New Adventures & Feeling Encouraged

It’s been a really long time since we’ve posted anything in this space. I apologize for that. Too much going on and not enough hands.

But, that’s all about to change, and we’re so excited!

For the whole life of Clean Water for Haiti Chris has relied on volunteers to come in and help. I was the first person that was able to commit for an indefinite period of time, and for more than a year. The fact that he married me kind of sealed the deal ;)

Since then we’ve had a few volunteers here for about a year at a time, but nothing more than that. Last year after Ryan left us to go back to school and work we stepped back and assessed our needs in regards to volunteers. What things needed to be done? Where were the holes in our overall picture? 

Typically in the past we’d had volunteers come to work with our filter program. It was what most people wanted to be doing because they could learn what we did and have a hands on role. The problem is that over the years our staff have been fully trained and are now really good at running all aspects of what we do, and we don’t really need a lot of outside help. It’s a good  great problem to have when you’re focussing on development. We want it to be that way. So, volunteers have come, and they’ve been a big help, but we don’t need people to be out building filters. Does that make sense? 

After a good discussion and really looking things we realized that our needs were really more in the area of leadership and administration. I was the one feeling bogged down and cranky all the time because I had enough work for two people to do. Some of it is stuff that needs specific skills, like knowing how to use accounting programs. In many cases it wasn’t that I had to be the one doing it, it was just that I was the only one that could. Another part of the puzzle is that even with a one year volunteer there were things that required training and working through. It’s a time investment only to have to completely take the task back again when their term was over. 

We needed someone who could come long term, train, and help Chris and I in a leadership capacity by working in a role as my assistant, but being willing to do whatever needs there were on any given day. If Chris and I have learned anything over the years, it’s flexibility. We can go into any given day with plans, and then get none of those things done because something else needs our attention. Haiti doesn’t care what your plans are.

I know that I shared that through a fun course of events God brought Peggy into our path earlier this year. Well, Peggy has spent the summer at home with family and friends, and sharing about her new adventure with us here, and on Thursday morning she got on a plane, and then another one, and ended up here.

We’re so happy to welcome her to our long term volunteer staff. A lot of people have been praying for all of us and the transition time and let me just say this – when Peggy arrived on Thursday all of the typical nerves and anxiousness that come with welcoming a new staff member were non-existent. It was like she was coming back after a long vacation and it just feels comfortable. We already feel like she’s part of the family and it’s only been a few days. Such an answer to prayer for all of us! Our kids love her and listen to her. Chris and I have already felt so encouraged by her enthusiasm and support. So far, SO good!

So, that’s one major excitement around here. Tomorrow we get to dive fully into work and getting Peggy trained on the things she’ll be doing. 

Now that Peggy is here, I get to fully transition to my new work role, and I’m really excited about it. 

One of my constant frustrations over the years has been seeing areas where we could be doing so much more in the areas of communication and connecting with our donor base. Social media stuff, videos so you can see what really goes on here, more blog posts, and a website that is more interactive. When we first started looking for someone to serve as my assistant we thought that person would take on a lot of these tasks while I kept my regular work load. When Peggy came into the picture we realized that God had brought someone along that would take my regular tasks and free me up to be that creative person to take on the new stuff. 

The reason all of that stuff had been a frustration for me was because I had a vision for it, but lacked the time and the tools to be doing that work. It takes time to learn programs and skills like web design. It takes time to write blog posts, and when it’s that or accounting you know which one will win. Now that Peggy will be able to take over a lot of the day to day admin stuff I’ll be freed up to start working on other things. Things that are creative and engaging and that will help people connct with Clean Water for Haiti in new ways. 

Since we’ve gotten back from our vacation at the end of July Chris and I have been incredibly encouraged in so many ways. For me personally, one of those ways is that the mission is in a place where we can prioritize some of these things in the way of getting the right programs and tools to do the work. For so long we’ve crept by on make due solutions, which has been a blessing in and of itself, but it was time to take a step forward. In the past couple of months I’ve been able to upgrade to new programs thanks to drastically reduced license rates offered to non-profits from companies like Adobe. If you’re a non-profit 501(c)3 in the US definitely check out websites like Tech Soup and Tech Crawl. Pushing forward with some of this stuff means a huge learning curve for me, but I’m engaging my brain in ways it hasn’t been for years, and it’s a new way of serving the mission – both things that make my heart happy. 

On another front, after we got back we hosted a research team that was looking at household water filtration. While we can’t go into any detail until the final reports are made public, we’re very excited about the preliminary results. As an organization it shows us what we’re doing well, and where we can continue to improve. When the study report is released it’ll be solid data in our hands that shows how our program functions. For Chris and I it’s allowed us to see that many years of hard work has all been worth it. 

We also had a visit from DINEPA, Haiti’s water authority. The rep came with a Canadian consultant and the two of them shared that DINEPA has shifted it’s strategy and they wanted to know what they could do to help us ramp up. We don’t know if anything will come of it, but it was encouraging to know that they came to see us because several key people within the household water treatment world had recommended they come to see us because they think we’re one of the most effective water projects in Haiti. Feels good!

Overall, things are just in a good place. Our staff are doing well and we feel this sense of “team” that makes me smile. We’re all working towards the same goals and doing it together. Peggy is here. Things are happening that are getting all the work that Clean Water for Haiti has done noticed, as it should, because it’s good and it’s saving lives. 

It’s such a blessing to be part of this. Not just a blessing – a privilege. Chris and I really do think that way. Yes, we have to push through all the hard stuff when it comes up, but we also get to be on the front lines of seeing it all come together and seeing all the ways that what Clean Water for Haiti does makes a difference. We aren’t just doing good work, we are literally saving lives every single year. Not just a few, either – many!

Lots of new adventures coming our way, and feeling blessed and encouraged by everything going on. Thanks for journeying with us!

~Leslie

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