The Port-de-Paix graduation was the "talk of the town!" After 3 years of hard work, our Port-de-Paix sewing students graduated with great excitement on Saturday, April 14 at the Church on the Mountain on the campus of Waves of Mercy.
It was the ministry's first graduation, and it's one to remember. The graduates not only made their own caps, gowns, and outfits, but they also made matching blue and yellow dresses for their wives and children. In addition to their families, they made numerous outfits for the special choirs that performed during the ceremony. They've been extra busy these past few months in prepartion for this special day.
The ceremony started at 9am, and the graduates sang as they walked down the aisle. There weren't many people seated at the start of the ceremony, but by the end, every seat was taken.
Pastor Larry Owen (he and his wife Diana are missionaries at Waves of Mercy) delievered a special sermon where he reflected on all the good the Lord has done on the mountain, and encouraged the young people in the church to pursue new things, just like the graduates.
I (Michelle) gave a short speech where I explained how God has guided and provided for the sewing program, and that he will guide our students for the rest of their lives. I ended with the popular verse, Jeremiah 29:11.
Class representative, Daryl, gave a beautiful speech filled with thanks on behalf of the sewing class. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we were unable to capture all of the speeches on video, but we did catch most of Larry's.
The honorary "Godmother of the sewing program" helped pass out diplomas, along with Professor Ermita Flourestant and Pastor Handson, who is the Pastor of Church on the Mountain. Pastor Handson also helps oversee the sewing program in Port-de-Paix, and was instrumental in planning the graduation. He did a fanstatic job!
I also gave a special plaque to our sewing teacher in honor of her excellence in teaching. She did a wonderful job with our students, and I wanted to be sure we did something special for her. The plaque had a picture of the class on it.
Pastor Handson and the sewing class even presented me with two special plaques. The sewing class gave one to Pastor Handson, too. I was honored that they made such a kind gesture, and I will treasure them forever.
The ceremony lasted 3 hours, and was filled with performances from several special choirs from the church. The graduates also sang along with the special choirs. On their final song, the graduates sang a song that ended with them forming a group huddle - a sign of unity and a powerful demonstration of the bond that they've formed during their time together.
After the ceremony, we walked next door for the reception, which was being held in the brand new Jeremy Center, on the Waves of Mercy campus. The Center is the future home of the Waves of Mercy nutritional program. Pastor Handson's wife, Clairlande, gathered several ladies from the church to help cook the meal. The meal was delicious and included fish, chicken, goat, two types of pasta salads, fried plantains, pikliz (a Haitian spicy slaw), beet salad, and rice and beans. Plates were overflowing with food, and 150 friends and relatives enjoyed a very special meal. For many, it was the best meal they've had in months.
After the reception, the students walked up to Larry & Diana's home where we took some additional photos. I also presented each of them with their graduation gift, which was a photo album with pictures I had collected of them over the years. They loved it!
The graduates will continue attending class through the summer until our new class starts in the Fall. The students have decided to go into business together, and they've already decided on a name, "Perfectionism." The new class will use the classroom in the mornings, and the graduates will use the classroom in the afternoons for their business. They'll have the classroom for one year rent-free so they can get their business going. They're also going to help mentor the next class.
I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has supported and prayed for the sewing program. This day wouldn't have been possible without you. I know the graduation is just the start of great things to come, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned for the graduates, future students, and ministry.
Here's some more pictures from the graduation: