Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Water Filter Solar panel project updates!

The cooler weather has set in, and we have been really, really busy around our place. First off,
I'd like to share with you about a project more than 2 years in the making. We've been working with Water Missions International to provide clean water in our community.  Their filtration system is run by a solar powered pump and chlorinates the water to kill all living organisms and improve the quality of the water. This week we will begin distributing clean water and teaching sanitation classes in our community.


Boss Ernst
 This photo sums up Boss Enrst's personality. He was a blast to work with and a patient teacher for our guys. He works for Water Mmissions and lived with us this month to build the depot for the water filter. We are sad to see him leave.

The filtration system

Our staff learning to operate the system.

Deli working on the distribution table.

The first treated water out of the tap, our "soft release" drew quite a crowd!

Completed treated water distribution point.

Another major project we have been working on is a solar charging system for our inverter. We were blessed to be able to purchase and install a fabulous system. It has taken well over 2 months for all of the parts to arrive. We have began using the system this past Sunday. Normally, we use around $500 month in diesel fuel, running our generator 8-9 hours a night. With good sun, we have been able to cut our generator run time down to 2 hours per night. It is still early to measure, but we anticipate our fuel cost will be less than $150 per month. What a huge savings! This is a huge blessing for us in two ways. First we are able to better use funding to help others. We are excited to improve our stewardship and stretch our resources. Secondly, it is essentially a maintenance free system that relieves our dependance on the generator, and the worry of mechanical problems. 

Octolem securing the panels with a homeade rope. I was nervous...


Luckily, we didnt drop any of them!

Welding the panels in place.

Our roof complete with 2000 watts of solar energy!

Our family is growing! We added to our family... 2 Rottwieler puppies named Bear and Bella. Seen here with Willow!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Family pic from vacation.

The "fall weather" has set in here in Haiti and we are all feeling slightly better with the relief.  We've been busy with life here and haven't checked in for awhile, so please excuse the break.  We took a family vacation with fellow missionary friends in our area and had a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying our girls.  Vacations are few and far between, and we returned feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next months of projects.

With the fall season and school year approaching, our groups coming to the beach have decreased in number, so we have been missing smiling faces and laughter, but we have been getting much needed projects done at the house and focusing on the next phases of building. One such project is a new water filtration system that will be installed soon to bring clean water to our area in a sustainable way, providing a job for a community member.  Having clean, potable water here is always in need, so we are incredibly thankful for this gift that our family, community, and future visitors to the retreat center will benefit from.

The beginning of concrete work on the new depot that will house the water filtration system.

Just this weekend, we attended the wedding of our friend, Paul, here in Montrouis.  Willow was a flower girl, dressed to the hilt, Haitian-wedding style, and cute as a button - (im a little bias.)  We were showered with a rain storm in the afternoon, and the clouds threatened more rain throughout the afternoon, but we stayed dry for the wedding and Paul is now a married man. :-)

My little princess in her wedding attire.  She was a mess!

So very thankful to God for all the many happenings, blessings, and lessons lately and there is more to come in posts in the next few days!  Love to everyone from Haiti!!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's time to build some stuff!

This post is waaaaaayyyyyy over due. I was in an accident back in March just before this team arrived. I broke 3 ribs and tore my labrum only 4 days before they arrived.  I departed Haiti immediately after the team to return home for Olive's birth, hence the late post...

Way back in March we hosted a group from First Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL. The team consisted mainly of youth, although, there were a few awesome adults in the group as well. During the week, the youth hosted several groups of kids from nearby orphanages.

While the kids worked with the kids, the adults threw an " extreme home makeover" party on our little house.  The house is the only building on our property at present. We use it for everything from camping to storage to cooking.  The project was much needed, and has become the central meeting point for all activity on the property. 


Porch supports & roof joist going up.

Master builder Mike "Steve" Lestovic

Prepping sand to mix morter

Bruce examing the structural integrity of our fancy imported lumber.

The star of the show, Mrs. Mary Romer!


Rafters and Lath going up, cement pad finished.

We had a little fun sailing while the old people were working.

New interior door and windows.

It was a great week filled with fun, laughter, and ibuprofen. We got so much accomplished in a short time, that even months later, I am still amazed at the work we got done that week. The Huntsville crew have become like family to us.  Thanks guys!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Adventures abound,

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the family of one our dearest staff members. I hesitate to even call him that because he feels much more like family to us than an employee. His name is Delli, he is 22 years old and the very fact that he is working with us is a miracle. The trip was a much needed adventure, good for my soul in so many ways. 
Deli in his new church clothes, ready to sweat for Jesus!

