Saturday, September 16, 2017

Water in the rock!

The time finally came for the team from home to arrive who would set out to drill a well here at the mission house.  They made it to the mission on Monday afternoon, and after a supper of rice and beans, went right out to the drilling rig to get to work making things run properly.   Working with the equipment on hand was not going to be an easy task, but was one they were all mostly prepared for.  All through Monday evening, the team changed oil filters, cleaned parts, tore apart, re-assembled, and were able to get things going well-enough to be ready for the next day.

Tuesday morning, the men gathered outside to have a final prayer meeting asking for wisdom in knowing exactly where to start drilling. There was no expensive testing done, no water witching, just fervent prayer. The drilling rig and the water truck were parked along the west wall of the mission, and the process began.  It began as a not-so-dirty job, but by day three, the mud that was created from the mix of water and bentonite clay covered everyone that stepped near the job.  The large rocks and different soil made it a different experience for Eric Kell, a well-driller from Indiana who volunteered his time to come help. His guidance, along with a brother from Blue Ridge Mission who has a great deal of experience drilling wells here in Haiti, kept the project running as smoothly as possible. 

It is difficult for me to explain all the details that went into this process, seeing as I don't entirely understand it all myself, but I do know that it wasn't an easy task for all those involved. Threats of hurricane Irma loomed over us through the week, but it remained north of us while only dumping some rain and offering a bit of relief from the sun. It did, however, affect the itinerary for half of the people who were down here working. They had planned to leave Sunday morning, but their flights were canceled. If they wanted to leave any sooner than the following Thursday, they now had to leave Saturday.  While this was good news in getting them home to their families, it left one less day to finish the job.

By Friday it was looking as though they would be able to reach water. At 307 feet into the earth, they hit a waterway that seemed to be sufficient. Sixteen pipes, each at 20 feet long, were stacked one over the other into the whole that reached the water. Next, they all had to be taken back out.  One at a time, the old, sturdy truck lifted them out, and they were guided back down to lie on the truck where they were first taken from.  When this part was done, the well pump was lowered into the hole, only to realize that the pump we had was too small for the size of well. It was a little bit disappointing at the time that the job couldn't be finished before most of the group went back home, but things came  through in the end.

This week, we were able to get Blue Ridge to come out and bring a big enough pump, and clean out the hole. Wednesday evening we learned that we had water flowing at 40 gallons/minute! We are so glad to now see water flowing from the ground! Barry is working today to get the pipes hooked up to the water tank on the house, and get the wires that power the pump buried in the ground. 

Words can't express how thankful we are that God answered prayers and provided water for the mission!  After being so tight with water for nearly two years, the children couldn't help but run and play in the fountaint it came gushing from the pipe. We are thankful, also, for all who volunteered their time to come help with the process and "play in the mud."   In the rough, mountainous, island nation of Haiti, the Lord has provided "water in the rock!"

Making Repairs and Getting things Running.

Mike, from Blue Ridge, sat on a piece of cardboard when the fire ants were unbearable.

Mervin providing his mechanical expertise

Our old neighbors from Barbancourt, always thankful for work, hand dug the trench to run the water line.

Just beginning to drill.

Taking a break and juggling some breadfruits :)

Getting a little bit messy

A panoramic view of the whole operation

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A New Meeting Place

One thing that's been lacking is a place to send people who are seeking a place to go and hear the Word of God regularly, and surround themselves with sound doctrine, and sound believers.  For quite some time there has been a vision for such a church.

We are one step closer to that vision with the recent completing of a very simple, breezy meeting house. In the immediate moments following the completion, while the men who built the church were still there, and many neighbors had gathered around, the first impromptu message was preached. Barry stood in the midst of the group and shared without a translator, filling in the gaps with hand motions when the right words  were lacking.


The following weekend, and official meeting time was announced and an evening service was held. Pastor Bazalet officiated while he and Pastor Willy, a pastor who has become a friend over the past year, led the singing. This time with Franz's help, Barry preached the first "official" sermon, clearly establishing the vision for this new church.  When the service began, only a handful of people were present, but by the time the message began, every spot on the newly constructed benches were filled.

We are more then excited to see how the Lord can use this new meeting place to further His Kingdom! 

