Haiti Update: When We Are Weak, He Is Strong
This past June, the political unrest and ongoing pandemic in Haiti prevented us from being able travel there to celebrate feast day with our sister church, St. Jean-Baptiste, for the second year in a row. At that time, no one could have imagined that within the next two months the president would be assassinated and a 7.2 earthquake would strike!
Since the earthquake on Aug. 14, many of you have called asking about the status of our sister church and schools and what can be done to help. Thankfully, there was no obvious physical damage on the island of La Gonâve, where our sister church is located. They did feel the shaking and the tremors, and we hope and pray that there is no hidden damage done to things like cisterns and underground foundations. They are still in the process of assessing it all.
Even though there was no physical damage, the political situation and turmoil associated with the earthquake will lead to more challenges for obtaining supplies and food. The cost of everything will likely increase again. Our sister church is counting on our prayers and our support. We hope to be able to respond and help them meet the coming challenges.
We are encouraged, however, because of all the good news from this past year, which was filled with many challenges as well. We are happy to be able to share good news with you. In spite of all the political and physical challenges, many good things are still happening in Haiti. The problem is that the good things that happen seldom make the news.
On June 24, St. Jean-Baptiste enjoyed their annual feast day celebration even though we were able to be there. They sent us a letter saying they missed us and were praying for us.
On July 23-24, Miles Barkley, Sam Robinson, my husband Gerry and I represented St. Philip’s and our sister church in Clarksville, TN, for the annual La Gonâve Haiti Partnership meeting. We were not sure what the mood would be like since it had just been a few weeks since the president of Haiti had been assassinated and many had to join online due to COVID. But the meeting was joy filled. When we started looking over the past year, we realized that, in spite of the pandemic, tragic political unrest and violence, food insecurities, severe drought, and travel restrictions, it had still been a year of miraculous progress!
Over 1800 children were enrolled in the 10 schools, more than ever before. All eligible students were still able to take the national exam (in spite of COVID closures). And, for the first time ever, 100% of the St. Jean-Baptiste students who took the exam passed! School starts back on September 6, and our teachers are in teacher training right now.
Healthcare services continued with more than 10,000 patient visits, and mobile maternal outreach clinics were conducted in some of the most remote communities. The microfinance program was expanded to include more families and a new community. More adults are learning how to read and write through the adult literacy program. They are now more equipped to apply for a microfinance loan to start their own small business.
Roofing was completed on a worship pavilion; a new kitchen was built; and renovations were made to several schools with others receiving newly constructed desks and chairs. In addition, construction is underway at the new Ste. Marthe and Ste. Marie Middle School in Palma. The largest of three classroom buildings has been completed, with construction of the cistern, latrines, and kitchen ongoing. The target date for opening is September 2022!
A new computer lab for the high school at St. Francis of Assisi is now in place. It is a joint project with a non-profit that has developed a self-contained lab inside a shipping container. It is air conditioned (solar panels) and secure from dust and theft. Also, when the container was shipped over a month ago, we were able to add emergency supplies for the hospital to open an emergency room. It is possible that some of this new emergency equipment could be used to treat earthquake victims if any are brought to the island for treatment. God knew there was an earthquake coming!
Just like Jesus feeding the 5000+ with just five loaves and two fish, truly we have witnessed what God can do with a little when multiplied through the faithful prayers, perseverance and the resilience of our dear sisters and brothers on La Gonâve. We are looking forward to this next year with great anticipation and hope in spite of the many challenges that exist in Haiti. It will be exciting to see what God can do. After all, when we are weak, He is strong.
We are hoping to be able to travel for feast day in June of 2022, but whether we are able to go physically or not, we are happy to be able to share life together with them through our prayers. We are worshiping on Sunday mornings at the same time and using the same prayer book. They are praying for us and lifting us up, just as we do them each Sunday. If you would like to do more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us:
Gerry and Suzanne McCord: (843) 224-1342, (843) 224-1630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR PRAYER FOR HAITI
God of compassion, please watch over the people of Haiti as they recover from the recent earthquake disaster. Transform the political unrest and corruption with your wonders of goodness and grace. Surround those who are affected by these ongoing issues of poverty and lack of basic needs with a sense of your present love and hold them in faith. Though they face daily challenges, may they find joy in you and be comforted. Guide us as a church as we pray for the use of our gifts and resources to bring hope and encouragement to all Haitians and bring glory to the Lord our God! In His precious and Holy Name. Amen.