JuiceBox Update 10-29

A very quick update on the JuiceBox project. If this is the first you’re reading about it, please check out the project page for more information and how you can help.

  • Li-Poly packs have been delivered to the U.S.

  • 5 Watt solar panel shipped 10-17. Waiting for delivery to Haiti via MFI.

  • Resistors and prototyping boards for the external LEDs arrived today. LED pigtail assembly begins later this week.

  • MintyBoost voltage booster kits ordered today. These will be brought in-country by the Port Charlotte group on January 19.

  The next step will be ordering the aluminum enclosures.

  Still to do…

Order charge controller kits when they are back in stock

Order solar panels (based on the results of the 5 watt panel testing).

We could still use your help! Ask me how.

Chak Madi

There’s a lot going on in Haiti, all the time. Sights, sounds, smells, situations. It can feel overwhelming sometimes. We play chess, or rather I teach chess to calm the mind. I want students to find a refuge in chess where their minds can be creative, competitive and diligent,  free of other distractions. And, I’m all for activities that allow us to model Christ-like attitudes and behavior. And, of course, because chess is fun!

My students like chess for a lot of different reasons. Some like chess because it can be competitive if you want it to be, but it doesn’t have to be. Some like it because ‘you get to think sneaky’, which I hope means strategically. Others like chess because it’s a diversion.

This year I introduced chess to the 7th grade. I had no idea how excited they would be.  Normally, I teach each incoming freshman class how to play and each Spring we have a high school tournament. Chess club meets every Tuesday from 2:45 to around 4:00.  I don’t have the same group of students each and every week, but this year the group is bigger and younger and having more fun than ever before.

Chess is mental torture.

– Garry Kasparov

I suppose chess could be seen as a sort of self-inflicted mental torture. My 9th graders probably think that when they’re first learning, but once it takes hold…watch out!

There’s a jillion studies from all over the world that prove that playing chess makes kids smarter and helps them perform better academically.  That’s all just icing on the cake. We’re in it for the fun and friendship.

If you visit us, be sure to stop by the school on Tuesday afternoon for a fun game.


JuiceBox Update

charge controller
Charge controller without the LED pigtail attached. The tiny LEDs for CHRG and DONE can be seen between the white JST connectors.

Our JuiceBox (solar rechargeable power pack) project is moving ahead. If this is the first you’re reading about it, please check out the project page for more information and how you can help.

  • The 7200 mAh Li-Poly battery packs have been ordered from Shenzhen Canpower Electronics in Shenzhen, China. I had originally hoped to source the packs in the US, but I wasn’t able to find a custom-pack manufacturer that could meet our pricing requirements. Material sourcing and manufacturing are part of the educational aspects of the JuiceBox project so, it’s all good. UPDATE: Li-Poly packs have been delivered to the U.S.
  • I have one more solar panel sample to check out. It’s a 5 watt panel that should arrive within the next week or so. Our current design uses a 3.4 watt panel. It works okay, it just charges a bit slow. So, we’ll test with a 5 watt and check the price point. UPDATE: Shipped 10/17
  • The charge controller uses yellow and green SMT (tiny, surface mount) LEDs to indicate whether the pack is Charging or Done. When we put the lid on our enclosure those LEDs won’t be visible so we’re making a .75 x .75 inch circuit board to hold larger yellow and green LEDs that will be visible through two small holes in the enclosure.  I’ve assembled four of these LED pigtails so far and have a student willing to help me fashion the remaining 22 over the coming weeks. UPDATE:  Waiting on resistors and prototyping boards to arrive via MFI mail here in Haiti.

The next step will be ordering the aluminum enclosures.

Being Busy and Being Still


The end of summer is always bittersweet for us. It means leaving grandparents and great-grandparents, family, friends, and our BSCC church family. It also means the end of truly reliable electricity, water and high-speed internet access, bookstores, great beef, mexican food and donuts. That would be the bitter part. Now, some of the sweet parts are, being back together with our Sonlight staff and members of the community here in Port-de-Paix, sharing Christ with young people, being in the classroom to see lives change day by day and not having to hear/see any political ads.

It really is good to be back. It wasn’t easy getting here though. Our group was one ticket short at the small airport in Port Au Prince, so I stayed the night in PAP, confident I’d be on the 2:00pm flight on Wednesday.  As it turns out, I almost wasn’t on that flight. Apparently, when you’re holding a ticket and the person at the airline counter says ‘come back tomorrow at 12:30pm,’ that doesn’t actually constitute a reservation. In the end, and after many phone calls between PAP and PdP, I did make the flight. I arrived in PdP around 4:00pm.

