New York – Haiti trip of May 20 to June 2, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016 Praise be to God! A new day and a new trip is dawning today. I woke up at 4:30 am, got out of bed finally at 4:45 am and made sure I called the cab to be there at 6:45. The driver was on time and I was ready to go. The driver was Haitian, Mr. A. of St. Joachim and Anne. He has two daughters that is a lawyer and the other is finishing college. We talked about my work in Haiti and he was not shy in giving me his opinion. At the airport, I checked the bag outside. I had already done the check-in the day before and paid for the second suitcase. I was below the requirement for both bags – 46 and 44 respectively besides all the things I was carrying for the sisters and the camp. [The agent, Mr. Smith, was very courteous and helpful. I had to give a credit card and be charge $2 per suitcase for them to be taken at curbside. I have to remember that no cash is accepted. TSA was a breeze. I did not spend 10 minutes on line. I was assigned to the pre-checked line. I did not even have to remove my shoes. It was early but I felt very hungry. Although I had eaten my apple. When I went to use the bathroom before the flight, I was bought a sandwich at the Mexican Restaurant. I ate half and saved the other portion as they do not provide food on the plane. Boarding went smoothly at 10:30 am we were on the plane ready to fly. There was a lot of turbulence. I felt really sick and nauseated while the plane was taking off and at landing. It is the first time I experienced so much shaking on a plane. Is it because the plane is smaller or the route is different? I was so glad when we landed! After getting the luggage on my own from the carousel using the rented cart, I stopped to buy telephone minutes. I had to wait because the booth was busy with customers. On my way out a porter grabbed my cart although I refused his help. But one of the agents said he must bring you out or you won’t be able to leave. I knew it was a ploy to get some money from me. I said okay and gave him a warning that if anyone else touched the bags, I would not tip him. It worked. I don’t like when people crowd over me all trying to get something from me. I feel so powerless. Sr. Martha was waiting for me at the main entrance of the prayer. At the Daughters’ of Charity, I had night prayers with them. Praying in community has its own power. I have to follow in the breviary and their congregation’s special petitions. At Adoration time, my body shook as if I had seizures. I guess my body needed some nourishment. We had dinner. Then the daughters did the rosary while walking in the garden. Afterwards, I showed the sisters the Kreyol books I wrote for children. I made a few phone calls to my sister, brother, and friends. Then I faced time Martial and asked him to tell Pierre I had arrived and everything was fine. Then, I headed off to bed!

Saturday, May 21, 2016 I woke up twice in the night. Maybe it was the silence and complete darkness in this small room. It is a stark contrast to my home in New York, where I live on a busy street with constant traffic noise. It is spookily quiet here. My daughter would come up with many scary stories, if she were here with me. I guess I dozed off because the alarm woke me up at 5 am and it is was daylight outside. Got outside to the common shower and toilet area. Return to the room to dress and put a few things in order. At 6 am went to prayers with the sisters before crossing the street to attend mass. Fr. Samson, a former CM, was the main celebrant. He spent a month at SJU in NY. He also knows Msgr. Rebecca, pastor at Anse-a-Veau. After the celebration, we had to use all kind of strategies to cross this heavy trafficked street to get back to the house. We had breakfast of fresh fruits, hot dogs in sauce and warm French bread. Then Sr. Martha talked to me about the work of the daughters. She gave me the name of the sisters and where they came from and their particular ministries. These women are really incredible giving their lives with such joy and love educating and ministering to the poorest in this country.

I took a few minutes to communicate with my family to let them know that everything was alright with me. Regine picked me up to go to Laforterese in Mirebalais where sixteen schools being monitored by the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative were completing a four day workshop conducted by CSCSE on “La Lecture et Moi: La place du livre pour moi et pour mon école.” Florence D. and Claude B. both presenters to the group were very enthusiastic about the subject of reading. They were very organized in the delivery of the content as well as facilitating the discussion and handling of the libraries provided to the schools. I went from table to table talking to the participants to get feedback and reactions to this training. Across the board they all said that they never thought of reading for leisure and pleasure. The animated reading by Claude inspired them to do the same to excite and develop reading in their students. I also shared some pointers about reading with some of them. Unfortunately, I did not bring any of my books or create materials to show them how they could craft some materials for reading and writing with their students based on their environment. I did not miss the opportunity to communicate with some of them the need to teach reading in the native language, kreyòl, if we want our population to make educational progress across the board. I also encouraged them to read aloud daily to their students whatever the level. I congratulated the consulting group for their work on behalf of VFHI as I heard firsthand the positive response of the participants.

