Monday, October 13, 2014

UPDATE: Honduras, Hold Loosely to What You Have

     If only we will hold loosely to what we have been given we can be amazed at what God is able to do.  As we completed our week of dental ministry last month many on the team donated what Limpiras they had left for Ernie and Allison to use as would best benefit the ministry.  Today we received a great email from Allison detailing what has been done with that money.  I hope you enjoy reading this litany of blessings as much as I did:

Just wanted to share with your team what a blessing your "left over" money has been to this ministry.  With the money individuals left with us, we:

Paid for one of our high school graduates cap and gown and graduation supplies

Purchased needed items for a 7th graders cooking class project

Sent three students for a much needed doctors visit, labs, and medicines
(The students were suffering from asthma, strep throat, and a possible inflamed appendics)

Paid for an eye exam for Dariella (a kinder kid) and purchased her a pair of glasses.

Paid for special graduation gowns to recognize our 8 students who achieved academic excellence.

Paid for a special (expensive) medication our cook Pasita needs.

Paid for literally "Life saving" heart medications for baby Fernando.  He is the two month old little brother of sisters Kati and Karla in our kinder program.

And, we even have enough left over to pay for the supplies for our Kinder Graduation ceremony. (Pat and Caroline Dekle and Vicki Coggins will be here soon to help with this!)

Thank you so much for your generosity. Never underestimate our precious Lord!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Day of Reward and Relaxation

     Today was a great day to relax after a long week of hard work. We have been a team small in number, but big in heart and strong in labor.  We have been the grunt workers for the skilled laborers in masonry (finishing the inside and outside of the house), carpentry (putting the roof on the house), and in laying the foundation. We have all received our pile-it licenses this week as we have been told to "pile it here" and "pile it there" with stone and sand. 

     The start of our great day was actually last night when a thunderstorm came through and brought with it much rain, but also cooler temperatures. This morning we had this view from the roof of our compound of the beautiful sunrise. 

     We got to enjoy my favorite Haitian breakfast by far of bread and chocolate soup.

     We took a short walk over to the Siloe Baptist Church and school where local artisans/ craft dealers had set up. Come to the Mission Banquet at FBC Augusta on Nov. 2nd to purchase some of these wares! Then we got to enjoy a fun afternoon at the beach. Pastor Linh decided that the "pile-it" license wasn't enough and he went for his captain's license as well. 

     Our beach time concluded with some succulent lobster that only an hour or so before had been pulled from the beautiful blue waters above.  Even George Berry had some of our bounty and "It wasn't so bad!"

     We returned back to the compound in time to hear the second half of the Dawgs beating the Mizzou Tigers (sorry, Sean but at least your Royals are winning). As our pastor often says, "It was a good day all day."  We will be leaving the compound about 7AM to head to the airport. Keep us in your prayers as we travel home to those we love and miss! And keep those here in Haiti in your prayers as will we. I can tell some improvement from the last time we were here, but this country still has a long way to go.

It's a great day to be a DAWG!

     Even in the midst of an investigation into the alleged NCAA rule violations and the resulting suspension of UGA running back, Todd Gurley, it is still a great day to be a DAWG. I and many others have often referred to Athens and the rest of the Bulldawg Nation as God's country. Never more did I believe it to be true than when we arrived in Haiti. You will see a picture of the tap-tap that was parked at the compound earlier in the week. When we asked the question, "who was the Georgia fan?" we were met with confused looks. "Georgia fan?" came the reply. "That is God's symbol!"

GO DAWGS! Skin them kitties!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Last day of work, building a foundation

     On our last day of work we began work on the first part of the process. We assisted, Bennett, the CI foundation contractor and his crew. By assisting I mean we hauled sand for the mortar and rocks for the foundation. The home site was a bare patch of land. 

The homeowner worked right alongside the crew today. We also had some other helpers as well. This little girl was doing what she could by carrying rocks. 

     Another young man a few years older than her was helping with some of the big rocks as well. We also had the added benefit today of a wheelbarrow.  That is the first time all week we have had that.  Once we got the rocks and the sand moved closer to the house we spread the rocks around the house as these would be used for the foundation.

     There is a big difference between working at a shaded site and a site that is all sun. We were all whooped by lunch today.  To finish out our day early we worked hard for one last push right before lunch. We put the rocks around the edge of the foundation so the workers could more easily put them into place. As we have seen all week they were using the volcano method to mix the mortar. The foundation becomes a pretty sophisticated jigsaw puzzle. Today was the beginning of the 180th house that Conscience International has built.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A home completed

     We started the day by surveying the work that had been accomplished in our absence yesterday. It really was quite a transformation with the finishing touches and porch on the outside and the poured floor on the inside.

     Very soon the dump truck arrived with our supplies for the day. We unloaded true 2x4s and true 1x4s along with zinc for the roof and two saw horses.  

Then we met the skilled carpentry team for the day.  In their broken English and hand gestures we figured out what we needed to do. As the boss was cutting the wood we all learned a new way to wield a hand saw.

     Once the lumber was cut we helped to assemble the trusses together. Then, we passed the wood up to the roof to be attached to the house. For us there was a lot of ground work to be done as we were not allowed to get on the roof.

     With the trusses in place it was time to start passing up the zinc. The first course on each side was a full sheet of zinc and the second course was a half sheet. Some of our team was set to cut the zinc in half as a part if the prep work.

