Therefore Having Gone

Therefore Having Gone

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A VAGUE UPDATE

 Many people have contacted Melissa and me after seeing Cap-Haitien Christian School's Facebook and Instagram posts naming our friend and co-worker, Kacie, as "interim director" of the school. 

Natural questions arise: 

"Why the change?"
"What does 'interim' mean here?"
"What will Melissa's role be next school year?"
"Are you guys planning to return to Haiti?"
"What's going on?"

For now, Melissa and I find ourselves in the midst of a period of discernment regarding recent years of ministry as well as the future. Some day I will be able to speak more freely about this season in our lives, but for now we need to be restrained. 

Some things we can currently say with certainty:

- If it is God's will, we will happily return to Haiti in the next few months for an 8th school year at Cap-Haitien Christian School, as COVID-19 allows.

- Our hearts' desire - for the rest of our earthly lives - is to serve the Lord however and wherever He directs. 

- The Lord has been speaking to us during this season and we are learning a lot. Praise God, we can count on challenging times leading to new growth. 

- We are 110% in support of Kacie. She is an amazing young lady. The directorship of CHCS is one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on this planet. (I've had a front row seat and speak as one who is in the know!)

- We could use your prayers now more than ever. And, as always, we appreciate everyone who has supported our work in Haiti so generously in the past and those who continue to do so. (The virus has made finances tight as we need to continue paying rent and utilities in Haiti even as we have extra costs with our extended stay in the States.)

When this season has played out, we will look forward to sharing what we have learned and satisfying your curiosity as we are able.  For the time being, we are in our old house in Columbus, Indiana and more than willing to catch up with friends and family in the coming days and weeks. 

(If you want to contact us, I can give you current phone numbers if you shoot me an email at sgross@teachbeyond.org.) 

Friday, April 3, 2020

CHANGE OF PLANS


Like you, our plans have been altered repeatedly over these past few weeks. I've been pretty quiet on social media (I tend to process things in silence) and so much has changed that now I don't even know where to start. But here's a basic timeline:

Early March - COVID cases reported in the Dominican Republic next door, but nothing in Haiti yet. 

Thursday, March 12 - Haiti shuts its borders with the DR. Knowing our school could be shut down at any moment, we begin making plans: grade school teachers make take-home packets and junior and senior high teachers prepare to jump back to Google classrooms (as we did in September during all the unrest). Students are encouraged to take home all their textbooks on a daily basis. 

Thursday, March 19 - In the evening, the Haitian President announces two confirmed cases in country and declares the airports closed.

Friday, March 20 - Our good friends, Kacie and Mikken, go to the airport in Cap for a Missionary Flights International plane to Fort Pierce, Florida. The plane is allowed to land, but no cargo is allowed off and no passengers are allowed on. This leaves Kacie and Mikken dejected, and the rest of us very nervous!

At this point, Melissa and I and others spent several days:
  • Pursuing information about possible upcoming flights
  •  Preparing to possibly leave our home
  •  Getting things in order at school (arranging an early pay day and finishing photocopying, etc.)
  •  Debating whether we would be safer to leave or to stay
  •  Imagining all sorts of terrible scenarios
  •  Stocking up on non-perishable foods in case we weren't even allowed to leave
Meanwhile, OMS, TeachBeyond, and our School Board (as well as the U.S. government) were all urging us to leave Haiti for the U.S. if and when at all feasible. A few flights were allowed by Eastern Airlines (??) for $1,200, one way to Miami - over four times the normal cost - and these were only out of Port-au-Prince (a dangerous drive even under normal circumstances). 

We kept the faith that Missionary Flights International would continue to work with the Haitian government to get a flight arranged out of Cap Haitien. 

Tuesday, March 24 - We received a phone call around 8:00 pm from MFI offering a flight out at noon the next day. At this point we didn't question whether we should be on that flight.

Wednesday, March 25 - We spent a few hours at the airport, surrounded by longtime friends who were also headed out. (Our friends from Emmaus, the Edlers, brought their three little boys in an attempt to get to Northern Ireland, but they were snagged by bureaucratic red tape and denied departure. Fortunately, they were able to ultimately make the journey within the next couple of days.)




