As I sit here in the school chapel, with two dogs snoozing on the platform and the generator purring around the corner, I am contemplating Christmas Eves of the past…
- snowy ones as a kid in Pennsylvania
- warm ones as I came to be at home here
- packing and cleaning ones when I realized that Christmas DAY flights are a little cheaper
- content ones as I learned to enjoy whatever place I was in and to be content
- discontent ones as I wanted to be where I was not
- sad ones as I became reminiscent over deaths during the past year and who was missing
- happy ones as I enjoyed the antics of new little relatives or friends’ babies
Today, I am of mixed emotions. Our hurricanes of September still effect us today – hence the generator purring in the background. My gift bag is packed and I am contentedly digesting the church’s Christmas lunch and mentally processing the evening’s possible foods at the Christmas Eve party I will be attending.
I am a little on the melancholy side thinking of
- Students who left in the past year, in the past month, who were not here on Friday for our end of the year luncheon,
- Staff who left and relocated in the past year,
- Huge blessings of YE FAITHFUL who have prayed for us through this year, these YEARS, these hurricane recovery times…
- God’s wisdom, goodness, and infinite love and peace to hold up this ministry through the recent economic tough times and hurricane recovery times…
As I think of YE FAITHFUL – I know there are readers whose relationship to the school precedes mine and I’ve been around 33 years. I think of YE FAITHFUL who have prayed and cared for this ministry since 1957. I think of YE FAITHFUL who were praying for Deaf ministries before that! I think of YE FAITHFUL who have responded to hearing about a hurricane by sending supplies and money for more supplies and calling to volunteer your hands and sweat to work with us.
I think of YE new FAITHFUL who are praying TODAY about serving God and about when and about where. Here’s the challenge: we need YE new FAITHFUL for the next thing God is doing here.
- We need teachers who will come and stay and teach Deaf adults Spanish literacy skills and disciple Deaf young people for our Saviour;
- We need support workers who will maintain the grounds and vehicles and buildings so that the others can do the discipleship work;
- We need YE new FAITHFUL to build a team that is united in the vision of seeing Deaf Youth and Adults grow in Christ.
As I think of the song, O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL… Well, is it YOU who God is calling to come here? And what has kept you from responding? Is now the time to send that e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or make the contact (well, other means are so less reliable these days so stick to e-mail for now? or snail mail HC-01 Box 7111, Luquillo PR 00773).
I am SO thankful for YE FAITHFUL and praising God already for His work to bring in the YE new FAITHFUL who will carry this work into the next 60 years (because our first documents are dated 1957 so that was the first 60 years.) God is preparing this property for YE new FAITHFUL who will be coming. Kind of like John the Baptizer preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry years. The preparations are happening, now, who is coming to carry on the work?
That’s my Christmas Eve 2017 pondering. Pray with us for YE new FAITHFUL ones and their coming.
Excited to see what God does with us, through us and around us in the coming weeks, I am your servant and the school director, Betsy Hoke
The island and infrastructure is beginning to recover. A small percentage has electricity. We do not. But we have a generator and hope for the day when those trucks come here and restore our lights.
What we really could use are small self sufficient teams of 6 or less WORKers.
- We need to pressure wash and paint parts of the buildings.
- We need to remove dead trees from the field and perimeter where we left them after the storm.
- We need to do some indoor painting.
- We need to put up new rain spouts.
- We need to build a new wall and block in a door that blows out too often.
- We need to do general maintenance on the grounds and buildings – repairing leaky places and revisiting the hot water solar heating units.
But we don’t have electricity yet. So keep that in mind.
The dorms are your choice of (a) smelly and noisy from the generator but you’d have lights and fans or (b) dark and quiet with an extension cord to run some appliances.
The school kitchen has limited refrigeration space but you could share. And we have a propane gas stove for cooking (i.e. boiling water to add to dehydrated meals).
Contact Betsy at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a date for your hard workers to come and lend a hand with us.
Christmas is a time for JOY!
Our island is regaining GREEN as trees and plants regrow their leaves. The streets and school grounds still bear the scars of the hurricanes from September. Our electricity is reliable – because we are on a large generator supplied by FEMA with daily deliveries of diesel. We have moved our classes to the school chapel which is powered by the FEMA generator (the classroom is on a small generator for which we buy the gas and oil and take care of maintenance).
With all of that still happening around us, we are trying to embrace CHRISTmas – the celebration of Christ’s incarnation, the promised Saviour born to a virgin at last has come! I say TRYING because, with all that was happening in September and October, as a teacher, I got behind in my planning ahead for Christmas. I failed to order supplies for Christmas crafts and activities. I have been otherwise occupied with LIFE such that I was not thinking into November and December.
