Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 is here, the year of the clinic!

2017 is here, and we are planning and hoping that it is a very productive year. We have much to do here at the project, but after another time period of waiting for further answers from our structural engineer and architect, confirming important design details with other engineers as well as important information from the health department design team we now have all of the information needed in order to push forward. 
It has been a challenge to my patience - wanting to push progress, but this is God's project and we are only completing what we are supposed to be completing according to his timeline. I've often thought about our simple human minds or egos and how we can often even question the reality of something we may have even experienced or witnessed ourselves. The apostles often come to my mind - they witnessed miracles time after time yet would still fall back into a doubting mode. Two thousand years later we do the exact same thing. I've experienced so many really neat coincidences that are in fact God-instances, yet I worry and fret over things not progressing as my ego wants them to. So as I discussed in my last blog, that half-full glass has allowed us to avoid what would have been a mess if my American push-push mentality had resulted in having many door headers in place before our Santo Domingo meeting - we would have had a bunch of rework to do.

It is a new year,  and we have begun work and are getting things rolling. Currently there are workers installing the form work for the door headers and a crew is installing the conduits in the walls that will hold the electrical wiring for the ceiling lights and other electrical devices needing a run up the wall.








Thanks to some wonderfully quick responses from some folks at the Carter Machinery - the CAT dealer in Salem, VA, we have details worked out for the generators and main electrical feeds. I am planning on these being some projects to be completed by the construction teams who will be coming down this winter and spring.
We have also received good news from the government officials allowing us to enclose the strip of land between the two canals - this will let the teams build this east wall and basically get the security walls fully completed.

An optimistic year lies ahead.

We've had to take a very cautious approach so we don't waste the precious funds you have donated, but we are finally at a point to push forward. 

Thanks again to those of you who attended the Revolution meetings and a special thanks to those who have financially committed to helping us reach our new campaign goal. 

This is not just another medical facility for the region, it is the one that will help those with no other real choice. There are people here in need of health care and health education - You might have read about the infant who died in El Cercado and I am thinking of a young boy with disfigured legs our engineer showed me a picture of - this clinic will offer the ability to help these types of situations.  

Time to get to work.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

A glass that keeps looking different

Hard to believe I have now lived here in San Juan de La Maguana for two years. In November of 2014 we officially broke ground and started the clinic project, two years later we have an earthquake resistant foundation supporting about 80,000 concrete block that make the walls with all of the plumbing lines in place.
When I started here I thought it would be a challenge being the "mediary" or middleman between two cultures - one very driven by expectations and one with a slower feel with lower but rising expectations. This has turned out to be the case. 
The Dominicans can get work done as fast as us Americans when things are lined up and available - and they like to do things quickly. What has been a challenge is the "getting things lined up and available" part. This has been due to many factors, one of the main ones being the Dominican government which has very good intentions of requiring the highest levels of quality and design but in reality causing beneficial projects and work to be delayed while trying to meet the governments ever changing moving-target requirements. The clinic has fallen prey to this issue more than once so we continue to work our way through the issues. 
One of our biggest issues we have had to meet was the re-design of the foundation, as I am sure most of you know about. The earthquake in Haiti caused the Dominican government to dramatically strengthen their building standards - similar to what happened in the US after hurricane Andrew swept away building in South Florida. Our platea foundation with it's 100 miles of rebar is designed to resist the effects of an earthquake. 
After getting underway with construction in January of 2015 the government released two new books in the summer listing new specifications required for medical facilities - we had to make make many changes to the floor plan in order to meet these requirements. This essentially made our drawing package obsolete - drawings showing electrical, plumbing and structural details no longer matched the revised floor plan. 
So as a result we have had to work the project as a "design-build" type project ( a common practice in the US), where you have a good plan of what you want to end up with but as you begin a construction phase you can adapt, change and modify aspects of the construction which can help minimize costs and meet the latest requirements. In the States there would be unlimited resources to quickly work through the many issues with each phase, here in the Dominican "urgency" is not a word that describes how things work here. 
This might be the one issue that has been most difficult as a "gringo", I fully realize we cannot impose our American drive on another culture (if you do you will have burned every bridge along the way) but at times my patience runs out. I have to remind myself that the GOAL of this project is what is important, and that the road to that goal will be as it has to be. 


