"Parish the Thought" Blog
- Written by David Puckett
Thursday - Day 14
I've been remiss in writing, sorry.
In summary we finished quite a few things on Tuesday. On Wednesday classes began. Of course we were still working on running network wiring to rooms that were not being used.
Update on power at the house ... city power - EDH - has come on the past several nights. The inverter worked, the batteries charged, Cathy ran the washing machine, we pumped water. When we got up in the morning fans were running, batteries were charged well by EDH. Life is better.
Another power issue ... at the Technical School there is no EDH power. We have a diesel generator to charge our battery bank. The generator has not been running as we expected. Maybe I've already commented on it. Anyway, after changing to a heavier weight oil, things are much better.
Today I was able to break off and address a few tasks at College St Louis. Got to help Fr Luxo with a WiFi issue, replaced 2 broken laptops, changed to a larger network switch, found a few missing items.
I've had trouble sleeping the last few nights ... heat, dogs, thunder but no rain ... too many thing swirling in my head. This has been a long trip, really miss Mary Ann ... lots. Can't wait to get home tomorrow night.
We're winding down, assessing our stay, packing for the flight home.
I hope to wrap this blog up some time Saturday after we're home. In the meantime, we all ask for your prayers for a safe return and we thank God for the many blessings we have all received in our lives and the opportunity to share our knowledge and understanding with a few people in Jeremie.
- Written by David Puckett
Monday - I think this is day #11!
Lot's of last minute clean up getting ready for the open house this evening. Phillipe, the technical school director, has invited a lot of people along with 24 students who will begin classes on Thursday. Clervil, the network teacher, and Elisabeth, the admin assistant, are in overdrive setting up a table of refreshments, greeting posters, balloons.
We knocked off early so we could go back to the house and relax a bit, get cleaned up, eat a late lunch/early supper. Gary stopped by EDH to see if he could talk to someone about our power problems at the House .. more on that later! Then back for the open house!
I must say it was interesting to see everyone showing up. All of the Tek4Kids staff in Jeremie: Baba, Max (who brought his 7 year old daughter who is a doll), Francklyn (and his father) and all the teachers: Laura, Josselin, John Davidson, Roodmy, Shirley, Jean Marie, Patrick and Allenz. Plus the Tech School staff of Phillipe, Clervil, Elisabeth and then Rose and Eric who will be teaching English for the next few months. Others I knew included Fr Ernest and Fr Luxo from College St Louis, Fr Marc-Arthur - Pastor of Cathedral St Louis. Sr Macda from Bro Paulin School, Sr Helene from St Jean Bosco, Madam Clovita from St Therese Montessori, Patrick the hardware store owner, Benice the concrete contractor, the tile contractor.
The students seemed to have family with them, I think there may have been a town official or two as well.
Several speeches, introductions, lots of looking around at the rooms (refreshments in hand), projector showing live shots from the 3 cameras we had installed. Lots of people taking pictures of each other, several even had friends take a picture of them with me.
All in all a pretty good show! Gary was happy!
By 7:30 or it was time to head home .. after dark. Gary, Cathy, Rose and Bob piled into Elisabeth's SUV, Baba took Eric on his bike, Clervil had me on his bike. First time for me to ride on the back of a bike at night .. a new experience.
Back to EDH. Gary talked to a manager who seemed to understand our issues. Net result ... when EDH power came on, the inverter stayed on .. it has not stayed on with city power for the past several weeks. So we charged batteries (new big ones that were put in last week).
No generator last night .. pretty good sleep. Came down for coffee, inverter doing it's job. Power at the house good for a change ... a bit too soon to celebrate, but there is hope.
I met with Fr Marc-Arthur to make sure we were all in tune for working on the building where the poorest are fed. All systems are go. Doubt I'll see anything before we leave, but I'm confident things will begin to happen.
Classes at the Technical School begin tomorrow. Today we were still trying to finish several projects. Gary got in touch with the Kubota folks regarding the big generator. With the heat we're in, they said we needed heavier oil ... 10W30 doesn't quite get it. Oil got changed and things appear better.
When I took a break to get some fresher air, I looked down below ... kids is kids anywhere! Can't quite see it but the girls are playing jump rope. The boys in the distance are playing tag on a gravel pile.
