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, August 6, 2018

Haiti trip 8/3/18

The team has come to the end of their week, spending a long day in Mayan capped off with an excursion to a lovely beach at Port Salut (the only port in Haiti at which cruise boats stop - but no one gets off the boat!) for a few hours of R&R before tackling a few last tasks back at the Guest House. It will be a long night of re-organizing supplies (some to leave, some to bring back), packing up their own things, and hopefully catching a bit of sleep before leaving tomorrow at 4:00 am EST for the long trek back via coach bus to Port au Prince. This is one tired team, but exhilarated by a great week of ministry and so excited to be coming home!

The time at Mayan was fruitful and so very appreciated by the 65 people the medical team was able to see. Everyone pitched in somehow, as the entire team was together. The remote nature of this place (one person said travel to this location was more suited for donkeys than for people, as it’s up the side of a mountain) means that western-style medical care is scarce. There’s also a lot of poverty, which is typical for Haiti, but today our folks were literally giving their own extra clothes and shoes away. Over the course of the week, they’ve given away many hundreds of dollars for people to use for further medical care and other needs. The team saw lots of scabies, lots of undersized kids, adults with chronic and untreated issues, and bodies that were just worn down from the nature of life in a third world country. There is now an ESMI sponsored church there the proclaiming the love of Jesus where before only voodoo held sway. It is so strong in the region that people doubted a church could thrive, but it’s taking hold.

On the way back, they actually stopped and made a housecall! An elderly woman, Zabette, practically housebound, who Pastor Louis knows got the 5 star treatment for her ailments from our top notch team - surely the best medical care anywhere in Haiti this week was available from our team.

The stop at Port Salut was truly the first “break” all week. Two hours of lovely beachfront relaxation, with a rented cabana for their use and snacks, all provided as a “Thank You” from Pastor Louis. On the menu? Bite sized barracuda you could pop in your mouth whole, lobster, and plantain with a cole-slaw like salad that is SO spicy even the Haitians can’t eat it. Not sure who does eat it, or why they serve it. Only for those who’ve already fried their tastebuds, perhaps!

A few last pictures from today. Enjoy! 

Although the hour is late, we hope you’ll see this in time to pray this evening for a few things:
  • Safe and on time travel tomorrow to Port au Prince, then Miami, then scattered flights home to Chicago, to Texas, California, and North Carolina. 
  • A good “re-entry” for our team into normal life. The experiences, pace, sights and challenges of Haiti stay with visitors a long time and for a while life back here feels in no way “normal”. Pray for our team as they navigate those feelings. 
  • Praise God for the water systems that were brought online this week - three! Amazing and truly life giving! Praise Him for the children's ministry that loved, loved, loved on kids at every turn, and carefully and joyfully shared stories of God's love for them, and for the almost 500 patients our intensely hardworking medical team was able to treat. Lives were changed in wonderfully different ways by the different teams, but changed for sure. 
  • Pray for the Haitians who faithfully minister year in and year out - Pastor Louis and all the ESMI staff, Pastor Mongerard in Savanne, the pastor of the new church in Mayan, and many others. Ask that God would sustain them and protect them from harm, from evil, and from discouragement. 
  • Pray for those who heard the gospel this week, that it would bear much fruit. Pray especially for Malone as she is fearful of her father’s reaction to her new faith in Jesus.
  • Pray for the orphans in Cavaillon and LaHatte, for their care and safety, for their hearts to turn to Jesus, and for them to grow into people who will not only serve the Lord but be good citizens in Haiti who bring change to their beleaguered country. 
The team is grateful for your prayers and support! They couldn’t have done this week without you.

Haiti trip 8/2/18

Have you heard the one about "making plans in Haiti"?...

Actually, the team deployed in three different directions today, and two of those went as planned, and went wonderfully.

The children’s ministry team spent a great day at Cavaillon doing lots of fun things, like Bible story skits on the story of Daniel and the paralytic lowered through the roof (performed in costume, no less!) singing, games, and for sure lots of hugs and smiles. These kids are so receptive to attention and the chance to have fun with adults, it makes for a joyful experience for all. Eighty five happy kids, 8 happy and probably pretty tired team members!

The water team had a hugely impactful day today. First, the final steps to getting Savanne back on line, complete with a new and VERY deep well, were completed successfully. The local water board is ready to go with the knowledge to keep it running, with help as needed from Living Waters. And as if that wasn’t enough for one day, they got ahead of schedule and checked out the Cambry system this afternoon and lo and behold, with a few repairs and a few new parts and batteries, it too is up and running. No one expected that, but what a great thing! Three water systems in one week! The Cambry folks still have to formalize their “covenant” and have a water board re-trained, but this is huge for the Cambry community.

And the medical team? Not as they planned, but clearly as God had planned...they arrived at Savanne and were set up to start seeing patients by 10:00 but it was clear the crowd was even bigger today than yesterday. They agreed they’d see 65, and then pack up and go to Cavaillon...and then it was “okay, 80...”, and yet the sick folks (babies, especially) just kept coming. When all was said and done, they’d seen 160 patients by working non-stop for 8 hours in the oppressive heat and humidity, with perhaps a few energy bars eaten along the way. They were assisted by 2 community health workers and some church leaders/volunteers, and of course their stalwart translators. Needless to say, they missed the opportunity to enjoy the time at Cavaillon with the others, but God had a different plan for them today. Their resiliency was sorely tested as the need, the pace, the heat, and the tiredness wore on them - but they were champs! Exhausted champs, for sure, but true servants and professionals as they did what they felt needed to be done.

