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Trip to Haiti to secure the Rig, Trip to Haiti to secure the water drilling rig

I’ve been to Haiti several times documenting life there and the hardships they live in every single day. I remember the very first time I went to La Gonave, the first thing I saw upon landing were scores of little kids running up to us, following us everywhere we went. The unique detail though was that they all had orange coloring in there hair, what I later realized was that is the evidence if severe malnutrition and starvation. Later I saw children eating dirt just to get something in their belly. Heart breaking. I would see children with small cuts turn into massive and life threatening infections due to lack of clean water and hospital care. No food, no water, no hope.

By my fourth trip there, we had drilled several water wells and had begun building a place for the locals to grow crops. We had built a hospital, added to our feeding stations and poured in tons of love and support. What I noticed now were children with solid colored hair. I wasn’t seeing the massive infections from small cuts anymore.
Proof that we had made a very tangible and lasting impact on this once hopeless island. We had taken a little slice of “Go YE into all the world” and have made real change here.

What I take from my time in Haiti is that we can’t just sit by when we have the ability to help. This is a very real example of the Good Samaritans story in our own lifetime. So many people saw this island as impossible to reach, or maybe it was just a little too much effort. Yet the man on the horse, saw a person broken, he got down and he cleaned him up. He carried the him to shelter and paid for care. That is exactly what we have done in Haiti. We saw a hurting people, we went to them with love, hope and help. We are drilling wells, building hospitals and schools, creating a new life filled with the Promises of God. All it takes are just a few to helping out a little to see massive change.

The first water drilling trip to Haiti 507

The summer of my 9th year on this earth my father took me to heaven.

Or Iowa.

Growing up in Northern Indiana basketball was always my favorite sport by birth. But deep down inside, I found my greatest joy and fulfillment in life when I was on the baseball diamond with a glove on my hand. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I watched Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams” but I’ll say it this way – I don’t remember life prior to that film. Back then my grandmother lived in Madison, Wisconsin – it wasn’t a long drive over to one of baseball’s holy grails: the cornfields of Dyersville, Iowa and Field of Dreams.I wore my team jersey and hat. Laced up my spikes and sprinted to the corn – so I could take the field like one of the ghosts of the game. I got to run the bases, take batting practice and even shag fly balls in left field as if I was Shoeless Joe Jackson himself. On that day, I wasn’t living out a childhood dream that passed me by in my youth, I was living it with my dad. My dad and I “had a catch” in baseball heaven.

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This last January I traveled to LaGonave, Haiti to help film and scout for this next seasons drilling expedition. Each time I land on the island my mind switches into a different mode. I become very focused, quiet and task-oriented. I force myself to this mental state for a few reasons: 1 – you never know what could go wrong and when – so it’s always best to slow things down and think through every step of what you’re doing to avoid any mis-steps. 2 – I’m on the island to do a job that will in turn make the greater job (drilling water wells) accomplishable by the drilling team. If I don’t do my job – their job becomes that much harder or impossible. I’ll write in more detail about this trip and my experiences later this year, but the thought that I want to share with you today came to me on our last day on the island. On this day we traveled to one of the many feeding stations we’ve established on the island. As I mounted my camera and began filming a group of small boys eating, I became very overwhelmed emotionally. This was my first trip to LaGonave since my son Easton was born. Easton is not much older than the boys I saw in front of me, naked, crying and hungry. No parents, no clothes and save the grace of God and the good people of Guts Church – they wouldn’t even have the one meal that they were eating on that day. I tabled my emotions, focused on my camera and filmed the feeding station.

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Screenshot 2014-04-17 10.41.50As I laid my seat back on the plane ride home to Miami, I pulled out my headphones and iPad and pushed play. I fast forwarded to the first of my two favorite scenes: when Shoeless Joe Jackson emerges from the corn for the very first time and introduces himself to Ray Kinsella. As I watched my mind wandered back to that feeding station and the boys covered in dirt. They weren’t dirty because they wanted to be. They weren’t naked because they thought it would be funny to take of their clothes and diaper and run away from their dad, laughing and falling like my son Easton does every night before bedtime. They didn’t choose this life. No one would. Yet there they are and here I am. In that moment, on that plane, I made a connection between LaGonave and the truth of our national pastime. It’s not the sound that the ball makes when it hits the bat. It’s not the thrill of the grass or the smell of the ballpark in your nose. It’s fathers and sons. It’s about time honored tradition and playing the game (life) the right way. There’s honor in that.

I never choose to go to Haiti. Truth be told, I’ve never once desired to go. But I believe – deep down – that I was put on this earth to achieve something greater than anything I could accomplish on my own. I am a part of a team. We wear the same jersey and have the same goals. And this goal is honorable. In my lifetime I will see the boys at that feeding station on the island grow up and become men who have sons of their own.  And when they do – because of our efforts as a team – they will have grown up knowing what it’s like to have life with food, water, a church, a clinic and basic economic development. And maybe one day, I’ll have a game of catch with them. If only just to share in our national pastime together; helping men live their greatest dreams, thus feeling like little boys all over again.

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954864_10151402328227371_889528361_nAfter seven days on the island, things become workmanlike.  Wake up early.  Drive to the drill site.  Punch holes.  Lay pipe.  Drive home as the sun is setting.  After the initial physical shock diminishes, your body becomes hardened to the difficulty.  You expect problems and expect God to solve them.  And so you set out each morning, ready to do your job.  To make any more of it is to overdramatize it.

And as your physical body adapts to the pain and exertion, your emotions follow suit.  It is impossible to comprehend all the need, helplessness, sickness, pain, and death.  So you shut it off- you adapt.  And so you set out each morning, ready to do your job.  To make any more of it is to overdramatize it.

After seven days on the island, I was on autopilot.  My team just finished punching our tenth hole in a week.  We had it down to a science.  On our way back to camp, we stopped by one of our first drill sites to watch a pump installation.  This was the fun part- the first time fresh water starts flowing out of the ground.  There is something about watching that water flow- it made me smile.  It made me laugh.  I let my guard down for the first time in a week.  And I got blindsided.

He appeared about 50m down the road.  The makeshift wheelchair was the first thing I noticed- a cheap plastic deck chair and two bicycle tires fashioned together with bailing wire.  The next thing I noticed was his legs- withered and undersized for his age.  I would guess he was 20 years old.  But what broke my heart was his smile.

He struggled to negotiate the terrain.  But with the utmost patience, the wheelchair kept moving.  He was smiling all the way.  I met him halfway with some freshly pumped water and some candy.  We struggled to communicate, but when he raised the water to his lips, I realized what that smile meant.

Change was one the horizon.  Hope had come to La Gonave, Haiti.

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