Trying to find internet signal these days has been like playing Marco Polo with someone who has teleportation powers. I win for now! But who knows for how long. So, let me try to catch you up in one fell swoop while I can on the events at the end of June.
There is LOTS of good stuff here, so keep scrolling! I don't know when I'll get the chance to post again.
Our "work year" runs roughly from Aug/Sept to June, after which comes a brief "vacation" (aka, limited activity) for the month of July, when everyone tries to catch their breath and regroup for the next year.
The school was the first to wrap the 2018-2019 year with their end of the year program on Sunday, June 23:
Presenting: this year's graduating class of Kindergartners!
The laureate of the graduating kindergarten class giving a speech in French.
One of the graduates leading a prayer.
The school choir--organized by Mèt Simon--performing a song..
A dance being performed by the little ladies from Kin 3.
Mèt Almaïs' little one reciting a verse!
Thony created a multi-grade skit based on the story of the Prodigal Son. You can see a short, rough-cut version below, Cheetohs and all!
Mèt Almaïs gave a farewell speech as the director of the school. He and his family will be moving to an area south of Port-au-Prince, so he will not be with us on the Plateau next year (more about that below).
School admin and teachers watch the program from the sidelines as kids prepare for their performances in the back room.
Kindergarten aid, Nadege, and her son enjoying the program.
Mèt Billy is a favorite with the kids!
The following Friday (June 28), DDL held their employee party:
Some of the kids and young guys that Williamso invests in were there to help serve and to present a spoken word text that they have been preparing (see photo below).
After a few games and words about the year...
...they closed with a fun bonfire. On the Plateau, the roasting menu often includes corn, sweet potatoes, fish, hot dogs, and a simple dough to make a kind o flat bread.
Finally, we held our closing thanksgiving service on Sunday morning (June 30).
There were 4 essential parts of the program:
First, we reviewed what we have been learning on Sunday mornings this year with our local group of believers. This included a panel of young leaders who shared their thoughts on HOW our faith is the answer to the seemingly hopeless situation confronting Haiti's youth at this time.
The conclusion? We trust in WHO God is, not in a certain, preferred result for our lives. Our faith in His character and His promises to us in Jesus are what give us hope and keep us going, even when our life circumstances are not what we would choose.
The second major section of the service was a presentation by Josiane and her girls/ladies. They shared all that they had learned during the year including recipes, crochet, and embroidery.
Josiane gave a speech expressing her heart for these women and girls to know God, to know their value, and to be able to develop skills and do meaningful work. The growth in this young woman over the years has been a true privilege to see.
The joy in their faces and the evident pride in what they were a part of was truly touching. Josiane said to me later, "They were so happy! Who ever would have thought that things like this would be happening on the Plateau?!"
Thirdly, Williamso and his group of boys/young men shared about their program.
They presented the above-mentioned spoken word text, describing their dream for a better Haiti. Their essential message was, "If we want our country to change for the better, than we must make changes in our own lives." The chorus translated would say:
We must make a difference,/Not live based on appearance./We all need to take steps/To make hope spread./We must be welded together/To stand against an evil wind,/With one vision/So that we can construct our nation.
Afterwards, another group presented "How to create a tree nursery."
Roody and Vladimi (who are really quite happy despite their expressions) received special recognition for having started tree nurseries at their own homes!
Little John Billy showed a special aptitude for making cement flower pots, despite his young age!
And Frantzly was recognized as having shown exceptional participation and motivation in everything. (I just can't get the boys to smile.)
Out of context, it may not be apparent to you, but each one of these boys' accomplishments deserves a shout of joy. These are not boys that people in general would pay much attention to or expect to amount to much. They are overcoming very difficult circumstances. Before Williamso started investing in them, many of them wandered about with almost nothing constructive to do and no one to pay much heed to them. Yet here they are, demonstrating hidden abilities and heart when someone gives them the chance.
Djeffson and Luccene have also grown SO much this year (I just wish we had time to tell it all!). They are Williamso's right hand men, helping to teach and invest in the boys. I love this picture, because it demonstrates their friendship and great personalities.
Finally, to close the service, we said a fond farewell to Almaïs and Thony. Both of these young men have grown up within Lemuel since its early days in Port-au-Prince. Thony feels called back to his hometown at Haiti's far, southwestern tip to eventually start a Bible school. Almaïs and his family must move to an area near Port-au-Prince for personal reasons. Although their approaches will be different, both of them have a passion to carry all that they have learned from their years in Lemuel with them to their different parts of Haiti to serve and invest in others. Each received a certificate of recognition for their years of working in Lemuel. We love these guys, and we are looking forward to what the future holds for them. It is an absolute joy to see fruits of years of investing in people! Please keep them in your prayers as they go...it won't be easy!
Manis shared some encouraging words and counsel with them, and we closed in prayer, thanking God for all His goodness, provision, and protection throughout the year.
We are very serious about what we do...but we also know how to have a good time!!