Alicia and the girls settled in pretty fast, unpacking and setting up the house while I made repairs to a satellite dish. There were some electrical issues that we found out about just before leaving the States and the contents of the refrigerator and freezer were completely ruined. The house doesn’t smell too bad now, the freezer seems to still work, but the jury is still out on the refrigerator.  The girls have been troopers, no complaints about the smells or the lack of freezer food. Today, since we got back from church they’ve been trying on school uniforms. Everybody’s positive.

This next week is teacher orientation, setting up classrooms, and preparing the school. It’s the best kind of tiring work, an odd mixture of fatigue flavored with frustration.  You try it all on your own, don’t get too far and then remember this verse from Psalm 46.

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

To everyone who made our summer all that it could be, “Thank you.” To all our dear friends outside the KC area, thank you for being so understanding of our summer off. The time we spent with family was priceless.

We’ve sorted a lot of needed school supplies and equipment, brought some with us and shipped others to the boat. Thank you, Blue Springs Christian Church, for your generosity, prayers and continued support.

Please pray for:

  • My grandfather Carl Hall. He moved to the hospice house just before we left. Please pray for his continued comfort.
  • Our students, Samuel, Dickie, Flogster, Berdjna and Berdjly, who have left Sonlight and will continue as students in the U.S..
  • The Hammond family. That Brad will continue to heal from surgery and they’ll all make it in before school starts.
  • For our upcoming dedication of the SonCenter, in October.
  • That God will be at the center of all we do.

In Him,


Together and apart

The girls should be heading back our way right now. They’ve spent the last week traveling through Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota with their grandparents and cousin. Including this week, we’ve been away from them from three weeks total this summer. The first week, Alicia and I were enjoying a 20th anniversary cruise. Honestly, I didn’t miss them too much that week. But, as we were returning from the cruise, they were headed to camp in Arkansas. That week, I really started to miss them. Now, after another week, I’m feeling a little stir-crazy without them around. I want to hear the Alaina’s ukulele and Anessa practicing her violin. I want to scramble the rubik’s cube at least 10 more times (Alaina can solve it in about 2 minutes and 10 seconds now.) I want to be ‘dad’ again in all the fun and not so fun ways. I need for us to be together so I can share their energy and soak up their smiles.

As many of you know, my grandpa is dying. He’s reasonably comfortable right now and won’t be making any more trips to the hospital. He’s 92 years old and he’s ready to go home. I’m so proud of him (like a kid on Grandparents Day at school). I’m proud of what his life has been about, what it has meant to and how it has changed the people around him. I’m proud of the example he has been to me. He’s always been an encouragement and his support of our work in Haiti has been incredible from the very beginning. His involvement with and travel to missions in India created in me a foundation of courage that impacts everything I do. He’s still an amazing example here, toward the very end, of the hope that we, as Christians, have in Jesus.

It’s been great to spend so much time with him this summer. We had planned to travel through Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee to visit many of you that are such a big part of our ministry at Sonlight. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to visit this summer. Spending time close to grandpa and the rest of our family seemed best. Thank you all for being so very understanding. Your prayers and encouragement have been a real blessing to us.

Please keep my grandpa and the rest of my family in your prayers. Pray also for the work in Haiti as we prepare to head back in mid-August.




Packing and Planning

The end of the school year is a crazy time here at Sonlight. Our last day full day of school was Tuesday followed by Party Day which was  just fun and games ’til 11:00am and then it was all over.

Next, the mad rush to clean out, put away and cover up everything in our classrooms and then our homes before departure. Imagine all the ToDo list items that can’t be put off any longer, the books, DVDs and every other thing that has been loaned or borrowed all needing to find their owners. Then there are the sad goodbyes to fellow teachers that won’t be returning in August or to the graduates that are heading to college.

Cleaning a year of photos off the fridge. Cleaning out the fridge. Dusting everything. Packing the things you think you’ll need for the summer. Packing the things you really will need for the summer. Making photo DVDs for the graduates and other teachers. Counting and storing textbooks. Feeling sad that you won’t see your students until August. Feeling thrilled that you’ll see your family next week. Feeling sad that you won’t see this church family until August, but thrilled that you’ll see your other church family next week. Feeling anxious about leaving your house and belongings for 10 weeks.

And then there’s the planning.

