This is our last week to finish the new classroom building at JBI before classes begin on February 13th. Unfortunately, today was spent boarding up the campus buildings because this evening Cyclone Jasmine is bearing down on us from the west! Jasmine is currently a category 3 cyclone and our first big storm of the season. At this point, we do not know how long the storm system will be with us or prevent construction work.
Inter-island ships are in port and planes are grounded until the cyclone passes. This means that our Bible school students will have difficulty getting to Port Vila on time for classes next week. Public schools begin also on the 13th so many people are travelling this time of year. After this kind of disruption, it takes a while for small boats to resume their normal routes. Students are already calling in to say that the boat they were waiting for is not coming to pick them up.
By mid-afternoon, the winds really picked up and stores closed early. We went to get our mail at the Post Office and the postal workers had removed all the mail from the individual boxes. All over town people were buying last minute supplies and putting up storm shutters or nailing plywood over windows. All of the main JBI buildings are boarded up and all electrical items unplugged. Right now, the avocado trees on campus are loaded with unripe fruit but tomorrow most of them will be ruined on the ground. Last year we lost all the avocados in a cyclone and unfortunately, the trees only bear fruit once a year.
So we are praying that the damage will be minimal and after the clean-up we can get re-organized quickly and start our new school year at JBI!
UPDATE: At 11 p.m. last night, Cyclone Jasmine which had been upgraded to category 4, was headed straight east towards our island and town, when it abruptly turned and headed south! We only had light winds and rain. So we were spared any severe damage or major cleanup! Thank you for praying!