Everytime we come to the airport, we see more and more positive changes. This time we are enjoying delicious Haitian coffee. As we were beginning this blog, a gentleman approached us and wanted to talk to us. Charlie Priestly is the President of COLIBRI-HAITI S.A.; his company takes care of all the aircrafts here at the airport. We had a wonderful conversation and learned a lot about this facility. Of course, we invited him to Jacmel.
Monthly Archives: January 2014
Melinda and Jean-Philip are now settled in their new home (room) of their own. Before we left for the States, we visited them. They are so happy with their own home. This time we were able to give them two new pillows. This is the first time in their lives they have pillows. For Melinda and Jean-Philip, there is no place like home!
Riley Fuchs of St. Gabriel Parish, Saddle River, NJ, was so moved by the plight of the Haitian children that she decided to help them in a very tangible way. On the occasion of her seventh birthday, Riley did not receive gifts for herself, but she wanted the gift that keeps on giving. She asked her guests to bring items for the children of Haiti. This picture is a testimony to the other children’s generosity and the joy that Riley experienced by giving rather than receiving. In Riley’s own words: “I felt really happy to give these toys and shoes to the children of Haiti!” Thank you, Riley, for this beautiful example of love and generosity! Mesi anpil. Bondye beni ou.
During the month of October, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Maywood, NJ, collected school supplies and books for our mission here in Haiti. The whole parish was involved in the project. On December 3, we received notification that the pallet of over 30 boxes had arrived in Port au Prince. The next day, we thought we were going to pick up the donated boxes. This was only the beginning of a long process. We went to the place to which the email directed us, to the terminal where it had been delivered. We learned that first we needed to go to Seaboard Marine Ltd., which is on the other side of the city. We are so grateful for Fritz, our driver! We had to pick up the paperwork, and then we needed to go to the bank for a certified check to pay for the paperwork. Next we were sent back across the city to bring the papers to a “broker,” (these are men and women who deal with customs). After we met with the “broker,” he could not begin the process because the pallet had been sent to the Felician Sisters, Attention: Sr. Marilyn Minter. We do not have legal status in Haiti, only as individual persons; my license name is Minter, Marilyn M. After many phone calls to New Jersey to the coordinator of the pallet, we could get the name changed on the paperwork. This took two days. After all that, we came home without anything. We believed that this would take at least a week. We experienced a real time of Advent waiting.
Every other day we would call the “broker” and write him emails (in Creole), always being told tomorrow or next week; and so we waited. We worried that the waiting time meant that we would be paying more taxes for the boxes sitting in the terminal. We wanted the boxes for Christmas in order to distribute the items to the poor. We were afraid that the taxes would be more than what the parish had sent to us. Finally on Tuesday, January 14, we received notice of the amount that was needed to be pay for taxes. We were in shock at the amount of tax we had to pay with certified check. We were taxed $13 USD. We thought we were reading the paper wrong because it was in gourds. The certified check had to be sent to Port au Prince that day so we could pick up the boxes the following day.
On Wednesday, January 15, we went to Port au Prince and got all the boxes. We brought them here to Jacmel, and our boys helped us unload the truck. The next day we got ready to distribute the school supplies. We thank Fr. Larry Fama, Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish; Bill Cromwell, coordinator; and all the people who gave to our mission here in Jacmel. We are so grateful to all of you! We also thank the New York Yankees baseball team for the backpacks. Mesi, mesi anpil. Bondye beni ou.
Two days ago we were introduced to Fr. Jean-Pierre, who came for our 6 a.m. Mass to celebrate the Eucharist for us. He was in the seminary with Fr. Kontan, who usually celebrates Mass for us. Fr. Jean-Pierre is now in the Archdiocese of Boston. He came back to Haiti with friends from the Archdiocese: Fr. Bill, from Sts. Monica and Lucy; a group of mission pilgrims from St. Martha, Plainville; and a group from St. Mary’s, Wrentham, MA. Yesterday and today, the mission pilgrims came to celebrate Mass with us in our chapel. Additionally, a group of them came for our English classes and met our students to have conversations in English with them. It is a blessing to make new friends.
