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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Haiti Update #5

July 30, 2013

It was a blessedly normal day for our Haiti Team. "Business as usual", which is never to be taken for granted there!

Back to Cavallion to see the kids there once more, they were in the groove as far as teamwork and enjoying themselves. Not too hot by Haiti standards. The kids were eager to see them, to play, to have some hug time. It was great fun. Enjoy the pictures attached (first four from Cavallion.)

They were glad to see that most of the kids who transferred from Cherette were in good shape - less scabies, overall pretty healthy. But small - always small, it seems. Still, they were encouraged. They saw about 100 people today, mostly kids but some staff as well. 

It was hard to say goodbye, though. The sponsorship arrangement several families in our Chicago, Las Vegas, and Florida churches participate in means that these kids are so much more than just "needy kids".  At least three team members have waited two years to finally have the chance to meet their sponsored child on this trip, and it is bittersweet that it is over so soon. Several pieces of several hearts were left in Cavallion today.

Back at the Guest House, water problems persist, but our resilient team is coping. After dinner comes a team meeting - a time to debrief, prep for the next day, and to just sit still for a few minutes together. Then the repacking of bags in a strategic way for the next day, depending on whether they are seeing kids, adults, or both. Tomorrow will be both. 

Finally, showers and bed.  Electricity is on. Hooray!

Tomorrow: Savanne

The day starts tomorrow at 7:00 with breakfast and a devotional. They hope to be in Savanne by 9:00. Ministry for the day will include sharing the gospel in creative ways in one small group of children at a time, and medical care. Two on intake, three on triage, two doctors (one a Haitian doctor working with them for the day), and two in the pharmacy. Probably for eight hours straight. 

Savanne is a needy place, and our small team cannot possibly make a dent in those needs. And yet they will change livestomorrow. More than once in past visits, lives have been saved because our team was there on the day that someone's life hung in the balance, usually a small child or newborn. There is no medical care there. None. And as residents are poor and Haiti has a "pay as you go" system, they can't get it even if they go elsewhere. 

It has also been a spiritually bankrupt place, but that is changing. Voodoo held sway completely until a small church began there. The pastor was in a difficult place. But he prayed. And he asked if a visiting medical team could somehow spare a day (and be fearless enough) to come to Savanne. It happened to be one of our largest teams with our most experienced Haiti travelers, and so it was deemed possible. It was dicey at first - crowd control was an issue as desperate people pushed or sometimes handed their babies to the front of the line in the hopes that they could be seen before time ran out. The task of controlling the crowd was given to gang leaders who held sway in the community by fear and threats of voodoo spells, as it was recognized that theirs would be the only voices listened to. It was a surreal scene, and not just a little bit scary.

But each person that came in for medical care was prayed for. Eventually, people noticed the demeanor of the team, and asked through interpreters what they were praying. The gospel was shared over and over. One person who was struck by the truth of the words was one of the leaders, Jude. He believed that day that salvation was being offered to him, and he prayed to receive it. No one knew at the time, but it was one of the turning points in the community. They watched as a gang leader, steeped in voodoo, changed. He met with the pastor of the church, and started attending worship. Others came as a result of his testimony. 

Subsequent visits to the community still show aching need. Yet changes are obvious. The streets are neater. The pervasive fear is at bay. The church is strong and growing. And Jude is a solid member of the church. God is at work in Savanne.

And tomorrow our team has the privilege of having a ring side seat!

Praise God with our team for
  • Continued health. Everyone is doing great!
  • Continued electricity. Cool air to sleep in is a blessing
  • Great teamwork. They are meshing well, bringing everything they have to the tasks at hand. It's great to be a part of something like that.
  • Safety in travel as they move from place to place.
  • The relatively healthy condition in which they found the kids today.
  • The sweet play time and interaction with them.