After we had a hearty lunch, Regine and I left to go back to Port-au-Prince. On the road back, we talked about several subjects. It is really interesting to be with Regine. After returning to Tabarre, Sr. Martha and I went to the supermarket. I noticed several Haitian products besides all the imported goods. When we got back to the house I called home to reassure them that I was on track to doing what I had planned to accomplish. At 5:45 pm I crossed the busy street to go to the church to meet with Jacqueline and the Association Internationale de Charité (AIC) members.   I took picture of the group and talked about their work. Currently, they .have 20 members in Tabarre and 30 members in Thomazeau. During 2010-2012 period they had received funding to take care of families and seniors in needs. They delivered bags of rice and beans, oil and some other products. Now that there is no more monies, with the meager contribution they can only deliver a meager care package once a month, lately, every six months. They also have a sewing program where they teach the women in the program how to sew in order to earn money. They use to give them materials to sell after they sewed them. AIC had to stop this follow-up process as they had no more resources left. In Thomazeau, they do the goat program. The family gets a unit and must return to the core group two small goats from their work. I made a small contribution to their bank.

After the meeting, I went back to the house and had dinner with the sisters. We had good conversation then we cleared the dishes and washed everything together. I went to the room and reshuffle the material and prepared the carry on to travel to the Plateau Central. I felt so sleepy while writing the journal. I went to bed early that night.

Sunday, May 22, 2016 Sunday. The house slept late. I woke up at 4:30 am and could not fall back to sleep. Finally at 5:45 am I went outside to the showers. It is daylight and so quiet within the grounds. At 6:45 am went for coffee and breakfast. Two other sisters were there getting ready to leave to go listen to the seminarian’s talk before mass on Mary. Dukenson St. Armand used Lumen Gentium to describe the importance of Mary as mediator of grace. He explained it from John 19:26-27. She was given to us to be our mother. She is the first model of discipleship. She is not the one giving us salvation only Jesus does. She is able to intercede for us. She carried Jesus and cooperated with God to bear our only Savior, Jesus Christ. He ended his talk with a Hail Mary before we had mass. The entrance song started and was abruptly stopped and a hymn to baptismal renewal was sung while the celebrant was sprinkling the congregants. Then he intoned the Kyrie. Unusual. Everything else went on smoothly. Fr. Raphael Verlux had a homily on the Trinity for 30 minutes. He began by saying that the word Trinity is not found in the bible. He covered the history from Nicea, Constantinople to the 11th century how the church had formulated the mystery of the trinity. He stressed the three persons of the Trinity, their role and yet the unity of expression and communal love. He emphasized the need for us Haitians although all different with different role and talent need to unite in a singular love. We are created good and must associate with other good people to produce good things. Unity among us in church and also in our daily lives is essential to reflect the love of God. He reminded us of the prodigal son parable to show that God is seeking and ready to welcome us back and the generosity depicted in the parable of the workers in the vineyard. After mass, we went back to the house. Sr. Martha and I talked about our attitude, the prejudices here and in the US. As an immigrant from Hungary, she understands some of our struggles. She really prays and hope we will make a difference to rebuilt Haiti as it should. She stressed that the people of Haiti must be the author of their changes. We had lunch at 12:30. At home, I do not have set times to eat and yet when I am here in this community I adjust pretty well. I went to the room to do some reading and I dozed off. When I got up, I went to the yard to take pictures of the different plants/trees being cultivated at the sisters. They have plaintains, bananas, peppers (sweet & jalapenos), mango cherries, onions, tomatoes, beans, limes, sour oranges, corn, and Malanga. For the construction of the new facilities of the sisters, they had to move the bee hives to new locations. Sr. Josaphat is really proud of the garden she has planted and manages. I did some reading and later met the engineer who is building the house. He stays here. I met Nicholas the Frenchman. He is at ease with the sisters. He had brought chocolate and confiture. We all enjoyed them. It was such a clear night,  I could enjoy the constellations while walking in the garden. Then I went to the room planning to read but I was too sleepy to do that for long.

