While Chris was away I took some time to go over plans for the house and office space at the new property. We’re so itching to get started on the building, but we know God’s timing on things is perfect and that going slow is a good thing. As we wait on funding it’s actually given us a lot of time to repeatedly discuss things and work out details. For that we’re so thankful.
As we move forward with building and developing we really want to not only think of needs now but also what things might look like 10 or 20 years from now. As we talk plans for the work yard we’re thinking about efficiency as well as building things with enough room to increase our capacity by at least double over the years. If we’re building 400 filters per month, how much storage space to we need to keep cement and other materials? What does that look like for setting up the work yard? When we talk about the guest house we’re looking at what we have now, and what we know our needs are and how we want to change things.
When it comes to the house and office space, we’re working through every last detail because concrete is pretty darn permanent and we want to do it right the first time. Our family has been not only living, but also working in just under 900 square feet for years. Our office space is literally in our living room, which means we don’t ever truly get away from work. As we talked through the initial plans for the mission the one thing that was an absolute no-brainer was building an actual office space. I’m so excited about the plans we have in place for everything, but I won’t lie – I’m probably most excited about having an actual office!
Chris pretty much left the basic house design up to me, and after doing the first draft we talked and tweaked and changed and re-did. We’ve had several revisions since then and all of them have been good! And funny. When we started the planning Chris out of left field said, “Don’t even think about putting in a second bathroom!” I wasn’t going to, but it was funny to see he had such strong feelings about it. And apparently changeable feelings about it, because when we came home from last summer’s vacation he became insistent about putting in a second bathroom. We had originally just had the full bath on the second floor, but he wanted a toilet/sink combo on the main floor for a variety of reasons. I believe he actually said, “Do whatever you need to do to the plans to make it work!” So I did, and it solved two other issues – an entry way and office storage. Our main door in our current house comes right into the living room, and it means shoes slowly creep across the floor and so does the dirt. One of our ongoing “squabbles” is about the number of non “house” items that get stored in our storage room or living room because Chris doesn’t want them to be “all access”. The extra bathroom allowed me to add an entry area, as well as an actual storage room in the office where we can keep all those items that Chris doesn’t want in the shop, but still needs regular access to, as well as boxes of paper etc.
I’m a spacial type person, where I can get a good feel for what can fit where and what provides good flow, and this is how I’ve been thinking through the entire process of planning the house and office. I want the biggest bang for our buck, but I also want the space to be comfortable, inviting and something that will grow with our family over the years. It’s our hope to be with the mission until we retire, and unless God has other things in store that we don’t know about now, that’s how we’re thinking. So, in the house that means factoring in Alex, who will probably be about 6’5″ when he’s 13 and what that will feel like for the rest of us. We like having people over regularly, including our bi-weekly missionary fellowship/bible study times where we might have 15 adults and half a dozen kids in our kitchen/living room. This is who we are. This is what the mission buildings get used for. Being thoughtful about all of this has helped as we put finishing touches on things.
The other thing that is actually really fun for us is thinking about all the ways we can have a great space, and save money in the process. The kitchen is a good example. First off, it’s hard to find quality cabinetry. Local men may be able to build things, but they’re often not square or just “off”. When we built our current place my needs and wants in the kitchen were simple – a) counters at a normal height, b) drawers that slid normally, and c) shelves in the cupboards that made sense. We ended up having a simple kitchen built by a business in Port au Prince and have been really happy with it. Since then I’ve gotten handy with wood, and we have two friends here that are also carpenter types. One of them even worked as a cabinet maker for a while. Between all of us we have all the tools and the know how needed to build a GREAT kitchen for basically the cost of wood, hardware and paint. The kitchen we have now was relatively cheap compared to what it would cost us back home for a kitchen build, but doing it ourselves will save ton of money and it’ll be custom built with everything just as we want it. Same thing with the office plans. We want a really functional work space that will allow for several people to be working, as well as storage and a space that is really productivity inducing.
