Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus! Happy New Year World! And Happy Independence Day Haiti!

Dear friends, a lot has happened during this holiday season, and I offer my apologies for not telling you about sooner!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's!  Celebrating the holidays in Haiti was a ton of fun, but I had no doubt that would be the case.  In a lot of ways it felt like a normal Advent season - tons of concerts, lots of tasty food and holiday cheer!  But of course there were a lot of differences too!

Photo by John Cahill

As I said we had a lot of performances in these past few weeks which included the two students ensemble concerts, a special performance at one of the local high schools, the OPST Christmas concert, many church service performances and a special treat of playing for my first wedding in Haiti!  All of the performances were filled with Christmas songs that we sing at home (minus the wedding of course - that was just standard wedding marches and good ol' Pachelbel's Canon).  I particularly enjoyed the OPST concert because not only was I able to play with the orchestra, I also sang with the choir.  It was wonderful having the season filled with music! 

Now to tell you about my Christmas began with a lovely service at St. Jacques followed by coffee and breakfast with my congregation.  I was particularly excited to have french toast (not very Haitian, but it was as close as I could get to my traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls - cinnamon was still involved!).  In the late afternoon, I was invited to one of my orchestra friend's house for a Haitian Christmas dinner.  After dinner my friends took me to Parc de la Canne à Sucre, which is a park dedicated to telling the story of sugar cane production in Haiti.  It was a fascinating place to visit, and my Christmas day was topped off with rum raisin ice cream (a Haitian favorite).  

My weekend following Christmas I traveled to Port Salut, in the south western part of Haiti.  Myself and four other musicians from Holy Trinity visited there for the wedding between two of the OPST members.  The wedding was beautiful, and the location was a perfect place for the event!  I've been told that Port Salut has some of the best beaches in Haiti, and as you can see they are rather beautiful!

Upon our return from Port Salut, myself and five musicians from Holy Trinity went to the final tapping of a Haitian TV show.  The show was kind of like the Haitian version of America's Got Talent, and the five musicians from the school were the judges for the show.  It was so much fun to watch, and seeing the Haitian version of the Backstreet Boys was probably the highlight of my evening.  Also because of my "in" with the judges, I was able to get a great shot of the winner from the competition (he's the guy in the middle holding the trophy)!

This now brings me to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  My eve was spent bringing it in with friends; a simple, quiet evening (which is hard to believe because the area I live in was kind of crazy with all the people out and about).  On New Year's Day (also the Independence Day of Haiti), I spent my time enjoying friends and food!  One of the traditions on this day is to eat pumpkin soup.  This is because the French forbade the Haitians to eat this particular dish so when they gained their freedom they celebrated by eating it (I had mine a few days early while I was in Port Salut).  

The rest of my week was spent resting and getting ready for the next semester to begin.  School starts back up this week, and we are also preparing for a special service on January 12.  Thank you to everyone back home for the Christmas love; I definitely missed spending the holidays with you.  Also a thank you to the sponsors from the past few weeks Kay Keely, Rachel Shows, Bill and Sue Jarvis, Jerry Casey, and Marty and Nancy Tabaka.  Check back in next week to hear about the service on the 12th!  

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