Monday, May 23, 2016 At 4:30 am I was awake but remained in bed. I forgot that prayer was at 5:30. I finally went to the shower at 5. Packed more of what I needed for Plateau Central and everything else ready to be picked-up on Friday. After Morning Prayer, we had mass where some of the school children in their crisp uniforms came to the chapel to attend mass. Nicolas, the engineer, was at breakfast. He enjoyed mangoes at every meal. I talked to Sr. Kettlie on how she managed the cantine. She gave me some pointers. Then I read and wrote some emails, skyped Pierre, and face timed Natalie for a minute as she was at work. Electricity went out and we lost all communication. At 10:45, I called Regine to find out if I should wait for her at the school’s gate. She said to come out in ten minutes. She arrived half an hour later. However, I did still had to wait at least 10 minutes before Carole came out of baggage claim. We went to the Stop and Go at Tabarre to buy a few items. We went to the sisters’ house to get my luggage. I also took a plate to go as I had had no lunch. We stopped by the propane station to fill the tank. We took the road to Savanne Perdue around 3 pm. We passed by Regine’s house to get some of the sample of her products for Carole to taste. From Croix des Bouquets, we took Route Nationale #3. We went through different towns such as Bedet, Terre Rouge, Nirva, Mirebalais where we stopped for a few minutes for Regine to rest a bit and eat something. We resumed the travel taking the Road in direction of Hinche, going through Rivière Ferre de Ceval, Domond, Cange, Savanette Cabral, Thomonde, so Savane Perdue—La Cas. The road by patches was impassable with deep rut. The rain that had fallen made it really muddy at some other spots. We arrived at the complex at 5:30 pm. Yamile was waiting for us. She had prepared supper for us. We ate and talked until 8:45 pm. We fixed the two bunk beds and showered to remove the dust of the road. By 9:30 pm we were ready to sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 During the night, I had a dream. I was at a desk, someone else was at another desk to my right. Then Philip appeared at the door in uniform but his hat was black not gray. He had a sad face and he told me: “You should accept to forgive.” I woke up feeling unsettled and did not understand the meaning. I prayed for all my children and their respective families as well as my husband. I guessed it was around 2 am. I had no way of confirming the time. I slept on and off until 5:30 am. I quietly used the bathroom in order not to awake anyone else. I went downstairs to make coffee. Thank goodness I had brought my electric expresso coffee maker and coffee grounds. I made my prayers sitting on the stairs until Yamile then Carole came downstairs. They toasted bread in the pan. I had never done that before. After breakfast, before going out, I made reservations for Decameron.   My credit card company denied the charge. I tried a second time and payment was refused. Then Pierre called me to say that the card company had called the house and had cancelled my card and reissued a new one. I asked him to call me back to reinstate the card as I had no other credit card to use. I called the representatives of the bank, then the Fraud Department, then a third department not to cancel the card. I expressly told them not to honor the last request for the hotel as my friend had used her personal card to pay for both of us. I gave all the security questions they asked. I called my husband later and he told me that the bank denied my request to keep the card valid although he told them that there was no way that he could provide me with the new one. I know they were trying to protect me and themselves but they left me stranded. For the past three years I had used the card without ever letting them know that I was travelling. My trip was paid with the card and used again at the airport for the suitcases. Too bad! They lost me as a client. Carole, Yamile and I walked to the river that separated Las Cahobas and Cas(se) in Thomonde. The current was strong. The boats could not cross over.

Later Carole and I talked about the ideal of having teacher training for Kreyòl schools implementing the Bernard Reform of 1979. We strongly believe that the country in general would move forward with such a national undertaking for our people. We had lunch—cornmeal, legume, and red bean sauce. We all had great conversation around the table. It rained while were sitting outside before going back in for hot chocolate. We later walked to see Regine’s mom and aunt land nearby. We met Asefi who lives on the land nearby. There was a dispute between some locals. It lasted for hours. We talked about the inappropriate joke one teacher gave at the end of the training session last Saturday. It was one of the most awkward and demeaning experience I’ve ever had among educators. I won’t repeat the joke, as women it left us all with a bad taste in our mouths. This also showed us even in the educational setting that there is a need to sensitize the people to civic rights and discernment in what is proper in a professional setting. We four women enjoyed the exchange about our personal and professional lives. We two older women with diverse and complex experiences with two young women involved in making a difference in a land we love. We are so optimistic that our individual activities will provide hope and opportunity to those who are in need.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 Woke up early as usual around 5:05, showered and went downstairs to pray. I had already made coffee when Yamile and Carole came downstairs. Carole prepared oatmeal for all of us. Yamile had the guardian cut some sweet potatoes branches. She cut some sticks for planting for Carole’s garden in Jacmel and me to bring to the sisters in Tabarre and Anse-a-Veau. The road back although a little dry was still treacherous around the bulging bumps and ruts making it difficult to travel. We stopped at Savannette Cabral where we got a bag of 32 mangoes for 100 gds. Then Regine brought some pineapples as well for her friend’s restaurant. We visited the Pinchinat, a school on our way being monitored by VFHI. We saw the 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2nd grades. One was doing experimental science on the board, one reading in French, and another vocabulary, the other class the teacher was absent not feeling well. The 3rd grade teacher was covering both his class and the 2nd grade. He also had a belt in his hand. Carole asked if he was using it. He answered: “no I just want to scare them because they were misbehaving”. This was a quick visit because the headmaster was at a conference in the Decameron.

