Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We have arrived back in Miami. What a trip. What an experience. Awesome team awesome experience. I just want a pizza now!!

Best Sunday of the Year!

Sunday was an amazing day at Cypress! We had over 20 people make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus by being baptized. You can watch part of the service and hear their stories here. Here are some of the pictures from Sunday as well.

Bubbles with kids

School in session

Showing some love

Coming Home

A bunch of us sitting here in the morning sharing stories and pictures. Today we are going to take care of Mother Goose and do some small jobs around the guest house. This is not a requirement of the trip, but the team wanted to contribute to our host ( Dr Bernard)

On a lighter side, this group has really enjoyed each other and the light hearted times have been really energizing. I don't think I have laughed as hard in a long time. Got to love those moments

So we fly home this evening. Personally I am ready to get home and see the family. I will miss some things here. I won't miss other things. But the group, team, friends is something really special.

See you all Sunday. We will share a few more of these stories in service. Hope to see you all soon


Monday review

On Monday our team was split into 3 groups to try and impact a few areas all on the same day. Again you had the construction team, the medical team, and the team that was still in Saint Louis.

The medical team went to one of the tent cities to administer first aide. Megan and Lindsey joined forces with some other RNs and a paramedic from a team out of Georgia. Once they established a base, there was a constant flow of people all day. Their Haitian group leader and translator Jude was awesome in helping. Most of the treatments were minor in scope, but Lindsey did comment on the amount of malnurishment and need for proper hygiene and personal care. The team served well. Was able to establish a quick relationship with other doctors and take an opportunity to serve in a gift area. Way to go ladies!!!

The construction team completed the roof. There is now a shelter above this lady and her children. The temperature difference was at least 15 degrees cooler in the house once the roof was installed. Hans was our project leader and received incredible help from Pete, Paul, Gina , Michelle , and Steve. The tools were not the best, the conditions less than ideal, but they did what it took to accomplish the job. Awesome job again. Way to go Cypress!!

Last but not least, was my team in Saint Louis. I debriefed the group about our experience there and someone mentioned it was the most I have ever talked. To say the day was impactful on the four of us would be an understatement. Pastor Jean, Jose,and Pastor Charles are wonderful. What they do daily is incredible and overwhelming. The kids were awesome - all 400 of them. The support we give to these kids is life blood to them and well used. There is just way too much to say about our 24 hours there in a blog but I promise we will share updates of the school and Saint Louis in the coming days and weeks. Marq, Logan, and Chris were awesome. I mentioned to Douglas on a text, that without their knowledge, I would have been lost!! It was great to see and hear their contributions.

Overall I am proud of this team. It was great to hear about the day(s), see the joy and satisfaction in their faces after a great day of serving. God did extrordinary things with these amazing people!! No other way to really say it.

Coming home soon...,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Team 1 - day 3

As you read earlier, our team separated and 4 of us flew to Saint louis du Nord to accomplish some things at the school.
Today started out with a great and positive meeting with the company that we are working with to bring fresh clean water to saint louis. They showed us the test of the water these kids and adults drink daily at the school. It is full of a couple bad bacteria but the worst is Ecoli from fecal matter. ( sorry but really can't say it any nicer than that).

We boarded a flight and then flew to Saint louis to meet with Pastor Jean. We discussed many things including the water and that's when our plans hit a major wall. The current source of water is not constant. It's unreliable. That's a problem.
Logan , Jim and I were frustrated to say the least. There is a solution, we just have to find it. It's too long to go into on a blog, but you can help with prayers for wisdom and solutions to come to those involved in this process.
I do not feel that we were here to get a huge setback with no possible solution. We are here to figure a better way.

So that was the bad- the good was really good and a possible God moment was realized by Logan as we had lunch with some friends of Pastor jean and his brother. His name is TJ and he is all about doing things to improve life in saint Louie. We talked about micro enterprising, new forms to generate power with wind, solar power, getting someone to help spearhead efforts here outside of just Pastor. I don't know where it will lead, but it was positive.

There was a concert at the church tonight and the kids from another church were singing. It was really something to hear them. There was some passion in their voices for sure.

We spent some time talking with Pastor Jean and his brother Jose about growing up in Haiti as preacher kids( interesting) and life here. Then the conversation went to Jan 12th and how Jean and his wife were almost killed in their bed. We showed pictures of his house and it was evident the horror of that day is far from over for him. It will take a while for physical and emotional recovery I'm sure.

