What’s New Around Here

I feel like time can fly by here. April for example. It’s just gone. Part of that was that I was away for a week at the end of March, then came home, had two weeks and then Chris left for a two week fundraising and board recruitment trip. He got back Friday, and here we find ourselves with another month under our belts.

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So, what’s been going on around Clean Water for Haiti?

That photo above is our neighbour, Eton, working on the water pipe that we’re running off our property so that our neighbourhood can have access to water. The nearest standpipe is a good distance to walk, so we made an arrangement that if the neighbours dug the canal that would hold the pipe we would install it. Eton’s family will be responsible for monitoring the pipe and making sure people aren’t breaking it. We have a valve inside our property so we can turn it on when the pump is running, and turn it off when the pump is off.

Let’s talk about Chris’ trip. It’s been a few years since he’s done a trip just for fundraising of any kind. And, honestly, in the past those trips have been challenging and kind of disappointing. When we factor the time away from running things here in Haiti, the time our family is apart, and the expenses of the trip itself, it takes a lot to make it feel like the trip is paying for itself. This time around though? Completely different, and we’re so thankful.

He spent about a week and a half in Vancouver, WA, where he got to meet with at least 4 potential board members. All of those meetings were incredibly encouraging and we’re excited to see how our Board of Directors is going to grow and change in the coming months. It’s been our heart to bring people onto our team that have backgrounds in the business and professional world, and all of our current candidates in the US are right there. We are a mission and ministry, but in order to grow we need to have people who have big vision, connections to network into, and the skills that will help us manage, be organized, take care of financial matters, and raise larger amounts of funding.

While in Vancouver Chris got to speak at three different Rotary clubs. Clean Water for Haiti has a long term relationship with Rotary in general and it’s a relationship we highly value. We’ve processed several grants, with our most recent being a Global Grant for filters that we did last year. That project was really successful, which was the other part of Chris’ trip – taking the last few days to go to Tennessee to visit the clubs that participated in that grant project. Everywhere he went he was warmly welcomed, and we’re very excited because all of the clubs he spent time with are looking at the possibility of partnering together on more grant funding for CWH. For Chris and I it’s so encouraging to see that over a decade of work is getting the support of such a great organization and clubs all over the US.

On top of Rotary meetings Chris also got to spend time with Columbia Presbyterian Church. Their missions committee has been a big support of CWH for several years, and we’ve had the opportunity to share with the congregation the last couple times we’ve been in the area. Their VBS has also chosen to raise money for the past two summers, and Chris had a chance to speak to several of the youth groups in the church while he was there this visit. We’re looking forward to visiting in the summer again. Another bonus is that Chris’ parents are in Vancouver, so he got to have a good family visit while doing mission stuff.

So, it was a great trip all around. It’s been incredibly affirming and encouraging to us personally. I think anytime you pour yourself into something you want to know that others see the value of what you’re doing. After over a decade of work, sweat and tears, it feels so good to see people getting excited about everything that is Clean Water for Haiti, and who want to partner with us to impact the lives of Haitian families for the long term. A big thank you to everyone that Chris got to meet with!

While he was away I got to stay in Haiti with the kids and keep things on track. My days were busy, but because of our team here it wasn’t difficult. I’m so thankful for our staff and all of the growth that we’ve seen over the years. It just amazes me when I look back to where we’ve come from.

In the past month or so we’ve been working hard at getting the work yard facilities finished, especially because it’s been getting so much hotter. We wanted to get all the roofs on the work pads so the guys would have shade. At our old place there were some big trees in the work yard that gave some shade. Here all the trees are in other places, so we wanted to get something up before the hottest time of the season hit.

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The biggest work pad where we build the filters is 30×60′. It’s so big. It took the guys a good week and a half to get the insulation foam and tin up. We found this thin foam that has a reflective side on it years ago and used it on the roof of one of our buildings at our old facilities, and it made a huge difference to the temperature under the roof, so we decided to try it under the tin. The upside is that when it rains it dampens the sound a bit too. Though, as I learned when we had a hard rain while Chris was gone, it’s still ridiculously loud. I came out of a dead sleep thinking the world was ending!

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The guys love that the spaces are all covered, and so do we. While Chris was gone all three roofs got finished, and we were able to clean things up and move some things into place. We now have separate spaces for building filters, washing sand, and a workshop where we can weld filter molds and any other things, and do any other bigger projects like carpentry stuff. Evens is working on installing the fans out there this week, which will be one of the last steps. We get a nice breeze most of the time, but when we don’t and it’s the middle of the hot part of the day it’s stifling, so the fans will give some air flow.

Two weekends ago I was finally able to move all my tools out to the workshop and get things set up so we can finish the last things that need to be done in the house over the next month. This meant that the space under the stairs in our house were finally freed up for their initial purpose, which is pantry space. The shelves had been doing temporary duty in the kids rooms while we wait for closets to be built, but we put some other shelves in their place and moved the actual pantry shelves in place, and moved all the pantry stuff to that space, freeing up more room in our storage room. That was a happy moment because we’ve had some unexpected storage issues that I’ll talk about in my next post. Moving my stuff off the front deck also meant that we could finally get some chairs out there and have it available to sit with visitors who stop by the mission.

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While Chris was away I had some of our extra construction guys help me put in the flower beds around the house. It might seem frivolous, but a) it’s a hobby that Chris and I have that helps us decompress with everything else going on, and b) Haitians actually take a lot of pride in their homes when they’re able to, so our staff and others respect it when we look after the facilities that we’ve been blessed with. Everything that we do as a finishing step gets noticed by our staff, and they were all excited and commenting on how nice things were looking. I see them walk a bit taller and their pride in working for the organization grows a bit as the facilities continue to get developed.

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I got all the doors painted, finally. No more primer. Before he left, Chris had one of the bosses put in the office and kitchen door stairs. While he was away I had the guys build a patio off the kitchen side of the house. We’ve had a lot of people asking about classes, but don’t have the facilities to host people yet. Having the patio means that we could actually have a place to cook and eat with the students while we teach on the front deck. The wood forms are so that I can plant things that will climb, like beans. The twine was to help with that, but between the dogs and our son it didn’t last for more than 24 hours on the one you see in the pictures. Back to the drawing board on that one.

It’s so nice to see stuff getting done. Our next step is to break ground on the guest house/training center. We’re working on final plans and should start staking out the septic and foundation in the next couple of days.

The last new, exciting thing is that we got our new to us passenger vehicle! Our SUV that we’ve had since 2010 is getting a complete motor rebuild, and then we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it, or how long that will even take. Our van is okay, but has some mechanical issues. Having a smaller vehicle that has 4 wheel drive again is such a blessing! A missionary friend of ours found it for a good deal and took care of the purchase and shipping into Haiti on our behalf while on sabbatical a few months ago, and it just arrived last week.

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We did have a bit of a shock a week and a half ago when one of our employees called on a Sunday to tell me that another employee had been in a bad motorcycle accident. Fritzner had been coming down the mountain from his house to go to where he stays during the week so his commute to work is easier, and the brakes on his motorcycle weren’t working. He ended up stopping by crashing into a house and being knocked unconscious for the whole trip to the hospital. He has a lot of cuts on his face and a gash in his head, but also broke the bone under one of his eye sockets. We’re thankful for a visiting team of surgeons at the local hospital who were able to operate and fix him up a couple of days following the accident. Chris was able to visit him yesterday and said he’s doing well and will be recovering for a while, but he’s still here. The accident could have been so much worse.

That’s the latest news from here! Hope you’re all having a great week.

~Leslie

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