In Mirebalais, we stopped for Carole to deliver the recorders for the School and center ‘Garou Ginen”. The children played their recorders for us. They offered us to have lunch with them but it would not be ready for another hour. I visited the pre-K class and I made a video for them. The teacher is very dynamic. The classroom is print rich with Kreyòl and some French material.

Regine ordered food for us at her restaurant, the Myabèl. It was a very delicious meal. I had tasso and vegetable served with rice and beans. We dropped some of our things at Regine’s house then her driver drove us to the Decameron—going through mòn Kabrit and Wout nèf to go to Route National #1. We passed Village Canaan where the people took over a parcel of governmental land and built their homes. We went through Bonrepo then the village of Jerusalem, Titanyen, Sous Puente (I did not see the sous of my childood), Carefour Minoterie, Barrière Pois, Trou Fonbon, finally Monthrouis. We made it to the all-inclusive facility of Decameron formerly Indigo/Club Med. The entrance is well manicure with security at the gate. All guests must be identified and also be prepaid. Porters came to get our luggage. We were assigned rom 1521. Daniel brought us up to the second floor of building 15. The room faced the ocean. I walked the ground a little and then skyped Pierre from the Lobby. We talked about the credit card situation and nothing could be done about it. We got ready go to one of the specialized restaurant “the Boucanier” which served mostly sea food. The maître D’ told us this was an ‘a la carte’ restaurant we had to have a reservation to be accepted. With a little pressure telling them that the front desk did not advise of this and the restaurant was practically empty, we were finally seated. I ordered the risotto and sea food. The lightly grilled calamari was fresh and delicious. The shrimps were well prepared. I did not like the risotto that much. Carole had fish and a glass of white wine. For dessert I asked for the cake. It was not the greatest. I usually like my desert but this one was disappointing. Carole had ordered a chocolate with vanilla ice cream. She did not like the chocolate she asked for another dessert. At first, the waiter was not willing to comply. When Carole insisted mentioning this was an all-inclusive place, he relented. The serving were small portion with very decorative presentation. While there, it rained very hard. When we wanted to leave, we asked if there were some umbrellas available. They responded negatively. We decided to go through the buildings. The restaurant was on the north side of the complex and we lodged on the south side. Along the way we met an employee who offered his umbrella and accompanied us to the main lobby. There was going to be a show so we waited. This reminded me of the presentations I had seen at the Puerto Plata all inclusive—dances, jokes, and skits involving the public. The main dancer and master of ceremony was energetic however he seemed limited in his language skill for this role. Some of his words I could not understand. He used ‘plaw, plaw’ and I learned this meant applause. He always used the phrase: ‘bon bagay’ to punctuate what he wanted the public to appreciate. I felt so drowsy and dozed off. After the show, we went to the room quickly. I fell asleep right away.

Thursday, May 26, 2016 I could not sleep anymore. I wanted to make some coffee so badly. I did not have sugar and coffee grounds. So I decided to go pray outside as the balcony was near Carole’s bed and I would probably wake her up. I walked a little on the boardwalk then sat on a lounge chair on the beach to meditate and do the readings of the day from my Magnificat and Word Among Us. The complex was very quiet a few workers were around cleaning the beach area. As the day was unfolding, some guests started to walk and run on the sand. When I went back to the room to get ready for breakfast, Carole was ready to go. She went to the lobby to get internet access. ‘Le Grand Marché’ had started to be busy. I chose some fruits and a croissant. I could not wait to sip some coffee but it very was weak. The expresso machine was not yet working. The waiter assigned to our area was very helpful. He promised to get us some strong coffee as soon as that section was opened. After breakfast, I went to the lobby to call home. After several attempt, I was able to connect. Pierre told me that the barrel and my boxes for the summer camp had been picked up to be shipped to Haiti. We spent the morning at the beach. It felt so good to be in the ocean. One of my favorite places to be. I floated for more than 10 minutes letting the water sooth me while the sun shined on my face. The water looked so clear and beautiful. We walked south on the beach before lunch.

After lunch, we walked north for miles. We saw a gentleman that asked us to come and visit the arts and craft stands. The different vendors practically selling the same items were housed under a ‘tonèl’ (wooden tent covered with toll). I bought a small chain & gave him a dollar (60 gdes) that is all I had in my camera pouch. Carole wanted to buy two small items for her grandchild and the vendor offered to follow her to get the money. Then I remembered that I carried my keycard around my neck pouch and found four dollars. We were able to buy the items and I gave the first vendor some more money. They were so happy they had made this sale. As we were walking back toward the complex, we noticed tons of garbage lining the shore. On our way back to our area, we met two Canadian tourists who said they had just picked up sandals & hypodermic needles on the beach. All the rest of the afternoon into evening, the waves kept bringing garbage to the shore. There were many teams raking, piling, and bagging the garbage.  No one could go in the water. At 6 pm, the teams left with many piles of garbage still heaped on the sand. I talked to one of the workers who seemed to be a leader. First, I wanted to know why they were not using working gloves as they were using their hands to throw the trash in the bags. Second, why they did not organize the way they worked to prevent so much physical exertion as they had no wheel borrow or cart to pick up the filled bags and had to walk a distance to drop them in a bin. I felt angry for the lack of tools and management to do an effective task. I could no longer enjoy my stay here.