He Blinded Their Eyes

In another noteworthy event, Barry and his team had traveled via motorcycles to a mountain church for an evening meeting. Pastor Bazalet and Franz rode on one bike, while Barry drove the other with Dennis, who was still here visiting at the time, riding on the back. On the trip back down, Barry and Dennis were some distance ahead of Franz and Pastor Bazalet. They didn't see many people, but they did pass a group of men standing along the roadside.  People are typically friendly on these isolated mountain roads,, but these men didn't seem to notice that Barry and Dennis were even there. When they reached the bottom, Barry and Dennis realized that their Haitian teammates were delayed in coming. As it turned out, the group of men they had passed had stopped Franz and Pastor Bazalet.  It was learned that they had seen the group going up the mountain and had set out to rob the Americans on their descent, hoping to score a large sum of cash. However, it was as if they were completely blinded to even passing Barry and Dennis and stopped  the Haitians instead!  When they realized they had the wrong guys, no harm was done and the attempted robbery failed. .  Another marvel in the way God watches over the missionary! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Early August update

For a quick update, we've been working the last couple weeks to get things wrapped up and tidied up at the mission house, awaiting our first overnight guests from the States. Once the ceramic was finished and the bathroom fixtures were in place upstairs,  there was a lot of touch-up painting and some heavy cleaning to do.  Barry put together a rustic little bed for the extra mattress that was purchased long ago and had previously been laid on the floor for guests to sleep on.

Things slowly came together and we're currently hosting the Zook family. The couple and their young daughter  attend church with Katie and brought her down to stay with us again. Dennis has been traveling to preach with Barry, having their first long trip together yesterday  morning.

Saturday evening we decided it would be nice to walk over to Barbancourt, our old neighborhood, and introduce the Zooks to some people. When we got to the river, which is roughly the halfway point in the back-trail, countryside hike, the sky started growing a little darker.  One of our old neighbors was upstream a hundred yards  finishing  his evening bath, and he pointed at the sky and told us we'd better start running.

We heeded his advice and picked up the pace, but it was too late. As we ascended the steep bank headed to Barbancourt, the downpour unleashed on us. In only moments the hill was too slippery to climb while holding four-year-old Abram. I slipped under the covering of a scraggly bush, trying to give him a bit of relief from the rain, since he was frightened by the sudden torrent that was so strong it was even hard to see where we were going.

As I climbed under that little plant roof and tried to keep my little guy protected from the rain, I had to think of the stories I've read about Christian refugees fleeing for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs. For a brief moment I was closer to the reality of what they must endure while living in those conditions. Am I truly thankful for the roof over our heads to keep our young children out of the elements?

Lemè, the old neighbor who had been upstream, soon came dashing along and swooped Abram up and continued on the way. Katie was carrying Bethany in the backpack and also headed up the hill to try to find better cover. Barry carried David, and Dennis had their little Elizabeth.  Bethany and Elizabeth, who were both wearing sun hats and were apparently tired of being so hot all day, both thought the unexpected shower was quite amusing.

When we finally all slipped and slided our way to Barbancourt, the first house at the end of the trail was the Saint-Hubert house, where Piker's family were all huddled on the front porch staying dry. By now our clothes were all wet enough to be wrung out, and Piker's mom wouldn't allow that for the little children. She hurried inside to rummage out towels, the smallest shirts she could find, and some of her daughter's old dresses and began helping the children get into some dry clothes. It seemed she was more than happy for the opportunity to help us out a bit.

When we're used to temperatures in the 90s, a drop down to 80, while dripping wet, really did start to feel pretty cold.  We sat on the porch and visited, bought some glass-bottle Cokes from their little store, and waited for the rain to let up. When the sun started slipping behind the trees and the rain was still falling, we knew it was quite unlikely that we'd be heading back home the same way we came, so Barry took a motorcycle taxi back to the mission house to get the truck. Although we enjoyed the visit, we were glad to see him come back so we could get home to some dry clothes.

Sunday morning, all nine of us packed into the cab of the Ranger and headed to the town of Mouri, for services at Franz's church.  It was a familiar scene again, as the older folks nodded in agreement while the younger crowd did their best to giggle off the conviction, lest it settle too deeply into their hearts.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fetchin' the Well Rig

We can't say enough to express our gratitude for all the prayers that were lifted up on Barry's behalf yesterday. The journey to Southern Haiti to get the well-drilling rig was nothing short of an adventure, and we know that it was the hand of God watching over him and the two others involved that allowed them to arrive back at home safely.

