 is to write more updates, so I’ll start today.
However, I think one of the hardest things for me to encapsulate in a blog post is the complexity of life here.
As such, I’m going to try to stick to single-topic posts rather than giving a complete update each time.
Today’s topic is the logistical nightmare hanging over the entire country this year, our Fuel Supply.
About three weeks ago, Anderson came to the house and told me that Jacmel was running out of gasoline. This isn’t a completely abnormal occurance; Jacmel runs out of
fuel 3-4 times a year for various reasons. Usually it’s just that there was a road block or a truck was behind schedule. So Ander went and sat in line for a few hours
and bought us enough fuel to last a couple days, as that’s how long a typical shortage lasts.
Unfortunately, the news finally broke a few days later that this fuel shortage will affect all fuels, not just gasoline, and it may be a perpetual situation for a
while. Haiti’s government imports all of the fuel for the country, then sells it to distributors. Unfortunately, they have also run out of any kind of credit status
with the fuel companies so they have to pay cash up front for each ship to deliver fuel. Apparently, the distributors are behind on their payments to the government by
about US$80 million. So there were multiple ships parked in the bay outside Port Au Prince that would not unload until they were paid, while the country was running on
fumes. This meant that there were significant reductions in how much power the electric company put out, it caused major telecommunications issues as the cell phone
companies couldn’t keep their towers running without generators, and it meant that people and goods couldn’t get around the country as needed.
Within a week, they worked out a deal to get those 3 ships unloaded, but the issue remains unresolved.
Last summer, the government made the foolish decision to raise fuel prices by up to 40% overnight. This, predictably, results in major protests all around the country
until the government backed down and rescinded their price increase. Unfortunately, this price hike is neccesary. Haiti has had a fuel subsidy in place for over a
decade, meaning that each tanker that unloads costs the government a significant amount more than what they sell it for. They don’t have the money to continue this
policy, and now we see that this lack of money has led to a lack of fuel all around.
So, until this gets resolved, we will live under the spectre of either (a) a long term fuel shortage, or (b) a significant price hike in fuel, but since the government
does not work transparently, we will not have any indications that this will be happening until it hits.
Please pray for Haiti. I don’t know how this can be resolved on a national level, so pray that the leadership would have the wisdom to sort this out well, and that the
populace would respond well to their decisions.
For us, we have purchased some more solar panels, and plan to purchase more batteries when we get some more money, in an attempt to reduce our dependence on fuel.
We will also be putting a new roof on our house to try to reduce out the temperature indoors each day without having a perpetual fuel cost, as we currently run a
generator to provide A/C a couple hours each night that EDH (city power) doesn’t show up, which is typically every other night.
If anyone wants to help with these projects, let me know. The batteries are purely a funding issue, and I think we may have funds soon, but first I have to finish the
sepctic tank so we will have a functional toilet in the shop for the first time, and we need to try to get vehicles running again, because we only have 1 of the 4
functional as of this morning.
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Haiti’s Fuel Shortage and Potential Crisis
We need help, so please pray for us, that God would meet our needs however He sees fit.
This last 2 months has been crazy busy. It’s been good, but I am becoming more and more aware of our need for help every day. Many days, I feel overwhelmed. Pray that God would continue to sustain us, as He has been doing for so long, and that we would keep our eyes on Him.
The busyness comes in many forms, with much of our energy going into our continual “survival”, including taking care of the kids, keeping up with maintenance of the house, workshop, and vehicles, and making sure we have basic things like power running and food in the pantry and time to cook it.
Beyond that, our requests for help continue to roll in. Each week, we are given the opportunity to help multiple other missions in Haiti, and sometimes we even have to turn them down. But that adds stress on my because I realized that there is no one else for me to recommend them to complete their work/ fix their problems.
On top of that, our guys are constantly itching to learn and stay busy, but many days, I struggle to just get a few minutes in over at the shop because of other commitments>
We are looking forward to possibilities for the future, including the fact that we may have more missionaries coming to help us for longer trips, but this is also a time that I am starting to realize our need to host a few short term trips, and possibly recruit some people to work with us from the U.S. as well.