Two stories from today - Malone, the girl who gave her life to Christ amidst her intense medical treatment yesterday, came back today just to be with everyone. She was feeling much better - better than she had a in a long time, apparently. Whenever she caught a team member’s eye, there were big smiles. And more of her story came to light - both her father and uncle are voodoo witch doctors, and she’s fearful of their reaction to her new faith in Jesus. Both were away from home yesterday and today, but she’ll be having to talk with them soon.

Near the end of the day, the team leader was approached by a man who was not there to see a doctor, but to thank the team. During the last team’s visit to Savanne in February, they treated his baby son and very likely saved his life with some timely antibiotics and breathing treatments. He just had to come back and thank them again for the gift of life they gave to his precious son. It was a great reminder to the team that although the work is hard and the needs cannot possibly all be met, some needs are met...and it can change or save a life, such as Malone’s or this baby’s. Today was one of those days. Clearly it was time well spent.

Tomorrow the plan is to go to Mayan, a remote village about an hour away. Our teams are the only ones to ever go to this village, and they’ve only been there once. Medical care is non-existent for these folks, so it’s a real need. Only catch is there are no roads for part of it (did we say remote?) so 4 wheel drive vehicles make dry river beds the “road” as needed. Another “Disneyworld” type ride, as long as the river beds aren’t full of water...and it was raining late tonight. If Pastor Louis deems it safe and they go, they’d leave early, stay for long enough to see a max of 50 people, and then head to Cavaillon to say goodbye to the kids there. If Pastor Louis says “no go”, they’ll spend the day at Cavaillon. Either way, they hope to swing by a beach in Port Salut for a quick look at the ocean, maybe getting their feet wet :) at the end of the day.

Their week of ministry is almost done, and they are very tired. And Saturday morning will come early - they leave the Guest House at 4:00 am to go to Port au Prince for the flight home.

Just a few pictures today...thank you for journeying with the team in this ministry!

Please pray:
  • For the team’s endurance and spirits. Today was a hard day in many ways, especially for the medical team. For all, the needs of the people of Haiti are overwhelming.
  • For continued health and energy
  • For effective rest that restores for another long day tomorrow
  • For the health of the people of Savanne, LaHatte, and Cambry to be quickly and positively impacted by the availability of clean water, and that the systems would function flawlessly for a long time to come
  • For Malone as she tells her father of her new faith in Jesus and her desire to turn away from voodoo. Pray for her safety.
  • For the hearts of the people who heard the gospel in Savanne and Cavaillon to be impacted and won over by the love of Jesus.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Haiti trip 8/1/18

If there’d been a wish list for how today at Savanne could have gone, it would have been completely checked off!

The water team connected the system to the new well (causing a bit of a “water park” experience for the nearby children, as it gushed for a bit while being connected - talk about being in the right place at the right time for those kids!) and is ready to be “shocked” tomorrow...Lord willing, Savanne will once again have clean water as of tomorrow. This is HUGE, and once again the water team deserves kudos for their great work. God bless engineers and people who are good with their hands who know how to do stuff like this, for it truly will save lives!

The children’s ministry had a blast acting out Bible stories, doing skits, and telling kids about Jesus. They took over the empty water house for a bit today for their “stage” and then moved into the clinic waiting room to have a bit more room. This team made it even more fun by having some costumes to wear - in the 100 degree heat of Haitian summer. That’s artistic dedication!

The medical team saw 110 patients in about 7 hours of non-stop work. Four doctor “stations” were fed from intake and triage, and from there patients went to the pharmacy - all under one roof. It’s amazing what you can do with folding chairs and an empty concrete shell of a building - lives were saved today in that unlikely place! Lots of babies, the elderly, teenagers, all waited their turn peaceably in the chairs provided for the chance to see a doctor - perhaps for the first time ever.

One patient, a 17 year old girl, was treated all day for a high fever, congestion and likely pneumonia, and definitely dehydration. As the day went on, more of her story came out. Her father, in order to help her get well, took her to a voodoo witch doctor, which is a common practice. That person gave her a piece of chicken bone sharpened into a toothpick-like piece, which was woven into her clothes. The witch doctor would say this is supposed to protect her. As she spent the day with our team, she heard more and more of the gospel, and through an interpreter, agreed that she needed Jesus in her heart. When her mother came back to check on her later in the day, she told her mom “no more voodoo, I follow Jesus now”. Her mom, although taken aback, was not upset, but the team wonders what her father will think! Her name is Malone Gouzi.

Longstanding friendships were renewed, too, as some of the former gang leaders, deeply enmeshed in voodoo before coming to Christ and now serving as leaders in the church, welcomed our team. It’s good to see them thrive!

Although all of the teams worked very well and very hard, there were needs they couldn’t meet, and sick people the medical team couldn’t see. In addition, the level of need and the effects of lifelong poverty were difficult to experience. During the team’s prayer time tonight, one person prayed “we’ve seen things that will make it hard to close our eyes”. And yet, they must for there is more to do tomorrow.

