Monday, March 25, 2013

No More Microsoft Office…

Maybe this will help you…

For me, in my situation, Google Drive/Docs and LibreOffice have completely replaced Microsoft Office.  Not only do I not pay for MS Office anymore, but I get more functionality out of Google and LibreOffice.  Here is my set up.

In my situation, I have found the price of MS Office to be cost prohibitive. I have also found that there are FREE alternatives out there that are not only ready for mainstream, but give me increased functionality.  I wanted to make this jump years ago, but after trying out the alternatives, I had found that they were still clunky, and not quite ready.  But, now, they are.  Here is what I have done…

google-driveI almost exclusively use the online Google Drive/Docs.  I create, edit, and share all docs via Google Drive.  I have download Google Drive onto my desktop.  I can create, open and edit files even when I am offline.  There are some limitations while offline, but I have not found them to be a big deal.  The biggest benefit I find is that by using Google Drive/Docs, all of my files are available on any computer I sit at, on my iPad, on my iPhone, or anyone else’s for that matter.  They are also shared, if I want them to be, with a host of other people.  I work on a team, and I highly value team collaboration, constant access to constantly updated files.  Therefore, shared docs are a must.

For creating New files…

I have created links on my desktop (finding the right links to use wasn’t exactly easy), so that I have one click access to creating new files. It’s just like opening MS Word to create a file. It’s really slick.  Here are the links if you want to put them on your desktop to try this out.

Here are the links you need if you are using Google Apps for a domain (right click on your desktop, choose create new shortcut, and use the following as the location)…


If your Google Drive Docs does not reside within a domain, you can still create shortcuts, but you will leave out the reference to a domain, like this:


Here are the icon images you can use. Right Click on each and choose (“Save As”), then once you have the link on your desktop, point to these icons instead of the default.

gdoc-32  gsheet-32  gslides-32  gdraw-32

I do it all in Google Drive.  If someone emails me a file, I click on the link for the attachment in Gmail to save or open in Google Drive.  The “Save to Drive” link does just that, it saves it within my Google Drive (This is only viewable, and shareable, but not editable).  So, if someone sends me an Office file, I have enabled the gmail lab item called “Google Docs previews in mail”, that allows me to click “Open in Drive” and this automatically converts the file into Google Drive format so I can edit immediately.

libreofficeI say I use Google Drive almost exclusively, because there are still times when I want to open an Office document on my desktop, edit it offline, and save or email to someone without first going through the process of opening or converting it to Google Drive.  I am now using LibreOffice on my desktop for this.  LibreOffice is robust, I can automatically open MS Office documents, it is easy to automatically save into MS Office format, and it’s free!  I still set my defaults to saving in MS Office format, because that is what most other people use.  Google Drive doesn’t have an MS Access equivalent, so LibreOffice helps with this too.

Hope you find this helpful.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rolling Out Deworming in our Hope for Kidz Schools

P1020189 Last  Thursday, March 14th,  I had the privilege of rolling out RMI’s Hope for Kidz Deworming Program in all of our Hope for Kidz schools.  This was an exciting day for us at RMI!  Hope for Kidz enables individuals to sponsor a Haitian child to go to school.  A sponsorship covers the cost of tuition, registration fees, books, uniform and shoes.  In the last few years we’ve added a hot lunch program in many of those schools and have been able to include more schools every year. 

RMI truly believes that an education provides kids with hope for their future.  A healthy child is better equipped to learn.  We have seen the impact that the Hot Lunch program is having: it is improving the health of all the kids involved.  We also believe that by deworming the kids every year, the kids will be healthier and will greatly decrease the incidence of intestinal worms in the community. 

A few of our US sister churches have initiated deworming projects in their partnership churches and from that, a dream to deworm all of our school kids was born. A big shout out to The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the Chicago area who originally gathered and developed the educational materials necessary for this program.  It sure made the planning process so much easier!

The Objective: To add a deworming branch to our Hope for Kids program.IMG_0196

The Details: Why is deworming important?  Intestinal worms is a big problem here in Haiti.  Worms cause many different intestinal problems.   For many kids, they are fortunate to get one square meal a day.  An intestinal worms infection robs already undernourished kids of much needed nutrients.  Worms inhibit children’s growth.  These infected kids are not able to focus well in school.  Worms make kids more susceptible to other diseases.  Deworming is as simple as providing each child one deworming tablet per year to eradicate an active infection or prevent eggs from turning into an active infection.

The Decision:  We asked the question: Who should get the annual deworming medication?  We had already decided that a small portion of each child sponsorship would cover the costs associated with deworming.  We quickly realized that this program would only be effective if we could administer the meds to ALL the children in each school, not just just sponsored kids. This meant that this school year, 9,000 kids will receive deworming medication that will improve their overall health.