Our latest interaction with the government has led my glass to initially be half-empty but after contemplating and considering things it is over half-full. 

The timing of things related to my life (things working out in Stacy's and my life so I could help oversee this project) and the project have been amazing and forced me to truly appreciate the God-induced timing of everything in life. We do not appreciate this most of the time especially when we want to be in complete control of all aspects of our lives (oh if we could only control the weather!), but of course we are not in control at all. All we should do is carry into each day a positive attitude for what that day brings knowing life will head us down a path unknown. 

So my momentary philosophical pause is due to our latest meeting with an important government official who represents the department of health - the department that will approve our facility and allow it to function and receive financial assistance from the different insurance programs available here. 
Our plans were reviewed and all in all the changes were minor but significant. The main issue being that they now require wider doorways than previously and what our architect designed. After my glass quickly looked half-empty I realized how fortunate we are to have had this conversation BEFORE we have formed and poured the 150+ concrete door headers/beams. Had we been pushing along earlier this fall (as my American self-control mentality hoped) we would have completed a good many of these headers by now and we would have a big problem on our hands. 

Timing again has helped us avoid significant changes with added costs - my glass is half-full.


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

   

Monday, December 5, 2016

Detailed structural work


Construction update December 05, 2016

This fall the workers were working on preparing for and adding additional columns that we will need to in order that this large building can be broken up into 6 different areas and separated with expansion/construction joints. As we have been clarifying structural questions and issues it became apparent that some of the structural issues needed to be recalculated in order to match the floor plan we now have which is the result of changes required by the government and some changes we made to improve the layout of the facility or lower the overall cost of the project (ie: minimize networking wire using data hubs to reduce the length of wire needed). This was slow work as it needed to be done properly and is also labor intensive. 



Here is a picture of Victor checking on work when a team of 10 men poured almost 30 - 2 meter tall columns using a mixer and filling the column forms bucket by bucket. Victor and Sandro (our two onsite Dominican engineers) closely supervised this work.

We are anxious to get working on the beams and roof structure but these structural details need to be in place before we can start. 

Grigorio, our plumbing engineer was at the site again Saturday and he inspected the completed drain pipe and hot and cold water supply lines that are all now installed inside the building.
 The locations where hot water will be needed was determined based on discussion withs Dr Canario and consulting the government requirements book. Hot water is an unusual feature for most facilities in the Dominican, so obviously a healthcare facility does indeed need hot water but not to the extent that you would find in the United States, so thereis no point in going to the expense of installing it everywhere.


 - Some interesting information regarding things like hot water and drinking water that we all take for granted in the US: 
 - most houses here do not have hot water, those that do have a wall switch near the bedroom(s) that turns on the small water heater when you want to use it. This is true even in very nice condominiums in Santo Domingo.
- Water from the faucet is not safe to drink, and this is the case everywhere, even in nicer homes and hotels. A great example of this is the Mirebalais hospital in Haiti built in 2012 by Americans who thought clean water should be provided in all faucets and even water fountains. This is an example of thinking you have a good/practical idea and going through the trouble of providing it only to find out it will not be accepted. None of the Haitians will drink from the faucets of water fountains at the hospital - this is not a normal thing in Haiti or the DR so they were asking the people who grew up here never drinking from these sources to suddenly trust that they could safely do so. 
By the way, there are no such things as "water fountains" - only cooling units that have a 5-gallon water bottle on them.

Our medical gases engineer was also here Saturday and we discussed what we can do to simplify the gas installation and lower it's cost while ensuring that the clinic will be fully able to serve the needs of it's patients. He had some very good ideas.

I am excited that Victor is ready to start "dinteles" or the headers that span doorways, these will be formed and then made with rebar and concrete. He will also begin getting the rebar structures made that will be the skelton of the structural beams that tie exterior walls together.
We continue to confirm the structural components, finalize issues with the structural engineer and architect and ask if there are any cost-saving possible with the beams, roof structure and other features.

