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.