Mission Statement

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Haiti Update 2/27/17

Things are rollin'!

The water team is making great progress on the installation, and the training team has done a great job getting some Haitians trained in hygiene/proper water use - in fact, within minutes of training the first group, those folks went out and recruited others to teach what they'd just learned. The goal is to have a team of people trained in the technical aspects of the filtration system so that they can run it after the team is gone, and also have others that can make sure people understand how to use clean water - for key health areas like brushing teeth, washing babies, and drinking. Doing those three things will cut down the water borne illnesses dramatically, including cholera.

The medical team was able to see about 60 patients today, including a few that were time consuming procedures, like the little guy whose picture is attached. He has pneumonia and a very high fever. The team tried to get an IV in because he was severely dehydrated, but couldn't get into a vein. They started him on meds and gave him as much to drink as he could manage, and they'll see him again tomorrow. He's likely one that would not have survived without this medical care.

It was a good "learning curve" day as the team gets comfortable with the organization of supplies, the set up (4 provider stations, with intake and triage feeding into them) and the surroundings. Everyone worked hard and well, doing their tasks with diligence, good spirits, and servant's hearts. The crowds were steady but not overwhelming, and the church leaders were on hand for both the medical team's needs and the water system team's support.

Since the hurricane, which made the church structure and a good percentage of other Savanne buildings and homes unusable (they are right on the water, where the hurricane made landfall) the people of Savanne have been hard pressed. There are no "social services" to make sure needs are met, so whenever ESMI or other Christian or humanitarian agencies show up, its an encouragement. To see the donations from ESMI supporters pour in to fix the church building, see a building go up for the water purification system, and now to have our team show up (as they've been doing twice a year for four years) proves to them that they haven't been forgotten. Although the needs are great, our team has been told "half the battle is showing up". What an encouragement to the people who live there! Even though the personnel on our teams can change with every trip, they are greeted like old friends because of the work the last team did for the residents' benefit. In return, the Savanne folks have pitched in tremendously with our teams to help however they can. There's a feeling of hope. Hard to put a value on "hope". Maybe priceless?

The small team who went to Cavaillon had a blast painting and tiling with the work team of Haitians who are there every day. They came back saying that when all the improvements and repairs are done, Cavaillon will be beautiful and almost unrecognizable from the early days of our support. We hope to have some pictures to share tomorrow, when a few will go back for more repair work.

Another small team will hive off for the day to visit a prospective location for future ministry, just doing some initial evaluation and touring. The teaching team will continue in Jeremie.

A second day in Savanne for the medical team and the water team tomorrow, and then the medical team will move on to Mangnat on Wednesday, where ESMI hopes to plant another church soon. The team will be an "advance ministry team" for that endeavor. The water team will stay at Savanne until the installation is done.

Lots of pictures from the day in Savanne are attached. Enjoy! And rejoice that God has given hope to this place, using our team to be Jesus' hands and feet and show His heart.

Some prayer requests:

  • Praise first, actually: all are healthy! And the electricity is on. The transportation has been smooth. And food is good :)
  • Praise for the work of the interpreters who are working side by side with our teams. So often they make the difference between things going well and things being slow and difficult. They are doing a great job thus far!
  • Praise God for the work of the Spirit in Savanne, who called hardened men blinded by the evils of voodoo into His glorious kingdom. One of the pictures is of Jude, whose conversion may have been what sparked the coming to faith of several others. 
  • Pray for the people of Savanne. Ask that God would continue to provide encouragement to those living there, and that the water system would bring increasing health, some jobs, and a sense of pride in the community. Pray also for Pastor Monchera.
  • Pray for the little guy with the high fever and pneumonia. His situation is precarious. 
  • Pray for the ongoing work in Cavaillon. So much has been done, and the desire to get the kids back "home" is huge.
  • Pray for the health of the kids sharing space at Cambry. The overcrowding is significant and can be a health concern. As anyone with childcare experience knows, lots of kids in crowded quarters is often problematic. Pray for the housemoms, too!
Thanks so much for sharing the work of the team by lifting them up in prayer. It is a critical contribution!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Haiti Update 2/26

What a great day! Worship, rest, organization, and LOTS of unpacking.

The team is really excited and pumped to get going tomorrow in Savanne. Both teams (medical and water) made sure bags were unpacked, sorted, prepped, and re-packed for a busy day tomorrow of improving the quality of life for many in Haiti.

Savanne is a rough and tumble place and even before the hurricane last fall, which leveled much of it, there was not much to commend it. Poverty is rampant, joblessness at about 90%; it wasn't uncommon to see kids naked in the street with no one to look out for them. In fact, when our teams first visited, other Haitians were impressed because "even our police don't go to Savanne". The poorest area of a poor city (Cayes), Savanne was filled with hopelessness and suffered under a pervasive voodoo influence - both of which are true in many places in Haiti. But ESMI had targeted this place for a church plant, and asked our medical team to go in as a vanguard of mercy ministry to bring attention to the church plant and their evangelistic presence. For that first visit, ESMI paid local gang members to protect our team from unruly crowds and maintain order. From that seed four years ago, a thriving church that brought hope and light to the community was started. Pastor Monchera works tirelessly in mercy, discipleship, and evangelism. His deacons and other leaders are the former gang members who ruled by intimidation, now helping to share their new faith in Christ. Several, including one named Jude, now look forward to our teams' visits with anticipation and spend the day serving in whatever capacity they can.