By the time we came home about 4 we still had fans! Big batteries and EDH/city power working makes a REALLY BIG Difference!
After supper we listened to a thunder storm for quite awhile. No rain!
Rose is trying to understand how Bob can be watching a movie on his cell phone! NetFlix does wonders!
- Written by David Puckett
Saturday - 9/19
I forgot to mention that we had a nice little storm Friday afternoon. Lightning, thunder, wind. Enough wind that rain blew into several rooms at the Technical School, as well as my bedroom. When I went to my room, I first noted the curtain over the window at the head of my bed was on the board. Then I noticed leaves on my bed, then I realized my pillow and sheets were soaked ... omens of sleeping on the floor! I stripped the sheets and brought them down to hang and dry and then Mia intervened. By the time I headed for bed, there was a dry pillow, clean sheets and a mattress that did not feel wet. Mia works miracles!
When Roger flew in to pick up Yemi at the Jeremie International Airport ... aka rough landing strip with an actual wind sock ... Gary was able to get a few shots of him flying by. This is one of the better ones! Looks like Snoopy and the Red Baron!
We're to at the point of having 3 of the rooms in reasonable shape. Electrical work is done, lights in ceiling, floors swept at least 10 times trying to get all the debris from construction up. We've shuffled parts, suitcases of various supplies from one room to another in the process. Basically working toward an open house Monday evening.
Here are some before and after pics of the first classroom.
We have 3 cameras installed, one is outside keeping an eye on the Generator shed. Getting it mounted outside in July was a major high wire act! I'll try to capture a picture to show exciting views! Here's a shot showing the Network Lab space.
This is a picture from one of the Hall cameras, Max walking by:
As you may note, the date and time are not correct. I'm still trying to get that problem solved!
Gary is attempting to teach Eric and Rose the finer points of dealing with generators, inverters, city power, when and how to pump water, which keys they need, how to call the US on their cell phones. And how reach Baba, Roger the bush pilot, Lazzar the taxi driver in Port au Prince; all the critical people who make traveling around feasible.
One more long day in the books! Heading for Mass at Cathedral St Louis in the morning.
- Written by David Puckett
It's Sunday evening ... we had a slightly shorter day today.
We began with Mass ... and Jack Lydon would have loved it ... we thought Mass began at 8:00 so we left the house at 7:45. We arrived at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. A bit embarrassing, but short!
After a light brunch of bread and tuna, with a cake for dessert, we headed to the Technical School. Mainly sweeping floors, getting things cleared out of 3 rooms, last minute wiring changes, making a long patch cable for the printer, getting the wireless projector on line.
Eric met with the teachers to discuss English classes for them. Rose joyfully put her posters on the wall that she had meticulously carried in a mailing tube on the plane.
We've got an open house Monday at 5:00 to show the Bishop and several folks that need to be in tune.
During a break in the action, I cornered Baba and Bos Benice to chat about the Sister Parish project we're trying to work on. I'm meeting with Fr Marc-Arthur on Tuesday. Hope to see something happen before I leave. The parish here is serving a lunch to the poorest of the poor in a buiding that is not very nice to see. We intend to make some minor structural repairs, cosmetic repairs and paint the place. I hope to write more later and will help Jack Lydon present things to our parish in general at the proper time.
Monday morning some of us may be going to St Therese Montessori to re-hang the electrical line that comes in from the street. When the construction project to add the second floor rooms last year was done, the line from the street was hung rather poorly ... definitely not safe!
Since someone found some strawberry jam in the refrigerator, the cake that Mia fixed has been given an extra kick with a bit of jam!
We're all getting a little punchy from work, heat and high humidity, lack of good sleep. Eric and Rose are trying to pick up enough know how to survive here on their own for the next 4-6 weeks before Gary and others return.
About time to say good night!
- Written by David Puckett
It's Friday and we finally have Internet access at the house, so here's what I've been noting for the past week. Enjoy.
Day 2 - Saturday
Good to see Baba, Max and Francklyn. They are the team that makes it happen! Baba is an excellent translator and project manager. Max does plumbing, electrical, anything that seems impossible. Francklyn does a lot of the electrical work. Max and Francklyn also take care of the water purification systems at St Therese Montessori, Rectory at Cathedral St Louis, Brother Paulin School, St Jean Bosco, College St Louis, St Louis Elementary and Mont Fort Orpanage.
