Helpng to make the dream a reality

Volunteered to oversee Construction of a New Hospital to replace a 27+ year old facility staffed and operated by Dominicans. I spent 3 years on behalf of the many donors to the REVOLUTION campaign - a 4.5 Million Dollar campaign to fund this project.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A long time for reflection, patience and perseverance

It has been 5 months since my last post, so for those who you who have followed my blogs an update is due.
The status of construction is the same as my post in October (if you didn't see that post Click Here).

As I explained in October, some significant steps need to take place before construction can resume, so that when we resume construction the donations that you and many others have so generously provided will be used to help complete the project without paying the Dominican's 18% tax on the finish materials. Solid Rock is passing 100% of your donation to the project (taking nothing for administrative and other expenses related to the operation of Solid Rock ... an unusual step for most non-profits), so it would be sad to give the Dominican government 18 cents of every dollar when purchasing materials.  So we continue to wait for our Dominican partners (ACPSI) to receive official government recognition and status so that they are a tax-exempt entity. As with all governments (especially 3rd world countries!) bureaucracy shines through as the best way to bog down charity. It is a process that is difficult and often seems to be a moving target,  but the good news is that we are making progress regarding knowing this status and even better news is that we have a plan in place should ACPSI fail to get full recognition.

SRI has been working to also ensure that the future is secured by formalizing a true agreement between our organizations as well as getting the ownership of the property equally into both organization's names. Representatives from ACPSI and SRI recently met and the documentation for these two issues are just about finalized. Once opened, the new clinic will need a good partnership with the Dominican government and other institutions as well as the dedication of both Americans and Dominicans committed to seeing that the facility be run as efficiently as possible.

Because we needed to stop work, I returned home in October and we are now back in our house and in our own bed. (We had been renting our home to a family that had experienced a fire at their home). I have resumed my remodeling business and with God's help things are up and running.

Recently I gave the meditation for our church's Kairos mid-week service. In the relatively short talk I shared with my church family some of my experiences both good and bad of Stacy's and my 3 years in the DR, and I am thankful to our minister Elizabeth Link for asking me to do the mediation - because her request caused me to step back and look at where I was, and how the message in Luke Ch 5 lifted me from a state of being fairly lost to a much better place. It was very disappointing to return home with the project stalled and not really have a wonderful ending to tell of our experience.

 We committed to 3 years and it is disappointing that we ended up spending many of those months intentionally not working in order to get issues resolved for the betterment of the project. Elizabeth's request helped initiate much thought into where I was and the reasons why. I am thankful for being led to a better place. It has and is a frustrating situation, knowing what will happen next is unknown, and that can only lead a person toward their Faith, that the project will open it's doors at some point and serve the poor in the San Juan region.

Even when these items are in place many challenges remain that will require  me or whoever is involved a great deal of work regarding the construction and many others to take care of all other aspects.  Many many decisions need to be made, funds raised, partnerships established, plans established and construction completed. With finish details known, the Clinic can be completed with a year's work.

It will be a glorious day when the doors are opened. It is a day that will happen, knowing when that day will be is only known by God. Incredible works have happened because of the ACPSI / SRI partnership hosting all of the amazing volunteers that have changed the lives of countless Dominicans, I hope that generosity and dedication can continue for generations to come in the new facility.

Until we have these initial items resolved we must continue to wait and we must maintain our faith that only with God's guidance will the project be completed. We must persevere.

Waiting is hard, but worth the wait.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.                   Romans 5     

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A needed pause before a final push

Back in Roanoke, then off to other places ... It is an exciting time for Stacy and me to be back in the States - October will be a month to see our friends and family - seeing Roanoke friends and our church family, Stacy's family in Charlotte and my parents who are living in Anchorage, Philip who is Atlanta, Amy and her ballet company perform "Swan Lake" in Oklahoma, then at the end of the month we are looking forward to joining the elite ranks of GRANDPARENTS with the birth of Otto in Texas! A nice time to catch up with everyone and welcome a new chapter.