The medical teams are key to providing help in Savanne, and often literally save lives by their visits, but they can only come twice a year - the only medical care available there, really. But this year, hope and health come in new form: clean water. Engineers will tell you that if you want to impact the health of a community, dig a well. The water purification system our team hopes to install over the next five days will be a sustainable source of clean water for the neighborhood around the church, even providing a few jobs for those who are trained to manage and run it this week. It will just be another way that the church can show the love of Jesus to the people of Savanne.

The medical and water teams will be there early tomorrow and work all day. A few others will take a trip to Cavaillon to do some renovation to the orphanage there, still undergoing repairs for the extensive damage suffered during the hurricane last fall. It's critical to get those tasks done as soon as possible, so the orphans can move back instead of sharing space with the kids at the Cambry orphanage. They all need more space than they've got in that one location. The teaching team will begin an intensive several days in Jeremie teaching pastors who have come from all over that region to be equipped and further trained in theology.

Hard to imagine how 26 people could make any better use of their time!

A few pictures from the day attached. Enjoy!

Please pray:
  • For pacing during busy and stressful days. The water team will be outside in the heat all day long, the medical team in cramped, hot, and noisy quarters inside.
  • For safety as they work. Those same church leaders will be on site providing crowd control for the medical team, but sometimes desperate crowds of people needing medical care become frantic.
  • For logistics for the water team. They are uber-prepared and have actually done this installation before (in Cavaillon last year) but little thing can derail big plans. Pray that nothing does...or that their combined knowledge and practical know-how can overcome it
  • For the spiritual impact of the team's visit. Every person seeing a doc will be prayed for by the team. If they are willing to hear the gospel shared with them, they will hear it. Pray for God to open hearts as he uses our team to help sick bodies.
  • For patience as the teams work out rhythms of working together.
  • For Pastor Monchera, who cares for the flock in Savanne on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances.
  • Praise God for the generosity on display in the contents of the duffel bags. Since the hurricane destroyed their living quarters, the children from Cavaillon have no clothes but the ones they are wearing...except for the donated clothes they'll be getting this week. Thousands of dollars of medicines will allow some in Haiti to return to health, and will almost certainly save some infants' and young children's lives. And every piece of equipment to build a water purification system (bought and paid for by donations) came into Haiti Saturday in those duffels. Praise God indeed.

Haiti Update 2/25

God has answered all of the prayer requests from yesterday just as we'd asked! Safe travel, materials arriving, and air conditioning!

The team is now happily at the Guest House at Cambry, which will be their home base for the week. They are near Les Cayes, in the southwest peninsula of Haiti. This region bore the brunt of the hurricane last fall, although the entire country sustained damage.

The air conditioning and electricity are on, and the team was fed a good dinner of chicken, rice, plantain, and carrots and green beans (the latter two items probably brought in from the states; ESMI staff shops at Costco in Miami!). After settling in and having a team meeting, people went off for showers and bed. It's been a long day!

They arrived at about 4:30 this afternoon after a 6 hour ride via coach bus from the Port au Prince airport. There was some concern at airport customs when their government issued documentation to bring in medications was questioned. They were also told a 5% tax on the value of the medicines was required. After arguing that they'd never been told that or charged that in the past, they were allowed to move on after a very thorough search which resulted in the confiscation of some meds. Fortunately, a generous supply of those same meds in other bags went through so the medical team has what they need to work this week. All of the water purification supplies came through as well, although those bags were keenly searched in Miami this morning due to all the wires related to the solar panels.

Tomorrow is a day of worship, fellowship, and organization. Several will go to early church at 7:00, but all will at least go to another service at 10:00. The team leader, Ted, will preach (with an interpreter) a both services. The service will be hot, long, loud, joyful and full of praise and music. In the afternoon comes the massive task of unpacking the medical supplies and clothes from all those duffel bags and organizing everything for the first two days of seeing patients.

The medical team and the water purification team will go to Savanne on Monday, a short car ride away, getting an early start with a 7:45 pick up at the Guest House. They'll be working at the same building, inside and outside. The water team will get started on their task of having a fully functioning system up and running by Friday. The medical team will set up a clinic for residents, where they'll see hundreds of people in just two days. A small group will go to Cavaillon for the day (about 45 minutes away) to pitch in with some ongoing physical repairs (painting, tile work, and brick work) which need to be completed before the orphans can move back; they've been "bunking in" at the Cambry orphanage since the hurricane in October. There is a small teaching team who are working in Jeremie all week training pastors, and they were on their way right after arriving at the Guest House this afternoon with an ESMI staff person to travel with them. This team of 26 has some ambitious goals for the week!

By the way, about the team - 20 of the 26 have ties to PCA churches in Chicagoland, although two no longer live there. The other 6 are from Florida and the Pacific Northwest. Most have been on previous trips - some on several and a few on just one other. The water team has 8 fully trained members. The teaching team is three people. There are 8 trained medical people. Seven others are able to fill non-medical roles with the medical team even though that is not their professional background. They will be invaluable in making things "work" all the way around this week.

For prayer:
  • Good rest tonight at the start of a big week with lots to do, and every night this week.
  • Safety in travel for those going to Jeremie tonight, and Cavaillon and Savanne on Monday.
  • Health for the team; special protection from the heat/sun and dehydration
  • For good teamwork as they learn how to work in rhythm together to serve others
  • For creativity in solving and dealing with the inevitable challenges that will occur
  • For patience and understanding as they work in a different culture with different norms and expectations.
  • For good connection with the people in worship tomorrow and the children they'll be able to spend time with in the afternoon at the Cambry orphanage down the hill from the Guest House.
Thanks for your prayers. The team is grateful for them and knows how valuable your contribution is!

One picture - of the team last night at the hotel in Miami. A few are missing as they came in to Miami later. More pictures to follow this week if cell signals are strong enough for them to come through!