The water and medical team will go back to Savanne for the first part of the day. The children’s ministry team will head straight to Cavaillon to spend the day with the kids there. At some point, the Savanne crew will join the team in Cavaillon for one more chance for play time with the kids.

Friday, most of the team will head to Mayan, a more remote location that has been visited only once before by our teams, but where ESMI is planting a church. The ministry by our medical and children’s team will be a big encouragement to that community, and they’ll be busy! The water team will stay closer to "home" and check out the water system right down the hill from the Guest House at Cambry, which was installed by others a long time ago and no longer works. It will be a fact finding trip to see if it can be repaired and put back in use by our February 2019 team.

Please enjoy these pictures, some from today (the well, the waiting room, and the story time) and some a “catch up” from Cavaillon. All show our team expressing the love of Jesus to the people of Haiti. Isn’t that wonderful? Thanks for your part in making that happen!

Please pray:
  • For Malone and her new life in Christ, and what that might mean in her family
  • For the team and the stress they feel from the press of time, the heat, the desire to meet as many needs as possible yet knowing they can’t meet them all, and from the unrelenting reality of want and poverty in Haiti. 
  • For the people who have heard the gospel by word, story, and skit, and seen in it action this week - ask that God would call them to Himself. 
  • For the hardworking interpreters and ESMI staff, without whom our team could not do ministry
  • For continued health and safety for our team.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Haiti trip 7/31/18

There is clean water flowing in LaHatte! Congratulations to our hard working water team, both those in Haiti this week and those stateside who put in the work to get materials ready and packed for use this week. The team carefully trained and tested local people who have been identified to serve as the “water board” in LaHatte, who now have the responsibility of monitoring, maintaining, and running the system with assistance from Living Waters for the World. That organization has teams living in Haiti and can provide on the ground support for systems like this. Well done, all!

Our medical team saw all of the kids at the LaHatte orphanage today, 48 total, plus 7 adults who staff and manage the orphanage. The kids were in good shape - not malnourished or rampant scabies, although they don’t see medical folks as often as some other locations. And now, with clean and adequate water, they expect they’ll do even better, especially in regards to the threat of cholera in the community.

Our children’s ministry staff made sure there was lots of fun to be had - balls, jump rope, coloring, and interacting with the kids was the order of the day. And when it was time to go, the shy little ones had turned into a noisy chorus of goodbyes. How strange it is that hearts can be knit together so quickly.

Back at the Guest House, tonight's team meeting time was spent talking about Savanne. Known as “the place the police won’t even go”, it’s a very poor part of Les Cayes, which is one of the largest cities in the western part of Haiti. Our team first visited perhaps 5 years ago, in advance of a new ministry that was planting a church there with ESMI. The hope was that the team would show that Christians care even about the poor and those who are not believers (in fact, much of Savanne was in the grip of voodoo worship at the time, and a very dark and scary place besides being economically severely depressed). The presence of that first medical team did indeed open doors for ministry, and in fact saw some dramatic conversions during their visit. Fueled by that momentum, the church continued making inroads, and truly has been a center of change for that community. Conversion continued, families were repaired, made intact or strengthened, and former voodoo and gang leaders are now leaders in the church. And yet, Savanne is still a rough place. When our team goes, the ESMI leadership is careful to provide significant crowd control for the medical team access, because the needs are so great that people can become desperate. There is no healthcare available in Savanne itself, and the people are too poor to use Haiti's "pay as you go" system anyway. Unlike the first few days of seeing children, tomorrow the team will see adults as well, many with chronic illness, STD’s, or AIDS. The children will likely be sicker and malnourished. It will be a long, hot, noisy, and stressful day. And yet, the team knows that the church’s pastor, Mongerard, and ESMI staff have been praying for their witness and that the spirit would move through Savanne to bring people to Himself through the ministry of our team - both medical and children’s ministry. The children's ministry is ready to go, too, with Bible stories that will share the gospel in age-appropriate ways, skits, and songs.

And the water team tackles their second system “reboot”. A working system existed in Savanne as of last year, but the well itself ran into problems which made the system ineffective. A new well has been dug (paid for by donors in the US) so the team’s task tomorrow is hooking up the existing system to the new well, and then troubleshooting to get it back online byThursday.

A few pictures made it through tonight...enjoy!

Please pray
  • For good rest tonight before a long day tomorrow (and electricity!)
  • For the heat to stay manageable for the team - they’ll be inside tomorrow, out of the sun, but in a makeshift “clinic” and “kids’ center” full of people. 
  • For continued good health. Midway through the week, everyone is doing well!
  • For good teamwork among those working with children (skits, crafts, stories) and the division of labor on the medical team (intake, triage, doctor stations, pharmacy, and scabies wash station)
  • For the water team to be able to deal with the technical and mechanical needs they find so clean water can once again flow in Savanne
  • For the gospel to be shared and bear much fruit. Every person will hear the gospel, and be prayed for as they interact with our team members
Thank you for your support! It means the world to the team.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Haiti trip 7/30/18

Today was a very successful and productive day on all fronts! Kids were loved, played with, and cared for. Every orphan at Cavaillon was seen by our medical team - 85 of them! - plus the housemoms, who are key to children’s good care, so keeping them healthy is a wise investment! These hardworking women got a little TLC and a gift package provided by our team members. They were very appreciative of the special care.

