Sunday, November 3, 2013

Let’s Start a Music School! Go Team!

As promised, here is post number two this weekend to tell you about the preparation going on with the music school and my other little adventures!  

During my first week back in Cap-Haïtien, I was given the time to get settled in the new apartment and learn about the city.  My fellow missionary and roommate, Kyle has been living in Cap for a few months and has been extremely helpful in getting me acquainted with my new home.  We were all over the place in my first few days to meet people, see places, and get a few more things for the apartment.  As you can see, I was short a pillow and had the joy of carrying it down the streets of Cap (every taxi and moto thought I needed a ride!).

On my first Friday back in Haiti, myself, Kyle, Bishop Ogé and Serette drove out to Terrier Rouge to visit St. Barnabus, the Episcopal agricultural school.  They were having a graduation, so as expected my flute skills can in handy.  It was a wonderful ceremony and it was nice to see many of the priests from the northern region again.

My second Monday back I was hard at work with the music school.  As I have explained, I have been relocated to Cap-Haïtien to assist the northern region of the Diocese of Haiti with starting a music program.  Eight Episcopal schools and three villages were donated band instruments from the NGO, Food for the Poor.  Now that the schools have instruments, my job this year is to help provide administrative structure to the program and to train the music teachers at each site.  The sticky notes on this map that hangs in my office shows all the different locations of the schools and where I lived last year.   

This means that I not only work here in Cap-Haïtien, but I also travel to these other locations to meet in person with the priests, school administrations, and music teachers.  My first visit which covered three of the sites, Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, and Gonaïves were planned a little sooner than I had anticipated.  This led to long hours, and as you can see from the pic my co-worker took I was just a little worn out (I promise I was just resting my eyes)!

Along with the preparation for the music school, I did have the chance to do a fun trip one day.  About an hour outside of Cap-Haïtien lies the town of Millot.  My co-worker has family in this area, so we took a trip to visit them.  It was a lot of fun because it was the first time I really got to experience Haitian country life.  While there I was asked if I wanted to see the “garden,” to be completely honest I would call it a jungle.  All sorts of great things were growing there including chadek, cocoa, plantains, coffee beans, and bananas.  

After our walk through the “garden,” I also had the opportunity to try my very first coconut.  It was delicious!  The whole trip was a lot of fun and wonderful way to get some fresh air away from my office.  I also really enjoyed experiencing a very different side of Haitian life that I didn’t see last year.  Music school preparation continued throughout the week and in my next post I’ll tell you all about my first trip to do teacher training!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Last Week in the US and Back to Haiti Round Two!

Hello from Haiti again!  I realize that it has been awhile since my last post and I thank all of my supporters back home in the states for your patience!  I must apologize for my silence on the Haitian front; my internet situation is a little more challenging this year.  Of course though, I will do my best to catch you up on everything that’s happened.  So for this post let’s rewind to my last week in the United States and my travels back to Haiti.

As many of you know, thanks to the Episcopal Church Center and slight change to return date to Haiti, I was able to attend the reentry retreat in New York City.  The reentry retreat brings back all of the YASCers from the most recent year into one place to process our year of service and share stories.  The retreat is held at the Episcopal Church Center, also fondly known as “815.”  

I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to see everyone from my YASC class and loved hearing about everyone’s experiences.  Although each of us had our own unique experience, it was comforting and interesting to learn that we all experienced similar battles and triumphs.  Overall it was just wonderful to spend time with my fellow missionaries and the 815 staff.  

Upon returning from New York, I headed back out to Winchester to spend one last Sunday with Christ Church before flying to Haiti for another year.  After the service, members our youth group and other parish families all joined together to say goodbye to me in a very special way.  This is when I now admit that my favorite movie is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, so for my send off we all saw Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Got to love my parish!!!

After spending all night packing (I really should learn how NOT to be a procrastinator), I hopped on the 5:55 am flight to Miami to then take the flight down to Port-au-Prince.  Travel this year was a piece of cake and I can’t tell you how good it felt to actually know some Creole at the airport!  After landing in Port-au-Prince, I then took a small regional flight up to Cap-Haïtien and was greeted at the airport by my fellow missionary and roommate Kyle Evans. 

