Friday, December 17, 2010
The one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti is less than one month away. I realized this the other day during a meeting at work and since then I have been trying to figure out what I am going to do to acknowledge the day.
I still have no idea. Dream scenario is that I would be back in Haiti at the temporary Cathedral in Port au Prince listening to members of the parish sing beautiful hymns in French and Creole. I would spend the day with the people that I was with immediately after the earthquake, just hanging out at the seminary. But since thats really not possible I've got to figure out something else to do on the 12th.
Do I even want to do anything? Do I just want to ignore the day and keep busy? Not gonna lie the thought has crossed my mind a few times, but I feel like, if I ignored it, in some weird way I would be hurting all those who lost their lives that days. Hurting those who lost family members and homes and schools and hospitals. Hurting those that are still living in tents and struggling each day to put the pieces of the lives the once had back together. So I have to do something to acknowledge the 12th. I think we all have to do something out of respect and love for Haiti and its people.
But what to do? This is where I get lost in thought. Should I take a moment of silence? Spend the day listening to Haitian music? Make a special donation? Do I want to be alone? Is there a church somewhere that I could go to be with others who care about Haiti? I don't know.
Maybe you can help me. What would you do to remember the anniversary of the earthquake? What are you doing; something your own, with your family, church, diocese, whatever? What do you recommend?
I am struggling with this and your thoughts and suggestions would be helpful. It would also be encouraging to know that other people will be acknowledging the day in their own ways too.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
What can you say as the Cholera Outbreak continues to worsen, with more people dying and getting sick? What can you say as the blame game just seems to continue over where the Cholera came from, leading to protests throughout the country?
What can you say as violence wreaks havoc across the
What can you say when you read reports of mothers picking up their children and fleeing tent camps because of tear gas being thrown by the UN to stop protesters. What can you say when people have been living in camps for 11 months, surviving extreme heat and intense storms?
I can’t say anything about any of this – I’m speechless; overwhelmed with sadness and frustration.
But just because I am in shock and frustrated does not mean that I can’t continue to act on
Last Spring when I struggled with not being in
The art in the calendar really is beautiful and includes some Haitian proverbs. I also liked the idea of the project because it is something that shows
It is available at http://www.lulu.com/ and search Haitian Art 2011. The Calendars are being sold for $22 with the proceeds going to the Episcopal Church’s Appeal to raise money for the rebuilding of the Cathedral in Port au Prince and the schools that were on its property.
Be sure to also take advantage of the various holiday sales the website is offering. If you enter the coupon code FLURRY you can save 25% on your purchase. This only affects the amount of money going to the publisher and not the money going to
I feel awkward promoting my project like some cheap salesman but I just think at times when things seem so bad we don’t know what to say, we can still take action to help our friends, so that’s what I’m doing and I hope you will too.
Friday, November 12, 2010
After the earthquake, I remember thinking, how could this happen.
That’s what I thought last January, but now 10 months later I can’t help but have the same feelings. Its been 10 months of people sleeping in tent cities. Some even with tents set up in the medians of busy streets. 10 months of sleeping on cold and rainy grounds. 10 months of facing the uncertainty of the future. As if all this wasn’t enough, the Cholera outbreak started.
Then within days of news about the Cholera there is news of a hurricane heading directly towards
And now the news says that the Cholera has spread to Port au Prince. Close to 800 people have died and there seem to be no signs of the epidemic slowing down.
The night before the Hurricane Tomas was expected to hit
Sunday, October 24, 2010
earthquake thousands of people have used this water source for their washing and cooking. According to one of the seminarians I worked with, it is still very difficult to access clean water so even though they know they are risking getting sick they might not have any other option.
(Photo from the New York Times)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I feel like I am always starting a blog entry by saying “sorry I haven’t written in so long, I promise I will do a better job”…So here I go again…Sorry I haven’t written in so long but I promise I will do a better job.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog recently. I got behind on the posts and then just sort of gave it up. The other day however, I was surprised, when somebody asked me about my blog, and asked that I continue writing. The conversation helped me to realize that I still have a lot to say even if I am not living in
In the next couple of months I hope to share excerpts from my earthquake reflection some of my memories from when I lived there, various projects I’m working on now, and maybe, if I’m really on my game, commentary on some of the things currently happening in Haiti. I apologize because it probably won’t be in chronological order but simply what I happen to be remembering on that day.
I am preparing to move and the other day I came across some of the things from when my Dad died a couple of years ago. It was a poem someone had given me. Those who may know me may think its the kind of thing that I think would be too corny, but for whatever reason it was the only thing I could really identify with after my Dads death. Anyway, I re-read it the other night for the first time in a long time and this time it seemed to express the feelings I have had the past few months. I thought I would share it here; maybe it expresses some of the feelings in
Don’t tell me that you understand,
Don’t tell me that you know.
Don’t tell me how I will survive,
How I will surely grow.
Don’t tell me this is just a test,
That I am truly blessed,
That I am chosen for this task,
Apart from all the rest.