This Friday we plan to meet with Health Department officials in Santo Domingo to discuss and seek their approval of our desire to "phase" the finishing of the building - we would like to reduce our initial completion cost by delaying the finishing of 23% of the building - after very positive discussions and input from Dr Canario and Dr Caseres this concept can lower our cost-at-opening by $200,000 or more.



Please consider both the project and me when planning your 2017 donations. We hope 2017 is the year when we can all but finish the building, and with your help we can do it!


Thanks for your continued support both financially and prayerfully! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ThanksGiving thoughts

   The Revolution Tour is completed, what an amazing experience.
Revolution Update Tour 

   Over one month ago Stacy and I began a journey visiting eleven different churches that have been very involved with Solid Rock and the Revolution project.   The purpose was to bring over 530 individuals and organizations up to date regarding what has happened over the last two years since ground breaking in November of 2014 and what the the future holds. 
It was a wonderful time visiting an amazing array of different type of churches and meeting many people who have be very involved with Solid Rock for decades.
What I now better understand and appreciate is the variety of faiths involved with Solid Rock. Even though there are differences in how each church might praise the Lord or reach out to those in need, all of these churches are each praising and doing with the same underlying reason - to fulfill the message Jesus delivered asking that we recognize Him, the blessings God has placed on every one of us and that we are to serve others. 
Whether we praise thru contemporary or conservative services, rockin' electric music or traditional organ music, pews with kneeling bars or chairs arranged in a semi-circle - we are all acknowledging Him, trying to live our lives as He asked, searching within ourselves to find the unlimited love we all possess, and reaching out to those in need. 
From providing meals to thousands day after day, planting churches in far away places with church members relocating to be the roots of the new churches, reaching out to neighbors offering food clothing and shelter to people going through a difficult period in life - all of these things are being done by groups of people who really all belong to the same thing - the Body of Christ.


The hand of God lifting the Dominican Republic from turbulent waters
So as I told the interesting history of Solid Rock and explained what has happened with the project and then most importantly why this project is needed, it really came down to just one simple thing: This project will ensure that for decades to come the Poorest of the Poor have a place to go when they need health care, and they will be provided that care with loving, open arms and in the name of Christ the Lord. Care, love and hope will be provided to people with no expectations who have no feeling of entitlement, continuing many years of serving others. What an amazing gift to provide to people in need, and the Revolution will be the vehicle though which these works will continue for generations, raising so many, changing and saving lives.
   This Thanksgiving we are all fortunate to be celebrating the abundance that our blessed country provides to each of us, please stop, take a moment and communicate your love and appreciation to not just your friends and family but to everyone you encounter this holiday, we are the Body of Christ.    
   Thank you to all of the people and organizations that have made this project go from only a dream to a project well underway.
   So I ask if you would support people in the DR,  this project and help us ensure that the amazing works that have happened in these first 27 years will continue for 27 years and beyond.
   We are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!
   

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Touring

November 1, 2016
We've been "on the road"!
Stacy and I have been in the States now approacing a month and we have visited several churches who have been supporters of the Revolution Project.

Illinois Farmland

Roanoke, VA - 2nd Pres

Concord, NC - Glorieta Baptist Church
Nashville, TN - 1st Pres
Peoria, IL - Northwoods
Indianapolis, IN - 2nd Pres
Ft Wayne, OH - Pine Hills
Wauseon, OH - Crossroads

It has been very meaningful to meet many of the people who have helped with the project historically, financially, prayerfully or physically! 
Historically - It was truly special to meet many of the people who have been an important part of the history of Solid Rock. The accomplishments of life-changing and life-saving events that have happened over the past 27 years is remarkable, so meeting some of the people involved in serving others has been very meaningful. 
Financially - It is amazing that because of the generosity and vision of 530+ people and organizations over $2.7M has been raised so far. These people and churches have invested in a dream that truly is becoming a reality, and it is only because of their investment that it is happening.
Prayerfully- The spiritual support is so appreciated, there have been numerous "God-coincidenses" while working on the project and I thank everyone for keeping the project and everyone involved in their prayers.
Physically - Thanks to the 100's of volunteers who have spent their money and limited vacation days to offer their time and talents helping onsite. The work done at the project by these teams has been a necessity, and going forward there is much to be done and some neat projects for teams to help with as we get closer to needing outbuildings, grounds and work on the building itself. 

