Archive for 2011

11Dec11

11Dec11

Heading back to the States tomorrow.
Feels weird.
For the first time, this is really feeling like I’m at home.
I’ve got a great crew here in Jacmel now, even if most of the Americans aren’t back yet.
Gayly, Patrick, and Sarah from Olive Tree are awesome to hang out with.
Dr. Ken’s place is pretty chill to crash at.
Clayton is great to just have stopping in randomly and hanging out with.
Nick and I can work together on random projects, just for the sake of it.
It’s just a good time to be here.

It’s been great to have Josh here this week too. Always makes life a whole lot better.

Weird part is, even with this becoming like home, it was still a very frustrating week.
The projects took longer than expected. More stuff just kept popping up. Things weren’t being done like I hoped they would, and people were setting different priorities for their own work than I would have preferred.
It was a rough week.
Plus, because I was getting frustrated, I got myself burnt more than usual on the welding cause I wasn’t paying attention to things like I should have been. (That, and the fact that my welding gloves were ripped at the spots I am most likely to touch metal with, like my right thumb. Pa Bon.)
On the plus side, we got the work done. And, I got my new boots in, and know that I have new welding gloves coming.
This project was a great learning experience, and I am much more prepared to do larger scale welding projects down the road.
It’s been good for Gayly and Patrick learning as well, though they still have some more work to do.
For a test, I let them take on one door by themselves. It’s functional, but there is definitely room for improvement. I planned it right though, cause that door is more of an “emergency escape” type door. It is rarely seen, and most people don’t even know it exists. It was a good place for a practice door.

Is it weird that I’m sad I’ll be leaving my truck here? I want my truck to come home with me cause it has all my stuff in it. I think I’m gonna feel naked at home without it.

Some thoughts for while I’m home:
-1 – I’m gonna have to go to Dan Kennedy’s for a “refresher course” on the self-defense with handguns and shotguns. Not so much cause I need training, but cause it sounds like a good excuse to meet up with Cherith and Dan and head out to the range.

-2 – I’m back to wanting to buy a .22 handgun. I can’t bring it to Haiti yet, but it would be good to stay practiced up just in case I need to use a handgun down here. Long term, I would like to bring one in for others to practice with as well. .22 is just nice and cheap to shoot. And, most of the guns I have seen here, I’m not sure their owners know how to handle them properly, especially the haitian security guards, which is a scary thought.

-3 – I’ve got a good handle on things that I need to restock now. Surprisingly, I only managed to lose 2 of my “personal tools”, though that included my lineman pliers and my tape measure. I’ll replace the tape while I’m home, but somehow I picked up another pair of Klein pliers down here that despite my best efforts I have not found the original owners. Jehovah-Jireh I guess.

-4 – I’m also working on how to get another guitar down here. I am the official worship leader for church on the beach now. I love it. That is the biggest reason Jacmel is feeling like home. It’s a great setting of corporate worship down here.

Anyhow, that’s my thoughts for tonight as I drift off, knowing that by 7am, I’ll be in a mad scramble to get loaded up and head to Port-Au-Prince to start the journey home.

God Bless.

Comments (1)

9Dec11

9Dec11

Been an interesting time lately.
Love having Josh here. Rundown so far since he’s got in:
-1 night in Archaie with Children’s Lifeline ministry. We tried to fix their welding unit. Didn’t get it running, but have isolated the problem to the alternator on the unit itself, so I will return in January with an airplane mechanic to assist me.
-1 night in Grand Goave visiting Hands and Feet and Mission of Hope. It was good to see Lori and Kera one last time before we part ways. Sadly I won’t make it back up there again before I leave the country at this rate.
-Wednesday, we stopped at Acts of Mercy in Leogane before coming down to Jacmel. This was kind of a random call, cause I didn’t even know how they got my number. Turns out it was from Marc Stuart (from Hands and Feet), when he went to visit Teresa (a phyisician’s assistant in Christianville). Somehow my number got passed along, and I stopped over to help with maintenance on their inverter system.
Josh actually did most of the inverter work. Filled the batteries with water, and took the cover off the inverter to blow it out with the air compressor. In the meantime, I was addressing their malfunctioning water pump. I believe it was just a short caused by a lack of wire nut (or any insulation at all) on the wires connecting to the water pump. One of them was just touching the case of the pump intermittenly. However, since the wire leading to it was spliced multiple times (6, i think), I decided to replace the whole wire for them. To see Amanda’s reaction (the girl in charge of facilities), you would have thought it was christmas. She was so excited to see a new wire there. It was great.
I’ll be stopping back to help one of the other Acts of Mercy missionaries in January to mount an inverter and batteries properly.

-Then we got to Jacmel. Gayly, Patrick, and some of the Kauai guys had been continuing on the security bars project at Dr. Ken’s house, so we got back into that. They did pretty good with the welding, though the progress had slowed and there were some things I would have done differently. But, it was progress, and the whole thing looks good and is very functional.
-Yesterday we finished up the doors for the back of the house, and today we mounted the whole back porch unit. I’ll post pictures soon, cause it looks pretty sweet.
-Sidenotes:
Hero of the Day: Dan Kennedy, for providing some awesome new combat boots.
Hero of the Week/Project: Bill Johnson of Iron Nature for teaching me how to weld.

This has been such a learning project, and it has been rather trying.
I’ve been frustrated and overjoyed at various times. Shifting from a selfish feeling of ingratitude to a realization that many people are thankful. I can’t explain it, but it gets difficult cause we can make such great progress at the beginning of each unit, as roughing it all together with tack welds can go quickly, but it takes so long to finish between welding all four sides, grinding everything, and mounting the units. I find myself wandering mentally and getting easily distracted.
It’s been awesome though. I have to give a huge shoutout to Gayly and Patrick, two haitians from Olive Tree Projects who have been helping me a ton. Gayly has done a lot of the welding, and Patrick has done a lot of the cutting and grinding. It’s kinda funny looking at them as I realize that they work together a lot like Josh and I do. We complement each other well, and that it what I see with these guys as well.
It’s also been funny to see my different moods reflect each day on the job, as I switch from full sleeves, pants, gloves etc (like a normal american welding) to boots, gloves, and board shorts (more haitian style) depending on what I’m doing and my attitude for a particular day. My important lesson has been learned though, when I have exposed arms or legs, SPF70 gets applied. Welding sunburns are not very fun.