Two years ago, Pastor Jude ( the Haitian-American pastor we partner with in Port au Prince) went on one of his many mission trips into the mountains. There, he met Deli's brother who came to Faith at Jude's revival.  His brother asked Jude if Deli could move to the city with Jude in order to find work and support their family. Pastor Jude agreed and Deli left his home in the mountains in search of work to support his family.

Fast forward 2 years; Deli came to live with us after I asked Pastor Jude to help me find a security guard for our new home in Montrouis. When Deli came to live with us, we discovered he was unable to read or write. This being something he was very ashamed of, we offered to help him with a tutor. As of this week, he read to me a chapter from the book of Acts and wrote a paragraph about his life.

Deli and his tutor, Pascal. They have class 5 days of the week from 3-5pm.

Back to the story...
Last week we loaded up motos at 5:30a.m. and headed for Deli's home in order to meet his family and to see their home after they installed new roofing tin that God gave us the money to purchase. We've known Deli since December, but had yet to meet any of his family.

On the road

After 4 hours of riding through the Artbonite Valley, on decent roads, we arrived at a dirt road to begin our trek into the bush. We road 8 km in on a very, very muddy trail that included 2 river crossings.

At the first significant river crossing, the water was about 3 feet deep.

Super sticky mud, thankfully we didn't break a chain.

Around 11:00 am, we parked the motos and began walking on a path not fit for motorcycles. We hiked, walked, sat, walked some more, and eventually arrived at Deli's home just around 2:00.  Our hike took us through dense forrest, barren ridge lines, swampy cane bottoms, and along rocky outcroppings. It was incredibly peaceful and trash free. We passed the homes of his friends and family, all living incredibly simple and efficient lives. No one had running water, electricity, or glass windows for that matter. The wealthy had tin roofs, while most families only had thatch roofs made from palm frans. Homes weren't concrete, and yards weren't mowed. Lush gardens, overflowing with produce and flowers, filled everyone's yard. The people were friendly and welcoming; many stared and gawked at my lighter-than-Haitian skin tone.

A beautiful cemetery on the way, where Deli's twin sister is buried.

Lush river bottom

A well worn path across a very green hillside.

Deli's family received me as a long lost brother or cousin; I couldn't have felt more at home. His father of 70 years conceded that he had never met a white person, let alone had one wander into their village. Unfortunately, our visit was a surprise to them. Deli had been unable to reach the family's telephone because it was dead ( it's a 2 hour walk to the nearest place to charge it!). We were only able to stay for a few minutes in order to return home by dark with lingering storm clouds overhead. All of that didn't really matter though. They were so happy to see us, the entire family hiked back to the motorcycles with us. We laughed, told stories, and I asked a million questions as we walked 2 hours back to the bikes.

 Deli's father and mother

The entire family is residing in the little mud shack.

The sugar cane barn, where they melt down cane syrup to concentrate it before going to market.

Everyone loved having their picture taken.

Upon our return to the motos, they loaded up our bikes with plantains grown in their garden for us to take home. Wow, really? You live in a stick and mud house, and you are insisting that I take 2 weeks of income from you as a gift?  Really, you just walked 2 hours barefoot to share stories of Deli's childhood and laugh with us? Really, you tore down your house and are rebuilding it because your home "wasn't worthy of the roofing tin"we gave you? Really, you are happy with your life and your not asking anything of me? Really, you welcomed me like long lost family, blind of our differences.

Deli's entire family; brother, sisters, nieces and nephews.

After we reached the good road, it was a quick 10 minute ride into Mirebalais, where it began to rain buckets. We attempted to wait it out at the gas station with a thousand other people. Eventually, the rain subsided and we took off for home. Only to find it raining as we left town, and it continued to rain the entire trip home... all 4 hours.

Waiting out the rain at the gas station in Mirebalais.

Nasty raisin hands after a 4 hour ride in the pouring rain.

The whole day my mind raced, my heart pricked. What are we missing? By our standards, these people have NOTHING. They walk 2 hours each way just to find electricity to charge their telephone. There is no medical care; if you want food you have to grow it; if you want meat you have to slaughter a prized possession. These people are living 200 years in the past, with the exception of their cell phone.

Life was put into perspective for me that day. Are my desires and wants legitimate? Am I living a life that is sacrificial and honoring to the least of these? I feel like we are in some ways, but certainly there is room for improvement.

I can't wait to go back and take Sarah next time. The whole trip took nearly 14 hours, a little much for one day...