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.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Haiti Update 11/12/16

The week of medical ministry in Haiti by our team of 13 has been an immensely productive one - in five long days they saw over 1000 patients. Some lives were clearly saved by their timely work, and many were made immeasurably better by the medical care they received, and by the emotional and spiritual care as well. The team has done a hard job in challenging circumstances amazingly well.

But now any remaining meds are sorted for a final time and stored safely to be left in the pharmacy in Cambry for use by the local ESMI doc or our next team. The duffels are ready to come home, mostly empty this time instead of stuffed. And the team is ready to come home, too, pretty much exhausted but knowing their work made a big difference this week.

The day ended with the team being sung to by approximately 40 kids, some who were brought from Dariverger by one of the pastors just to say thank you. They brought gatorade to make it a real party, and the time singing with the kids was a great way to finish their week among them. It was great to enjoy a little bit of down time with together!

Some good news - little Fechina was able to get a tetanus shot today. One of the pastors was tasked with going out on a recon mission to find some of that vaccine, which was then stored "MacGyver-like" in a makeshift cooler (an insulated water bottle with a broken up ice pack to keep it cold) until it could be given to her. She was also given a series of 7 antibiotic injections today (no IV, because the drug they wanted was only available in an injectable) and they re-opened her wound to drain it again, as well.  She was doing so much better by the end of the evening they let her go home with her family. The ESMI doc will use meds left behind to follow up with her. The treatment today not only saved her hand, but very likely her life. How awesome is that?

It was also a "what are the chances?" kind of day today. Yesterday, the team noticed (for the first time ever, after multiple trips) that there are deaf people living on the grounds of the Cambry Orphanage. It's a small live-in school and one of the translators explained that nobody talks to them or even notices them anymore. Well, one of the docs happens to know sign language so she invited them over for medical care. Great, all good, nothing too unusual there. But today one of those same people was in a bad car accident and - because his friends knew the docs were there - brought him right to them for care. He was unconscious and had several his teeth knocked out, and some broken bones. If the doc hadn't reached out to them yesterday, that never would have happened. On top of that, our team had probably the one person in Haiti who had the skills and the tools to GLUE his teeth back in. What are the chances? The other docs didn't even know that was possible. It was one of several "coincidences" that happened this week that left the team with the clear message that God was going before them. How wonderful is that?

The team was also able to show generosity by meeting physical needs requiring financial assistance. Several donors had sent money along with the team members, and with money the team members themselves donated, they were able to meet about $3000 worth of various needs. They leave with a list of needs, too, mostly for medical procedures beyond what a team like ours is capable of (like hernia operations and CT scans) for which donors will be sought. Haitian healthcare - if available at all - is "pay as you go" up to and including bringing your own bandages for after your surgery. Most Haitians don't have the means.

Tomorrow they pull out of the guest house in a coach bus at 5:00 EST for the long ride back to Port au Prince. Their plane leaves at 2:30.

Please pray for:

  • Fechina and all the others who are physically fragile but on the mend. Praise God for her apparent swift turn around from a very dangerous situation. Please also pray for the two children with chronic malnutrition from the Cavallion orphanage, and for the accident victim.
  • The rebuilding of Cavaillon and the other orphanages, churches, schools in the ESMI system that are damaged or destroyed. Ask that God provide the means to restore, rebuild, and even make long term improvements in the living situations of the children. Pray also for the desperate situation in Savanne, where the poorest of the poor are trying to survive this latest catastrophe to come to Haiti.
  • The health and safety in travel for the team tomorrow. Ask God to give them each a smooth "re-entry" into life here after a sometimes surreal and non-stop, intense week in a third world country. Most of them will jump right back into a work environment Monday morning. Pray for God to graciously meet them in any discomfort they have.
  • Pray for ESMI staff and local pastors who remain behind and live with the stresses of this ongoing situation every day. Pray for strength, grace, and patience as they deal with massive need.

The team is very grateful for your prayer support this week. They will have much else to tell you in person when you see them!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Haiti Update 11/11 with picture

Good morning, everyone. Somehow, the team has gotten a picture out via text - the first the week. See the the attachment.

The picture is of the girl I told you about below with the burned hand which became a very serious infection. Her name is Fechina, and the team was delighted to see she seems to be doing better this morning! They are going to keep her on an I-V of antibiotics all day and evaluate whether they should re-open the wound later today. They will also keep her at the guest house overnight until the team has to leave to keep a close eye on her. 

Please pray for her today. Thank you!

Haiti Update 11/11 (#1)

The team didn't go far today, but they sure found plenty to do! They walked down the hill to the Cambry orphanage, which has had a whole lot of extra kids since the hurricane. That location was the biggest and deemed sturdiest, housing upwards of 500 kids for several weeks until some could be safely returned to Dariverger and Big House. The goal is to get Cavaillon in livable shape as soon as possible to get the number of kids in Cambry back to normal.

Today the team saw all of the kids normally living at Cavaillon plus numerous community folks from Cambry. Again, the community folks were primarily suffering from untended wounds or injuries leading to infections stemming from the hurricane, plus the more typical things that present themselves when medical care is in scarce supply.

The Cavaillon kids were in generally good shape, which was encouraging. However, a few of the children the onsite medical people and housemoms have been watching due to chronic malnutrition are still not thriving. Extra funds were given to those managing their care for protein supplements to see if they can get them to a healthier place.

More troubling was the condition of a community child, a 7 year old girl who was burned in a cooking fire at home. That injury escalated to a horrible infection on her hand, which is spreading. The team thought a tetanus shot was her best chance to avoid amputation, but they were concerned that it had perhaps even become life threatening. They did what the could for her today.

There was also a child brought to them today from Dariverger (where they were yesterday) with a serious wound that needed to be cleansed and stitched up. They'll check on him tomorrow.

In all three of these cases, it was clear that they were truly making a difference and giving these children the best chance of returning to health, but heartbreaking nevertheless.

After 5 long days of ministry, the team has seen at least 750 people. The physical, mental and emotional toll has left them fairly exhausted and starting to feel it. Tomorrow, to close out their week of ministry, they'll go back to Cambry to see the remaining children and probably more community people.

