As I write this, Jamie and I are on a flight to Toronto, en route to Finland to visit with her family. We are blessed and very excited for this trip. For her family, a “reunion” is quite difficult, but this summer presented the first opportunity to see everyone in 2 years.
Her older sister, Daisy, lives in Southeast Asia with her husband, Matti, and their three kids. They are missionaries, seeking to aid locals in planting churches in a region where Cristianity is still very scarce.
Her younger sister, Ellen, and her husband, Reese, just welcomed their first child in December, and they live in Finland.
And her parents still live in Uganda as missionaries.
So, it’s kind of a big deal to get all of us together for a bit this summer. Please pray that God would use this time to encourage and strengthen each of us to continue in the life which He has called us to.
Now, that being said, the preparations for a trip away from Haiti have been exhausting, but I have many stories to report back now that I have time to sit down and write them.
The past month or two have been filled with some outstanding developments in the “business” end of F1 Engineering, volunteering my services to help missionaries solve power problems, as well as great developments in the workshop, and in building relationships with the team of young Haitian men that God has blessed me with.
For clarity, I will start with a post about the workshop and the guys, and I will do some of the “project” descriptions as separate posts, including a bit more about who we worked with and what we were able to do.
Also, I will put “technical details” in italics, so feel free to skip them if the details are not interesting to you 🙂
Near the end of June, we had Maria Curlej and Zack Zankey come to visit us from Johnstown. It was such a blessing and encouragement to spend time with them and welcome them into our lives and ministry. While it was only a portion of the impact they had while they were here, Zack was able to help me kick start the next phase of the workshop construction.
Essentially, we built the frame of the structure back in October, with the crew from Somerset, and we finished up getting the roof on shortly thereafter, but then things got busy.
Mom and Dad came in February and worked with the guys to organize all the storage in the container, and we’ve been working out of the container side of the shop exclusively on all our projects since then.
So, it was a big deal to get back into “construction mode.”
Our first major step was to set the floor level of the building. We already had a “floor” somewhat in place, as you can see in this picture.
However, since that was put up as a scaffolding for installing the bracing and roof trusses, our top floor was only about 5′ tall, so we had to drop the level of that floor significantly. We managed to simply lower the entire floor level with a bunch of rope to a good height, then filled in the floor joists to complete the support structure since we only had joists at 4′ spacing on the scaffolding, but decided that 2′ was more appropriate for an actual floor.
Once we had the floor level established, we moved on to the next project of building a staircase and a landing to get there. Once again, Haiti made life a little harder in that we couldn’t get any 2×12 boards for stringers, so we “laminated” two 1×12 boards for each side with glue, clamps, and lot of screws. So, by the end of the week, we had a staircase with railing, going up to the second floor of our structure.
Even the process of this work was quite fun. I had been building up good relationships already with Gayly, Waly, Andersen, and Bouki, but we also had a chance to work with another two guys that God has put into our path, Pastor Mario and Fleury. Between Zack asking good questions, having a pastor in the mix, and my Kreyol skills finally taking some significant strides, it was a great week for our relationships with the guys. Pretty much all of the guys believe in God to some point, and it is sad to realize how broken the church can be, even here in Haiti. A couple of them expressed that they aren’t welcomed at church because they don’t have “church clothes”, or because of their ear piercings and tattoos, while another one basically said he would love to do a Bible Study, but struggles with the idea of going to church to hear a pastor give a list of rules that the pastor himself doesn’t even follow.
Looking forward, we want to start a bible study of some sort, and hopefully even get involved with a church where people will not be judged by their appearance, but can truly come to know Christ, as He is, and not based on rules that are rooted so fundamentally in legalism.
After Zack and Maria left, we took a week off to focus on some solar installations, before jumping right back into the shop construction. Thanks to a donation that had come in at just the right time, we were able to pick up some much needed materials to continue building, such as the metal roofing which we used for the walls of the building, and plywood to lay a floor on the joists we had just laid. Next, we laid down 2 rows of cement block around the perimeter of the foundation of the building, so that it would be up to the same level of the driveway (when that gets concrete poured someday), and then we put down some flashing material to keep water from running down into the bottom.
After the October trip, we realized that the hardware store had mistakenly over shipped the Roof Cap, which is the metal pieces bent for the purpose of covering the peak of the roof. We needed 44 feet, but they sent us 44 10-foot pieces instead. I had tried to return it, but, on the way to Port-au-Prince, the metal broke the cords that had it tied to the roof of the truck, and they all ended up sliding off the front, crashing down over the hood and onto the road. This damage meant I couldn’t return it anymore, so I kept it around instead, figuring it would be useful somehow, someday.
Now, since it was bent to be a roof cap already, I wasn’t really sure what to do to reshape it, as we didn’t have a sheet metal brake, but I did know that this was as close to flashing material as I was going to get. Finally we figured out that a solid wooden beam, a few clamps, and a rubber mallet actually worked pretty well as a bender, and so we made our flashing out of the extra roof cap!
Sorry if that’s a bit long, but I appreciated how a “mistake” from in October served our needs so well at this point, so I wanted to share it.
Anyhow, getting back to the construction story, the guys started by putting up the tin around the building, from the top of the foundation and halfway up the middle of the second floor. Most of that work, they did themselves with very little input needed from me except a quick lesson on rivets. It was impressive to see how fast they work.
Then, we had another week of solar installations.
When we returned to the shop, we put 3/4” plywood down as flooring for the 2nd story, and started on the “window” areas. After we finished the flooring, we tried to take a picture, but everyone just kept laying down 😉
The top 4′ of the 2nd story is all bordered by expanded steel so the whole building will have nearly unobstructed breezes. We actually found the temperature so comfortable up there that Gayly already put an army cot there to stay in occasionally when it’s too warm to sleep indoors.
We also framed out the doors, and then built our first door for the lower floor of the building. It was a fun activity, though I must confess that this door is probably a bit overkill (and heavy!), as it is two full layers of 1x4s, with vertical pattern on the front, and a horizontal pattern on the back, but it was another good project for practicing biscuit joining with the guys. Here’s a look at the door right now. The guys will stain it while we’re gone, then put the handle back on.
Finally, the leftover roof cap was used to “trim” the corners of the building.
What do you think? I think this is quite a beautiful workshop, and Gayly showed how proud he was as well by stating, “we should build shops like this for other people,” and “we can use this as a ‘hotel’, for when people need a cheap place to stay around Jacmel.”
It’s great to know that we have the skills to do it again, but I do have to shoot down Gayly’s hotel plans, for now, as we don’t even have a toilet on the property. Maybe somedey we will, but a septic tank is another big step to put in on “leased” property, so I’ll be continuing to seek God’s direction on that and the rest of the project.
So there you have it! A little bit on the technical side of what we’ve been up to. Of course there is always so much more, but I don’t want to go too long in one post 🙂
Thanks for reading, and please continue to pray for our ministry, for our guys, and for our time with Jamie’s family this month.