Saturday, July 4, 2015

David May speaks to the remaining students in Roberta.'s home school, on the occasion of the graduate of the first student, Michemanna Blaise, July 4, 2015

Challenge to students in Roberta’s home school program on the occasion of the graduation of Michemanna Blaise, the first graduate.  By David May, BAE, MS, friend of the family.  July 4, 2015.

Today we have come together here to honor Michemanna and her achievement and all her hard work and perseverance.  And I want applaud her for that.  Some said it could not be done.  And today it has been done.  

Now that Michemanna has torn down that wall, the rest of you can join hands and go running through the hole she has made.  It is hard work, and it gets boring day after day.   But I want to encourage all of you to hang in there.  I often ask one of you how many more booklets you need to finish in order to complete the grade you are working on.  So far, none of you have been able to give me an answer.  I can't imagine how you can keep at it like that, never knowing whether you are almost done or have just begun.  I challenge you to find out exactly how many books you need to finish in every subject in order to complete the grade you are working on.  And then work on them diligently.  Make a list and mark them off as you get them done.  Seeing them crossed off the chart will help give you the courage and the hope to keep going.  I will continue to ask you how many books you need to finish, and I will expect you to answer, 3 math, 6 science, 4 social studies.  Or whatever the correct answer is.

You also need to know this.  Roberta (Mom) has given you a tremendous gift.  By providing you with the English language, she has opened many doors for you.  Some of you have already been making money translating for English speakers and listeners.  But more than that you need to continue your education.  A knowledge of science, math and history are essential to getting and keeping a good job.  

And you will need to know your French.  Just because French speakers can seem a little snobbish is no reason for you to ignore it.  Listen to this: You need French to speak intelligently to people who will not otherwise listen to you.  [Repeat]. Just as the Apostle Paul used his Roman citizenship when it worked to his advantage (and didn't mention it when it wasn’t) we need to have the ability to be “all things to all people.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.

90% of Haitians speak only creole.  That puts those of you with good English ahead of 9 out of 10 of your peers.  If you can pick up French and Spanish, that will put you in the top 1 or 2 percent.  But you can’t slack off on the math, science and social studies.  If you speak the languages, but don’t know anything intelligent to say, it won't do you any good.

Listen to this, God said, “’I know the plans I have for you.’  This message is from the Lord.  ‘I have good plans for you.  I don't plan to hurt you.  I plan to give you hope and a good future.  Then you will call my name.  You will come to me and pray to me and I will listen to you.’”  Jeremiah 29:11-12.  

But God is not going to impose his plans on you.  He doesn’t work that way.  You have to pick up the books.  Get this: this is not Roberta’s school; this is your school.  It is here for you.  You don't have to do anything with it.  You can ignore it.  And you don't have to do anything with the plans God has for you, you can ignore them.  But you will be disappointing them both, Roberta and God, if you don't take advantage of the gifts they have given you.

There is a song from the movie, “The Sound Of Music” that I dearly love.  That’s a great movie with lots of talented singers, but this song  is my favorite.  It is an older woman giving advice to a young woman just starting out in life.  It goes like this:

Climb every mountain, 
Search high and low, 
Follow every byway, 
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain, 
Ford every stream, 
Follow every rainbow, 
'Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give, 
Every day of your life 
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, 
Ford every stream, 
Follow every rainbow, 
Till you find your dream

You need a dream and you need to dream big.  A detailed road map will do you no good if you don't know where you are going.  Think about it.  Pray about your dream.  Talk to others about it.  Ask God to give you wisdom as you choose your dream and courage as you go after it.  Don't be satisfied with what others are doing – dream bigger.

But the song talked about climbing every mountain, and in Haiti we know that when we get to the top of the mountain, what is on the other side?  Yes, another mountain.  But the Haitian Christian Acapella group, Ujece, sings a song called “There are Mountains beyond the Mountains.”  And in that song they sing that faith is believing what we cannot see, and that God gave us wings and gave us freedom.  We may not know what is on the other side of the mountain, but God knows.  He has gone before us.  

We are like the Israelites reported in Deuteronomy 1.  God said they should not be afraid, that he would go before them and he would defeat their enemies.  Sometimes we are too afraid or too lazy to give it a try.  When the Israelites were not bold enough to follow God into battle, God told them that they would not ever live in the promised land – that their children and grandchildren would, but not them.

But there were other Bible characters who did trust God.  Rich Mullins is one of my favorite musicians.  One of his songs is called “Where You Are.”  It talks about the fact that wherever you are, God is there.  He sings about Daniel in the lion’s den and the three young people who the king had thrown into a fiery furnace.  The song goes that the “fire didn't burn them and lions didn't bite, and the Lord reached down and you can be sure everything turned out right.” Then he goes on to say, “Oh, you meet the Lord in the furnace a long time before you meet him in the air.”  You can meet the Lord over your school books.  Talk to him about it!

Let's don't be like the Israelites who were afraid to go, even though God promised to go before them.  Pick up the books.  Work on them.  And get this.  Help each other.  Don't try to do it by yourself.  If you think you can't do it alone, you may be right.  Work on this as a team.  Set a goal that when you graduate, your friend will be standing beside you.  If someone doesn't understand something, help them out.  And when you come to a hard part, ask for help.  You know this verse: 

Ecclesiastes 4:12
“An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but two people can stand back-to-back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is very hard to break.” You are not in this by yourself.  You have your family and your friends and you have God.  And don’t fall for Satan’s lies that it cannot be done.  It has been done.

In closing, I will offer these words both to Michemanna and to the rest of you coming along behind.  

Psalm 121:  "I lift up my eyes to the hills.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord,  the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let  your foot slip- He who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand: the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.