My first evening was spent unpacking by head lamp (electricity goes out a lot more here).  I couldn’t resist showing you how much fun that is! 

It was a great way to arrive back in Haiti and as you can see, the view from my new place is stunning!  Thank you again to everyone for all of the prayers and support!  Come back soon, I promise there will be at least two more posts this weekend highlighting the adventures from this month.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Les Petits Chanteurs in Winchester, Virginia

As you read in my last post, Winchester was blessed with a very special visit yesterday.  Les Petits Chaunters, the boys choir from Ecole de Musique Sainte Trinité the school I worked with all year, made a stop last night to perform at Christ Episcopal Church.  I have to admit that this was probably one of the most special moments I've had in my ministry.  It was so amazing, and rare, to have the people that I served in Haiti be able to visit my home parish and meet the people who have been supporting me all year long.

The choir and chamber orchestra came into town yesterday afternoon.  I was surprised at how early they came in, but delighted to come running into our parish hall to find all of my friends from Haiti!  I was greeted with loud cheers and lots of hugs.  I cannot tell you how exciting it was to have everyone there.  

After a little tour of our downtown walking mall and rehearsals, we all joined together for a Haitian inspired dinner.  During the dinner, myself and a few of the boys from the choir were interviewed by our local TV station.  You can watch the clip by following this link: Les Petits Chanteurs.  (Click on the video called "Les Petits Chanteurs")

The concert, which filled up with people from our parish and the community, was spectacular!  I was touched that my request was honored and the choir sang my favorite song called Tap Tap.  And as I expected, no concert with Haitian music is complete unless it involves a little dancing!  

The evening ended with combined choir and chamber orchestra pieces.  Everyone loved the concert and enjoyed visiting with the musicians after the concert at the reception.  

After the evening ended, the musicians headed home with host families from Christ Church.  All I heard this morning as families dropped their guests back off at the church was how much fun they had with them.  I loved being able to watch my two families become one larger family.  It was a truly beautiful evening and I can't thank God enough for making it possible.    

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Welcome Home! is all I can say because it's hard to believe that I've returned home already!  In some ways it feels like I never left and in other ways I feel like I really have been gone all year.  Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time home thus far and most of all loved getting to see everybody!  I know my family and friends were with me on my journey, but seeing everyone in person is so much better.  As I'm sure you're not surprised, I've been doing lots of exciting things since my return so here's a little update of my most recent fun-filled American adventures!

After quite a few delays, I finally got home very early in the morning on Friday, August 9.  I spent my first few days with my parents catching up with them and some American favorites I've been missing.  As you can see, I shared a great frozen treat with my Dad! 

On Sunday I made my way back to my home parish, Christ Church.  It was so fantastic to see my amazing supporting parish.  I had a great time seeing everyone (especially reactions from people since I didn't say exactly which did I would be back...surprise!)!  On Wednesday, Webster and I travelled down to Richmond to visit the Diocese of Virginia diocesan office. 

We were invited to the office for a mission luncheon for the diocesan staff to learn about mission work in Haiti.  I came to talk about my ministry from this past year in Haiti, and to talk about my future work in Cap-Haïtien.  Père Val, a Haitian priest, and his wife also joined us to talk about their work in Haiti and the partnerships that they have with the Diocese of Virginia.  A wonderful time was had by all and I was excited to meet everyone in the office.  

In my time in Winchester, I've enjoyed catching up with friends through a variety of multi-cultural events.  Last weekend I enjoyed a Celtic music concert and then the Greek festival with Bridget!  

And my time at home was not complete without a chance to share about some of my adventures through delivering the message Sunday morning for both of our services at Christ Church.  If you weren't able to catch it on Sunday, you can visit Christ Church's website to listen to it  Thank you to everyone for helping me feel so at home!  I look forward to continuing to share my stories from this past year and also preparing for this coming year!  Thank you also to my sponsors from this week Marlene Coffey and Rob & Susan Ross.  Check back in a few weeks to learn about the visitors we're getting at Christ Church...Les Petit Chanteurs, the Haitian boys choir!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grand Camp at Cange

Every year Ecole de Musique Sainte Trinité holds a three week camp for both instrumental and vocal music students.  Students come from all over Haiti, including Cap-Haïtien, Hinche, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince, and Cange to participate in this camp.  Originally it was held in Léogâne, Haiti, but was moved after the earthquake to Cange and has been held there for the past three years.  The camp is facilitated by both the teachers of Sainte Trinité and volunteers who come in from all of the world (mainly the US).  I was one of those volunteers who helped run the band program.

My travels to Cange were quite eventful (no surprise) with a tire blowout on the way there, but after a quick fix and some hysterical pictures, we eventually got to the beautiful Cange facilities.  I woke up early on my first morning to photograph the sunrise, which was totally worth it.  Later in the afternoon all of the campers arrived for camp which officially began on Monday.

Photo by John Cahill

Camp got off to a good start on Monday with band placement auditions.  Due to so many band students, we were able to have two complete bands, a beginning and an intermediate level.  Since I had worked with many of the beginning students throughout the year, I opted to assist with the intermediate band.  The average day for our intermediate band students included sectionals, theory class, and large ensemble rehearsals.  

Photo by John Cahill

As it was throughout the school year, I was the resident piccolo player.  I played with both the band and also with the orchestra, which had rehearsals in the evening.  And I must admit, I was pretty excited because I had some pretty fantastic piccolo repertoire that I got to play throughout the three weeks of camp!

Funniest moment of camp was the day I locked my roommate, Guerlyn and myself out of our room.  Thanks to the help from the group of high school students from Maine, we completely removed the door to get into our room.  I think this might be one of the few cases where breaking and entering is acceptable!

During the second week, I helped conduct the intermediate band.  I chose a fun Latin medley for the band to play.  Not only did the students sound great and had a fun time playing it, but I also was able to feature two of the wonderful musicians in the group.  I'm not a huge fan of conducting full ensembles, however I truly loved the opportunity to work and connect with the whole group.

My final week of camp was spent playing more than teaching.  It was nice break to be just a musician for the week.  As much as I love making music, my favorite part of camp was all of the moments spent with my Haitian friends one last time before heading home to the states.  A big thank you to all of the sponsors of the past few weeks including John & Mym Applin, Charlene Romano, and Roger & Helen Zebarth.  Camp flew by and it's really hard to believe that I'm now back in the states!  Check back later this week for an update on the excitement I've had upon returning to the US!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Mini-Camp We Go!

So what do you get when you combine fifty-five children under the age of 6, a ton of goofy songs and dances, a bunch of recorders, and two crazy teachers....the answer is mini-camp!  During the first two weeks of this month Ecole de Musique Sainte Trinité held their annual mini-camp for recorder students, beginner strings, beginner band, and beginner choir members.  I was blessed with the exciting job of assisting my good friend and colleague, Deborah with the flûte-à-bec (recorder) class.

Every day for two weeks, Monday through Friday, our fifty-five recorder children showed up at Sainte Trinité cathedral around 8am.  After morning prayer, we headed to our designated room and began our day with songs and dance.  I had a great time trying to remember some of my favorite children’s songs and translating them into Creole.  

We also had a little 90’s flashback and taught the kids the Macarena.  I cannot not even express how hysterical it was to watch my class follow me in the dance!

Our morning song and dance was followed by time spent teaching basic music theory and recorder to the students.  We spent time learning our different note values and the first three notes on the recorder.  Then mid-morning we took time to refuel and took a break for snack.  These three women are the masterminds behind making sure our bellies were full.  Not only are they great cooks, but they always had a smile on their face when you came to visit them.  I’m super grateful to all of them!      

After snack, we worked on more recorder music.  Then we broke the class into two groups and half of our students went to a dance class, while the other half stayed with me for crafts.  Finally at 1pm our little munchkins went home and I spent the afternoon prepping for the next day.  

At the end of the two weeks on our final Friday, we had a big concert for everyone to show off what they learned.  Our kids showed off their new knowledge of music and mad recorder skills.  