When I got to the room, Carole and I got ready to go for supper. We had made a reservation for the ‘Casserole’, Haitian food. We arrived at 7:15 the receptionist told us to have a seat as they were not ready although we had chosen the 7 pm slot. At 7:30 the maître d’ finally came to invite the people who were there before us and a newly arrived couple. The lanbi was served in a béchamel sauce served with a bowl of rice with peas. The salads and soups was tastefully displayed at the bar area. The soup joumou was excellent–tasty and creamy. I also had some salad and fruits. While eating there was a downpour that flooded the floor of the restaurant. Again we had no rain gear. When the rain subsided a little we got some clear plastic bag to wrap around us because I had felt a bit cold. We walked through the puddles, and the drizzle to reach our building. We dried ourselves and went right to bed. What a day it was filled with conflicting feelings.

Friday, May 27, 2016 Woke up at my usual 4:45 am without an alarm. I was afraid to wake up Carole and was planning to go outside. However, it sounded as if it was raining. I opened the door and it was pouring. Here goes my morning prayer at the beach. At 5:30 am (6:30 am in NY) Carole’s alarm rang, I was able to look through the balcony to the ocean. Everything was wet on the balcony and the floor was filled with water. We got ready and packed everything before going for breakfast at 7:00 am. I could not eat much, I felt a little out of sort. We checked out and waited in the lobby until the driver, Sonson, came to pick us up. Meanwhile, I had a chance to talk to the managers about the gang work of last night. I felt if the workers were better organized and had the proper equipment they would be more effective in doing the clean-up. On the way back to Port-au-Prince, we saw some trucks picking up some heap of garbage from the side of the street. I was so pleased that this was being done to free the people of this curse of living on garbage, the driver said it is because the president would be going through this area sometime today they are sprucing it to give the impression that everything is working as they should. What a hypocrisy! What deceit for the people to live in. When the president is going to spend the people’s money at a restaurant with his cronies the trash becomes a priority to act on while  year round it is an issue that is part the poor’s daily life.

We went to Maison Handal in Tabarre to buy the stainless steel utensils for the summer camp. We bought the cups and spoons. Carole had to use her credit card to pay for me. As this downtown store did not have the plates, we had to go to Petionville. When we had called, the sales person had assured us they had a box of 144 plates. Nothing is ever simple in Haiti. I had to wait for the plates although the downtown store had called them to get them ready. On our way back, I called Mr. Batraville to let him know that we would be in Tabarre in 20 minutes to be picked up to go to the Nippes. He was not there when we arrived. Carole and I had lunch with the Sisters. Sr. Josaphat was so happy that I had brought the seedlings of sweet potatoes for her. There was such traffic both ways on boulevard Fleurio. Batraville came around 3:30 pm. After packing the car, we finally left at 3:58 pm. We had a lot of traffic at Tabarre, Portay, and Mariani. We stopped for gas and Batraville also filled his jug with water and ice. It was getting dark and a car that passed by us splashed water from the puddles on our windshield. The wipers did not work. Our driver had to stop the car and was going to use his hand to clear the muddy water. I found some tissues that he used. They left some smudges on the glass. He continued on the road until it was really dark and the lights from oncoming cars made it difficult to see. This felt really scary. Driving in Haiti is already a dangerous venture but not having visibility makes it that much more unsafe. I found some baby wipes for him to clean the windshield. It made it a little better. When we left Miragoane, I called Sr. Flora several time and she did not respond. I called Fr. Enel and he told me he would relay the message to her but he had forgotten to remind her about my arrival this Friday. I had called Sr. Saturday and on Monday I had asked him to remind her that we would both be there on Friday evening. We arrived in Anse-a-Veau at 9 pm and the church was packed. We heard that Msgr. Louis, the newly appointed pastor, was having a seven day Jericho. Sr. Flora was home but no one else was there to help us get our stuff out of the car. I went to the church and saw Marilyn who called a few men to give us a hand to disembark. Within half an hour the truck was unloaded and everything placed in the bedrooms and on the gallery. We had a conversation with Sr. Flora and we met Sr. Mirlene of Basen Zim and Sr. Linda of Karefour. Sr. Flora gave Carole a room and me another. After fixing a few things. I felt so tired, I went to sleep at 10:30 pm.

