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Archive for May, 2014

I Visit an Orphanage

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I visited an orphanage today.  This orphanage has thirty-three kids ages 3-11.  Here are some pictures.  The poverty really affected me.   

This is the entrance. 

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Walking into gate there is a little path you can see below.  The orphanage is the building in the picture.  It is one-story. 

There are 3 rooms inside.  Two rooms for sleeping (one for boys / one for girls) and one large room (that has the ceiling missing from the earthquake) which is used for cooking/playing/eating.

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Walking up to the entrance:

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The main all-purpose room with no ceiling:  

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Girls bunk room:

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One outdoor, non-private toilet for all 33 kids and staff:

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Well for cleaning and bathing (but not for drinking):   

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Earthquake damage:

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The place is ran by one man with the hired help of a daytime lady and a nighttime lady.  The orphanage is his home and (as you can see) badly damaged in the earthquake. 

He told me that after the earthquake he began taking in orphaned kids from his neighborhood whose parents had died.  He says people want him to still accept more, but he can’t, he is maxed out.

He told me he has no regular support, but gifts come throughout the month from individuals and sometimes a church fundraiser.  He also visits supermarkets in town and they sometimes give him food nearly expired. 

He said that he and the kids pray often for provision, and God provides. 

Today God provided them with some extra bread from our bakery.  We had bread leftover from yesterday I didn’t want to sell and, after asking around to see if anyone knew of a needy orphanage, one person said he knew of one that was supposedly needy, but he had never visited it personally.

My opinion after seeing it was that they are very needy!

But, how do you help?  They are living on faith.  As desperate as the situation is, this man is experiencing provisions of God in a real and tangible way (that is what it appears at face value, anyways). 

This short video clip by Steve Saint brings home the point about the difficulty in knowing how to help-up, and not hand-out:

Partially paralyzed Steve Saint falls on stage and proves a point about dependency

The Current State of the Discipleship and Bakery Programs (from my perspective)

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

A you may (or may not know) I am working within Heartline’s bakery/discipleship program.  The first discipleship class finished on May 10th.  We had a big graduation event and the guys were pretty excited!

Looking back at how the first class went, we were a bit frustrated with how much time the guys spent working in the bakery.  Running a full-fledge bakery took much more time and effort than I think anyone anticipated.  Not to mention since we were starting it from the ground up no-one really knew what we were doing!

Now that the first program is finished, we have hired a number of the young men from that first program to come work in the bakery.  They accepted, and now the bakery is running autonomously and providing jobs for 9 people. 

Currently we are in the process of gearing up for our second discipleship class, which I am personally pretty excited about!  We will have a smaller number of guys (just 6, versus 10 in the first program) and they will spend most their time in spiritual formation activities.  Two hours each morning they will spend working (sometimes in the bakery, sometimes other work like cooking, yard work, or whatever needs to be done).

In the first program we also offered 3 months of English classes and helped each guy obtain his Driver’s License.  For this next program, we have decided to cut both these out and keep the “main thing the main thing.”  The title of the program is, “Discipleship,” and that’s what we want to focus on.

Nevertheless, I could see the benefit of a follow-up program that focuses on vocational training following the successful completion of the first 6-month discipleship program.  Helping provide means for men to find employment is vitally important here, where so many guys sit around for lack of opportunity to work.

Here is a picture of the six guys selected for the next program:

Group Shot

Please be in prayer as we prepare the logistics for getting everything ready for these guys to start the 6-month program.

Our goal is to provide space for God to work in the lives of these men.  They will have daily times of prayer, worship, Bible study, meditation, and honest work.  We hope they will be challenged to grow in their walk with the Lord, to learn to hear his voice better, and to have their faith strengthened. 

Chikungunya & Air Conditioning

Friday, May 16th, 2014

A new virus has swung into town.  It is spread by mosquitoes, so you have to get bit to contract it. (full story on Fox)

People who come down with chikungunya get a fever, rash, terrible body aches, etc. for about a week, though the symptoms can linger for months and in some cases even years.  Rarely is it fatal, though I heard of a child dying of it a few days ago.

Chikungunya made news in Haiti last Tuesday (May 6th) when the health department said there were 14 confirmed cases.  Now they are saying there are 1,529 confirmed cases, but in all likely-hood I suspect many tens of thousands here in the capital have it.

I base that on anecdotal evidence that every ministry I know here across town has employees/staff down with it.  Here at the bakery, at least two of my guys have gotten it already. 

I’ve never seen an epidemic spread like this first-hand.  It reminds me of the plagues I’ve read about back in England hundreds of years ago, where so many people would suddenly come down sick when a new virus swept through the area.  The Black Death, they called it.

I’ve been trying to wear more Off and do a better job at killing ‘dem mosquitoes.