 As we did in the summer of 2015, we have again "paused" construction so that the generous funds you and others have given to the Revolution will be spent as efficiently as possible. Funds are limited and we are determined to use them as wisely and frugally as possible.
 It is exciting that we are at the beginning of the first true "finishing" stage, this work can quickly bring completed sections of the building into reality and even allow the first steps toward outfitting these areas with the equipment provided by IMEC. But in order to finish areas, we need to begin purchasing materials much different than the sand, cement, rebar ,and block that we have purchased to-date. The materials we now will begin purchasing would carry a staggering 18% tax if not purchased under the umbrella of a tax-exempt organization. Due to the many complicated government issues and politics within the Dominican government, our Dominican partners have never obtained the level of exemption needed for the project. Solid Rock and ACPSI are now working together to find a solution after spending close to two years trying to jump through the ever-changing government hoops. A "fresh look" was needed to get this situation resolved, and it looks very promising that we will be able to obtain and use this crucial status.
So this is a necessary time to pause until we can push ahead and use donated funds as effectively as possible, finish the building and open the doors for the poorest of the poor.

Thanks as always for your support and prayers.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going to church, but when you are a gringo that only comprehends 40% of a good sermon, it is difficult and disappointing. So I take advantage of recorded sermons from a week ago that I can access from our church's website, and I try to shift gears and not work on the project that consumes my time Mondays thru Saturdays. This was Stacy's and my schedule, and Sundays were a day that we could be together all day and she would not be passing time in our small home by herself. We would often take an afternoon bike ride and quickly find ourselves in the beautiful farming areas outside of town. She is now back in the States enjoying time with family, so this gringo has decided to use Sundays for spiritual growth and real bodily exercise.
So I've come to really enjoy Sunday mornings and taking a 1-1/2 hour bike on the small dirt back roads that wind their way through the fields and farms outside of San Juan. It is a workout - I try and push myself as hard as I can trying to keep my body in some sort of healthy state. 

But this past Sunday as I was pushing myself, I couldn't help but realize where I was and the beauty and reality of this place. It is stunningly beautiful - the backdrop is a range of high mountains often with scattered puffs of clouds filling valleys, the vast rice fields offering the richest color greens you will ever see and these texture-filled fields decorated with scattered royal palms, cabbage palms, and coconut palms standing alone or in small groups bringing a certain level of class to the scene. It would be hard-pressed to find a golf course or country club that has a more beautiful landscape - God has a much bigger landscaping budget. 

Horses, cattle, goats and other critters wander the roads and fields looking for that perfect meal. The occasional momma horse and pony always stop and stare as I pass - the best are the cattle that all but talk to me as I pass looking ever so intently at this odd creature passing by, I can imagine what type of deep voice and accent they might have. 

While having to skirt the puddles that often fill the width of the road, mango and avocado trees are sporadically growing along the road and it is fun to stop and collect a few when in the right season - at times there are dozens just laying on the ground.  
The government installed a very complex irrigation system, and many of the roads follow these concrete canals or the natural smaller streams that provide an abundance of water to the area. It is a peaceful place and as I work further east the fields change from rich, cultivated fields to rolling pastures that are more arid with tough-looking trees scattered about with cactus fences defining the property lines of the fields. The trees and cactus give the appearance that a rain shower once or twice a year is all that they need. 

As I was chugging my way up hills and then enjoying ripping down the other side with as much speed as I could make, it occured to me that among this beauty are people living quiet lives in the most basic of homes - single room, dirt floors, tin or palm sided walls and roofing that could only partially keep rain out and certainly not keep anything from crawling or walking into these homes. Behind the home sits an outhouse and a smaller shed that is the kitchen. Smoke is often billowing out from the kitchen as the fire is started that will cook todays rice and other food. Dominicans don't eat leftovers - you'd need a refrigerator in order to do that. 

There are usually a couple of wires that have been direct-wired to the main lines (no meter) and are precariously stretched across the road and often supported in the "y" of long tree limbs standing erect and acting as power poles. When there is electricity (off typically 6-8 hours a day), the wires allow a light bulb or two to illuminate the space and perhaps a radio and a way to charge your cell phone - because the option of regular phones has never been an option. TV,no.

During my ride the occupants are usually sitting outside under a tree, chatting with one another or apparently just contemplating - I think a lot of contemplation goes on here. Richard Rohr could find a lot of people to discuss the benefits of contemplation with. You will often see a lady sweeping the dirt inside and around the outside of their home maintaining to the best of her ability. Often I get an excited call from a child as I pass by, and many "holas" and "bien dia" from people walking the road. 

