Helpng to make the dream a reality

Nov 2014 to Oct 2017
- 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.
August 2017 to September 2018
Work ceased while Tax issues resolved
Oct 2018
Working as project consultant to help get this wonderful project completed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A 15 month update

I now realize I have let this blog go somewhat dormant while letting updates be shared via facebook and mainly thru official blog updates Shannon Zimmerman posts on the Solid Rock site. 
I have waited until she posted the Solid Rock blog, as the emphasis should be on the project's site, not mine. This is a bit more personal for those of you who might be interested in taking a few minutes to read it.

My last post was almost a year ago, and I am sure you are aware that construction resumed in October pushed by by the optimism and strong faith of the Solid Rock board. As the one year anniversary came around and then again as we approached welcoming 2019, I thought I should post something - my how times flies and priorities shift!
My daily time is focused on my business, soliciting for new work and getting projects fully orchestrated well ahead of their start dates,  and I must admit it has taken some time to get "back in the saddle" and aclimate to our American society and it's pace!
I also spend time regularly on the Revolution project working on construction detail drawings, cost and scheduling issues along with twice-weekly phone calls with the amazing members of our Dominican construction team in San Juan.  Frank Beltre is just an amazing person God selected to be in his position with the project, a person of more integrity you will not find. It is always a pleasure to talk with Victor our builder/engineer as well as his co-workers and other Dominican engineers and workers who share Solid Rock's vision of an efficiently built Christian facility.
When we pulled up our stakes in the DR in October of 2017 and moved back to Roanoke I did not think I should continue to be considered a missionary and asked the church to stop listing me as such. Stacy and I are extremely grateful to the church and those of you who supported us prayerfully and financially. It was a life-changing time and I am grateful that I still often find myself considering life's issues from a different vantage point with priorities re-arranged. So I now consider my involvement with the project as that of a consultant as I do receive pay from SRI for time spent working or travelling on behalf of the project. Being self-employed is wonderful but also stressful, and I thank SRI for compensating me for my time.
Stacy and I have been back in our old home since December of 2017, and we have a renewed desire to make this "wonderful drafty old house" as up-kept as it deserves to be. She now works some at local plant nursery, and is very happy to back with her wonderful friends here in Roanoke.
As far as the project, I am probably as optimistic as I was four years ago when things were just ramping up. I feel so confident and grateful for the people working at the project site, it could not be in better hands. There is a whole lot of bad potential in a developing country, so having these great guys involved is heaven sent.
I sent an update to Shannon for her to post on the official project blog site, this summary is below.  I cannot overstate my appreciation for the thousands of you who have taken time out of your lives and offer your talents, abilities and sweat to the people of San Juan over the last 30 years. As I state in the update below, the new building will be a vehicle for people to serve others - Solid Rock International is exactly the same - a vehicle thru which people are able to serve others in need.
Thank you for your interest, prayers and support for the Revolution Project. It is amazing that SRI is approaching the $4 million mark raised from a wonderful collection of individuals, families and churches. We still hope someone like Bill Gates will step in, but really it means even more that simply many of you have been so generous and share Solid Rock's vision. It is easy to be pessimistic of a project in a third world country, but as someone who lived there for three years I can tell you that the need is real, there are amazing people in the mountains of the DR and Haiti who are in need and have nowhere to turn,  and thru this project we are collectively carrying out our calling - to help those in need.


