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Celebrations and Farewells

Sunday, June 26, was an eventful day.  It began with a special celebration in the church to close the 2015-2016 work year and bid farewell to Samuel and Bonita.  All of our staff were there, as well as the church family and some special guests.

Grann, Asela, and Frè  Jacques are all handicapped in some way, which makes them unable to attend church.  Samuel and Bonita really wanted them to be there for this special occasion.  Bonita and Thony picked each of them up in the Land Rover and brought them to the service.  Asela arrived as we were singing the opening songs.  The joy was shining from her face, and she danced down the aisle as she was led to her seat (she is blind).

(Grann is seated with the cane.  Asela is sitting on the bench in front of her.)

Cupidon came from Port-au-Prince bringing a few other visitors to join us.  He opened the service for us with prayer.

Thony requested a short leave from his internship so that he could be with us for the celebration.  He shared a brief message out of Joshua 1:9.

We assembled a choir to sing two special songs for the occasion.  The first states:

I am happy to serve the King!  I am so happy, yes, so happy!  I have surpassing peace and joy when I am serving the Greatest King.

Each of our directors gave a short speech reviewing the year, thanking their staff, and saying a few words to Samuel and Bonita, who had specially reserved seats for the service.

(Almaïs, the School Director)

(Jinel, the Hospitality Director)

(Lenique, the Development Administrator–Samuel was the Director.)

And of course, there was some fun too!  Manis invited Samuel and Bonita up for a little dance in front of everybody.

And he surprised everyone into laughter by coming out in this outfit…

…Samuel’s old work clothes!

Thony was full of his own surprises too!  Not only did he come with gifts for Samuel and Bonita, he also presented Lemuel with a plaque honoring our 20 years of investing in lives, including his own.

During the service, we honored a special employee as well.  Regilien has been working steadily for Lemuel since 2004, and has been involved in most of the development work since then.  He works hard without complaining and is always ready at a minute’s notice.  As a token of our appreciation for his years of faithful service as an employee, Lemuel will assist him and his family in building a block home next year.

In the final speech, Manis reminded everyone that the work being done on the Plateau is God’s, and all the glory for it belongs to Him.  He continued with thanks and encouragement for the staff, as well as words of appreciation and farewell for Samuel and Bonita.  To close the service, we called some leaders up to the front to pray for Samuel and Bonita as they move on to a new stage in life and ministry.

The choir then sang a benediction especially prepared for the occasion.  It was a Creole translation of the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Afterwards, all of Lemuel’s employees gathered in the gazebo for some final moments with Samuel and Bonita.  At Samuel’s request, the hospitality staff had prepared griyo, a Haitian dish of fried pork.

Around 1:00 PM, Samuel and Bonita left for Port-au-Prince to spend a few days before flying out to Canada.  But the day was not over yet! Everyone else took a quick break to get ready for the kindergarten graduation in the afternoon.  You can read all about that on the school’s sponsorship blog.

But first, you can enjoy more pictures and highlights from the morning’s celebration below.

Lemuel presented Samuel and Bonita with a plaque honoring their years of service and investing in lives on the Plateau.

Almaïs not only worked with Samuel as a colleague and fellow department director, but he also was a part of Samuel’s class in Bible study techniques.  Both Samuel and Bonita invested personally in Thony as well.

This painting was one of Thony’s gifts to the couple.

Samuel was a boarder at Mme Tes’ house for a couple years, and often assisted her with various things.  Samuel and Bonita also were part of helping her daughter through a very difficult time in her life.

During the service, Samuel announced the first, second, and third place students from his drumming class.  These guys are now able to step up in his place as drummers for the church.

Samuel and Bonita were both active in reaching out to elderly and handicapped in the community, especially (from R to L) Grann, Asela, and Frè Jacques.

(Grann is Ani’s great-grandmother.)

Bendji learned drumming skills from Samuel.  When he moved to Gonaïves for school, he was able to immediately put those skills to use by becoming the drummer for a church in the city.

Samuel and Bonita each said a few words of farewell.  Samuel also sang a song in German.

Robenson shared the Sunday prior to our celebration about the impact that Samuel and Bonita had in his life.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
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