Good News is Coming!
The season of Lent is the time of preparation for Easter/Resurrection Sunday.
Maybe we should call it the season of what we do to prepare for the Good News. Even though the Good News is sometimes vague which makes preparation challenging, we must continue with the preparation. Even though the Good News does not seem possible, we must continue on the journey. Even though along the journey to Easter we sometimes lose the essence of the Good News, we must continue to appreciate the voyage because the Good News it coming!
How do we prepare for the Good News and what does the Good News look like in a country like Haiti where people struggle daily for the basic necessities of life? The National Council of the Spiritual Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH), where I serve as a missionary, is an example of what Good News looks like. After the earthquake in January 2010 that totally destroyed the previous educational building, the last two years of school was held outside where each class was under an open tent. Because of the hot weather in Haiti, using a closed tent was not recommended or safe. An open tent provides a nice breeze but very little protection during the rainy season. Therefore, when it rained, the students would get wet. For desks, the students used old metal chairs and picnic style benches that were falling apart. Yet education continued for two years under these circumstances.
In January 2012, preparation to build a new educational building for the students of the College of St. Andre Classical School at CONASPEH, were in process. As well as classrooms for the growing number of students attending the College of St. Andre, the new educational building will have a library, computer lab, classrooms specifically for nursing students and for students of the St. Andre Seminary and a vocational school providing job skills for post graduates of the College of St. Andre. Nevertheless, looking at a piece of barren land on the CONASPEH campus and visioning an educational building was an ambiguous vision for most of us.
However, the 2012 – 2013 school year began with excitement and Good News! The first day of school on October 7, 2012 was held in the new educational building. The school is not completed but on the first floor of the two story school building, the students were happy to be inside their individual classrooms. Primary classes are on the right side of the building and the older students are on the left side of the building. Between them is a large room used for meetings, conferences and church on Sunday. Also, the space used for the previous educational building has been made into a cafeteria for the students. The storms of 2012—Isaac and Sandy, did not stop the process or the progress. What a blessing it is to see this model of Good News.
Educate and celebrate. That’s the inspiration behind the February observance of Black History Month by employees at the national offices of the United Church of Christ. CONASPEH continued to educate the children of Haiti under conditions that most of us would not tolerate. And now they celebrate the Good News of a resurrected building that will house a variety of educational programs and be a catalyst to building a better Haiti.
As your sister in Christ, I have a suggestion you can use as a small personal sacrifice during this season of Lent. And that is to spend fifteen minutes a day educating yourself about the importance of education in the daily lives of our Haitian sisters and brothers. Continue to pray for our sisters and brothers of Haiti. Pray that CONASPEH will be able to continue to educate and celebrate what God has and is doing. Good News is still coming!
7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7(NRSV)
Missionary in Haiti
Jeanette Salley serves with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH) as an assistant for disaster preparation and response, as well as a teacher at St. Andrew Seminary.