Mission Statement

Chicago Metro Presbytery exists to extend the gospel and to oversee the work of the ministry of the PCA throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area to the glory of God.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Haiti Trip 8/2/19

Day 7

The team is beyond grateful for your prayers this week. It was a great week of ministry, capped off today by being the first medical team to visit Deyafo, a neighborhood in Cayes. The team had only a half a day to spend there, so they thought they might see 40 patients. In 5 1/2 hours, they saw 126! Absolutely amazing. And this from a small team that had worked to the end of their resources every day this week - or so they thought! But the needs were great, so they worked until the medicines literally ran out. They saw many kids with intestinal parasites, scabies, and malnutrition, all expected due to the level of poverty in Dayafo and the lack of access to basic medical care. One challenge in being the first medical team into a community is that the children are scared of them...they are literally the first white people they’ve ever seen, plus they do “weird” things like look in their ears :) Every member worked very hard today to meet as many needs as they could. They are champs!

In the afternoon (when the supply of medicines ran out), they finally said their goodbyes and travelled to Cavaillon, where they spent an hour with the children there, making final checks on some follow up plans they worked out with the staff, and dropped off any extra clothes not given away elsewhere during the week. They also did a training session on water usage and hygiene, and gifted the housemoms with a photo for each one, taken of the group earlier in the week. This was such a surprise! Kudos to the team members who worked on this, going so far as to bring a small printer all the way from home. It made the housemoms’ day - maybe month!

We’re glad to report that the effects of the stomach bug the team members picked up this week seems to be gone - they should all be coming home healthy, if exhausted.

And they are coming home soon! They’ll arise early Saturday morning for a long day of travel. Please pray:

  • For, safe, smooth, and timely travel. They leave the guest house at 5:00 am for a long bus ride to Port au Prince. They leave Port au Prince at 2:00 and will arrive in Miami about 4:00. From there the team takes different flights to Chicago, Cincinnati, and California.
  • For a good “re-entry” into the lives and routines they left at home just a week ago. Although it’s a short week in many ways, the personal impact can be immense, and take some time to sort through. Pray for them as they navigate that, and sort through the feelings, memories, and experiences over the next several weeks. 
  • Pray for the people of Haiti - for their spiritual growth, for God to call many new believers to repentance and faith, for the leaders at ESMI and in the churches, and for their land to be governed well so that all Haitians could live more secure and flourishing lives. Also, pray specifically for the children of Haiti, who are the nation’s future. Pray that they would grow to be godly and wise. 
The team is so grateful for your journeying with them this week by providing prayer support. Your contributions were felt and surely made a difference in their week.

Enjoy just a few pictures of faces from the day in Deyafo and Cavaillon

Some faces from today...

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti

Haiti Trip 8/1/19

Day 7
There were lots of people to see the second day in Savanne, and once again the team had to prioritize - there just wasn't time for all. A morning rainstorm delayed their arrival, as supplies AND team members travel in the back of a pick up truck. The rain was torrential for a time.

Some stories from today:
The day started with a very sick woman. She was in immense pain and had a fever that read 108 degrees. She was delirious and couldn't really cooperate with treatment so she was placed on the lap of one our team members for as long as it took to get an exam done, meds injected, a special cooling towel placed on her, a drip IV with fluids put in, and for her to start responding so she didn't harm herself or others - about two hours total. After much attention by the staff, she started to revive. She was instructed to get to the hospital as they'd done all they could for her (not even really sure what was causing her symptoms, exactly) but she declined and eventually went home. Being fearful of a hospital is understandable, but in this case probably not wise. The team did all they could before she left.

The little girl the team treated yesterday with the abscesses all over her head came back in and she was much better. Her mother was so delighted and relieved!

There was another "returnee", this one from last year's team's visit to Savanne. The child (an infant then) was very sick and the team wasn't sure she'd pull through. Yet she fought their efforts at every turn out of fear and panic, including biting one of our team members (who subsequently was strongly advised to get an HIV test upon returning home - thankfully, that was clear). She returned today in good health after that scare, and her mom's smile in the picture says it all!

