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.