Although it was basically two weeks of straight madness, I wouldn’t have traded those two weeks for anything.  I loved having the opportunity to spend time with the youngest musicians of EMST.  And I’m hoping some of my translated songs will live on for future mini-camps.  Also I have to give a big thank you to my parish; those VBS mission trips in the Dominican Republic were really fantastic training for mini-camp!  And then thank you of course to my sponsors Kathy & Nick Nerangis and my old flute teacher Francis Averitt!  Less than two weeks and I'm home everyone!!!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Little Voyage to Cap-Haitïen!

As many of you know, I will be returning to Haiti for a second year of service with the Young Adult Service Corps.  I will be returning home in August for a few weeks to catch up with family and friends, and then at the end of September I will be flying back to Haiti.  When I return I will be working in the northern part of Haiti, so two weeks ago I traveled up to Cap-Haitïen again.  

This trip to Cap served many purposes: 1) To meet and plan with Bishop Ogé what my work will be next year. 2) To drop off some luggage to make travel home a little easier in August. 3) Check out my new living arrangements. 4) Take a little vacation from Port-au-Prince before the music camps started.

My trip was off to a great start on Wednesday.  Three partners from Episcopal Church in the US traveled to Haiti to check out new potential project sites and I had the pleasure of traveling with them.  You can only imagine how excited I was to learn when they arrived that they were from Richmond and the Diocese of Virginia!!!  

Unfortunately there was not enough room in the car for me to join the partners on their trip on Thursday.  So after a good night’s rest, I hung out with Serette, Bishop Ogé’s wife and my adopted Haitian mom!  The two of us had a wonderful day baking, sharing meals, and enjoying each other’s company.  It was so nice to feel like I was with family again and enjoyed the relaxing day.

On Friday there was room for me in the car this time!  We first headed to Trou-du-Nord where we looked at potential project of building the rectory for Saint Luc.  Then we visited the church and school where we saw the preparations going on for their summer camps. 

We then drove to Terrier Rouge to see the Episcopal agricultural school, Saint Barnabas.  I have to say I’ll always be a city kid, but it was super exciting to be walking in the country through grass again!  Everything is so green up north!        

In the afternoon we returned to Cap-Haitïen and took a trip to the plot of land that will be used for the new Diocesan center of the north.  The plot of land is another potential site as it needs a fence around it to avoid squatters.  It looks like it’s going to be a great place for the center; lots of land and a beautiful view of the mountains.

Afterwards we took a quick trip to the Episcopal vocational school which is the location of my new apartment.  Myself and Kyle, another Episcopal missionary, will be sharing an apartment there and it will also be the location of my office.  I’m excited because as you can see the view from my patio is amazing!

Next stop was on to a soccer game.  It was a game between the local priests and pastors of the Cap-Haitïen area.  Bishop Ogé had the honor of kicking the soccer ball that started the whole game.  It’s not every day you get to see your future boss kick off a game!

On my last day in Cap-Haitïen, I met with Bishop Ogé in the morning to talk about my job next year.  I will be helping get a music program started in seven different Episcopal schools in the north.  I’ll be helping train the teachers of the program along with providing administrative help.  We had a great meeting and I’m super excited to start my work there next year!

All around it was a wonderful trip and I’m really looking forward to September.  But before then I can’t wait to see everyone at home to catch up!  Thank you for all of the support as this first year is winding down and thank you to my sponsors Greg Whitmer & Anne Wallinger, Becky Stern, my Grandma Bingaman, and Kathi Adams.  Stay tuned for an update next week about the fun of mini-camp!

Monday, June 24, 2013

As Another School Year Ends...

As always life here in Haiti never seems to slow down even though school is now out!  Since returning from Colombia at the beginning of May, I think I’ve had some sort of concert, performance, or service to play for almost every weekend.  Along with the excitement of several musical happenings, I’ve also been helping plan for mini-camp, been photographer for the school, and begun to pack.  (And isn't it crazy that I’m talking about packing already!?!)  

So let’s take a moment to highlight the performances of these past few weeks.  The first was an OPST concert that featured tango music.  For the concert we had a guest conductor, a flutist, a bandoneon player (it’s kind of like an accordion), and two professional tango dancers come in from Argentina to perform with us.  My favorite part, and also the audience’s favorite part, was the dancers.  They were stunning as you can see from my photo and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with these fellow artists.  

