In mid-December, my husband and I go to Haiti for a long weekend to visit Grace Emmanuel School. I bring two special deliveries for the school: 275 crisp, blank Christmas letters for the students to write on (or color) for their sponsors, and the students’ ID badges.
When we moved back to Minnesota in August after two years working at GES, the first phase of construction was complete. We had stood in the six classrooms, prayed over the students who would benefit from them, and dreamed about what it would be like outside of the tents and under stable, beautiful classrooms. But this trip would be our first time to see the students using the new school.
Arriving early on the last Friday before Christmas break, we drive up the hill and park outside the new administration building. As dear little friends dressed in their Christmas best run up to give us hugs, we are overcome by the miracle of this school. It is indescribable to finally see the students up on the hill, in their new classrooms, to see the teachers writing on secured marker boards, to see the directors comfortable in a much larger office with windows that allow for air flow on even the most stifling days.
I soak in the moment for a few seconds, but then it is time for the chaos of distributing 275 labeled letter templates to the students, and then making sure those 275 get returned to me. Maudeline, our first ever secretary at Grace Emmanuel, is on the job with me and quickly has a system of calling the most responsible student from each class to be in charge of the rest of their classmates’ papers.
A few hours later, I have a stack of letters filled out with all sorts of handwriting, some spilling off of the page, others nearly bare, written by students who struggle with writing, but whose sponsors I pray will still recognize the effort that went in to the brief note. The coloring attempts on the nativity scene for the kindergarten through second graders vary from scribbles over only Mary to elaborately shaded artwork that could be framed. I stick them in my laptop bag, praying they all are there, and that they safely make the journey home to be translated and mailed before Christmas.
The students love writing to you all. Over the past couple years, I have translated hundreds of letters that begin, “Today I am very happy to find this paper to write you this little letter.” It is very rewarding to be the one who gets to supply this paper!
This Christmas it especially touched me to translate the students words, letter after letter, explaining how much they loved their new school. Here are some of my favorites, so you can be blessed by them as well:
- “I love my new school buildings very, very much. God got rid of the old school in the tents down the hill for us.” Steralda, 2nd grader
- “The new school gives us much pleasure with every new thing we never dared hope for.” Emmanuel, 9th grader
- “I really love the new school. When I came in the new school, I saw many beautiful things my heart couldn’t understand before. I love the new classrooms, marker boards, office…I suspect I am seeing the best view.” Johanne, 9th grader
- “This year was a miracle for the school because God gave us a new establishment I love.” Jennifer, 10th grader
- “I love the new school because everything is working well. I love the new school made by the power of our big God in heaven.” Alberte, 10th grader
- “For this school year, it’s very “WOW”—we have new marker boards, desks, classrooms—it’s extraordinary.” Manita, 11th grader