Barry, Rameau, and Ocean started their trip in Rameau's truck at 5:00am yesterday morning, already tired from a less-than-restful night of sleep.  The drive to Petit-Goave took three hours, then there were two hours of treacherous mountain road to climb. When they reached the mission where the rig was located, they were a little caught off guard by the condition of the equipment. It was parked several years ago, and hasn't moved or even been started in quite some time.  When they turned the ignition key, nothing happened.  The possibility was considered that maybe it wasn't in the Lord's plans to bring the rig down, but after five hours of vigorous repairs, both the water truck and the driller were up and running. At 2:00pm they started the hazardous journey back down the mountain trail. There were several times when Barry could tell that many people were praying for him, Rameau, and Ocean. 

The old trucks barely had sufficient power to make it up the steep inclines, and more than once they began to roll backward. There were places where, if they looked out the window to check where the tires were rolling, they couldn't see the ground they were driving on, but only a downward fall for thousands of feet.

There were two flat tires, one of which was slashed when they got down the mountain and reached Petit Goave. Thankfully, they were equipped with extra tires that happened to be the ones needing replaced. Dusk was settling in and they still had several hours of traveling to do, but no lights worked on the equipment. This caused another several hour delay, as they worked in the dark to get some LED lights wired up. They knew the road going through Port au Prince was very dangerous, people being shot and robbed at night. Barry thought the Lord was closing the police eyes because they rolled through several checkpoints with no stops. But in Port,  a group of about 10 fully armed police with face masks stopped them, they demanded them to pull over and began the harassment. Barry told them what was going on, and asked them if they would just let them go and maybe even assist them through the bad area. They laughed at him and insisted on giving him a 10,000 goud ticket for no license plate lights on the trucks. Barry said, "Ok, if that is what you have to do." The chief reaponded with a question. "What do you want to do?" Barry said he wanted to go home, but he was the one with the gun so he had the final say. Ocean had had enough and told them what he thought about them, so after giving Ocean a ticket and letting Barry go, they were back on the road. Ocean wanted to take a long detour around this dangerous area but Barry insisted they just drive through, remembering God is in control. As soon as they entered this bad Zone, the rig died, once again, so they began cleaning filters and got it back running. The next day they were talking and realized that God had taken away all fear while in that zone, even forgetting about it while the machine was there stalled. Praise the Lord!

 When they were 30 minutes from home, the well-driller quit again. Barry got out to go talk to Rameau about what they'd do next, and he was already sleeping behind the wheel of his stopped truck. They decided to leave it there in Titanyan, in front of the police station, for the rest of the night. At 3:00am, 22 hours after he left, Barry pulled back in the gate of the mission, driving the water truck.

They returned to Titanyan the next morning to get the rig running again and bring it the rest of the way home.

The only thing lost through the whole ordeal was the a cooler (otherwise known as an ice chest ☺), which was stolen from the back of Rameau's truck. Material possessions are replaceable, but praise be to God that everyone was kept safe. The group at the mission that had the rig expressed their doubts that the trip could even be done, but here it all sits, right in the front yard of the mission house. 

Now, we wait for the next phase of actually operating it and seeing if we can't get a well drilled. :)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"If they can save thee in the time of thy trouble"

There are a lot of people packed into this small country.   Lots of people means lots of accidents. Lots of accidents call for lots of medical attention.  However, there are not a lot of doctors and nurses to even begin meeting all the needs that coming pouring into the hospitals all day long. They are understaffed, underpaid, and swarmed with people who are desperate for help. Mothers carry the limp bodies of their young children.  Victims of road accidents limp in with broken limbs and road burns. Whether it's terminal illness, severe burns, or just a belly ache, you have to just wait your turn in line.  Barry has been seeing first hand just what is going on, and not going on, in several different hospitals.  Just in the past week, he's been asked to help three different men in great need of medical aid.

One young man was in a tragic motorcycle accident and is unable to walk. Barry drove him all over Port-Au-prince to various hospitals, multiple times, to do several different scans and tests.  The machines work half the time, at best. When they finally got some results, the doctors said he's too badly injured and will never walk again.

Another very young man, whom Barry first drove to pick up in an isolated mountain village,  is seeking help for a large lump that seems to be overtaking his back, almost making him look like an old man. After the same story of running here and there, waiting in line, pleading for doctors, old, broken machines, more testing, more scans, they discovered he has severe, incurable scoliosis. It likely won't kill ho, but his spine is curving and will continue to do so until he dies.