The other performances were all for services at Sainte Trinité Cathedral.  There was much to celebrate in the cathedral in May and June.  We celebrated Holy Trinity Day, the 20th anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Duracin, and the 100th anniversary of the Sainte Trinité Cathedral.  On the Sunday of the 100th anniversary of the cathedral, we also celebrated the graduation of the first ever graduating class of Ecole Sainte Trinité.  Until a few years ago Ecole Sainte Trinité was only a primary school going up to the 6th grade.  So it was very exciting (and coincidental) that the 100th anniversary was same year as the first graduating class!

As “photographer” for the school, I get the pleasure of joining some of the chamber groups of the music school for their performances.  This past weekend, the Chamber Orchestra played Music Day at Fokal, a popular arts venue in Port-au-Prince.  I love being able to enjoy the concerts through the lens of my camera and be able to help capture these special moments for the school.

Another joy of being a missionary is all of the amazing people you get to meet and cool places you get to visit.  Through a request of 815, I was asked to take some pictures of St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped.  The school is run by the Episcopal Church and is one of the very few facilities for handicapped children in Haiti.  As you can see, I made a great new friend in my visit there!

Another one of those cool visits happened this past week.  Myself and three other people from St. Jacques’ English congregation made a trip to the women’s prison in Pétion-Ville.  Throughout the year, the English congregation has been collecting various supplies such as soap, toothpaste, wash clothes, etc. to create packets to give to the women in prison.  Our trip last week to deliver the packets to the inmates was the final piece of the project.  Myself and the other volunteers felt very humbled for the opportunity to visit almost 300 women and share the love of Christ with them through these packets we had created for them.  It was a wonderful visit and the congregation hopes to keep these relations we've created with the prison to help them again in the future.

So a whirlwind of excitement as always and now to get ready for camps!  Of course a big thank you to the sponsors from these past few weeks Anna Mueller, Don & Yvonne Bingaman, Arthur Sperry, Bill & Sue Jarvis, Wayne & Pam McKinly, Cathie Waldie, Ron & Dee Johnston, Martha & Jim Griffin, Gil & Marge Kesser, Pat & Mari Kofalt, Jim & Sylvia Petrie, Jane Harris, and Polly, John, Jack, & Maria Nelson.  Also dear friends and family back home, you can begin the countdown...I’ll be back in the states at the beginning of August!  Can’t wait till I get to see you all soon, but until then I’ll help keep the music education going here in Haiti!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

76 Trombones in the Big Parade!!!

Ok well seventy-six might be a slight exaggeration, more like three trombones....but hey we had the premier of the first ever Sainte Trinite marching band!  As promised, I told you I would tell you all about our first performance when it happened!

When I returned from Colombia, I jumped right back into the swing of things.  We rehearsed everyday with the marching band preparing for their first performance that was to take place on May 17 in honor of Flag Day in Haiti.  

I was so excited to come back and see the hard work that both the students and my colleagues had done while I was away.  The students prepared two pieces for their performance, the Haitian National Anthem and the Let’s Go Band.  

On Friday, we all met early in the morning to get ready for our first parade.  The parade included our marching band, dancers, and students who had prepared some songs to sing and a skit (all were students from the Ecole de Sainte Trinité).  At about 10:30 a.m., we took our first steps on the road in front of the cathedral and it was so cool to see everyone on the streets stop to watch!

Eventually we ended up in front of the National Palace to play the National Anthem for everyone.  Then the other students performed their skit and songs.  After some exciting performances, we continued our parade to the Ministry of Culture.

At the Ministry of Culture we performed for the Minister of Culture and the staff.  After the performance the students got a break and were the stars of tons of pictures!

Finally we marched back to the cathedral, after a few more photo ops.  When we got back to the school, there was a mini-celebration with drummers jamming out and the students cheering.  The excitement was absolutely infectious!  Overall, I was super proud of the success of the students, but more importantly happy to see that they had such a good time.