Tomorrow we get to see the school in action. They have exams (Pastor can't you let the kids play some soccer with us instead ?-haha) so not sure how much we will get to interact. But will try.
Today a group of kids were playing soccer with a beat up basketball. Where I grew up, Indiana, you do not kick basketballs. Tomorrow I have a surprise for them that will change that. I know giving them a soccer ball may seem insignificant and low on priorities, but to them it won't.

I am going to write a little more as I may only get one shot to send out as reception is in and out...,

Jean and Jose are really great and very helpful. Jean told me with emotions in his eyes, there is no way he could take care and educate these kids without the help of Cypress. We sponsor about 300 if the 400 kids. Parents make up the difference. He was very appreciative. There simply would be no school.
I asked what the number 1 priority is if he could have anything, water is on his list but the need us so great, I felt like there was a 1A, 1B, 1c priority with food and clothes.
In actuality they have many many needs. The roof is rusting through and rain rushes in. I could take 10 people in and around the church and school and each person would probably find a list of improvements that could be done. We take them for granted. To them, they are not in the radar as living and staying healthy are greater concerns. They don't care that it's 100 degrees inside the school/church. They would rather ask for things that sustain life first.

Pictures DO NOT do this place justice. It's hard to put everything into words. You have a land surround by natural beauty with the ocean and blue blue water. The green of the mountains But then the chaos and destruction and poverty inside those boundaries.

Haitians know their situation. They are not blind to what's happening. They are willing to do but they need some assistance. We ( the world) do not have to do it but rather show them the path and teach them. There is opportunity. You would see things and ask yourself " why is that like this?"
" where is the government?". "Why can't someone use that idea over in your town?". Believe me, we had a long lunch talking about improvements and lack of government interaction and lack of caring. Before you complain about a George Bush or Obama, just be thankful we have the government we do. Seriously!!

I could go on for 10 more pages but it's a long day tomorrow

Btw- the roads here, yeah, ouch!!'

Soul Exercise

Haiti builds the muscle of Cypress. It is working to increase the connective tissue that binds us together and gives us strength to do more. There is some sweat involved but it is a labor of love. There was an interesting dynamic at work when we first arrived - a simultaneous desire for Thought and No Thought. It is an overwhelming sensation for a first-time visitor, one that none of us will ever forget. The struggle is that it can be so overpowering, it is incredibly easy to give it no deep, meaningful consideration and just live in the moment. It is an onslaught on the senses - a tent city seen up close has infinitely more meaning than as viewed on the television or the computer. Be able to process the input is extremely difficult because of the sheer enormity of the situation. Can we, as a few representative of Cypress make much of an impact? The answer of course, is a resounding Yes, because we are also representatives of a loving Father and Son.

Spending time in the cretch (Creole for crib - a orphanage for the very young), we all had our hearts broken open and filled to overflowing. It was amazing to be able to share the gift of Love. It also shook us awake, as we realized that we are not being called to build walls, bring safety to the electrical system, hang fans, build a roof and floors....we're doing that too, but we are called to be like Jesus. Welcoming and loving the children, the poor in spirit and to bring smiles and joy.

On Saturday, we broke into two teams with our electrical experts (Hans, Peter and Paul) heading to the orphalina - the orphange for older kids and teens, and the rest of us heading to a jobsite to rebuild the home of a woman widowed by the earthquake. It was another battle with frustration, at the difference in how work is accomplished - our norm of instant results and repeated trips to the hardware store just aren't reality here. The lumber is warped, the nails are few and the tools are primitive, and it takes forever to restock supplies. But the children flocked to us, shy at first but warming quickly. Kirsten and Lindsay put their medical skills to use, literally caring for the feet of these children - cleaning and bandaging their infected wounds. Michelle was maybe the favorite of the day for sharing the music on her MP3 player with everyone - the love of music is universal. The house did come together with some very tangible results, despite our initial frustrations. The roof is framed with corrugated metal sheets ready for installation, the walls are sealed and the guys in all reality, probably saved a few lives with their electrical work and increased safety. Spent some time with the older children from the orphanage when we got back to the guesthouse. Dr. Bernard, truly a Renaissance man, runs the guest house and manages the orphanages, among many other noble pursuits.

Today is Sunday and while most of the team is heading to Dr. Bernard's church in Port au Prince; Tim, Jim, Logan and I are currently meeting with WMI Haiti - the org. that will help us bring clean water to St. Louis du Nord and then heading to the airport for our flight up north. Gotta run! Will try and get some pics uploaded!

