Saturday, October 22, 2016

H. Matthew .....Trip 1

Flood damage at Pitite Rivier de Nippes
Thank you for the prayers. While I could write a lot about our trip I need some time to process and rest up so will try to focus on some important points and update about current plans.

The hardest part I think was that continuing rains prevented us from visiting any of the hard hit areas in the mountains just south of Petit Goave or those north of Bainet. We were in the central coastal areas of the southern peninsula where damage was significant but frther West is much worse.

We also tried to get to Còte de Fer, traveling down to the Southern coast and then heading back East, but two bridges had been washed away on Rout 208, just past the town of Nadine.

Heavy storm clouds were coming in from the sea and although motorbikes were driving through, it  was knee deep, was wide, and looked too deep for our truck.

Tuesday we visited the church at Petite Riviére de Nippes and then took a small boat to Grand Boucan to see the church there. Wednesday the bridge that was out turned us around after a couple hours on the road toward Cote de Fer.

Where we had to turn bridge.
So we visited three churches close to the road near Petite Goave as well as a location in town where the river ran through a neighborhood.

We managed to fit in one last church-which meant driving a while up a large riverbed.

During Hurricane Matthew a bridge coming into town was damaged by this river being flooded.

Wednesday night light rain started between 9-10 p.m. and continued all night into the morning.

Because our truck is small, the plan had been to send in a higher, heavier truck to take us to the harder to reach areas.
Petit Goave

So with the weather outlook being for heavy and all day rains, we returned to Port au Prince where a planning meeting was held that afternoon.

Four areas were identified as needing the most assistance. Yesterday we traveled home, picking up Anna from Ortlip.

Most of the banana plants will grow again and produce if they have enough leaves when they bloom to nourish a bunch of bananas(the number of leaves and flower bud form months before it blooms and then no more leaves can grow) but it will take about 15-18 months to start harvesting full-size bunches of bananas again.

Banana plants still in standing water...if they don't dry out soon the bulbs will be badly damaged or rot. If there is higher ground to plant, people could move the younger bulbs.

Meanwhile in Port, the supplies donated by World Hope [tarps, water filters, and personal hygiene kits] cleared customs in only three days. Food will be purchased to add to the supplies and be put into family packets.

We plan to return to travel with the teams going out for distribution of the family packets and to see the more heavily damaged mountain areas. Thursday night the US embassy sent out warnings for Les Cayes and Petit Goave because the long heavy rains caused additional flooding.

River bed 'road' one takes to visit Pomme Wesleyan church. 
Some of the locations of the heavily damaged churches are in the mountains and on a normal day can only take a truck so far and then need to go on foot or motorcycle up steep mountain trails for 1+ hours.

Flooded road in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.
Positives: The areas along the coasts that we saw, some homes were completely swept to the see and some gardens and trees down but it was spotty. Like the quake...some houses only had some mud, some were severely damaged and others gone. But with some trees and areas still OK just minutes away they will be able to receive help from close by.

We also saw areas along the way with moringa and chaya. ECHO contacted us to use our Creole chaya information and will add some to it and help to get the word out about this very nutritious leaf that most Haitians only know as a shade bush.
North Haiti
Another positive will be that the Haitians can reuse a lot of the tin and wood.  Much of the fallen branches and trees too small for lumber can be turned into firewood or charcoal.

The income, for those who had damaged trees, will help the needs.

Six days, 622 miles-many hours in the truck. [Yesterday it took us about 7 hours to cover 150 miles...]

Please continue to pray that the lifesaving supplies can reach those with the most need. Many very hard to reach areas still have not received any help. If the rains continue the relief can't get to the mountains or distant areas.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Prayers for Survey Trip

Know that I will not think of everything but confident that the Lord will bring us and specific needs to mind when we need those prayers. But for those who like to pray specifically here's a bit of the plans [all subject to change!] and needs.

Sunday after church to install the new pastor at Fauche, we plan to head down to the Ortlip Center. Anna will be staying there with our teammates the Stephens.

Monday will continue on to Port-au-Prince to meet with Gilles [GP mission directors], Greg Edmonds [heading up H. Matthew relief], Dustin Stephen [Construction coordinator], P. Doucet [national superintended of Wesleyan Church of Haiti] and others...our roles being to direct the medical/health and agricultural relief efforts.

Tuesday we will head to Southern Haiti to visit and see as much as we can in three areas where the Weselyans have projects and gather information. What are the needs [immideate, mid and long term]? Who's already working in the areas? Where can we help without duplicating? Identify who we partner with and assist.

Not sure how long this all will take. Will be flexible. With the roads being worse than before, and it wasn't an easy trip then....we will do our best to stay in the area until we have the information we need. But if we need to we may return to closer to PAP for food, water, supplies and then head back.

Then will meet to share and plan how to best help.