There are very few cars, I bet on a typical ride I pass less than 5 on the road. Motos and motorcycles are more common, and the majority have at least two people on them. You see, very few people own a moto, and even fewer own a car. Motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) are the way to get around if you don't want to walk. It is fun to often see two motos driving side-by-side carrying on a conversation - you can't do that in cars. And the best is seeing who typically is an older lady sitting side-saddle on the back with her feet crossed - no worries as her taxi driver zips her to her destination. 

A very stark image is that of a mom carrying a 5 gallon bucket and perhaps an old one gallon plastic cooking oil container, and her small 5 year old daughter also carrying a plastic bottle - filled with water for the day. I often see them as I cross a river at one point of my ride or more often they are returning from one of the manually operated wells that you will find wherever there is a small collection of homes. These wells are also gathering places where people are often just sitting and chatting in the shade - a modern day scene that has continued for centuries. Imagine the number of incredible or difficult discussions that might have taken place at wells around the world over the centuries - including the teachings of Jesus. But passing these people on their way or returning from getting the most basic of needs ... water, is always noticed - it is always a slap in my face - what is your reality, Ken.

I love to say hola to the farmers I pass - they are tough, weathered, rugged old guys with a two foot machete always either in-hand or hanging from their belt. They have worked life, not all life, life. They will hand-hoe entire fields or work all day in the mud diverting water so it equally floods the entire rice field. Wonderful and kind. The stories they could tell. The life they have lived.

And so, as I wound my way through this life, this part of creation, I was hit with the fact that I need to remember this , it needs to be with me the rest of my days so when I am back in a modern world full of abundance, comforts and false needs, I can look back and remember the days I spent in the real world - where people simply live and survive day to day. Ahh, we in our modern society and country have no idea of what life is really like. I want to be reminded.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A comprehensive update

Well, it is time for a full update so you can get a real feel for where we are with the project.

At the end of the video I've added a small tribute to Dr. James Diller. It was his efforts that led to the purchase of the land on which the hospital is being built. He hoped to build a new building on the land more than ten years ago. We all hoped we would finish the building before he left us, but on July 3rd he went on to God's kingdom. So now he can now follow our progress from the best seat in the house. I'll be devoting a blog to this amazing man in the near future.

There is much underway regarding all aspects of the project, from the actual construction work, to fundraising efforts, to cash flow issues, to finalizing equipment, to soliciting more material donations, to ensuring a definitive future so that this wonderful building will be a place from which Grace can be shared with others well beyond our time.
Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated and most necessary.

So if you have ten minutes or, sit back and see what the project is looking like.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Concrete Roof Work, Painting, and Andres!

After an extended time of carpentry and rebar work, our concrete supplier has completed another 28% of the building leading to having 60% of the building under-roof. We will keep it watered for the next 10 days or so allowing the concrete to cure as well as possible under the hot Dominican sun.
The batch plant where the concrete ingredients
are measured and loaded into the mixing trucks.
The workers leveling the freshly-laid concrete.
Not in my boot! ... Not really, but the amount of concrete
coming out of the pumper tube is a bunch!
The boom of the concrete pumper looking towards
 the famous tree in the southwest corner.

Our temporary hose bibs set up to keep water on the
new concrete, and a finisher polishing the new concrete.

The "locker room" for the concrete workers who
came down from Santiago, a 5 hour drive.

As the sun set on Thursday, the workers were still working
toward getting the roof completed.

This week my hometown team from Second Presbyterian church and helped get some primer on the walls. It was really neat to have Andres, a local painter who sells painting in the Guest House (and who has helped paint the existing clinic over the years since it's completion) show up Tuesday and has been getting a bunch of work done rolling primer on the walls. 

Andres is excited to be volunteering his time
helping get the first section of the building painted. 

Stacy Potter and Blake Anderson helping get the window
openings primed and ready for new windows to be installed.

Thats all for now ... 
Thanks for your prayers and support for this hospital construction project.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mid-July 2017 - much progress!

It is going to be a great week at the project!

Dropped Ceilings

A special thanks to Scott Bauer and Wrightway Interiors Systems in Peoria, IL. For allowing Mike Miquiston & Derek Allison to spent 4 working days with us and getting the dropped ceiling installed in the entire first section!

Their stilts and laser were big hits here in the DR!

Concrete Work
This week we plan to get over 260 cubic meters of concrete placed on the form work that is getting final preparations – this concrete will be the roof slab over intensive care, maternity, overnight rooms, and more -  a total of 1,103 square meters (11,872 square feet)!  This will be equivalent to the combined first two areas where we have completed this type of concrete work. With the completion of this area, we will have 54% of our roof area completed.

