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, March 6, 2017

Haiti Update 3/3/17

What an amazing and wonderful celebration at Cavaillon today. The children got to visit for the first time since the hurricane last fall (some of the little ones had gotten kind of confused on the whole "where do I live?" question - thinking they'd just be at Cambry forever now since that's been their home for a long time - four months IS a long time when you're little!) for a very special dedication that has months in the making, with lots of generous donors and creative fundraising coming to bear.

The work is not yet done in the complex, but "The Kitchen That Love Built" was dedicated today. Ongoing work in the cafeteria, bathrooms, office space, regrading outside with rocks to help drainage and parasite control, and sleeping quarters (much brand new construction, some necessary repairs from the hurricane) will continue, although additional funds are required.

There was a ribbon cutting, singing, prayer, and a story of how the vision for the new kitchen/cafeteria complex came to be by a chief fundraiser, Beth DeLaCruz. There's a special plaque that was put in place today, as well. When completed, Cavaillon will be a wonderful, modern, sturdy, and safe place for the children who live there. The progress is truly astounding, but the work yet to be done significant. Yet it is such an exciting thing to see happen!

And this was only HALF the day...the "shelf team" stayed and got their main tasks done so others can finish up this big project, but the medical team went on to La Hot to visit the orphans, housemoms, and several community people. In 5 hours of work, the team saw about 90 people - kids with scabies, infections, burns, cuts, and some adults as well. One little girl had a badly burned hand that was infected (another cooking fire accident, far too common due to the open fire cooking used in much of Haiti) which was of great concern to the docs. They started her on antibiotics, but in the US she would have been hospitalized and on an IV drip of meds for a few days, at least. It is possible that the infection will cause the loss of her hand. Please pray that it will not be so.

In total this week, the medical team saw approximately 430 people in multiple locations.

By the way, one important story from yesterday's visit to Mayan, a remote village in what Haitians call a "dark region" due to voodoo influence and which has literally no churches or Christian witness. It is a "preaching point" that ESMI hopes to develop into a location for a church plant over time. It's one of the reasons the medical team went today and has visited on past trips. Yesterday, after being seen by the docs and prayed for and cared for by our team, an "elder statesman" in the village came back later to seek our our team leader and prayed to receive Christ, quite possibly the first Christian in the village, ever. Could this conversion of a respected older leader be the start of God's gracious movement in this community? Let's pray it is so!

Tomorrow is a long travel day that starts at 5:30 EST, when the team is to be assembled outside the guest house to pack up the coach bus and start the long trip back to Port au Prince. From there, a plane to Miami, and then planes to a few different locations back home.

This team has accomplished an amazing amount of work, with such a great team effort and a relentlessly cheerful and upbeat demeanor in service. They are delighted at what's been accomplished, surely, and at the same time even more aware of the work still to be done. Please pray that their efforts this week have lasting effect, and at the same time that they can rest in knowing they've been faithful to do what they could in the time they had...and that it is enough for now.

Prayers for safe, smooth, and timely travel and health upon returning home will be most appreciated. Prayers for the precious children they leave behind, and for the people of Haiti are requested as well.

Thank you for your support of this team. Your contribution of prayer is invaluable!

Enjoy the pictures from today - but one from yesterday, first, which finally got through today! The water purification system dedication at Savanne!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Haiti Update 3/2/17

Pride. Joy. Happiness. Community.

Those are not words that you would associate with a place like Savanne, yet they were there today. And health. Growing spiritual health, growing physical health. Because God chose to start moving in this place, and called his people to go when there was no pride, no reason for joy, very little happiness, and a community that was unhealthy in almost every way. He started by calling the leaders of ESMI to make Savanne a preaching point, and they called Pastor Monchera to join them. God paved the way for our team to be the first medical team ever to serve there just as the church was starting. He brought former voodoo witch doctors and gang leaders to Himself and made them church leaders who are now bringing life and health to this community on several levels, instead of fear. It is worthy of rejoicing...and rejoice they did today! The water purification system in Savanne was dedicated and is now operational!