In the recreational side of things:
I have officially surfed now. I caught 2 waves well and was able to stand up and ride them in. This is a first for my life, so I was pretty happy about that. Now I can wear the shirt from SurfHaiti.org proudly. I’ll work on doing more in the future, but I at least didn’t want to wear the shirt until after I had actually ridden a wave.

Also, this team from Kauai has been awesome, but it’s also been cool to spend more time with the Pierce’s. Ken and Diane are great people and I really appreciate staying with them. Their daughter, Hannah, is here now and is a nerd, so it’s been nice to get to hang out with a legit nerd who can talk about Firefly, Video Games, and other various topics. Sadly, Emi is not here right now cause she’s back on Kauai. Please be praying for her, as life has been interesting lately out there.

On a more spiritual note:
It’s been great reflecting on God, life, and everything with the various people around here. Dr. Clayton (who works up in Seguin, east of Jacmel), has been great to ponder life with. He has a very interesting perspective and it is refreshing to talk with him.
I find myself wandering mentally and spiritually, a little ADD of sorts. It is great every morning to try to refresh myself, and I want to rededicate more time to prayer as I move forward, to get more consistent in my relationship with Christ. Not that things have been bad, but they haven’t been as awesome as I’ve known before, so I need to work on that.

Oh, and some things I almost forgot:
-1 – at Children’s lifeline in Archaie, they were taking care of a 3 month old baby who weighed only 3.5 lbs. This baby was being fed mashed up food cause his mom had died and his grandmother had nothing else to feed him. Pray for this baby that he can grow strong as he is nursed back to health and for this family as they try to take care of him without his mother.
-2 – the dogs are awesome here at Dr. Ken’s. Their names are Mary and Martha, they love to swim, and they really like the rawhides that mom sent down for them.
-3 – I’m super exited to see the progress at Mission of Hope in Grand Goave. Finally, the banks got things in order so they have their money available to start pressing forward with the construction of their new school. It’s gonna be sweet.
-4 – When I visited the HAF-Grand Goave site, it was awesome to see all the kids from Jacmel getting along great with the Gr. Goave kids and how everything was working out there. It was like a church camp. Sure, things are a bit crammed, but everyone was in good spirits and I think this will be a good growth experience for all of them.

Prayer Requests:
-Emi Pierce: Intersting stuff happening on Kauai in her life
-Andrew Sutton (from HAF-GG) as he’s been sick
-For Surf: cause condition haven’t been great for it and this Kauai team would really like to get some good waves for teaching and for pictures for Surfhaiti.org

Sometime I’ll give an update on Surfhaiti.org as well. It is an interesting concept for development, I just am too tired to share it right now. Check out their website for more details.

God Bless.

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29Nov11

29Nov11 – Tuesday

Wow, you’re in for a treat tonight. Hope you have time to read, cause I have a lot of time to write. This could be interesting.

**Current Events**
Today I was working on Window Security bars again for Dr. Ken’s house. We finished all the major welding today.
Tomorrow we will take the security bar frames, grind them, and paint them. If the paint dries, I might even hang a couple. but I expect to do that on Thursday.
I am certainly glad I have had help. I figured I would do it all myself, but considering it will be a 4 day project with 3 of us working on it, it would have been a daunting task to do alone. Especially cause I can’t lift the frames for the larger windows myself anymore.
Sadly, when we finished work today, the waves were even smaller than previous days, so we did not get a chance to jump on the surfboards like we did yesterday. Notice I said “jump on the boards”, not “surf”. We are far from that level, but hope to improve over time. I’m sure Dr. Ken can help us to learn fasted one he is here to show us instead of us trying to figure it out on our own. (btw, time for a plug, one of Ken’s ministries is www.surfhaiti.org)

Also, we’re working on names for the dogs I picked up for Dr. Ken. They are two black females. Diane Pierce has a whole thread on facebook of name ideas, but so far none really stuck out to me. I’ve getting tired of just saying “come here, girls” though.

In other news, I don’t remember how much I mentioned the guys I have been working with before.
Thanks to our “Church on the Beach” time at Dr. Ken’s house, I have made a lot of friends in the Jacmel area. Unfortunately, most have also gone stateside due to the recent crime wave. The one’s that are still here, though, are Nick from Joy in Hope, who I had Thanksgiving with, and Sarah and the whole gang from Olive Tree Projects.
Olive Tree Projects is trying to help Haiti by providing education (typically health classes), pre-natal care and midwife care, and now starting to do plastics recycling, as well as many other things that I would have to have Sarah talk about.

Now, to keep my train of thought moving (mostly) in one direction at a time…
Sarah also has some guys that work over there that she is really close with. Gayly and Patrick are the ones I know best.
They also have been coming to “Church on the Beach”, and after the HAF-Jacmel break-in, I said that I would stop by OTP to check on their security as well. Gayly was excited because he wants to learn from me. What exactly he’ll learn, now that’s up in the air, but he sees what I am doing and wants to help. So, he offered to help with my next project. That happened to be the window bars and Dr. Ken’s house. After the first day of Gayly helping me, Patrick started joining us as well. This has been a great chance to get to know these guys. They both grew up in an orphanage in PAP and can offer some unique insights from that. They also just have great hearts and are quickly becoming close friends down here. With them, it is great to just hang out, try to surf, watch Bones (back to back to back), and just chill. It almost felt like being with Palmer (my college dorm) or with the guys back home at the house when we hung out last night just watching TV shows on DVD and talking, especially when they made a late night run for “culinary reinforcements.”

