The last couple of weeks have brought breaks in the semester both unexpected and unsought. A couple of weeks ago, a national strike over the price of gas (still well above $4 per gallon in Haiti, which knows nothing of the sharp drop in prices in the U.S.) forced our school to cancel a couple of days of classes. This week, the failure of a majority of students to pay their bills in a timely manner has canceled more classes. When our Bible school first launched in the 1990s, students were punctual with payments because they knew the school would not tolerate tardiness. Since 2010, however (when my dad had a brain aneurysm), the school has slid into a dysfunctional pattern of late payments with no consequences. In a few cases, students (most of whom have jobs) have managed to get through all four years without paying a gourde. Since those student fees help pay for books and teacher salaries, students’ failure to pay has resulted in serious shortfalls for the school, shortfalls my parents have had to cover out-of-pocket.
In an attempt to right the ship, the administration warned students at the beginning of this semester that it would no longer be tolerating late payments. The économe (financial officer) sat down and worked out an individual payment plan with each student, along with deadlines after which the first payment would be due. Most of those deadlines have now come and gone and most of our students still have not paid what they owe. On Monday, I had the unenviable task of asking several students to leave my class. I have only two students left for the lower promotion (graduating class) and only one for the higher promotion. As a result, I canceled my higher-promotion class today. Depending on how things go, I might end up getting an earlier vacation than I had expected. Since teaching in the Bible school is my reason for being here, this unexpected change obviously casts my future plans into question as well. While I had planned on coming back next year, my plans are now in limbo as I wait to see whether most students will pay what they owe or drop out.
In addition to the drama going on in the country and in the school, I have also been wrestling with depression. I have always been prone to melancholy, even when I lived in the U.S., but the added stress and loneliness of living cross-culturally in such a broken country have certainly made life more difficult. Fortunately, I have a break coming up. I already needed to leave the country over our Easter break to renew my expired tourist visa. Since a friend of mine offered me a free place to stay in New York City, I will be heading there for a week at the beginning of April. Hopefully, the next few weeks will be restorative and open onto a vista of clarity for the future. As always, I really appreciate all your prayers and support. No matter what happens, I know that God is good and that his plans for my future are better than mine.