Don’t come at me with answers
That can only come from me,
Don’t tell me how my grief will pass,
That I will soon be free.
Don’t stand in pious judgment
Of bonds I must untie,
Don’t tell me how to suffer,
And don’t tell me how to cry.
My life is filled with selfishness,
My pain is all I see
But I need you, I need your love,
Accept me in my ups and downs,
I need someone to share,
Just hold my hand and let me cry,
And say “My friend I care.”
- By Joanetta Hendel
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
So I’m not sure if there has ever been a Holy Week where I went to all the services until this spring in
At the church in
I avoid going to church on Maundy Thursday in the
I will say that the missionary to
I went to a service in the morning at St. Jacques which was a pretty simple service, but following that service we made our way down to St. Trinité Cathedral. Since the earthquake an open air cathedral had been constructed next to the ruins of the old cathedral. It was more than meaningful to worship there.
The service lasted for about 3 hours as what I believe is call the last acts, or the last words or something like that were read followed by a sermon for each one. There were 5 priests and they took turns preaching. At the end of all the readings the Bishop would come to finish the service.
Admittedly it was hard for me not to be antsy during the service but I enjoyed singing the hymns in French and Creole as well as watching two little boys playing but there are two parts that stick out to me the most.
Towards the beginning of the service as a reading was read I turned around, looking behind me and saw Bishop Duracin sitting in a car just watching and listening. He remained there for the rest of the service until it was time for him to process in and do his part. For me, it was nice to see him taking a few moments of quiet to himself, one of the few moments of peace I believe he has had since the earthquake. A time of reflection to think and watch his people worship. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking.
The second most memorable image I have is during the service when one of the acolytes carried the cross up aisle playing the role of Jesus with the rumble and destruction in the background. Looking at the picture is better than me describing it so here it is…Easter Vigil
To be honest I didn’t pay all that much attention to the service that evening (I was getting a bit churched out) but instead looked at the people around me. I was sitting next to the same women I had for the past services sharing her books as usual. At this point she was so used to hearing me read in French next to her that I actually think she thought I was good at French and would say things to me quickly in French and ask me questions. I usually just nodded or mumbled something in response.
There were some people I recognized from other times I had been at the church from before the earthquake. A mom who I had seen at the Christmas eve service, then with her exceptionally chubby cute son, another older women who usually talked to the women I sat by, but as the service started I looked and I did not seen the older woman from earlier that day.
The service was done with the lights out. Everyone brought their own white candles that were lit with a fire started at the beginning of the service. I began to observe the different candles. Many of the members that were present for the service are a more well off than the average Haitian so it was interesting to compare the candles. There was a thick long candle, short white candle in glass, candles with holders so wax wouldn’t land on their hands…
Then the old petite women walked into the church. She sat near the women I was sitting with. She still had a limp and had changed her clothes from earlier. I saw she had brought a candle, a simple white candle, the kind that you put in a candle stick. Clearly a much less expensive candle. She lit it and tried to hold it during the service while balancing her prayer book and hymnal. I noticed that wax was starting to drip on her hands and it seemed as if she was looking for a way to make it better while at the same time trying to ignore it and continue to pay attention to the service. Next thing you know the women next to me helped her out and they were able to drip wax on to the ground and created a stand for the candle. It stuck out to me as a very sweet simple act of kindness, the rest of the service is kind of a French blur.
I couldn’t help but think of the older woman for much of the rest of my time in
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
As I went around the city going back and forth to the airport I was reminded of all the destruction that I had left last January. All the buildings that had collapsed and were still so slanted that it looked like a gust of wind could knock them over. Even though I had already seen all of this before it was sad to see the enormous amount of work that still needed to be done, just to clear the ruble.
Driving around also brought me back to my last day in
We also drove by some of the tent cities. Some of them taking up only the space of a small public square and others that stretched off into the distance. One thing that was good about seeing the tent cities was to see the tents. When I left people were using make shift sheets, plastic tarp and umbrellas for shelter and while this was still the case sometimes, there were also an abundance of tents giving people a close to suitable place to live. But its still disappointing to see the conditions in the tent cities and one has to wonder when people will be able to go back and live in permanent homes.
One of the things that affected me the most during my trip back was the fear. I was staying in Petionville at the Episcopal missionary’s apartment. It was on the third floor of a building next to the church and right next to a busy street. The night as we were going up to the apartment I remember asking if the building had been checked out and if it was safe to sleep in and the response was something like “We think its ok”…
As it came time to sleep we talked about what we would do if there was an earthquake and where we would go. I wasn’t all that comfortable with the plan but it seemed like it was the best option. Then I prepared a backpack with my passport, change of clothes, granola bars, phones etc that I could quickly grab in case I needed to leave quickly. We slept with the door unlocked so we could get out quick.