Update:
We continue pushing forward with construction and are making good progress.
The concrete roof is now on approximately 90% of the building, and plastering is not too far behind.
The plumbing and electrical crews are working to get their rough-in work completed, and we hope some of the volunteer construction teams will help with painting.
We also plan to have construction teams begin working on the front wall of the property, with the plan to finally make the property look nice from the highway (much to the dismay of many Dominicans, we did not begin the project by completing a beautiful front wall  - which is what you often see here in the DR ... and years later the only thing built on the property is that front wall!)
It will be exciting to get the front wall built and then allow some of our garden-friendly volunteers to help add some low maintenance landscaping along the highway! We will also be final-grading the expansive front area so that work can begin on the parking and entrance areas. This will really make our progress stand out!
Many of the "guts" of a facility such as the 30,000 gallon cistern, a second septic tank and the installation of the power lines are being worked on, and we look forward to having some sample floors installed so that we can finalize our selections for the 46,000 square feet of flooring!
We are blessed to have such wonderful and sincere Dominican professionals involved with the project who are trying to help get things done as cost-effectively as possible. Dominican engineers are helping finalize structural plans for the roof structures at the main entrances and over the ambulances, and others are helping find building system components (such as electrical items) at discounted cost. I am now travelling to the project for a week every other month or so, and the thing I enjoy most is getting together with this group of Dominicans - they are great people. Frank Beltre is our onsite "conductor" and he is just amazing.
Challenges remain, as all significant purchases of items must still go through the lengthy tax-exemption paperwork process, and this has forced us to look further for suppliers who will meet the tax-exemption requirements - as both purchaser and supplier must be in good-standing with the detailed requirements. Frank continues assisting ACPSI (our Dominican partner) to push this process and stay on top of regular paperwork submittals. He will have put many miles on his truck travelling the 3+ hours to Santo Domingo to see that the bureaucratic paperwork moves along!
We hope to hear in the near future that the test shipment clears customs with import-tax exoneration, and finally issues with the Public Health department requirements seem to be getting clarified.
The goal in all of this of course is to simply try and meet what Jesus asked us all to do - help others who are in need. It is far from a simple step, but worth striving for. For 30 years thousands of amazing people have come from the US and Canada to San Juan de la Maguana offering their talents and love - this building is simply the vehicle that can help this amazing history continue for another 30 years and beyond. God is great.

Ken

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might

A light glimmers In The Distance ... and .... Renewed Optimism

I attended the Solid Rock board meeting this weekend 
and I am happy to report:
1) an agreement between SRI and ACPSI (our Dominican partners) was signed at the meeting  - this includes formation and recognition of an operational committee that will help oversee the new clinic
2) AND that the property and new clinic building is now jointly owned by Solid Rock and ACPSI. 

These signify a true partnership that recognizes and ensures the importance of SRI involvement in ownership AND operation of the facility.  
The assurance that the money you and others have so generously donated is not just being put in the hands of foreigners in a third-world country - it is going to a facility now equally owned by SRI with the commitment by SRI board members who are determined to make it a successful facility able to provide care to the poorest of the poor, as the SRI mission statement states. Very experienced doctors and others will help guide the clinic to a successful opening and operation.  ACPSI has wonderful and dedicated members, but an undertaking such as the Revolution Clinic needs to have the best of the best from both organizations and beyond working together so we do exactly what we want - Serve the Poor.

The remaining issue is tax exempt status of ACPSI for purchases and imports - a large hurdle yet to be overcome but now in-sight with an alternative plan if needed. We are working to submit paperwork to the Dominican officials who will determine if ACPSI can be recognized as an organization able to have full tax-exempt status. Needless to say, although the DR may still be considered a third-world country, they have perfected the black hole of bureaucracy, even better that Washington, DC.

Two timely (once again and yet another example of  Godincidences) occurred to me today. In stating this, I recognize my pitiful lack of recognizing ALL that my God and my trusty guardian angel are doing in my life on a daily basis. 
1) A wonderful sermon from our Rev. Rachel C. Thompson talked about the church being something children (we are all God's children) may run to in excitement for what it provides. Hits home in many ways, and certainly can be related to a clinic. I hope to post a link to her message when it is available.

2) A post from Oswald Chambers is relevant to where I and everyone involved in the Revolution stand - I hope you consider this message in your daily schedule, I know I need consistent reminders!


Do You Worship The Work?
We are God’s fellow workers…  1 CORINTHIANS 3:9
Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.
But the opposite case is equally true– once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.
We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work.

 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). From My Utmost for His HighestUpdated Edition

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

Awareness



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.

Thanks!
Ken



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.