Now, I don’t know how they met Sarah, and I don’t even know her whole story, but I’m gonna share a bit of it cause it leads well to my train of thought tonight. She first came to Haiti in her mid-teens, and quickly fell in love with the place and wanted to move here. She’s now been here for 3 years doing what she does, which seems to be an evolving thing, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been to Haiti. Interestingly, she started off wanting to come establish an orphanage here, but over the course of time, her views shifted. Her focus was to help the kids, and in taking a step back from the problem, saw that maternal health was one of the root causes of orphans. So, she studied Mid-wifery and came down to do that. With better pre-natal care and education, she is working to ensure that less kids are left as orphans because their mother died. In addition, she has started weekly health classes because, again, taking a step back from the problem, poor education was a root cause for disease, death, and ultimately more orphans and kids in crisis. And now, she is working to start plastics recycling and other economic development projects because, as you guessed, it focuses on a root cause (poverty) to poor health, which leads to children in crisis.

I say all this cause I’ve been thinking a lot of missions effectiveness down here, and she is a great example for me to use to illustrate my point.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in addressing a problem, that we address the “wrong” problem. Does that make sense?
For her, the problem was “children in crisis,” which is one of the first problems everyone thinks of in Haiti or other 3rd world countries. This is a noble problem to address. Scripture points it out to us. James 1:27:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Orphans and Widows in Distress. This is our Crisis (Problem #1), this is what we are to help, right?
Yeah, I’d agree with that. So, we build orphanages and feed the widows, right?

*shrug* maybe…here’s where it gets cloudy…

In the U.S., we have abandoned institutionalized orphanages (to the best of my knowledge). The current system is to have the child cared for by a legal guardian and raised in a family environment. If that is not possible, said child is placed in “foster care”, which is meant to be a short-term solution while a legal guardian can be found, whether by adoption or someone in the family showing the proper responibility to take care of the child.
Why? Because we think a child needs a family to grow up properly.
So, to best care for orphans, they should have a family… (tracking my logic so far?)

Then, why do they not have a family? As Sarah recognized, many mothers were dying young, thus leaving the child alone. (problem #1a) As I make that statement, you may have noticed that there is not a dad in the picture. (problem #1b). Or, in many cases, families abandon their children as economic orphans because they don’t have the means to care for it. (problem #1c).

So, why are the mothers dying? (#1a)
Poor pre-natal health care. Most deliver at home, maybe with a neighbor assisting, maybe by themselves. Dirty conditions and poor care leads to infections and even death. Now, we have a target to reach for. Better pre-natal care, facilities for delivery in a sanitary environment and a trained staff to do so. Olive Tree Projects stepped up to the plate with this one.
But it still wasn’t enough. Why? Because this was the way it was always done in Haiti, so now, the community needed educated to understand why these services were important. (#1a1) So, OTP stepped up to this one too.

Now, what about the dads? (#1b)
Well, for staters, we’re not doing all the great on this stateside either, but that’s a whole nother can of worms.
The dad’s in these scenarios tend to abandon their kids. Maybe some don’t know they had them cause the left the mom before she was known to be pregnant.(#1b1) Maybe some know, but ran away cause they knew they couldn’t raise them. (#1b2)
Well, seems like again, education is a problem. For some, sex ed and birth control is lacking (OTP tries to help with this), For some, the economic pressure is overwhelming with unemployment unbelievably high.
And overall, I think a lot of it comes down to personal responsibility. (Problem #2)
Notice I’m calling tihs it’s own issue. That’s because it’s pretty important and will need to be addressed elsewhere, so stick around for it.

And what about the economic situation? (#1c)
Well, that is a significant problem, with complicated answers. For starters, here is my picture of economics here.
The upper class is the ones that own big stores, like real supermarkets, or big hardware store (home depot-esque).
The middle class is the taxi drivers, the small business owners with building, the contruction bosses, and many times the orphanage directors and pastors. (Problem #2, again, we’ll talk about this later)
The lower class is the “cultivators” who are basically subsistance farmers, barely growing enough to survive on, and the “commerce” people who buy small things at wholesale (Coke, spaghetti, etc) and resell them at their streetside stands, or the manual laborers, hoping to get a job loading and unloading sand in the dump trucks by hand.
Then there is the unemployed.
What is a solution to this? Good question. One thing I see is the need to creative thinking. A way to build yourself up besides just starting at the commerce/cultivator level. Everyone does this. Someone needs to come up with a unique, but practival opportunity to work your way up the ladder. This lower level tends to scrape by, but does not tend to advance, and part of the reason is that they all tend to do the same thing.
Also, part of the problem is that everyone is selling the same goods and services to the same locals who don’t have money. It’s a nearly impossible cycle to break.
The only fresh money that comes in is what comes from foreign workers, typically spending at the large stores owned by the upper class and hiring the taxi drivesr, supporting the pastors and orphanage directors, etc. From an economic standpoint, this is a classic “trickle-down” economics perspective that doesn’t quite cut it.
This is not meant to be a critique of the aid workers. While we should be intentional to support the small business owners and the cultivators/commerce folks, our spending should not be the solution anyhow.
That is why I want to start a factory that will train currently unskilled haitian workers in assembly of electronics. Then we can start manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and repairing these units, cause I think that could be sustainable. My spending here is not. It is all in donations, which will come up dry eventually. A factory, where haitians are trained, and where they can work up the ladder is a better solution. (random fact. the current president of Paul Reed Smith guitars has worked every job at the factory from finish sanding to shaping bodies to fretting the guitars. it is a great example of how someone can work their way through a factory setting and continue to improve their position.) There is an opportunity in this system to get peopl from the lowest rungs and help them move up.