Making sure everything you’ll need for the early part of the school year is easy to get out and ready. Figuring out what kind of computer parts need to be brought in. How many folders, index cards, red pens, black pens, dry erase markers, blank CD/DVDs, power strips, batteries, etc. How many chairs will I need in my room. Should I breakdown and do the tennis-ball-on-the-chairs thing? What things came up in year seven that I can document and put into my classroom procedures so that don’t happen in year eight? Do I need new curtains for my room? When should I order the glucometer test strips and blood typing kits for A & P?  Which staff member birthdays are right when we get back? Bible study materials, craft materials, devotionals, new Christian music. Can you still find hot-air popcorn poppers like they made in the ’80s?

Everything is stressful and seems uncertain. I’m sad, as this year comes to a close and yet excited as the possibilities of next year unfold.


Father, take care of my students and my family, my friends and my stuff. Take care of the people who pray for us and support us, and the people who don’t. Take my worries and fill me with your peace. I know you hold tomorrow.

Thank you Father, for all the people that visited us this year to encourage us. And for churches and individuals that support us but haven’t been able to visit. May you be glorified by what we say and what we do.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Living on the Outside

Am I doing things the right way or at the very least, am I not doing things the wrong way.  I want to ‘fit in’ in so far as I want to be approachable.  At the same time, I’m supposed to be in the world not of the world.  Will I ever fit in enough to not feel like an outsider? Being an outsider is uncomfortable. I knew I was stepping out of my comfort zone when I came to Haiti the very first time.  Moving here was a huge step and yet I somehow thought that eventually I’d feel like a local.  Seven years later and I don’t.  And I won’t.  I can’t.  I suspect that the feeling of ‘fitting in’ is also a feeling of comfort and complacency.

I can eat the food, speak the language ( a bit), walk the streets and at the end of the day I still feel like the white guy. I don’t want to feel that way and I don’t want to be treated that way. I want to be the Jesus guy. I don’t want them to see me, I want them to see Him.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I feel completely engaged here, invested in these people, this church and this neighborhood. Some days I just want people to look past all that I’m not, to see all that Jesus is.


Thanks to each of you for your continued prayers. You are a blessing to us.

We’re So Thankful

We are thankful for a few days off from school!

We are thankful to Norma for yummy Thanksgiving food!

We are thankful for our family and the blessings God has given us!

We are thankful for our supporters who make it possible for us to live and serve in Haiti!

I’m thankful for Mykeldine and the other girls in my class…Alaina

I’m thankful for fun fifth graders…Mme Scott

I’m thankful for my grades and friends…Anessa

We’re thankful for Christmas decorations!

I’m thankful for the donations so we can go to Missouri for Christmas…Anessa

We’re thankful for rain and cool weather to enjoy chili and hot tea…Scott and Alicia

I’m thankful for my health, even though I have a cold right now…Alaina

I’m thankful for my comfortable home…Alicia

I’m thankful I get to do something I love…Scott

We’re thankful for electricity and oxygen…fifth grade students



Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.



Girls’ Bible Study Sleepover

This year I have 8 wonderful young ladies in my Bible Study Group. I started with most of these girls two years ago as seventh graders. Last year was difficult with the death of one of the girls before the school year started. We studied One Girl Can Change the World and I was amazed at how they realized that we don’t know what the future holds and therefore we can be doing things for God now, and not waiting for when we’re older.

This year we’ve started studying Bad Girls of the Bible and it’s been interesting to see how we can learn from the stories of different women in the Bible. There’s been lots of discussion about the relationship between a man and woman in marriage, what’s right and what’s wrong. I pray that they will make wise choices when it comes to boys, and I hope they can help support one another in making good choices with boys.

Also at the beginning of this year I asked them what they wanted to do this year as a group and the Number 1 thing was have a sleepover! So, thanks to the graciousness of my wonderful husband, who cooked and cleaned the whole night and next day, they were able to come over and eat, watch movies, dance, sleep for only 2 hours, but have lots of fun! The next day they wanted to go downtown to a little restaurant and eat together, so one of the girl’s mom sent a truck to take us there and back. We had yummy chicken, tasso(beef), or hot dogs with fried banann or french fries, yummy! It was really great to spend time with these girls and get to know them and build a relationship with them. I love each one of them and they’ve been such a blessing to me to see how God is working in their lives.

Please join me in praying for Anne, Farah, Gerdeley, Sabina, Marie Christie, Rose Kerline, Rose Yveline, and Rose Glendine!