Once we arrived in Fort Pierce, we rented a van and grabbed sandwiches at a Subway before driving toward Orlando, where a board member had graciously and generously offered her rental home.

We figured we'd stay put in Florida for a few weeks. Our usual stop in Indiana - Melissa's mother's house - isn't really an option in these strange days: Trudy works in the emergency room at the local hospital. Her house is not going to be the best place to avoid exposing our family to the virus! 

So here we are currently. In a very nice house with its own pool. Near grocery stores. With dependable internet. Bikes in the garage. Quiet neighborhoods to walk. Continuing classes online. 

Oh, and our good friend and co-worker Janeen is here with us too - which makes things a bit more fun. She's heading up to Erie, Pennsylvania at some point, but like us, she's just playing it day by day for now. 

Praises:
  • Safe Travel
  • Great Place to Stay Temporarily
  • Our Kids have been Troopers
  • Good Health
  • Caleb is Safe and Continuing Classes while at My Brother's House

Prayer Requests:
  • One of our teachers, Austin, and some new neighbors, Mike and Hope, are planning to ride out the virus in Haiti. We're glad that there's someone around to watch over our house and Ginger, but we are concerned for them and pray safety and perseverance for them. 
  • And, of course, our friends and co-workers and students are heavy on our hearts. Please pray God's protection over Haiti. This virus has the potential to absolutely devastate the nation.
  • Logistics, wisdom and provisions as we plan next steps for our family and also for our school.





Friday, February 7, 2020

FIGHTING THE FUNK

Last weekend I worked myself into a true funk after Sarah's (belated) birthday party ended.



It just struck me as the passing of an era. An era I have greatly enjoyed. 

She had been so excited beforehand about her Harry Potter theme for her party. (She has just started reading the books in the last two months and she hasn't yet completed the series of movies.) But when the party actually took place, Harry was all but forgotten. 

There was an entire bowl full of fun Harry Potter glasses and a stack of temporary tattoos in the style of his infamous zig-zag forehead scar. 

None of it was touched. 


(I guess at 13, your friends are too mature (haha!) for party favors.) 

Worse than that - boys were invited to the party. 

BOYS!!


When it was time to call everyone in for lunch, I found Sarah had climbed a tree in the front yard (Yay! So reassuringly like "the good old days"!) … except this time there was a boy with her. A non-brother boy.



I don't mean to imply that Sarah is now boy-crazy. She is not. (Thank you, Jesus!) It's just that these things strike me as ominous shadows of realities-yet-to-come. And the main problem with new things coming is that old things first must pass away. 

I'm noticing that these era changes are most difficult when they involve the oldest child or the youngest. Six months in, Melissa is still not recovered from sending Caleb off to college. She can hardly eat a taco without getting all wistful over how Caleb was able to eat 5 or 6 at a sitting, often before the rest of the family got seconds. (A fact that, at the time, none of us found nearly so endearing.)





So, the party just left me fighting the funk.

My memory often fails me now, but one moment at the end of what must have been an unusually harmonious night ten or eleven years ago (!!) sticks with me: Sarah was still a little one in diapers, just recently arrived at the really fun stage of toddlerhood, and Melissa and I had put her in her crib for the night and had now turned our attention to getting the older three kids to sleep. Samuel, four or five at the time, sat on his bed in his pajamas, fighting back tears. 

"What's wrong, Sammy?" we asked. 

His reply caught us totally off guard: "I'm sad because I don't want Sarah to grow up!"

I'm totally with you, dude. 

But there's no stopping it.

So goodbye, footy pajamas.   Goodbye, Lalaloopsy.   Goodbye, bedtime stories.

A birthday pic from the good old days ...

Hello, boy problems. Hello, driver's license. Hello, growing independence. 

I will do my best to embrace this new era, especially since I already know that this era, also, will too soon be "the good old days". 







Monday, January 27, 2020

GETAWAY

My family and I have only recently started taking advantage of a generous offer that was first made a year and a half ago when we moved off the OMS grounds and relocated up the mountainside. Our new landlord told us from the start that we were welcome to use his family's beach house for occasional getaways if we desired. 

