Monday, August 25, 2014

Prepare to Adjust the Sails! A Gusty Squall is Coming!

Mr. Kabrit
We have noticed a consistent pattern about our days.  Morning comes and typically the day is mapped out as to what will be accomplished.  The consistent pattern is not in the day’s plan.  The consistent pattern comes in what is mapped out nearly always changes before the day even starts.  This being the case, we recently were on the moto making an unplanned ‘morning commute’ from Savanette to Pignon when this thought popped up.  “We seem to be constantly changing our course.”  Just that quick, the thought didn’t seem right.  No! it is not that we are changing our course,  but constantly ‘adjusting our sails’ so that we can stay ON course!  The course God has set. 

Craig looking for "the way" with the motorcycle
For the Haitian people, life brings constant twists and turns that are not within a person’s control.  Weather is unpredictable here as it is everywhere but the challenges may be different.  Here there are three common modes of transportation: by moto, by donkey, by feet.  With each of those, being caught in a Haitian rainy season down pour a couple of miles from home has it’s consequences.  (Side note: One day the road was muddy so rather than risk getting stuck with the moto we decided to walk into Pignon.  One hour
there, one hour to do our business in town, and one hour back home again.  Several of our Haitian friends seemed quite surprised.  Their remark, in English, “You came ‘by feet’?”)

The government here causes it’s share of twists and turns, sometimes being as unpredictable as the weather. 

The horribly poor road conditions means a stuck truck can cause many people grief. Recently, in a consistently bad spot along the road, there was a truck stuck going north loaded with 100 pound bags of rice, a truck stuck beside it heading south and a smaller truck that got stuck attempting to go around the other two.  Now no one can pass through and there are no detours available.  Just sit and wait. 

If a truck breaks down on the road you will see the many passengers patiently waiting in any bit of shade that can be found.  The truck repair man comes to the site of the broken down vehicle and fixes it on the spot, typically laying under the vehicle right on the dirt road.

The roads being what they are, a common repair seems to be installing a new drive train. Since a tow truck doesn't bring the vehicle in need of repair to the mechanic, the parts must come to the mechanic at the location of the vehicle.  An old tire holding the needed parts pulled by an ox is the auto parts delivery method to get a new drive train out to replace the old one.

Maybe you have a flat tire and the jack won’t raise the truck up high enough to change it. The solution….dig a hole in the road with a scrap piece of rerod and the tire can slip right into place.

Ingenuity!  Constant adjusting of the sails.

There was a forecast we saw on the internet the other evening that Haiti would be experiencing a tropical storm as it passed over the island.  The report said possibility of heavy rain along with ‘gusty squalls’.  The heavy rain came and strong wind that broke a palm branch off the tree as we watched the storm.  Must have been a ‘gusty squall’.  In the picture at the top of this page, one of our resident goats is enjoying the aftermath of the gusty squall!

 The next day, later in the afternoon heavy rain came again.  The road more resembled a flowing river.  Maybe we will literally, not just figuratively, be adjusting our sails.

A favorite quote we have used as a guide for many years is by C. S. Lewis, “God doesn’t change but we must to keep pace with what God is doing.”  This concept from C. S. Lewis parallels the thought that God has the course set so we must adjust our sails to stay on that course. 

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

It is a daily challenge for all of us to stay on course.  We must stay focused on praying “Thy will be done” and not our own.  In the book Demons of Poverty, the author, Ted Boers, says it this way:  “I pray as if everything is dependent on God, but I act as if everything is dependent on me.” 

Do not forget, everything IS dependent on God.  So when the next gusty squall of life comes your way,  focus on adjusting the sails to stay on course.  (there, now we have used the term “gusty squall” in a sentence)
Visiting a young boy in the hospital

Captivating Beauty

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

 How much difference could a few simple gardening tools and some water make for the overall well being of your family?  If you lived here the answer is a HUGE difference!

Claudin transplanting cabbage from the nursery to a garden

Part of the organizational development aspect of our work here includes working with Claudin, the agronomist on staff with Many Hands for Haiti, to continue developing the MH4H Agronomy program called Harvesting Hope.  So far 9 gardens have been started with Claudin’s help and 4 more are underway. 