On the other hand, we seem to have a bigger problem in the “personal responsibility” sector. (#2)
It is why dad’s are bailing on their families. It is why people will steal today even if it ruins their chances for tomorrow.
To be honest, I think part of this may be the fault of foreign aid as well.
In the U.S., we talk about welfare causing problems. I have known people to have more kids because their welfare checks will go up. I have known someone to say that he wasn’t looking for a job cause he got more from the government when he was unemployed than he could make at any job that would hire him right now.
And I think if we’re careful, we end up doing the same thing with foreign aid here. We we come in and start “taking care” of everything for people, they don’t have to work at it for themselves. I’m not saying we shouldn’t help them, but I think we need to be careful.
In the U.S., I have worked with 2 different building mininstries. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for people that can’t afford them, but they require the homeowner to log a certain number of hours in the contstruction of their house, to take personal responsibility for it. Hosanna Industries does similar, but they will build the house entirely, having the homeowner take out a mortgage for a fraction of the cost the home is worth. Different ideas, same result, personal ownership.
When we come in an give handouts, the responsibility is taken away. For this reason, I have warmed up over the past year on the design of the Samaritan’s Purse shelters I helped to build. With 2×4 framed walls, a tin roof, and a tarp side, these 12’x12′ houses were adequate for living, but not much more. They could be built in a morning and given to the homeowner. However, the “meager” design of the house, which at first I thought to be pretty crappy, has been my facorite part now. In comparison to other organizations that have given pretty complete houses away, the SP house requires the homeowner to “finish the job”. Most owners put a real door on, or windows, or add siding when they can afford it.
In comparison, I have seen some of the complete homes looking terrible because the owner never even bother to paint the plywood walls. I think this came down to personal responsibility again.
Teaching us that we should give, but only to assist extreme needs, and allow people to work themselves to better their position. The SP house gave good walls to build off of, and a good roof for protection, and required the homeowner to step up and make it a real house.
Btw, that is odd cause I find myself appreciated SP and Compassion International in the same blog post, and I normally don’t agree with large, corporate organizations a whole lot.
And now, I bring a new idea that will generate some thoughts probably. I also think we end up screwing up the idea of personal responsibility because we take away the responsibilities of the local church by bringing in foreign aid too often.
In the old adage of “give a man a fish, teach a man to fish…” i think we skip over the option of “enable a neighbor to teach the child how to fish”. We think that we, as americans, have to solve all the problems, when sometimes, we would be best to enable the locals to solve the problems themselves.
In an interesting viewpoint I heard recently, a long-time missionary to Haiti, now 85 years old, shared that he thinks that orphanages run by foreigners ruin the opportunity of the local church to step up and take care of the widows and orphans in their own community. I have seen a lot in Haiti to understand this view.
I see Haitians look out for one another. I have seen a child, after recieving a gift of from a short term missionary, point to a child hidden in the corner that did not get one rather than asking for another for himself. I have seen a child share a piece of chewing gum because he had and his friend did not.
These children grow up looking out for one another. If they see someone hungry and do not help him, it is likely because they didn’t have a meal themselves to share.
I think, and this ties in with the economic ideas, that is we focus on community and economic development, we do more to rid the need for orphanages and charities than we could ever do by having them.
I know from experience that if I hire 1 haitian for a week, I have fed 5-7 at least.
I have seen the project of Missions International of America (which I want to rename the “Just Add Water” Project) completely transform a community. How? By providing infrastructure to distribute good water. Two solar powered wellpumps, a storage tank, and 1.5 miles of PVC pipe. Yes, that project also includes education and other materials, but I think this was the most important part. Giving the community water has allowed the “cultivators” barely scraping by to grow into a marketable farmer. It has allowed gardeners growing so they could eat to now grow trees to sell in addition to their own food stock.

In termns of orphan care, I actually think I agree more with Compassion Internationals model (though I disagree with their fundraising tactics pretty strongly). Their monthly sponsorship is used to subsidize a local family to take in the child in distress. They are finding ways to enable the community instead of doing all the work themselves. And the result (I would hope, I haven’t witnessed this though…) should be that the community and the people will take more responsibility in all things.

So, at the end of all of that, what do I think…
We need to develop infrastructure for places in need (need being defined as somewhere that the government is incapable of helping themselves)
We need to educate, specically in creative thinking, problem solving, and practical skills like basic finances, health and hygiene, and other important lifeskills.
We need to develop personal responsibility. And I think this comes back to the churches. (Which we also have to be careful with. Not in the ministries I work with, but in many places in Haiti I have seen “pastors” that are there solely for the money. It is something to be careful of since being a pastor is a good quality of life job.) Ultimately, it comes back to a similar problem in the U.S. though, I think we, as a church body, need to stress that we are personally accountable for all things. That our spiritual lives are not dominated by a set of rules and do’s and don’ts, but by our need to evaluate our actions in our own minds (according to scripture) and determine what we need to do.
Again, the same problem solving, critical thinking, and life skills, but applied to oneself and our purpose as followers of Jesus Christ.

And now, I really wish I could post this and get some reactions, cause I really like some of the thoughts I just shared.

God Bless,
Travis

Btw, be looking for a ministry profile for my friends’ ministries in future blog posts. Since I basically did one of Olive Tree Project this time, I think I want to keep up that concept.

Comments (3)

26Nov11

26Nov11

Today was interesting.
Gayly, from Olive Tree Projects, accompanied me to Port-Au-Prince.
We really only had one reason in going, and that was to pick up two dogs from the Destiny Village orphange to bring down to the Pierce’s new place in Jacmel. That all went mostly according to plan. The only exception was that, being saturday, we had to pass through a very busy street market in 3 or 4 small towns on the way. No big deal, just a little delayed in travel from each of them.

I think today Gayly just rode with me cause he didn’t have anything better to do.
However, he is becoming an apprentice for me in Jacmel. He speaks good english, and wants to learn electrical and plumbing. Plus, he already does welding. We’re working together on window bars for Dr. Pierce’s house, so it will be a good project to gauge where he is at. Either way, I am excited to have another set of hands working with me, and I am expecting he will become a close friend very quickly.

As an engineering project for someone back in the U.S., please look into this problem for me.
Olive Tree is collecting #1 and #2 plastic bottles for recycling. Some of them are simply being taken to PAP, but Sarah is asking about the possibility of “grinding” some of the materials down themselves to press into plastic lumber.
Based on quick research, it looks like a basic “granulator” or “shredder” for recycling plastics is a drum with a rotating shaft covered in blades. The bottom of the drum is screened to allow bits to fall through after they are properly ground.

