The first quarter of this year is going well. Progress has been made since the hurricane that passed over the island. Lots of cleaning and repair in our area. Many many trees went down in our yard and the school yards which we’ve tried to turn into a blessing. We have been able to give employment to a few young men to cut the fallen trees and turn them into cooking charcoal. Our schools still use charcoal for cooking the daily meals. We normally buy it, but for now we are producing our own. All the schools are functioning well and the farm is in recovery and moving forward in its capacity to produce more than ever before.
One of our satellite church school received a double whammy after the unfinished structure went down in the 2010 earthquake and then again in this latest hurricane. This time we secured the finances to complete the whole structure before something could happen to it again. Local mason workers put up the posts and block walls. There are four classrooms and a church sanctuary that can be divided into two classrooms during the week. A group of men from the US came to build the trusses for the roof. Young people from our main church and from Haitian visiting churches put the tin over the principal’s office and placed the trusses over one of the classrooms. Local workers will continue until it is completely covered.
Mardi Gras is a big celebrating time in Haiti. However, most protestant churches do not join in these celebrations. Instead, many, especially those located in the larger towns and cities choose to send their young people to rural areas for retreat camps. We are pleased and blessed that for many years we have been a location for these camps. With our growing facilities we have been able to accommodate even more groups. This year we hosted in three different locations: at the main church, at Exode grade school and at Exode secondary school. Each group consisted of around 90 people. The groups at the schools benefit from a close proximity to our community’s water source. It was young people from these groups and our own youth who gave a day of service to continue work on the roofing project. The group at the secondary school is from a church pastored by Jean’s oldest nephew for which we are pleased and proud to serve. While he was here we were able to determine that he is the oldest male grandson of Jean’s parents and our Josiah is the youngest grandson of them with countless cousins in-between.
Work has begun on improvements on the secondary school. The walls of the outside of the buildings are being stuccoed with smooth cement so they can be painted, tractors are working on cleaning the land for a full-sized soccer field that is situated just on the other side of the cafeteria, walkways are being improved, plants and flowers are being planted for beautification and the road next to the school will be paved to cut down on all the dust going into the classrooms, offices, and library on a daily basis.
Jean is and will be spending more and more time at the farm making sure the land is being used to its fullest capacity. Planting has begun for corn and peanuts. The papaya and plantain trees have already been replanted and are growing well. We have hired a young man from the community who has completed his agricultural degree from a university and is being very instrumental in working on a large experimental garden to discover what can be best grown in the soil and climate here for future larger plantings.
This past January marked 33 years since Jean and I moved to Fond-des-Blancs. We are humbled by how much the Lord is blessing us at a time we thought maybe we would be looking at retirement. Instead farm growth and school growth and opportunities for growth are far exceeding our former expectations and keeping us busy.
We want to share this excitement with all of you who have been participating and partnering with us through all these years or have just come in recent years. You have been an encouragement to us in the lean and difficult times and the times like now when it is clear to see the Lord still has more for us to do.
Last, but not least, our church and churches also continue to grow. Our church has been able to minister to many young professionals coming here to work at the local hospital or in other capacities in the community. It is always heart-warming to us when we see so many of them choose to worship with us.
Please continue to pray for us and all these activities. The Lord is leading us and we want to make sure we follow Him correctly. Also continue to pray for all our students in our main schools and the satellite schools. After so many years we are able to know about several success stories of former students and we want the current students to stand on the backs of those successes and become citizens of Haiti and the world to help the development of everyone.
Yours in Christ,