The dedication service was in the church and included singing, speeches, prayers, and the awarding of training certificates and official water board member T-shirts to those trained to operate it (including Jude, Emmanuel, Jonas, and Jules, the voodoo practitioners and gang leaders who intimidated and controlled people in the community through fear before God changed them). There were 150 cups filled from the water tanks and the assembled group toasted the achievement together. Smiles and beaming faces mingled with tears of pride and joy. It might have been one of the best days ever in Savanne.

But that was only half of our team's day!

From there, 8 guys went back to Cavaillon to keep moving on the shelf project, and the medical team went on to Mayan - up the mountain! In pick up trucks :)

Their welcome there was quite the spectacle. A good portion of the village streamed down the hill to greet them as they got out of the trucks and met them with hugs, and then singing and dancing complete with drums. Before the team had done anything - except show up - they were thanked and welcomed and treated like visiting royalty. But the team didn't let it go to their heads - they got right to work and in five short hours they were able to see 124 people. Every one was prayed for and prayed with if they were willing on their way to see the docs.

It wouldn't be a trip to Haiti without some kind of vehicle trouble, and today was the day. Coming out of the mountains, one of the trucks developed break problems...as in there were none. Fortunately, it was not a problem to gently steer the truck to a place of safety but they were looking at a bit of a wait to get alternative transportation. In a bit of "small world coincidence" Louis noticed a bus getting washed in the nearby river, and he recognized it as the one he had rented for the kids to ride in for tomorrow's trip back up to Cavaillon. He asked if the driver wanted a job today, too, and the entire team loaded into the bus and left the pick up drivers to sort out the break problem. How's that for roadside assistance? God certainly was watching out for our team!

Tonight, the team is sleeping in comfort again - the generator has been fixed or somehow coaxed into producing power to run the AC. Last night was hot and steamy without it. A good night's sleep tonight is a blessing that will help them power through their last day of ministry tomorrow. At this point in the week, even in the smoothest and most celebration filled weeks, the teams are running mostly on adrenaline and willpower.

Everyone goes to Cavaillon in the morning for the dedication of the new facilities there, although more work needs to be completed before the children move back. Much has been accomplished and all are hoping it won't be long now. The "shelf team" will stay and finish up that very helpful job, while the medical team goes to yet another fairly remote village, LaHotte. Our teams have been there before but probably no medical teams since their last visit perhaps a year ago.

Technology refused to let pictures arrive from Haiti today for some reason, except for a few of the teaching team with their students in Jeremie from earlier this week. We hope to catch up tomorrow!

Some prayer requests...and praises!
  • Much praise for the dedication of the water purification system. Lots hard work by our team went into this project well before arriving in Haiti and certainly great teamwork on the ground was on display. Praise God, too, for the Haitians who have taken their tasks and training seriously and given the team confidence that all will be in good hands.
  • Praise for safety in travel today, and prayers for more tomorrow and Saturday.
  • Praise for the resurrection of the generator and the cool air it provides.
  • Pray for good rest and continued health as the team gets into the final day of ministry in Haiti.
  • Pray for the folks the medical team was able to help today and every day this week. Ask that God work in their hearts to provide spiritual healing as the team worked to provide physical healing.
  • Pray for the tireless leaders at ESMI who shoulder so much responsibility every day, including Louis, Dony, and those they train as pastors, work with as translators for teams, hire to be housemoms, and those who are working on the construction at Cavaillon.
As always, the team is grateful for your prayers and partnership in this week of ministry in Haiti. Please pray them through tomorrow and Saturday until they arrive safely home.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Haiti Update 3/1/17

Today was a day with lots to celebrate, and blessings were seen on all fronts. Apologies in advance for the length of this update and the number of pictures attached...

First, the amazingly smooth work of the water purification team including clean water/hygiene training resulted in the system at Savanne being completely installed and tested today and ready for the community dedication tomorrow. Well done!!

