Second Mile Haiti

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

the three-week countdown

Without hardly realizing it, we’ve come to the point where not much remains before we can open our doors. You’ve probably heard us say that before. Like when we were seeking funds for the Education Center, the last building to be constructed before opening. Or again as we launched into the power project, the last BIG project to be completed before opening. Or maybe when we presented our last wishlist: “help us get these..random we can open.” 

We aren’t bluffing. To open this center is the goal. And everything that has been done, to date, has been a step in that direction. A place like this doesn’t exist in Haiti, at least no-where here in the North, that we know of. There are places where children get a second chance at life and creches that specialize in the care of malnourished children, but these places have their hands fuller than full. To create a place where moms not only stay with their child, but are the main player in their recovery is something of an experiment, one we are willing to tackle.

If it fails we will certainly admit it. But, that’s no way to think! 

It’s been 17 months since the vision was solidified
15 months since we submitted paperwork to become a US non-profit
14 months since we started the groundwork in Haiti
12 months since we acquired land
        and 11 months since we began the first bit of construction at the property

While opening has always been the goal, neither Jenn nor I would hope to remove a single one of those months from the process. The process has been amazing, inspiring, faith-building, sharpening, strengthening, hopeful, and hard. We’ve grown. I feel about 5 years older than I did 18 months ago. And I like the way that feels. 

God’s taught me more in this year of faith-walking than I could have hoped or imagined. His faithfulness is real. His presence is tangible. His greatness, undeniable. And His love covers all our imperfections. He uses people who don’t have their stuff together (me) and people who do (Jenn). ;) He brings people into your life to comfort, encourage, and test you. He brings challenges which certainly require patience, tasks that require courage, and moments that require grace.  And all- all of this is done in Love. 

what a Savior- what a friend. 

Would we wish for a shorter process or an easier one? No, not if it meant missing out on any of that.

So here’s where we’re at (since I’ve gone and promised, again, that we’d be opening soon)!

We actually have real seeds and real trees in the ground! This was something I definitely wanted to have done before opening. What do you know.. it’s done and I can’t hide behind it any longer! 

the gardens exist! 

In two weeks the electricians arrive. By the beginning of May we should have power. This afternoon Jenn, Dadou, and the bosses will be out at the land tracing the perimeter for a structure that will house the electrical equipment. Apparently, the batteries, inverter, and the generator need their own little house. 

Jenn’s birthday week(s) were a ton of fun. Our friends here in Haiti helped us celebrate the weekend before her birthday and again on the actual day. We made Mexican food and gluten-free cookie cake and delicious icy beverages. She loved it! 

she works and she plays

Friends, and people we’ve never met, sent in donations for birthday wire. We were able to buy that wire in the D.R. last Tuesday. Get this...we drove there in the truck! In preparation for these electrical supply runs, Jenn registered the truck so that she could take it back and forth between countries. 

I didn’t anticipate that driving in a new country for the first time would be so... weird. Countless times we’ve travelled around the Dominican Republic for fun, for baby heart surgeries, and for flights to the States. We always got around by minibus, town cars, taxis, and foot and we thought we were sooo cool to have figured out the system.  Let’s just say that driving your own vehicle makes going to these places far too easy. 

Oh well, at least our prior excursions weren't totally wasted. They familiarized us enough with the city so as to avoid getting lost.  And we still have our favorite $20 hotel, our favorite salchipapas cart, and Wi-fi spots A - F to fall back on. You can’t find those in a car, that much I know. 

the goods- after jenn's birthday shopping trip

While we were in Santiago we took some time to scope out a few used generators. We took pictures, listened to them purr, and took notes on their specs. Jenn gets points for finding these generators within minutes of arriving in the city. We chill on the less fancy side of town which, as it turns out, equates to a plentiful supply of used parts yards, tool rental businesses, and battery shops all within walking distance. Jenn must have kept her eyes peeled for these on previous trips. 

Thankfully we weren't entirely alone on this trip. For the first night we had my fabulous friend, Damaris, in toe. She's from L.A. and was just wrapping up her 10-day visit to our tropical oasis. I only speak Spanish in the present tense and my vocabulary consists of only those words high school Spanish teachers deem important enough to repeat every year. Jenn has a hard enough time switching from “wi” to “si” when we cross the border so I'm afraid she isn't much help either. Damaris however, rocked the negotiations and taught me how to say “what’s your absolutely lowest offer” in case we were left to our own defenses. Thankfully we weren't. On Day Two of generator shopping we had a pair of D.R. based missionaries to hang with, including one spanish speaker. 

Jenn will be heading back to the D.R. tomorrow to make the big purchase. It’s a two hour drive from Santiago back to border city of Dajabon. One again she’ll be in the driver seat. Only this time, hopefully, she’ll have a generator as a passenger. 

Spanish practice

While she’s gone I’ll continue to work on the logistics. How will we define the process of admission and discharge?  Who will we hire as an educator? Who will we hire as a nurse? Who will teach the gardening courses and who will take on business? And do we have all the right nursing supplies on hand? 

If this seems like a lot of details to iron out in a three weeks, you’re right...but crazier things have happened. And there comes a point when, although the water looks scary-cold, you just have to jump in. You’ll get warmed up by swimming around a bit and you'll be sprinting in no time. Thank you 15 years of swim practice for the above analogy. 

We’ve been contacted repeatedly in the last few weeks by people who want to refer cases. These are kids with severe malnutrition who have mothers that neither need nor want to be separated from their babies. So that’s where we’ll start. Although the homes are set up for 12 pairs, we'll just get warmed up with 2 or 3 of these cases. 

If you've been praying, thank you and don't stop now! Pray, pray, pray and if you feel compelled to support this effort, there’s never a bad time to donate. You can do so from the link on the left. 

Want to read more? check out the April Newsletter