Randy and DJ installing perimeter plastic

Larry installing plugs in the roof drain pipes

Almost ready for this large amount of concrete

Special anchors for the Operating Light and Gas Pendant

Electrical and Medical Gases
Conduit pipes to run wires and piping between rooms

Our electrical crew is hard at work preparing for the concrete by installing countless numbers of conduits so that we will be able to easily run wires and gas pipe from room to room through the concrete walls and beams.

Conduit to run wiring from the roof into the room

The plumber is preparing to connect our water lines to the main 2” supply line that he will be installing soon. We want to get these first two sections of the building pressurized so we can confirm that there are no leaks before we begin placing a base layer of concrete on the floors. The cistern floor has been poured so the rebar and carpenters will begin getting the walls ready for concrete.

and ... Painting!

The team from my church (Second Presbyterian) in Roanoke, Virginia is doing some final prep work and getting paint on the walls in our first section of the building! We hope to show you some colors in a few days!

Katherine and Ann Ashley

Ali and Lexi ... and jefe Jim in the background

Thanks for your prayers for SRI, for the project, 
for workers and for our volunteers!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A 4th of July update & !feliz cumpleaƱos!

Happy 4th of July from the DR!

Most of the SRI staff enjoyed a picnic at the reservoir yesterday afternoon.



Work continues and is slowly evolving into finish-type work which is very exciting.

Section #1 - Consultation/Exam/Specialty

We hope to get 28% of the roof concrete placed the week of the 17th which will get us to having 54% of the roof area completed.

Section 4 is being formed for the concrete roof which is almost 12,000 square feet

Opening for translucent vault.

Looking down the joint between section #4 and
 #3 which has higher walls - the roof will kick up
at this point to displace water away from the joint that will
located along this wall.

The lobby of the post-surgical area and opening
for the large vault.

Amin and his electrical workers are getting the conduit installed in section #1 and #2 and will then install conduit in the floors. This will all be wired and temporary power connected to these areas.
The electricians are getting their conduit in section #1.
This consult room has the electrical conduits in place
and the ceiling is ready for a dropped ceiling to be installed

Cristian will be getting the water lines connected to the main line and get it pressurized so that we can be sure all of these below-floor lines are holding pressure. 

Tano and his carpenters having been working to get the 4th section formed, this area is twice as big as the first two roof areas we have completed. 

This area is framed and ready for the plywood, the white
pipes are electrical conduits that run
to switches, etc in the walls below.
Looking Southwest toward the large tree,
the opening in this section is where the second-largest
translucent vault will be located that covers
the lobby of the post-surgical area - see next photo.

We are skipping what we call the 3rd section for now because this section has higher walls and will require different bracing, ladders, etc. 

Detail of the rebar that will make up the beam that
defines the opening for the vault.

Johnny and his rebar guys are working right behind the carpenters gettign all of the rebar needed for the 4th section's roof. He has also prepped the cistern floor with the appropriate rebar. It is a bit discouraging that some of the cistern will need to be removed and re-set due to an incredibly hard rain that caused one side of the excavation to partially collapse and bury some of the installed rebar. 

As far as finishing materials, we are finalizing styles, colors etc so that we can begin getting these items installed on the first two sections. 
Sandro & Victor (engineers), Dr Canario,
Yamil (architect), Ken, Frank (behind the camera) 

Dr Canario and Yamil (architect) attended our site meeting last weekend and many of these items were discussed and then selected. It is nice to be at the point of picking finish items and paint colors!

The lobby 
The project is becoming an example of different phases of construction, with the east end at the point of finish work and the west end having only the block walls in place. 

Here are some more pictures showing what going on:

The small switch building which will house the
electrical transfer and main panels.

Our wonderful perimeter wall on the south side of the property
 built by the volunteer construction teams, they are now beginning to
work up the left / east side.

Looking from the lobby into the administrative area

The eastern-most wall of the building with a sample window in place.  

The lobby of the consult section, ready to be finished
with paint, flooring and the translucent vault

Our capital campaign continues to need to raise sufficient funds to complete the building. 

Please consider helping us reach our goal of $4.5M, currently we have raised over $3.2M. 

And Finally, as I was finishing up this post close to lunchtime today, all the workers showed up, Frank presented a cake and everyone sang feliz cumpleanos to me! 

I then cut the cake using a hacksaw blade, but switched to a machete which was much better!