Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Haiti Connections Conference

As you read in my last post, I had a very special event during the month of April.  I attended the Haiti Connections Conference, a conference that was put on by the Episcopal church.  The main goal of the conference was to do exactly what the name implies, to build connections between the Diocese of Haiti with the dioceses from the United States.  The conference had over 150 Americans and Canadians in attendance, all of the priests from the Diocese of Haiti, and several others who have been working in Haiti. 

Thanks to an invitation from Elizabeth Boe, the , I was able to attend the conference.  Our adventures began a little before the conference though, as when I picked up Elizabeth from the airport we headed straight out of Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes.  We visited the Bishop Tharp Institute to check out a potential site for future YASCers.  It was great way to start Elizabeth’s trip to Haiti, as Les Cayes is located on the peninsula part of Haiti and the trip is a beautiful drive along the coast and through the mountains.

On Tuesday, we headed back to Port-au-Prince to the hotel at which the conference was being held.  A great perk of hanging out with Elizabeth is getting to meet all of the different people from the Episcopal church.  We enjoyed talking with people over dinner and looking at the stunning view of Port-au-Prince from the hotel’s restaurant.

The next day the conference officially started and began with a tour of the main Episcopal centers in Port-au-Prince.  I found it slightly humorous to go on this tour since I live here, but it turned out to be a great experience!  Not only did I have a chance to see a few places I had not visited yet, I also had the opportunity to walk around the ruins of the Sainte Trinité cathedral.  I had no idea how seeing this would effect me until I stumbled upon the remains of the pipe organ that once was housed in the cathedral.  It brought tears to my eyes and for the first time it truly hit me of the great loss this country gone through.  At the same time it is also inspiring, because even from those ruins, one can see the rebuilding that is happening all over Haiti.

Later that day in the evening we had the kick-off opening dinner.  I was recruited to play with the Sainte Trinité chamber orchestra for the pre-dinner music.  I loved that everyone had an opportunity to see and meet the people that I work with and now consider a part of my family.  

On Thursday we had a great day of speakers talking about the different things that are going on within the Diocese of Haiti.  However, I have to admit that I was a little partial to Elizabeth’s fantastic presentation about creating and developing partnerships!  

In the afternoon, Elizabeth and I took an impromptu visit to Croix des Bouquets, which lies a little outside of Port-au-Prince.  The purpose of this trip was to visit Saint Simeon, an Episcopal church and school.  We went to take pictures for their partner school in Chicago.  It was a great visit and it was most inspiring to hear that in the years that Pére Val, the priest of Saint Simeon, had served there that the congregation had grown from 25 to 250!  The Episcopal church is quite alive and well in Croix de Bouquet!

On the last day of the conference, I had the pleasure to attend the final Eucharist.  Reverend Roger Bowen, who has done many years of work in Haiti, gave a beautiful sermon with the most touching prayer for the children to conclude.  After the service, I sadly said goodbye to my new and old friends. 

The conference was an amazing experience and I thank the Episcopal church for inviting me to attend!  I loved the connections I was able to make and look forward to continuing those friendships both here in Haiti and back in the United States.  

April Adventures!

Wow I can’t believe that so much has happened in this past month.  Things have been crazy busy between concerts, conferences and oh yeah, Easter!  So I’m going to break this into two blog posts.  This one will be to fill you in on my Haitian Holy Week and everything else that went on in April.  And you’ll have to come back to read more about the other special event that went on this past month! So let’s get started, because in the words of Mr. Willy Wonka, “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.

Holy Week in Haiti was great!  As my Christ Church family knows, this is a very special time of year for me because it marks the two year anniversary of my baptism.  And this year was just as special as the past two, as I celebrated Jesus’s resurrection with my new family.  I kicked off the week with giving the message during the Palm Sunday service.  I was thinking about all of you at home as I recounted the Winchester tradition of the community service on the Old Town Walking Mall.  It was really fantastic to share that piece of home with my community here. 

Then later during the week, I attended the Good Friday service at the Saint Trinité Cathedral downtown.  This was the longest service I have ever sat through but I thought this was a great type of service to have for Good Friday.  The service was a great lesson of patience as I listened to a mini sermon for each of the seven phrases that Jesus said as he was dying on the cross.  One of the pieces of the service I particularly enjoyed was that we were each given post-it notes to write down our prayers to put on the cross that was then carried to the front of the cathedral.  I really appreciated the solidarity of silently sharing my prayers with the rest of the community.

That then brings me to Easter!  I love Easter and that reminder of the joy that Jesus has risen for our sins.  This Easter was just as joyous.  The morning began with our service in which two of my Haitian friends and I played the service music.  After the service, two of my very good friends from church and I went down to the best bakery in town to enjoy some Easter treats.  I then spent the afternoon back home playing an awesome game of Creole Scrabble (this has been an on going effort to help me learn the language!).  And my Haitian Easter ended with attending a party for the baptism of one of church families’ son.  It was a fantastic way to spend Easter!  Yay Jesus!

Now to the rest of my April.  This month has been crammed with a ton of concerts!  The first concert was an OPST concert that featured music from Haitian composers.  The music was wonderful, but what was so beautiful to see was the passion that my fellow musicians poured into this music that is their music.  

The next concert was a student recital, where two of my students played a clarinet duo for the concert.  I’m a little bias because they are my students, but I must say they did a superb job!  Another treat was that band students from the primary school performed on the recital.  They played really well and it was so much fun to see students progress from the beginning of the year.

The last concert was this past weekend that featured the faculty of music school.  I was privileged enough to play several pieces with my fellow faculty members including a flute quartet, a flute duo, a trio for flute, violin and viola, and even got to sing in a quartet!  My favorite part was talking to one of my students after the concert and I asked him if he wanted to now start playing more challenging music.  He laughed and replied, “Oh yeah!”  Mission accomplished, inspire students!

So as you can see life has been very exciting as always here in Haiti.  The other exciting event of April was attending the Haiti Connections Conference, but that gets a blog post to itself!  So make sure to come back to read more later!  Most of all thank you to all of my wonderful sponsors from this month including David and Sarah Bicking, Bridget Coffey, Dixon and Kay Witworth, Chris and Melissa Ferguson, Margaret and Scott Arthur, Pete and Mary Pat Gronauer, Bill and Sue Jarvis, and Sue and Larry Correll!!!!!