News from Development

What do you do when there is essentially no infrastructure? You have to build it. What do you do when there are no opportunities? You have to create a context that offers them.

(Pictures to follow.)


As I’ve shared about the work of Lemuel over the years, I have picked up on something. Generally, it is not difficult to explain the importance of education for underprivileged kids (ie, what our school does) to people in an already developed country. It is something they automatically understand and can get excited about relatively quickly.


However, I think it is difficult for many people in developed contexts to fully grasp the integral and complementary importance of what our development department does. While I'm not an expert, I suspect the reason is that most people living in developed countries today have never had to think about certain things. These things are already there and have been there as long as current generations can remember.* Things like

  • roads to get from here to there without breaking up your car

  • available jobs (of any kind)

  • available water

  • existing buildings

  • medical facilities

  • government initiative and funding to provide things like water, electricity, etc

  • Home Depot down the road (back to first point) when you need supplies

Just for a moment, take all those things (and more) away. Imagine life without them. No roads. No available jobs. No infrastructure to provide water, electricity, trash collection, etc. Only severe water scarcity, gardens that no longer give a harvest, and no conceivable possibility for improvement.


Now imagine you are going to educate kids. You have a heart to invest in and develop PEOPLE.


Assuming you can somehow get the things you need to run a school, after you have educated, trained, and prepared them…where will they go? What will they do? They will have no choice but to leave their community and seek to make a life elsewhere.


Here’s the point I want to make: In a developed country, you would simply educate, train, prepare, and then send your students out to plug into or to build on the already existing infrastructure and opportunities. Generally speaking, you have the luxury of focusing only on education or discipleship, because all the other stuff is already there.


What do you do when there is essentially no infrastructure? You have to build it. What do you do when there are no opportunities? You have to create a context that offers them.


THAT’s what our development department does.


They strengthen the family structure through job creation and economic stimulation. (If fathers and mothers can find jobs, they stay with their families instead of seeking work elsewhere. They can support their families with dignity and independence, and they can even work toward a better future.)


They work to provide basic survival needs, like water.


They tackle systems of infrastructure like roads.


They address devastating, society-affecting environmental factors like deforestation.


They assist families in improving their lives through better construction and home water cisterns.


They offer hope to youth as the young people see growth and opportunity in their own hometown.


And at the same time, they invest in the people on their staff, so that they can learn to do with excellence jobs for which they (had no previous training) were never trained. In fact, just working in a job context is a whole learning process! They invite young men in the community to invest their lives in something bigger than just than motorcycles, girls, and aimless, “cool-guy” wandering.


There is so much more that could be said. We are considering only one angle here. But, as you look at the pictures below, I hope you can gain at least a sense of the constant, energetic, and vital work going on behind the scenes to bring glory to God through the work of development in our community.

*Consequently, I sometimes wonder how different a conversation with, say, an American pioneer from the 1800’s might be. I imagine that it could be exactly the opposite: Their experiences would have prepped them to automatically understand the challenges and importance of development, and perhaps have more difficulty understanding the need for a schoolroom education.


A picture of our Development and Transport staffs on their day to lead our monthly Staff Chapel.
The entrance into our development department. R and M wave from the porch of the Transport Office.

The Transport office is responsible for Lemuel's water trucks and transport vehicles. It is quite a task, since our local roads require a never-ending stream of vehicle maintenance and repair. Our water trucks serve quite a large area with water loads from a well located about 45 minutes away.

Lemuel Trivia: G is Lemuel's first ever female security guard!


DDL's leadership staff meets together regularly to discuss how things are going and to develop plans and strategies.

Of course, tackling water scarcity is one of the major projects our development department is constantly working on. The two water holes above are the huge community water holes that we enlarge and deepen at every opportunity. For those you who remember and participated in the Tractor Project, the impact of the "Tractor" (aka, backhoe loader) in the water holes has been colossal.


