Sunday, September 27, 2009

my work with Heartline.

I returned to Haiti Sept. 22 after a visit to the States. Upon my return, I took an open ministry position at Heartline Ministries. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to serve with Three Angels for the past year, and I am excited to see what lies ahead at Heartline.

 I will be working with the Women’s Program, in particular, the sewing class. A new group of about 25 women just started this sewing class. They start with learning the basics of sewing and within a 6 month time period advance to making clothes among many other things. This benefits the woman in so many ways. She can make clothes for her family verses buying clothes. She can sell what she makes to earn an income to provide for her family. And a handful of the women that graduate the class will be selected to work for Heartline’s “Haitian Creations” store. Haitian Creations are items hand-made by these haitian women, mainly purses and jewelry, and the profit goes back into the hands of the women that made them, with a percentage of the profit going to the Women’s Program to keep these programs running. 
The Women's ministry at Heartline also has Prenatal program, where the goal is to ensure a successful pregnancy. Lab work is done on each of the woman as they enter the program and monitored on a weekly basis. Each week women in our program are given milk, vitamins and medicine to help them have a healthy pregnancy. This program is amazing and makes a huge difference in the lives of these Haitian women and their children. I look forward to being a part of this as well! And finally, though there are many details to still work out, the plan is for me to also aid with the adoptions for Heartline's orphanage, Maranatha Children's Home. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

good sermons...

Before getting back to Haiti on Tuesday, I spent a few days with some friends in California. a couple of my friends and I were feeling super spiritual and went to two churches on Sunday.  First, Copperhill Church , where Brian Howard challenged us to pursue purposefully relationships with non-believers. Yes, we need Christian friends. We need their fellowship, encouragement and accountability. But if we aren't friends with non-believers-- what's the point? Why are we still on earth? Wouldn't the best thing be to shoot right up to heaven after we become saved? But that's not what happens. We remain on earth to be the salt and light to people that aren't saved. Brian gave this example: a guy comes before your church and tells you he is going off to be a missionary in the jungles of Africa. You ask what he will be doing there. He excitedly tells you about how he will be spending time all his time in church, doing bible studies and hanging with other missionaries. Your church probably wouldn't see the point of supporting a missionary if that's all they did. We send missionaries out to reach the lost. Brian's point was that everyone is a missionary. We need to follow Christ's example of serving and loving the lost. 

Next church service. Francis Chan at Cornerstone Church. A very convicting message. And yet the part of his message was that it doesn't matter how convicting a message is if you're not doing anything about it! He gave a good illustration: you tell your daughter to clean her room. she says "Oh, that's a great idea!". And then she comes back to you later, "Well, I really like what you said about cleaning my room. I thought a lot about it. I got some friends together and we talked about it. We even prayed about it. Cleaning my room would be a really good thing." Would you be pleased with your daughter?? No... because she never actually cleaned her room. 

And I'll leave you with a short video clip of Francis. This was not from his message Sunday, but I recently watched it and it has stuck w/ me. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why driving is different in the States....

  • you can't honk at people
  • you don't have to be watching out for potholes
  • you can't (shouldn't) drive on the sidewalk
  • you get in trouble if you don't obey the traffic lights
  • you should really stay on your side of the road
  • click it or ticket
  • you can easily drive over 35 mph
  • you don't have police officers telling you to do the opposite of what the traffic light is telling you
  • it's kind of a big deal if you tap another vehicle

Driving in Haiti is just way more fun.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That time of month...

It’s that time of month again. Actually, it’s almost over. It started a few days ago. I’m hoping to be done with it in the next day or two. I HATE this time of month. Payroll time. I know, I know-- sounds crazy. Most people look forward to payroll. You there. In America, with your job- you love payroll time, don’t you? And sure, maybe there are a few accountants in the states that might grumble when it’s time to work on payroll. I’ve never dealt with it in the states, so I can’t say too much about it. But, if I had to guess, I would guess it can’t be that complicated. With your computers and bookkeeping programs and systems. With your printers and checks and banks. And I highly doubt employers in the states EVER (except maybe in special, extreme circumstances) have their employees complain and bring the money back saying “No, this isn’t right.” That would be because you have an organized system of how things works. You have rules and guidelines that the employees understand. 

And now I will proceed to tell you how payroll looks for me in Haiti. 

I normally start a few days before the end of the month. I start reviewing the schedule-- absences, advance pays, substitutes, and rarely, but sometimes someone may have been docked pay. I enter the info into a spreadsheet. A lot can still happen in the next few days, but I go ahead and get an idea of what payroll is going to cost. And now the real fun begins. I need to somehow get that money. We, of course, have to pay our employees in cash. Our nannies and most employees get paid in Haitian Dollars (HTD). However, some of our higher paid employees (director, security, nurse, assistants, etc) get paid in US money. We use to do wire transfers to get the money to Haiti. At a normal Haitian bank, it would take weeks or even months to get a check cashed. At the bank, when we picked up our wire, we could get the money all in US and then exchange some of it to HTD. We have a new method, but in many ways, it is just as complicated but with less fees. There are several businesses that have their own little banks. You give them the check. They give you the cash. However, they make their money by giving it to you at a smaller exchange rate. If the exchange rate at the bank is 8.2%, they might give it to you at 8.1%. If I ask very nicely, they might give me up to $500 in U.S. dollars. But, I need closer to $2,000 (They stick to HTD because they make their money off the exchange). For this month, I ended up making two trips to cash checks, giving me $1,000 US. Close enough. I just had to pick certain employees that would hopefully not complain if I paid them in HTD verses US. 

So, now I’ve got some US money, not enough, but we’ll make do. And some HTD. This isn’t over yet though. The bank-like place couldn’t give me anything smaller than 100 goudes. (The Haitian currency). I need 25’s in order to make most of our employees salaries. Okay. Next step-- take it to the street. I send an assistant out to try and get smaller bills. he comes back unsuccessful. I go out with him later in the day. We asked at least 5 people. No one had 25’s. Or even 20’s and 5’s. At this time, it’s the last day of the month. So we exchange our money for 50’s. I’m just going to have to round up for everyone’s pay. Whew. It is NOT easy getting the change you need! 

I finally get workable bills. Finish up the spreadsheet. Write on and stuff envelopes. And the people can start picking up their money from me. Because of day offs-- it’s usually a few days before it’s all picked up. And because of shift changes-- I have people knocking on my door all hours of the day. 7AM. 8PM. People interrupt my showers. They interrupt my Jack Bauer. My reading. My sleep. And then so far this month, 2 people have complained and fought that their pay was not correct. (yes, we have made some changes about how we do it, so I expected it more-so this month.) You can’t simply say “yes, it’s right” and expect it to be over. You can’t even simply show them how/why it’s right. A long debate is required. If you are lucky, you can keep it from being a heated debate. And in the end, of course, you are right. They either come to an understanding of that. Or, you get tired of repeating yourself and trying to “make your case” so you just tell them to accept their pay because it is what it is. 

...... Is payroll time over yet???