Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Eventful Advent

As usual, my life never stops, and December was a prime example of this! The month was filled with many visitors and events. Our first set of visitors were from Trinity Wall Street in NYC. They had come to Haiti to scope out potential new projects for their church in the Northern Region. Their spirit was contagious and we very much enjoyed their visit. 

Shortly after their visit, we then hosted the Regional Northern Assembly Meeting. It was nice to see all of the priests and lay leaders of the region, but I was particularly happy to see the 13 US partners who had visited from the United States. A special shout-out to my buddies from the Diocese of Virginia! The meeting was a great platform for bringing topics of interest within the region to discussion among all parties! 

Following the conclusion of the Regional Assembly meeting, the next day I helped put on the first Lessons and Carols for Saint Esprit, the Episcopal Church in Cap-Haïtien. The preparation included working with the choir, making marketing materials, making decorations, and practicing myself! My favorite part of helping put this on was getting to know some of the Saint Esprit Choir members better. It was a beautiful evening, especially Silent Night sung to candlelight. 

This brings us now to Christmas! A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! Mine was spent at home, enjoying Christmas presents that had been left for me by my roommate Kyle and making Christmas presents for my Haitian friends. Two days after, I was blessed with the presence of Julie, and then two days after that, I was blessed with the presence of Cameron. Basically, it was a little reunion/party in which we enjoyed the beautiful sights and food of Cap-Haïtien. It was really nice to bring in the new year with fellow missionaries this year and I wish all of you a happy and blessed New Year! A huge thank you to all of my sponsors for the months of November and December. 

I’m Gonna be a Movie Star!

Getting to be in Haiti means that you get to see visitors from 815 yet again. But this time, they were on special assignment. This year’s visit included David Copley, Director of Mission Personnel and Global Partnerships, Mary Brennan, Officer of Mission Communication, and Andrew, our film guy. The purpose of their visit was to help to create two films advertising for missionary work in Haiti. One film is to feature our older missionaries in Haiti (I am not considered one of these yet!) and the other is to feature our three Haitian YASC missionaries. 

Their trip began in Cap-Haïtien to film the work that Dan, Kyle, and myself do in the north. This included filming us in worship during a Sunday morning service, filming Dan and Kyle in their workplaces, getting individual interviews from the three of us, and also filming the beautiful Haitian countryside. 

My favorite day of filming in Cap was the day that we went up to San Souci Palace, an old historic site in Milot. We decided to go up to this site for interviews to try to minimize the noise factor associated with the city. In good Haitian fashion, unexpected opportunities arose from this location. While roaming the ruins of San Souci Palace, next thing I know, I am being volunteered to teach a music class at the top of the mountain! It just so happened that a group of school students were visiting the palace the same day as us, and thanks to our tour guide, I was volunteered to teach them a song, for the purposes of the film crew. I don’t think I need to say anymore about this moment because someday, you might see it on film. Like I said, I am going to be a movie star! 

The following day, we flew down to Port-au-Prince for round two of filming. The group from Cap met up with the other two YASCers, Julie Burd, who serves in Léogâne at the nursing school, and Alan Yarborough, who serves in Cange in projects relating to economic and community development. The first part of our day was spent in Léogâne, filming Julie at her site teaching English to nursing students. Then we traveled back to my old stomping grounds, Holy Trinity Cathedral. Due to convenience of now having five missionaries in country, it was decided that the filming would be done this year, which means that we had to stage me teaching my students from last year as if it were last year. As entertaining as it was to teach my old students, it was even more fun to see all of my old friends reactions to me being back in the area. 

Along with the film crew being in town from 815, a handful of bishops were visiting for a pilgrimage through Episcopal projects in Haiti. We had a wonderful time sharing experiences with the visiting priests, along with catching up with some old friends I had met through other conferences. A fantastic time was had by all, but I was happy to finally get back to Cap Haitian to celebrate Thanksgiving with my fellow missionaries. 

Over the River and Through the Woods to Teacher Training We Go!

Thank you to everyone who keeps coming back to read about my first month in Haiti.  This is the last post to get you caught up on what’s been going on this month.  After two long weeks of preparation, I said a prayer and hopped in the car to Port-de-Paix, the first music school site to visit.

The drive there, as I talked about last year, is a bit grueling for only about a fourth of the trip is on paved roads.  Although the roads are rough, I can testify that the beautiful scenery of the Haitian mountains and forests make up for it.  By mid-afternoon Monday, we had arrived in Port-de-Paix and after a quick meal we got right to work.  Myself and Dan Tootle, another missionary from the Episcopal Church serving in the northern region of the Diocese of Haiti, first had meetings with the priest and school administration.  Dan is doing school evaluations of every school in the north and presented first, followed by me explaining the music program and its details.  The next day, I worked with my two teachers going through teacher guidelines, pedagogy types, solfege review, and looking at the instruments. 

That afternoon we hopped back in the car and headed back to Gros-Morne to do teacher training at La Resurrection. Visiting Gros-Morne was particularly fun because my interpreter, Fritz, has family there. So not only did I get to do teacher training there, but I got to visit with his family. A particular highlight of working at La Resurrection was how I spent a few of my extra free moments. As I was doing an assessment of recorders that had been donated to the school, a crowd of children gathered around me. We had a conversation about if they were excited to start music and to play instruments. Next thing that I know, I am teaching them songs from mini camp in Port-au-Prince. We were a little bit of a distraction during the school day, but it was quite a pleasure to spread the joy of music again. 

Two days later, I hopped in a tap tap to head down to Gonaïves. My first day in Gonaïves I went straight to the school and did an assessment of the instruments. I was disappointed to find out that many of the instruments are in need of repair, so if you know of anyone who can repair instruments, you know how to find me :) The following day I did my last set of teacher trainings with the teachers of Gonaïves. The whole trip was quite fun, getting to meet the teachers I’ll be working with, as everyone is extremely enthusiastic about the program. Thanks again to all of my sponsors for the month of October. Another update is on the way for November!