Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church


Haiti 2015

OLOL in Mission logoTraveling to Outreach to Haiti

August 4-10, 2015

Welcome to the Haiti 2015 e-Journal.

This page chronicles the story and reflections of our Haiti Missionaries from their journey.

 

 

  • August 4

    We have arrived!

    It was a great trip here. It is good to see our friends at Outreach to Haiti. I’ve enclosed a picture of the group at the house, one of Rolland, our driver, loading our luggage on the top of the truck, and one of the two guys we hired at the airport to help with all our bags.

    Everybody is tired from a long day so we are off to bed soon. We will send reflections and more pictures tomorrow.

    Thanks,
    Ralph

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  • August 5

    Today, we went to a nutrition program run by Mother Theresa’s Sisters of Charity. It is a program where severely malnourished children stay to get proper nutrition. Family can visit with them in the morning, but some cannot get there every day, so it was our responsibility to find those that needed to be fed, held, and/or diapers changed. Many of you know that I can’t resist holding a baby, so I immediately jumped in… here’s my story…

    I passed her by when I first walked into the room of babies. We needed to feed them and she didn’t seem hungry so I moved on to the next one. But I couldn’t forget about her. After I fed the first little girl I went back to her. She raised her hands up to me wanting me to pick her up. So I grabbed a bowl of food and picked her up in my other arm and sat down on a bench to feed her. I couldn’t get the food into her mouth fast enough now. She tried grabbing the bowl out of my hand, but I have a little experience with babies so I knew how to handle that 😉

    After I fed her, I changed her diaper and walked out to the courtyard with her clinging to me. She wouldn’t let me put her down. Normally, I would have judged her to be about 7-8 months old, but knowing she was at the nutrition program, I assumed that probably wasn’t true. I casually stole a glance at the bracelet around her ankle to find out. Her name… Katrine…. her age, 22 months old. I gasped. She was almost two and looked a lot smaller than any two year-old I knew in the states. As I rubbed her back, I felt every vertebrae in her spine. She was skin and bones. Could I get her to smile or would she just have that blank stare on her face that showed she wasn’t feeling well and had no energy to smile? Would she just fall asleep now that her belly was full?

    She did not fall asleep. I rocked her and swayed with her and every time I tried to move her to a more comfortable place for me to hold her she clung to my neck. As I held her I wondered where her family was, could they just not make it today so this is why God sent us here today?

    I wondered what her future had in store for her. Would she grow up to be big and strong due to this nutrition program? Would she go to school? Would she find a young man to marry and have a family with? Then I stopped… I was getting way ahead of myself! Live in the moment Tanya!

    She will be in my prayers… will you keep her in yours?

    We also went to Madame Sonson’s feeding program in the old mission house neighborhood. We colored pictures and blew bubbles with the kids. Then we helped serve the meal to the young children and teenagers – probably their only meal of the day. And, we visited Dr. Wilkin’s clinic. Dr. Wilkin’s is Madame Sonson’s son. He is a surgeon and his wife is a pediatrician.

    Please keep all of the people we saw today in your prayers. It is the next best thing to being present to them.

    Tanya

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    Colleen had the chicken

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    Madam Son Son Feeding Project

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    Madam Son Son Feeding Project

     

     

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    Group at Oloffson Hotel for lunch

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  • August 6

    One of the main purposes of our mission trips to Haiti is to build and foster relationships with our brothers and sisters in this beautiful country. Today has been one of fulfilling this purpose! In the morning we journeyed to Paula’s orphanage. We make a point to visit Paula and her girls every time we come to Haiti, but this is the first time that we visited the girls in their new home! You may remember that the original building was damaged during the earth quake and was not safe. The new grounds have space for the girls to play outdoors and some day plant a garden! The buildings are spacious and clean and I counted three mango trees around the campus! Paula was not there to greet us, but the girls were. When they spotted us, each of us instantly had at least three charming young ladies as our personal ambassadors! They proudly showed us their new home! We then played games with them and they sang us some songs. Therese played checkers with some of the older girls and taught them the fine art of kinging. After many hugs and kisses we piled back into the truck and jiggled back to the city.