As I laid down to sleep at night I couldnt help but about how all this prep work probably wouldn’t be that useful if anything like the January 12 earthquake happened. I didn’t really think there would be time to get out or that I would have the presence of mind to get out with my things or worse that I would just sleep through something. Then I thought about the buildings I had seen which had pancaked. Not very comforting. I laid there stiff as a board feeling like I was back on the grass at the soccer field the night of the earthquake.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well and woke up to a swollen bottom lip. Apparently during the night when I had managed to sleep I was so tense that I bit my lip…and judging by the feeling in my lip…I bit it hard and for a long time.
Despite some of the fear, anxiety and sadness, I tried my hardest for it not to become the focus of my trip. I knew that this was what my students and friends had been dealing with ever since I left and I couldn’t let just one night ruin my visit.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I spent the night in
Bright and early the next morning (before sunrise) I was on the shuttle bus back to the airport. There was a small scare that I wouldn’t make it to the airport because the driver didn’t seem to know how to get there and kept driving on streets that were dead ends but eventually we got there and after some small delays on the airplane I was finally on my way to Port au Prince!
As the plane began to land I was able to look at the window and was filled with excitement. As I stepped off the plane, greeted by a small band, and making my way through customs I felt so happy to be back. I eagerly pulled out my Haitian phone and sent texts to some friends letting them know I was there. One friend even called me and as we were talking the mentioned how much happier I sounded.
Even as I waited and waited for my luggage, I continued to be happy. Listening to the familiar sound of Creole. The pushing and shoving as people edged closer to get their bags. The workers helping the older women first. The rich men who tried to do what they could to be first to get their bags. The heat. The organized chaos. The hurry up and wait. Seeing and feeling all of it let me know I was back in
A lot of my first day was spent making return trips to the airport…seems like the Airline decided not to put my luggage on the plane (or about half of the other people on the flight)…I did eventually get everything but I couldn’t help but be in a good mood about it all because I was back.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
but just for a short time.
Tomorrow I am leaving to go back to
I will be there for Easter Sunday. I was talking my neighbor and when I told her this she pointed out how symbolic it was that I would be there for Easter. A time of resurrection and new life and to see that so visibly in
I will also be able to be present for the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s Convention. It will be interesting to see what is discussed and to be honest I’m maybe more excited about the possibility of being able to see some of the priests I had met and hopefully some of the seminarians, who I spent so much time with while I was living in Haiti. Before the earthquake I was supposed to be at the convention to assist in different ways and I think its nice that I will actually still be able to do that now.
I’m also curious to see what changes have occurred since I’ve been gone. What ruble has been moved, how much has stayed the same. Admittedly I’m not exactly sure what to expect but it will be helpful to see for myself what has happened since the quake and I think it will help me with some of the presentations I still have left to give.
I’m sorry that I’m only just now telling you all about this trip but it all kind of came together pretty quickly and there were a few days where I couldn’t believe I was actually going so was hesitant to share the news. Looking back I would have loved to have shared the information with everyone earlier and perhaps ask for help gathering things to take to
Also just a heads up when I’m in Haiti I’m going to try and buy some art and hope to be able to have an auction to sell the art to raise money for rebuilding but its only an idea right now and I will have more information on that once I get back.
I’ll let you all know how everything goes. Talk to y’all later
Friday, February 26, 2010
Good afternoon and thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk a little bit about my experiences in
I began living in Port au
But on Tuesday January 12th life changed in
We began to gather at the soccer field, which was between my apartment and the school, a place that would become my home over the next couple days, and is now, still the home to about 3,000 people who are being cared for by the Episcopal Church of Haiti. While those first hours after the quake were filled with fear and anxiety, it was also a time of great calm and faith. I remember sitting with some girls only a few minutes after the quake as they prayed. Praying that their families would be ok, praying for understanding, but also that they knew that God was with them. As the night progressed news trickled in, a little about people’s families, but also the damage that had been done in the rest of the country. The
The rest of the night was filled with tending to wounded, and attempting to sleep on the cold earth, as the ground continued its shaking with various aftershocks throughout the night. All I could think about was that I wished morning would come.
I can’t go into here all the details of my experience over the next couple days but there are a couple of things I’d like to make sure you hear. One is the strength of the church in
So how do I think the earthquake affects the Diocese of San Diego? I believe that to be apart of the body of Christ means that we are all connected to each other through good times and bad. That others joy is our joy and their pain is our pain. I think we are all called to be there with
When my mom received the position to come and work for the Diocese of San Diego, Bishop Mathes sent my brother and I each a San Diego Chargers hat as a sort of welcome present. The gift meant a lot to me and I took it with me to wear in
It is going to take years before
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Thanks again for all you thoughts and prayers for me and for Haiti especially this past week. Thank you for continuing to read. And I hope you continue to pay attention to whats happening in Haiti, continue to help in anyway that you can and continue to pray.
If you are looking for a place to get more information about what is happening in Haiti especially some of the work that is happening in the Episcopal Church please check out this website
If you would like to make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development to help with relief efforts in Haiti you can do that here
More Soon and Thanks Again