Mopping floors with a tape-measure

I bet you have been wondering why I haven’t posted yet?  Why is Jessica the sole spokesperson for the Stone family?  Most likely you haven’t noticed.  Nevertheless, my lack of posting is for good reason.  I’ve been busy.  Jessica has been frolicking form prison to brothel telling everyone about Jesus and posting tear-jerking stories about the plight of Haitians.  As she walks around sporting her wide brimmed hats, clean skirts and flowing blouses, I’ve been eating dirt on the back of a truck commuting from St. Louis du Nord to Port-de-Paix Haiti on a daily basis.

While my day starts out eating dirt, it is filled with struggling to run a job-site with a 100 word creole vocabulary.  Better still, is the fact that I have 6 Tools.  Literally.  After packing all of Jessica’s nail polish, alo vera, face wash and shampoo there was only room for me to take one pair of wire snips, one pair of line pliers, one pair of  channellocks, one screw driver, duct tape and zip ties.  And at present the plumber is borrowing my channellocks.

I figured that this would be a problem.  I have tools coming on the shipment ( it is still in Port au Prince over due now by 3 weeks).  And I naively assumed that the haitian workers would have tools, they do just no many.  I knew we were in for a problem when the electrician showed up with a palm size multi meter, pair of line pliers and a screwdriver; that was it.  It is not that he is not skilled at what he is doing.  He is an excellent electrician, he works magic with three tools.  But, it takes forever to get a job done.  All the job materials are purchased after looking at the problem and they never account for any overages.  They always end up short and spend the next half a day ”m’ ap ale” or” going”, short for “I don’t when I’ll be back, I probably wont be back today, and no the problem is not fixed.”

All that being said, we (Orial the Plumber, Adrea the Electricial, Francis and the Masonry crew, the iron workers, and Wisly the Head Haitian of NWHCM) have managed to get power to all the building (we are buying it form the americans across the street that run a generator 24 hours a day for a school that they run), water pumped from the cistern to the tank on the roof (for a gravity fed system) blocks laid and gates hung.

Pipes are hung with baling wire.  Trenches are dug with buckets.  Rebar is bent with other pieces of rebar.  Sand is sifted by hand.  Trucks are loaded by hand and cement is mixed by had.  All in 90 degree heat, 100 percent humidity and on one meal a day.

As I said before, Jessica has been absent for most of the remodeling. She is off doing whatever God empowers her to do, which seems to be anything these days.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she walked on water over to Tortuga Island to evangelize to Pirates.  That would be more plausible than to go into the bowels of the brothers of St Loui.  So when we had a minor water problem that flooded the tile floor in the apartment that we are going to live in she surprisingly freaked out.   She wanted me to help her clean it up, but I needed to find the ball valve to shut off the water.  And the water was leaking in 10 other places too.  So I did what any reasonable Haitian would do.  I gave her the only tool I had and expected her to improvise.  I gave he a tape-measure and told her to mop it up.

The story might be funny but at the root of the story and admits my utter frustration to understand how things work here God is teaching me several valuable lessons.

  1. God is reminding me that He is God and that I am not.  He can handle these simple problems.  He doesn’t need fancy tools and elaborate plans he just needs people willing to work.  If God wants to feed people with a food distribution center he will make sure it is done.  That customs will be cleared that all the pieces will fit together.   The pots will cook and the starving will eat.  He made the universe, a small kitchen is just a drop in the bucket.
  2. In America time is money.  Time is the constant constraint that keeps us from making more money.  In Haiti time is free.  Everyone has time, at 90% unemployment there is plenty of time, money is the constraint.  This had been a hard paradigm for me to swallow.  It doesn’t matter if we get it done today, tomorrow or next week.  It doesn’t matter if we leave at 10 or noon.  IT really doesn’t.
  3. I care more about your character than your comfort.

7 thoughts on “Mopping floors with a tape-measure

  1. Wow! Wow! Seriously wow! Good thing you are such a patient man Brandon! How crazy- we really can’t imagine doing any of those things even with all the exact right tools- who knew an accountant could be so improvising? I love the picture of Jess freaking out as water squirted out of the walls- after all that was a hole for her washing machine- yes? She really should be thankful that there was indeed pressure coming out at that hole in the wall!
    Thanks for taking time out of your crazy schedule to post- I do love hearing your perspective!

  2. Hi Brandon, On the eve of your 7th Anniversary, let me quote again part of the marriage ceremony…. “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness, and in health, till God doth us part” … Being a type “A” person, I can identify with your struggle trying to do things right the first time, instead of always having to “do it over”. God bless you and Jessica. She has a unique role in your ministry, and you do also. What she does, you probably couldn’t do, and visa-versa. Remember the one who sent you to that sweltering part or HIS world, and remember, when you do it unto one of the least of the Hatians, you are doing it unto him. We pray for you daily, and know that God has great things in store for you both. Our love and prayers, Grandma and Grandpa Shuck.
    Oh yes, Happy 7th. Anniversary

  3. Hey Brandon, its ET. Sounds like you are definitely living outside of your comfort zone. But is great to see that you are adapting and more importantly, you are learning something from each situation, from God. Continue the great work and we will continue to pray for your efforts and success.


  4. Sounds like you’re having fun. Amazing what a few creole words and a few tools can do, oh and a big God. Enjoy the time thing being free. It actually sounds nice. Keep posting, I’m vicariously living through you and your faith.

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