Dear Library Patron, 6/26/2021
6th Anniversary Celebration
Our 6th Open House is just around the corner! Your whole family is invited to attend the annual Library Open House on: Saturday July 10, 2021.
In April of 2020, we were planning our 5th Open House with various activities throughout the day. Unfortunately, that was right over the time of the “lockdown” when there were Covid-19 restrictions, so we were obligated to cancel it. Please check the invitation flyer to see the program that is being planned! Each year, we have full staffing and invite neighbors and library patrons to come for free coffee and donuts. This year, we have a full program planned! The open house day is a great time to come with any questions that you may have about the library. It is a good time to become familiar with the self-checkout process, etc.
It will be a first of a kind for the library, so we are excited about it! All are welcome and you don’t need to register in advance, so please bring your friends and family! Come prepared to participate!
News from Haiti
Against the Darkness
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Ephesians 6:12
It has been a good couple of months in Haiti. Certainly not without its challenges but time has fled by so quickly!
After waiting on my passport renewal for about 3 months, I suddenly found myself making some quick plans for travel to Haiti, with a flight scheduled out of Philadelphia Airport on February 27. Aside from having to do a quick COVID-19 test and wearing a mask as I traveled, things went well. Not to mention the long snack and drink breaks from wearing the dreadful mask!
After the weekend was over, I dove right into work. I soon realized that I may as well take the time to set up my office as it used to be the previous time when I was in Haiti from 2016-2019. So, I set to work cleaning and moving things around.
I find myself back in my old position with CAM’s (HSAC) Program (Haiti Sponsor a Child School Program) Samuel Kauffman from Missouri was the previous School Program Director, whose place I am taking. He took my place a little over two years ago. He left this past January, about a month before I arrived, which means I have some serious catch up to do. We were about 2-3 months behind schedule in the school program. Thankfully, the month of April is usually a lighter month, so I had a good opportunity to do some serious catch up.
Haiti is a country where you never know what you will find at the next twist in the road! Anything good, from beautiful mountain overlooks, lush mountain ridges, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Or anything bad, from extreme corruption in the government, failed government coups, manifestations (protests), or gangsters on the road. We find ourselves constantly having to detour around roadblocks.
But what I like best about Haiti, is when we go far, far, away from Port au Prince, and get deep into the province, where lush mountains are covered with ripe mango, coconut, and lime trees. Where coffee plants are growing, and small corn and bean plants show the promises of a good harvest. There, it is easy to forget the problems of Haiti’s capital city with all its smog, litter, grime, disease, and roadblocks.
I also enjoy visiting schools. There is something about seeing the enthusiasm on the faces of children who are putting their whole heart into learning! A whole new generation of children growing up. Often, I wonder what the future holds for these young souls. Will they choose the narrow way, or the broad way? Will they choose to serve God, or Satan? Will they spend eternity in Heaven, or in Hell? Right now, they can be easily influenced. Is all being done, that can be done, to influence them in the Way of Holiness—the way that leads to Eternal Life? By God’s grace, in CAM’s School Program, we will put forth much effort to influence these young souls to take the right direction.
Recently there has been a lot of unrest here in Haiti with elections ramping up for this Fall. The different political groups are desperate to raise money for their agendas and campaigns. They’ve chosen a very mean and evil tactic to get this accomplished: Kidnapping.
Kidnappings have been so bad in the past few months that they’ve dubbed it their new highest paying “Industry”. They are kidnapping people from the higher class whom they call “bourgeoisie” (A French word for high class people). Haiti is in fact the most unequal country in Latin America and the Caribbean: the richest 20% of its population holds more than 64% of its total wealth, while the poorest 20% hold hardly 1%. During the recent kidnappings they have been asking ransoms of one or two million dollars for many of the people that are kidnapped.
A few weeks ago, we woke up early on a Monday morning to travel to Southwest Haiti, to spend the week doing teacher evaluations and student photos. Before we left, we heard that there was some unrest in Petit-Goâve, which is a town that we needed to pass through about 2 ½ hours away. There were reports that the road is blocked by the local populace because of a Casec (a Casec is the leader of a small communal section, maybe comparable to the leader of a township in Pennsylvania) who was kidnapped. (A Casec is the leader of a small communal section, maybe comparable to the leader of a township in Pennsylvania). We decided that we would go anyway, hoping that the police would open the road by the time we get there. A few hours out, we started realizing that our hopes may be dashed. The closer we got to Petit-Goâve, the less oncoming traffic we saw. Then, a few miles away from town we got caught in the long line of traffic. Traffic was backed up for miles! We pulled over and decided we may as well wait a little while to see what would happen. Meanwhile, the Haitian school inspectors who were with me tried to reach out to some contacts from the Southwest. The reports they received were very discouraging, they said: “Don’t even try to come through, there are multiple roadblocks stretching for miles and miles, even if you make it through the first one, you will get held up by the next one.” As we were sitting there pondering what to do next, I suddenly looked in my rearview mirror and began to realize what was happening behind us. There were gangsters who were holding up a large bus. They had parked a bus broadside across the road, blocking all the lanes of traffic. Now, we were trapped from the front and the back. We quickly turned around and decided we need to make all effort to try to go back the way we came (we would try to finish the work another time). Thankfully, the gangsters soon decided that they were too far away from the main roadblocks, they would go closer to town and block the road there. They moved the bus, and we were able to slip through, heading back towards Titanyen, where the CAM base is. As we were getting closer to Port au Prince, we soon realized that the capital city is hot too. There were tires burning across the roads and gangsters were throwing rocks at vehicles. After making about 4-5 detours and taking a long route through town, we arrived back at the CAM base exhausted, but very thankful for God’s protection.
The next day we decided that we would again try to make the trip, but we would take the long back roads through the mountains. We woke up early in the morning, this time we were able to make it all the way down to the schools without any problems (aside from hours of bumping and bouncing on the back roads). Later in the week there was lots of rain which made the roads extremely slick and dangerous to travel on. The vehicle could barely make it up some of the mountains, sometimes our hearts throbbed wildly, as we started sliding sideways down the mountain slopes towards the abyss.
All week long we heard reports that Petit-Goâve is still blocked. Friday morning dawned bright and beautiful. We still thought that if we want to return, we will have to take the long bumpy drive through the mountains. Just before we were to leave the last school on Friday morning, we received reports that the police had finally opened the road in Petit-Goâve, and traffic is flowing like normal. So, we thought: This is great! We will take the paved road, drive through Petit-Goâve, and get home in record time! It was not to be! We drove a couple hours down the mountain towards Petit-Goâve, about ten miles before the town, we started seeing where the roadblocks had been. It was an eerie feeling, it felt as if there was still a lot of tension in the air. We got to a place where the gangs had burnt a semi-truck and it was still completely blocking the road. We managed to swerve around it in the ditch and kept heading North. Then, as we were approaching the town of Petit-Goâve we heard reports that gangsters are starting to block the road again; but they said: “Keep coming, you may be able to get through yet”. How our hearts sank! We drove a couple more miles, then as we were rolling into town, just ahead we saw a van parked broadside across the road with all of its tires flattened. We swerved around the van, ahead of us was another van with the same problem, we swerved around that one too. Then, just ahead, as you get to a bridge crossing the river, there was a large box truck, broadside, blocking the whole road, with a swarm of gangsters and people all around it. We pulled over realizing that we can’t go any farther. Sitting there beside the road, we soon started attracting some unwanted attention. People started yelling at us to get out of there, threatening to break our windows. We turned around once more thinking that we will still have to take the long back roads through the mountains. But by this time the afternoon was upon us, and to take the Southern route would’ve meant a rough 8-10 hour drive. There were people who told us to try taking a back road around town. Contemplating this option, we were about to turn off on the side road, only to be yelled at by various people who said: The road is blocked, don’t try to go that way, you’ll never make it through.” Meanwhile, unsure of what to do next; Gildonny, (who’s the assistant school program director) contacted his cousin who lives in the town of Petit-Goâve. He said: “Wait until I hire a motorcycle to come meet you and I’ll see if I can help get you through”. So we pulled off the road to wait for him. After awhile, he and another man showed up. They told us to turn around once more towards Petit Goave. We turned around and soon got into town. They said: “Make a right hand turn, we’re going to try to take you