Please pray:

  • For the children seen today, especially the little girl with the serious infection after being burned. The team is very concerned for her.
  • For the team. Pray that their rest would be restorative, and that God would bring them peace and resiliency as they finish their service tomorrow. Pray also for their health; as they get tired and running on empty, cold or flu-like symptoms become more likely.
  • Even now, pray for the team's day of travel on Sunday. They will be leaving very early Sunday morning for a return trip to Port au Prince by coach bus, and then from Port au Prince to Miami. From there, back home. It will easily be an 18 hour day.
  • Pray that God will use the seeds of word, deed, and mercy planted this week will bring fruit for the gospel as ESMI pastors continue on in the daily ministry to the people of Cayes, Cambry, Dariverger, and Cavaillon.

Thank you for praying. The team is so very appreciative of your partnership with them. 

Haiti Update 11/10

The team got a chance to experience the "back roads" of Haiti today by going to nearby villages of Dariverger and Big House. Only about 20 minutes from the guest house, but not really on the way to anywhere else, the roads are always rustic to the point of not being what we would call roads - apparently even more so after the hurricane damage. They got to see what that part of Haiti looks like now without even the beginning of clean up attempts, and it was striking to see large sections of what had been lush and green just gone and flattened. They had a bird's eye view of it all from the back of the pick up trucks they use for transportation from place to place. Bumpy, but no obstructions!

This is one hard working and well ordered team - four doc stations with intake, triage, pharmacy and a procedures area all feeding into and out of them. They estimate they saw at least 125 people today from the two villages, perhaps as many as 150. Various needs were met today but the striking thing was severe infections. One woman had a terribly infected stab wound she'd received in a fight for food in the hurricane aftermath when things were so desperate. Another child had an infection of some kind, and the team is sure that both would have died if left untreated for much longer. It is a good reminder and encouragement that while every need can't be met by any one team, the needs they met today saved lives, and that is something to rejoice in. Again, rampant scabies were in evidence, which is partly due to the remote location and also because so many people have nowhere else to sleep but on the ground.

The team is benefiting from the assistance of a group of Haitian men who work with ESMI as translators. Each with their own story of loss that reflects the harsh reality of life in Haiti, they use their English fluency to earn money to support themselves and their families. One is a young man with aspirations to study in America, Louinel; another a man who has lost everything - including his family and his livelihood a few times over - in cholera epidemics in the past, other health crises, and the recent hurricane. His name is Antoine. There is also a nurse on the team this time who was born in Port au Prince and is fluent in Creole. Another blessing.

The team is proving to be made of tough stuff! The heat is oppressive and the working situations crazy, but there are no complaints. Just the opposite. Everyone is pulling together to do amazing work. They are getting tired, as you would expect, but are looking to finish well in the next couple of days as they work at the orphanage down the hill from the guest house. They'll see LOTS of children and as many community folks as possible.

Please pray:
  • For continued health and good rest for the team, and for electricity and adequate water for showers.
  • For the team's stamina to see them through two more very full days of ministry.
  • For the hardworking people of ESMI, who have been going full bore for the last 5 weeks since the hurricane. All have got to be exhausted, and yet rebuilding efforts and maintaining food supplies for the orphans drives them. Louis and Dony St Germain remain in the middle of the efforts, Louis in Cayes and Dony in Jeremie, which was probably the area hardest hit by the hurricane.
  • For interpreters Louinel and Antoine, and so many others like them, who are beginning again from practically nothing. Ask that God give them encouragement and provide a way for them to meet their family's needs.
  • For the desperate all over Haiti. Ask that God give hope instead of people lashing out in violence and frustration in their need.
  • And lastly but most significantly, that the healing love of Jesus would enter the hearts of those who don't know Him in this sick and wounded country.
Thank you for praying!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our hardworking team might have set a new record today for patient care. They estimate they saw 275 people. It's only an estimate because they ran out of the cards they use to track patients when they hit 260. They worked straight through from 9:00 to 6:00. They will sleep well tonight!

There were some who needed follow up care from injuries sustained in the hurricane, but fortunately people were in pretty good shape with just the typical concerns our teams have become used to seeing - infections, wound care, scabies, high blood pressure, and general illnesses. No cholera was seen today, either. Reports of it breaking out seem to be localized elsewhere in Haiti.

An unexpected opportunity came their way today in that they were asked to see the older (teenage) students at the school in Bon Berger, approximately 80-100 of them. It was clear that many were suffering from STD's, so the family practice doctors took them aside in small groups before they were done with them to educate them on sexual health.

The sound of chainsaws once again formed the background to their work. The church had planted a lovely and stately arbor of trees leading to the church, which had grown significantly over the years to form a lovely long arch - but they are all gone now. Sadly, they've been cut into wood that will now provide firewood for people. Nothing goes to waste in Haiti.

Louis St. Germain took the team leader into Savanne for a car tour. The situation there is so desperate that it was deemed unwise to take the whole team for the tour. In fact, no one left the car, which also had three guards in it. ESMI has sent food and supplies into Savanne, but they are quickly used up and desperation abounds. The church which ESMI started and is thriving has no usable building any longer. It's pretty much gutted. One good piece of news is that Jude, a friend from our team's first visit to Savanne four years ago, is alive and well. He is a fisherman, and his boat took a wild ride in the hurricane. He had lashed it to something he'd hoped would be secure, but the hurricane's water surge was strong enough to pick up the boat, untether it, and deposit it two miles inland. He found it by wading through chest deep water after the storm and pulled it back through the flooded streets of Savanne to tether it once again at the shore. Fortunately it was not destroyed, but new nets are needed for him to fish with it again.

Tomorrow the team will go to two locations nearby - Dariverger and Big House, both of which house orphans. Before being re-homed there, they were all at Cambry for safe shelter during the hurricane. A few weeks ago a malaria outbreak occurred there, so the team will be doing re-checks and general well being checks on those kids, as well as seeing community folks as possible. Between the two locations, there are approximately 100 kids, with apparently 350 still living at Cambry. The team will see the children at Cambry Friday and Saturday, which includes the kids who were in Cavaillon.

The team is doing very well. The restoration of water at the guest house has greatly increased their comfort - a shower at the end of a long hot sticky day in Haiti is delightful to them. Their only frustration is that cell signals are very spotty and there is no internet available, so communicating with family has been practically impossible. But families, please know they are ok! Those same communication issues are keeping all the great pictures our team is taking stuck on their phones in Haiti. Hopefully we'll see some yet before the week is through.