The water team at LaHatte made such good progress that they are expecting to “shock the system” (give it a major cleansing which ensures the water produced is healthfully drinkable) tomorrow and give it the all clear to begin producing water again. The village should start seeing health benefits almost immediately, with their own trained "water board" to keep it running and in good shape, trained by our folks and an organization called Living Waters, which partners with our team members in Haiti.

The orphans at Cavaillon were in good shape medically - some scabies and malnutrition, but that seems to be with the children who are new residents at the orphanage, so the team was hopeful that would improve the longer they are there. A few typical scrapes and burns that are part of being a kid, but nothing major. And that in itself is worthy of a moment of thanksgiving - in the not so distant past, their condition as a whole caused concern. But not today! Safer and cleaner living conditions and more nutritious food does wonders. To those who sponsor these children financially (providing their food, education, and housemom care) please know it’s making a difference.

Besides a careful check from our docs, all kids had a ‘scabies wash’ (to do just a few doesn’t do any good - it’s a skin parasite that causes crazy itching, and is very contagious - unfortunately common in group homes in tropical climates), and the medicines to re-do it as needed are left with the housemoms. Then it was on to the ‘new clothes’ station. What fun for them! They only have new clothes when our team visits and provides them - and just like kids everywhere, their clothes get worn out or too small. The Texas team had this as their “priority packing” and they were ready!

After the medical visits, fun was had by all! Games, songs, just sitting together getting some personal attention - it was a very fun day for the children. And the team :)

Tomorrow, the full team will go to LaHatte. The medical and children’s ministry team will do what they did today in Cavaillon - seeing as many people as they can- while the water team does their “shocking” work. LaHatte is a bit further than Cavaillon from the Guest House, so it will be a shorter time spent on site. The team has to be back before nightfall each day as the roads don’t have much in the way of streetlights - actually, nothing in the way of streetlights. Sometimes, they don’t have much in the way of roads, either! The team will be traveling in two sturdy pick up trucks, “Haitian style” (in the back) for some. Other teams have sworn it’s better than the rides at Disney :) As always, they’ll be accompanied by ESMI drivers and staff.

Getting pictures from the team is proving problematic, as cell coverage seems to work for voice, but not text. WiFi works only when the electricity is on, which can be spotty. We regret that we can’t share pictures with this update, but we’ll hope to catch up as the week goes on!

Please pray for:
  • Continued good rest (and electricity)
  • Continued good health - so far only a few have had any “travelers’ stomach” issues
  • Continued safety in travel, with no delays that would impact how much they can get done at LaHatte
  • Patience and teamwork as they set up in a new location, and peace and calm while working with the residents
  • Opportunities to share the love of Jesus in word as well as in deed
  • The children of Cavaillon - that God would physically protect them, and that they would grow spiritually into young men and women of God. Pray also that their physical needs would be met through the continuing generosity of their sponsors (ongoing and new, as needed).

Monday, July 30, 2018

Haiti trip 7/29/18

The team got plenty of opportunities to share in worship with their Haitian brothers and sisters today at three different services - 7:00 am in Cayes at Bon Berger (Good Shepherd), where our own Pastor David was the guest preacher for the first time. No small audience there - the service is televised to a good portion of Haiti as well as picked up to livestream to Haitian expats all over the world. He might have preached to two million people people today - through an interpreter! No pressure :)

The second service was at 10:00 at the second congregation of Bon Berger in Cambry, where the guest house is located. Pastor Chad was the guest preacher there. The congregation was excited and pleased to hear that their Pastor Louis would be doing a “pulpit swap” in this fall with Chad, when he visits Chicago and preaches at Chad’s church. It was a wonderful way to tie the two churches together.

Along the way this week, friendships will be renewed between our team members who've gone on multiple trips and Haitians in various locations we visit regularly. It's a special time for both, and speaks volumes of the love and concern our ministry displays for the Haitian people - it's not a "once and done", but instead, our teams come back, and care about them.One of the pictures below is a reunion between a team member and a boy who first met 5 years ago. He waited for our team member to come down the hill this morning so he could be the first one to greet her. Both were happy to see each other!

The afternoon was spent sorting. And sorting some more! The duffels that were carried in yesterday came from three or four different states via our team members, and each location had a “priority” list of items to gather from donors and pack - underwear, shoes, clothes of different sizes, bedsheets, etc. The Chicago team also had several thousand dollars worth of medicines and water systems materials in their duffels. It will all be used during the week, but had to be repacked in a sensible way for the first few days of ministry. It will all be reorganized as they go, but the big job was done today. The repeat team members were able to lend their experience, which is always a big help in tackling this massive job, and the Texas crew did a lot of prep work before they came - 240 sets of clothes were bagged and tagged by gender and size before going in the duffels. That was an immense help!

The third praise time opportunity came this evening, when most of the team headed back to Cavaillon via coach bus. The worship in all three places was vibrant, joyful, hot, and LOUD. Haitians believe in expressing their faith with exuberance!