Saturday, May 28. 2016 I spent a restless night—waking up several time in the morning. At five, I got up to get ready for 6 o’clock mass in the church. Fr. Louis was the main celebrant, Fr. Enel co-celebrant filled the role of a deacon (read the Gospel and prepared the altar) although he was wearing a chasuble as a celebrant rather than a stole. I was annoyed at myself for looking at these details. Yet, it is all the symbolism, gestures, and rituals of the Catholic Church that I enjoy. Each of these are part of the public prayer of the mass deep in meaning. The Gospel of the day was about Jesus telling the chief priest (Mark 11:27-30) and scribes that he would not tell them by whose authority he was doing these things (miracles, teaching, healing..). After church, I went to prayer with the sisters before having breakfast. Sr. gave us the password to use the wi-fi. I skyped Pierre. He was not answering then I facetimed Natalie. We saw Fr. Louis and Fr. Enel outside the rectory. I took an appointment with Fr. Louis for Monday to talk about CORA’s activities. Fr. Enel will be coming soon, Sunday night or Monday to pick-up the Kreyòl mass books (8) I bought for him for his new parish. I hope he uses them mostly in his rural parish. I become so indignant when a mass is completely done in French mostly the reading of the word of God. Do the priests want to deprive the people of full understanding of the message the bible passages impart to the people? We are supposedly a bilingual country with two official languages, they should at least be used equally mostly in church that is for all people without exclusion. Carole and I walked to the square, the brother’s old residence and school by the commissariat. We walked back to the house as it started to drizzle. We met Fr. Basil in charge of the youth Kiro program for the diocese who wanted us and the sisters to talk to the youth. The Salesian sisters addressed them first, then me, and lastly Carole. They were an enthusiastic bunch.

We had lunch. Then Carole and I went past the cemetery to the bord-de-mers. Then it started to drizzle. We asked Mr. Larionne to allow us to seat with him until the rain stopped. Then we continued on to Mrs. Leblanc’s house at the edge of town. She was home and resting upstairs. We chatted for a while. She is coping well with the recent death of her husband. When the rain stopped, we took the road back to the sisters. By the road to the cemetery, we saw a funeral processing with a band playing music and everyone chanting. All the people dressed in black and/or white marched around. It was the burial of a woman advocate, entrepreneur and a leader—Rosemarie Petit-Frère. This kind of service reminded me of New Orleans.

When we got to the house, the sisters were going to the Jericho that had been going on since the installation of the new pastor. The bus of the kiro participants was leaving. Carole and I sat on the gallery for a while after having some oatmeal porridge for supper. I did not feel well, I went to bed early.

Sunday, May 29, 2016 Woke late and still felt an underlining headache. Finally, got out of bed at 6:00 am. I was praying in my room when I heard the voices of the sisters ringing in the chapel. I quickly joined them. Then we had breakfast before going to mass. The sisters said it would not begin on time and it would be long. It started at 8:15 am and lasted for three hours. The Gospel reading was of Jesus healing the centurion’s slave.  Fr. Louis talked about the universality of God’s saving grace. He went back to all the alliances that God to the perfect one in Jesus our ultimate mediator. He honored the mothers, last Sunday in May, and said how important their roles in our lives area. Mass continued on after the homily. However, after communion before the final blessing, some youngsters came to recite some poems for the mothers, even Fr. Enel joined them to honor the mothers in the church. After mass, the Petits Frère de St. Therese (PFST): Br. Camille and Br. Elie came over to the Salesians’ place. We talked about the requirements for the camp. They took all the material I had brought for them. Fr. Enel had set up an appointment for me with the participants of Rensansavo for 5 pm at EPSA in order to reconnect with me and to distribute the application to work as counselors for the camp if they would be available during these 10 days in July. I still felt a little dizzy even after lunch. At 4 pm, the church was not yet open for the last day of the Jericho and Marial prayers before they walk around town seven times. At 4:45 pm, Carole and I went to EPSA so that she could see the parochial building CORA wanted to fix as it is at the entrance leading to the University. Then we continued on to visit the premises where the Renesansavo hospitality/tourism project was conducted for the past two summers. Nine participants showed up for the meeting. Some others were at the church attending the revival. I explained what was expected for the camp and the role of the counselors. I requested that only those available for the period of July 11 to 22 should apply. If any of them had only one day of conflict, the person should not fill out the form. I set up a date for the candidates to come for an interview with the PFST who will oversee the camp.