The hardworking and well trained team has even been able to use other hands-on skill sets to re-focus on a "bonus" task - getting shelves up at Cavaillon in the storage rooms and dorms. This wasn't planned, but the team has the know-how, time and resources to do it, so why not? Why not indeed! This team could probably do just about anything!

By the way, the funding for the materials for these shelves is the overflow from a gofundme project sponsored by a few of the water team guys, who raised more than their goal to cover some additional water system costs, so they are using it on the materials for the shelves. What an awesome way to maximize their time and abilities in ministry there.

So, they multi-tasked today, also doing some prep work in Cavaillon, measuring and getting resources together. They also gave the water purification system there a check up. It was installed a year ago and has been run by Haitians who were trained by them at that time. Its sturdy construction withstood the hurricane last fall, which did extensive damage to the living facilities there. And today the team found it in tip top condition, a testimony to the work of the Haitians who oversee it. They are doing a great job!

The teaching team returned to the guest house today from Jeremie after three full days of teaching 20 pastors how to more fully and accurately teach and preach Bible passages by giving them study skills and tools to help them preach the text. These pastors were hand picked for their leadership skills, and it is their job now to maximize this teaching by training other pastors. They represent 15 churches in 5 different denominations, and between them have approximately 3000 people in their churches. The goal is to exponentially grow the impact of this teaching time so that many more can benefit. It was a great three days!

There was a change of plans for the medical team today. Instead of going to Mangnat (or in Creole, Mayan - lots of places have both French and Creole names, which works fine for Haitians but keeps English speakers routinely confused!) they stayed at the Guest House and saw the 85 Cavaillon kids and their housemoms. Last night was the close of Carnival, the Haitian version of Mardi Gras, and the roads around the region were still clogged with people going home from Cayes, the center of Carnival this year. It seemed best to let everyone else travel today!

The medical team gave out hugs and medical care to the kids in equal measure. There was a lot of time for interacting, as some of the pictures will show you. A few naps were taken on laps, which no one minded at all! The kids were in good shape overall, with some attention needed for scabies, which always seems to be the case for kids in group care in tropical climates. The most difficult case today was removing a rubber band which had become deeply embedded in a young girl's ear. It had become infected and was quite the challenge. It was a reminder to the team that kids are kids everywhere. What else explains a little person pushing a rubber band into her ear? Fortunately, the little girl, her ear, and her hearing will be fine.

And the day ended with a very special presentation to the Cavaillon kids of their very own place settings to use once they get moved back into their own housing, which they got to try out today. It was a project long in the works and was originally planned to dovetail with the opening of the new kitchen/cafeteria facilities at Cavaillon this winter, but the hurricane damage put that behind schedule. Instead, there will be a dedication ceremony of the in-progress facilities on Friday (with all the kids being bused to Cavaillon, too, for just the day) but the team gave them the shiny blue trays, utensils, and bright red cups today. ESMI provided a special meal of macaroni, hot dogs, and peanut butter on bread. Team members circulated showing the kids how to use the forks, because they only had spoons before. The children were delighted with the special trays, cups, and utensils...and hot dogs! Housemoms, too, were given a special moment in the spotlight to be thanked for their tireless work on behalf of the children. Gift bags with a beautiful scarf, soaps, and other toiletries were provided for them. It was truly a wonderful celebration with delighted children, grateful housemoms, and team members who couldn't stop smiling. And hugging children :)

Tomorrow: Water system dedication at Savanne, and then the "shelf team" will go to Cavaillon for a day of construction. The medical team goes to Mayan/Mangnat for the day.

Friday: In the morning, the team and the Cavaillon kids go to Cavaillon for the new buildings dedication/celebration, and then the medical team will spend the rest of the day at another village, La Hot. The "shelf team" will likely stay at Cavaillon all day to finish up their work. And then Friday night, the last re-organization of supplies, which are left at the pharmacy at Cambry, the orphanage down the hill from the guest house. And a short night's sleep before an early morning bus ride back to Port au Prince. From there, home!