a back way through and around town.” We made the turn, and pretty soon we were on roads that no ordinary vehicles can traverse! We put our trusty Toyota Land Cruiser in low range 4-wheel drive and breathed a prayer. Through rivers, up and down some of the steepest mountain ranges, we finally arrived safely to the lower end of town. Unfortunately, by that time, they had the road blocked on the lower end as well. We stopped to wait in a safe area, well away from the main road, all the while praying fervently that God would open up a way for us to get through. We waited for about 2 hours, realizing all the while that we may have to spend the night in town (since it’s not safe to travel at night). Suddenly, they said that we should drive into town to see how things are and if we can possibly find a way through. We headed once more into one of the hottest parts of town. As we drove onto the main road, it was as if everyone was yelling at us. “What are you doing here?” “Get out of here!” “It’s not safe for you to be here!” “Leave, or we will burn your vehicle!” The realization dawned on me that it is not safe for me as an American to be driving. I understand and speak the Haitian Creole language at a conversational level; but if I miss one piece of instruction, or make one wrong turn, it could result in serious injury or death. I told my assistant director to take the driver’s seat. As I jumped out to get into the passenger seat, the gangsters yelled at me to stay in the vehicle. We quickly made the exchange, and headed down another road. We soon heard a noise to our right-hand side. We looked down that road, and what a sight to behold! The whole town was erupting in celebration! Everyone was saying: “They released the Casec! They released the Casec!” People were waving branches and dancing down the streets! They drove a big truck down the road with huge boom boxes mounted all over it, singing songs of liberation! Suddenly, the kidnapping that they were protesting wasn’t a problem anymore. Everyone was happy about the news. We slowly drove down the crowded roads; ahead of us they were blowing air back into the tires of the various trucks which were used to block the road. We passed an area where they had lit a gas tanker truck on fire, which was still burning. Soon we got to an area where motorcycles were blocking the road, the drivers were talking to each other, rejoicing that the protest had “worked”. By this time, I was so ready to be moving on; ready to put the miles behind us! We waited about 15 minutes as the motorcycle guys were discussing what to do next. On the spur of a moment, we had a whole escort of about 100 motorcycles. Some in front of us, and some behind us, all heading to Port au Prince where the kidnappers were holding the Casec. Even if they had to drive 2-3 hours on motorcycles to pick up the Casec, that’s what they were going to do! It was a sight to behold! About 100 motorcycle drivers heading to Port au Prince, pumping their fists, blowing horns, and waving branches!
After driving about 10 miles north outside of town, all at once, all the motorcycles started turning around and heading back to Petit-Goâve! Now we WERE confused! What is going on? Why are they not following through with their plans we wondered? We rolled down our windows and started asking people what the matter is. They said: “It’s a lie, they haven’t actually released the Casec!” Now it was our turn to celebrate! It dawned on us that God had literally performed a miracle on our behalf, so that “we” could safely make it through the town!
I thought back to a time of old when God had delivered his people. The Syrian army had set a siege around Samaria, things had become so desperate that people were becoming cannibals, and even dove’s dung looked appetizing. Death was imminent! Finally, when things were almost at its worst, God revealed to Elisha that the siege was almost over. 2 Kings 7:5-7 says: “And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.” I thought: This is the same all-powerful God that we still serve today, if He can make the sound of chariots and horses back then, He can certainly confuse the protester’s that the Casec is released.
Unfortunately, those men went back into the town angrier than ever. A little while later my assistant director called his cousin and asked him how things are. He said: “The people are madder than ever, there is now more damage and chaos than before!
By this time, our nerves were almost frazzled, but we were expecting to make it home without further ado. We made it safely all the way to Port au Prince. Then, when we should’ve been about 30 minutes away from the CAM base, we got into a heavy traffic jam. Traffic was backed up for miles! After a couple of hours, we got to an area where all the traffic was turning around, and people told us to avoid the area because gangsters are shooting there. Hearing the gunshots, only confirmed that we had better take a different road. We turned on a side road in the attempt of a detour, but all of the other vehicles had the same thing in mind! By now, night was upon us, and we didn’t know what to expect at the next curve in the road. I was fully expecting to get robbed in those back roads! A couple hours later we were able to get through and arrived back at the CAM base completely exhausted in mind and body but thankful to be alive! A lot of things had taken place, all in a week’s time!
Please pray for Haiti, and the Haitian people. They have suffered a lot under poverty, corruption, and satanic forces. Pray that there would be a revival in the churches and that God’s name would be glorified! The only hope that I see for Haiti comes through Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace and through the glorious transformation power of the Gospel message. May God’s name be praised and lifted up!