That sounded like a GREAT idea to us, but most free time - and spare energy - during our first six months were spent getting settled and doing projects around the house. Then came the civil unrest and for most of the past year we have often felt "under house arrest" - leaving home only to go to work (when possible) and then returning straight home. No unnecessary trips into town, rarely eating out, no travel after dark. 

Praise God, the unrest began to settle finally in December and the peace has held so far in 2020. Over Christmas break, Melissa pushed for us to finally check out this beach house we had seen from a distance but never visited. After a successful day outing to the site before Christmas, we decided it wouldn't take too much effort or budget to do overnight visits there on a semi-regular basis. With a bit of the money we weren't spending on a trip to the States or even the Dominican Republic over break, we bought a couple of air mattresses, a little gas burner for cooking, and a few kitchen supplies, and we were good to go.

(So far we have enjoyed a three day stint with Caleb the first week in January and an overnighter this past weekend.)

The house is a beautiful structure in an idyllic location. It's on the backside of the mountain we live on. I'm sure if there was a tunnel, we could walk there in twenty minutes or so:


The approach from the water:


Looking up from the water's edge: 


A spacious veranda wraps all four sides of the house:


Looking to the right from the front railing, a great view of the village of Labadi:


Looking straight across the bay, you're likely to see a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked for the day:



But there's no tunnel or even a road to this beach house - you have to drive through Cap Haitien, past Cormier and the cruise ship property, and park at the end of the road ... then hire a water taxi, like this one, for a short trip across the bay: 



Ginger stays home and fends for herself when we have gone so far. Sugar, on the other hand, would survive maybe 90 seconds unsupervised, so we have to bring the little beast with us.





She doesn't mind. Sugar was made for beach life...



Sometimes the water is calm enough for the taxi to pull up right to the house when coming or going. Other times, we have had to use the village pier.


Kayaking and snorkeling provide some good exercise.



Caleb tried to build a campfire one day, but most of our cooking is done on our little outdoor stove top. 





We've also found some excellent rice and beans and pates for sale in the village during lunchtimes. 

There's plenty of nature to enjoy. Sarah loves tracking down hermit crabs.




It's a good spot to sit and think.


Or read a book:


(On a side note, Melissa and I are so grateful to see Sarah enjoying some recreational reading. We were beginning to think it would never happen. Thanks, Mrs. Johnson ... and Harry Potter!) 



Nightfall comes early. By 6:00 pm it is DARK. We bring a little portable generator, but we haven't needed it a whole lot. Solar-powered lanterns and candles suffice for most of our needs. 


Nights are breezy and cool. Yesterday morning it was 71 degrees. In the background you can see Samuel bundled in a blanket on the hammock! Our blood has thinned a bit since moving to Haiti ...


We need to leave by 3:00 pm in order to get home for dinner. Theoretically, we could make it home in under an hour, but that depends on the traffic in town and whether or not there is a cruise ship around. Cruise days slow us down because the ship leaves all sorts of meat, fruits and cheese behind before departing. That food gets sold and resold, starting just outside the gates of the Royal Caribbean beach. This means Melissa MUST SHOP.


Yesterday we scored apples, kiwi, grapes, hamburgers ... and a real rarity: Pork Chops!! We grilled them up for dinner as soon as we got home. A good way to end the weekend.



That's it. No spiritual application here but the need for rest on a regular basis. We are so thankful to Karl and his family for their willingness to make this great space available to us. It's just what we were needing.





Saturday, October 5, 2019

MOTHER HUCHELOUP

My World Literature students are reading Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables, even while, day after day, school has been canceled. At 800 pages (abridged!), it has been a good book for our lengthy involuntary recess.

I have had abundant time over the past 3 weeks to reread it myself. The other day I came across a passage that really resonated with me in relation to Haiti's current condition. 

It's in the latter part of the book as the barricades are going up in a few neighborhoods across Paris. Marius' revolutionary friends have chosen an ideal spot to take their stand right outside a tavern owned by one Mother Hucheloup, who herself has been complaining about the current government after being fined outrageously for shaking a rug into the street and for allowing a flower pot to drop to the sidewalk from an upper window. 

