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, 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

Haiti Update #2 2/19/16

Everyone who is supposed to be in Miami is now in Miami :).

After some flight delays, most of the team is assembled and enjoying some pizza during a team meeting. Tomorrow will start early with a shuttle pick up at the hotel and a flight out at 9:50 EST for an arrival in Port au Prince at noon. The rest of the team will join them at the Miami airport to travel the rest of the way together, including a 5 hour bus ride from Port au Prince to the guest house in Cambry, their base of operations for the week.

Tomorrow will be a long day of travel and getting through customs at the Port au Prince airport with upwards of 35 duffel bags full of supplies is stressful. The team will appreciate your prayers for them through the day as you are able.

Thanks so much for your support!

Haiti Update #1 2/19/16

The Chicago based team (representing 5 CMP churches) has just departed from O'Hare, and others are coming from Texas, Washington State and Las Vegas, 18 in all. They'll meet up tonight in Miami for a team meeting, except for the few who are doing a red eye from the west coast; they will meet them at the airport tomorrow morning.

This trip has been complex to plan and greatly needs your prayer support. In our American culture's way of doing things, plans have been made, supplies purchased, extensive training completed, and bags stuffed with necessary supplies. But in Haiti, plans often need to change due to "on the ground" realities,such as:
  • Building supplies necessary to install a water purification system have been hard to come by and expensive due to the current level of political unrest in the country. Supplies and deliveries are often interrupted as a way of protest. Even food is in somewhat short supply in some places. It is not known as of now whether work is sufficiently completed for the water purification installation to begin. 
  • New government policies have been implemented relating to medicines brought in to the country. The team and ESMI have done their best to comply, but policies are so new that the customs agents may not know what the procedures are. Also, the team is not sure that they have all the necessary paperwork assembled and in their possession. 
  • Even on the ground transportation in Miami tonight and tomorrow morning for a group this size with up to 35 stuffed duffel bags has been tenuous to secure. 
In all, after all of our human planning and effort, God is sovereign. His love for his children on the team and for his people in Haiti is much more powerful and important than all our human planning can accomplish. Ask God to be merciful and gracious, and that he'd take our best plans and bring them to the fruition he desires.

There will be a brief update tonight when all are accounted for in Miami, but even now, please pray as you are able today and tonight for these things. Some are very time specific over the next 36 hours.

Generally, pray that the Lord Jesus will be exalted in this week, that He by the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in and through the team, that we will be of real encouragement and assistance to the church planting and ministry efforts of El Shaddai, that Satan will be bound, and that the gospel will go forth with great grace and power during this week.

More specifically, please pray:
  1. That all the bags will get through customs in Haiti without any fees being charged or bags/supplies being confiscated.
  2. Pray for safe and timely travel throughout the week, especially with the significant amount of political unrest at this time.
  3. That everything will go well with installing the water purification system at Cavaillon, especially that the team of six Haitian men will be responsive to the training and learn how to install, operate, and maintain the system.
  4. For good team chemistry and for the safety and health of our team. 
  5. For Ted Powers as he preaches Sunday at the churches in Les Cayes and Cambry.
  6. Pray for the Medical Team as they provide care for some of the orphans and the surrounding community at Cavaillon (Mon and Tues), Savanne (Wed), Las Anglais (Thurs), and Cambry (Fri). – Our trip to Las Anglais will be the first time the 200 children in the school there and the community itself have received medical care.
We hope to have daily updates with some pictures of the day's activities. You will enjoy seeing the smiling faces and walking along with them as they week progresses.

Thanks for your support!