Olive Tree is looking for something like this, but would like it to be manually powered. Hand crank (with proper leverage), or even a pedal system using a broken bicycle to power a chain drive system would be great.

Any takers to help with this project?

Comments (1)

25Nov11

25Nov11

I’m exhausted right now. Been an

interesting day though.

As many of you have seen on

Facebook, I had a pretty sweet

thanksgiving. A fellow

missionary and I were given a

turkey and all the fixins from

some friends who had gone

stateside recently. Nick and I

managed to cook it all up and

have a wonderful thanksgiving

dinner with his kids at the

orphanage for Joy in Hope.

It really was a great day.

Then, today, I went down to

visit Sarah, Amanda, Patrick,

and Gayly from Olive Tree

Projects to investigate their

security and make

recommendations. As it turns

out, they seem to be doing

fairly well. My basis of

judgement is always how

difficult I think it would be

for me to break it, and I think

that place would be hard,

especially with their armed

guard around.
It was also sweet though, that

Gayly wants to work with me down

here. He wants to learn a bit

with what I’m doing, so I’m

pretty excited to have a haitian

working with me who is also a

good translator.
We went up to Dr. Ken’s place

and measured out the windows to

make bars to put over them.

Then, it started raining. So, we

went back to HAF to continue our

work under a tin roof. So far,

they’re coming together well.

Before lunch tomorrow, we should

have the outer frames of these

things finished, so I can

evaluate them in place and make

sure we haven’t screwed any up

too badly. 🙂
The hard part will be attaching

them to the existing concrete

wall. Window bars are much

easier to install on new

contruction. However, I have

talked it over with Boss Otis

from Hands and Feet and an

confident we can do it easily

enough. Though I may have to

learn how to patch concrete in

the process.

In other news, I have a decision

to make tonight.
I could potentially pick up the

two rottweiler puppies tomorrow

in PAP, but I will have to delay

putting the bars on the windows.

I’m working on the idea right

now, trying to decide what to

do.

Anyhow, that’s about it for

tonight. I’m probably going to

go crash soon unless I get ahold

of Dr. Clayton.
I have some Artemesia to give

him from our agriculture

projects in Les Cayes. He would

then be our first clinic in

Haiti to actually test it for

us, though we’re pretty

confident since there has been a

lot of research on it already.

And, Dr. Ken says that many

countries already use it a lot,

but the U.S. FDA has not

approved it, so that is why it

is not available to us.

God Bless.

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20Nov11

20Nov11

Eerie start to the day today.
I was sitting on the porch at HAF-Jacmel, where I have sat many times before, eating breakfast.
However, today it was just me. The 67 kids plus all the staff all moved out yesterday pending security improvements.
They were robbed on Friday night, so they are in a safer place for now.

I ended up here after I came down in the last shuttle van. It broke down on us.
We were able to get the kids moved out, but Cameron and I are still here.

Was a peaceful, but eerie night last night.
Spent today out at Dr. Ken’s place in Cayes-Jacmel with some new friends from Croix de Bouquets.
After they left, we ended up having church with Dave Byrd, Kyle Almgren, Nick Mangine, Sarah (? don’t know her last name), Dr. Ken, Cameron, Patrick, and another haitian whose name I can’t remember.

It was a great time of fellowship. Obviously, talk centered around robberies most of the night, but we also had some good discussions about many different aspects of life.
One was that we all need to “count the cost” and that for many, coming to haiti did not involve that as much as going to other places that are considered “more dangerous.”
I’m not saying we didn’t see this, but most of us laugh that the State Department has a travel warning permanently in place advising US Citizens against traveling to Haiti.
We see life as safe here, and in reality, it is not.
When I started coming longer term to Haiti, last January, I was thinking about it.
I made a list of who should get my guitars if I don’t make it home.
Yeah, it’s the important stuff. Really, it’s all I’ve got that anyone would want.

But Haiti has been so comfortable, many of us forget about the dangers, or let our guard down.
Now we have been reminded.

I’m sorry to tell Satan though, now that we are reminded, we are strengthened in our faith. Those that choose to continue have now counted the cost all over again.
We are here, ready for what my come, for the purpose of showing the love of Christ to all around.

Romans 8:31-38
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.

Take Courage.
Pray for us, but know that we are standign firm in the faith He has given us, through the love, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In other news:
-I need information on the following:

–GED Math test requirements. I have a haitian here studying for his GED that has asked for help.
–PC-based programs to install in case a laptop gets stolen. Either for location tracking, or internet usage monitoring. Either would be helpful to the police.
—I already know the MAC equivalent.

-Kwegslist is progressing. It is now in a testing phase. I am pretty excited about it. 🙂

-I have ideas for a house, still need to talk about procuring land.

-I have ideas to test for inverter designs, improvements to solar panel systems, and other ideas.

-I am looking back into Tasers, guns, or other safety systems (paintball sentry gun?). I have no idea where this will lead, but I am investigating ideas.
–Just had an idea. Is there something like a pepper spray “Grenade” that we could rig up outside a locked door?
–We’ve got the issue of crooks coming in groups, so tasers seem less effective.
–Are tear gas canisters/launchers available, or only for police/military?

Ok, that’s about it for tonight…God Bless.

Comments (4)

19Nov11

19Nov11

Been a crazy day. Nothing has gone as planned.
Woke up this morning to news that HAF-Jacmel was robbed at gunpoint last night.
Spent the rest of the day working to build a new place to house the kids and staff that are now being relocated.
It was great to see so many people working together to get the new facility up, but very saddening to realize why it had to happen.

Most of my friends from Jacmel are now in the U.S. trying to decide what to do next. It is just become too unsafe to stay around there.
To this point, the robbers have not returned to places they already hit, but it’s still a scary thought for all those involved.

Please pray for all of the missionaries serving in Jacmel, and throughout Haiti.
We thank God for being our protector. To this point, while two people have been shot, no one has been seriously injured. Both gunshot wounds were minor and healed quickly.
Stuff can be replaced.

Now I’m just trying to come up with ideas for better security. Walls and razor wire just aren’t cutting it, and armed guards don’t seem to be a good answer for many reasons.