Please pray for 
  • Calm and focus in a crowded and seemingly chaotic ministry environment tomorrow. Crowd control is not much of an issue any longer, but the needs are so great that it's hard not to be affected by the desperation in the air and the physical condition of some of the people the team will see tomorrow.
  • Clarity in sharing the gospel through stories with the children tomorrow, and in conversation with those seeking medical care. The spiritual needs continue to be great in Savanne.
  • Cooling breezes as they work outside (under shelters) or in the church building itself.
  • Daniel, in Cambry. A picture is attached here (last one.) It is clear he is not doing well. 

Thank you for praying for the team!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Haiti Update #4

July 29, 2013

Kids, kids, and more kids. But first a flat tire.

Roads in Haiti are not particularly friendly to travelers or their machines. Three miles out of Cambry this morning on the way to Cavaillon, the team bus got a flat tire and there wasn't much to do about it except wait at the side of the road for the flat to be replaced. It was a hot wait, but the full heat of the day had not kicked in yet.

Ninety minutes later, they were on their way again, but in a different vehicle instead of the bus; they later learned it took two people all day to scrounge up a replacement tire for the bus. Such is life in Haiti. But thanks to their efforts, the bus is ready to go tomorrow.

And now here's where the kids come in. Cavaillon is now home to over 150 orphans - all of them very excited to see visitors, especially when the visitors make time to play with them. 

But first some of the needs were assessed and met. It was a learning curve kind of day for our team, most of whom have no previous experience in this kind of triage medicine where several needs are met in a "station to station" kind of set up, leading up to seeing the trained medical staff. First, "intake", where basic information is noted (height/weight/age/name) and a record started or continued from a previous medical team visit. The team's intake person today found herself with a "helper" for most of the day - a lap is a terrible thing to waste, so needs were met on multiple levels at that station. 

Next stop is scabies wash, a stop for some clean clothes, and finally to the doctor station. Along the way, as much hugging and holding as possible. Finally, if medicines are needed, there's a pharmacy set up where vitamins, antibiotics, salves, de-worming meds are dispensed with written instructions and given to the housemoms.

Approximately 60 kids were seen today, but that leaves close to 100 for tomorrow as well as the housemoms. Hopefully an earlier arrival and a quick set up by our now experienced team will make that possible.

There were some sick(er) kids today, but most suffer from things our teams have seen and treated before. Malnutrition is an ongoing concern - the children are much smaller than they should be, having lost ground over the long term during their growing years. A sixteen year old there looks  to be about 9, a 12 year old looks to be the size of the team doctor's 5 year old, and 6 or 7 year old kids are weighed in at 25 pounds. Scabies and lice are part of living in group care in a tropical environment. Most are doing better in regards to intestinal parasites after intentional and repeated treatment for de-worming by our teams and others over the past few years. That definitely affects how well they can retain nutrition.

The team returned to the Guest House for dinner and was pleased to find the electricity on. Unfortunately, there's still some problem with the water supply. The staff continues to work on it. Showers were managed, but slowly and awkwardly - no water from the shower head, only the lower spigot...which probably makes it a "non shower" experience - but it surely refreshed our hot and tired team. 

After dinner, showers (sort of) and a team meeting, tired folks gratefully found their beds.

This evening's report on little Daniel back in Cambry is not as encouraging as hoped for. This morning there seemed to be some improvement, but by the end of the day he had faded somewhat again. The team doc and team leader took extra time to explain exactly what needed to happen as far as nourishment for Daniel tomorrow to the house mom; medicines continue as well. One of the older children seemed to take some concern for him and the team leader used his growing creole vocabulary to explain to her, too! 

Tomorrow, back to Cavaillon. Wednesday's plan calls for going to Savanne, the poorest "suburb" of Cayes. Thursday's visits are scheduled for Biggarouse and Darivager. Friday will likely be Port Salut. But as always in ministry in Haiti, flexibility is key. Things change!

Please pray:
  • For Daniel. 
  • For the children of Cavillion
  • For continued health for the team. All are well.
  • For smooth travel tomorrow, allowing them more time to be with the children.
  • For continued provision of cool air and refreshing water for showers for the team.
  • For the team to continue to gel as they work together. As the week goes on, the strain of trying to meet an endless amount of needs can be a heavy load. They will need to encourage each other more and more.
  • For opportunities to speak to children in the orphanages and residents of Savanne and elsewhere about Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Haiti Update #3

July 28, 2013

It was a good day in Cambry. And Cayes. And Savanne.

The day was spent in worship, chatting with kids, organizing mounds of supplies, and finally, a chance to rest.

The team worshipped and Bon Berger in Cayes, and then went along to the church service in the neighborhood of Savanne, where they mingled with church folks for a while afterward. Then most went for breakfast back at the Guest House while our team's preacher gave a message for the third time at Cambry.

A mandatory rest period followed all of that, and at 3:00, the team regrouped to tackle the contents of all those duffels. In three hours, it was all organized and ready to be used day by day in ministry wherever they go. Great teamwork!

The day wound down with a special concert at Cambry provided by the musicians from the church in Cayes, Bon Berger (Good Shepherd.) The music was very good and the program included a wide variety of music. Most of our team had at least one child per lap for the entire 3 hour concert. 

The medical team has treated their first patient, as well. Daniel was dropped off at Cambry by government officials not long ago and was apparently not well at that time. They were told he is 6 years old, but only weighs 20-25 pounds. There may be other neurological issues, as well.Our team immediately began antibiotics and ibuprofen for what they believe is an infection with fever, but they were told he has neither eaten nor had anything to drink for days. He is quite weak and lethargic, although he seems to be able to tune into the voice of one of our team members - he makes an effort to follow her voice. The team prayed over him and will continue to visit him daily and provide more meds. Currently he can only take in liquids in small amounts through a dropper. The medical folks are not confident that he will make a recovery at this point. 

Tomorrow will see the team going to Cavillon, about 30-40 minutes away by school bus. This location recently absorbed most of the children who were moved from Charette. Despite best efforts at engineering a change in the course of the river running nearby, that location was deemed unsafe for the orphans living there due to the flooding that occurs swiftly in severe weather. Many of the children are sponsored by people in Chicago and Las Vegas churches represented by this team (as well as one in Florida) and they are eager to check up on the children. 

First order of business there is the routine scabies wash (scabies is a skin parasite that is not dangerous, but spreads quickly and comes with a maddening itch, often leading to secondary skin infections), which is done by every visiting medical team. Then a visit with the docs, new clothes, and some play time including decorating T shirts that will be theirs to keep. The team is looking forward to some time with them. They are also hoping to return on Tuesday.

A note about yesterday's water issue - a leak in the cistern was fixed today. Hopefully no more water shortages!

Please pray:
  • For Daniel. There have been times in the past where a child's life was saved because the medical team came to THAT location on THAT day. Pray that Daniel is one of those kids.
  • For safe travel tomorrow to and from Cavillon
  • For good ministry with the kids, and fun just loving them for the day
  • For continued good health as the week of visiting different locations begins. Everyone on the team wants to be fully engaged. Pray that nothing will hinder them - not sun, heat, dehydration, or germs!
  • For continued electricity this week, providing a cool place to sleep and access to showers after a hot day. 
Thanks for supporting the team! They greatly appreciate your prayers.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Haiti Team Update #2

July 27, 2013 

The team arrived at the Guest House in Cambry safely tonight about 9:30 EST without incident, after four and half hours on the bus from Port au Prince. For that we are most grateful!

The amazingly smooth path through customs was a blessing. The team had to do the usual declarations and a cursory inventory, but watched another team nearby having their bags thoroughly emptied and searched, including confiscations and additional payments made. Truly God blessed our team with a different outcome. Many thanks to those of you who saw the earlier update and were able to pray for that.