We were glad to welcome a girl named Anna come to visit us a few weeks ago, and she expressed an interest in continuing to work with F1 Engineering, possibly for a couple months, as we figure out a project where our needs and her skill intersect well.
The following week, we were supposed to be visited by Matt and Christina Smith. This was a long-awaited trip to introduce Christina to our town and country. However, the plans had to be postponed indefinitely at the last minute when their children were passing around a stomach bug.
This was a tripping point for me to realize that we need more help, and I just kept holding out, thinking that they would be here soon and all would be fixed. But the truth is that they still have a big journey before they would make it here, and we are almost drowning as it is.
F1 Engineering has grown beyond what I could have dreamed up 7 years ago, and it is wonderful to see. But it is also growing beyond my ability to manage it all.
Many days, I don’t even get to the workshop to work with the crew because I am too busy with taking care of our family and the never ending emails and administration work to help other ministries down here.
So, I have updated our “How to Help” page with practical information about how some of you may be able to get involved.
We are looking at the possibility of hosting a couple short term teams in the winter/spring timeframe to do some construction in the shop.
And we will be looking for some professional help from mechanics and/or welders to come help us get our shop and vehicles up and running well, and to teach the crew to use and maintain what we have properly.
The link at the top of the page works, but here is the text as well, so it will be a part of this post.
How to Help:
-Pray for us. We are a bit overwhelmed right now. Pray for strength, peace, and wisdom for Jamie and I.
-Pray for the Smith Family, who have been planning to come to Haiti to join F1. They have encountered some difficulties along the way. Pray for discernment for their next step.
-Pray for Anna, who visited us, and is seeking if, when, and how she should get involved in this ministry.
-Pray for the guys in the shop. They are growing in skill and maturity. Pray for their spiritual growth as well. Many of them have been burned by church and “missionaries” before, so pray specifically that God would get ahold of them, that His Spirit would call them to follow Him.
-Pray for wisdom as we start into the projects below, that we would do as God would have us, giving Him the honor each step of the way.
Working with us from the U.S.:
*******ASAP, U.S.A. based projects*******
A generator project in Johnstown, PA.
We have been donated an Onan 30.0EK-15R generator, but it needs converted from natural gas to propane before we can ship it to Haiti.
We have shipping lined up from Alabama, but want to make sure it’s ready before we ship it.
This is an urgent need. I have some information about what parts need put on, and it may take someone with some mechanical experience. Please let me know if you can help.
-We’re looking to set up F1 Engineering as an independent 501c3. We have been a missions branch of Crucified Church for a long time, but some of our donations, like from Lincoln Electric, can only go to a 501c3 registered organization.
-We also need someone who can do data entry into our accounting software. Basically, just take a pile of receipts and enter their information and a scan and/or picture of them into the computer. My dad can continue to handle things after that point, but it would lessen his load significantly as he is overworked right now.
-I would love to be able to give the guys business cards. I have the capability to do it, but I don’t have time. If I give information, can someone make up some business cards for Gayly, Waly, and Anderson and I’ll get them printed up.
Electronics Engineering: (both of these will be implemented as soon as done. They could start helping systems
-We are experiencing a great need for a “simple” project. We need to put a current transducer on our battery banks, with a load diversion relay that will trigger automatically when the current into the batteries breaks the maximum threshold.
-Another simple project…A system to take 8 battery voltages (nominal 6V) and trigger a warning light if any of the batteries is higher or lower than the average.
-Building a data logging system to collect information on our installations to enable better troubleshooting and improve our future designs.
-Specifically will need someone to code a microcontroller to gather timestamped signals from ~20-30 inputs and probably a second person who would be in charge of doing the pre-processing of inputs to meet the voltage levels of the onboard ADC’s.
-I need someone to help me setup an accounting system, or explain to me some best practices. As of now, I end up with a stack of unorganized receipts that pile up until they look like a 2 ton weight that I can’t deal with. Ideally, it would be nice to be able to track funds on a missions credit card, checking account, paypal account, and shipping account all in a quick view.
Help with Project in Haiti:
*******September/early October 2018**********
-Pouring concrete for our driveway. We are starting to gather materials, but could use help in the near-ish future with site prep (leveling, sloping, forming) and the actual concrete work.
