Saipan – Day 2

Monday, September 4, 2016

It was a typical MDS morning, packing our lunches, having breakfast, devotions, discussions of job assignments and packing the work vehicle before heading to the job site.

We are the first group in Saipan and we are expecting to start building a new home soon, but there were still some permits that need to be completed before we start so we worked on replacing the roof on a house.
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To do that we had to first remove the corrugated metal roof and 2×4 framing that was incorrectly installed.
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The workers are Peter Hochstetler,
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Daniel Swarzentruber,
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Donald Horst,
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Blake Wagner,
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and Micah Miller,
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Our cook is Mary Hochstetler,
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I knew it would be very warm here, but I was surprised at how humid it is. It was 36 C ( 96F ) with 72 % humidity. It didn’t take long for our clothes to be soaked with sweat as we removed the steel roof and wooden frames. We took several breaks to hydrate and cool down and the occasional light rain was a welcome reprieve from the hot humid weather, however it got sticker shortly afterwards. By 1:30 pm we had removed the roof and made preparations to start rebuilding it, so we packed up the truck and headed back to camp.

Tomorrow we plan to start a little earlier, when the temperatures are somewhat cooler and the humidity is lower.

Saipan – Day 1

Sunday, September 3, 2016

Although the temperatures here consistently hot and humid, the air conditioning allowed me to get a few hours of restful sleep.

After breakfast we all went to a local church called ‘ Church 360 ‘, where the pastor gave a sermon on Patience from James 5:7-12. It was a very good sermon on a topic that is relevant to me and we had a good time fellowshipping with the people who attended the service.

After the service, we went to a local cafĂ© and had lunch together before heading back to the MDS site. We had gone in two cars because there wasn’t enough room in 1 vehicle and when we missed our turnoff to go up the hill, we decided to continue down the road to see what we would find.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at ‘ Suicide Hill ‘, which according to Wikipedia:
‘Suicide Cliff is a cliff above Marpi Point Field near the northern tip of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, which achieved historic significance late in World War II. Also known as Laderan Banadero, it is a location where hundreds of Japanese civilians and Japanese soldiers committed suicide by jumping to their deaths in 1944 in order to avoid capture by the United States. The precise number of suicides there is not known.’
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I took a picture of Suicide Cliff from the Veterans Memorial Cemetary;
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We drove up to the top of Suicide Cliff and took some pictures from the view above:
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We then drove to Bonzai Cliff which has a similar history to Suicide Cliff and it is situated below Suicide Cliff along the waters edge. According to Wikipedia:
‘Banzai Cliff is a historic site at the northern tip of Saipan island in the Northern Mariana Islands. It was, along with Suicide Cliff further inland, the site of numerous suicides by Japanese civilians and soldiers, towards the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944. Hundreds jumped to their deaths rather than be captured by the Americans. Some who jumped did not die and were rescued by American ships.’
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When we arrived back at our site, the other people were wondering where we had gone and they had guessed correctly.

The rest of the day was a time of relaxation.

Travel to Saipan

Friday/Saturday, September 2 & 3, 2016

I left home at 2 am on Friday, September 2, to drive to the Buffalo airport for my trip to Saipan. There was no lineup at the border and the customs agent looked at my papers and was very efficient, so I was at the airport by 3 am, waiting for the United Airlines counter to open so I could check a bag for my 6:50 am flight. The counter opened by 4 am so I checked my bag and cleared customs shortly afterwards.

The 4 flights were tiresome but uneventful and I met my fellow workers in the Honolulu airport as we waited for our flight to Guam. I arrived in Saipan at 7:15 am Saturday morning EST, 9:15 pm, Saturday night. After 30 hours of travel I finally reached the MDS site on the north end of the island.

Including the site director, who was already on the Island, there are 8 people who volunteered to be part of the first group to start building and rebuilding houses in Saipan with MDS.

There is also another group of 6 people with an organization called ‘ World Renew ‘ that is staying nearby and will be working in the area as well.

We are staying in the accommodations for an abandoned radio station that had been cleaned up for us to use. When the project is complete, the government plans to use the buildings for a drug rehabilitation center.

Our accommodations are very simple, but more than adequate.
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We are in a nice 3 bedroom house.
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The house is one of the accommodations at the abandoned radio station just below the house. There is a beautiful view of the ocean from our location.
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We were all tired by the time we reached the site, so it didn’t take us long to fall asleep.

Preparation to go to Saipan

Thursday, September 1, 2016

As mentioned in my last blog during for my trip to Idaho, two weeks aga I was asked if I would be willing to go to Saipan to help rebuild houses that were destroyed by a Typhoon in August of 2015 –

The paperwork for my trip is complete and I have only a few preparations left before I leave home at 3 am tomorrow ( Friday ) morning. I am scheduled to leave the Buffalo airport at 6:50 tomorrow morning for a flight to Chicago,
Buffalo to Chicago

where I will catch a flight to Honolulu,
Chicago to Hawaii

followed by a flight to Guam
Hawaii to Guam

and then a flight to Saipan.
Guam to Saipan

I should arrive in Saipan at 9 pm on Saturday, but it will be 7 am at home ( EST ).

I am not sure what the conditions are there for internet, but I will try to start a new blog for this adventure, however, if I don’t have internet access, I may end up publishing the blog when I get back.