The electricity is on as of now at Cambry, which allows the air conditioners to run and greatly enhance the team's sleep. A new wrinkle - perhaps we need to also pray for the water supply! The tanks were not sufficiently filled for all to shower after a hot and exhausting day and the rest of the plumbing is equally out of commission until the pumps get the water up into the tanks...which requires electricity - which of course, can go at any time.

Tomorrow is worship and organization. The morning worship is at 7:00, which all will attend at Bon Berger, the main church in Cayes. A small group will go to Savannes (a very poor section of Cayes at which our teams have had significant ministry in the past) afterwards to give greetings, while most of the team goes back to the Guest House for breakfast. A second service follows at Cambry at 11:00. 

At 3:00, the team will meet for planning and prayer and then do the major task of organizing the contents of 24 duffel bags for use during the week. 

There is another service at Cambry at 6:00.

It is a very busy day after today's 16 hour day of travel, but it's their first chance to meet some of the members of the church as well as the orphans who live at Cambry. It will be lively worship that goes significantly longer than any in our churches. They will enjoy it!

Please pray:

  • For sleep tonight and all week for the team. It is jarring to drive into a new country and arrive in a strange place in the dark, yet try to "shut down" because you know morning will come early. Every day will be jam packed and winding down can be difficult.
  • For water and electricity
  • For health this week; that all would remember to drink a lot of (bottled) water, deal with the heat well, and avoid bugs of all kinds.
  • For opportunities to use their gifts and abilities as a team as they figure out how to work together
  • For servant's hearts, willing spirits, and a sense of the presence of God in their midst
  • For the team member preaching at least two and likely three times tomorrow

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Haiti Team Update #1

July 26, 2013

The first day of travel is over. The Chicago team has arrived in Miami where they met the rest of the team. A few came earlier from Las Vegas, and one arrived just a bit ago from Maryland. In all, there are 12 on the team. Several are medical folks, but those who aren't will have a role to play in that ministry, too. There will also be ministry to children as well as teaching and preaching on Sunday by one of our team members. All will be busy!

Tonight is about getting together for the first time, beginning to see themselves as a team, and sharing a late pizza dinner and some prayer time before heading off to rest. Tomorrow will find them heading back to the Miami airport for a flight to Port au Prince that is scheduled to leave at 10:00 EST. It's a two hour flight.

The scene at the PAP airport is chaotic. Getting 24 50 pound duffel bags (each team member carried two) of supplies through customs is daunting. But those supplies are crucial for their ministry this week, and well worth the effort.

A long bus ride follows until they arrive at the Guest House at Cambry, outside of Les Cayes. It is quite nice by Haitian standards and they will be well taken care of and warmly welcomed.

For tonight and tomorrow, please pray for these things:
  • Rest and good fellowship together tonight before they start a week with little "downtime" and where the needs will be immense.
  • Safe and smooth travel - by bus, plane, and bus again. The drive to Cambry is typically 4 hours. 
  • For all of the duffels to arrive safely and move swiftly through customs without delay or disruption. 
  • For a good spirit to build among the team members, as they get to know each other in unfamiliar settings.
  • For health, for electricity, for resiliency in the heat. Haiti's power grid requires rolling blackouts to work at all, and sometimes it can be out for hours. The team will be in need of a cool place to sleep each night after working in the summer heat of tropical Haiti. The peak daytime temperature could feel like 115 degrees, given the level of humidity. 
The attached picture is of one of the little ones at an orphanage they will be visiting. Although these children don't have much and are greatly benefit from the medical care and attention our teams can provide, they give a lot back to our team, too. Look at that smile!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

34th Stated Meeting | Living Hope Pres

The next Stated Meeting of the Chicago Metro Presbytery is Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at:

Living Hope Presbyterian
6414 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60637 [map it]

Office: 708-280-8779

12:00 - Lunch
1:00 pm - Business begins
4:00 pm - Business adjourns

Please join us.