Please pray:

  • For the long term and short term provision of the means for people in Cambry, Cayes, and Savanne to re-build a life for themselves out of practically nothing. There are little or no social service resources in Haiti, and very little means to support yourself. In Savanne, the unemployment rate is astronomical. People live at a point of daily desperation, and Haiti seems always on the edge of collapse into a huge humanitarian crisis. The magnitude of needs is overwhelming.
  • For the teenagers the team met with today. Pray that they would develop a right view of their worth and their bodies so that mutual respect and physical health would flourish.
  • For the team to maintain their health. They are all doing well, even with the long days and growing heat and humidity over the past few days. At this point in the week, it is natural to begin to feel the strain and grow weary. Pray that God would give them strength and stamina and hopefulness in the face of dire circumstances and unrelenting needs.
  • For electricity to remain available, as cool sleeping space is key to good rest for those not used to the heat of Haiti.
  • For continued opportunities to share the good news of Jesus and his salvation to hurting and lost people, even as the medical team brings health and healing to their bodies in His name.
Thanks for praying!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Haiti Update 11/8

The team spent the day at Cavaillon. The orphans are not living there, but the villagers needed care and were grateful for the team - so grateful they sent them home with 8 coconuts picked right off the trees there, which is a true sign of Haitian appreciation. The team was cracking them open and sampling the milk for dessert before bed tonight.

Some amazing stories emerged from the people of Cavaillon regarding the hurricane and its aftermath of torrential rains, which hit a few days afterwards:
  • A 76 year old woman told the doc who saw her (and anyone else who would listen - she seemed to need to talk about her experience) that the hurricane came through and the waters rose so fast she was literally swept away in the torrent, then down to the river. She kept telling herself to keep her head up, and sure enough, someone plucked her from the raging water and brought her to safety. Upon returning to her home, the bad rains came back through a few days later and the poor woman was swept away again - same river, same bobbing, holding her head up, same last minute rescue. She has been saying "why me?" since then, especially in light of the fact that she was friends with all of the others who lost their lives those days.
  • Pastor Samuel stayed at Cavaillon even after the children were evacuated because his wife is an invalid and can't travel. They thought they'd ride it out in the school, but as the waters rose, he moved (with her on his back) to the more sturdily built water building where he propped her up on the highest surface, the water serving platform, but again the water rose to about 4 feet high in that little house and they thought they'd die there. Just then, the huge gate buckled and crashed and allowed the water levels to sink enough for them to get out and make their way to the church (again, him carrying her on his back) to the altar area, the highest part, where they stacked benches as high as they could against the rising water and waited then for the waters to slowly recede over the course of 8 hours. They are both okay.
  • A mother brought her 10 year old son to see the docs because "he's had a runny nose since the hurricane". When asked more, it turns out that the boy was swept from her arms in the flooding waters and recovered some distance down river by strangers. Someone recognized him and returned him to her. The team was amazed at her stoicism in relating this story, but it's likely that she and the elderly lady as well are still truly in shock over the experience.
  • A man came to have previously cared for broken bones looked at. Swept away in the flood waters, he was bounced around in the river until his leg, wrist, ribs, and fingers were broken. Somehow he managed to pull himself to the side of the river only to have a tree fall on him. He made it home to find it gone, and his livelihood with it. He literally had nothing left. With all he'd been through, he was understandably downcast and depressed. But the team was able to give him enough funding to buy food, and find a room to stay in until he could begin to rebuild his life after his body heals.
The team saw 150 patients today. Lots of scabies because people are sleeping outside unprotected, and the typical concerns they are used to seeing like wounds, infections, and high blood pressure. No cholera as yet in Cavaillon! 

Another activity that went on today was debris clearing. One of the team members brought a chain saw (apparently you can check a chain saw in a box to fly with you on American Airlines. Who knew?) and it was put to good use today with a few others already on site cutting downed trees, which are now stacked and ready to be used for cooking fires. It was awesome to see the progress, but a hard day's work.

Tomorrow the team will set up at Bon Berger in Cayes. They would like to go to Savanne, but they've been told there's no structure standing for them to use as a clinic. They are hoping that even though its a few miles distance, some from Savanne will find them at Bon Berger for care. 

Thursday they will go to two places, Dariverger and Big House. Orphans have been moved out of Cambry to return to both of those places, and a check-in would be good for them after a malaria outbreak at Cambry a few weeks ago. 

Friday and Saturday will be spent at Cambry, where they'll see the Cavaillon kids. With the departure of the kids to Dariverger and Big House, there are probably only 240 living there now instead of almost 500.

The water is flowing again at the guest house, and showers were MUCH appreciated by the team after 48 hours going without. Electricity is also on, so they will hopefully have a  restful night in the cool air before starting another very busy day tomorrow.

Please pray:
  • For continued health of the team; restful sleep each night is a key part of that. All are doing very well.
  • For safety in travel and in serving the residents of Cayes tomorrow.
  • For things like water, electricity and cell signals to work. No pictures again today; for some reason texts are not getting out.
  • For God to bless rebuilding efforts in Cavaillon so the children can move back to safe and useful structures soon
  • For the traumatized survivors of the hurricane as they try to rebuild their lives
  • For opportunities for the team to share their faith in Jesus as well as their medical abilities.

Thank you for your prayer support. The team is grateful. 

Haiti Update 11/7

Thank you so much for your prayers related to the team's day of travel. God provided safe and not overlong trips via air to Port au Prince, and then via bus to the guest house at Cambry.  They even made a short stop at Cavaillon to survey the damage done by the hurricane and subsequent flooding.

But first, the travel. The early morning shuttle to the airport got them there in good order. All the bags arrived in Port au Prince, and although thoroughly searched, nothing was confiscated or required an additional payment to be passed through. That means all those precious medicines will go to help the sick and injured in the Cambry region. We are grateful for God's intervention and direction in that.

Although there was some delay in being met by the coach bus, once on their way they made good progress - not much longer than usual, about 5 or 6 hours. Some roads were washed out, but they were able to make their way going slowly through the stream of water remaining or via alternate routes. As it turns out, they took a route through an area that unbeknownst to them had been the scene of violent interactions as they were passing through - but they missed it. Again, we are grateful that God provided safety.