Btw, I’m safe, no problems, just not going to Archaie right now to fix that welder. Too much to help with for HAF.

God Bless.

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18Nov11

18Nov11

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. When I’m

working with Dr. Jay and MIA(1) out in Les Cayes,

we spend pretty much the whole trip as a team. We

work all day, then eat and sit on the porch

together each night until we’re all too tired and

fall asleep. Not much time to myself equals very

little in the way of blog posts.

Tonight, though, I am sitting in my room in Grand

Goave at Kay Militon(2). It’s raining, so everyone

went to their rooms fairly early tonight, and then

the internet stopped working. That tends to be a

perfect storm for setting the conditions to write

a blog post.

I didn’t plan to sleep here tonight, but after I

slept in until 11am in Les Cayes, I decided not to

drive the whole way to Archaeie tonight. Turns out

it was a great chance to meet up with some guys

from Massachusetts. I’ve spent the night talking

with Kristen (a student doing an internship with

BLB(3) for her MBA program), and a reporter and

photographer from up in Boston who are here to

cover BLB. It’s been a good night talking with

them, especially as the reporter has been asking

me questions about my life, ministry, and what is

going on here in Haiti. It’s been a lot of fun,

especially since I do things in such a unique way

down here. Maybe I’ll get a little snippet in the

paper, that’d be kinda cool. “Tomorrow they may

wrap fishes in it, but I was a star for one whole

minute” Name the movie, and I’ll be super

impressed. No cheating and using google. 🙂

Anyhow, I should probably give a bit of an update

on what I’ve been up to, and what’s coming up.

First, this past week was great out in Les Cayes.

It was a chance to see a bunch of stuff coming to

fruition. I managed to get the solar power system

at the school restarted. I think I need another

charge controller, which will be about $150, and I

want to put in some more panels (which we already

have), but I finally understand the system and

should be able to get it up and running.

We also swapped out the well pump that was non-

functional (thankfully the backup was still

working), and found out that the pump was not

actually broken. Turns out it was just a broken

wire. Learned an important lesson though.

Apparently, it is crucial to tape or otherwise tie

the electrical wires to the water pipes on a

submersible well pump so they dont shake

themselves free or end up holding the weight of

the pump.

Those projects got finished in the first two days.

Then, I finally moved beyond “putting out fires.”

For the rest of the trip, I was able to stop, look

around, and decide what I felt should be done

next, but had no really pressing issues.
We surveyed the land that MIA is looking to buy.

They are looking to build a guest house/farm

resource center and have a 3 acre plot to put it

on now. This center will be used for agricultural

training seminars for agonomists all over haiti.

The exterior walls will be made with shipping

containers to double as storage, and there will be

lots of gardens and pastureland on the property.

As a side note, I am also looking at using

shipping containers for building a

workshop/garage/living quarters down here now.

Some are available for $600 or so in PAP, with

about a $300 delivery fee. With two, I could put

up a structure to meet my needs. I would place two

containers parallel, with a 15 ft gap in between

to park the truck (with plenty of space to work on

it). Then I just need to put a gate between the

containers on one side and a wall on the other

side. Eventually I’d put down a roof and other

things, but it would be a cheap and safe start.

Also, this week, we got to teach the residents how

to build rabbit cages, organize the container a

bit, and put a passive solar lighting device in

one of the containers.
One day I even spent rewiring the solar panels

(which were the first ones I ever installed) to

catch up to my more current standards, and in the

process started teaching the haitians about

electrical work. And I managed to do all that

without a translator. 🙂

I’m still not fluent in normal conversation, but I

can talk construction just fine with the guys.

Now I’m on my way to Archaeie to work with

Children’s Lifeline. Bill Riggs, from Somerset

welding, donated a welding rig to this

organization, but it was broken during shipping.

He has asked me to take a look at it for him, so

that’s where I’m going next.
After I work on that unit, I’ll head to St. Marc

to visit Destiny Village again and pick up a

couple puppies from them for Dr. Ken and Diane in

Jacmel.
Then I’ll head to Jacmel for Thanksgiving (I

think).

I still need to catch up on Josh’s plans to figure

out what else I’ll be doing before returning home.

In the past two weeks, I have also been stongly

reminded that my factory idea needs to move

forward. One, because of the desperation of the

unemployed that we hire for a week in Les Cayes

with MIA. Two, because I am looking at ways to

provide lighting to the poor who do not have any

other power at their houses.
Boss Luger, Smiley’s older brother, asked me

yesterday to fix his 400 Watt inverter. I couldn’t

without more equipment on site and spare parts,

but it made me realize that even a masonry boss,

whoc should be “middle class” here, is depending

on a 400 Watt inverter, like you use in your car,

to provide lights for his children at night.

Oh, and btw, my truck got used as an ambulance. A

haitian woman came to the clinic that MIA was

running and had a fever of 103 and couldn’t walk.

She had a post-partem infection and was in bad

shape. We got her to the hospital and she was

stabilized and looking like she will recover just

fine.

(1) Missions International of America, based in

Perrysburg, OH
(2) Kay Militon is the beachfront guest property

for Mission of Hope International, run by Pastor

Lex and Renee Edme
(3) Be like Brit, an orphanage project working

closely with MOHI in Grand Goave.

Comments (3)

11Nov11

11Nov11

Uh-oh, rain is coming. Just got dark.
Been a beautiful day so far.
Had internet almost the whole time.

Worked on the solar power system out in Savanette. After a

complicated jumpstart (literally, jumper cables to my car), the

system is back up and running, or at least charging.
Tomorrow morning I’ll try the inverter again, but if the batteries

are charged we shouldn’t have a problem.

Funny how I gave up on looking for a new guitar, than I found one on

craigslist today while I was bored. This one fell into the price

range of useful for a needed purpose though. It was going to cost my

at least $75-100 to fix my Alvarez Acoustic/Electric to bring down

here, and now I found one for $150 that doesn’t need fixed on the

same day that my parents sold my skis for me back home.
So, now it looks like I’ll try to have Josh bring me a guitar that I

can use to lead worship through a sound system.