Thank you for the prayers, we continue to need them! Love to all the families and friends from us all!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day two

I cannot put into words what is in my head. I do know however that there is a lot of beauty and a lot of beautiful people in Haiti and we cannot forget them. The Church has to continue in fact it needs to increase it's effort here and rally more Churches around the globe to bring an end to corruption and bring new fresh ideas to help these people regain there independence with an opportunity to live a life like we enjoy every day. I love and miss you Alice, Jimmy, Justin, Mom, Dad and all my family and friends. Please pray for our friends here in Haiti.

Jim Gregorich


Roof going on

Administering First Aid

Thank you Lindsey for your gifts of first aid. She saw some infections and first aid needs on the children near the house project. She scheduled a follow up appointment with them Monday. - tim
We are on the way to the home building site. Nice and cool at night on the mountain. We have been trying to learn some creole phrases to communicate with kids. Have to text entries for today. Sorry for short entries

Friday, June 25, 2010

Checking out the view

Landed safely

Received word from Tim that the team has landed safely in Haiti. Keep them in your prayers as they connect with our contacts there and begin their work.

Here we go

We are set and ready..pray for us and our friends in Haiti. I love you Ally! Take care of the boys andd Mom and Dad

Jim Gregorich
V.P.& General Sales Manager
Tempaco, Inc.
2050 Tall Pines Drive
Suite B
Largo, FL. 33771


Everyone has made it to the airport. You don't realize how much supplies and clothes we are taking until you try to check it all in. It's really a lot of clothes. The people who receive it will be very thankful.

I think we are all pretty excited. Just some down time in the airports then hit the ground running. First stop is to drop 7 bags off to Saul who helps 100 kids living in the tents.


Preparation - from Steve

Getting very excited about the trip.  I know the frame of mind I want to be in for the trip - an empty vessel to be used however God wants to use me.  I'm getting there but the work and prep for the trip can put a drag on it.  I'm committed to being in the right frame of mind and heart by take-off!
I helped pack donation suitcases and finished putting all of my stuff together and packing and that got me very excited.  The only downside is not seeing family and friends for several days but I believe I can use that to get even more out of this experience.  It will help me lay everything out there and fully commit myself to serving.  Here we go!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I feel awesome to do this it feels great to go and really help the people in need I'm so blest wow wow wow god bless you all and I know he will be whit us to protect us thanks again for this
Change to make a diverens in somebody live
Sent from my iPhone

Packed and ready

Today a bunch of us came in and finished packing a total of 19 bags of relief supplies. These will get distributed to 4 different areas: a friend of the church living in tents and taking care of 100 kids, the two orphanages we will be visiting, and a few go up to our school in Saint Louis du Nord. 

I'm sure all of the supplies will be greatly appreciated. We have food, baby supplies, clothes for all ages, toiletries, games and toys, and even a couple soccer ( sorry - football) balls. 

It's been a long week and really can not believe we leave tomorrow. Everyone seems to have high spirits and are really excited to get there

So until tomorrow. It will be exciting. 


19 Bags of Relief Supplies


from Chris W.

Well it's my last day at work before the trip and anxiety and emotions are running high. Like the rest of the group leaving the comforts of home brings me many feelings. I have wanted to go to Haiti since watching all the news reports after the earthquake and now through the love and kindness of others I am going. God has been comforting me and bringing me peace within myself in order to go and be his hands and feet. I go with joy and love in my heart for the people I will form relationships with. Please pray for my brothers and sisters and I as we go to share the love of God.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Before Haiti- Megan

The Haiti relief trip leaves in less than 2 days and I have tried my best to keep from concerning myself with the possible dangers or discomforts …. Why would I do this? I guess because a little part of me is scared to find out what I am about to fly into. I am a believer in the power of positive prayers and from my perspective, worrying about the future will not help or change what is to come. When it really comes down to it… I have no fear, god will guide me.  I am at a cross roads in my life and for some reason god has told me to make this detour.  I hope to change lives and help people while I am in Haiti but, I also hope to realize things about myself.  We are all god's children but, some of us do not realize how important we are and others do not realize the importance of the lives we do not see…. I hope to see the big picture.  I am excited for my journey and I am ready to be used for the good of humanity even in the littlest ways possible.

From Jim

A lot of excitement right now AND thoughts of where God is leading me. I pray that we can touch the lives of these folks AND more importantly save a soul who does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I also look forward to helping in any way that I can with our school in St.Louis du Nord. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.

More to come. Jim Gregorich

From Paul

Hello everyone,I took my first malarone malaria pill this morning. It really hit me that I'm going. The next step is getting on the plane Friday morning. Yep, in less than 2 days I'll be in Haiti for the first time since 1985. I wasn't sure I'd be able to go when Pastor Douglas asked for people to step up but through the grace of God, family and friends I will be. I vividly remember when Pastor Douglas gaves us the "smack down" because it gave me what I like to call my "Blues Brothers moment."