One of the team members did some hygiene training today, and the others folded into the medical team and lent a hand in multiple ways. Everyone multitasks in Haiti!

Today was the day the exhaustion, pace, sickness, and overwhelmedness sank in, and it was "hit the wall day" for the team. Typically, that comes on Wednesday, and is very understandable. But today, the end of the week is in sight, and they all want to finish well. They're just dragging a bit! Some are still fighting queasiness and everyone, for sure, needs a good night's sleep. Fortunately, the air/electricity is on, and they're hopeful sleep will be easy and just enough for another day's ministry.

Tomorrow the team has a few places they hope to get to. First, another neighborhood of Cayes, not as poor perhaps as Savanne, (which, of course, is a relative term in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere) but the next place ESMI has targeted for a new church. The team will visit as way to show them the love of Jesus in tangible form. The place is called Darafo. They also want to get back to check in with some situations in Cavaillon, and just have some time to say goodbye to the children. They will also leave whatever clothes they still have in their duffels for them to use later. Any extra meds will be stored for their use in Cambry, which is currently the only secure location for them. Lastly, if time allows, they'll swing by a beautiful and natural beachfront that could be the location of any beachfront 4 star hotel in the world.

They'll also be given the chance to help the local economy when some vendors and artists visit the guest house with their wares at the start of the day. Perhaps team members' families will be given Christmas gifts from Haiti?

A final note...tomorrow's update will come late in the evening, so one prayer request for very early Saturday morning is included here, so you can "pray ahead" in case you don't see tomorrow's update in time. Thank you!

Hope you enjoy some pictures from the day...

Please pray:
  • For the team to find the stamina to have one more great day of ministry and teamwork tomorrow, especially those who are still under the weather. With that, for the electricity to make it just two more nights!
  • For the sick people in Savanne who were treated today, and praise for the ones that returned doing well. 
  • For those seeing the team tomorrow to not only be helped physically, but be touched spiritually by the prayers of the team members (everyone is prayed for by name before they leave) and by the work of the Spirit, so that some might come to know Jesus. 
  • For the ongoing work in Cavaillon for the benefit of the children. Praise God for financial sponsors who have supported their needs and the underwritten the major improvements in their living situation. Pray for the children's health, safety, spiritual development, and a joyful spirit as they mature and grow. 
  • For timely and safe travel on Saturday as the team makes their way home. There are lots of connections, lots of miles, and lots of conveyances for our team - they start with the 5-6 hour coach bus ride from Cambry to Port au Prince at 5 am Eastern. They leave Port au Prince at 2:00 and arrive in Miami about 4;30. From there, the team splits up, with the Chicago crew not arriving home until 11:00. Other destinations will also make for a long day. 
Thank you for your prayers!

The sickest patient seen today.

Not feeling very great!

Mom and baby

Two cool dudes

A nebulizer treatment for asthma/breathing issues

The baby who was so sick last year...and who took a chunk out of a team member! She's doing great.

The pharmacy team today

Hygiene training

A glimpse of the ocean at Savanne

The team after a LONG day!

The nightly task of re-organizing for the next day...but at least there are Oreos!

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Haiti Trip 7/31/19

Day 6
Our team proved their mettle today in a big way. This dedicated and focused group toughed out a rough bout of gastric issues (likely brought on by the time spent with the kids at Cavaillon who carry new and different germs than our North American team has been exposed to) to provide a wonderful day of ministry to the people in Savanne. Our medical team, which is not as large as some have been at Savanne, saw an amazing amount of patients today - 90 people. Logistically, it might have been the smoothest day ever at Savanne, greatly aided by a new security wall intended to protect the water system, but having the secondary effect of walling in much of the church where the team set up the clinic. It allowed a smooth and steady access to the team, but not an overwhelming crowd to control. It was great!

Some stories from today
Much good medical work was done today for some needy folks. The team prioritized the young, the pregnant moms, and the very sick. One of note was a 3 month old baby whose head was covered in abcesses. The team worked carefully to lance them to give the child some relief from pain, then carefully bandaged the baby up. Antibiotics were next, and a return visit tomorrow was planned. This is a perfect example of the kind of suffering a team like ours can relieve, but without them would have gone untreated.

