Grateful For Progress

Often people think that working in missions and development has some sort of glamorous side to it, but in reality most of us are kind of weird or quirky and we end up working in this kind of area because we seem to fit, er, rather well around here :) We’re not glamorous or shiny in the least, and are probably kind of awkward. And, the work we tend to focus on in any given day is on the opposite end of the scale from glamorous or exciting.

If you don’t believe me just talk to any missionary and expat and you’ll find that our days are filled with boring things like doing laundry, answering emails, managing awkward cultural situations, and probably feeling really frustrated because we want to be super productive but so many things are pushing against what our normal definition of what that would look like on any given day. 

Case in point, this past week for me.

Now that Peggy is here we can start shifting gears into so many new things, and I’m so excited about that. But, to get to the stage where we can be really productive some groundwork needed to be laid. Peggy and I need to be able to collaborate on a lot of things, which has meant getting new software and figuring out how to link everything and everyone together. 

I am the first to admit that I am not a “tech” person. Anything I’ve learned about computers has been because I’ve hacked my way through it. And Googled things. Looooottts of Googling… 

This past week or so has been nauseating for me. After getting my own new computer set up so that it can handle all the new programs that I need for this new chapter in the life of Leslie Rolling, Admin Director, I set to work on getting Peggy the programs she needed and updating all three of us with the Office 2013 suite. I’ve literally been up to my eyeballs in software downloads and installations. 

In case you’ve missed something around here, I just want to take a minute to remind you that nothing ever seems to go as planned here. If I was installing software back home, it would most likely be pretty straight forward, and if it wasn’t someone would be just a phone call away, or I could always take it to someplace like Staples for help. 

Not here in Haiti. 

In most of these situations the idea of something going smoothly is a far off dream that only the very fortunate are blessed with. Nooooo, in most cases here it’s a carnival for Murphy’s Law. We’re talking bouncy castles, cotton candy, pony rides – the whole shebang. Nope, things will not go easily. There will be gnashing of teeth. There will be tears. There will, most literally, be sweat. And more tears. (Okay, maybe I don’t handle pressure well…)

Can I just say one thing? I am so thankful for those of you that serve as IT people, on behalf of all those people that will probably never ever really truly appreciate all the background things you do. I am thankful because it sucks to be the person who has no idea what they’re doing and having to do it. That amount of things that you know about .exe files and hidden things in computer land… you are amazing.

People, when the last program finally got installed, and it worked, it was like Christmas around here. I was giddy. There were angles singing. 

This might seem silly to focus on, but the reason I’m sharing it is because I want you to know how grateful I am.

I’m grateful for having the possibility of upgrading a bunch of stuff. It was a lot of work all at one time, and we’re not quite through working out the kinks, but the end is near!

I’m SO grateful for those of you that choose to support Clean Water for Haiti with your finances. Yes, funding is always going into building filters, but we need the background operations working to keep everything else working, and your donations help with that too. 

I’m grateful for tools. Just getting by is fine, but eventually we need to step back and ask what we really need to do the job well. Maybe upgrading a tool means the job can be done more efficiently. Maybe it means doing something new that will benefit everything else. Maybe it means being able to better use our time so we can focus on other things that need our attention. Whatever the result, being able to upgrade tools, or even get access to something we might not have been able to before, is a blessing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shovel, a vehicle, or a computer program – it all makes a big difference in how we serve the Haitian people.

I’m grateful for learning. It would be really easy to just keep doing the same things the same way because that’s safe. So easy. But, that’s not going to make Clean Water for Haiti better or more effective. Being able to learn new things that will change the way we do everything or improve how we do things is a challenge, but it’s a good one that keeps us engaged and excited about this whole thing.

I’m grateful for patient co-workers! Especially when one of them is my husband :) Peggy and Chris have been so encouraging in the past week and a half as I’ve hacked through all of this, and incredibly patient even when I may have been having little melt downs spurned by frustration.

I’m grateful for customer service. Until you live outside of North America or any other developed country where customer service is actually a thing I don’t think you can fully appreciate how amazing it is to be able to send an email to a major software company, expecting zero response, and then get a phone call from a customer service rep that actually knows what they’re doing, and they talk to you for over an hour so that you can be walked through the process and they follow up with everything in written form too. Blown. Away. (Thank you Microsoft!)

I’m grateful for companies that care about non-profits*. Did you know that large software companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Intuit (Quickbooks) have programs where they either give deep discounts to non-profits, or just donate software outright? It’s true. And we’re not talking about the cheap stuff either. In the past month we’ve gotten Photoshop CS6 Extended, Lightroom 5, Acrobat XI Pro, Dreamweaver CS6, 4 copies of Office 2013 Pro, and 3 copies of Quickbooks 2014 Pro. FYI – that’s about $4500 US retail value. We got all of those for either an admin fee (hello Office for $32) or at a deeply discounted price. I kind of feel like we should be running like we stole it, we saved that much. 

I’m feeling really excited and grateful about this new phase of work and ministry here in Haiti because so many good things are happening. Things are growing and developing and we’re getting better at what we do. 

Tomorrow Peggy and I are going on deliveries with our staff, and I’m excited to go and be with the people we’re here to serve. We’ll look forward to sharing more about our day soon!

~Leslie

*Note: For those of you connected to a 501(c)3 non-profit, or who know people who are, definitely check out Tech Soup, as well as businesses like Tech Crawl. Tech Soup is a non-profit that exists to provide other non-profits access to the millions of dollars worth of free, donated software and resources. For nothing more than an admin fee (ex. $32 for one Office 2013 Pro license) you get access to amazing software. Businesses like Tech Crawl act as a distributor for deeply discounted non-profit licenses. No kickback from either of these, just a very happy receiver of the benefits they offer. 

 

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