Before going to Cambry, they took a detour to visit Cavaillon, the orphanage that is supported by individuals in Chicago Metro Presbytery and others from elsewhere who are partnering with them. Prepared to see the worst, they were encouraged to see some positive signs:

  • The water purification system installed in February is working, and the main "water engineer" is living on site to keep it going
  • The cafeteria and dining hall, although still under construction, withstood the torrent well, and it's clear that progress had been made since the team was there in July. There is still great hopes that it will be done and ready for use in time for the February team's trip back there.
But the damage was profound in other ways:
  • The security wall has collapsed, due to a combination of wind, trees falling on it, and deep water rushing past it and eroding the foundations. It will have to be rebuilt.
  • The massive gate that stands at the entrance, probably 25 x 15 feet in size, was twisted beyond recognition even though made of heavy metal. It is a reminder of the force of the winds and the water in the hurricane. It was sobering to learn that eight villagers died very close to the orphanage. Fortunately, the orphans had been moved before the storm, and remain safe.
  • The dormitories were flooded and are full of debris, dried mud, and now mold and mildew. Although nothing is left of the beds or the bedding, they are trying to save some school books by drying them in the sun.
  • The church's roof was completely lifted off and settled back down off kilter by several inches. It's not possible to salvage the roof as it's completely unsafe now, although the church walls seem to be okay.
The clean up effort continues, and will not be done soon. For now, the children remain at Cambry.

The team spent their initial hours tonight at the guest house eating a light dinner and unpacking the massive amount of medicines they carried. They will be sorted and categorized for use at up to three or four different locations this week, including going back to Cavaillon tomorrow, where the people living in the village will benefit from the docs' attention. The next day, Wednesday, is slated to be in Cayes at Bon Berger (Good Shepherd) Church, and then Thursday and perhaps Friday seeing the children living down the hill from the guest house at Cambry - perhaps 500 children including the Cavaillon kids.

The guest house has electricity to some degree, provided by a generator that runs on gasoline. It typically runs a few hours in the evening to cool things off and provide light while the team regroups and prepares for bed. One unexpected wrinkle is that water is not flowing at the guest house - for showers and toilets (drinking water is bottled and readily available to the team). As they moved in, local people were working on rectifying that problem.

Please pray:

  • For significant rest tonight. The team was up at 3:00 am to catch the flight out of Miami and the day of travel was stressful and long.
  • For repair to the plumbing at the guest house. No one expected everything to work right during this visit, but this would be a great thing to have during the week.
  • For enough electricity so that they can get to sleep in comfort. It's not the height of the hot season, but it's still 85 degrees and sticky... and to charge phones so that they can communicate with family at home, although cell signals seem to be less reliable than before the hurricane and there is no wifi available.
  • For God to be at work in their ministry tomorrow. The people certainly need medical care badly, but they need to hear the gospel message as well. Ask that God give them ears to hear so that their hearts are ministered to as well as their bodies.
Unfortunately no pictures tonight due to difficulties in text and email transmissions. We'll hope for some before the week is over.  Thank you for praying! The team is relying on it!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Haiti Update #10 2/26

Bone weary but heart happy.

Today was a great day of celebration and wrapping things up on a week of ministry that met or exceeded any hopes or expectations. Not only was the water purification system installed glitch-free, something usually unattainable even in a first world country, our extremely hard working medical team saw 527 patients in 5 days. So much to rejoice in and to praise God for, including his guidance, direction, provision, and in the way he built this team of servants for this particular week of ministry.

The day started with some kids who usually live in Cavaillon but who are temporarily staying at Cambry visiting the docs at the guesthouse. Twenty four kids were deemed to need more frequent medical supervision for a short time, so they were moved to Camby to be under the eye of Dr Osselin on a more regular basis. Those kids came up the hill today to have the standard "once over" by our docs, too, including a scabies wash, check up, clean clothes, and vitamins. When their nutritional needs have been more solidly met, they'll rejoin the other children at Cavaillon in the not too distant future.

Finishing that task, the medical team went to Cavaillon in the afternoon. Some medical folks followed up with some patients who were brought in from La Hatte just to check on their progress from earlier in the week, and then Dr Daisey and Dr Kay spent some significant and meaningful time with the housemoms and older girls talking candidly about basic body issues and self care, including Christian perspectives on sex. These talks have become a staple of our medical teams' visits to Cavaillon, and we believe ministers in a whole new way to some very real needs among women in Haiti.

Meanwhile, the water team went right to Cavaillon this morning to make final preparations for turning the system over to the Haitian water team, and to prepare for the dedication. And what a party that was!

It turned into a community event, with tours, free water samples, and a "graduation" ceremony for the new water operators complete with certificates and special T shirts handed out by Andrea, and much, much pride and joy exhibited by Haitian and American alike. We have some pictures for you, so you can rejoice as well! Your prayers this week and before the trip started were key. And special thanks to many donors who made the installation possible.

The team returned to the guest house tonight for a final team meeting, and then turned to packing to come home. Extra supplies were sorted and moved to a secure storage space at the Camby office until next time. Once again, our donors' generosity was in evidence all week long, as clothes, shoes, and medicines were distributed everywhere the team went, and there was enough to go around. Awesome.

The team leaves tomorrow at 5:00 am EST for Port au Prince. Their flight leaves at 1:15, so there's a comfortable window of time to get there. Then a two hour flight to Miami, and then from there they scatter to different flights home.

Please pray:
  • For another day of safe travel in Haiti, and that buses would arrive on time, planes would be boarded and take off on time, and land safely at their destinations.
  • For our team. Adrenalin has been key in getting through the long, hot, crazy days of ministry. But getting home sometimes is hard to adjust to as they process what they've done, seen, and heard. Pray also for good health as they re-adjust to their more typical diet after a week of different foods.
  • For the people of Haiti. These are trying political times, and for many their hold on survival is easily severed even in calm times. Pray also for God to work through their government to more justly meet the needs of the people in all areas - health care, education, jobs, everything needful for thriving as a nation.
  • Pray especially for the gospel to be at work in Haiti, as we have seen evidenced in so many ways. Pray for those who lead churches, who lead families, and who lead ministries like ESMI. Pray for those who heard the gospel this week from our team and that it would bear fruit. Pray for renewal and revival.
Some pictures to close out the week. Enjoy:
  • Water celebration, community tour, and the next generation of water engineers
  • Everyone gets a water bottle!
  • Housemoms getting some TLC and gifts
  • Kids at Cavaillon
Again, our many thanks for your faithful prayers on behalf of this team. We praise God for each of you as partners in this great week.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Haiti Update #9 2/25

"In Haiti, you keep waiting for something to go wrong..."