But God, in His goodness, provided through YOU who sent and are sending parcels of supplies. Suddenly, when someone asked, I thought, “Please send some Christmas crafts for the students. I have nothing planned. I lost a few months!”
And so the Christmas craft supply boxes have arrived from Wisconsin and Florida and Maine just to name a few. We started last week by putting a few Christmas lights in the school chapel to brighten our days. (We have solar powered Christmas lights outside for our evening enjoyment. And some friends have sent more so that the students can take home some solar powered lights for their homes!)
The students and visitors are enjoying making origami stars, candle holders, wee Christmas trees and various painted decorations. TWO people sent us JOY ornaments (see above). I think God is reminding us that even with the changes we have experienced and continue to live with, His JOY is always available. With Nehemiah, we can say:
the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Most schoolday mornings, I hear HOOT HOOT from the mail man and say RUN!
The kids love charging to the gate and carrying back the parcels that are coming in.
I have to tell you, YOU and your boxes are making these kids lives (and MINE) so much fun. And FUN seems to be a little lacking. We are still in the shadow of the storm… trees are just beginning to grow leaves again. Stores are beginning to have meat again. Some people have electricity —intermittently as it shuts down again for another reason or fault in the line.
But a box arrives and WOW! LOOK! Beef jerky was once a foreign word and now it’s a great delicious surprise inside the larger box. Trail mix!! Who knew that would go over so well? And we mix our own from the tins and jars you send when there is no “trail mix” in the box. A few nuts from New York. Some dried apricots from Kansas. M&Ms from Pennsylvania. Cashews from Maryland. All tossed into the classroom container. Then someone’s mother says, “Hey that looks good…” and a ziplock baggie of it is given to the family!
Batteries! We still collect them – AA for some flashlights, AAA for others, D for the larger lanterns. When our collection overflows the confines we have delineated, we give the overflow to people in our churches, the students’ families, random visitors who mention the need.
I took several packages to church one Sunday with baggies of Starburst candy. Imagine a child being more excited for the batteries than the candy! One little girl held up the 4 pack of AA batteries and said, “Mommy look. My flashlight stopped working last night and now I have new batteries for it!” Praise God for YOUR generosity in sending.
Stores are not stocking up on batteries. They are sold out almost as soon as the boxes are opened. School lunches are most often dehydrated foods or rice and beans supplemented with canned meats or ‘refrigerate after opening’ meats.
Thanks for making the morning mail run so much fun! You brighten the lives of our students as you serve God with your creative parcel making. We are trying to respond to each parcel received – the students are practicing HOW TO WRITE A LETTER and so is their teacher because while is it more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), we as receivers feel SO blessed and want to give you our thanks.
Larimar wrote this in English class today as we were practicing the verbs JUGGLE, JOT, JUMP, JOIN, JOKE and JEER:
In the morning, the man jumps up from the bed. He goes to the bathroom and he sees his face in the mirror and then he washes his face in the bathroom.
Next, he will have a new job and he will try to join the job as a writer. He will jot smartly. And he will have a lot to juggle as a writer.
So one night, the writers told him, “Hey, we were writers so now you are the new writer?”
He said, “Yes, I am the new writer.”
Then the writers tried to joke with him about being the new writer. They said, “Will you come with s to go for beer?”
He said, “No. I am not going to drink beer and I am a Christian and I am the follower of God.”
So the writers laughed and jeered at him. But he knew they are not good writers for the people. He knew he will tell people about God’s love for them and that God is with you.
Three weeks into the school year and we have a MAJOR HOLIDAY on our hands. What was to be long weekend for Labor Day has become a longer break due to Hurricane Irma.
Predictions include 175 mph sustained winds and the word “catastrophe” is being used a lot. At least our students don’t KNOW the word CATASTROPHE yet. (what a teachable moment we are having without them here – booo) They are looking forward to life without electricity so they can see the stars better! That made me smile when a student told me that!
Other predictions include not having electricity restored to the entire island for 4 to 8 months. We normally have 40 days without electricity. Hopefully that will be the norm again this time. Asking the parents, they all agree that school can happen in the cool of the dark classroom and that life without iPads can happen.
We hope to be in class again on Monday morning, September 11, 2017. Betsy, our main teacher, is preparing lessons which rely on BOOKS and PAPER rather than electronic devices.
Thanks for your prayers.
Since some have asked, our link for donations for hurricane relief is HERE. Or at the top right corner of this page where the word DONATE resides. Our policy is to use your gifts first for repairs at the SCHOOL and if there are designated hurricane relief funds above those needs, we will pass those donations on to student families or neighbors of the school or other Deaf families in need of financial aid. Sometimes, we will make the purchases for the families in need so that we can KNOW the money is being used for THAT purpose and not for other things. You understand. Anyway, if you want to help, that’s the easy way. A little harder, you write a check and mail it. Scroll down on that page for the mailing address.