Today, January 12 is the 4th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that destroyed most of Haiti. On that day many lives were lost and families were torn apart, homes were lost and people’s lives were destroyed.
Melinda and John Philip, sister and brother lost their parents and home that day 4 years ago. Melinda is now 22 and John Philip is 12. They both now are in the 5th grade. Since that day they have lived with relatives and friends, living in difficult conditions, being hungry and sleeping on chairs because there was no space for them to lie down. We met them a year ago when they began to participate in our english classes and food program. Now Melinda not only learns english but assists us in our Mother Angela kitchen in feeding our hungry children. Yesterday, we were able to help them rent a room. Besides a few clothes they did not have anything else. We found two mattresses in our container, some furniture, sheets and towels, cooking utensils, table and chairs, and some other household items to get them started to be on their own.
The Lord planned the day, we had help from friends and got the truck from Bishop Launay to transport the things needed for their home. The truck could only get to a certain point on the road where they now live so we needed to carry everything down a narrow path. We thank those of you who made it possible for Melinda and John Philip to have their own place now and depend on God’s providence to continue to help them in the future.
Every morning, sitting with the Word of God, I try to see my life in Jacmel in the light of the Word of the day. Today I ask myself: Do I believe Jesus is the Son of God, my Savior and my Lord? The Spirit of the Lord testifies this to me–Jesus came in the flesh, human and divine, for me. Do I believe this? Do I accept this truth? The truth is “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son…” Believe! Give testimony and testify to this personal love you know and experience.
“If you want, wish, you can make me clean.” Are the poor here my untouchables, the situations that come my way? Jesus, you have the power to make all things new – I know and see all the situations here that are concerns for me, those situations that need your healing and blessing, fixing, making right. Consider the Toyota ambulance; it seems like a good solution to aid the poor and sick, to give people a job and income. Yet you say, “not yet.” Then we think about the pallet–donations sent by ship from a parish faith community from the goodness of their hearts. It was sent over a month ago, and it still sits in the port, waiting to be released because of the hardness of hearts of others. Yet you say, “not yet.” Ponder the situation of the two siblings who have no place to live, so they search for a place to sleep, a home of their own. It is like the Holy Family as they searched for a place to stay. We feel called to help in the search, but rent is so expensive here for the poor. We are asking others to help us in the search and seeing how this is building relationships.
I hear you today, Jesus, saying, “of course I want and wish to heal all these situations that will extend my power and healing for others.” Jesus, you are always giving back what is lost: health, home, family, human dignity. Use me to be your touch today, to all who come to our door.
Every morning, sitting with the Word of God, I try to see my life in Jacmel, Haiti, in the light of the Word of the day. Today there are two lines in the first reading that grab my attention: …”whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him self,” and “…who possesses the Son has eternal life.”
Our life here is very different from the lives we each led before Jacmel. It is totally directed toward others. We are not doing great deeds but small ones, such as giving a cup of water to someone who is thirsty. Our normal day will be spent on preparing for morning English class and conducting the class; buying food for Kizin Manman Angela; searching for a room to rent for two siblings whose parents died during the earthquake and who still do not have a place to sleep; finding help for someone failing in school; etc. When you add to this very hot weather, even this can be so tiring. I am also learning a new “trade”….making bracelets for girls in order to teach them to make the bracelets themselves…. Two years ago I would not have believed anyone who would have told me I could do this! And, of course, there are our Creole classes….so we would be able to communicate and, most of all, to proclaim the Word to them. How much I desire to tell them that, even if they have hardly anything material, they have Jesus Christ; and having Him, they have eternal life and they have this testimony in themselves. One of my biggest joys here was when I was able to begin giving little catechesis in Creole before Christmas. This is such a joy to be able to proclaim the Good News in a different language!