In both the case of the kitchen and the office I’d had a lot of stuff floating around in my head for a while, and was pinning stuff on Pinterest for a long time, so while Chris was away I used several free evenings to start putting “pen to paper” so to speak. It was so fun to have something to show Chris when he got back so he could understand what’s been floating around in my head for so long. The best part was that he LOVED the kitchen, and after explaining my thoughts on the office he likes that too. I was completely prepared for many tweaks and more conversation but we’re good to go! I’m sure we’ll still do some tweaking, but this is a very good place for us to be in :)
You might be wondering why we would be thinking about work space for several people in the office, but that brings me around to another “new” thing for us that we’re really excited about.
Obviously as the mission grows we’re going to need to have extra help here, so it’s just prudent to plan for that in the work space/office space. In the past when we’ve had volunteers here they’ve been here mostly to be primarily involved in the filter project. Because of the way we’re set up and our development goals, we try to have our Haitian staff take care of most of the day to day work, and our real needs are more in the area of having people here in a leadership capacity. Even with that though, we realized that what we thought our needs were, and what our actual needs are weren’t the same things. You may remember that last fall I put a call out on here for an assistant. Nothing ever came of it and we just trusted that at the time and knew that God would provide when the time was right.
Well, the time is right!
(If you could see me right now I would be grinning ear to ear.)
Last month an opportunity presented itself, and the funny thing is that it wasn’t from outside of Haiti, but rather in Haiti. We were approached to consider someone that we knew here already, albeit not well. After going through the application process, a face to face visit/interview time, and references we’re excited to share that we have a new volunteer joining us in August.
Peggy has been in Haiti since last November, so she’ll be starting with us having had some experience here, which is a great thing. All of the big needs on my list as far as what a person in the assistant role needed to be able to do, Peggy can do. She’s owned her own business so she’s familiar with everything from having employees to management and accounting. She has a deep desire to serve wherever she can be of help, and the best part is that she has a long term calling for missions. In the past we’ve had some wonderful people here, but they’ve typically committed for a year and then went on to do other things. Peggy is coming into this knowing that if it’s a good fit for all of us, she could be with us for many years – and that’s exciting! When I told Chris I was coming the first thing he said was, “Good, now I can make plans.” He had only ever had people that would come for weeks or months and was never able to do anything really productive. I now know how he felt in that moment because having Peggy here means I’ll get to finally do the things that keep getting put on the back burner. And, not only will her working here take some of the day to day stuff off me, it’ll help in the bigger picture as the stuff that I want to focus on will allow others back in Canada and the US to focus on other things while I take some of the stuff that should rightfully be done from here off their shoulders.
This is such an exciting step forward for us and the mission. I just keep thinking about all the great things that are going to come out of this… sigh.
We would love it if you would keep us, Peggy and the mission in general in your prayers over the coming months as we get ready to transition. Here are some specific things you can pray for:
- Pray that past situations with volunteers that have gone badly won’t interfere with building our relationships with Peggy as she comes on staff. We all click really well, but it’s easy to unintentionally be guarded when you’ve had to go through some of the things we have in the past. We want a great, strong team that actually feels more like family.
- Pray for Peggy as she heads back to the US and works at transitioning from her previous organization to sharing about her new opportunity to work with Clean Water for Haiti. She’s already very enthusiastic about sharing what we do, but will also be raising her own personal support over the coming months.
- Pray for me specifically as I prepare to have someone here to help me out. After so many years of not being able to really hand off much for any length of time I know that my natural instinct will be to feel like I still need to do everything myself. I AM already starting to make lists and think about what to hand off and how, and I want to keep moving in that direction. I am looking forward to having more time to concentrate on things that have been on the back burner for a long time.
- Pray for the mission in general as we move into this new phase. We can sense very much that God is slowly taking us into the next phase for the mission, and slowly putting things in place.
Great new things! Along with the above we would love it if you would be praying along with us for God’s continued provision for the new property development. We have this beautiful, clear vision and are seeing it slowly become reality. The ONLY thing holding it back is money, and in the big picture money is a small hurdle.
Excited about the future!