Growth.

This week we are getting a few projects done.

Jason Gigure, the man responsible for designing our septic system, installing all our plumbing components, and teaching us to tile is back! This time he brought some friends (the pastor of his church, the pastor's wife, and their son, a senior in high school). The group comes from Mt. Zion, a church that has been partnering with us through bake sales and silent auctions for all two years of our existence. Jason's wife, Karen, has been leading the church into all things that rhyme with Haiti, and justice, and generosity for the 3+ years that we've known her. Consequently, there's probably more Second Mile jewelry in that 30 mile radius than anywhere else in America. So thank you Mt. Zion for standing with us and sending your people. We are going to get a lot done this week and we are thrilled to be able to share Haiti with pastor and family, who have come to experience this for the first time. They're asking questions, making some brilliant observations, and soaking up the people, the sites, and the sun's rays.

But Jason is not new to Haiti. It is actually his third work trip at Second Mile, and we don't even do work trips. How's that for an extra special record!



Aside from our electrician group and a spattering of close friends and family members who we have occasionally put to work during visits, we haven't had any "work teams" participate in the building of Second Mile. Why not? Well, the answer is simply that we desire to respect the talents and capabilities of the Haitian people who live around our facility. With so many people in need of work to keep their families fed, clothed, and housed does it not seem cruel to ignore their plight while building a facility we say will be used for good? We decided before we even began, that yes, hosting North American work teams could seem cruel and insensitive and in doing so we would be overlooking the needs of our neighbors. We must aim to do good, not harm, holistically, in and through our actions, words, and choices. Sometimes its the choices that speak the loudest. And we want to be heard in a way that says we see you and we care...

That being said. Jason has been our token exception. He usually comes by himself and remains perfectly content to work hard while we feed him his favorite p-foods, pineapple, papaya, pikliz, and plaintains.  He was just what we needed when we were first getting started, back when Jenn needed someone to teach her about septic and plumbing. Jason was the guy. He made the plans and we bought all the materials in Haiti. He was willing to use what we had available to us even if that meant using dehydrated and pressed sugarcane waste instead of fancy mesh fabric in the drainage field.

For this, and for many other reasons, the guys at the land respect him. Although they never quite got his name right (when we said Jason, they heard Jen-son and it stuck), I think they sense that as he works alongside them, teaching them to use pvc glue and cut tile, that he genuinely cares whether or not they come away with new skills. Jenn had a conversation with Jason on his first trip about how it works in Haiti-- how one learns a trade and moves to a place where he or she can exercise those skills as a sought after contractor, mason, plumber, or tiler. She described how hopeful workers must find a "boss," an experienced contractor in their trade, to take them on as an apprentice, to show them the ropes and give them a chance, eventually, to fly. He latched on to that. Jason comes to be a "boss." He works from a place of wanting his apprentices to be able to do it themselves next time, and to do it better.

He even taught himself some Creole. He's a collaborator more than a volunteer. His trips help prepare the Second Mile staff with some all-around useful skills. And that's good for Second Mile's sustainability as a Haitian-operated entity. If we are going to be efficient and sustainable-- then somebody's got to know how to use the pvc glue. And that someone can't be living in Wisconsin when the pipes take to leakin.'

So the guys at Second Mile are working with Jason and team this week.

Truth is before they started working, we only had two benches, a makeshift table which was thrown together one day with some left over pieces of wood, and a few chairs that have a habit of breaking if you even just look at them the wrong way. I won't even bother with the math. That's just flat out - not sustainable at all. Chairs are for sitting and tables are for working and eating. They need to be functional and they need to last.

this place is about to look a whole lot different

The plan for the week is to build four picnic tables, at least 20 chairs (the sturdy kind), several benches, a workbench, two desks, and a deck for the outdoor cooking area. They will also tile the two rooms adjacent to the education center. One is meant to be an office, the other is the "sewing room," a room that will have a variety of creative purposes.

sewing room/office/education center

These three chairs have made their way into a lot of our education photos in the past two weeks.
Truth is, they're borrowed goods, but soon we'll have our own and we can return to lender. 
Some things have moved fast, here. Other things we've taken a bit slower. Everything has it's time and it's moment. Guess what, we can't hold off on the seats any longer. We've raised the money and we've had sufficient time to think about what we need and what we don't. It's time! And we're excited! Jenn's been planning for weeks taking down dimensions, making supply lists, and acquiring materials. They were able to get started almost as soon as they landed in Cap Haitian on Saturday.





Even the garden workers stayed past the end of their work-day to get in on the excitement.




I'm convinced that by the time the week's over if we ever need another chair, table, or bench. These guys will be able to do it. That's growth.

So that's what we've got going on this week. It feels like a milestone. We have 7 moms at Second Mile now and 3 referrals on the way, but it's funny how its the building of a few new chairs that makes it feel like we are growing again. Funny, how new tables makes it seem like we are gearing up for something new on horizon. And you know... benches are meant to seat people, lots of them. Just like making 12 beds last March made it finally feel real that people would soon be sleeping in them, making tables means that soon people will really be working at them. In the next few months our education center is getting re-fitted to be the grand-central station of sustainability and skills training projects.

It's about to look a whole lot different up in here.

note: Jenn wants prayer! She has a lot on her plate as always. She's the mastermind behind the planning and the running. Projects mean she has to do some extra juggling.