For prayer:
  • Praise for the substantial generosity of many people which provided the funding for the water system, the new construction and kitchen equipment at Cavaillon, the place settings for the children, the gifts for the housemoms, the medicines and clothing given out all week...and for those who make it all work with time, effort, training, and going to be Jesus' hands and feet.
  • Pray for continued safety in travel, as the teams are striking out to more remote places in the next two days, and for continued good health for everyone. 
  • Pray for the generator at the guest house, which, alas, has finally broken down and refused to provide air conditioning any longer. The team has electricity for lights, but it's the generator that provides the juice for air conditioning. If a repair tomorrow is not possible, prayers for ability to sleep in the heat will be next on the prayer list.It is a delightfully cool evening tonight, fortunately, but it gets hot inside even at night. 
  • Pray for the kids from Cavaillon and all the other orphanages in the ESMI system - for their health, safety, physical, mental, and spiritual growth so that they can be strong and upright people of God in Haiti as they grow to maturity and adulthood, leaders in their community and builders of their own strong families in the future.
Thank you for praying!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Haiti Update 2/28/17

So much accomplished today...and it's only Tuesday!

The water team is cautiously optimistic that they'll put the finishing touches on things tomorrow and everyone is looking forward to the dedication ceremony tentatively planned for Thursday afternoon. It is impossible to overstate the impact something like this water purification system can have in a community like Savanne. The health benefits combined with the sense of civic pride make for a powerful combination. The empowerment from the training to actually manage it themselves is huge. It is perhaps the first time some have been entrusted with something this important or received any real training for a task, and there is eagerness to lead and take responsibility! And to know that your babies are drinking clean water? Can you imagine the peace of mind?

The medical team today was in high gear, and in a shortened day saw 85 patients, including a re-check of the little guy who was so sick yesterday there were concerns that he might not make it. What a difference meds and hydration can make! See the picture - of him with no fever and his relieved dad, who joined in prayers of thanksgiving and songs of praise to God with everyone today. The two days at Savanne have molded the medical team into a unit, which is quite something considering many of them met only four days ago and very few had worked together before. True professionals and servants in equal measure.

A small group went back to Cavaillon today and another to Brevette, the first to work on repairs and construction (check out the pictures below and the video on Facebook at Kitchen That Love Built, just shot today) and the second to evaluate that location as a possible future sponsored ministry site. The teaching team is busy and doing well in Jeremie.

Everyone is in high spirits and eager to do more. The heat is not oppressive although surely it is hot. The air conditioning to sleep in makes for good rest. The somewhat shortened work days and the more manageable heat have had two benefits - not quite exhausting the team at the beginning of the week AND allowing them the late afternoon back at the guest house to walk down the hill to play with the Cavaillon kids. As one team member said, "it's why we come!" See the pictures attached and you'll see what they mean! They are swarmed when they come to play!

Tonight more bags were restocked and prepared for a day at Mangnat, about an hour away but pretty much straight up a hill. Should be a fun ride in the back of pick up trucks! The medical team will work in a little two room school at this remote village in which ESMI hopes to soon start a church. The water team will wrap things up at Savanne, except for the dedication on Thursday. The teaching team continues at Jeremie.

More to do, but so much accomplished. Praise God!

For prayer:
  • Pray that all stay healthy, take precautions in the heat, and pace themselves. Good rest is key, so pray for that, too, and yes, for the air conditioning :)
  • Pray for safety in travel. This team has been more of a "split squad" on this trip more than any in recent memory, due to the multiple priorities and needs. Lots of coming and going!
  • Pray that the medical team's work in Mangnat tomorrow will sow spiritual seeds as they meet physical needs, and that seeds sown in Savanne over the last two days will bring spiritual fruit in the lives of many.
  • Pray that the water team's work will come to a smooth conclusion tomorrow.
  • Praise God for the swift turn around in the little guy with pneumonia. Ask God to protect him as he continues to heal. 

Thanks so much for your faithful prayers. The team is relying on them and grateful for your partnership!