24 Sept 2021
During the opening ceremony with students, staff, and teachers, the school sang their first national anthem of the year inside the Chapel.
Our internet has been down, which has made communication rather difficult these days. There is lots to share, and it would make for a very, very long e-mail all at once. So, over the next two weeks, I hope to update you in bite-sized pieces. 😊
Tuesday, September 21 was the first day of school!
(More about that in the next e-mail!)
“So far, this new school year has been the most difficult to open,” School Director Almaïs told the school staff, students, and parents (above). “We don’t know what the days ahead will bring. But, we look to God. He knows everything. He controls everything.” (paraphrase)
Putting it all into context:
Mèt Almaïs’ words in the first assembly to open the new school year and dedicate it to the Lord encapsulate what we are facing and how we are moving ahead in every area of life and ministry these days. If we continue to press on, it is by faith in our faithful God and in our conviction that He has called us to reach out with His love and Good News on the Plateau in the midst of undesirable circumstances.
We certainly do not find our courage in the events of the world and the context of Haiti right now:
Insecurity and chaos continue to rise. Gangs are taking more and more control in Port-au-Prince (this article from Bloomberg is a pretty decent summary) and are growing stronger in other areas as well (see here). The government powers seem to exist as scarcely more than an idea. We carry a weight of concern any time our staff have to go to the city, whether for essential Lemuel needs (everything is centralized in the capital) or for personal reasons. And there seems no end in sight—no promising resolution in the near future that we can see.
Despite years and years of hard labor towards reforestation and water solutions, it seems that the severity and environmental impact of the drought on a broad scale continue to worsen.
A little boy waters his family's animals at one of the water holes, which is currently almost empty.
The value of the gourde has fallen almost all the way to what it was before political attempts to increase its value a year ago. Prices have shot up drastically, and things are now worse economically for our community than ever before. Even in the cities, some businesses have simply closed their doors, whether temporarily or permanently.
There has been fuel crisis after fuel crisis, which means fuel (either gasoline or diesel or both) becomes unavailable. We stock up whenever possible, but it has added an additional and repetitive strain to daily functioning.
Our stock of fuel drums, now mostly empty.
We must gird up our courage in the Lord in this world today. I most certainly do not share these things with you as a complaint or to discourage or depress you; only to give you a true idea of the realities that we face daily. In that way, you will have a context in which to better understand the updates that we will be sharing. As a result, may your praise be the greater for what God is doing in the midst of all these troubles and may you have a deeper understanding of our need for your prayers and your support in coming alongside us.
A story from the trenches...
On Thursday, September 2, Almaïs and Georges (staff member) headed into Port-au-Prince in the pick-up truck to purchase necessary supplies for the opening of school the next week. They were only planning to be gone a few days. Before they reached the city, the pick-up broke down with a major engine problem. They managed to have it towed by another vehicle the rest of the way. The next day, the government made a last-minute announcement that instead of opening the week of September 6th, the school year would now open on the 21st. Almaïs had to communicate by phone with the rest of his staff to rearrange the entire schedule for the next couple weeks and set up impromptu planning sessions for the teachers, who had already signed their contracts. Meanwhile Georges had to find a way to fix the pick-up. In the process of seeking parts and mechanics, he had to run for cover more than once as gunshots broke out nearby. The "short" trip stretched into over two weeks stuck in the city. Finally, the guys set out for home on Saturday, September 18th, with the addition of Williamso (our director of development, who had also been in the capital) and three teachers from our school. Upon entering the jolting road after Gonaïves, the tie rods on the pick-up were jarred loose. By this time, it was night. The guys had to stop multiple times to rig and re-rig a solution for the vehicle in the dark so it could continue. (A little more context: Poor roads, lack of accessible vehicle parts, and difficulty in finding reliable mechanics means that, despite our best efforts, vehicle problems are one of our endless challenges.) Finally, they gave up in an area about 45 minutes from the Plateau. They had to spend the night sleeping by the side of the road until Bos Gulbert could get to them early the next morning to weld the troublesome tie rods. Praise the Lord, they arrived on Sunday morning safe and sound, though exhausted to the limit. This is just a representative example of how excruciating it can be to function in Haiti right now. And this is simply trying to maintain activities at a basic level. We need your prayers as these kinds of things take their toll on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Pray that we would find our strength, joy, and peace by looking to and trusting the Lord for our help.
The container arrived!
The container that we sent full of supplies to Cape Haïtien arrived at the very end of August, and all of its contents made it safely to the Plateau!By God’s grace and provision, Wenson and Vadley successfully (though far from easily) navigated multiple trips on the fatiguing road, fuel shortages, and the ever-baffling customs processes—which included unloading the entire container into another empty container before we could load the contents onto our trucks.
We praise God that not one thing was lost!
We praise God for protecting our staff! (see below)
A story from the trenches:
During the customs process, Wenson went to the bank to withdraw funds to cover the necessary fees. Normally, we avoid going to the bank in Haiti when at all possible; we will not allow our staff to go to the bank at all in Port-au-Prince on Lemuel business. Ocap is generally quieter and much less dangerous than the capital. However, a day or two after Wenson returned to the Plateau, news broke out that a Catholic priest was shot and killed in Cape Haitian after withdrawing a large sum of money from the bank.
Thank you to all of you who donated supplies that came into Haiti on the container!
Praise and Prayer
Praise God for His faithful provision in the last few months!
Praise God for protecting our staff!
Praise God for the safe arrival of all the container's contents!
Please pray for rain and full water holes.
Please pray for Manis and all our leadership staff, that we would walk in the wisdom, courage, love, peace, and joyful trust of the Spirit. Pray for solid, unshakeable unity among us.
In the next e-mail to follow soon: News from the school!
We know these are days full of uncertainty and challenges for so many of you. Thank you for taking time to keep up with what is going on in our world. Thank you for your continued prayers, love, and support. We take time to pray for Lemuel friends, as well. If there are ways we can be praying for you, please let us know.