(Remember, MOM, yours is in the mail so wait and it will be in your mailbox soon! Don’t use your ink and paper. That’s why we mail the paper ones!)
We missed our usual end of the school year edition (May) of the With These Hands – so many things were happening then! But we wanted to let you know how things are going here and what great things GOD is doing so here is a Back to School edition!
As you read, please pray with us for the needs of the school, the workers, the students, and the island as recovery from the 2017 storms continues. Most things are back to normal but people are still on the edgy nervous side… even our dogs let us know that RAIN is disturbing some times.
Celebrating the 1st Anniversary of our 2017 Hurricanes Irma & Maria
So much has happened in the past 12 months. As you can see from the pairs of photos here, Puerto Rico is beginning to flourish once again. Foliage is re-growing and we are planting new trees where needed.
We praise God that through all of the storms last fall, we only missed 8 school days. The parents were dedicated to having their students in school and we were dedicated to assisting the families however possible. Sometimes that meant driving children home – and praying that the gasoline supply was consistent; sometimes that meant keeping students overnight in the dorm – and praying that the generator would work through the night to provide some light and fans.
God proved His faithfulness through so many of YOU who sent parcels that provided much needed supplies: candles, batteries, food, drink powders, sheets, games, toiletries… your creativity in sending parcels was a reminder to us of God’s creativity in His Creation.
NOW, we have started a new school year, the 59th school year of this ministry. None of the present workers or students were here in 1959 but we are here as evidence of God’s provision and care of His ministry through all of these years.
The First 60 Years
Our school began in 1959 as Evangelical Deaf Mission with 7 students and 3 missionary families. Through the years, we have seen our numbers rise and fall but we have never seen God withdraw His faithfulness. As we approach our 60th anniversary of serving God in this place, we look back…
In 1970, the ministry changed its name to Evangelical School for the Deaf and our largest student population occurred during the 1980s when we had 24 students and 12 full-time missionaries.
We don’t have actual records of each Deaf student who has come through the school. Some have come for a few years; others have begun their pre-school education and stayed to graduate from high school. Our best estimate is approximately 350 students having been taught at the school since 1959 and approximately 500 Deaf adult individuals who have attended summer camps and retreats and outreach events. All of these numbers are conservatively estimated.
God knows the names of each person who has passed through the school including full-time long-term workers, short term workers and interning university students. Since 2002, the list expanded to include “Jr. Missionaries” and other younger short term (less than one year) workers. Just in the past 10 years, we can count 4 to 6 mission work-teams per school year and a plethora of individuals serving with us as short-term workers for non-specific time periods. Each person has been with us in a time and place where their hands were very necessary. Some have been back for repeat working visits. Others left to attend university – many of those have studied ASL Interpreting or Education of the Deaf and most maintain contact with the students they knew while here.
God has provided above all that we could have asked or thought through all these years.
In 2012 the mission changed its name again to reflect a desire to broaden the ministry’s renewed vision. The Christian School and Chapel for the Deaf, Inc. seeks to follow God not only in educating Deaf children but in reaching the adult Deaf community for Christ. Pray with us for workers to realize an adult Deaf ministry on our northeast corner of Puerto Rico with CSCD as the home base.
And We Look Ahead
As our board of directors for the ministry has met during the past year, we have been challenged to pray more specifically for the future of our school and our ministry options.
THE NEEDS are so apparent. The SAME needs that the first workers discussed in 1957 and 1958 before opening the Evangelical Deaf Mission:
- the need for Bible teaching among the Deaf population (there are presently less than 10 Bible-teaching churches for the Deaf on the island),
- the lack of literacy skills among the Deaf population (how can God’s Word speak if God’s Word is not accessible?),
- the lack of skilled interpreters (how can God’s Word speak if the interpreter doesn’t know sign language?),
- the lack of a common sign language throughout the island (how can we better present the Gospel in parts of the island where minimal language skills exist?).
We are seeking God’s will for our property, His desire for our future efforts, and for this present school year.
We began classes on August 9 with 1 full-time teacher/missionary, 1 part-time maintenance volunteer, a work team comprised of teachers and skilled laborers and their support team from Hanover PA and 3 full-time students (ages 6, 15 and 18) and one part-time preschooler aged 18 months. We have a new elementary student who needs a fulltime teacher. We would love to have the 18-month-old full- time to provide her language development but with only 1 full-time teacher we are unable to do that. We have two high schoolers who need fulltime teaching. We don’t have a kitchen worker/cook or an office worker.