  • For relief efforts to reach everyone in need, esp. the smaller remote villages in the mountains.
  • Travel-safety
    • Sunday to Ortlip. Monday to PAP. Tuesday to the South...for a few days.'
    • That the truck runs well.
    • No road blocks or long delays of any kind
  • Prioritizing and that we can get to where we need to go
  • For donated water filters, and tarps to arrive from the USA before our trip.
  • Good communications between us and the team.
  • That we pack and bring the supplies most needed.
    • Medical, chaya branches, breadfruit root starts, Konsey books, buckets for water filtration, moringa seeds....
  • That we can gather the needed information to best direct fund raising and relief.
    • Identify and connect with the leaders in the communities
    • Wisdom to prioritize the needs 
    • Connect with other organizations and work together
  • Health for us but more so for the people in the South under so much stress and lack of water and food. High risk for Cholera, other GI diseases and mosquito borne diseases
  • That we can be an encouragement and share the Lord's love.
  • That we see Jesus in everyone we see AND that they see Jesus in us. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trip prayers and looking for Jesus

"This is worst than the earthquake" The words, not a sensationalized or exaggerated news headline but a one - line Facebook post by a friend, a veteran missionary veterinarian, made my heart cry and stomach ache as my mind tried to understand.

How can that be!?! As bad as the suffering, destruction, and loss of thousands of lives due to the 2010 earthquake, the rapidly approaching famine conditions that hundreds of thousands of Haitian people face is worse. Today, 10 days after the hurricane, hundreds of relief worker struggle to even reach mountain and remote villages. How many people can you feed with one truck of food...and they will need food for MONTHS to come even if they can replant rapidly And the first crops survive to produce a good harvest.

Wednesday night I did not sleep well following a Skype discussion with Gilles our missionary directors, making plans to travel to Port-au-Prince next week and then onto the South to get a first hand look at the devastation and try to provide agricultural and medical advice on how to best help people in the days, months, and years to come.

The tension of not actively having a plan on how to personally help with the hurricane relief was instantly replaced with the bigger tension of knowing the physical, mental, and spiritual beating and pain that will occur next week. Knowing that while we can help, and do what we can......the needs are too BIG to even begin to get a handle on and comprehend.

How do I deal with these mixed feelings? The knowledge we need to go, want to go, want to help fights with in me with the feelings of wanting to run the other direction, knowing from experience the pain and scars we are walking toward, that will change us for the rest of our lives.

1. Share from the heart to encourage our prayer team to remember the Haitians suffering and us. Posting this blog and the update that will be heading out to our support team, begging for prayer. Without the power of prayer and backing of our team I know that this would be almost impossible for us to do.  Please share with others, your family, small group, church, prayer warriors. While we praise the Lord for sparing much of Haiti the battle for lives continues. Thank you.  [Will later post a list of prayer requests for next week]

2. Intentionally keep my mind and heart turned to God. Reminding myself of His LOVE, and power in the midst of this overwhelming tragedy. Not for one minute relying on any strength I may think i have but asking Him to fill me with His love, power, might, wisdom, compassion, and courage. Easier to do here, safe at home where I can step away from the computer pictures and posts about the suffering than next week when we will be feeling, seeing, smelling and surrounded by the reality of the task the Lord has entrusted us with at this time. Pray.

3. My practical plan for preventing overwhelming, paralyzing feelings of inadequacy will be: to pray to find and see Jesus in each person I connect with on this trip. I read again yesterday about Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity and how she taught. They try to recognize Christ in each person they serve. The belief that God hides in ugly or discusting disguises to test the love of His followers.
I think that by looking and finding Jesus in the people around us the Lord ministers to me, a visual reminder that He is with me every step of the way through difficult times. He will be holding me next week.

Reminding myself to look for focus on the joy and hope that will be there. I saw the Haitians praising the Lord in song and prayers immediately after the earthquake. I know they are a resilient people who will rebuild their lives. They will be helping others with loving hearts, generously sharing the little they posses with others.

I am very thankful that for this adventure Cory and I will be together. We plan to leave Anna with teammates at the Ortlip Center to help out there and have fun hanging out with people other than her parents.

Blogs may not occur next week or until we return home. Each time you check please send up a prayer. Will be taking notes and plan to share in the future about the trip.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trip planning...& trees for sale.

It looks like early next week we will be making a trip to Southern Haiti where the hurricane destroyed the fruit trees and gardens.

Will try to post a few details and a list of prayer requests before we leave.

This week Cory's guys started digging breadfruit root cuttings of the quick bearing Ma'afala variety to build up a good supply to ship or deliver to Southern Haiti. The existing breadfruit variety in the damaged area will sprout many root suckers for regrowing or transplanting so there shouldn't be a need for that variety.

Cory checked what types of coconuts would be strongest in high winds, disease resistant and produce well. He was surprised to find that the strange mutant looking short coconut trees near our favorite beach must be 'Fiji Dwarf' coconuts, one of the top recommended varieties now in Florida due to high disease resistance. He plans to start buying coconuts to use as seeds for new trees. We've also started to save more seeds from various fruits now in season to send south.

For some places the complete destruction will allow for improvement on what was once there. Maybe the trees and corps will be more diverse as the areas get replanted.

