by Gene Gentry
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by Gene Gentry
Dear Friends who are interested in the Haiti Mission Trip:
I returned from Haiti almost two weeks ago. I want to share the experience of the Northwest team, myself and the situation with my back. Normally teams go for about a week to Gran Goave, Haiti. The team from the Northwest departed July 23rd and returned on July 31. We had only three of us from the northwest so we were joined by three people from New York. We had a great team. We were the second team to use the new volunteer house instead of sleeping in tents. There was much needed to make the house a home but we were out of the storms which was a blessing. We decided to make the house more comfortable and that was partially done while we were there.
Midway through our time at Gran Goave we were joined by a team of six from Ohio. This was the third team lead by Harry Rittenhouse since the first big earthquake on January 12. I have worked with Harry off and on over a 20 year period. It was a pleasure to work with him and his team once again. I stayed on until August 5 and came out with that team.
Our primary task in Haiti was to work with the school which is being built for 350 students. Those among us who were physically able worked with the Haitians pouring cement for the bond beams. That included mixing, transporting in a wheel barrow, putting it in a bucket and passing the bucket up a ladder to people on a platform who were pouring it into the forms. We did this for the last three rooms that are currently under construction. Since I left in May the first two rooms have been completed up through the pouring of the ceiling which will be the floor of the second story. Floors still need to be poured and windows installed on the front side of the classrooms. After that additional classrooms need to be constructed.
Those of us who were not up to the physical exertion of the cement process plus Andy, our volunteer carpenter, worked at a variety of tasks including building a structure to prevent rains from entering the staff house from the second floor. The second floor had collapsed during the earthquakes. We also painted the staff house and got water to all of the faucets and fixtures. In the volunteer house we got electricity to all of the rooms. When we arrived, electricity was in three out of six rooms. We have electricity when the generator runs. When we left we still needed to get the water fixed so the water tank didn't run dry when no one was using water.
Medical people had the opportunity to do some clinics with Tori, the nurse. Some of the team helped to reorganize the pharmacy.
Everyone had a good time and felt we had accomplished much. We had some people who had to slow down because of working too hard and not drinking enough water. Fortunately no IV's were necessary.
When I left for Haiti, several of you were concerned about my back. I purchased a flexible ticket so it could be changed if I couldn't go or if it was necessary to change the return flight. I received a shot prior to going to help control the pain. It worked marvelously. It lasted for about a week after my return from Haiti. I actually changed my ticket prior to departure so that I stayed longer than the team from the northwest and came out with Harry's team on the 5th. I was able to facilitate several things for both teams.
The New York team leader is trying to get a medical team organized for January. I think we will try to get a team together again sometime in the next year. I saw my back surgeon today and we are scheduling surgery for the end of September. I had hoped to go back in October but that is not to be, as he said I would have to take it easy for a couple of months. He asked if I had planned another trip and said "not until I saw you." So those of you who worry about me, rest assured, I will get the back taken care of first.
Andy Moll from Lynnwood and Jan Simpson from Spokane were excited about the trip and Andy thinks he can get some others to go another time, probably summer. Several people who couldn't go this time want to be kept in the loop so there is a better chance that we can pull a few more people together from the northwest for another mission trip. Several people are already considering that possibility.
I hope this answers questions that you might have. If you do not want to be kept in the loop let me know otherwise I will give you occasional updates, especially as plans develop for future mission trips.