Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We have had a hectic, but very productive last week! The team heading up the aquaponics project (Jim Swan, Glynn Barber, and Mike Dunn) was here over the weekend and we were able to get things really moving on the system. It is so exciting to have more than just tubs of water in the greenhouse! But, all of this made me realize you may not all really understand the aquaponics system. So, I thought I would take a minute and try to explain this system that will produce fish and vegetables for food without taking any soil and using very little space….

There are 2 large tanks that hold fish. We just put tilapia in the system and they will be ready to harvest and eat in about a year. Theses fish are only in one tank, so we will stock the second tank in 6 months for a staggered harvest. We feed the fish and they, of course, produce waste.

Water is pumped from the fish tanks through a long set of troughs that will soon hold plants.
Individual seeds are planted in a small amount of growing medium.

As soon as these seed sprout, each plant is placed in a hole of one of the growing trays in the troughs. The water full of fish waste is great fertilizer for the plants. The roots growing through the holes of the growing trays will absorb all of these nutrients and clean the water. Clean water is then pumped back into the fish tanks.

The heart of the system is the pump that circulates all of the water, and therefore nutrients and allows for filtration.

With all the added nutrition, plants grow very quickly and we plan to have our first vegetable harvest in about 5 weeks. We have planted green beans, lima beans, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, large watermelon, sweet baby watermelon, cantaloupe, kohlrabi, swiss chard, cabbage, and lettuce. Soon we hope to be able to plant strawberries, herbs, and vanilla. We also hope to add to the system to accommodate rooting vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, and onions.

The overall goals of this system are to provide food and extra income for the orphanage, as well as determine if this system will work well in Haiti so that more like it can be started. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It has been 9 days since we arrived in Haiti and we have been on the island of La Gonave for one week. In some ways this time has been very full, but we are also playing a bit of a waiting game as we adjust to life and work here. Over this week we have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and it is so reassuring to know we are not alone in serving the Lord here. There are so many people and organizations working to make life for the people of La Gonave better and show the love of the Lord each day. We met a Haitian-American family who have started a school for Haitian children and a church with both Creole and English services. This is the school that the Janofski kids have a homeschool room in and the church that we went to this week. The faith of this couple for the Lord to provide and complete his work is amazing. There are several new families doing work out of the Wesleyan Compound and with WISH to assist with the hospital on the island, a new library, the school of nursing, and many other projects. We also met another Haitian-American couple this weekend who live in a village up the mountain and run an orphanage caring for about 30 children. Of course, our biggest encouragers and helpers are Craig and Renee Janofski. We have been staying in their home and they have been amazing examples to us. They have helped us every step of the way, including grocery shopping, opening our bank account, learning some Creole, finding a language tutor, helping us to make good connections, navigating the city of Anse-a-Galets, helping with cultural adjustment, and so much more. We are so very thankful that God has surrounded us with fellow workers to encourage and help one another!

*Benden, one of the children of the family who started the school and church, and I got to color together after class one day this week*

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1: 3-6

Friday, October 9, 2015

We just want to say thank you for all of your love and support as we transition to life in Haiti. We have been truly amazed at how the Lord has placed us in such an encouraging community and how people we barely know have chosen to stand behind us as we serve. We made the decision to go to Haiti at the very end of September with our goal departure October 1st. This is a crazy quick timeline and it was hard to trust that God would provide the funding, endurance, and support to get us there. However, He came through! We have had an incredible amount of help, with everything from a huge garage sale, to learning about our strengths and how best to use them in our new work, to dinners out to help us get away from the chaos, help to sell our car, cleaning and sorting everything we own, packing 3 bags that pushed the 50 pound weight limit, seeing us off at the airport, and, of course, friends preparing a place for us in Haiti. We really wanted to meet with people face to face to share our story and request funding and prayer support, but because of time constraints this was not possible in most cases. The Lord still prompted people to give and we received pledges to fulfill all of our funding needs before we left. We are so thankful to have you, this amazing team of people, behind us, supporting us, and praying for us, while we serve on La Gonave!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

As we begin our year in Haiti, some of you may not know the plan and our heart for this place and these people, so we wanted to start with this background information…

We are so excited to let you know that we are headed to Haiti for a year to serve the Lord and share his love with the people there. We will be living on the small island of La Gonave that sits in the crook of the mainland of Haiti. We first went to La Gonave on a short term mission trip in 2012 and it was then that we fell in love with the place and the people. We both felt the Lord would one day call us back to serve him there. La Gonave is a very poor part of Haiti, and with no industry and very poor agriculture the prospects of life there are not very good. However, there is hope for these people and we plan to work to cultivate that hope and shine God’s light there.

Our main project will be a new agricultural initiative with the pilot model at the Okipe Jesus Home for Children Orphanage on La Gonave.  It’s an aquaponics system that will raise both vegetables and fish for the orphanage.  The two main goals of this system are to provide for the children, and to determine if more systems would be a viable economic investment on La Gonave.  We will spend time each day maintaining and monitoring the system, making adjustments so that it is running as effectively as possible.  We will also be training older kids and employees at the orphanage to run the system independently.  This system will be under our care for 1 year, with the end result being that the orphanage will own, sustain, and benefit from it long term.

We will also be involved in other educational opportunities on the island.  The primary one is Allison’s role at the Indiana Wesleyan University School of Nursing on La Gonave.  She will be assisting with nursing student competencies and training. 

We truly feel that the Lord is calling us to these roles, and are very excited to not only serve the people, but also to shine his light and share his grace with them.