Today we woke up to the students of St. Andre's School (Hinche') arriving and preparing for the day. Fr. Noe and their faithful partner of 32 years (St Dunstan's, Carmel Valley, CA) have expanded the school - now home to 1,400 students. They plan to add more rooms next year. It was amazing to see this school one year later and witness its continue growth and ability to impact so many children's lives.
Then we drove, what should be 40 min, but due to the damage to the roads from the rainy season, took 90 min. It was well worth it.
As we made our final approach from the "main road", we were greeted by the students on the either side of the road, waving branches. It was very Palm Sunday like. It was overwhelming as we did not want all the attention and yet, as we learned today, this village has new hope. Hope for their children, new hope in the form of dignity - that only comes from raw love given to a stranger - love given on prayers, funding and missioners - raw love that is incubator of joy.
As we sang and paraded to the school, the faithful teachers and younger children joined us. As we approached the school, its presence was stunning. Although only 1/2 built - it is an awesome sight -literally a corner stone for the future.
After more song and joy shared, the students went back to their studies - crammed under a make shift Shelter since the hurricane destroyed the previous structure.
And then we ate with the students, a meal cooked over fire a structure off to the side. This was the followed by the school t-shirt distribution. It went well until the kids got taller and taller when we realized that some had grown into adult sizes. All good.
As the afternoon progressed, and evening winds arrived to cool us off, a few of us worked on applying the roof to framing over the 3rd classroom. The rest has good old fashion fun with the kids - soccer games, jump rope and few other games we brought have since entertained them for hours - into the darkness.
Sofie and Maya have both jumped right in - getting to know children names, stories and sharing in the fun. The pure joy Maya and Sofie's faces, from ear to ear, brings tears to my eye. What more could a father want than for their child to experience and share pure joy in God's name.
And so, for Jim and me this visit has been a complete 180 change from last year. We are beginning to appreciate Fr Noe's vision - energy and steadfast to build community and faith against all odds. Truly inspiring.
We now head over to join the dining children's and bible study.
As start to walk, I wonder how the transformation of the school and lives of many can teach each of us about the power of God's love and how the change the world - through raw sharing of love with others - people from other cultures, faiths and economic classes?