We have willing hands and willing hearts to do the work in the evenings, on weekends and before classes so that the lunch needs are met. God supplies the energy, the ideas, the flexibility and we respond with joy at His answer.
“He is jealous for me – Love’s like a hurricane, and I am a tree – Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy – When all of a sudden, – I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory – And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.” – How He Loves by John Mark McMillan
Most Fridays, during our chapel song time, we have “Favorite Song Friday.” Anyone present can choose a song from our DVD collection or online since we have some more reliable internet. It is 2017! We have technology!!
One Friday in August, one student handed his DVD choice to our director, Betsy Hoke. She asked, “Which song?” He replied, “NOW BOY LOVE”
He had chosen “How He Loves.” (see lyrics above)
This little fellow has had some hard life experiences and with all of those, he craves LOVE. We are teaching him that expressing LOVE includes putting an arm around someone he cares for, saying “Good morning”, putting down a handheld video game to talk to them. (It is 2017. He has technology.) Pray for him and his family, would you? Right now. Just do it. Thanks.
How He loves. That song includes the word ECLIPSE:
“When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.”
We began classes on Tuesday 15 Aug 2017 with the VBS program “Galactic Starveyors.” Our chapel was decorated as a planetarium, as if we were walking in the stars. This tied in to our TOPIC of the month in the classroom which was ECLIPSE and SOLAR SYSTEM.
Thursday 17 Aug we had only one student as rains and flooding prevented the commuting students from leaving their homes. But we continued the following day and culminated the VBS series the following week.
Our first field trip was 21 August as we took our sun-viewing approved eyewear to a nearby park by a beach. In our cloudy rainforest area, we could not see the sun but by the beach, Wow! We joined hundreds of others and an astronomy club in viewing an 80% eclipse of the sun. Two of the students’ families joined us at the park as we watched the eclipse happen. So cool! When we sang “How He Loves” on Aug 25, it had new meaning for us all.
Our solar system study ended on Sept 1 when the students made “meteorites/meatballs” for their families. That evening we had our regularly scheduled Deaf Fellowship and invited the students’ families for dinner beforehand. We also invited a local astronomy hobbyist to come with his telescope and show us astronomical things.
Sept 5, we were scheduled to begin a study of Deaf Culture and History. Instead, we stayed home and watched Hurricane Irma rip leaves from trees and roots from the soil. That little boy I mentioned before? The one you just prayed for? He was traumatized by Hurricane Irma. We visited his home on Sept 7 and had him for “school” on Sept 8. He learned to use a hand-powered small saw, a rake, a wheelbarrow, and helped to drill some holes. Sept 11, he returned for a half day and then for a staff outing, we went to the airport to pick up a hurricane relief worker, Dave Markle.
The school was without electricity for 12 days. We held classes and ran the generator. We didn’t have any cable signal to our modem, but we had cell phone service. We posted pictures on Facebook. We had communications. We received hurricane relief parcels. Who needs Internet to live? We can text and call. And get a wifi signal at Wendy’s to track Hurricane Maria.
Sept 12-15 were fairly normal school days. We talked about hurricane formation, our own experiences. The student homes had electricity restored. They brought frozen water to the school to share with the staff and guests. Sept 18 we discussed hurricane safety and what to expect with Hurricane Maria. It was a category 2. It seemed no worse than Irma had been.
On Wednesday, Sept 20, we stepped into a world best described with the words “catastrophic devastation.” But seeing Irma’s work prepared us a little bit for Maria’s.
Psalm 18:11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.
On Sept 18, we read Psalm 18:1-3, 7-19 in our chapel/prayer time. THAT passage described Hurricane Irma and our experience. After Hurricane Maria, one student said, “My house shook. I laid on my bed. I remembered, ‘God put me in a safe place because He delights in me’ then I pet my dog and slept more.”
Praise God for His Word and the seeds that sprouted in Hurricane Maria in this young life. While others were stressed out and seeking solace, she found it in God.
Our small damages include:
The wooden wall to our storage/toy room blew off, the northeast chapel door was ripped open and the stage area of the chapel was flooded, the carport roof north side collapsed and broke only one windshield.
We were able to do temporary fixes on everything and with donations received will do more permanent fixes when supplies, workers, and circumstances permit.
We began classes again on Sept 16 and have had one or more students daily. We are working the 1980s way—pencil, paper, whiteboard, books. We miss the technology we were using in our lessons but are finding that there are equally important lessons to be learned from not having the luxuries of electricity and Internet.
One of the boys said, “After Hurricane Irma, it was fun to not have Internet. Now I’m bored so I ride my bicycle more and I’m teaching my friends sign language.” How cool is that?!