A good lesson that both missions and homeschool taught me and remind me of often... to take the time to occasionally check out what is working and what is not and adjust procedure as needed.

This week Cory and I created a new section in the plant nursery for 'sales' .

As more people learn about Cory's trees they tend to drop in to pick up a few trees without notice. Cory and the guys try to head across the river about once a week to check the gardens there and work on them....leaving the non-plant expert here to sell trees.

Last time a man didn't really care that he could be buying a black sapote or and egg fruit, [Cory thinks maybe he got an avocado as one is now missing from that area].

Yes, I do know and recognize some of the trees....but Cory has lots of trees in the nursery and when they are little some have very similar leaves...if you are not an expert on rare tropical fruits.

another nursery area
Another issue we're hoping this helps with is that before when people came for plants, because different trees were scattered here and there-they would see other trees they wanted to buy but some trees Cory has plans for or are experimental and he's not ready to distribute them.

Now with a nice area with trees for sale I can sell without worrying about letting some special tree of Cory's go accidentally. The trees are organized by row and I hold a list of names so I don't sell the wrong type of tree.

Trees in a plastic bag 25 Haitian gouds or 50 for a tree in a plastic pot. Grafted trees cost more. Return the pot for a 25 goud refund. We may add a 50 goud section for rarer trees or decorative plants that Cory doesn't like to spend as much time on. [64.76 goud to a USA dollar-as of this morning.]

So currently selling: egg fruit, black sapote, malay apple, breadfruit, starfruit, mulberry, bilimbi, jackfruit, grafted mangoes, cupuasu and biriba. Grafted avocados in a month or two.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hurricane, prayers, (peach palms by Cory)

Continuing to watch and pray as the stories and pictures of the utter devastation come from Southwest Haiti. Some areas have yet to be reached by rescue or support personnel. Primary needs are fresh water, food, medical treatment, shelter.

Due to the loss of trees, gardens, and livestock, food will be an issue for the months or years to come. Schools and homes being destroyed will complicate life as well as the lack of jobs and resources.

Many missionaries are writing on social media about giving and how to best help. Unless very specific medical or other skills, most are urging people to send ticket money rather than coming.

Send support money to organizations you know, trust, who work with Haitians [have Haitians on their boards and in leadership positions] not most of the big name organizations.

If you feel led to help but don't know who to give to..let us know specifically how you'd like to help [medical, livestock, water, schools, churches....].

Please continue to pray:
  • that help reaches those who need it in a rapid, timely fashion
  • for organizations to work together so help reach all and avoid waste with duplication
  • that as many relief supplies [building, medical, water, food, livestock] can be purchased in Haiti helping the economy vs. shipping in items that don't help as much or even hurt in the long-term
  • that health issues like tetanus, cholera, typhoid, malaria...can be kept to a minimum 
  • political stability with the postponement of national elections
  • people will see and feel the Lord's love and care during this difficult time

This week Cory purchased our first living lawnmower, "Cloudy".  Doubtful she will be able to keep up with the rapidly growing lawns but Cory also ordered a new lawnmower.

Chatted on line with Eli today. With 17 credit hours this semester he keeps very busy and 'overwhelmed', but family reports they feel he is doing well. He finds time for martial arts, church, and chapel and some fun! 

I harvested a bunch of peach palm on Friday.

The fruit were boiled and then shared with the workers, several other people, and the youth ministry board which was meeting on Campus.

Everyone says they like the fruit. At least one said it had flavor like squash, which is a favorite Haitian vegetable.

It is rather dry/starchy by American taste but Haitians prefer dry (starchy) varieties of squash, avocado, sweet potato and (very mature) corn on the cob (usually grilled over charcoal).
Tree at CATIE, Costa Rica, 2014

Counting chicks before they finish hatching: The fruit bunch weighed about 10 pounds so the 4 mature bunches totaled about 45-50 pounds and there are at least 4 other bunches developing.

 If my numbers are right, at the recommended 180 trees per acre, the yield of food per acre would be more than the average yield per acre of corn in the USA. 70x180=12,600. USA corn is about 9,000. (Correction, forgot to account for moisture of about 50-55%, corn would only be about 15% When we have the final yield it may still be close to corn).

The photos of our tree aren't very impressive compared to some of the trees at CATIE in Costa Rica during my visit in 2014, so the potential looks good, but will take some time yet to evaluate.

Since there are only about a dozen trees on campus that have started blooming, I still have to do some pollen storage and pollination to get good fruit set. Since the main pollinator insect in the native range seems to be absent here, and bees only occasionally work the blooms, this may reduce yields or limit introductions in new areas to self-pollinating varieties or fairly large plantings.

I was surprised to see photos from SW Haiti showing most of the coconut trees laying flat on the ground. Coconut leaves don't break off but royal palm and peach palm leaves break off in strong winds so the tree is more likely to stay standing and survive.

Photos from MAF survey flight are at this link.  If you use them, please credit MAF and photographer Tim Schandorff.