Gem School Awarded $91K Grant from Embassy of Japan

It is official, Ebeye Gem Christian School has been awarded $91,000 from the Embassy of Japan to be used toward the building of three additional classrooms for the school.  On average, construction costs for one classroom runs about $38K due to labor costs, logistics of shipping construction materials to an island, and the cost of materials in general.  Construction will begin the second week of June, just after the school’s end of year graduation activities.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Marshall Islands Journal April 15, 2011 issue, written by Isaac Marty:

Japan recently held three Grassroots Grants ceremonies for Ebeye and Rairok schools, and Aur Atoll Local Government at the Japan  Embassy last month. For Ebeye, an agreement was signed for a $91,767 grassroots grant to build a three-classroom building in Ebeye for one of the private schools known as the Gem Christian School…officials from Ebeye that were at the ceremony were vice principal Noble Ned, Abita Joram, Kiton Loibwij, Tim Ned, Joel Clinton and Abring Jilly.

Gem School is a rapidly growing educational facility with over 170 students running grades K-5.   Next fall we will be adding a sixth grade and the classrooms are greatly needed to increase our capacity to hold this many students.

Currently we are holding four classes in the three classrooms pictured above due to limited space.

The island of Ebeye is so overcrowded that most children do not attend school at all due to lack of space in the school system.  Sometimes, due to lack of teachers and volunteers, there are schools where the students show up in class with no one to teach them.  It’s a dire situation and nations like Japan are doing what they can to assist Ebeye in their pursuit of a better life.  I personally find this admirable, as Japan is going through their own national crisis right now.

According to the article, Japan’s government has funded nine grassroots projects this year (April 2010-March 2011), and the total contribution to Republic of the Marshall Islands educational system at large is $811, 560.

Those of us here at Gem are incredibly thankful to God and to the Embassy of Japan for their monetary support. It is a blessing to us and to the children of Ebeye.

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God’s East Wind: Tsunami 2011

The more I began hearing about the details of the tsunami caused by the 8.9 magnitude  earthquake in Japan, the more I have thanked God every day.

I had set my alarm to get up at 2 a.m. to make a phone call to the states.  I got on the internet and was greeted with emails from friends and family urging me to contact them and let them know I was alive.  I was honestly in shock.  Earthquakes? Tsunami? Marshall Islands?  It was all surreal and I remember turning my head for a moment to listen for the rush, or the calm or whatever you listen for when a tsunami is barreling down on you.

I quickly began emailing to diffuse their anxieties about my well-being.  We were all sleeping, except me and my phone call, and we hadn’t heard a word about the danger.

As the days passed, the story began unfolding and my heart rejoiced more and more in our God.  The initial warning went out just a short time after the earthquake that all of Ebeye was to be evacuated.  The school administration did not inform us but were waiting, I suppose, until they absolutely had to; all the while hoping, praying and believing in God.  The police were canvassing the streets and people were preparing to evacuate. How was this going to happen?  There are sixteen thousand people on this island.  Twyla said she turned to Nobel that night, just hours before the tsunami was scheduled to hit and said, “Where are they going to take all of us?”

I doubt there are enough boats, even using those from Kwajalein, to hold all the people here.  And you need a lot more time than a few hours to transport that large of a number of people and children.  And what about family’s homes and possessions? Even if they took us out to sea, which would likely be the safest place, what would we come back to? Where would we sleep?  And all the food would be washed away. I was thinking about all these things as they were telling me how close we came to disaster.  But God was watching…

An hour before impact, the warning was lifted.  We were all still soundly sleeping.  By the time I had awakened, the danger had passed.  Nobel said the scientists had all their data and charts in front of them and they charted that the winds had shifted, which in turn, stopped the energy of the wave.  He said, “…the scientist have all their data and numbers about the East winds changing direction, and all that scientific stuff but…all I know is that God saves His people!”

I know.  I know that East wind.  They can call it whatever they like. Put a number on it and chart it in their little books. But His eyes are on the righteous and not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him knowing about it…much less sixteen thousand of the most precious people I know, the apples of His eyes.  Closer to peril than I would otherwise ever want to be, I know God and I believe in miracles.  Thank God I’m here writing this blog post to you today.  Thank God for that.  Thank God for His infinite mercy and steadfast love which never ceases.  And thank God for the friends and family and all the people who got down on their knees and prayed, because God answered them.

I just Thank God that I belong to Him.

(Edit) Update 3.14.11

I was talking to Annalise who lives on Kwajalein, about the circumstances involving the evacuation of the islands in this area. We were exchanging information and one of the interesting points she mentioned was the geography of this area.  The islands are part of the largest atoll in the world; we live on the rim of a sunken volcano.

So unlike most beaches in the world that have a slow grade rise up to sea level, we have a 100+ foot drop to the ocean floor.  Tsunamis gain their power and height as the ocean bed ‘pushes’ the mass of water up before hitting land.  But here, when the energy of the wave reached us, its power struck the 100 foot wall and dispelled around the atoll and consequently all the islands were relatively untouched.

She said the scientist and forecasters still aren’t sure what happened (funny that she mentioned that).  The tsunami did come onshore, but it was also perfect timing; low tide.  The majority of the shock was absorbed by the drop off and no damaged occurred.  Thank God!