It was a welcome and unusual treat for the team to get to spend time with the kids (and today the community) of Cavaillon this early in the week, and it will help the rest of their time there tomorrow and Tuesday be even sweeter as the kids will be familiar with them and be ready to just enjoy the time more. It’s also great for the medical team, who usually miss out on the fun and games because they’re focused on their clinic tasks for the most part. Part of the team, though, is planning the “fun and games” and will just focus on loving on the kids. How great is that!

And the first “wrinkle” which people doing ministry in Haiti have got to be ready for - the bus they took to Cavaillion broke down on the way home and Pastor Louis, after some delay, was able to get alternative transportation back to the Guest House for them. The team is told repeatedly to expect things to happen on “Haiti time”, to be flexible above all else, and if asked to do something by the team leader, the answer is “ok, sure”. It’s the only way people can manage the realities of the situation there while working with a large team of people they’ve (in some cases) just met. It’s a wonderful, joyful, heart filling, heartbreaking, mentally, physically, and spiritually stretching week, and it’s unlikely this first wrinkle will be the last!

The water team will hive off Monday to go to LaHatte, the next place being set up with a water system. It’s really a “reboot”, as there was one there previously installed by another organization but it has been non-functional for quite a while. The need is pressing, as the leaders of the village could see quite clearly that when the water system was running, cholera was eradicated - and when it failed, it came back. There is no doubt that clean water saves lives in Haiti - in fact our engineer friends say it’s the best way to save lives. On Tuesday, the water team will go back to finish the job while the rest of the team goes back to Cavaillon.

The team will appreciate prayers for:
  • another night of good rest after a long day (and with that, reliable electricity which powers the air conditioning), safe travel to Cavaillon and LaHatte tomorrow. It still feels great outside with a breeze, but gets hot quickly inside.
  • the teams to quickly get into a good work rhythm in order to maximize what can be accomplished
  • safety in travel
  • patience with delays. The schedule calls for devotions at 7:00 in the morning, then breakfast. They hope to pull out of the compound at 8:30. 
  • health as people acclimate to the heat and the food
  • opportunities to share their faith and encourage the children, housemoms, and others at Cavaillon
The team is grateful for your support and partnership! Enjoy some pictures from their day.

Haiti trip 7/28/18

And they’ve arrived! Travel was smooth and customs even smoother - no delays in their flight or meeting their coach bus and hired escorts at the Port au Prince airport. At customs, there was a brief check of paperwork and they were on their way - the bags weren’t even opened. That is a far cry from what the teams have come to expect, and a welcome change! Every bag arrived, as well. Given their precious cargo, that’s a wonderful blessing.

Things went so smoothly that a last minute decision was made to “swing by” Cavaillon on the way to Cambry, where the team will stay this week. They arrived as the children were starting to eat dinner and were able to hear the children sing a blessing before they ate, and then visit a bit. The children were delighted to see some familiar faces on our team, and returning team members recognized several kids, as well. It will be fun to go back for longer visits during the week.

After settling in to the Guest House at Cambry and eating a dinner of fried chicken, brown rice, plantain chips and peas and corn, it was time for a team meeting, showers, and finally - bed. The electricity was on, and although the heat and humidity were not oppressive today, it will help our team to sleep in air conditioned rooms.

Tomorrow will start early, with church at 7:00 and 10:00. The afternoon will be spent unpacking and organizing medicines, clothes, and water systems supplies - close to 2000 pounds of duffel bag contents brought in by team members. A potential trip back to Cavaillon for evening worship is being considered, as well.

Please pray for good rest, for electricity (which helps the rest!), for health, and for the team to quickly get into a rhythm of teamwork as they tackle the sorting tasks tomorrow. Pray, too, that their times of worship with Haitian brothers and sisters would be uplifting and a blessing to their spirits as they start their week of service. Ask God to go before them in their tasks, their interactions, and their conversations this week, as they serve “nan nom Jesi”, in Jesus’s name.

Cell service is spotty (especially for texts, for some reason) but a few pictures made it through. The changes seen in the pictures of the Cavaillon orphanage are remarkable to those who’ve been a part of this ministry for a while. When our teams started coming, children at this orphanage sat on a dirt floor to eat out of communal bowls near an open fire pit where their food was cooked once a day. Many children had rampant scabies and the tell-tale orange hair of malnutrition. And now look! Praise God!

Haiti Trip 7/27/18

Our team of 22 is gathering in Miami tonight. Once assembled, they'll have their first full team meeting - they are coming from Chicago, Texas, and North Carolina so it will be a fun evening of pizza and team building as they make their final preparations to arrive in Haiti tomorrow.

The day tomorrow will be one of the longest of the week - they're meeting a shuttle to take them back to the airport at 4:00 am. Their day will include travel by bus first, then plane and then a LONG bus ride from Port au Prince to Les Cayes/Cambry, where they'll be staying at the ESMI Guest House for the week. Fortunately, it's a coach bus so they'll travel in relative comfort, with their own security escort just to allay any concerns for safety, given Port au Prince's recent demonstrations - which all agree have calmed down completely. But still, reassuring to have the escort.

Before that long bus ride, a long wait to get through customs. Always a challenge with up to 45 duffels (50 pounds each) stuffed with medicines, water systems supplies, clothes and shoes. Please pray that all of the contents sail through customs without any difficulty and without any additional cost.

Their plane arrives in Port au Prince at 9:15 am Eastern Time tomorrow morning. Your prayers for their day of travel will be greatly appreciated.

Our hope is that you'll receive an update each night on the team's activities, including some pictures, and definitely some prayer requests. We consider you an integral part of the work being done by the team this week, as nothing will be accomplished without the prayers of God's people. Thank you in advance for partnering with them in this way. There is a prayer guide attached to get you started!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Haiti team photo

Just couldn't resist sending this picture, taken this morning en route to the airport. Proof that they are all happy, finally all healthy, and all coming home! After all you've heard and prayed for this week, it seems you deserve to see that all is well!

They are at the Port au Prince airport waiting at their gate for a 2:00 EST flight. Flight tracker says it's on time :)

Praising God with you all for a fruitful week of service in Jesus' name to the people of Haiti. Well done, team!H

Haiti trip 3/2/18

The team spent their last day back in Savanne, the medical team seeing a whopping 130 patients (including the ones who were turned away on Wednesday, right at the front of the line) and the water team troubleshooting all day long on the water system. It ended with a life and death situation for the medical team, when they were already exhausted and looking forward to packing up after a non stop 7 hours in the heat, noise, and press of people. Literally non stop.

Today the medical team saved a baby's life. It is sobering to think that if they hadn't been there, hadn't been there TODAY, or hadn't been there that LATE, this baby would have died. A 17 month old baby girl, Rose, was rushed in to the clinic by her mom. She was having a seizure, which the docs assessed as being caused by extreme dehydration. The seizure was her body's way of protecting the brain from shut down, but that shut down of the rest of her body had already started. She was on her way out. Acting quickly, the team got her roused from unconsciousness and immediately started an IV. It was a bit of a fight, as even in her state she was lashing out in wild fear. She actually bit the person holding her and her teeth had to be pried off his hand. The IV revived her to the point that the team could stabilize her and send her off with her mom, IV still inserted, to get to the hospital with funds they provided.

Meanwhile, as the situation with Rose stretched on, the team's drivers were patient but getting quite uncomfortable. No one who doesn't have to stays in Savanne after dark. They were anxious and antsy to get out, and the team packed up as soon as the baby was on her way to the hospital and left.

The water team worked all day to solve a "yellow water" issue in the water system in Savanne. Some answers were found, but Living Waters and the Savanne based water board (folks trained by our team when the system was installed) will have to continue looking at possible causes over the next week and report back to our team.

Some bright spots of the day included reuniting with friends such as Jude again. There were several others who are familiar to our "repeaters" and it is almost like a family reunion when they get to see each other. All are doing well.

Another positive development is that it looks like the bug that worked through the team seems to be waning - a few are still weak and on the mend, but as of today, no one was coming down with anything.

Upon their return to the house, they found local vendors who are invited to sell their local art and wares to teams working with ESMI. A little haggling can be fun, and it supports the local economy. Perhaps a little early Christmas shopping was done?

After a final team meeting to process the day, supplies were sorted and packed up to be left at Louis' for use at Cavaillon - mostly vitamins and some meds for the kids.

Tomorrow their day starts early. A coach bus is scheduled to pick them up at 5:00 am EST to start the long ride back to Port au Prince. The flight to Miami leaves at 2:00 EST, then from Miami folks will scatter to Chicago, California, Phoenix, and Milwaukee. It will be bittersweet - they're so anxious to get home, but leaving the team will be hard.

For one final time, please pray for this team tonight and during the day tomorrow, specifically for:
  • Smooth, safe, and timely travel. Many connections through many miles. 
  • Health tonight, tomorrow, and upon their return home
  • A gentle re-entry to "real life". Many leave Haiti feeling overwhelmed and bombarded with the reality of the need they've seen. They are physically exhausted, as well. All of that makes it an emotional time. The people of Haiti, with whom this team will leave a part of their hearts. 
  • The leaders in ministry in Haiti - Dony, Louis, Monchera, the Duchitie church planter, Jude, Antoine, the interpreters who serve them so well all week, the housemoms at Cavaillon. 
Thank you for taking part in this mission, and for hanging in with prayer. There were 294 email addresses on this prayer list, many of whom represent churches where the updates were circulated. The team is grateful for every one!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Haiti update 3/1/18

“Are we gonna be ok?”
“This is NOT missions 101 - this is missions on steroids”
“We really need people to pray for us!”

All of the above were heard today in Duchitie. The team got there later than they’d hoped, but the “advance team” of Dony and the church planter of the three month old mission church with local leaders had done an excellent job of setting up space for them to work. And word had spread far and wide that American Christian medical people were coming to Duchitie, to this new Christian church, coming in Jesus’ name. When extreme need meets limited availability you get the kinds of conversations and feelings represented above.

In fact, the team was fine, but a growing crowd caused anxious moments and a lot of stress. At one point, the team leader told Dony to say to the people crowding in and clamoring to be seen “either walk out the door calmly and wait or we’re leaving”. And they did walk out.

