These are rich and challenging days. Emmaus is made up of men and women.  

That means it’s a mixed bag of beautiful and broken, of rich moments and moments of want, of blessings and burdens, of radiant faithful and of disappointing failure.  

It means the nights are once again floating with worship from the chapel…it means the classrooms are once again bursting with debate…it means the cafeteria is overflowing with laughter and rice and beans…it means the mango field is the soccer stadium, once more. 

Our radiant returning group is haggard.  Life is hard everywhere, but life in Haiti is hard also.  It never ceases to surprise us…EVERY smiling face is half the face it was in May, and not many students were round then.  Food has been an issue.

Our noisy returning group is clinging to one another…holding hands down the sidewalk and sitting as close as possible on the new benches. Good, safe, healthy, like-minded community has been an issue.

Our weary returning group has clearly been working and ministering hard, burdened with struggles in homes and churches and communities, burdened with a dry and weary land, a people living in darkness. The battle has been raging…support and encouragement has been an issue.

The first week of school last year, one of our brand-new female students lost her mother. The whole year was plagued with sadness, struggle and health issues for her, and when she testified in the first chapel of the year yesterday of how God has carried her and restored her joy…I felt rich to witness. 

As students pop in and out of my office, as they ride bikes with the girls around the basketball court, as our staff joined together for our first Prayer Tuesday of the year and the time was sacred, as students and staff share with me concerns and cares…all of it…we am rich and thankful and burdened…we am thankful to be a part of a community that cares and concerns and carries each other to the Lord.

It means that when someone down the road asks Matt to come and pray, their family seems to be under spiritual attack, the work that needs done is put aside, and he goes. And I’m thankful for the chance to come along faithful families and pray and encourage. 

It means that when Matt, Dr. Tsoukalas, and Belony are almost an hour late for dinner tonight, we know there’s a good reason…and when they come home with stories of their afternoon with Noah, the witchdoctor closest to Emmaus, we are thankful again for these opportunities to face darkness with light and to overcome it.

We are thankful for the opportunity Emmaus President Matt Ayars had yesterday to preach the first chapel of the year, the chance to be light in darkness, to pour water on thirsty siblings, to carry hope in threats of despair, to encourage in seasons of despair.