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 (email@example.com) 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
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.
We have been SO BUSY with school that I am afraid I went the entire month of February without a blog entry! I hope you are remembering to pray even when I am lax in blogging.
In February, Betsy, our principal and teacher, was out several days with an allergic reaction on her arm. Of course she did not know that until antibiotics failed and a dermatologist was seen. With the right medications, her arm cleared up quickly and she was able to be back in the classroom.
The students learned 40 adjectives in 2 weeks and completed a 100 item spelling test on Monday February 27. In celebration, we had lunch from Domino’s pizza and also went to a local pool with some visiting friends to work off excess energy. (Photos above.)
Our daily routine includes lots of singing in chapel. The students enjoy choosing their favorite songs on Fridays (#favoritesongfriday ) and today was no exception. There were no less than 8 songs as several students chose more than one favorite. One of the songs today was a NEW song that surprised us all but when someone chooses, we attempt!
Thanks for your faithfulness in praying along with us and in praising God for His continued blessings.
Someone’s family member died. Someone’s car is not working. Someone has a medical appointment. Someone has an appointment for educational testing. But TWO students have been in school this week. Since these two are a little ahead of the others in their linguistic development, we have been taking the time to work on problem solving skills, musical literacy skills and handbells, Bible and life skills, and of course written language skills. It has been a nice quiet calm week. Of course tomorrow is Friday and God alone knows what Friday will hold for us!
Tomorrow night is social night and we are hopeful to have a full house of friends coming by for games and conversation. The Adult Bell Choir will be rehearsing and hopefully honing our skills.
And then there is the weekend. We have been under a rain cloud for several days now. We also have a team of workers who were hoping for some sunshine. Sorry. Today we sent them to the south side of the island. Tomorrow they may hit the north-west corner. Saturday they may WORK doing some odd jobs that have accumulated. If there is any break in the rain, maybe they will hike into the rainforest and enjoy the wetness there.
For now, we are thankful that God is sovereign and has given us a peaceful start to our semester. Pray for the broken car, the medical appointments, the educational opportunities, the understanding of our students in the face of these situation. Many times, they navigate without an interpreter. Many times, they come back with questions and want some help with figuring things out. Pray for our insights and wisdom into situations we do not understand!
See you next time!
Too often recently, I have heard a complaint that a governmental entity has not called for an interpreter for a Deaf person in need. Too often recently, I have seen video of such interactions. Too often recently, I have received a phone call from an agency asking WHY an interpreter was needed…
And so to have this at my fingertips, here is a PDF of a model letter for a Deaf person to give to an agency or office explaining the law and requesting an interpreter be called. I did not write this. It was given to me by someone who knows more about this than I do. Yet it is so needed. It is in Spanish.
Modelo Carta para Persona Sorda a Entidades
Our week started with students who wanted to “celebrate” Halloween. Well, I am not opposed to candy but I am opposed to many aspects of Halloween’s “religious” traditions. So we got around it by doing “Crazy Hair” and playing some games.
Thanks to our two stylists to their crazy input on the activity!
This year’s handbell choir did their first performance on November 1 with a surprisingly good repertoire. With three fairly young and new ringers, the director of the troupe was nervous but everyone came through with bells on!
We had some workers around this week – installing a new white board, installing a generator interface for power outages, and power washing everything it seemed.
How beautiful are the feet that bring good news! Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 both remind us that Good News comes by way of personal delivery. How eager we were to receive our guest workers and their news of jobs well-done! How eager we are to continue to teach the Good News to our students and plant the seeds of God’s Word in their hearts! Pray with us for their hearts to be fertile fields as we plant that precious seed. Pray for their minds to desire to obey Him always.
While I know each school week is 5 days, some feel so FULL! Last week was a full week! We are doing more “silent” reading this year – trying to get in at least 15 minutes of independent reading daily and it’s fun to watch the students examine the bookshelves and find hidden treasures. Also sweet to watch the more able to read students introduce books and love of reading to the ones who are not able to read on their own yet. Pray that literacy will be a skill they love and each student will exercise a passion for WORDS and sharing God’s Word!
We were excited to see Nathan and Deborah visiting from Canada! This lovely Deaf couple stopped by with their three hearing daughters. We always love seeing them and enjoyed some games and relaxing time together.
This year, we are making cursive writing a priority. Every afternoon before we dive into our learning logs, we do some structured writing. Betsy, our only teacher this year, has developed this framework for teaching cursive – using the data projector to shine guidelines onto the white board and then writing on them. The students love showing off their skills too though they still do better on paper than on the board.
Thanks for praying along with us for the ministry of our school and chapel. We look forward to next week when we will be practicing conversational skills and learning how fractions work.