It was extra special to see Dr Diller (87 yrs) at Crossroads, he was ready to build a new clinic soon after the hurricane and flood in 1998, so it is nice to be a small part in helping see his vision become a reality. His life's story is one of meeting the call of Christ, he has led an extraordinary life of serving others.


SRI has been a conduit thru which so many positive things have happened in the San Juan area, and with the completion of this facility we can ensure that the mission of Solid Rock and everyone involved can continue for many generations - SERVING THE POOREST OF THE POOR.  

The Reality - Higher Cost but same Vision  & Need
Being in-country has allowed Frank and me to arrive at a realistic construction estimate which is now $4.5M ... $1.5M more than the original campaign. We have a new campaign target but the same vision of why this facility is needed. We are building the fully equipped facility at a very efficient cost of $98 per square foot and are working daily to find ways to minimize costs.

So we are continuing to press forward but cautiously watching that your donations go as far as possible.

Very few capital projects by non-profits can pass 100% of donations on to the project, Solid Rock is doing that - there is no better way for you to help people in need. 

Perhaps you cannot take the time to offer your talents and travel abroad - please consider trusting that we will use your gracious gifts very carefully with a simple goal - building a facility from which people may Serve Others ... changing lives medically, spiritually and giving wonderful but very poor people a sense of hope.


And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12 41-44






Monday, September 26, 2016

End of September 2016 Update

Fall is here - it is a beautiful cool evening here!




It has been raining almost regularly in the afternoons, as I mentioned in an earlier post this has been nice for cooler evenings but has caused some issues with progress at the job.

Below is a video showing the work we completed last week on 76 columns. These were "integral" columns meaning they were to be part of a wall. The concrete not only creates the column but also locks the adjacent walls to the column making for a very strong entity.

We are beginning work on installing the water supply lines now that all drain lines are in place. We will also get any electrical conduits that need to run into the roof slab installed so we can begin forming the beams that lock the tops of the walls together and span doorways,etc. 


I hope to see you at one of the October/November Update Tour stops 
- please see info below and verify closer to the date on the Solid Rock Website.






Wednesday, October 12
Roanoke, VA
Second Presbyterian Church – Roanoke
7:00pm
Sunday, Oct 16th  during "Pop-Up" Sunday School in Roanoke at 10am

Monday, October 17
Concord, NC
Glorieta Baptist Church
7:00pm
Heavy Hors D’oeuvres Provided
Wednesday, October 19
Nashville, TN
First Presbyterian Church – Nashville
5:30pm
Dinner Provided
Tuesday, October 25
Peoria, IL
Northwoods Community Church – The Factory
7:00pm
Refreshments Provided
Wednesday, October 26
Indianapolis, IN
Second Presbyterian Church – Indianapolis
5:00pm
Thursday, October 27
Fort Wayne, IN
Pine Hills Church – Student Ministry Room
7:00pm
Dessert & Coffee Bar Provided
Please RSVP by October 20th to Annette Melvin | annettem@pinehillschurch.com | 260.637.3198 X2100
Sunday, October 30
Wauseon, OH
Crossroads Evangelical Church
3:00pm
Coffee & Snacks Provided
Wednesday, November 16
Spartanburg, SC
First Presbyterian Church – Spartanburg
6:30pm
Thursday, November 17
Gainesville, GA
Griffeth Home | 3918 Cochran Rd | Gainesville, GA 30506
7:00pm
Dessert Provided
Please RSVP to 770-287-4766
As always, thank you for your 
prayers and financial support!



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September Update and Invitation





Construction has progressed the past month getting columns formed and many plumbing pipes installed. 
We are working out some structural elements with the architect and a structural engineer so we can begin work on vigas (beams). 

Below is a video with a few different sections:

- showing the construction work
- an aerial flyover view from a drone !
- an Invitation to learn more


Here is another shot from above:



As always, thank you for supporting this project with your prayers and financial support, we are working as frugally as possible stretching every dollar that has been donated. 

Also, thanks for your prayers and financial support for Stacy and me during this time in the DR!