Remember near the start of the movie when Jake and Elwood are in the church where James Brown asks "DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?!" Then a light shines down on Jake and he screams "I SEE THE LIGHT!" That's what happened to me so thank all of you for the opportunity to go do God's work. I'm sure we'll all come back just a little different.

God Bless,Paul Hayes

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Michelle

So everyone told me I should blog on my trip. I hope I'm doing this right...I figured I should start by talking about myself first. My name is Michelle. Yes I'm 17 years young and the youngest on the trip BUT that does not mean I can't handle it. My family is incredibly supportive of my goals and dreams this one included. I couldn't do this without them.

My church family is amazing as well. They keep me in prayers and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be going on this trip.Well we leave in 3 days. I have a to-do list thats probably a mile long. Odds are... I won't get it done. But in my own defense i am a teenager...

Yesterday a few of us met at the church at 9 am to pack the suitcases that we're donating in haiti. People donated some really great stuff and it was amazing to see how much people pull toether to help those in need. Well while we're going through these clothes we were saying how ugly some of these items were and how we would NEVER wear them. I had no idea how spoiled i was until yesterday. Whenever someone would say that to me I'd pull the "I've been working since i was 14!" line. I bagged groceries...poor me. These people have nothing and are so grateful for anything. I think we all need to be told that we're not better than anyone and our standards are slightly ridiculous.

I know I'm going to make a difference and try to change the world... but i have a feeling I'll be one changing the most."so what could i say? and what could i do? but offer this heart oh god completely to you."well until next time,<3 michelle

The Haiti Team

Pictured from left to right.

Front Row: Megan Incorvia, Michelle Shiffield, Paul Hayes, Keirsten Reilly, Lindsey Reese, Gina Logan, Marq Caughell, Jim Gregorich, Tim Walters

Back Row: Chris Warne, Steve Manville, Pete Ward, Chris Logan

Please keep these folks in your prayers this week and next. Keep not only them in your prayers, but also their family and friends as well as the people they will meet and serve in Haiti.

Making An Impact

On Friday, 14 of us will board a plane and fly to Haiti to serve those who are still suffering from the earthquake. The idea and heartfelt notion to send in a team to help has come full circle. There was a time not too many weeks ago that I seriously thought we would have to cancel the trip. We did not have the minimum number of people nor the funds required. Then a God thing happened, people signed up and in came support.

Somehow things worked themselves out and the 14 of us are ready to go. This is not a cheap trip. Not like during Katrina which was a tank of gas and a sleeping bag. Of the 14, we have people who have emptied savings accounts, used school tuition money, held garage sales, asked the congregation for help, and asked family and friends for support - all to go and be the hands and feet of the One who matters. It goes to say something for these people and their hearts. It goes to say something about those who have supported us. It goes to say something about how God has impressed upon people who don't even believe in Him - to give and support someone in our group.

Our team is comprised of a great group of passionate people who really want to make an impact, have some significance, and help those who are in need. The youngest is 17 years old - the oldest is .. well lets just say older.. We have a nurse, and engineer, managers, VP's, students, journalists, hard workers, people who are out of work, and former military. A lot of people with very different skills and gifts but all with the same goal. To try and better the life of someone less fortunate. To try and offer a little hope in their lives.

Of the 14, only 2 have been to Haiti before. So, its safe to say, that most of us have no idea what to expect. We do know that we will be giving up many of the conveniences of home and yet, we will still be much better off than 95% of the population of Haiti. I read in the news today that a tropical wave was bringing rain to Haiti and Port-au_prince could see up to an inch of rain. With a lot of people living under sheets or in tents, one inch will create even more havoc in their lives - what these people would give to be safe and out of the elements. A couple months ago I was camping with the family and it rained so much, we bagged it- tore down the tent, threw it in the truck and headed home. Home, where it was warm- dry - and the bed was like a dream cloud. These people will have no where to go. No where to avoid the mud, the rain, the damp smell in their clothes. Most will just have to wait out the rains - hope it does not last too long and ruin what's left of their "conveniences" and their hope.

So we will give up air conditioning, our comfort foods, our Starbucks, ice cold drinks, etc - but we will still be in a very nice Guest House which most Haitians would love to enjoy. We will get 2 meals a day, a bed at night, and a roof over our heads. This is not to brag or be disrespectful, its just to say while we may be "roughing it" by our standards, we are still miles above the conditions Haitians live in today.