The day was complicated by some additional team members and one translator succumbing to the gastrointestinal difficulties that have been circulating around the team. No more than 2 or 3 at a time have been incapacitated, but Duchitie is no place for that kind of issue. Also, the heartbreaking tug of knowing you are leaving sick people - especially sick babies or pregnant moms - behind without treatment is traumatic. The team was wonderful today and very efficient - seeing 120 people, some with complicated and time consuming needs, but they will leave Haiti with a much deeper and visceral understanding of the ocean of need that Haiti is. In fact, some were brought to mind of Jesus’ experience with crowds and the heartbreak he felt on their behalf.

A special thank you to those who took the time to pray earlier today. That quick request went out with only the team leader knowing, yet not long after, a few team members told him they felt a sense of calm, and even the feeling that people - lots of people - were praying. When he told them tonight that was indeed the case, they were awestruck and grateful. Please do NOT underestimate the role you have on this team. The rest of the team certainly does not!

Now the team is back in Cayes, sorting and prepping for another day, after a dinner and a team meeting that allowed them to decompress. There was a lot of stress-reducing laughter at dinner, finding some of the funny things that happened today. It felt good, and they feel better being at the house, working together and processing their thoughts and experiences with each other. A good night’s sleep will help a lot, too.

On another front, the LaHatte water board came to Cayes today to sign the covenant required by Living Waters so that they and our team could work towards getting their system up and running again - the surest weapon against cholera in their community. It was a covenant pending the raising of funds, so all committed to pray. A rough estimate at this point puts the task at $14,000.00

Tomorrow, it’s back to Savanne for both medical and water teams. It will be another busy and stressful day, but all want to finish well and do what they can with the time they have. In the evening, one more round of repacking supplies, this time to organize what can be left their for ESMI’s medical staff. The van to pick them up for the trip back to Port au Prince will come very early Saturday morning, starting a long day of travel back home.

Please pray:
  • For the people of Duchitie to see the gospel and embrace the gospel
  • For those who were treated for very difficult or chronic things, such as malnutrition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and infected wounds. Medical care is minimal, difficult to get to, and expensive so many go without
  • For the team to process their experience today and this week in ways that grow their faith, give glory to God, and incline their hearts to see the mercy and love of God in all things, even hard thing
  • For God to provide the resources to repair the LaHatte water system
  • For the teams' time in Savanne tomorrow - that the water system would be repaired so that it functions well, and that many would be physically and spiritually nourished by attentive and caring actions from by team. 
  • For the health of our team, physically and in spirit, and for good nights’ rests tonight for all.
  • For the wrapping up of the pastors' training work being done in Jeremie, by Sean and local pastors being trained to train others

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Quick Prayer Request for the team in Haiti

The team arrived in Duchitie a little later than they'd hoped and the crowds are quite large and growing. It's probably pretty clear that many will be unable to be seen given the time available, and people are getting a little desperate and impatient. Please pray that the crowds would be orderly and patient, and that our team would be able to focus on just what they can do and stay calm. Louis and Dony are there, as well. Pray for safety for all.

Thank you!

Haiti update 2/28/18

Thank you for praying for the team's day at Savanne. They were definitely answered. 

  • The medical team saw 86 patients today. Although hot and crowded, it never seemed out of control or chaotic. Our team worked like a well oiled machine...but a machine full of compassion. One woman who was taken to the head of the line because she was in full asthmatic attack and likely a few minutes before full respiratory failure, was able to say afterwards "I have never been loved like this, or experienced such kindness. I will never forget". Several team members found themselves serving in unusual ways (pastors checking urine samples for pregnancy tests? "okay!") and doing so with joy.
  • The day was extremely well organized by Pastor Monchera and his team of leaders/volunteers. He even brought a bullhorn so he could be heard giving directions above the din. He stopped accepting people into the line around 2:00 so by the end of the day, all but 15 people had been seen. Turning people away is very hard - they could have been waiting for 11 hours! - so when one of our team members went through to apologize he was astounded to hear nothing but gratefulness that the team had come. They will be back for another full day on Friday!
  • The repeaters on the team were able to see changes in the people of Savanne. There was not the air of desperation; people were carrying themselves differently, dressing with more care. There seemed to be more pride and hope. 
  • Our friend Jude was there to greet the team - he was the "guy in charge". His conversion was one of the first in Savanne after hearing the gospel at one of our first clinics. From voodoo strongman and bully, he is now a tender hearted servant in the church the community, and seeing the changes in him has led many others to Christ. He was there all day shadowing the team making sure all was well. 
  • The water team was able to spend the day checking and troubleshooting the water system installed there last year. They made good progress and will be back to work on Friday. This community water system has brought a great deal of pride (to say nothing of better health and even some jobs) to Savanne, and the water board is anxious to have it run at full capacity.

Often, by midweek and especially after a day at Savanne, the team is beginning to feel a little frayed and fried. Not so this time. Everyone is tired, and now 5 or 6 have had significant intestinal upsets, but they are still feeling energized by the tasks at hand and looking forward to yet another new destination tomorrow - Duchitie, which is 90 minutes away (likely by four wheel drive truck - the best seat is the bed of the truck to see the views, although bumpy and windy!). There's a new church recently planted there, but the village is so remote the residents have never had a doctor visit. It's certainly influenced by voodoo practitioners. Yet the church is planted and the gospel is being preached. So tomorrow, a new adventure.