Now the young men, in taking their stand against this repressive government, are stripping her business of tables and chairs to heap upon their makeshift barricade, and she stands by horrified.

When she objects to this destruction of her livelihood, the men respond, "Well, Mother Hucheloup, we are avenging you."

Hugo concludes his commentary on her plight this way:

Mother Hucheloup, in this reparation which they were making her, did not seem to understand her advantage very well. She was satisfied after the manner of that Arab woman who, having received a blow from her husband, went to complain to her father, crying for vengeance and saying: "Father, you owe my husband affront for affront." The father asked: "Upon which cheek did you receive the blow?" "Upon the left cheek." The father struck the right cheek, and said: "Now you are satisfied. Go and tell your husband that he has struck my daughter, but that I have struck his wife." 

The average Haitian these days can relate to Mother Hucheloup. 


UPDATE:

We have been out of school for 3 consecutive weeks now. Some fuel came into town yesterday, but it is unclear whether it will be enough to ease the civil unrest. MAYBE we will be able to go back to school on Monday. In the meantime, the upper grades have been conducting lessons on Google Classrooms, but not all students have internet. Even our internet service at home has been more Off than On these past couple of days. (The towers require fuel to continue to operate!)

The whole country is still on edge and leaders are starting to throw around phrases like "coup d'├ętat" and "civil war". We don't know if the coming week will bring a cooling trend or intensified heat. Forces in opposition to the president are intent on pushing this country to the breaking point. I don't know if they will succeed, but IF THEY DO, there could be widespread chaos. AND it will come without warning. 

And so Melissa and I agonized last weekend over what to do with Hannah, Samuel and Sarah. We are not in danger, but we are all stir crazy and feeling helpless. We had already planned to send Samuel and Hannah back to Indiana mid-October for ACT/PSAT testing and college visits, but Melissa could not bring herself to actually book any tickets: If an evacuation was ordered in the meantime, we would be left holding a bill for useless airline tickets. 

Meanwhile, Melissa was scheduled to leave last Tuesday for a conference on school accreditation held in Panama City, Panama. (She's gone right now until tomorrow afternoon.) It occurred to us that with school on hold indefinitely, with more reliable internet in Indiana, and with all the uncertainty on the ground here, that it might be wise to send the kids early, flying out with Melissa last Tuesday as she made the first leg of her trip through Miami. (Sarah wasn't originally scheduled to go to Indiana in October, but she was more than happy to tag along with her older siblings with this revised plan.) 

I'm sure some folks might criticize us for this move, but the grandmas, at least, are unanimous in proclaiming this "a very wise move". The plan is for Melissa to join them for a week or so later in October in order to participate in college visits (and to see Caleb, whom we are missing terribly). And then, God willing, life is back to "normal" here by late October and they can all return. 


PRAISES:

  • Melissa has had a fantastic and useful few days at the conference - great information and a much needed change of pace.
  • We were able to gather today
    for a noontime cookout at the seminary. With gas and diesel being so tight and the threat of roadblocks being a constant, none of us here on the hillside have ventured very far from home for three weeks now. It was GOOD and brought a sense of normalcy to my week.
  • While Melissa and the kids are
    gone, our landlord (and friend!), Karl, is having our roof repaired. Recent evening rains have brought a welcome break from the heat, but each storm has sent us scrambling for towels and buckets. 
  • Caleb drove from Wabash College yesterday to celebrate Samuel's 16th birthday with him and Hannah and Sarah and other family and friends. Even though Melissa and I couldn't be there, Samuel undoubtedly had a memorable birthday. 
  • People here on the hillside and other teachers seem to be relatively healthy at the moment. I am unaware of any new cases of dengue fever over the past week or so. We pray it has played itself out for now!