God in His omniscience sent Dave Markle, facilities manager at Calvary Bible Church in Hanover, PA to assist with cleanup and repairs after Hurricane Irma. Dave arrived Sept 11 and intended to stay until Sept 20. Dave brought a suitcase of supplies including batteries, candles, Twizzlers, Poptarts, and dehydrated ready-to-make meals—all of which have proven useful to our lives.
After clearing trees and preparing a return worklist, Dave helped to prepare for Hurricane Maria. He changed his flight to Saturday, 23 Sept and hunkered down to observe the mighty power of God as Maria pummeled our island. Dave finally left on Thursday, 28 Sept having guided us through hurricane cleanup and performing other repairs. He has a “future worklist” in hand and hopes to send teams to do welding, cement block work, and electrical repairs. If you would be interested in coming, please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pray for CSCD
- We are in need of long-term workers to teach and disciple children and adults for Christ
- We are in need of extra grace during this part of our journey as so many are stressed and panicked by the storm’s devastation.
- Our students are in need of consistency in their educations—pray for their drivers’ faithfulness and resilience on the obstacle courses we call roadways these days.
- Pray for the relief workers and their safety as they work to clear roads, recreate the electrical, telephone, and Internet services, rebuild homes and restock stores.
- Pray that God will be glorified and that Christians will represent their Saviour through this time of turmoil as well as after things settle down again.
We have no idea how long we will be running on generator power and depending on battery and candlelight. Our stores are carrying canned foods, and those are bought up quickly as people are feeding families. If you would like to send a meal in a box, we would love to prepare it for school lunch. We don’t have access to fresh produce in great quantity so be creative with what you send. Or, send healthy snacks, granola bars, trail mix, crackers, nonperishable foods items—canned spaghetti or pasta and a jar of sauce.
Today a parcel arrived and much of it was given to visitors who mentioned running short of food. What a blessing to receive a blessing and then pass it along to the next person. God’s timing again proves His attention to detail.
“God is our Refuge” Psalm 46:1
On Sept 4, God put missionaries, Jerry and Liz Harmon, on the school director’s heart. Jerry and Liz’s house had a metal-panelled roof. We were concerned it would blow away. On Sept 19/20, it did just that. The Harmons serve with BIMI and continue to reside in our former office suite. God’s timing and planning are so remarkable in this orchestration of events. Someday we will prepare a blog entry to tell about it. Suffice to say, God provided above all we had humanly asked and thought.
The Harmons are in the process of home-hunting—checking out potential rentals and houses for sale. Contact them by mail at the school address Attn: Jerry Harmon for information of how you can help them in this time of need.
Previous editions of the With These Hands
are available through these links:
Fall 2018 – Download PDF – Fall 2018
Fall 2017 – Download PDF – Fall 2017
Spring 2017 – Download PDF – Spring 2017
Winter 2016 – Download PDF – Winter 2016
Spring 2016 – Download PDF – Spring 2016
Winter 2015 – Download PDF – Winter 2015
Check out World Mission to the Deaf website!
CSCD Inc. is a non-profit ministry seeking to evangelize the Deaf for Christ. CSCD Inc. does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or economic status. Students attending CSCD receive academic, social, vocational and Biblical instruction at a minimal cost to the families. All gifts and donations enter into the ministry general fund unless otherwise designated. CSCD Inc. has been declared as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under USA Internal Revenue Codes.
Gifts in Canadian dollars should be sent to the Canadian office or made online through the website. Gifts made in US dollars should be sent to the CSCD Inc office or made online through the website. CSCD Inc. is a member of IFCA International. W.M.D. is a member of C.C.C.C.
World Mission to the Deaf
39 Meadow Crescent
The CSCD Inc. Board
The CSCD Inc. Board appreciates your prayers
President: Lourdes Vargas
Vice President: Ruth Towne
Secretary/Treasurer: Elisabeth Hoke
General Members: Carlos Motta, Chris Monahan
Pray with us for –
- students’ spiritual growth
- spring work team
- more long-term teaching & working staff
- more financial supporters
How can you support us?
Remember to use GOODSEARCH so that your online searches benefit the CHRISTIAN SCHOOL AND CHAPEL FOR THE DEAF! In total, we’ve earned $2,916.48 from your searches. Keep up the Good Work of using your searches and shopping to support CSCD Inc.
This school year we received a total of $981.20 from the Boxtop redemption program. Please tell your friends, church, co-workers, family – anyone – that the Deaf school in Puerto Rico can benefit from their efforts. Then, collect and send in your boxtops – Thank you!
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Ephesians 5:8