Of course, you can always just send a letter. The mail box is a huge encourager when the electronic mail box is inaccessible.
We hope to update you as soon as electricity is restored. If that’s in a week or a month… then it will happen. Of course, we can always go to an access point that HAS electricity even when our campus out in the country still is without that blessing.
Thanks for your prayers for our safety and for our students’ and friends’ safety as well.
August 14 – first day of school!
We had one student. The other three were at appointments or simply had difficulties arriving in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, we were blessed by the Palmas Community Church as they brought backpacks for our students and their siblings. (picture on left below)
August 15 – second day of school!
Everyone was present! We kicked off the first day of full attendance with our Science emphasis focusing on the eclipse that will be happening on August 21. All week (well except for Day 4 which saw only one student again as the others were flooded away from the school) we have been talking about galaxies, sun, rotation, revolutions, stars, planets… It has been a fun week in the classroom. While speaking of creation and God’s workmanship, we visited the apartment kitchen above the classrooms to see the workmanship of new cupboards that took place during the summer (center photo above).
We have explored the age of the universe by reading the Bible, created models of the sun, earth and moon to walk through what is a solar eclipse and had a guest speaker who has an interest in astronomy. Our chapel is decorated as if we are walking in outer space (see backgrounds in the photos above and below)— heads in the stars and hopefully provoking the imagination of the endlessness of our universe as well as the endlessness of God’s love.
We created our own stars by making constellations of nails and then wrapping string around them in patterns or in arrays. We read articles about the solar system at readworks.org
We have downloaded various apps to our devices so that we can “view” constellations in daylight and watch as the moon moves closer and closer to the sun. Excitement is mounting as we await the eclipse on Monday at 2:11 our time. We have had some RAIN this week so homework assignments of “observe the stars” were incomplete but we are hopeful that Monday will bring sunshine and blue skies for the event we have been hoping to witness.
Friday afternoons are often a little messy here as students go home early and our adult handbell ringers arrive for practice. This Friday, the students asked questions they had been formulating all week – Aliens? Diamond planets? Blue stars? – which we looked up on the Internet and youtube. How wonderful to have access to those resources! We also had art class and drew very inaccurate representations of the solar system.
All in all, the school year was kicked off and celebrated well. We are thankful for the students we have and prayerful about the staff we need to be able to reach more Deaf children for Christ. The task is daunting as we meet Deaf adults and children with very limited understanding of signed and printed languages… there is the need to begin with the basics of WHO? WHAT? WHERE? before we can begin to speak of GOD and SALVATION. Pray with us for the continuing ministry among the Deaf here.
Oh I wish you could have seen the kids on Thursday, May 25. They were magnificent in their presentations of their science projects. I was excited and amazed by them. The two boys pictured above presented Plants and Colors respectively. Great stuff there.
The older two students presented their findings on Bows and Arrows and Bamboo Music. Very good work all around. The families enjoyed watching and learning along with their students. And Edgar, pictured below with his brand new glasses, could not keep his eyes off his awards and his science project. His smile and enthusiasm were priceless.
Pray for the students at home this summer. Pray for the bell choir as we prepare to leave on Thursday June 8 for our trip to Toronto Ontario. Maybe we will see YOU there?
The semester is continuing on as all good semesters do. For science, we are learning about EXPERIMENTS. Many experiments FAIL – or do not produce the expected results. We packaged eggs and dropped them. 3 out of 4 resulted in scrambled eggs. Our winner, Juan (on the right above) succeeded in packaging his egg so that it was useful later.
In our Bible class, we are memorizing verses about WISDOM. Pray with us that our students will learn to depend on God and His wisdom above all other choices available to them. Pray with us that our students’ lives would not like scrambled eggs… but would be protected by God’s wisdom as they apply it to their lives.
April 7 2017 we had our first and only spring performance for the handbell choir. It’s been interesting getting our two younger boys to multi-task as required by musical instruments. Looking at the director. Looking at the music. Remember which hand is which color according to the color code we use to teach note reading. THEN remembering no matter who is in the audience, still watching and focusing on the director and the music. Serious skills required!
These two did well and so thoroughly enjoyed the snack box provided by the group we performed for. The other members of the bell choir were packing the bells and van while these younger guys were hanging out. The largest issue of the day was Edgar’s tie which had some smudges on it. Yep. Not acceptable to him. We’ll try to get those cleaned before they are needed the next time.
How many more coconuts would be able to be in this truck before the tires pop? As we drove, we passed cautiously lest the tailgate let go and the coconuts cascade out. Driving here is always a challenge. Praise God that day, there was no challenge other than passing safely on the highway.
Thanks for your prayers for our ministry!