    John Baptiste and his lovely daughter surprised us at the house after dinner! John Baptiste had been the cook and hospitality director at the mission house for many years and he retired last year. John Baptiste holds a very special place in the hearts of all that have traveled to Haiti. He is full of love and tremendous joy. Our visit with him was the perfect end to our day.

    Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, we are grateful for your prayers for our health and safety.

    Blessings and Peace,

    Colleen

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    Paula’s new orphanage

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    Jean Baptiste and Ralph

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    Jean’s daughter w/group

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    Piled into the truck and “jiggling” back to the city

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    Girls at the orphanage

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  • August 7

    It was a good day in Haiti for the group from Our Lady of Lourdes!

    We began our journey with a trip to the Kris Wa (Crist King) campus of Outreach to Haiti, where we saw the clinic and offices of our parish twin. From there we continued downtown to the Artisan Coop where we bought a lot of crafts for our parish Haiti craft sale in December. The coop is a great organization that supports Haitian artists throughout the country by bringing all of their artwork together in one place for people to buy. It is an excellent way for them to market their wares and share in a large percentage of the profits. Our parish should take pride in supporting such a worthwhile organization.

    After finishing our shopping we continued further downtown to see some of the ruins of the 2010 earthquake, including the Catholic Cathedral. On an encouraging note they have built a temporary worship space at the Cathedral and the wreckage from the Port au Prince Palace has been removed. Progress is slow but is being made.

    We left downtown and drove up into the mountains above Port au Prince. We stopped at a restaurant at the “Lookout” which has a breathtaking view of Port au Prince. Lunch was great and we have realized that we really do enjoy each other’s company. To drive long distances crammed together in the back of a truck, on bumpy roads, in very hot weather tends to help develop a sense of community!

    After lunch we visited Arc-en-Ciel, an orphanage for children with HIV. It was a nice visit. It is always great to see the children and how they’ve grown. We spent a long time playing and enjoying the beautiful scenery at the orphanage.

    We then made our journey back to the house that is our “home” for the week. We were hot, tired, and dirty but we were filled with the joy and beauty of Haiti that one cannot understand until they have experienced it firsthand. We feel very blessed to have the support of our faith community at Our Lady of Lourdes. May God continue to bless you all and our sisters and brothers in Haiti.

    Ralph

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    Tanya, Ralph, and Colleen at the Lookout

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    National Cathedral demolished during the earthquake & temporary worship space until rebuild

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    Therese the checker queen at Arc-en-Ceil

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    Tanya at Arc-en-Ceil

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    OLOL Group at Kris Wa

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    Fr. Bill with Jennifer (2011)

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    Jennifer today (2015)

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    Jim at Arc-en-Ceil

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    Joan at Arc-en-Ceil

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    Wandel Family at the Lookout Joan, Jim, and Sara

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    Sylvia at Arc-en-Ceil

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    Orphanage sign

  • August 8

    Today we took the Haitian staff from the house to the beach. It was nice to spend time with them and enjoy their company. A trip to the beach is something they really can’t afford so it is special to be able to see their joy as they enjoy the water, sand, food, and play. I am serious when I say that we were thanked well over 50 times today — each of us individually and to the parish as a whole — for giving them the opportunity for this fun day. They kept saying how happy they were to be with us. A couple of the staff have requested pictures of our church and pictures of some of our parishioners. They were saying that we have pictures of them to remember them and they want pictures of us so they can remember us as well. When OLOL began this twining relationship back in 2000, we emphasized how important it was to develop relationships. Today’s experience went a long way toward keeping that goal alive and thriving!