We spent a good bit of the day Saturday trying to decide on a classroom layout, some desk preparation and planning electrical feeds to the various rooms.
Bob, Yemi and Eric arrived unscathed by Haitian customs. Roger managed to get them, their 9 bags and the 4 we left behind Friday packed into the plane. Fr Luxo had trouble getting all the luggage and them into his SUV ... story has it that Eric had to sit on Yemi's lap.
After supper we had to go thru bags trying to figure out where various things needed to go.
Day 3 - Sunday
Oh what a restful night! Generator ran till about 2 AM, several rolls of loud thunder, a bit of rain and mostly not much sleep. Batteries kept the fans running. When I got up, there was no water, so no brisk shower to try to revive the body.
I stumbled down 2 flights of stairs, stared at things, started to get coffee going when the inverter said no way Jose! I'm outta here.
Flashlight in hand I stumbled out to the generator, found a jug of gas and got it running. Saved again! Now I can get some coffee going to help get the bodies moving.
At 6:45 AM Fr Luxo arrived to take us to the HHF Clinic up in the hills where he says mass at a beautiful little chapel.
Fr Luxo not only acknowledged our presence, he asked Gary and the rest of us to speak a bit at the end of Mass. Interesting translations between French, Creole and English ensued!
Back to the house for some breakfast ... Mia fixes sort of an unfolded omelette that covers a large platter.
By 10 we were on the way to the Technical School. Gary followed with a tricycle taxi toting 6 large suitcases of equipment we needed. A tricycle taxi is sort of a sub-compact pickup truck with 3 wheels. Good for quick transport of smaller loads, although I've seen some with major loads on them.
Time is flying. All energy focused on getting things ready in the new technical school. I did spend time Monday putting laptops back into the elementary schools ... Bro Paulin, St Therese Montessori and St John Bosco. We typically bring them back to the parts room at the end of the school year.
I hope to have a picture to add of the view from the building the technical school is in. It's a beautiful view of the Caribbean, very idyllic and a bit of a contradiction with the general scene in down town Jeremie.
Evenings have been challenging. We've had no Internet access at the house since about noon Saturday, so evenings there's lots of discussion about ills of the world, subleties of horse breeding, Euchre card playing with some slight instructions.
Slept pretty good last night. Mia had Haitian oatmeal for breakfast. It's definitely a smoother consistency than at home and has some sweetness to it.
Eric is here for the coming school year to teach English to various team members here in Haiti. It is interesting to watch him interacting with various ones as he tries to get to know them, pick up more Creole and casually toss in English. Eric is learning fast and developing good rapport with everyone.
Bob, Cathy and Eric did a lot of painting today. Here's a picture of College du Sacre Coeur.
On site lunches have been Gatorade and some hard bread with peanut butter and Haitian Laughing Cow cheese. Yum!
After dinner tonight there was a lot of discussion about the relationship between Gouds, Haitian dollars and US dollars.
And then there's the lack of Internet access at the house. Laura has been on NatCom daily to fix it.
When at home it's usually 11:00 or so before I hit the bed, here it seems that by 9:00 it's time to call it quits. Maybe part of it is I'm not getting a 1 or 2 hour nap in the afternoon!
Rose, who is a rather spry 80'ish young lady, is here to teach English to students in the Technical School. She's something of a world traveler and has a mastery of French which is of great value. Trouble is, most of us don't know French or Creole, so she can carry on with most everyone around. She, like Eric, is planning to be here for the coming school year. It's difficult for me to wrap my mind around staying here for an extended period! Eric and Rose have been learning the intricacies of when to pump water, how to tell when EDH (the city power company) is generating electricity, which switch to throw when using the generator and how to survive if there is no water because someone's toilet was left running all day.
I think UofL is playing Clemson tonight, but I won't know anything till I get to the school in the morning and have Internet access. Which brings up ... which of the comforts of home are vital ... water, electricity or Internet access ... not to mention missing family, long hot showers and some TV.
Things seem to be falling in place. Classroom looks almost ready. Network infrastructure is falling in place.
We're tired!, Yemi is returning to the US tomorrow. We get to stay and keep chugging along.