...but today it didn't. In fact, the big things went very, very right.

The water team is so encouraged to see the total commitment and level of concentration the Haitians are giving the training. Everyone is looking forward to the official dedication ceremony of the system tomorrow afternoon. The team will be there all day doing final touches.

The medical team started the day at 7:00 with a three hour ride through the jungle on some pretty nice roads and some "not roads" in a brand new large SUV, rented for the day and driven by Pastor Louis. They traveled in style, but climbed out a little bumped and bruised after three hours because of the jostling. Sometimes the road would just...end. Sometimes it ended and the SUV drove along the beach until the next road picked up. It was some of the most scenic territory in Haiti, the stuff of Caribbean tourism promoters' dreams.

Upon arrival at Las Anglais, the team quickly got to work, setting up in a school with four rooms, which got organized into stations to see children by age. By the end of 7 frenetically paced hours, 202 patients had been seen. It all flowed very smoothly and great work was done by the team. Many children were in great shape ("a lot of fat, happy babies") but there were some difficult cases, too: a lot of kids suffering from advanced malaria, fevers, and malnutrition. Several cysts were removed. The general overall good health was somewhat of a surprise because this community had NEVER had a doctor in it. Not one visit, ever. Needless to say, there was a lot of gratitude, especially by the pastor who had made the plea for one of our teams to come for over two years.

The medical team pulled back in to the guest house at 8:30 - a 14 hour day door to door, with dinner, a team meeting, and long awaited showers still to do before they could climb into bed. The electricity and air conditioning re-appeared at about 11:00 EST.

Tomorrow is the last ministry day, and it will be a "bits and pieces day". The water team will go right to Cavaillon to finish up everything necessary to hand the project over to the Haitians. The medical team will go down the hill to the Cambry orphanage to do a quick check on those kids as well as see some from Cavaillon who were brought there for a time of extended extra care, and will eventually return to Cavaillon. Then, the medical team will head to Cavaillon for the afternoon, seeing a few people who will come for follow ups from La Hatte, and hopefully, happily, have some play time or lap time with the Cavaillon kids after the dedication ceremony. It will be a great way to end a momentous and fruitful week!

And just to show that the team finds humor where they can during the week...

The water team is made up of all men and one woman (Andrea, our hygiene guru who has been instrumental in training the Haitians in that very important aspect). Through the week, they've become known as "Andrea and her water boys". The men are thirty years (or more) older, but it aptly describes the team!

And here's a direct quote from one of the water boys who switched to the medical team today to lend a hand: "I've seen the boss' job and I don't want it". Apparently the request to hand an instrument to a doc during a particularly ugly cyst removal was met with a "Who, ME?" and when told "Yes, you", he complied - but with his hands covering his eyes. Welcome to medical care in Haiti, Mr Water Boy :) All hands on deck!

A few pictures from the day:
  • The schoolhouse at Las Anglais, where the medical team worked, and a few shots of our busy team.
  • Pastor Raniel, who wouldn't quit asking for a visit for his people!
  • A happy baby ;)
  • The effects of malaria - a very sick little girl
And some praises and prayer:
  • Serge, the guest house manager, has stayed up all night for the past two nights facilitating "rolling brownouts" so that the sleeping rooms don't get too hot. He's manually rotating the power outages so everybody gets some AC for a few minutes at a time. God bless him!
  • The three team members feeling under the weather did indeed join in the work done today. One felt back to normal, the other two just managed their symptoms because they wanted to be of service. Pray that all would finish the week strong and come home healthy.
  • Praise God for the Haitians who are taking on the water purification project responsibilities. Not only will their diligence protect this investment in the community, but it should bring the overall health level up for the children as well as become an income producer for the orphanage as they sell bottled water to the community. A microbusiness that does good!
  • Pray for all those seen by our docs this week. Ask God to protect especially the little ones who are most vulnerable to disease and suffer most from the lack of good medical care.
  • Pray for good rest for the team, safety in travel, and for a sense of the importance and value of their work this week. It can be so hard to see that when continually confronted with needs not met.
Thanks for your prayers. By the way, based on the size of the nightly update distribution list, it is likely that over 1000 people are praying for this team. Your contribution can't possibly be measured. You surely share in the accomplishments of these good things!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Haiti Update #8 2/24

Today was exhausting, exhilarating, encouraging, discouraging, loud, hot, and crazy busy. In other words, a typical day of ministry in Haiti. Especially typical for ministry in Savanne.

Savanne is poor, even desperate. There is nothing there that we would recognize as "social services". Until recently there wasn't even a school or a church. The unemployment rate is about 90%. And that's where our team went today "nan nom Jesi", in Jesus' name. There's a picture attached that provides a "birds eye view" of the neighborhood. Pretty hardscrabble, and it pretty much all looks like that. You can see the beautiful Caribbean at the edge, which explains why fishing is one of the few sustainable legal jobs there.

The medical team saw 150 people, many of whom were children. That's equal to the number they saw in two different places combinedMonday and Tuesday. They cared for malnourished kids, treated fevers, abscesses, infections, wounds, and high blood pressure - all things that regular medical care could alleviate or avoid entirely if it were available. Also, every person young and old was prayed over as part of the "visit". The team never forgets that their contributions are spiritual as well as physical. If they'd had time and resources to see 1000 it would have barely scratched the surface of the need. That's where the crazy busy and discouraging comes in.

The day started off with a warm greeting by the assembled crowd, songs, and prayers led by Pastor Louis. They used a church building to see patients, with a double line of triage going on, one with our standard system - well tried and very efficient - and one the Haitian docs set up thinking it would allow more people to get through. That's also where the discouragement came in, as more people thought they'd see our docs, and time was too short. Frustration and even anger was evident by the end of the day in those that had to be turned away, and a lot of sorrow from our team. This is also where loud and hot came in. The physical surroundings easily add to the stress for the team, especially those doing intake and triage, and crowd control. Especially crowd control.