After the meeting, we joined the Jericho walk around the town. There were more than 300 people young and old walking around the town singing and praying. Up front there were powerful speakers set up on a truck with a singer to motivate the people and at the end of the procession the priest with the monstrance and two altar boys stood in the back of a pickup truck. It was dark, thank goodness Carole had brought her flashlight to show us where to walk. On the second round when we reached the house, we left the convoy and returned inside the sisters’ house. A few minutes after we got inside, we heard a torrential rain. Apparently, most of the participants remained on the walk until they completed all seven rounds although they had to get rid of the rented speakers. I was so tired I went straight to bed but woke up in the middle of night still suffering from a headache. I don’t know what is causing these debilitating headaches but this was putting a damper on my experience here.

Monday, May 30, 2016 I knew there was no mass this morning. It will be celebrated this afternoon before a meeting planned by the pastor to meet all groups dealing or involved in the church. I did the lauds with the nuns then had breakfast. The school started, I went to see the line-up. Sr. presented the Gospel of the day then sang the national anthem. While this was happening a little girl passed out. The teachers just looked afraid to even approach or disturb the principal. I went over and asked what was the matter. The people had just left her there unattended. I went to the house to tell the Sr. in charge. We went back to the girl still lying on the floor. We talked to her. She answered faintly. She asked how she felt and if she could move by herself. She moved slowly and she was helped to a cot prepared for her in one of the preschool classes away from the heat. They wanted to give her sugar water. I asked who advised them to use this remedy. It seems this is what they assumed was needed in case she had not eaten before coming to school. I. asked if they had a medical record for the child and would it not be good to call the Red Cross (no 911 here) and the parents before giving anything to the child. Within minutes the doctor arrived from the Croix Rouge examined the girl before she left with her parents. It seems that this was not the first time this had happened to the girl. It occurred before at home too. I suggested that the teachers be trained in first aid to know what to do safely for the person who faints or lose consciousness. There was no protocol to handle such case, this should be established and all teachers trained. After this incident, I visited the preschool class. They were just sitting. One adult was in a corner writing in a notebook. The other adult was helping one or two in cleaning up after a small snack they had eaten. When the principal came, I asked if I could sing with them. I did “head, shoulder, knees and toes” in Kreyòl with them. It was so much fun looking at these tiny hands touch their heads then their shoulders, making a mistake touching the wrong parts when we were singing, then laughing. Later, I used the internet to call home. After lunch, I read a big book: “Kabrit Mawon, Kisa Ou Wè?” The children chimed in and tried to guess the next animal. They were eager to know what was next. They also remembered the sequence each animals were named. Even the teacher seemed to have had fun with this interactive reading.

In the afternoon I took time to open the two barrels I had shipped. I separated the items: things for the Brothers and Sr. Flora’s flea market. I gave her the toaster and juicer for the house. Carole chose some of the English books for the school’s library. The remainder of the two books will go to Fr. Enel. I also gave Sr. Flora some of the class posters in kreyòl. Fr. Enel came to have Carole visit some of the classes being held at the university. I also went with him as I wanted to make an inventory of the material I had left last year in storage. Anelio helped me. I found enough forks and knives I had been unable to purchase before in Port-au-Prince. I also packed for Brossard the kitchen towels, table clothes, basket, washing basins, and serving utensils. I sealed the box and asked that it be kept for the PFST until Thursday. After our visit to EPSA, we went to the afternoon mass. Fr. Enel was the celebrant. Today’s Gospel reading was about the vineyard’s owner and his tenants after mass the pastor had a meeting with parishioners to ask them what they liked about the Cathedral and what would they like to see in happening in the future. Appearance of the cathedral–the light features, cleanliness, the benches, toilet availability for large gathering, doors, the bells; the liturgy must be animated; formation of the lay people. Msgr. Louis also mentioned his interest of the community outside the church. At the gathering, director of conditions feminine des Nippes. She is ready to work with me on the bottin for the Nippes. When we got to the house, we had a ‘bouyi’ (porridge). Fr. Enel, Msgr. Louis, Carole and I talked for a few minutes about what we could do together with Renedansavo and PFST. In the room, I prepared a bag with the clothes needed for tomorrow’s trip. Went to bed writing in the journal. It was 9:30 when I turned off the light.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 At dawn I had a dream. Someone was trying to get to the front door of my house in NY. I went behind the door to put on the chain. The person opened the bottom lock then broke the chain and walked in. He was a short dark skin man in a light beige suit, hand behind his back holding a small box as he passed by me toward the living room door. I yelled at him: “In the name of Jesus, leave.” He turned around looked at me over his shoulder then walked out. I woke up and made a prayer of thanksgiving. Even in my sleep I used my faith and called upon the name of my Lord and Savior to free our home from this intrusion and it happened. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are his. (Dn 2:20) Now, our God, we give you thanks, and we praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicle 13). At five, I got out of bed and got dressed. I prayed in my room as the door to the chapel was open on the outside but closed through the interior access. Later we had breakfast. I used Carole’s digital weight control. My suitcase so far is 49.60 pounds. The driver came to pick us up. We left at 6:30 am on our way to Aquin. We stopped by Manolo’s Inn to show Carole where it is located in Petite Rivière. We found out that Mrs. Celeste P. had been elected mayor for this term. Hope the stretch of road will finally be completed between Anse-a-Veau and Petite Riviere. We stopped at Carefour Callebassier to fill up both tanks on gas. We stopped at Vigil’s parish where Fr. Enel has been assigned as pastor.

