Haiku

Haiti

By Gary Luther

Amazing journey!
Beauty, learning, turmoil, such
generosity!

Sisters, Father, Friends
gift giving and receiving
new and stronger bonds!

Haiti oh Haiti!
May justice and truth bear fruit as Grace shows the way!

On to Port au Prince
Patience, smoke, fuel, stress, arrived!
Voices heard, hearts pained.

Hinche to Roanoke
Blessed are they who trust the Lord.
Mountains to mountains.

Home

We are back in Roanoke, tired and grateful for all of your love and prayers. When I turned on my phone upon landing, I found photos that Richard Joseph had sent me from new roadblocks and protests in Mirebalais, where we had passed through safely yesterday. We pray that there is no more bloodshed and that the Haitian government is responsive to its people’s need for the basic human necessities of food, water, medical care, education, and the ability to work.

As I think about the two photos below, I reflect upon how far apart our two worlds are. But I also think about how close we are when we come to know each other in solidarity. Our Haitian friends continue to show us the depth of their love through their incredible hospitality, deep abiding faith, and protection of our safety. We are profoundly thankful to them.

Mirebalais, this morning

Safe return to Roanoke

At the Airport!

We left early this morning and had no trouble making it to the airport. There were many remnants of roadblocks along the roads, but no active protests yet. Sister Veronique said that everyone is taking a break this morning to let people go to church, but protests may start again this afternoon. The gas stations have long lines of cars, trucks, tap-taps, and people on foot. There were probably 200 people waiting at the Mirebalais gas station, so we decided to wait to get gas in Port-au-Prince. We were glad for our drivers, Iram and Tidou, and Sister Veronique. Their bargaining skill got us through the line in only 30 minutes! Meanwhile, we are safe in the airport and will wait here until our 3:40 flight to Atlanta.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers. Please continue to keep Haiti in prayer…it was hard leaving today, knowing that the future is uncertain for the people here. We hold all of our Haitian friends in our hearts.

Saturday Update

On behalf of the OLN pilgrim team, we thank all of you for your prayers, most especially your prayers for the people of Haiti. We continue to shelter in place and feel very safe at Ecole Normale, where the Petite Sisters of Saint Therese are treating us with such care and kindness.

Our current plan is to check conditions tonight and early tomorrow morning. If the roads are clear, we will attempt the three-hour drive to Port-au-Prince very early. Richard Joseph, one of our Haitian friends, has a network of priest friends all the way to Port-au-Prince who will keep us apprised of road conditions and how things look at the airport. At any point, if we feel it is unsafe to continue, we will revise our plans.

Please continue to pray. I will update the blog or my Facebook page (Cynthia Unwin) as I can with updates.

Meanwhile, we are filling our time with card-playing, reading, conversation, laundry, and baby goat obsession.

Pray for Haiti

The situation in Haiti has continued to deteriorate as “Operation Lock Down Haiti” enters its second week. Because there are roadblocks all along the National highways and barricades at the Port-au-Prince airport, we have decided to stay in Papaye until the situation improves. Please know that we are very safe and are being cared for with great love by the Petite Sisters. A huge water truck was able to bring two deliveries of water to the campus, and food supplies are getting through to the school as well, sometimes by donkey and motorcycle!

Please pray for the people of Haiti, that this situation will be resolved peacefully, and that the voices of the Haitian people will be heard.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine (aka Father Joe) left some treats on each of our doors this morning. Love is flowing all around!

Queen Clermann wishes you well inside her heart of trees.

We will be staying in Papaye today instead of traveling to Port-au-Prince as originally planned. The roads are blocked in Mirebalais, so we would not be able to make it all the way. We’ll try again very early tomorrow morning. Please pray for peace and our safe passage.

Meanwhile, here are a few more mementos of our time here.

Gene didn’t know he was famous until yesterday…

We were pleased to meet the recipients of the OLN scholarships. The two women who received scholarships were off campus, so they couldn’t join us.

Père Cassagnol, the new director of the Emmaus Center, con-celebrated a beautiful student mass with Father Joe and two other priests on Wednesday. The Emmaus Center has been such a place of refuge (and Wi-Fi!) during our stay here.

And, we’ve added a new tradition…cards! Turns out a few of us have a bit of a competitive streak…

Angelo Pierre, a 2018 Ecole Normale graduate and Cyndy’s godson, joined us and learned not to mess with Dawn in the game of War.

Stay tuned for updates on our travel. Our flight is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, but safety is our first priority. The sisters are taking great care of us, and if they say stay, we stay. We appreciate your prayers and solidarity with this wonderful community.

Flora and Fauna!

Things have been quiet here at Ecole Normale, because things are not quiet elsewhere in the country. There have been widespread protests against the government, usually in the form of roadblocks, which make travel and normal daily life difficult. Because of this, classes have been cancelled at our school and Sacred Heart, the secondary school in our campus. The good news is that we have been able to spend valuable time with Sister Veronique and the other sisters at the convent, and have had opportunities to interact with the students who live on campus.

Another challenge for the school is that the well malfunctioned about a week ago. The engineers were finally able to get through today, and they are trying to determine if the problem is an electrical one, a pump issue, or a lowered water table. Meanwhile, we are drinking water out of bottles and bathing with a bucket of water carried from a nearby source. It has again reminded us how critical water is to survival and well being.

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I have had plenty of time to take photos of the abundance of life here…both plant and animal. Much of what is growing can be eaten, and we have certainly been fed well! Enjoy!

The Fourth Day

At this morning’s mass, the first reading was about the creation of the world. On the fourth day, God created the sun and the moon. We are experiencing both in abundance here in Haiti!

Things in Haiti are in flux now. There has been a sharp rise in inflation and extreme gas shortages. The elected president has done little to improve the situation, and the Haitian people have recently been protesting his leadership.

When we arrived last Friday afternoon, our ride to Hinche was delayed due to a protest roadblock on the National Highway 3. We were fortunate to be able to stay at Matthew 25, a guest house in Port-au-Prince that houses many twinning groups. Janet, our hostess, was so gracious, even though our stay was unexpected. Other guests were Bob and his wife, who work with the sea container twinning group. They stay in Haiti six months of the year. Their dog Sadie was a hit with Father Joe and Dawn.

Saturday was a calm day, and the roads were open, so our driver Iram and Sister Veronique were able to pick us up. Off to Hinche we went!

On our way, we visited with Pere Romel, the former director at the Emmaus Center. He is now the pastor at a large church in Mirebalais. He has already made his mark there, with 13 teams of parishioners helping to clean the streets after the Saturday market in preparation for Sunday Mass. His parochial vicar is Pere Rico, who has only been a priest for three months…even more of a rookie that our own Father James. 🙂

(Above, Pere Romel’s church)

It has been busy since then, with Sunday Mass at Pere Jacque’s church in Hinche, breakfast at Richard Joseph’s house (thank you, Richard and Rosalind!), many conversations with the PSST sisters, and fun with the Ecole Normale students at their weekly talent show (Sister Veronique “volunteered us” to dance with the students!). The campus here is such a peaceful place, and we are grateful for the warm welcome we have received.