Hi, folks. Just wanted to share a brief word with you about how things currently stand on the ground on the Plateau.
Disclaimer: Here's the difficult thing about communicating these days: Things are constantly changing. Dancing around on shifting sands is our normal anyway. In other words, even during good times, things can change rapidly here as we adjust to ever-shifting realities. However, these days, realities are liable to shift by the hour.
The situation in Haiti as a whole is not good. Not. Good. The country remains locked down. Protests are intense, not only in the capital, but all throughout the country. All activities are crippled.
In contrast to the chaos of some areas, around here has been strangely quiet. We have had to bring functioning down to a minimum. Apart from the general air of total unpredictability and a complete inability to plan ahead, we are most affected by the dwindling/unavailability of supplies
In the meantime, we have been doing what we can do with what lies before us! Here's a glimpse:
School has been closed for classes for two weeks. However, the staff has continued working on plans for when students return...
This week, Obed was able to escape Port-au-Prince on a day when there was a lull in protests. Lemuel has been investing in him since he was a child. Currently, he is studying educational science at a university. He spent the week sharing things he is learning with the primary grade teachers. They discussed the state of education in Haiti and ways they can do even better. They have also been developing an approach to help the students make up for the lost school days.
As I mentioned already, it is impossible to plan for tomorrow. Or should I say, you can plan, but you plan saying, "We'll see." At this point, the school is planning to re-open for students on Monday, but that will depend on what happens in the country over the weekend. So, we'll see.
Thanks to recent rains, the development staff was able to keep busy planting trees and clearing out overgrowth and underbrush. They also put up a better fence around a freshly re-forested piece of property to keep marauding livestock out.
According to predictions, the gas crisis is not here today and gone tomorrow. So, looking ahead to provide buffer against future crises, they scraped together some resources--including materials already on the ground--to build a depot specifically to stock fuel when we can get it.
Here are a couple stories from the last few days to give you an idea of recent reality:
Story 1: At the beginning of this week, we heard that the gas station in Anse-Rouge had received some fuel. Wenson took the Exterra and some gas cans to see what we could get. He managed to fill the Exterra tank and get some in the cans as well. By the end of that day, we heard that not only was there no more gas at the station in Anse-Rouge, but gas was already unavailable again country-wide. "Black market gas" was already selling for $200HT/gallon...5 times the usual price. What's more, while Manis was driving the Exterra to visit some reforestation land, it suddenly stopped running. It would appear that the gas was probably mixed with something else. Unfortunately, this is common. Vendors mix the gas with water (or even worse things) to make it stretch farther. Wenson is working to rectify the problem.
Story 2: On Thursday, we decided to take a chance in Gonaïves to buy some materials for DDL, to look for propane for cooking, and to see if we could withdraw some funds (we have been unable to go the bank for weeks). We do our best to gather news of what things are like in the streets, but sometimes you don't know until you check it out. Things were rough and unstable. Petion had to run for it when shooting broke out nearby as he was standing in line outside the first bank. When he got to the second and only other bank, the line was ridiculously long. He stood there until 1PM, but they never opened. Finally, he had to give up. The line for propane gas was so long that they could not even attempt it (due to other pressures). Thankfully, they all made it safely home.
To quote Paul, "we are perplexed, but not driven to despair" (2 Cor 4:8). The state of Haiti is a great burden right now. The total unpredictability and uncertainty create an extra element of stress, not to mention the discouragement of encountering obstacles at every turn and with every effort. Yet, we trust in God and are thankful for His care for us. One thing that has filled us with praise, is RAIN...
As you know already, when the gas crisis hit, we were very concerned about water. Then, as I shared in the last e-mail update, it rained! A lot! Water holes were filled! After that last update, we had another long, hard, rushing-water rain.
It has been a reminder and a testimony--both to us and to others as we repeat to those around us how God is showing His care for us. The other night, as we were sitting around talking, Manis mentioned how perfect the timing was. Not only do we have water (if we didn't, we would be in a very much more serious situation right now), but we have positive and important and refreshing work to occupy our minds and time in the midst of the chaos and utter discouragement that fill Haiti these days. Here on the Plateau, we have all been pruning trees and clearing out overgrowth and underbrush, planting new trees, planting in gardens...Our spirits find some refreshment and encouragement in that work. And it allows us to make some kind of progress towards the future.
So, in the midst of perplexities, we are overflowing with thankfulness.
Please keep us and Haiti in your prayers during these days.