The "guardian angel" of the team served alongside the team leader all day, barely letting him carry a bottle of water for himself. Jude was a patient several years ago, An active and powerful voudoo practitioner, all of Savanne knew him and were afraid of him for his power and his demeanor. Yet he listened to the gospel as the surgeon tried to remove a painful pin in his shoulder, which stemmed from a voudoo rite. To everyone's surprise and delight, he left that day a new believer as the spirit worked on his heart while the surgeon worked on his shoulder. Now he's a community and church leader. He rarely misses the team's visit, so he can serve them and the people of Savanne. Today, he brought his brother, Mosam, to meet the team. The brother, not a believer, was anxious to tell the team leader that he's been impressed with the changes he's seen in Jude and in the community because of the gospel and the ongoing support via the team's provision of medical, spiritual, and physical care including clean water. The gospel was shared with Mosam, as well. He listened intently.

Another familiar face from Savanne was there today. Her name is Vilia, and she first met one of our earliest teams who went to Savanne. A widow who was homeless with no way to support her children, some of the team members banded together to set her up with micro-loan so she could start her own business. This woman is an entrepreneur! She just needed some seed money to get started in a small shop selling a variety of things, including spices. It provided enough income for her and her children to have food and shelter. It was good to see her again, this time with her daughter and grandchildren.

And lastly, a woman walked up to the team leader today and asked "do you remember me?" He had to admit he didn't, but she reminded him that they met two years ago. She was a voudoo witch doctor. She resisted the gospel at that time, even though she readily admitted that "Jesus was the most powerful of all spirits". She was afraid to walk away from voudoo for fear it would cost her her life. Yet she never forgot what she was told and that the team had prayed for her. Eventually, she renounced her voudoo beliefs and became a Christian, and she wanted to tell them. As part of her new life, she now fosters four children whose parents have died, as well as having two of her own.

Another piece of good news from the day is that somehow the generator at the compound is holding together, so there was electricity all last night. The ESMI crew has been diligent to do their best, and it seems to be working. Given that half of the team was feeling under the weather, the discomfort factor last night would have been exponentially higher in the heat and pitch dark. No doubt the prayers of our supporters have played a big part. The team is grateful for ALL of the ways God is blessing them in this situation, which was looking so dire a few days ago.

The water team had an odd experience today upon arriving at Brevet to do some prep work/planning for a water installation in the future. They began their work, but were interrupted by someone coming out of the building (which everyone thought was empty) and were told to leave. Bemused, they did as they were told. The ESMI folks thought they were expected and all would proceed as planned, so more information is needed before proceeding with THAT plan!

Tomorrow, the team goes back to Savanne, likely with the water team attaching themselves to the medical team as their work there is done. Friday's plan is yet to be determined.

Pictures from today will help tell the story of how God is using our team to write the gospel on the hearts of the people here.

And we would be remiss not to say "happy birthday" to team member, Jen, a PA from Chicago. The team is delighted she chose to spend her birthday with them in this week of ministry. That's a cake of oreos and skittles, in case you're wondering, in the picture below. Creativity abounds on this team!

Please pray with and for the team:
  • For the continued growth in influence of God's word and Spirit in Savanne, and for Pastor Mongerard as he leads the church there.
  • Praise God that the team members who fought sickness today were able to do great ministry in spite of their challenges. They perservered! 
  • For that sickness to be over (and not spread), so that all can finish the week strong and healthy
  • For mechanical issues to be kept at bay, for cool air, lights, and working showers/toilets
  • For rest for the team. It's a long week, with many new experiences and an exhausting schedule. Team morale is high tomight as they regroup and repack for another day; please pray for stamina and good rest. 

Some patients from Savanne

The Savanne waiting room

Vilia's family with Dr. Kay

Before and after - the little one with abcesses on the head

A celebration to end the day - Happy birthday, Jen!

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Haiti Trip 7/30/19

Day 5
So many good things today! Having two days at Cavaillon means time for fun as well a "business" - the business of medical care - with 85 lively and fun loving children. You'll enjoy the pictures!