All of these experiences will be recorded at this blog site over the next week. The team has been encouraged to blog and share their thoughts. I would invite you to check back daily to see what has been posted so you can get an idea of the feelings and passion these 14 people are experiencing day to day.

Everyone is ready to go. Eager to serve - eager to make an impact of those we don't even know and some we will never see again. And yet in all of this, something inside me knows that after all of the work, all of the help, all of the discussions of helping - perhaps the other side of the story is not so much what "we did" - but of what "happened to us". For I don't think that any of us will come back and not be impacted. We will be impacted from those we don't know, whom we don't understand language-wise, and from whom we will never see again.

On Friday, 14 of us leave to help change peoples lives. On Tuesday, 14 of us will return with our lives changed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heading to Haiti

This week we will be teaming up with 410 Bridge and sending a team of 14 people to Haiti to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people affected by the earthquake.

Please check back here often for updates on their trip.

My Dad Rocks Competition 2010

Happy Fathers' Day to all of the dads, granddads, and role models out there!

To honor Dads at Cypress we hosted for the second year in a row the My Dad Rocks contest. We wanted to post here the entries of honorable mention.

Later this morning during our services we'll announce the winner!

My dad rocks because he is honestly the most humble, genuine and caring person I have ever met. He has shown me the ultimate example of unconditional love & taught me through example that it is in giving that we receive. He has also been the spiritual leader in our house growing up & is the sole reason our family started attending church on a regular basis since birth & still does until this day.

My dad has been there to support & guide me every step of the way throughout my entire life. From sharing tears with me after I lost the spelling bee in 2nd grade to sitting out in the cold to watch me cheer at every high school & college football game over the years, I cannot think of a time in my life when he has not been there for me. He has been my spiritual coach, financial advisor, biggest fan & best friend.

Because of this, I feel so blessed to nominate Lee Staton, who just turned 76 on May 28th! However, I’m sure he would be too humble to accept any prize or recognition for this contest. That is just another example of what I love about him!
~ Gina Staton Logan

My dad rocks because:

· He’s young, strong, very handsome, loving, smells good (after his shower) and has a nice smile and dimple

· he works hard so my mom, me and my sister can have a nice house, clothes and go on exciting vacations

· he sprayed for monsters when me and my sister were little so we were never afraid of the dark

· when we get hurt, he takes good care of us

· gives awesome dolphin rides in the pool

· plays baseball, football, and soccer with us so we can excel in our sport

· if he has to, he will help with homework

· he takes and picks me up from school (my friends think he’s my brother)!

· if we need or want something, we always ask him first, because mom always says no

· he is without a doubt the best wrestler in the entire world, and he sometimes lets us win

· he is not crazy about roller coasters, but will ride with me over and over again

· the best thing about my dad is that he loves me and my sister, and that will never ever change..we can count on it.

~ Bekah and Brooke Kashtan

My dad rocks because of his astounding ability to remain the most masculine man we know, while being surrounded by seven females. It takes a real man to endure the challenges, and the daily obstacles of coping with watching those six little girls, develop into six beautiful women. His patience is inconceivable! Along with his capability to understand we’re far from perfect, and his undying love for every imperfection we throw his way. Superman may save everyone from bad guys, but daddy kept the monsters out from under the bed; and those everyday boys far away, far too well. He has never told us how to live our lives; he has lived his, and provided us the chance to watch. Although, he would never deny a challenge himself; he made it very evident that we would never be forced to face them on our own. It takes one amazing man to be a comical genius, a parent, a hero, a spiritual guide, a shoulder to cry on, someone to run to, and a best friend; and to be aware and around, whenever he is needed. Our daddy is the strongest man we know; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He has never needed a title, no number one dad, because he knows without a shadow of a doubt; he is the best. And there is not one man in this world, who could handle everything he does; with the same undeniable smile on his face. We really do appreciate everything about you, daddy. You are our hero!

Love, the six of us. (submitted to honor Bruce Boltze by Daphne Boltze)

My Dad rocks because he always makes me feel better in tough times. When I was a little girl, I had lost my two front teeth, I was so mortified. I was crying like crazy when all of a sudden my Dad turns around and his front teeth are gone too! I immediately stopped crying and began to laugh hysterically. Apparently when my dad was young he had gotten into an accident and lost his front teeth and has had partials ever since. I had no clue! To this day at the age of 28 he can still make me feel like the day of my missing teeth, loved, special and never alone. I may have gotten money from the tooth fairy that day, but the feeling and memory will forever be priceless and last a lifetime!

Missing tooth laughter with Dad - Priceless!

It doesn't really matter if I win this contest, I have already won with the Best Dad!