Please pray:
  • That transportation would arrive on time and in good order, so the team can get away around 7:00 EST for the 90 minute trip. They need to be on their way back well before dark (not safe to travel those roads after dark), so arriving early will maximize their time. Pray for safe travel.
  • For their work with the residents of Duchitie. With no medical care available, they could be in rough shape. For sure they will need to hear the gospel from our team along with physical care. 
  • Pray for the team's health to stabilize or remain good. They'd all like to finish the week strong. Pray for good rest in cool space. 

Praise for:
  • The relative good health and especially the change in the feeling in Savanne. The gospel is making a a difference. Praise God for people like Jude, now faithful servants and leaders in the church, and Pastor Monchera, who leads so well. 
  • The many ways the medical and water teams contributed to the lives of people in Savanne today. Their gratefulness was genuine and so encouraging to the team. 
  • The way the team has molded together to work incredibly hard and incredibly well.
Thank you so much for praying! Enjoy the pictures from today...

Haiti update 2/27/18

The team's second day at Cavaillon was as productive as it was fun. The rest of the children were checked out by our medical teams, there was time for some fun, and a pictures were taken to go with their medical charts. A great day!

There were also breakouts for the hygiene trainer to remind the adults and kids about clean water practices (like what to use clean water only for, like brushing your teeth); since the water purification system provides the first reliably clean water the site has ever had this is learning curve for them! Their previous water supply was an untreated well, and finding frog parts in the water wasn't unusual. Any engineer will tell you that clean water takes care of more health problems than medicines, and we're hoping that the benefits to the kids at Cavaillon are huge now that they have this reliable supply of truly clean water.

Dr Daisey also spoke to the housemoms and the older girls about womens' issues and hygiene, as well. The housemoms really appreciate this, as it gives them more information to resource the girls and also gives them a chance to share personal concerns - not something that happens a lot for women in Haiti, with very limited access to health care.

The team loved spending time with these children today. For many "repeaters", it's a chance to renew relationships and rejoice in how the children are blossoming. Those who came to Cavaillon in the early days despaired at their circumstances; now, although there's room to improve in important ways, the quality of life for these kids is like night and day from those early days. Truly something to praise God for, and celebrate what the generosity of financial sponsors have been able to do over the last 5 years.

The water team spent a VERY profitable day in LaHatte with Living Waters, their water purification systems installation partner. The system at LaHatte is old and not in good working order, although the team was able to pinpoint problems and do a temporary fix for some things. They'll be going back tomorrow to do more, and talk to the village leaders about entering into a contract for oversight and maintenance with Living Waters and our Friends of Haiti non-profit board. If they all agree, they can work together to fix the system and keep it running. The village leaders are anxious to do so, since they say "when the system works, cholera goes away. When it doesn't, it comes back". That's significant motivation and also a telling endorsement of the power of clean water to maintain health.

Our under the weather team members are rallying, but unfortunately the bug is spreading. But the best medical care on the island is on our team, and the medicines seem to be helping.

Tomorrow will feel very different for the medical team. Instead of an orphanage in an out of the way place, the team will be going into the poorest part of Cayes, a city in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our teams first visited about six years ago in conjunction with a new church being planted there by ESMI, and it was literally the first time the residents had access to medical care. In Haiti, you "pay as you go" for medical care, and these poorest of the poor had no access to that. The team's presence and their verbal witness sparked the beginnings of a revival which the church planter was well equipped to respond to through his own evangelism and preaching ministry, and the church thrived. The community, always greatly influenced by voodoo leaders who intimidated with fear, now began to change. As the team went back year after year, the changes were obvious. Gang leaders were now believers and leaders in the church. Savanne was calmer, cleaner. People were trying to find work. Children were more well cared for. People who had serial relationships now married the father or mother of their children to make a family unit. It is not an overstatement to say the gospel is changing Savanne.

And yet, tomorrow will be chaotic and hot and loud and stressful - because the people are needy and numerous. Louis St Germain will bring translators (as always) but also will pay church leaders, some who have become friends to team members over the years, to provide crowd control. The team will see as many people as they can by working as hard and as fast as they can, and at the end of the day, many residents will be disappointed by being turned away. This is exhausting and heartbreaking for the team, but they focus on doing what they can and only what they can. They also know they'll be spending a second day there on Friday, which will help a bit. When you go to Haiti to serve "the least of these", the overwhelming sense of need is the hardest thing to weather.

Please pray
  • That God goes before the team tomorrow to give a sense of peace and calm in the face of what seems to be a chaotic situation, and that they can do their best for these folks, feeling safe and secure knowing that other Haitian friends are watching out for them. 
  • That the gospel, which will be shared over and over, will not fall on deaf ears but that some will gain spiritual healing even though they came seeking physical healing only. 
  • For our sick team members to fully rally for the remaining days of ministry, and that none others would fall ill. Please continue to pray for good rest and for air conditioning, as they go hand in hand. 
  • For the children of Cavaillon; that God would grow them into disciples of his and that they and other young people in Haiti would provide a firm spiritual foundation, and this this country would once again thrive under their leadership. 
Thank you for your prayers!