Also, got some more updates today on Kwegslist. It’s moving forward

quite well. Joshua is very excited about it, and I look forward to

seeing progress and helping to get it developed.

Dr. Jay should have been here by now, so I’m bored. I talked to him,

and I knew he was running late, so I’m not worried, just ready for

the team to be here. Originally, they were due to get in around 3pm,

but delays in Port Au Prince pushed that back to more like 6 or

6:30.

Also, in the world of Craigslist, I am realizing that if shipping

was figured out, I could probably get more useful stuff for down

here.
Many churches are looking for instruments, and they aren’t picky.

I’ve seen trumpets, accordians, saxophones, guitars, keyboards, and

basses all pretty common. And for the guitarists out there, the best

guitar I’ve seen in country is a ESP LTD M-50, which is the lowest

end guitar ESP makes. If anyone has instruments laying around and

not being used, but still playable, I’ve got lots of homes for them.
Also, tools are still a common need, though I’m getting more

specific now. Eventually, I could use a framing nailer, but only if

someone is getting rid of it cheap.
For others, especially once Kwegslist is up, there will be other

things, like MIG welders, that would be very useful. Unfortunately,

that’s one person’s luggage (and probably an overweight baggage fee)

to get it here.
I’m thinking mostly in equipping organizations, mainly because

person to person gifts must be much more relational. I cannot give

tools to every person that asks, so I have to let the individual

organizations make the choices of who gets what, since they are much

more invested in the lives of the individuals.

I might have more thoughts, but I’m gonna post this before rain

ruins my internet signal. 🙂

God Bless.

Comments (2)

10Nov11

10Nov11

So, I think internet is even more frustrating when I have it available, but it doesn’t work than when I don’t have it at all.
🙂

Anyhow, I’m in Les Cayes now. Had a productive day down here, sort of.

Got one inverter fixed. It was the little 1000W one that I had originally intended for Mission of Hope. Turns out, it blew a fuse internally when we tried putting it in their office. So, after scavenging some parts, their old inverter ended up running again.
Now, this one works too. Though it was a pain to solder in a new fuse. Seriously, what engineer thinks it’s a good idea to solder in a fuse where you have to disassemble the whole unit to even know it is broken? Bad design. But, it works.

The larger inverter, an old Trace 3624, is still broken. I replaced a blown diode, but there is still no power getting to the control board. That means I’ll have to disect the unit even more, and I probably can’t do that until I have a place to myself for a couple days and the right motivation. I’ll have parts everywhere and will need to not be disturbed.

The battery charger, which had a capacitor explode while it was at Bonite’s in Jacmel, seems to be functional without the cap. Since it’s a big electrolytic, I’m guessing I’ll have some issues if I look at it with an O-scope, but I’m not terribly worried about it right now. I was able to use it as a DC power source to simulate a battery bank for testing the inverter. It will be great in that role for now until I can get a new cap of the appropriate size here.

Now, the small BUV, which I also worked on today, is another special piece of equipment. The gear sproket on the engine’s drive shaft “floats” loose and pulls the chain off the rear axle’s gear. Pa Bon. (Not Good). Worked on it for a while today, but it’s stuck pretty good. Will work on it again tommorrow, but I was getting frustrated now. Gonna end up with a ruined (though cheap) pair of channel-lock pliers cause that’s all I can find to hold the sprocket while I try to pound it into place.

Tomorrow I’m gonna head out to Savanette. Dr. Jay and the team won’t get to Les Cayes until 2-3 pm at best, so I’ll have a good working day out there beforehand. I want to try to get some solar panels charging a battery and running the little inverter just to prove we can make power there.
It is very sad to me that this site has been without power for so long. It was my first site, but we installed a “fantastic” all-in-one unit that has caused us nothing but problems. It was a perfect storm of issues, including the lister generator not being a good enough voltage/frequency to charge the batteries, but we’ve never had good, consistent power out there.
Although, in thinking about it, I have to say that it worked for at least a month. Or, God just provided us power exactly when we needed it. Cause in the “Maiden Voyage” video from the May 2010 trip, we used the inverter’s power for running the chop saw. The generators were all non-functional that day, and the inverter worked great.
So, I guess it has worked at times, just not the majority.

I also have to clean up a bit tomorrow. Now I’ve got the inverters and stuff laying around. I’m still thinking about the idea of putting up a workshop.
I’m trying to Dimension it out now, but I want to be able to work on the truck indoors, have a workspace, and have a “living/sleeping quarters.”
Probably has to be 12′ high in the garage, at least 24′ to park my truck with good working access, and maybe 24′ the other direction? That’s about the same sqaure footage the Sutton Family has for 2 adults, 1 child, and 1 on the way.
Looking at building techniques too. I’d love to do wood for construction speed, but I’m thinking it won’t be on a secure compound, so I’ll have to make it secure in and off itself.
Saw a good idea with shipping containers recently, so I’m investigating.

Also, please pray for the travelers with Dr. Jay’s group tomorrow. There was a disturbance today in Aquin. The barricades were finally lifted when the UN showed up. Pray that they do not cause issues with the team’s travel tomorrow.

*******************************

Now I find myself playing lots of Freecell. Minesweeper is tedious with a trackpad. Solitaire is old. Worms and Scorch3d both need multiplayer to be fun. And I left my hard drive in Grand Goave for the girls to watch movies while I’m gone. Therefore, be prepared that I may continue with a “stream of conciousness” type blog, where I just keep writing my thoughts until internet comes back on.

I have to thank God for all he’s done for me. He’s kept me going when I’m lonely, broke, or just otherwise incapable of continuing on my own. I barely keep track of money, though I might enter my receipts into my spreadsheet tonight since I’m thinking about it. Though, by barely I mean I keep track of my receipts, but that only works at stores that give them.
I’ve also gotten to the point that I’m not worried about charging people for materials as far as wire and other small stuff. I’ll still ask people to buy their own solar panels, inverters, etc, but as long as God keeps providing, I’m not gonna worry about the consumables.
It’s been sweet though. I came down with what I thought was a reasonable amount, and apparently it has been. I’m still going. I spend some on gas and materials, and then God provides through someone else I meet down here. It’s been awesome. I’d tell more stories, but I don’t like calling out donors. I appreciate all the donations, but I don’t need to announce everyone’s name here, God will be faithful as we are good stewards of his money. That applies to those who have supported me as well as to the ministry here.