The team completed the checks-ups, charting, and whatever treatment of the girls were necessary today, and then turned their attention to the important tasks of bubbles and jump rope. Team members also spent time doing videotaped "interviews" with some of the children to personalize the connection sponsors already feel with these kids even more. Not everyone can visit in person, but hearing kids' voices and their thoughts will be great!

Tomorrow, the team shifts gears from orphanages and a primarily child based clientele at Cavaillon to a community based clinic at Savanne. Savanne is the poorest community in the relatively large city of Cayes, which is 30 minutes away from the guest house. It is so poor that there are no municipal services like hospitals or schools, no running water, and very little employment. No one who can live anywhere else chooses to live in Savanne.

And yet, the hope of the gospel is present. About five years ago, ESMI started a church there, and things started to change. The pervasive voudoo influences started to wane as people heard the gospel of Jesus and began to follow him. One of our medical teams was the first medical care EVER to come to Savanne, and people noticed that they worked "nan nom Jesi", in Jesus' name. This was indeed perplexing and new, and soon the curious residents were attending church services to hear more. Story after story of conversion, changed lives, and soon, modest then noticeable changes in the community life were evident. Still poor, still a fairly dangerous place - but different. Our medical team continued to come every six months, and then the water team came to bring the first clean water to the community. Both efforts spoke loudly to people who literally had been forgotten by their own government and people. Savanne is not exactly "fixed"...but its not as broken. God is at work.

Tomorrow the team will once again bring hope and healing in Jesus' name through medical care, individual prayer with patients, and the continued work on the damaged water system (which by the way, turned out to be not as damaged as was feared - after today's work, it's up and running again! And safely behind walls, with the solar panels up on raised poles.) The medical team is scheduled to spend tomorrow and Thursday in Savanne. There was no team sent to Haiti in February because of the unrest, so the need is even greater than usual.

As you pray for the team, please focus on these requests:
  • That the very needy in Savanne, who know the team's time and resources are limited, will be patient and not become panicky or unruly. The team has sent word ahead that they will prioritize children, pregnant moms, and the very sick. Pray that the hopeful patients understand. Fortunately, the team has many friends (several of whom are now leaders in the church) who can handle the crowds. 
  • For the continued work of the water team. After wrapping up in Savanne pretty quickly tomorrow with some finishing touches and ongoing hygiene training (since clean water does no good if you put it in dirty containers, for instance), they'll travel to Brevet, the next site for a church plant and a water system. They'll scope out the particulars and do some prep work for the next team. When you consider how many lives are lost to dysentery, cholera, and parasites in water, their work is critical to the health and well being of Haitians. We're proud of them, and grateful for the financial sponsors who underwrite the cost of each installation.
  • For the children of Cavaillon to to thrive physically and spiritually, and for the necessary sponsorship and underwriting to continue so that they can live in a healthy and safe place. 
  • Continue to pray for electricity to be available in sufficient quantity and reliability at the guest house. It came on in the middle of the night last night (including AC), and was worked on today so that it came on about 9:30 tonight, but it appears to be held together with spit and gum and glue instead of a a real "fix". The electricity is needed for showers and toilets as well as for lights and phone chargers. After a long, hot day today, its return tonight was cause for celebration by the team!
Please enjoy the pictures from today...

Sunrise at the guest house this morning

Baby care for the houseparents' baby

New friends

We weren't kidding about the kids' teeth!

Please pray for a dentist (or six) to join the team!

Lunch time at Cavailion. What progress...they used to have their meals on their beds.Two meals a day..rice, beans, and protein.


Jump rope!

New friends

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Haiti Trip 7/29/19

Day 4
Today was a great way to start the ministry week - at Cavaillon! Read on for the update below on the day but PLEASE first, stop to pray for this new challenge...