     We left for lunch just after noon and when we returned the roof was on and the prep work already begun to pour the concrete columns to support the porch roof.  We had been told that there was no more work to be done so we adjusted one of the cages at the compoun. We decided we wanted to go and see the completed house. As it turned out we helped in the bucket brigade to pour the concrete.  Apparently my height was especially helpful. 

As the work was finishing we gathered our team, the carpenters, and Madame Andremise (homeowner) for a picture.  We had asked for a picture earlier and she refused. But, this time she was happy to oblige.

     Just as everyday things arrive via the dump truck and we have to carry them back to the compound. Today we brought back the saw horses.

     I promise I did do work this week. It's just hard to take a picture of yourself toting a bucket of sand or passing up some zinc. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Preparing the next cages...

     We got a bit of a break today by not having to walk very far to our worksite. Typically the rubble house cages are fabricated here at the compound then transported to the home site once the foundation has been laid. So, after our breakfast sandwich(?) and hot Haitian slaw we sauntered the 30 yards or so parking lot just outside of our beautiful compound to get to work. 

     The basket guy's name is Greg. He was a little late arriving so we got started without him. The first step in the process is to roll out the 1/4" rebar sheets and cut to 18.5' lengths. Next, you flip the sheets over to press out their memory. Then, you line four of those with chicken wire using thin wire to wrap around the chicken wire and the cage. These will make the two long walls with windows. Once the windows are cut out you stand two of these wall pieces up opposing one another with the chicken wire on the inside. These two pieces are connected with 18" wide ribs giving strength to the wall.

     The tool used to connect the ribs to the walls is a great handmade tool. The one I used was a piece of slightly bent rebar with a small metal cylinder welded to the end just big enough to slide the rebar from the cage inside and use the leverage of the tool to bend the rib around the cage.

     We completed the long walls before lunch and begain on the short walls (with doors) after lunch. The short walls are composed of two small baskets each that will be connected at the top to form the doors. These baskets are constructed in similar manner with the chicken wire being attached to the insed and connected with the ribs. We had our responsibilities pretty well broken out today. Jeff, Wayne, and George were working on the chicken wire. Our interpreter, Jamale, and I were connecting the walls to the ribs, and Linh was Greg's assistant getting all of the above pieces ready for use.  It seems that each of our locations Linh is very quickly identified as a hard worker.

     We had another treat this morning as well. One of the workers you see in the pictures above climbed a coconut tree and cut down the crop for anyone that wanted any. Of course they were cut open with a machete. 

     Tomorrow is another day. We will either be laying the foundation for the cages we made today or building the trusses for the house we worked on the first part of the week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

And today...for the outside!

    Today started out early as all our days this week. We begin the day with breakfast served between 6 and 6:15. I have shared a brief morning thought for the day as we finish our breakfast and then we walk to the worksite. Today we had a traditional Haitian breakfast of a tuna fish hash and bread. It wasn't a favorite of the team, but my adventurous stomach and I liked it.

     Our worksite for the first part of the week has only been a short walk around the block. When we arrived this morning we checked the work that had been completed after we left yesterday. They got the inside of the house done and were beginning to prep for the outside upon our arrival. Here Wayne Hardy is checking out the previous day's work.

     Once the inside of the rubble house is mortared then the wooden frame on the outside can be removed. 

     Everyone fell into our now familiar roles. While the Haitian masons were mixing and applying the mortar to the outside of the wall we went back to sifting rocks out of the sand that they would use in the mortar mixture.  

    Remember the large pile of sand that was deposited yesterday? We had to finish getting all of that sand to the back of the house for the rest of the mortar. 

     Our day was finished as were we when we moved the entire pile. The masons finished the outside of the house and began to put in the blocks for the windows (that we also carried from the street).

     Word is that tomorrow we will build the frame for the next house to be built. Perhaps Thursday we'll be laying the foundation for that house and returning on Friday to roof the house we have been working on thus far. That is the plan as of today. But, if there is one thing I know about these plans it is that they can change.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pastor Linh is a Rock Star


   The advantage of having a small team is that the Conscience International staff knows what we are capable of. And that does NOT include loading rubble! Our task for the week will be assisting the masons as they put the mortar on the house and then helping to put the roof on the house as well. Depending on how much we are able to get done on the house we may also build the cages for the next house. The cages are made of small rebar covered with chicken wire and then filled with rubble. You can see the end of that process in The pictures below.

     The picture above was one of the few times Pastor Linh was standing around, but as you can see even then he had a bucket in his hand.  The Haitian workers enjoyed talking with him and working beside him as well. They were intrigued that he was from Vietnam Nam and were very interested in the details of his church. 
     Once the house gets to this point the next phase is to stucco inside and out. To do this one must sift the riiver sand that has deposited via dump truck and bucket brigade (for more on this process check the blogs from April 2012). We sifted sand today using a grill grate and the front of an oscillating fan.

     Once we had enough sand sifted we made a pile inside the house for the masons to begin inside. They mix the cement and sand inside the house using what is commonly referred to as the volcano method (sand, concrete, and water hand mixed on the ground)

Linh and I tried our hand at the stucco. I found out that I am not very good at it. 

I quickly retreated and went back to my unskilled job of shoveling, sifting, and or carrying sand. A second load of sand was dumped at the street while we worked this morning. So after lunch a big part of our job was to begin hauling that sand from the road to the house we are building.

     We gained our strength for the afternoon from our lunch of fish and rice with avocados. It was very good and it hit the spot for me. We look to do much of the same tomorrow while the crew works on the outside of the house.