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • We are really hoping that we will  be able to have class on Monday. Even if we only get a day or two in, it would be incredibly helpful to touch base with all the students. Of course, our hope is that Monday would be the first day of a return to regular classes. We hear, though, that many of the local Haitian schools are not yet planning to hold classes this week. (Most Haitian schools have not even had a chance to start their new school year! The demonstrations were intentionally planned for the start day of school. Fortunately, we launched in mid-August and so we had several weeks under our belt by the time protests interrupted our calendar.)
  • Fuel came to Cap-Haitien yesterday, resulting in enormous lines in which people waited 4, 6, and even 12 hours for a few gallons. But most stations were empty again today. There are rumors (SO MANY RUMORS RIGHT NOW!) that more fuel is coming soon. Sometimes the fuel comes into Port-au-Prince but then the tankers are hindered by barricades and threats of violence from making the 6 hour trip north to us. 
  • The economy has taken a serious hit with all the unrest. I read the other day that the inflation rate is officially 19%. Undoubtedly, many parents will be struggling to make tuition. And if tuition falls off, the school's ability to pay the staff might be called into question. Please pray for God's provision and guidance in these difficult circumstances. 
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Thanks, as always, for your prayers and support. Remember, if you would like to support our work in Haiti financially, the best place to start is our TeachBeyond Page

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A THURSDAY UPDATE

But first, a word TO our sponsors. ;-) I'd like to remind folks that our family has switched (almost) our sponsoring agency from OMS to TeachBeyond. If you are one of our ministry partners who HAS ALREADY switched your giving to TeachBeyond, thank you so much! If you are one of our ministry partners still INTENDING to switch, we'd be so very grateful if you'd take a few moments to visit OUR TEACHBEYOND PAGE to make it happen before the end of September. (AND if you've never given before but feel moved to help in this time of transition, that would also be a great blessing!)

Now, the update:

I won't pretend this has been a smooth start to a new school year. It has been ROUGH in more ways than one. On the bright side, it has made us more dependent on the Lord than ever before!

This seemed an appropriate verse to put on our kitchen sign this past week.

First, the amount of illness in our household and all around us has been unprecedented. In past years, we've survived chikungunya and zika and they were definitely ugly, but right now dengue fever is making the rounds and hitting MANY very hard. Dengue involves high fevers, body aches, headaches, loss of appetite, and a rash - all lasting for at least a week, followed by another week of very slow recovery, in fits and spurts. Melissa and I have both had it in recent weeks and are mostly recovered. Fortunately, I was returning to life by the time Melissa started her downward slide! Right now Samuel is in his 5th day and is feeling pretty miserable. Please pray for his recovery and that Hannah and Sarah would be spared.

Our new family next door, the Teichmers, suffered through dengue in July and have battled it AGAIN in recent weeks. Please say an extra prayer for them - they have been troopers but Satan has done all in his power to take them out of commission just as they are getting started. Several other teachers have also battled dengue or are currently under its spell.

With so many teachers on the sidelines, it hasn't been ALL bad that we've already missed FIVE days of class due to unrest in the streets and the fuel shortage. Nevertheless, it has been extremely frustrating and sad to be kept apart and yet, again, it keeps us in prayer. We take nothing for granted.

On the bright side, our staff has been proactive this year in setting up some contingency plans for making the most out of missed school days. The younger grades have had pre-made packets to keep the kids progressing while the teachers of older students have been posting assignments and interacting with students on Google Classrooms. This online education stuff has been a steep learning curve for students and teachers alike, and it's far from perfect, especially since some of our students don't have internet connections at home (or even dependable electricity, for that matter), but it keeps the days from feeling like a complete loss on the whole anyway.

The streets were quiet today, so we will restart classes again tomorrow, God willing. (Last minute update: this evening Melissa is hearing rumors of renewed protests tomorrow, so now we are in doubt again! Please pray wisdom for her as she is the one who has to make the final call.) 

The political conditions causing the protests in the streets have not altered, so life won't return to "normal" anytime soon. There are rumors of fuel flowing now in Port-au-Prince, but none has come north yet as far as we know. Also, politicians have announced a coming price hike on diesel and that may reignite tempers when it becomes a reality. Protestors have shut down nearly all traffic movement through most waking hours this past week, burning tires in the streets and throwing rocks and bottles at any motorist brave enough or foolish enough to try to get through.

I feel the need to repeat what we often say to friends and family members back in the States: our safety is not at risk through all of this. When the streets heat up, we pretty much stay home and out of the way. Our hearts ache, though, for friends and co-workers and the MILLIONS of innocents across this island who suffer ever deepening hardship while political figures battle for wealth and power.