Garden tools given to the owner
of the newest garden

The first step in the process for Harvesting Hope is to identify a family that would benefit from a new garden.  The family is equipped with their own set of tools: a pick, a shovel, a rake, and some seeds.  Claudin teaches methods and techniques that help the families maximize the productivity of their labor.  A seed bed is planted and watered to grow the seedlings that will then be transplanted into the garden.  Through the process, the families learn how to prepare the land which is all done by hand and can be very hard work.  Then they are shown how to plant the seedlings, and are given the task of watering and maintaining the garden.  Keeping a garden weed free is not typically the practice here.  There is a need to educate the people on ways to achieve higher productivity.

Bringing in water from the well about 1/4 mile away
Through Many Hands for Haiti funds, Claudin has the resources to spray each garden for bugs and has resources for individual drip irrigation systems made from a 5 gallon bucket with lengths of soaker hose attached.  We are currently in the rainy season but there can still be times when there is not sufficient rain.  In July we tracked around 15 days that passed with no rain.  Clear, sunny skies and probably 95 plus degrees each day make for dry gardens.  Cabbage seems to be able to withstand the dry conditions.  We saw some withered tomato plants that had not been watered well enough.  Depending on the location of your home, watering the garden can mean a long walk several times to carry water to the garden site, probably in a 5 gallon bucket on you head, from the nearest well. 

Side note… the other day as we were making our way down the road on the moto, coming toward us was the common sight of a long, slender young woman walking gracefully with a 5 gallon bucketful of water on her head and a gallon jug of water in her hand.  It had rained late afternoon the day before.  As the woman was navigating her way on the rocky road she slipped on a wet spot and came crashing to the ground with both containers of water.  We were just on the other side of a muddy strip so I quickly got off the moto and stepped through to pick up the now empty bucket and return it to her.  She stood up, rinsed the mud from her feet and hands with the little water that was left in the jug, turned back to the direction of the well from where she had just come…. a ‘do-over’. 

We’ve come to use the ‘matter-of-fact’ phrase, “Nothing is easy in Haiti.” The women always appear to walk with such ease carrying amazing loads of varying contents always on their heads.  It may appear easy but we think not.

This garden will use a watering can

Back to garden talk…Since watering the plants is critical but far from easy, …remember…’nothing is easy in Haiti’, a home made drip irrigation system is being demonstrated.  The people need to see the success that can come from investing the time and energy into watering.

The drip irrigation has been proven to be 90% efficient compared with a watering can, 50% efficiency. The program is a God honoring way to invest in the people of Savanette.  As time goes along Claudin will look at the harvest and emphasize the best techniques with productivity in mind.

3 people, some groceries and lumber.
We have concluded that a common fashion statement among moto (motorcycle) drivers is the combination of a stocking cap and flip flops with the occasional winter coat.  And it is most likely above 90 degrees F.  Picture this…a driver and a passenger both with a live goat on their lap! OR Three on the moto plus a live pig, ‘hog tied’ to the back with its head bobbing up and down over the bumpy road squealing all the way.   Or how about this one (see the picture)…look closely…a driver, 2 passengers, and some 8’ lumber.  Other moto sightings include serving as the ‘Slumberland’ delivery vehicle hauling a wooden cabinet on the back or one going down the road with a MATTRESS tied behind the driver.  Re-rod is a common building material for cement block structures.  The delivery method for this is a moto as well.  The center of the length (we guess at least 20’ in length) of re-rod is bent and then strapped to the back of the moto while the rest drags along behind.  One day a moto driver had one passenger riding backwards hanging on to a 55 gallon drum.  We have to assume at least it was empty!  Nearly every day we see yet another ingenious way of hauling more than you would think imaginable on a moto. 

These sightings along with many others cause us to continually be amazed at the creativity that makes life go round.  God is visible each day and prayers of God’s people are felt each day.  Our sincere thanks to ALL who have said a prayer for us and Many Hands for Haiti.

Unique Tree Pruning Method
Some kids in the cabbage patch (I have to say it)...Some Cabbage Patch Kids!

A Nice Garden