Tuesday, January 20, 2009

haiti: a brief report

just a quick note that we had a very good first day in haiti; we visited the school of mercy, which has gone from 170 students to 190; we observed all of the classes, they all sang to us, pam spoke to the whole group, and then our team had a conversation with their principal antoine. i offered a prayer of dedication for the school, and we also had gifts for the students.
later we hiked to the citadel, which is a monument to haitian independence from the french, and which is pretty strenuous; it always reminds me of hiking to masada in israel. this morning we are making food packets for the orphanage and clinic, and pumping up soccer balls to distribute, and we will visit the clinic, the orphanage and the tent school today. tomorrow will be church, I will preach, and then my wife pam and michele seagraves (our chair of global ministries, and also a social worker) will do a home visit with a boy and a girl student to learn family their histories--of course, with their consent. i think we will have dinner with the pastor of the methodist church, chrisnel, tomorrow evening, here at the hotel. on monday some of us will fly home, others will remain and work with the medical team. it has been good so far. it is good to be in haiti again. please pray for the people here and for our team and mission. we woke up early and after a breakfast of haitian spaghetti (don't ask), we bagged a granular mixture that includes ecamil, which is given to families who visit the clinic. then the medical team arrived; it was a reunion of a number of friends, including alice white and ray ford, two of the very key leaders in the larger haiti mission. we all had a light lunch, and then we piled in vehicles to head to tovar, a village that is approximately 10 miles (40 minutes) away. i gave our college students a tour of the clinic, and we also stepped inside the tovar methodist church. we then walked to the ford orphanage, named in honor of robert ford, ray's father. it was/is quite remarkable. we then drove to a tent school, where there were maybe 100 students who study each day under a tent, and have been led by volunteer teachers for 2 years. and then we drove up to visit a newly completed duplex for the elderly retired; very primitive but also very functional. someone from the community gave a prayer of dedication; i asked him if he was a pastor and he laughed. we then drove back to the mont joli hotel, for dinner, which included lobster(good). no access to obama, nfl or the nyse. it has been good to be here; some remarkable things are coming together with the church, microfinance and the haiti school of mercy. more tomorrow. the day began with a breakfast of haitian spaghetti; i am looking forward to the return of peanut butter and jelly on rye. we then went over to the methodist church in cap haitian. i had forwarded my sermon to rev. chrisnell, who is the superintendent of the cap haitian circuit (nine churches, and additional clinics and schools). he told me the service would have lots of music--it was a harvest service, which meant five of the church choirs sang. i preached from mark 1. 14-20, which is the lectionary for this coming sunday (i therefore have a head start on sunday, jan 25), and rev. chrisnell translated. they took up two offerings, as usual--one for the church and one for the poor. then i gave the benediction. i was also able to greet jacques lamour's dad, who worships there. we returned to the mont joli for lunch. a group of our college students went to a nearby beach, and i tagged along, although it was not very sunny and there was an abundance of mosquitoes. we hung out there for awhile--i was in the process of finishing marilynne robinson's "home", which I highly recommend. we returned (on a treacherous road) and had a brainstorming session about the haiti school of mercy. then a pre-dinner conversation with rev. chrisnell , who supervises 48 local preachers. one of our team members, mike smith, chairs the board of disciple bible in prison for the two n.c. annual conferences, and teaches disciple in prison. he and chrisnell had a conversation about the possibility of disciple being translated into their setting and its use a a curriculum for the local preachers. we were also joined by eugene, a haitian physician, who is also involved in a very small microfinance initiative that we are hoping to support. both chrisnell and eugene have become good friends over time. our hope for the future is not so much a series of episodic projects as lifelong friendships. as the years pass, this seems to be a realistic hope. then another conversation with mike about all of it, over a glass of fruit punch; then sleep...


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