You've been hearing from me a lot in recent weeks, but I promise I'll let Kate back on here soon. Today, I wanted to talk to you about the construction seminar that I mentioned a couple weeks back. We are calling it the "Séminaire de Construction des Caraïbes." Which is French for the Caribbean Construction Seminar. (People speak Haitian Creole here, but French is still the norm for anything even semi-official. Hence our use of French for the title and most documents for the school.)
Here are some of the decisions the staff and I have made thus far before I share with you the heart and reason for the school:
The primary reason we are having only 10 students is because we want this school to be small enough to feel like a family. We really feel that our impact will be the greatest by being able to personally disciple and mentor each of the young men. A school that is too large will make the feel much more institutionalized and might mean students fall through the cracks.
So the family feel partially explains the heart of the school but not fully.
Even in Haiti, young men (and ladies for that matter) often end up in a state of limbo or feeling lost after school is finished. Maybe they are still living at home, or don't have a job, or don't really know what to do with their lives. It is a state of confusion that can keep young men from growing and maturing into God's will for them. It is a difficult thing to explain in words, but you can see and feel it. Personally, I know what that is like and I've seen it in other young men.
I'm so grateful for the men God put in my life who helped me traverse that time. But it wasn't that they told me what I should do. It was that they took the time to involve me in their work. Remodeling a basement, building a fence, or even just stacking wood. By teaching me all those little practical skills they opened the door to speak on much greater heart topics.
That is exactly what we are recreating during this school.
We will be teaching practical skills that will give these young men the opportunity to earn a living, and through that we will be able to speak with much greater authority on their character, purpose, and relationship with God to absolutely change their lives.
That is the true heart of the school.
We've been blessed to already have two professionals from Pennsylvania contact me about coming down to teach on estimation, layout, concrete, and masonry. That has been an answer to my prayer. My background in civil engineering means I can certainly teach on those topics, but not with the same power of someone who lays concrete and block as a regular part of their day.
To be honest though, one prayer that has yet to be answered is the financial side of the school. We need $15,000 to be able to run this school well, and there have been a few people already willing to help, but no concrete numbers yet. (Couldn't help but put the "concrete" pun in there!) The cost breakdown is below:
$1,400 - Flights and lodging for speakers, and translator
$600 - Lunch for all 10 guys for a full 6 weeks
$3,000 - Tools! (You can never have too many, but what we are wanting to do is actually supply each student with the basic hand tools for concrete and masonry at the beginning of the school, let them use the tools during the school, and then give them to the students after graduation!)
$10,000 - Construction materials. We are looking at a few different options for building projects that will allow the students to practice, but will also serve as a practical structure after completion either on campus or in the community.
If you feel led to give, then please let me know! Checks can be sent to:
PO Box 236
Akron, PA 17501
Please put a separate note that says your donation is for the construction school.
You can also give online over at our donation page. If you choose to give online, would you please shoot me an email or text saying that you did. Just so that I know your donation is specifically for the construction school instead of general use.
Those of you in the Pueblo area can also give via cash/check to Family Worship Center, with a separate note saying it is for the Fishers construction school.
All of the above options are totally tax deductible! (Even though you probably don't want to be thinking about taxes right now.)
There are a number of ways to get a hold of me:
719-582-5610 (A US based number that will allow you to call or text us without pesky international charges.)
If you are reading this on our website, you can leave a comment below.
If you are reading this via email, just reply to that email and it will come straight to us.
Buying all of our own things has been a goal of ours since we first moved down to Haiti. For one, because it sure does feel nice to actually have your own things instead of living in the constant world of mismatched and heavily used furniture. But more importantly because when we make our move up north to Port-de-Paix we won't be left furniture and appliance-less. Imagine us trying to fundraise for a property and furniture all at the same time! Quite stressful! Or worse yet, walking into a new property with little more than the clothes and bric-brac that we currently have. Echoey halls would be an understatement!
Needless to say, replacing all of our campus owned things with our own is the smart way to go and I believe that God thinks so too. I'll share with you two stories that end with us driving away with a new, higher efficiency fridge and you can decide for yourselves.
The first story begins back in Colorado. I am having a bit of a rough time during our prolonged stay for Evie's surgery. The reason? I haven't built anything with my hands for a couple months. Petty? Absolutely! But working in engineering/construction, even before moving to Haiti, was never work for me. I loved every minute of it, so I couldn't possibly call it work. So to be without building/designing something for months was actually quite the struggle for me. (Ask my wife, she'll tell you how it went. She might have called me a big baby once or twice.)
Anyway, it just so happened that someone we know named Benjamin needed a fence built for him during the time of our prolonged stay. After some prodding on his part, I decided to accept the project and got busy. It wasn't a long fence that needed to be built, but was a 6' wood privacy fence and did require building a vehicle access gate. I've only ever built one privacy fence before this time which was why I was apprehensive before about taking the job. In all, I think it took me about a week to build everything and have it ready to go. (With some help from my awesome 2 year old helper of course! He's really quite good at using the drill and saw, but don't tell Kate. :P)
Benjamin and I had not really talked cost before I started the job. A big no-no usually, but truthfully I would have built it just for the joy of building something. Fast forwarding an already long story, Benjamin heard about us trying to buy a fridge and ended up "paying" $1,000 for the fence. Our goal for the fridge had been $800! Woohoo we hit the goal and were able to budget the remaining money towards our residence visas for Haiti!
Phew! That was a long story! I'll try to make the second one shorter, so here I go:
The second story finds me in Port-au-Prince at a hardware store called CK Hardware. Sort of like a Home Depot/Lowes, but much smaller. I knew that they sold fridges so that was the place I went! Armed with an $800 budget and the technical specs of our current fridge, I set off through the store to find the fridges. Kate wasn't able to go with me, so we had a lengthy conversation on the phone involving google searches of product numbers and technical specs. The fridge selection isn't huge in Haiti, so it basically boiled down to two different choices. (There were about 10+ different mini-fridges, 1 commercial size, 3 large french door style, and our two options.)
An 18 cu. ft. fridge that pulled about 6.0 amps at $799 and a 16.5 cu. ft. fridge that pulled 1.2 amps at $950. (Still to this day I have no idea how it functions with only 1.2 amps. Most fridges I've seen are more in the range of 5-8 amps.) Our current, base-owned fridge was a 17.6 cu. ft. fridge that pulled about 7.5 amps.
We knew we wanted a more energy efficient fridge as the fridge was our main power draw in the house. Both fridges looked similar, so it was really a question of storage space and energy usage. The smaller more energy efficient fridge was a full $150 over our original budget, but after some debate we ended up choosing it for its power consumption. Sorry resident visa budget!
Or so we thought...
On my way to find a salesman I ran into the owner of the hardware store. He was quick to help me out and ended up ringing me up himself. He saw the $950 price tag, but with a wink said that he was going to see what he could do.
He typed away on his computer and soon printed a receipt. He motioned me to take the receipt from the machine and told me that he thinks I was going to be happy.
There on the bottom of the receipt was:
Total Sale..... $800
Not only was that a full $150 discount, but that was our exact budget for a fridge!
I think God was actually doing something there. He wants us to know that he provides. Or at least that's what I'm taking from it, because, honestly, that's what I needed to hear right now.