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    Jean, Jean Baptiste, & Jean Marie in the water

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    Therese with Haitian Staff

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    Sitting down to lunch

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    Ralph with Haitian Staff

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  • August 9

    Today, because of the Senate elections, we decided to just stay at the house. Many people had advised us to do that so we thought we would rather err on the side of our groups safety.

    The elections did not go the greatest, especially in Port au Prince. Polls opened late in several precincts, there was violence at a few, and almost all closed early due to unrest.

    We stayed at the house and had a Word Service this morning with the Sunday readings and spent time packing and reflecting on our week. We were all amazed at how quiet the streets seemed to be today.

    If you are interested in learning more about Haitian elections and some of the issues check out this link.

    We have had a wonderful week and all of us are looking forward to coming home to warm showers, constant electric power, clean air, and loving community. Thanks again, for all of the prayer and support from all the people of Our Lady of Lourdes. We are looking forward to sharing our stories.

 

If these stories and pictures have touched your heart and you wish to help our Haitian brothers and sisters with financial support, please click the button below.

DONATE

 

 

Reflection on Haiti

“Is this the manner of fasting I wish, that a person bow their head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? “

The people of Haiti are fasting – the impoverished, the poor, the victimized of Haiti fast seemingly without end.

–          They know, they live, they experience the emptiness, the longing, the yearning which accompanies an authentic fast.

–          They fast longing for that day when their cries will be heard by the rich and the powerful in their land.

–          They fast yearning for that day when their voices will be listened to in the chambers of their government.

–          They fast hoping for that day when the emptiness and desperation of their lives will be given consideration among nations.

The people of Haiti are clothed in sackcloth – the impoverished, the poor, the victimized of Haiti wear the sackcloth castoffs and surplus clothes from other lands.

–          The sackcloth which rubs away at their own dignity and worth.

–          The castoffs which remind them that they too are as castoffs.

–          The surplus clothes which mark them as little more than surplus on the face of God’s earth.

The people of Haiti are signed with the ashes – the impoverished, the poor, the victimized of Haiti wear the dust of their land as ashes upon their lives.

–          The dust of Haiti settling upon them still branding them as slaves.

–          The dust of Haiti in their eyes blinding them to their own value and worth.

–          The dust of Haiti in their mouths leaving an after-taste of despair and desperation.

–          The dust of Haiti continually signing them as a people whose lives are little more than ashes.

What baptismal bath will wash away the dust and ashes? What cleansing water will restore their vision? What baptismal robe will replace their sackcloth? Is their only baptism to be found in the treacherous water passage to an unwelcoming land? Must they be buried in the waters of the sea in order to be free?

And is all of this acceptable to the Lord? Is this the kind of fasting the Lord desires? Do sackcloth and ashes become an acceptable offering to our God?

This, rather, is the fasting God wishes:

–          Releasing those bound unjustly – setting free the oppressed.

–          Sharing bread with the hungry – clothing the naked.

–          Sheltering the oppressed and thre homeless.

This is the baptismal bath in which God wants people immersed.

–          The life giving water in which God wants people bathed.

–          The robe of salvation in which God wants people clothed.

But the people of Haiti – the impoverished, the poor, the victimized people of Haiti are fasting. But their fasting is not of their own choosing.

–          They are clothed in sackcloth – but their sackcloth is not what they desire

–          They are signed with ashes – but the imposition of ashes is not of their own volition

–          Their fasting, their sackclothes, their ashes are but the signs of their need

–          A need that cries out for the baptismal ministry of God’s people

–          A need that cries out for the fulfillment of our baptismal ministry

–          A need that becomes the cry of the poor – and is heard by the Lord in our hearing – cared for by the Lord in our caring – ministered to by the Lord in our ministry.

The fasting, the sackcloth, the ashes of the Haitian people become the Lord’s call to us.

–          A call to loose the bonds of the oppressed and break the chains of injustice

–          A call for a day acceptable to the Lord.