And now for the exhilarating. One of the moms who brought her child in was a repeat visitor from last year. At that time, she was a 17 year old new mom, living on the streets however she could, with her 6 months old baby who weighed 6 pounds. The team did what they could for both of them; mom had std's due to the way she'd been supporting herself on the streets; the baby was completely malnourished to the point that the team was afraid it was too little too late to save the child. They connected her with the ESMI church pastor there. Today, they saw evidence of two lives saved. There's a picture attached. Mom is living a different life now, and the baby is a healthy toddler. If ever you question the value of short term missions here's some proof that those trips have value, especially if in partnership with "boots on the ground" to come alongside those in need after the team leaves. This was such an important thing for our team to see - some were part of the group that prayed over that very sick child a year ago. Even where the needs seem unending and can't possibly be met, sometimes differences can be made, measured, and rejoiced in. Praise God!

And the water team? The story keeps getting better! Today they spent the morning in Savanne doing some site planning work for what they hope will be the next system installed. And then back to Cavaillon later in the day to "shock the system". For us novices, that means cleaning it all from the inside out with chlorine so that the water that comes out is clean and pure and safe. And just to make sure - some of our team were the first to drink from it! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is - or your mouth where your science is, perhaps. Needless to say, we are all rejoicing with the way this project has gone and are so very proud of our team and grateful to God for assembling them, for providing the financial and technical resources, and for the work the Haitians successfully accomplished to prep the site for the team to come in and install the system. When you list all the variables - including transport and customs - miraculous is not too strong a word. Again, praise God!

Unfortunately a little bit more discouragement, and things to pray for - a few of the team are under the weather with bugs or colds. It's possible they will stay back at the guest house to rest and recuperate tomorrow. Also, electricity has really been a problem, which continues to affect sleep and just make things more difficult at night. Both of these things are significant items for prayer tonight.

Other things to pray for:
  1. Tomorrow will be a long and challenging day. The team is going to a new place, Las Anglais, which is not an ESMI orphanage, but a school that is run by a pastor who has taken much training from ESMI. He met our team leader at training event a few years ago, and every time since then when they've met, he begged for the team to come. No doctor ever has. So, tomorrow the medical team boards a coach bus like the one they rode in from Port au Prince for a three hour ride there, a "work as hard as you can as long as you can" day, and then a three hour ride back. Please pray for them tonight and through the day tomorrow. All are physically, mentally, and emotionally tired, yet they want to be of service. Pray also for traveling safety and that all who are feeling well would remain that way.
  2. Pray for a good night's sleep for all, and for electricity and air conditioning. That is probably the biggest factor in how prepared they feel to meet tomorrow's challenges.
  3. Pray for the water team as they go back to Cavaillon tomorrow to do the re-grading and other finishing touches on the system.Friday will be the dedication!
  4. And please pray those who are not well, and for electricity and air conditioning tonight and tomorrow night.
Some pictures:
  • Savanne from the sky
  • Some Savanne faces and our team at work
  • Healthy mom and healthy baby
  • A little one, too little, getting some nourishment. A month old and only 3 1/2 pounds, fed with a syringe today.
The team is so very grateful for your prayers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Haiti Update #7 2/23

It's at this point in the week that the updates often start to get really long. Read on for stories from a great day...or skip to the bottom for prayer requests :)

First, water is pumping from the new system in Cavaillon! The solar panels are operational and charging, and everything looks great. There is still work to be done - lots of it - but there were very happy faces among the team today. Our amazing engineers and all around smart guys even taught the visiting reps from the American water purification organization how to do something today they'd never figured out on their own - and they said it would be in the manuals from now on. Kudos to our guys! By the way, this system will be able to pump out an amazing 300 gallons of water an HOUR once it's fully up and running, and be verifiably as clean as Aquafina bottled water we buy here in the states.Is that great, or what?

Some of the work they have to do sounds like fun to the water team - they get to fix some grading issues around the housing unit and retaining wall with a bobcat on Thursday that rather conveniently just happened to be parked at the guesthouse this week. They'll take it to Cavaillon, do the work and then bring it back. Sometimes work is as fun as play, right?

And tomorrow, they'll spend the first half of the day in Savanne with the medical team...but there for the purpose of scoping out the location for the next water purification system. It will help them a lot to see the site and make some preliminary plans. They are quickly rising to "expert status" when it comes to this stuff!

Another important facet of the water system is using it and maintaining it correctly. The Haitians who are doing technical training are taking this very seriously, and our hygiene team led by Andrea is doing a great job teaching hygiene and proper use to them, as well hygiene to the housemoms and kids. Clean water pumping out won't help them if they put it in unclean containers or don't understand the difference between "clean" and "dirty" water.

And the medical team...what a day. LaHatte is about 90 minutes away from the guest house, pretty much straight back into the jungle. It's an orphanage that's been in the ESMI system for a while, but because it's hard to get to medical teams rarely go. Our team was the last one there two years ago. Fortunately, the kids were in great shape overall, with housemoms who seemed to run things very well. However, there were two kids with suspected heart murmurs who will need sophisticated follow up in Cayes, one poor 10 year old with such significant tooth decay that she was actually malnourished due to the pain it causes her to eat, and one little 8 year old who is suspected to have TB. He and his younger sister just came to the orphanage after their mother died of the disease two months ago. Both children were quarantined immediately and need to get to a hospital for chest x rays and confirmed diagnoses. They also saw a neighbor woman who had a severely infected cut on her foot; without treatment the team is afraid the infection will go to the bone and she'll lose her foot or worse. They did an initial cleaning treatment today and they'll see her again Friday in Cavaillon. She will likely need treatment beyond that, as well.

The story of this visit to LaHatte can't be finished without a "rest of the story" follow up from their last visit. It was two years ago in LaHatte that an amazing spiritual battle fell into the laps of our team when a woman who local people feared was possessed came into the compound completely "not in her right mind", in fact slithering on the ground like a snake. Voodoo was a strong influence in the region and possessions are not unheard of as part of that dark and evil practice. The situation quickly became both surreal and scary, and clearly something spiritual was going on. Feeling completely out of their depth, but faithful, the team began to pray out loud for her and at her, that the demon would be vanquished. A circle formed and hands were laid on her, and in the power of the name of Jesus, her behavior changed, clearly the demonic presence gone. Fast forward to today...Madgala is a leader of ministry in the church in LaHatte. In fact, that event seems to have been a catalyst for spiritual change all over the remote area, as if the grip of evil had been loosened. Please see her picture, attached, once again being prayed for today under very different circumstances.

