Time is flying by here...believe it or not I’ve been here for five months now! Some days it feels like I have been living here for a very long time and other days (usually moments when Creole makes no sense to me) I feel like I just got here. And every time I think my life could not get any busier, God finds another way to put me to use.
The semester began with a special service on January 12 for the anniversary of the earthquake. As a member of the Holy Trinity Music School choir, I contributed to the service musically. The cathedral was filled with people and it was quite beautiful to see everyone come together in memory of those who were lost, but also to see the strength among those who are still here.
It was also my first time seeing our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. She delivered the sermon during the service (unfortunately I do not speak French and therefore I'm not exactly sure what was said). Regardless of my lack of French, I could feel a strong sense of community and camaraderie among the people there. I felt blessed to be a part of the service and to share in the communion with my fellow Episcopalians.
A highlight of these weeks was a performance I attended of Haitian and Dominican classical musicians. The musicians attended a week long intensive music festival in Santo Domingo and gave a concert in both the Dominican Republic and in Haiti. Not only was the music fantastic, but it was wonderful to see the friendships that were made among the musicians through their experience.
Another cool thing about these past few weeks are the new opportunities that I have found to extend my ministry here in Haiti. One such opportunity is that I have been a substitute English teacher at the Episcopal seminary in Haiti. Once a week I meet with first and second year seminarians to teach them English (the white building in the picture is where I teach the first year seminarians). I have really enjoyed working with the seminarians and getting to know another side of the Episcopal church here in Haiti. I also got a kick out of being mistakenly called “Sister Ashley” by the students (their regular teacher is a sister with the Society of Saint Margaret).
In my work with the school they are finding all sorts of new ways to use my skills. I am now helping create a development office for the school and teaching pedagogy to the wind teachers. The other skill they have tapped into is my knowledge of marching band. I am in the process of training the teachers to march because we are starting the very first marching band of Holy Trinity Music School! The premier of the marching band will be this spring, so more to come on that in the future.
One last highlight of this past week was getting to attend one of the concerts of the International Jazz Festival. Jazz groups from all over the world came into Port-au-Prince for a week long festival of concerts and workshops. One of my favorites was Melanie Charles, a Haitian-American jazz singer who is pictured above. The festival was another example of one of the many wonderful events that happen here in Haiti.
So as you can see there's been a lot going on and my Haitian life keeps me quite busy. This week is no different, as my parish already knows I am preparing for a visit from my priest, Webster Gibson! And no worries, I will make sure he gets the full Haitian experience as Bridget did in December. A thank you to all of my wonderful sponsors from these past few weeks including Jeremy, Katy, Allison & Katherine Schain, Tom & Lori Ellington, and Michael & Janie Mohn. Finally, a thank you to my sponsors this week John & Janet Waller.