These two boys are actually cousins, and the one in the motorcycle accident was already at the hospital trying to get help when Barry first took the boy with scoliosis. However, since he had no money for medical care, it was not possible for him to get any help.  There are so, so many needs, and so many people without money, that the hospitals can't and won't do a thing to help until they see proof that the patient can pay. If a mother has a baby in need of a life- saving operation, for example, but she can't pay, they will let the baby die unless she comes up with the money.

The third man, at the other end of the age spectrum, was also in the mountain. At 86 years old, he was planting beans on the mountainside and took a fall. Again Barry drove up the mountain, but the village where the man lives is an hour walk from the road. He was carried from the village on a make-shift stretcher and put in the truck to be taken down the mountain to the hospital.  The second trip there, last week, they learned from x-ray results that his leg is badly broken. After more than a week in the hospital, nothing had been done to help correct his leg, but they finally put it into a cast on Tuesday.  Nobody's really sure if the bone was set back in place or not before the cast was put on.

Unfortunately, many accident victims don't end up in the hospital. The severity of the crashes that take place on Route National 1 are sobering, as one can see the way the vehicles look while they remain on the roadsides for days, months, or years after the incident, that no one could have survived.  When there are not ambulances as we know them racing to the scene to help, passersby may even witness the gruesome scene before any bodies are removed.  It is often a public taxi involved in these horrific crashes, which means many lives are lost at once. For example, last week Barry and pastor gBazalet wher heading home one day when they came up on an accident involving a bus(in Haiti there called 'killer buses because there loaded down with people and supplies and they drive very fast and don't stop for much), Barry usually doesn't stop at accidents but this one was fresh and it looked like they needed help. The bus was on its side and there were people underneath of it, they tried to pull the bus back upright using a large box truck, the bus was raised about 5 feet, the bodies did not
look to be in good shape, Barry suspected they were already dead, but then the ropes broke and
the bus came crashing down. It was hard for Barry to witness the results of the impact. There were no survivors under the bus.

Another two men were shot in the field directly behind the mission house on Wednesday morning as a result of a land dispute. Life is only hanging by a thread, in the hands of a mighty, powerful God, and no hospital, no matter how advanced, can help when the time is up. There are millions still here, but, oh, that we would cry out for these souls before they pass into eternity! That they would find the true, unchanging, life-saving Jesus!

But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.
Jeremiah 2:28

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fresh Mountain Air

It's surprising how easily we can re-adapt to the way things are at home in the US, even for a short visit. Upon returning to Haiti from our three-week stay in Ohio, I was surprised at myself for having a bit of culture shock all over again as soon as we left the airport in Port-Au-Prince. It was spring in the Midwest.  The pastures were lush and green, surrounded by neat orderly fences, where plump, healthy animals happily grazed.  Farmers were cutting thick hay, and gardeners were tending their tidy rows of freshly sprouted vegetables, while flowers adorned the green, well-manicured lawns that surround nearly every home. Spring is beautiful in the Midwest. All of that scenery along with the calm, seemingly empty roadways give a stark contrast to what ensues the minute we stepped off the plane.

There are people everywhere. People people people.  There is hardly room to move through the airport. Everyone wants to be first. Hundreds of people are waiting outside the airport for their loved ones. Scores of vehicles are haphazardly jammed into the undersized parking lot. It took 20 minutes and three people watching all the angles just to back out of the parking space. When we finally get out, the streets aren't much better. There are no traffic signals or stop signs. The only rule that permits any movement is that everyone drives on the right side of the road (mostly.)  There is no description for the smell. Clogged sewer pipes are being dug out, and the grey sludge is heaped along the roadways,  adding to the trash that already carpets the landscape.  It's not uncommon to see bony cows rummaging through the heaps, right with all the pitiful looking dogs that run around scavenging, just trying to survive.

All of this, though, still isn't the most shocking contrast. The reminder of why we're here is painted on the public transportation vehicles. A vibrant rainbow of colors are the backdrop for various people  and  faces. Typically, the paintings  are hip-hop artists, various nude women, and then there's always a place for an artist's depiction of Jesus.  There is a cultural mentality that stems from voodoo heritage which gives  reverence to various spirits and gods. Jesus is one of the good ones that will help to protect them through the rigors of life, so "If I say I love and trust Jesus on my tap-tap or on my store, I'll be blessed."

The fruit of this mindset is clearly seen in the churches in the cities and big towns. When there's an opportunity to visit a church in the mountain, however, it's a breath of fresh air. Not only is the air cleaner,  the chaos subsided, and the scenery beautiful, but the people are different, too, as these groups still remain mostly unscathed from the influence of the world.  Such was the case with Barry's trips into the mountain this time around.