*******Sept, Oct, or Dec 2018*******
-1999 Chevy 3500, 5.4l V8, Dually, auto (need to diagnose before November 2018 to figure out next steps)
-Stuck in 2nd(?) gear. Runs fine, but never shifts.
-2000 Isuzu Trooper
-Undiagnosed issue. On first start of the morning, will not idle until after a 1-2 minute period of revving at about 2k. Works fine afterwards. Replaced MAF sensor, but did not fix issue..
-2002 Ford F150, 5.7l, auto (would like to fix this truck to sell by the end of 2018)
-Electrical issue disabled the scanner port.
-Maintenance on all brake systems and suspension (perpetual needs, anytime a mechanic is available)
***********Winter 2018/Spring 2019****************
General Construction: (before summer 2019)
-Framing rafters on our house and putting on sheet metal roofing. Simple purlin style, open gables. Purpose is to shade our concrete roof from the sun to reduce internal temperatures in our house.
–In turn, this will reduce utility bills, including gas for our generators
-Expanding the roof on the workshop to cover our expanded driveway space.
If anyone ever wondered, 2 kids is enough to keep anyone busy 😉
Mara is now 2 years and 2 months old, and Aiden is 5 1/2 months. They are such a joy and blessing in our lives. I cannot even begin to put it in to words.
We returned to Haiti with both of them at the end of March and have been trying to settle in/keep up with work ever since then. It’s been a struggle at times, if I’m honest, and it is exposing how much more we need to improve on time management and communication within our family, and within our work crew.
The crew is doing great. Honestly, one of our biggest challenges since we’ve returned is that Gayly and Waly have been getting more work requests as welders than ever before, so I actually have to verify their schedules before I can plan jobs. It’s a good problem to have, but it is teaching me to plan ahead much better than before.
One of our other recent challenges has been vehicles once again, but I think that is trending in a good direction now. Our family car, the Isuzu Trooper, took a few sick days in Port Au Prince about 2 months ago when the front U-joints went out. Since then it has been running as a 2 wheel drive vehicle, but we have the parts and it should be healthy again soon.
The work trucks keep trading off which one is running and plugging along, but they both need some work. We anxiously await our “new” 2002 Nissan Frontier 4-door pickup that is finally at the docks in Miami ready to ship into Haiti. It will give us a better people-moving truck, and it also has a bunch of parts to remedy the ailments of the other work trucks. Once it is here, we will likely sell our F150 to recoup some of the shipping costs as well. We definitively don’t want to keep running 3 work trucks due to maintenance expenses here.
We’re also eager for the truck to arrive for the generators that it holds inside. Our “shop generator” that is used for welding died about a month ago and we have been unable to get parts for it, so we finally had to break down and buy a generator here as well.
We got this Daewoo 6000 Watt diesel one 2 weeks ago. All the guys in the shop agreed to pitch in their pay for our big project last week towards this purchase and I’m sure it will help us a lot as we continue our work in the future.
Speaking of last week’s project. We were excited to get out 2nd big project in as many months. First, we did an installation for Haiti Christian Outreach in Peredo (just outside of Jacmel). It was (30) 260 Watt solar panels and 7200 Watts of inverters. And since that quote was fresh in my head, we were able to turn around and get another project for (30) 315 Watt panels and 10.2 kW of inverters for Deux Mains, a sandal manufacturer in Port Au Prince that is setting up a new factory space this summer.
Here are some pictures from the Deux Mains installation. I’m proud that this was probably our prettiest installation to date, with some nice new features like putting air filters around the inverter installation to try to increase their longevity.
This was an exciting project, and I am super proud of the guys. They did a great job this week, especially because I was gimping around (or just sitting down) most of the week after taking a fall off the ladder at my house last weekend.
Please pray for us Jamie, Mara, Aiden, and I head to PA for 3 weeks to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday.
And pray for those involved in our ministry, including our work crew for their safety, growth, and salvation, as well as the Smith Family and our newer friend Anna who are looking to maybe come join F1 Engineering’s efforts down here.