Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We've got Power, Power, Power

One year ago today, I stepped foot on Chadasha's Orphan Retreat Center property for the very first time.  During those days in 2011, I wrestled with whether or not God himself was calling my family to a slice of prime Caribbean beachfront, or if it was the selfish desires of my heart.

One year later I can definately confirm beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was (and is) God's plan for our lives.  We've had more difficult and discouraging days than you can shake a stick at. However, the good has always out-weighed the bad. The past few days have renewed my sense of purpose...

Hurricane Isaac did very little damage to our property. Except for washing 100's of large rocks onto our beach. This week we cleaned up the rocks, restoring our beach.

Approximately 25% of the stones that were removed from the water.

We now have fresh water on our property. This is huge! We have been working to make this happen for 5 months. The next time you visit our beach, you'll be able to rinse off the salt compliments of our new shower!

As of Monday, we have ELECTRICITY!  This is especially exciting after hearing from several sources that it could take months to have a legitimate, legal connection to state power (know in Haiti as EDH).   We were able to secure a contractor and have our pole and transformer installed and connected in less than a week. Not only do we have a connection, we have all the papers from EDH making it a proper legally registered connection.

Here is  a 30 second version of how to install a pole by hand. It was amazing to watch this crew work. Three guys dug an 8 foot deep hole in 30 minutes and then dropped the pole into place.

They did everything by hand, including hoisting the 400 lbs transformer.

The transformer goes up!

Boss Josue supervising

The finished product, 50KVW power.

Soccer is a big deal in Haiti. American's love for football, pale in comparison to Haitian's love for soccer. Even the poorest of the poor find ways to play their beloved sport. They almost always play barefoot, and rarely have an actual ball. For many kids, getting to play on grass will be a huge deal.

For those of you who know my background, you understand why this is exciting for me.  We were able to round up a tractor to begin preping our new soccer field.   Machinery in Haiti is very rare, this is largely due to the abundance of cheap labor. I can't tell you how excited I was watching that green paint roll through the gate...

John Deere 5075E compliments of USAID and the American People!
Within an hour, the guys raked and burned the old vegation to allow the tractor to plow. It was hot, really hot, and the burning debris only made it hotter. For some reason, the heat didn't seem to affect anyone but me...

The heat doesn't slow down Octalem
Josue continues to 2
Turn and Burn!
Day 2 of field prep, tractor love.

Almost finished with the tractor.

Tomorrow, we will hand rake the surface and comb for rocks.  Josue and I have scoured all of our contacts to find grass seed in Haiti. Apparently, grass seed  is not sold in Haiti...

However, this weekend we will sow a hybrid, (traffic and heat tolerant) Bermuda seed. A big thanks to Bruce Hooper of  Hooper Supply in Murfreesboro, TN for helping us with the seed. Check out their website:

I can't wait to update everyone in 6 weeks when we have a lush carpet of grass covered with kids playing "football".  We've attracted quite a crowd with the tractor, and most of them have never played soccer on turf. Let's hope that the weather cooperates!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When the rubber hits the road

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Issac passed over Port au Prince. I am sure many of you have seen the news reports, tracked the radar, and prayed for my family & our community. I posted a status update on Facebook that read "As of 9pm, we still have no rain or wind to speak of in PAP. Thank you for prayers. Our house is concrete and will be just fine, they are 500,000+ others who live in tents and under tarps who will not be sleeping tonight. Please join us in praying for them."

We were blessed with a weaker portion of the storm than many others. The day after the storm, you could hardly notice that any damage had been done.

Well, until all of this hit home. Until it affected someone I knew very well. His name is Fritz.

An old photo of Fritz studying

Fritz doesn't have much by the standards of this world. He lives in a tent camp for internally displaced persons called Caradue. He is 32 and lives with his elderly mother. As Issac approached, his mother fled the camp, and Fritz stayed behind to weather the storm and protect his family's belongings.

During the night, around 3 a.m. the winds picked up and destroyed his tent. The same winds, that my family slept through without even noticing in our concrete house. There was no sleeping for Fritz, or his neighbors, who in the commotion ransacked his home and stole his belongings.

When we returned to Karadue 48 hours later, we greeted our students and learned that all of them had weathered the storm with little effect. Everyone except Fritz. At first glance, it was a typically day, hHe was dressed in one of the same 3 or 4 outfits we always see him in. However, this afternoon we didn't see the engerized, warm and welcoming spirit we've come to know in him. This day, we saw a man hurt, who's spirit had been broken. He told me the story of what happened, and how he lost everything.

Fritz took John and I to visit his tent, this is what we found....

All that remained of Fritz's home and belongings

We took him home with us that afternoon. He spent the night at the guest house, and we found him some clothes, fed him, and talked on the porch for hours.

The next morning, all Fitz wanted was to return to his friends, neighbors, and family in the tent camp. He never asked us for anything, he was very appreciative of the hospitality we had given him. We gave him a new tent, and he returned joyful to his home. We checked in on him a few days later, and he was so happy with his new tent. He was proud of his new home.

My interactions with Fritz crushed me. In the begining, I was so worried about bringing him home with us, I was afraid we would never get him to leave. I  WAS WRONG. I was worried that he would ask for things I couldn't, or selfishly wouldn't give him. I WAS WRONG. I was afraid that once Fritz saw how we lived it would put distance into our relationship. I WAS WRONG.

I allowed the devil to creep in and cast doubts about helping Fritz. Fortunately, I didn't rest in those thoughts. I didn't not choose to distance myself from the poverty that we are surrounded by. Wouldn't you know, my God honored that decision. He has brought so much depth to my relationship with Fritz because of that situation, that I cannot begin to explain in words.

Phillipians 4:9 reads "Do what you have seen and heard in me, and the God of peace will be with you."  

Over the last few weeks I begun striving to live this verse out daily. I am committed to living out my days serving the God that loves me more than I can fathom, even though I do not deserve any of His love.  When I have moments of doubt or selfish thoughts with regards to helping someone I am choosing to charge past them... I am going to give until hurts. I am going to live by the example of my heavenly Father, who hurt so much that He gave his own Son to die for me.