For the next couple of days:
  • Everyone will go to Savanne tomorrow morning, a very poor slum area of Cayes, which our medical team was the first to visit four or five years ago. Ever. As in they'd never had a doctor in the community. Up until then, ESMI wouldn't risk taking a team in, but felt our team was up to the task. At the same time a new church was being started there, and the combination of the sharing of the word and the team's ministry "nam nom Jesi" turned cold hearts dramatically towards the gospel. Now the church is thriving, and former gang leaders who practiced voodoo to retain control of people through fear are believers and leaders in the new church, many of them deacons. The docs will see patients, the water team do their site visit for the next installation. In the afternoon, the water team will return to Cavaillon to do more work there.
  • On Thursday, the medical team will go to a brand new location, Les Anglais, three hours away by coach bus, to a community that has never seen a doctor. They anticipate trying to see 200 children, and it will be a very long day. The water team will be back in Cavaillon doing re-grading and other fun things with the bobcat.
  • Water system progress, hygiene training, and a birds eye view of the housing system and solar panels.
  • Children from LaHatte - with new shoes and smiles
  • Madgala
For prayer and praise:
  • For the evident changes in LaHatte, including the witness that Madgala is to the power of the gospel. Please also pray that the sickest children would get the help they need.Also, the little 5 year old sister of the boy suspected of having TB is having a hard time adjusting to the loss of her mother and life at the orphanage. Please pray for her.
  • For the great working relationships among our team members, and for their dedication to their tasks.
  • For the wonderful way the Haitians are taking ownership of the responsibilities related to the water system. It won't work without them past Friday, and they are aware of the trust being placed in them for the welfare of their own community.
  • That all would go well in Savanne tomorrow. It is a needy place and can be overwhelming.
  • For the water team's continued effective work both in Cavaillon finishing things up, and in Savanne, looking to the next installation site.
  • For the health and safety of the team.
  • For electricity and air conditioning. Both have been spotty over the last 24 hours, which affected the sleep of much of the team last night. Their days are long, hot, and often emotionally hard. Good rest is key to them finishing the week well.
Thanks for reading and for praying!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Haiti Update #6 2/22

So much to be thankful for today!

The team scattered to their different tasks at Cavaillon today after an uneventful ride from Cambry. They each got a great start on what they came to do and still had time for fun and games with the kids. Some soccer balls and games of duck duck goose, music time, and ring around the rosie liven things up in any language!

It helped the medical team that the kids stayed in school for the first few hours of their visit, so they could focus on the housemoms' (and two new housedads') care and get well organized. And then...kids! Sixty four of them were seen by our docs after first going through some basic steps of scabies washing and getting some stats like height and weight. In general, they found the kids there doing well as far as progress in growth, but a rather large number of girls in particular had significant issues with scabies and resulting sores, impetigo and skin infections. Scabies is a very contagious skin parasite that causes crazy itching and is unfortunately hard to eradicate in group living situations in tropical environments. There are medicines to take for it in addition to the special washes done at every visit. Fresh clothes and clean linens all at the same time are key, and that was accomplished today as well.

Some kids had rather typical issues that in the US wouldn't cause problems because care would be immediate, but these had gone without the kind of attention we take for granted; things like wound care, an ingrown nail, or fungal infections. Nothing major or unusual today, which in an of itself is good news. All the kids are treated every time for intestinal parasites and given a supply of vitamins, in addition to the scabies treatments. Also good news: ESMI has engaged another doctor to work in their system, and he'll be dedicated primarily to Cavaillon. His name is Dr. Don.

And the water system installation had a hugely productive first day of work, getting further along than probably any of the team had even hoped possible. They've prepared and worked hard to be ready for this task and it showed today! The preparatory work done by the Haitians proved to be just right, and six Haitians began their training in the set up and use of the system today, through interpreters. Those six men and all the housemoms also got training on hygiene and water usage (using clean and safe containers for water transport, etc.) by our team. Still a lot to do, but a wonderful start on this hugely important project.

Everyone remains healthy and even the weather seems to be cooperating - a covering of clouds today kept the temperature comfortable for everyone. The electricity is on at the guest house tonight, and last night the air conditioning started at 10:00 pm as expected and stayed on all night. All of those things allow our team to recoup their strength with good sleep and be ready for another day at full strength.

Some pictures from today are attached:
  • Fun and games with the kids
  • New clothes, new shoes, and bright smiles with some mugging for the camera, of course. Kids are kids!
  • Water system progress - so awesome to see it take shape!
And for prayer:
  • Plans for tomorrow are up in the air for the medical team. They will be at Cavaillon for at least half of the day, but they got so much done today they may be of better use elsewhere for the other half. The water team will be at Cavaillon all day every day this week, as of now.
  • For the housemoms and housedads at Cavaillon. Group care is hard work and requires love and patience as well as discipline. Please pray that they have all of these things in proper measure so that the children will thrive.
  • Safety in work and travel and continued health for the team
  • Continued great teamwork and care for each other. As the week goes on, the team will need to lean on each other perhaps a little bit more. It's easy to get overwhelmed!
Your prayers are so very much appreciated by the team. They are grateful!

Monday, February 22, 2016

2/21 Haiti Update #5

The team got to worship (some twice!) with their Haitian brothers and sisters today, and then got busy! See the attached pictures from worship today.

Thirty five duffels weighing 50 to 70 pounds each went to Haiti with the team of 18 people, and all of their contents were unpacked, counted, categorized, labeled, sorted, and repacked today. After several years of doing this (and almost always having veterans of other trips on the returning teams) this massive doesn't slip into the kind of chaos that you would imagine! We are grateful for the generosity that makes a day like this necessary and even fun for the team, though probably a little daunting. There's a wonderful mix this trip of returning team members who have done this before and eager first timers who just jumped right in on this task. And all are excited to actually get startedtomorrow!

A few of our donor churches focused on shoes and socks for the kids of Cavaillon this trip, and man, were they successful! At least 200 pairs of shoes (play and dress shoes for each child) and 450 pairs of socks! How great is that? Kids who play and live without shoes in Haiti are prone to serious injury and parasite infestation, so this is really a big deal for their health care - although we don't usually think of shoes in that way! Thanks to the donor churches in Chicago and Las Vegas for these wonderful provisions. See a few pictures of the sorting work done today, attached.