The generator at the guest house caught fire today as it was turned on late this afternoon. Billows of smoke and flame made it clear it was no small event. A quick word sent to the facilities director resulted in some folks coming who had the knowledge to splice together some still intact wires to provide partial electricity - enough for lights, water pumps, and phone charging, but not enough to push the generator output high enough for AC. The team will be sleeping in hot rooms tonight, or make the choice to bathe themselves in bug spray and sleep on the open air veranda. Please pray that the generator is fixable, parts are available, and maintenance staff knowledgeable. New generators are not likely easy to come by, and no AC all week will definitely impact the team. They are grateful for lights and water tonight, for sure!

...And now, on to the rest of the update!
The team got to spend about 8 hours today with the children at Cavaillon So many of the children there are known to our repeating team members, and it is place dear to the hearts of many others who support these children and are working to make Cavaillon a safe and beautiful place for them to live. The reunion and introductions were jubilant and exuberant!

The team was delighted to see a new development - a beautiful vegetable garden, growing carrots, spinach, squash, and eggplant. And they've already had their first harvest! Another supporting ministry, Give Hope, paid an agronomist to build/plan a garden at Cambry including a watering structure, and they generously paid for Cavaillon to get one, too. The children are learning how to grow things and be responsible for growing and tending the nourishing plants. It's a wonderful thing!

First order of business today was taking care of the housemoms. Our teams try very hard to let them know they are valued and seek to show them care in a variety of ways. They are given their own gift bags of personal supplies with each visit, get a special thank you and devotional, are asked for their input and knowledge about the children's progress and issues, and lastly all receive their own medical check ups.

And then, the kids! Everyone starts with scabies wash (a skin parasite that is not dangerous but very quick to spread with a CRAZY itch, which often causes secondary skin infections, which can be dangerous), then to intake (vitals check, chart updates), then triage (do you need to see a doctor, or just need basic care like vitamins?), then finally, for those that need it, to the doctor or PA. After that a stop at the pharmacy (with an adult) to get whatever meds you might need. At the same time, pictures were taken for charts and for sponsors.

Today, all of the boys - 53 of them, were seen by the medical team. Tomorrow, the 32 girls get their turn.

Although the children seen today were in pretty good shape, there were some things that caused concern - their teeth, for one thing. Most have never seen a dentist, and the need is intense. Secondly, the younger children do not seem to have grown as much as would be expected, although the larger children have. Could this be that the food disruption earlier in the year impacted the little ones more severely? Another possibility is that the year's gap in treatment has allowed intestinal parasites to get a foothold, so the medical team will treat them all with doses to eradicate any in their system over three days instead of the usual one. They will be followed by the local medical team after our team leaves at the end of the week.

The water team was pleased to see that the system in Cavaillon is working as intended with no problems. Tomorrow the team tackles the system in Savanne, which suffered significant damage in the civil unrest of the past several months. Now there is a security wall in place, so a repair/rebuild ought to last. They'll be spending up to three days on that project. If time allows, they'll move to LaHatte to evaluate that location (an old system installed by others, but a new well) and possibly do some planning at Brevette for a future trip's installation. The water team will not be out of work in Haiti for a long time!

If you've made it to the end of this long update, please make it through to these important prayer requests - and then finally - some pictures from the day!
  • Pray for the generator at the guest house. This situation will impact the team's ability to enter into refreshing rest after long, hot days and could affect their health. Ask God to provide what is needed.
  • Pray that a dentist will hear of the need the children have for dental care and respond by coming on the next trip...and several dentists on succeeding trips! If you can ask one to consider it, please do!
  • Pray for the children of Cavaillon to thrive and grow in health and well being. Praise God for the generosity of donors who have brought their physical surroundings up to the current higher standards, including a new kitchen, new shower/bathroom facilities, the garden, a water purification system and better sleeping quarters. There is still more to do!
  • Please continue to pray for Nicholson, the boy who fell off a truck and injured his arm. His bandages were changed tonight (not without some discomfort!) and it's looking better. The team was told he did have an x ray but no bones were broken. The medical team believes there's at least a small fracture of the elbow, but there's no treatment they can provide for that.
And now, some pictures!

Devotions to start the day

Loading up for Cavaillon!