The team shared at revival meetings at a church in the southern part of Haiti near Jacmel last week. Since it was an evening service and such a long drive from home, they stayed over night for the start of the week. By Thursday night, they decided to make the trip home in the dark, arriving safely between midnight and one a.m.  During these meetings, Barry was in the heat of an intense sermon about being ready to suffer  persecution, or even die, for Christ's sake.  He hadn't quite finished his thought when some pranksters outside lit off some high magnitude fireworks right next to the church building! The entire congregation hit the floor, hiding behind benches as though their time had come. . There couldn't have been better timing to drive the point home!

This week offered another memorable experience. Pastor Bazalet arranged for preaching at a church so far off the beaten mountain path that the truck could never have made it, and the motorcycles barely did. The ascent up the footpath on motorcycles wasn't so bad, but the trip back down the steep grade was far more risky.  With the brake completely depressed, the bikes were still moving so quickly that it was difficult to keep them upright on the rough terrain. To one side was a steep drop off, to the other another wall of mountainside. Barry somehow lost hold of the footbrake, and couldn't get his foot back on. The bike picked up even more speed, and Barry was beginning to think his time had come, too, as he saw the drop off that lay ahead of the next curve. Suddenly and unexplainably, his bike just stopped.  Another testimony of the Lord's protection!

We're again reminded of the safety that is found only when we are in God's will and doing the work He has assigned. Thank you for your continual prayers and support!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

It's Rainy Season Again

Arcahaie went over four months without a drop of rain.  Winter in Haiti is the dry season. Aside from  all the dust, it was quite pleasant. The humidity was way down, and the temperatures were much cooler as well. It was a time to grow a few crops that may scorch in the summertime, in fields that are irrigated via canal systems that are fed from the mountain, where the rain still comes.

The return of rain in the lowland is sure to keep things interesting. Since many of the Haitian people walk to work or school, they don't much care for rainy days. A daytime rain is an uncommon occurrance, but when it does happen, things shut  down. Last week the children had two days off of school for "rain days."  Street vendors have to pack up their wares and lose out on potential income. Churches will cancel if it rains on a Sunday morning or any day through the week when a meeting is scheduled.

In all of our time here, though, it's never rained on a Sunday morning, and the opportunity to preach has never been lost. Two weeks ago as we were leaving Oscar's church, a downpour started, just after the service was finished. It's also never rained in the evening when a Bible study was scheduled, with the acception of one church. Pastor Odmi's, with a large group of young people who are hungry for the Gospel, have still come to the Bible study on multiple occasions in the rain. This is completely contradictory to how  they've been raised, and how other groups still operate. One evening last week, it was still a beautiful, clear afternoon at five o'clock when the Bible study started.  As the sun went down, though, the storm clouds also started rolling in.  A few young ladies got up and walked out to try to get home and beat the rain, but it was too late. The downpour was moving its way across the banana fields and reached the tarp-roofed church in no time.

The Bible study continued relatively uninterrupted, until the rain was hitting the plastic overhead so hard that only a person's immediate neighbor could be heard over the noise. Those who sat under a leaky tarp were soon shuffling to find a dry seat. Water soon began running in under the palm-leaf walls, transforming the packed dirt floor to slippery mud.  The front of the little structure had been covered with enough gravel that it was still dry enough ground to stand on. As the sun sank below the horizon and the driving rain continued, a group of young men were still quite involved in the discussion. They, Barry, and the translator were soon huddled around the small table with their Bibles open and their cell phones offering enough light to see the Word.

What a blessing to see young people so hungry for biblical discussion!  He feels like they're "getting somewhere" with this particular group and aims to see them as often as possible.

The rain was also a notable event during our move into the nearly-completed mission house. We prayed it would hold off long enough to make it over from Barbancourt with our belongings in the back of the pickup.  Barry pulled out of the driveway and headed away from Barbancourt, and the rain followed right along behind, but didn't catch up.

Once those items were unloaded and we were trying to get situated for the evening in the new house. It rained and rained and rained.  It waited long enough to finish moving that evening, but came in time to put out buckets and catch water for much-needed showers that night.  It was another little event that reminded me how well the Lord handles all the little details for us.

We are looking forward to a trip back to the US in a few days. We pray that it can be a time to be renewed, that we can return to the mission field refreshed to continue sharing the Gospel.