The "water team" sent two representatives to Cavaillon to inspect things this afternoon, and reports were good. Also, ESMI (through other donors) had solar panels installed around the compound in addition to the solar panels that our donors made possible for the water purification system. Unfortunately, no training was provided for their use and it quickly went offline. Our team will try to trouble shoot that issue for ESMI while doing their own work, too, which DOES include intense, hands on training of Haitians who've been recruited for that training in order to avoid just that kind of problem with the water purification system once our team leaves. There are a few pictures of a similar purification system set up in Cambry and also a picture of the outside of the housing unit at Cavaillon attached.

The plan for tomorrow calls for all to go to Cavaillon, water team and medical team. Its a 45 minute trip via pick up trucks over some pretty bumpy roads and almost roads. They'll hope to leave about 8:30 and return about 6:00. The medical team's goal would be to see about 1/2 of the kids tomorrow, and the rest when everyone returns Tuesday. The water team will be spending every day this week at Cavaillon, but the medical team will be elsewhere Wednesday and Thursday. Hopefully a little play time with the kids, too, and some time dedicated to showing some care to the housemoms, as well.

For prayer this evening and tomorrow:
  • Refreshing sleep. There was electricity tonight, but the air conditioning is set to start only at 10:00 pm (which it did). Please pray it stays on to foster a good night's sleep in the stuffiness of small rooms in hot conditions.
  • Continued health. All are well, and our team member with the cold is being well taken care of.
  • For the tasks at hand tomorrow. So many pieces need to come together for the water system - literally, as it came to Haiti in pieces and needs to be installed piece by piece - including in depth training of Haitians who will keep it running once our team leaves. And also for the medical team as they take care of the 90 or so children living at Cavaillon.
  • Safe travel, back and forth. No flat tires or other complications, which can shorten their days considerably. No AAA to call!
  • In all, a unity and a joy in service so that they Haitians know that our team is there "nan nom Jesi", in Jesus' name. 
Thanks for your prayers and support of this team. They know they can't do their work this week without you!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Haiti Update #4 02/20/16

The team arrived safely at the Guest House in Cambry after a long but blessedly uneventful ride from Port au Prince. After settling in and having dinner together, they are navigating the realities of spotty electricity and figuring out the challenges of showering in the pitch dark, because when it's dark in the Haitian countryside, it's really dark. But the weather this evening in Haiti is delightful - a cool breeze and a clear sky. And they are happy to be at the close of what one trip veteran calls "the smoothest travel day ever, about as good as it could be".

A few pieces of good news:
  • There is no zika virus in this part of Haiti as yet. Just to be safe, the compound was fumigated before their arrival, but there have been no reports of illness in the area. It seems to be active in the north instead. 
  • Just today - today, after months of being in progress - Pastor Louis confirmed that the preliminary construction work in Cavaillon required for the installation of the water purification system is done. Talk about God's perfect timing! The Haitians have worked through difficulties of getting supplies and paying extra for them through the political unrest of the last few months. The team won't know until they get on site if the work matches the specs that were sent, but there's no question that the local workers have done their best under difficult circumstances. 

Tomorrow is a day of worship, rest, and unpacking and organizing. The team leader, Ted, will preach at Bon Berger (Good Shepherd) Cayes first, perhaps accompanied by a few team members. Then breakfast back at the Guest House at 9:30 for all before a second service at Bon Berger Cambry, where Ted will preach again. This is the ESMI "mother church", the largest, and the service is televised throughout Haiti and around the world to Creole speaking ex-pats in numerous countries via the internet. They estimate that 2 million Haitians tune in. The service is about 2 hours long - joyful, loud, and full of music and praise.

After a bit of a rest, the team will tackle the massive job of unpacking and re-organizing the contents of up to 20 duffel bags stuffed with medicines, clothes, supplies - all of which has to be reorganized into daily "go bags" for each day of the week. It's an amazing production to be a part of, and is a tangible reminder of the generosity of so many who have donated materials or funds to stuff those bags with greatly needed items.

For prayer this evening:
  • Good rest tonight and during the week, and continued health so that all can do the work they came to do at their full strength.One team member who says he hasn't had a cold in 25 years has one now...but he's also got a team of doctors at his disposal :) Pray that the cold symptoms not hinder him, nor spread to others. 
  • For electricity. It makes a huge difference to be able to come back to a cool and properly lit sleeping space at the end of a long day of ministry. Even though the temperatures are not uncomfortable outside, it can be hard to be comfortable inside without air conditioning...and certainly a challenge to navigate in the pitch darkness. 
  • For Ted as he preaches twice tomorrow - that the gospel would go forth, and that language and cultural barriers would not hinder that. Also for energy as needed after a long day of travel. 
  • For good teamwork as things get organized tomorrow, and for good team dynamics to be built as everyone gets to know each other and begin to work together in this important and often stressful work. 
Thank you for your partnership! Your prayers are key to this week of ministry, and the team is grateful.

Haiti Update #3 2/20/16

Please join the team in praise! All of the concerns from yesterday have been answered in the ways that we'd hoped:

  • Transportation to and from the airport last night and this morning went off without a hitch. The team got to the airport in good order, checked the bags, and met up with their two "red eye" companions from the West Coast. 
  • The flight from Miami to Port au Prince was smooth, safe, and pretty much on time 
  • All the bags made it on to the plane and were all retrieved from baggage claim (that hasn't always happened, either!) 
  • And the biggest one - customs took only one hour (it has been up to three on past trips) and EVERY bag was passed through with no confiscations or "surcharges". 
Indeed, much to give praise for!

Here's a picture of the assembled team outside of the airport as bags are loaded for the trip to the guest house in Cambry, which usually takes 5 hours. It's a pretty nice "tour" bus, not a school bus, so they will be in relative comfort. They're in the capable hands of ESMI staff now until the week is over and they are dropped back at the PAP airport.

Still much to tell and prayer requests every day...but they are on their way. There will be a short update tonight with plans for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Well, as much as "plans" count in Haiti :)

Many thanks for your partnership in this adventure!

Preview attachment 0220 Team in PAP 2.JPG