A new garden at Cavaillon

Cavaillon house moms

Checking weight, height, blood pressure...and vitamins


To the Physician's Assistant (PA) and doctor

Last stop: Pharmacy

All new clothes - lots of superheroes and sports teams!

Checking out the water purification system at Cavallion - working great!

The natural beauty of Haiti - from the rooftop of the guest house

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti

Monday, July 29, 2019

Haiti Trip 7/28/19

Day 3
A good night's sleep in air conditioning did much to revive our team's energy and provide the fuel for a good day of worship and preparation today. And after that - some more time to relax.

The team joined the congregation in Cambry this morning for worship. Haitian worship services typically run two hours, with plenty of heartfelt singing, perhaps some dancing to the Lord in the aisles, and a sermon. Plans to attend a second worship service in Cayes were changed when the team heard of a rescheduling (the first of many, no doubt, this week!) of the service times to accommodate a special conference this weekend focusing on preparing young leaders. So instead of two services this morning, they'll be attending one this evening as part of that conference, at which the team leader, Ted, will be preaching.

This afternoon was dedicated to unpacking the duffels and re-organizing the contents for use this week. The team will be visiting at least two different places this week, perhaps three, so the goal today was to get ready for two days of ministry in Cavaillon on Monday and Tuesday. Restocking will take some time each night, but today was the big job! At the end of the week, whatever medical and clothing supplies are left over will stay at Cavaillon for the housemoms and medical staff to use for the children until the next team's visit. The water purification system parts and supplies brought this week will be used to repair and replace whatever might be needed in the locations the water team visits.

As they worked on the open air veranda, there was enough of a breeze to keep them comfortable in the 98 degree heat. Eventually a storm came through, which cooled the air at least for a while!

One of the visitors this afternoon from the orphanage at the bottom of the hill was Nicholson, who usually lives at Cavaillon, so he's well known to our repeating team members. Nicholson has albinism and is partially blind, both of which unfortunately mark him for teasing and bullying by the other children at the orphanage. In an effort to break that cycle of behavior, he's been at the Cambry orphanage this summer. But he's run into other troubles recently...he and another chlld fell of the back of a truck and both (apparently) have broken bones. The medical team got involved today, as his skin was badly scraped up and needed attention. They're working on a plan to have x rays done and get him on the right medications, but meanwhile they swathed him in neosporin and bandaged his arm.

A point of clarification...Alas, the cool water for showers mentioned earlier was incorrect. In fact, especially in the summer, the water coming out of the shower spigot is actually too hot! The shower water comes from large tanks that are on the roof of the compound and the stored water rises in temperature as the days get hotter. Sometimes it's actually scalding hot!

Please pray...
  • For another night of good rest in cool rooms, flushing toilets and refreshing showers.
  • For continued health in the heat and with a different diet
  • For safe travel to Cavaillon, about 45 minutes away from the compound. They'll travel by SUV/pick up trucks driven by ESMI staff. Pray also that the team would deal with the heat of the day and barely controlled energy of the 85 kids who live there - there will be a lot of excitement, kids and adults!
  • For great times with the kids, whose care is sponsored by a consortium of churches and individuals, administrated by Chicago Friends of Haiti. The team will spend two days there, so their medical needs can be assessed and dealt with, but also so there can be time for fun together. 
  • For the housemoms at Cavaillon, who bear the responsibility of caring for the kids on a daily basis. 
  • For the team to get into a good rhythm for working together. They will stay very busy!
  • Haiti is a place where the truth of the gospel comes up against the darkness of deeply embedded voudoo belief systems in ways that are very different than Americans can usually grasp second hand. Please pray that the gospel shared by our team will go forth and bear fruit in that environment, and the Jesus' hand of protection will be on all those in Haiti who proclaim it. 
As always, the team appreciates your support and prayers as they begin their week of service in Haiti, in Jesus' name.

Some pictures from their day...

Church service at Cambry

Nicholson's injury

All bandaged up

The organization begins!

Ready to go :)

An afternoon downpour

Good Shepherd Church in Cayes (Bon Berger in Haitian Creole)

The youth conference at Good Shepherd

Ann Powers
Chicago Friends of Haiti