Right now is rainy season so they are out.  I purchased an electric mosquito zapper that looks like a tennis racquet.  It works superbly, blasting them out of the air when they fly through the mesh screen.

However, the zapper has added a bit of stress to my life.  Now whenever I see a mosquito in my apartment, I quick run to get the zapper and hunt it down.  Sometimes they hide so I can’t find them, which is frustrating because then I know there’s a live mosquito somewhere waiting to pounce. 

I think the mosquitoes around here have learned that whenever I have the zapper in my hands it’s time for them to hide.

So it’s been getting hotter here, as we approach the summer months.

I’ve been thinking more about air conditioning.  My apartment is only 260 square feet, so maybe it wouldn’t be too hard to cool?

Power is the problem.  We don’t have much power here.  Recently are city power has only been on about 3-4 hours in a 24 hour period (usually during the night). 

I have 4 deep cycle batteries that store current when power comes on at night.  I also have 220 watts of solar panels on the roof to charge my batteries during the day.  Additionally, there is an 11k generator we sometimes run, but usually when it’s running it’s not hooked up to my place, but charging somewhere else on the compound.

It’s difficult to even keep my refrigerator cold, much less run an air conditioner.

But I’ve been thinking…. What if I could air condition just the area of my bed?  What if I put a Styrofoam roof and Styrofoam walls around my bed, and hooked a window unit into it?  That way I could use a super tiny window unit.

My other idea is to buy an aftermarket automotive air conditioner system and hook the compressor up by belt to a wind turbine mounted on the roof.

I’ll keep you posted.

More Bank Fun

Friday, May 16th, 2014

At one point I was having a hard time finding change, and I went to the bank to exchange large bills for small ones.  I wrote a post about that.

Now I’ve been having the reverse problem: I have too much change and small bills and want to change them for large bills.  “This should be a piece of cake,” I thought.  “The banks are in a dearth of small bills, so this will be a boon for them.”

Wrong.

After waiting in line on my first visit, I made it to the counter.  I explained what I needed and began pulling out piles of small bills and putting them on the counter.  The clerk looked at me in horror and was saying, “No, no, no, we can’t change those here.”  What?  He then went and got a manager who also looked quite put out and re-iterated that they couldn’t change my small bills for large ones. 

“Why not?” 

“Because we don’t have any large bills at the bank.”  Yeah right.

“So where can I get this done in Haiti?  Where can I change my small bills for large ones?  What can I do?”

“The only thing we can do is let you deposit all that in your account.”

“Ok.  Let’s do that.”

“What’s your account number?”

“I don’t know, but here is my Driver’s License, just look me up on your computer.”

“We can’t do that on our computer, come back another day when you have your account number.

With that I was unceremoniously given the boot.

Bank Visit 2:

Armed with my account number, I went to the bank again.  There was the same resistance to help, and they showed much angst that they were going to have to count all these small bills, but after much discussion and persuasion they agreed to do it.  About twenty minutes later, the deposit had been put into my account. 

With a sigh of relief, the bank clerk said, “Fini!” as she handed me deposit slip.

“Not quite.  I still have one more transaction I would like to do today.”

“What?”

“I would like to do a withdrawal now, for the exact amount I just deposited.”

More looks of horror.  “No! You can’t do that!”  Once again the bank manager was summoned and she seconded the clerk, “It is against bank policy to do a withdrawal and a deposit on the same day.” 

I told them I didn’t need to wait for this deposit to clear, because I already had that much money in my account already.  They didn’t budge.  “Come back another day if you want to get money out.”

Visit 3:

After waiting in line about an hour, I was once again in front of a bank teller.  I had a withdrawal slip in my hand which had been dutifully filled out, including my bank account number.

“We’re sorry, you can’t pull money from your account with only a withdrawal slip, you must write a check to yourself.  That’s the only way to get money from your account.”

I was incredulous.  The only way to get money from my account was to write a check to myself?? 

“Where are your checks?”

Luckily I had thought to bring them, they were in my pocket.  Before coming to the bank I had grabbed them from my backpack.  Now, I pulled them out of my pocket and opened the checkbook.  To my dismay, only the complimentary transaction slips were in there, not any checks!  The check had fallen out in my backpack, which was back at home.

“If you don’t have checks we can’t give you money.”

“Is there anything you can do?”

“Nothing,” she said curtly as she rang the little bell for the next person behind me to come to the window.

A bit depressed, I left the bank for the third time.  That was today.  We shall see if a fourth visit will finally yield what I initially wanted, “To simply change some small bills for large ones.”

I had about 1,000 small bills.  Thank about going into a US bank and having a 1,000 ones and asking for ten hundreds?  It wouldn’t be a big deal. 

Oftentimes there are frustrating situations here and it is important to keep things in perspective.  This isn’t a life and death scenario.  Everything will work out ok in the end.