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Haiti Missions Trip 2011 Report

by Gene Gentry


August 2-10 six people from various churches in the Northwest went to Haiti to build desks, tables and chalk boards for the school at Grand Goave, Haiti. The January 2011 earthquake completely destroyed the Siloe School. Since that time with the help of Haitian crews and many volunteers from across the United States 13 rooms have been nearly finished. There remains only the addition of the doors and windows made of rebar for the last seven rooms to be finished. Our team was asked to make 30 desks, 30 tables and 14 chalk boards for the last seven classrooms. That was the amount of money available to get students into the class rooms for fall start-up of classes. In reality that was all that we had time to complete during the time we were in Haiti. A team from Colorado and Haitian volunteers joined us to accomplish that task.
As we left Spokane we were concerned about the weather. There was a possibility that Tropical Storm Emily would cause a problem.  We decided to press on as planes continued to fly into Haiti.  Emily slowed and eventually dissipated near the Dominican Republic. She provided us with two or three cooler days. What a blessing that was.
When we went into Haiti we carried enough nuts, bolts and screws to build 100 desks along with our tools. Our task was not only to build desks, but to work along side of Haitian volunteers to help them understand the power tools they were not familiar with. One of the most significant jobs as far as I was concerned was to teach the two volunteers who were chosen to use the paint sprayer. An important task in maintaining a sprayer is to clean it thoroughly after each use. EJ (Elisabeth Jane) has worked as a professional sprayer. Her primary task was to teach proper use and cleaning of the sprayer. The first day that we sprayed chalk boards I told the two volunteers that the sprayer had to be cleaned before we broke for our noon meal and break. The next day near the end of the day the older volunteer, Precois, who is also a carpenter said, “We have to clean the sprayer before we go home.” He had grasped the importance of cleaning so that this piece of equipment can be used time and time again.
Some of the most significant times for the team were the spontaneous interactions we had with our Haitian brothers and sisters. On Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to assist in conversations at the Christian English School. I had the first year students and did some very basic stuff. The other volunteers were in higher-level classes and the conversations took very interesting twists. Several of the volunteers were asked why they were Christians. Adam who had numerous tattoos was asked if he was a Christian.  The volunteers had to address questions that they had not anticipated which made them think about their relationship to Jesus.
Much interaction took place as we worked together with the Haitian people. We also developed some good relationships with the team from Colorado that had come to build rubble houses. I was blessed to see friends that I had made during my previous trips to Grand Goave. This is my fourth trip in two years. Many of our experiences came during unplanned times.
One day my grandson, Brolin, was not feeling very well. We were working on table legs. He took a break. After a while I wondered what was going on. I asked someone where Brolin was. He was teaching German to someone. He had studied German the past year and was using that skill. One night I went up on the roof of the volunteer house to see what part of the team was doing. Most of the team was sitting there while my son-in-law, Ben, taught Jean Pierre Hebrew. Ben grew up in Israel and they spoke Hebrew in the home. As I reflected on this Hebrew class I recalled seeing some Hebrew on a chalk board while I was in Haiti last year. Jean Pierre is very interested in languages and took advantage of every opportunity to use and learn them.
I want to thank those churches and individuals who made this trip possible. Several churches and individuals enabled volunteers to make the trip. Others made significant contributions to desks, chalk boards and tables. Park Heights did yeoman service in getting hardware together for 100 desks. Deer Park Open Door and Immanuel Baptist in Spokane enabled us to take tools that had been requested for the tasks to be done.  hanks too, to Charles Revis, the Spokane LLC and others in the Region of the Northwest for getting the word out. 
God is good. He blessed all who went on the trip. We were also a blessing to those we encountered in Haiti. Some couldn’t go this year who wanted to go. Some want to go again. I’m expecting more opportunities in the future.
P.S. If interested I will volunteer to visit and share with your church about this trip. I have already shared our experience with my Deer Park church.  Perhaps this way interest may be built for the next trip. You can reach me through the ABCNW Region Office.




Haiti Mission Trip - 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.


Gene Gentry.

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