P1020191 The Process:  We decided to bring into the RMI office,  all the school administrators for the 33 schools that have sponsored children, and hold a deworming training session and distribute the meds.  During the training session we went over why deworming is important and went through the process of how to hold a deworming clinic in their schools.   We provided them with a log book to keep records, as well as the pills and cups needed to ensure each person at the school receives medication.  The administrators took these items back to their school and held a deworming clinic.  We plan to do this once every year.

P1020161 For me, this training session was a really big day!  It is something I have been working on for quite a while.  On top of that, I was challenged by one of our Haitian staff to do the training myself.  That meant I presented it all in Creole with out being translated!  I am thankful I was stretched in this way and that Benson was there to back me up when my Creole wasn’t quite right :)

If you sponsor a child through RMI’s Hope for Kidz program, THANK YOU for making this possible!  Your dollars are going a long way to assist the health of not only your sponsored child, but of many others in your child’s school.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Great Group of Guys…What Do You See?

What do you see?  I see a group of change agents, transformers, reconcilers, servant leaders, difference makers and team mates.  I love these guys… (There are of course many others on our RMI team, but I just happened to catch these guys together and it made me smile.)

From left to right… Benson, Perguens, Pierre Rony, Frantz, Naga, Benjamin.

photo (1)-2

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Missionary Retreat

For our family, it’s a highlight of every year:  Missionary Retreat!  February  22nd to 25th marked the third year we’ve been able to get away with our missionary community for a much needed time of relaxation, fun and refreshment in God’s Word. 
Also, for the third year in a row, we headed to Kaliko Beach Club Resort, about an hour north of Port au Prince.  Kaliko has been a great location the last few years: it is large enough to accommodate our growing numbers, has good-size conference rooms for our sessions, is on the beach and has a really fun pool, which the kids LOVE!  This year was a test in patience and flexibility though.  Kaliko has undergone new management in the last year and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.   All we could do was roll with the punches! Our reservation got mixed up somehow and we had to change the retreat at the last minute from Thursday thru Sunday to Friday thru Monday.  When we arrived Friday, they were overbooked and it took all afternoon to early evening for everyone to get into a room.  Even then, a few people were sleeping on air mattresses that didn’t hold air!  The conference room we had booked for the adults had been given to another group by mistake and we didn’t know if we were going to get into the room until a few minutes before our sessions started Friday night.  Needless to say, the day we arrived was a little bit stressful!  I say all that, not to complain, but just to point out, this kind of stuff happens and it happens often in Haiti.  I really think our group did a great job of keeping cool and calm and trusting that God would work it out.  And He did!  Once everyone had a place to sleep and we had a conference room for our sessions, we all had a great weekend.  Here’s a photo of our whole group!


Each day we had a morning and evening session, with free time each afternoon.  For MANY years, a group called Barb and Friends, based out of Pennsylvania, have come and done VBS for the kids.  They do a great job incorporating puppets, action songs, games and really fun crafts into the lessons.  Our kids love it and look forward to it every year!  The last night, the kids do a program for the adults and talk about what they learned and sing some of the songs.  It was especially fun watching Braden this year—he really got into it!


Here's a video...

While the kids had VBS, the adults gathered for our sessions of worship and teaching.  It’s always so refreshing when we get these opportunities to soak in God’s Word in English and in a setting where we can really focus on God, be refreshed in His Word and the fellowship of other believers and regroup.  Our speaker this year was Pastor Russell Howard from our church in FL, McGregor Baptist Church.  Rob and I have sat under his teaching before and were really excited to have him share God’s Word with us that weekend.  We were not disappointed!  We had five teaching sessions scheduled and Pastor Russell walked us through the history of the church at Philippi and Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  We had another session scheduled for missionaries to share their ministries, but we were all enjoying the teaching so much, we asked Pastor Russell if he could teach another session instead!  He spoke from Galatians 5 and 6 on “Walking in the Spirit.”  Someone made the comment that it was like drinking from a water hose!  I would agree!  There was so much good stuff that weekend, I am still reflecting and pondering over what I learned.

We always love the free time as well.  The pool is a fun design and the kids really enjoy their play time with each other.  One of the leaders from Barb and Friends rented a jet ski for an hour.  Rob and Drew had a turn on it for a few minutes and I think it was the highlight of Drew’s weekend!

We finished off the retreat playing “Minute to Win It.”  Rob’s team won :)

We are thankful for this time to get away every year, thankful for Pastor Russell’s willingness to come and thankful for the rest.  My tank is full.