The picture below shows almost the entire spread of one of the reservoirs. If you look closely, you can see Maya the yellow lab for scale...

On Easter weekend, rain water run-off rushed down from the mountains and filled this reservoir!


It is difficult to capture in the panorama shot, but that's a lot of water!


It's a constant battle, though. The other water hole did not get any water, because unbeknownst to everyone, one of the canal walls had collapsed and blocked the waterway with dirt.


Every day, people come from all around to water their animals and get water for household use. We also pump water from the reservoirs to water trees and gardens.


We dig smaller water catchment holes where possible. This reservoir is on a large plot of land that our director of development has personally taken on to reforest and develop into a useful property. (By the way, it looks like the sun, but that's the full moon in the top left corner of the picture!)

The changes brought about by COVID in the world and political insecurity in Haiti have driven us to look even more concentratedly at doing what we can with what we have to develop our community for the future. One of the results has been continued and increased focus on land development for food security and reforestation...

SB feeds the chickens on one of the agricultrual plots.

DJ and his crew of young guys dig up and furrow land for planting trees.


It's a pretty big deal for these young men to have a chance to learn how to drive and work with a tractor. These things mean a lot in our context. This small, green tractor was a gift from a generous family in the States, and it has been worth its weight in gold!

Land furrowed and planted awaits the rain.


A traditional-style house is being constructed to receive a family that will eventually oversee the care of one of the agricultural plots.


Men participating in a Temporary Work Program clear out and prepare land for planting trees.


Speaking of Temporary Work Programs...


Men and women who participated in a Temporary Work Program receive a combination of food and money to pay them for their week of work. Temporary Work is another major way that our development department reaches out to support and stabilize vulnerable families whose members do not have regular employment.


Here is a pretty cool drone video of one of the reforestation/agricultural plots. In it you can see so much. You can see how barren the land currently is, but what steps are being taken to transform it. You can see the beginnings of a house that our director of development is building on his land to be a center for investing in and training young men and boys. You can see men in the Temporary Work Program preparing earth for tree planting and women collecting gravel as part of the same program. At the end, the drone turns and looks back over the community towards the Lemuel campus, which you cannot really see because of the haze.

Of course, as you probably know by now, the biggest initiative we have taken lately to serve the community through business is MACOL. The context of Haiti right now is so incredibly difficult on many different levels. But, our staff have truly been putting forth amazing effort and energy to come up with creative ways to surmount each new challenge and develop an alternative strategy at each new roadblock. For example, after two of our drivers were kidnapped on a MACOL supply run to Port-au-Prince, they proactively and resourcefully hunted down new suppliers that are not in the capital city (may seem obvious, but not an easy task at all in our context).

The MACOL/DDL staff (they are one and the same for now) held a meeting with leaders from our and the surrounding communities to propose a partnership program to local merchants who need suppliers.


They also have developed a venture that they call the Mobile Market. They travel to local outdoor markets, and sell bulk food product to market vendors who sell it by the unit.


DDL/MACOL staff demonstrate how to safely connect a two burner stove to a propane tank during Staff Chapel.

Another new initiative they have taken is to stock and sell propane tanks. Rampant, widespread deforestation has taken its toll by decimating the tree population. Not only does cooking with charcoal exacerbate the environmental problem, but it has reached a point now where charcoal is getting more difficult to find and prices are skyrocketing.


MACOL stocks and sells full propane tanks, as well as propane burners and stoves. It also exchanges empty propane tanks for full ones. So far, this has been a very successful line of merchandise. It goes to show that sometimes people are wanting, ready, and able to invest in improving their living conditions, but simply lack access.

Its a bit overwhelming, isn't it? And we are overwhelmed. We are overwhelmed by all that God has done in this community over the last 15 years. None of us can look at how far things have come and how He continues to work here and then think for a moment that it is because of our own intelligence, qualifications, or hard work. We continue to depend on Him for His guidance and His provision, knowing that all the glory is for Him alone.

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