Furthermore, as draining as these circumstances are, they do ultimately deepen our resolve to keep at the work God has called us to do here. This nation NEEDS a new generation of Godly leaders with acute problem-solving skills to step up and THOSE are the students we see every day - when school is in session! - at Cap-Haitien Christian School. God bless them - they'll undoubtedly see many difficult days ahead...

A couple of Praises:

1)  On Monday, as street protests began, most of the teachers were still able to gather at the school for a training day. We were blessed to have Helen Vaughan, PhD., with us from TeachBeyond to share about transformational education and cooperative learning. She was a trooper and a true encouragement to Melissa, myself, and the whole staff, coming all the way from North Carolina to spend the weekend with us.


The streets were quiet on Sunday, so we used Helen's visit as an excuse to visit a pool at the Christophe Hotel downtown. I can't tell you how sweet it was to forget about the HEAT for a few hours.


Sarah always has a lot of fun with the Teichmer kids.
Afterwards, we all sat down to Boukanye pizzas, courtesy of Helen and TeachBeyond.



2) Just as we and our little community of teachers on the hillside reached our last two days of fuel and starting to get a bit nervous, OMS Haiti lent us some extra diesel to keep the generator running here. We now have at least an extra 8 to 10 days of fuel to keep the lights and fans on and the water flowing and the refrigerators running. We anticipate being able to buy more diesel at a station before this new reserve runs dry.

3) Caleb seems to be doing well with his transition to college life and that is a great comfort to us. Please pray that he would continue to find and build solid friendships with classmates and especially some like-hearted believers to stand by his side.

We thank God for you and for all who lift us and Haiti in prayer on a regular basis and who make it financially possible for us to be here. We are eternally grateful!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

THE HARDEST DAY

This has been a difficult week -

A week ago, I was bringing Caleb and Sarah back to Indiana from a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia for Kacie and Mikken's wedding. Melissa, freshly returned to Haiti a few days earlier due to Director responsibilities, was facing one setback after another, both at the house and at school. Sarah and I had six hours in Indiana to repack and say goodbyes before Grandma Trudy took us to the airport at 4:00 am Monday morning. Samuel and Hannah, old enough now to fly on their own, stayed behind to finish up summer jobs and take another stab at the SAT. As for Caleb … well, I continue in denial even as I compose this next sentence: Caleb stayed behind to start his college career.

So by Monday afternoon, half the family was in Haiti, thoroughly exhausted both physically and emotionally. These transitions under even the best circumstances are not ever EASY.

We came back to dear friends and coworkers … and spoiled food, rats and electrical issues at home and a second floor construction project at school which was not as far along as we had hoped for. Most of our attention and energy this week has gone toward readying the junior high and high school classrooms even as ten construction workers are finishing plastering, painting, tiling and hanging doors. They have done beautiful work, but every shelf, desk, chair, and book now needed to be wiped down and returned to its proper place. And this involved a lot of stepping over and around each other.

EVERYTHING had been jumbled in the science lab:



A portion of the books returned to my room, ready for wipe down and sorting: (Time consuming work, but just LOOK at that beautiful new floor!)


And all my effort and that of many other teachers and cleaning staff was done in heat that produces a sweat at 8:00 am from just walking up the steps.

The outside of the building was finally getting plastered and painted, too. I'll share some before and after pics soon.



We thank the Lord for good friends who helped us around our house and fed us when we didn't have the energy to cook our own meals. 

Anyway, it was a tough week overall and I was bracing myself for yesterday to be the hardest. 

Yesterday was Caleb's first day at Wabash College … and Melissa and I weren't there to drop him off and kiss him goodbye and tell him it's normal to be a bit anxious and to reassure him that he'll make some great friends and make a final trip to Wal-Mart and … all of that parental stuff.

We're so thankful that my brother Spencer and his wife were there in our stead along with Grandma Trudy and Samuel and Hannah. Caleb was well-supported, no doubt about that. But Melissa and I wanted it to be US supporting him. 

So, yeah, this is a little self-pity post. 