I’ve also had people around when I need them. I’m a rather social person, so I do get lonely when there’s not people around. For that reason, I am really digging being in Jacmel for weekends. If I keep that up though, I may have to but a moto for those trips. I would probably break even after about 16 trips to Jacmel from Grand Goave. Seems like a lot, but if that is my “home church” and Grand Goave is my “home” it is not unlikely to make that many trips between the too.
That said, if I get a moto, I’ll be looking for motocross equipment. Not cause the moto’s here are fast, but I just figure that about the best way to gear up for riding here. I’d at least want to always wear knee/shins, gloves, helmet, and a jacket or something to protect my arms/chest. Kinda takes away the open-air feeling, but I’d rather not see a haitian hospital from the patient’s view.

I think Josh is coming down in early December, and I’m super stoked about that. No offense to anyone, but I’m looking forward to hanging out with just him again if it works out. We had some great times on our road trips in the past, this will be another great time together.

My mind has wandered quite a bit lately. Sometimes it has been straying into an american mentality of “what should I buy next?”
So I start thinking of guitars and all. Unfortunately, I am also realizing how greedy that seems to be. I need to get over that mentality. It hit me a lot when I was an engineer. I would get bored, so I would go to the pawn shop or hardware store and buy something. I don’t like it. There’s worse things to do, but it’s not good.

I’m also really excited about the “”Kwegslist” idea. Joshua Lansford is ready to go and is working with Jewish Mike on the hosting end of things. If anyone else is interested in helping, he is setting up a git repository for multi-user editing, so contact me and I will get you involved.

Some other ideas that I could use some help with:
(1) This is an open invitation. Anytime a mechanic would like to come to Haiti, I have plenty of places that will gladly have you. Be warned that most cars are diesel (except mine, Chevy 3500, should feel right at home). But, if you are a mechanic and willing to come, I will set up a schedule to work at various places, provide all the basic tools I can, and provide some details about the vehicles prior to your arrival so you know what you are in for.
Spare parts are hard to come by, so understand that you may have to diagnose, teach me (or someone else) how to install, then we’ll ship in a part when we can.

(2) I want to work on handouts for my electricians course. I still plan to hold it, and it will likely be in January. BUT, I need to have handouts ready ahead of time. I will get the information together, but I would like to have a couple people to help.
1 – with pictures/graphics, nothing fancy, just getting the point across in pictures [hint, hint, Nate, I could use a graphics guy that understand electricity]
2 – with reviewing my content for accuracy from an electrician’s perspective [i’m figuring Bruce and Chris are on board, am i right guys?]
3 – Sometime late December/early January, I’ll need help actually making packets of the handouts. I’m sure I’ve got some people in J-town that will help with that.

(3) Some E.E. out there: Please consider coming up with your best solution for a switching voltage regulator. Input Voltage up to 85V, Output Voltage around 30V. Input Current up to 1.5A, so output in the 4.5A range? Let me know if you’ve got thoughts.

(4) Can someone see if there’s a Battery Charger out there that specifies an input voltage range down to 90VAC? The power from the grid is terrible around here.

Wish List for Josh’s trip:
-Computer Speakers. (Please, pretty please bring these)
-If possible, 2 sets. I will go on my dashboard, Rullo style.
-2 Guitar Cables, about 10′ should be fine.
-Combat Boots (en route to our house from Dan Kennedy)
-Taser (seriously, I’ll have Dan Kennedy look into this one for me)
-Guitar Strap
-Spices (whatever sounds good with rice, beans, pasta and chicken, cause that’s what we eat here.)
-Rainx for my truck’s windshield
-240Volt Plug. L14-30P. Talk to Bob Orris maybe. Could use 2 of them.
-240Volt Plug. Don’t know the part number, but it’s a 3 pin, looks like an oversize standard receptable. 240VAC, 50A. Need 1.
-Insulated Screwdrivers (2 piece set from Harbor Freight. Trust me, they’re the cheapest and they work just fine).
-3/4″ PVC, Electrical Sweep turns. Talk to Jeff Blue or Bob Orris. I’ll get the rest of the pipe here, but if I can get the corners that’d be great. Get about 10 for now to see if they’ll work right.
-Another Electrical Meter (Penelec Style) from in my room.
-If we can, I’d like to order another 2 water meters from Utility Supply Group. I don’t have internet to do it though.

Long term wishlist: (stuff that takes research probably)
-Car Stereo. All I have is radio right now. I’m open to any upgrades. FM Transmitter, New receiver that includes an Aux in Jack, Instruction on how to hack my current setup.

-Someone please look into an A/C kit for my truck. It’s a 1999 Chevy 3500. It did not have an A/C factory installed. Is there a kit to put one in, and how much does it cost? I don’t need it often, but anytime it rains hard enough to put up the windows, I almost have to stop cause the windshield fogs.

-Do they still make “The Club” or something for car security? Was just realizing that all my security measures are based on the car NOT being stolen outright, which would be the easiest way to get the stuff. Could use some thougts on that.

Stuff to buy in PAP:
-Tire
-Security Light or two
-Flood Lights for outside of Truck
-Ground Rods
-Ground Wire

Stuff to buy anywhere:
-Profile 1″ – 3 sticks?
-Konye 1 1/4″ – 3 sticks
-Rebar, 3/8″ – 1 stick
-3/4″ PVC, 3 sticks

Future Projects:
-Rewire truck
-Lights for BUV’s
-Hack the truck stereo
-Finish Shower Curtain Rods at Kay Militon
-Fix Plumbing at Kay Militon (install cheque valve)
-Check in with Tommy in Jacmel for electrical usage

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