Over the past six years we've missed numerous births, graduations, and weddings and felt the pain each time. I know some people thought it was a bit extravagant for Caleb, Sarah, and I to go to Philly last weekend, but we have made a point of getting to these events if at all possible - and it tore Melissa up not to be with us. With our school calendar this year starting earlier than ever (in an attempt to get closer to the standard 180 days and to finish first semester by Christmas), she wasn't able to stay in the States long enough to enjoy the wedding, and neither of us could stay to catch Caleb's first day. 

By Friday night, I was in full self-pity mode, anticipating spending the next day moping about Caleb.  But in the end, there wasn't much space to mope and last night when my head hit the pillow, I was thankful for the busyness and all the unexpected laughs of the day. 

My Saturday started at 3:17 am when the generator started sputtering and I realized I had neglected to add enough fuel the night before. When I returned to the house, I surprised a rat and Ginger and I spent the next ten minutes trying to track him and kill him as he scurried around the kitchen. (Ginger and I were both too slow.) After that, I was too wired to fall back to sleep, but I laid in bed for a while, intermittently praying for Caleb and trying to will myself back to sleep.

Eventually I got out of bed, brewed myself some coffee, caught up on Twitter, and made some banana muffins which, in time, attracted Kristen and Janeen from their respective apartments next door. (I am getting the impression that while this August has brought a rougher than desired start at school, our little mountainside community is starting to develop in very positive ways and I am hopeful.)

By mid-morning, Melissa was off to school to check on construction progress. (Workers were replacing numerous wooden doors with metal ones. The wood had been repeatedly swelling and warping in this humidity.) I stayed home to do a few last minute chores in the two lower apartments because they were due to be filled later in the day. The first apartment was readied for our good and extremely helpful friend, Kelly, for this next week. The second for a new Cap-Haitien Christian School staff member, Austin, who will be staying much longer … God willing! 

By 1:00, Melissa, Sarah and I were huddled around a laptop in the kitchen where the internet signal is strongest, in order to watch the opening ceremony for the new freshman class on livestream from Wabash College. For nearly 200 years, the school has used the hand bell of the first professor to "ring in" each class. Of course, the president has some remarks to make and one of the deans described the make up of this new class - telling how many were valedictorians, how many are legacies, etc. Haiti even got a shoutout since it was mentioned that one of the new students  … WE know WHO … served as a missionary there! (The details got mangled a bit, but still... pretty cool.) 



The whole time, the three of us scanned the faces in the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of Caleb. Sarah let out a whoop when the camera finally pointed his direction about halfway through. How did he look so young and so mature at the same time?

Soon the ceremony ended and for a moment we watched the crowds exit the Wabash chapel. And then the feed went abruptly blank. No lingering goodbyes for us! I decided to go take a nap, and I slept HARD. 

When I woke up, Austin and Kelly had arrived from the airport and there were introductions all around, and dinner, and dessert, and tons of laughter and unhurried conversations around the table. Zenobia (returning 5th grade teacher), Kristen (returning math teacher), Janeen (office and finances), and Kelly and Austin and Melissa and Sarah and I really seemed to enjoy some genuine fellowship. 

(Now the only ones missing are the Teichmers. They are currently recovering from Dengue Fever in Florida, with plans to return on Tuesday.) 

Our day ended with a quick video call from Caleb as he walked across campus. All was well and he was heading to bed. 

After the call ended, Melissa went to the hall closet to put away some sandwich baggies Kelly had brought. Next thing I knew Melissa was screaming and Ginger and I were tracking TWO separate rats. No rats were injured in the incident, unfortunately, but I did slide on the tile floor in the girls' room during the chase and fell on my behind. Ginger was the only witness. 

It was a much better day than I had expected.

**************************************************

Please pray for Caleb … and us. It's going to be weird not having him here this year.

Please pray for the Teichmers' full recovery and safe return.

Please pray for our students and teachers as we start a new school year on Tuesday. 





A few pics of our young MAN:

Looking sharp at the wedding last weekend...


With Sarah at Independence Hall in Philly...


Running through a fountain in Philly...

Back in June, Melissa and I with Caleb on the edge of Wabash College.