We reached the beach of Village Touristic St. George or “Cocoye Anglade” at 10:45 after driving through Vieux Bourg and Aquin squares. We drank and ate some coconuts. We bought a few more for the sisters at the house. We stayed at the beach until noon then we drove back to eat at Aldy’s restaurant. We tried to stop at Jardin Sur Mer, Robert Anglade’s Hotel where he was killed on April 9. They gates were closed because the area seemed to still be under investigation. At Aldy’s, we each ordered a different dish-lobster, shrimp, goat, and fish all grilled. All these were served with rice and beans and vegetables. Sr. & Carole ordered grapefruit juice. I made a mistake in computing the tip. I felt so bad not leaving what I wanted to. Carole made some purchased at the store. At 3;30 PM we were on the road to Brossard. I wanted Carole to see the work of the PFST. Br. Camille and Br. Elie were at the house. They showed us around the leased house and their own building and fields. They gave us three regimes de bananes and a few papayas. They also provided Carole and Sr. Flora with some seedlings for their respective gardens.

When we got back I showered, dressed and went to the church meeting. Interesting meeting. There were 13 groups in all. The leader of each group presented themselves and described what they did in the parish. The youth seemd to be very active and committed. Claudette of Renesansavo also presented. I was proud of her to be there although she had a previous commitment. Msgr. Louis and Fr. Enel came to the sisters’ place where they met with Carole and me from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. We discussed EPSA and CORA’s projects. I really hope this conversation will bring about changes for the development of the town and the benefit of the people. The Church should take the lead not only in the education process but find ways to create employment as well as economic development for the young people so that they remain in this area. .It started to rain hard as they were leaving.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 The alarm woke me up at 5 a. It had a restless night. So many ideas to research, so many things to be done. Where is the will of the people, the church, and the civil authorities? Where is the money to come from or how to raise it? We got dressed and by 5:50 am, we loaded the car with Carole’s suitcases, plants, and fruits. At 6:15 am we were on our way to Jacmel. We stop at Carefour du Fort for a few minutes. The road to Jacmel is so winding and narrow. We pass by Fondwa but the gates were closed. When we got to Cyvadier we stopped at Marie Lourdes’ house where she gave us a hearty breakfast of plaintains, breadfruit, dried fish in sauce, and salad. After partaking of this sustenance, we visited the adjoining hotel, Gradier Hotel. Chris, the owner’s son gave me a plant for Anse-a-Veau’s roundabout. I am so grateful for their generosity. I hope it will work and the goats will not be able to eat them. We continued pass Raymond Les Bains in Cayes Jacmel to go to Josianne’s House where Carole is spending a few days. We also visited the house she has leased and is fixing to her taste. There is still a lot of work to be done. She talked to the carpenter to explain what she would like to be done. We went back to Lamitye to have lunch. We all ordered lanbi boukannen (grilled conch), fried plaintains and potatoes, rice and beans. It took some time, but everything was well prepared. Finally around 2 pm we left to return to Anse-a-Veau.

We reached the town at 5:30 pm. I refresh a little and ran next door to the notable meeting. The parents’ meeting for the recently opened one-class school opened by the former pastor was not yet over. They were being told that this new venture had to close and it would be best to send the kids to the existing school directed by the Salesians. There were 9 individuals at the notables’ meeting one or two people had left. After each individual introduced themselves: judge, lawyer, engineer, school inspector, teacher, university student, and priests. Funding for some projects must come from the people. They should made to participate on both the work and the finance. At 9 pm, Fr. Louis, Fr. Enel accompanied me to the sisters’ gate. She was anxious about Carole left by herself. She will pray for her. I know she is a strong person and she will see the positive in all she is doing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016 During the night, I heard a dog howling. From childhood, I never liked that sound. It reminded me of my late older brother trying to scare me out of my wits at the age of five while we were in Aquin. It was my first time in that town staying in a large room in a dark strange house. There was a wake for an old lady in the market place or square and he told me that the yelling and yowling were because the walking dead and the lougarous would be roaming in the area. Oh how memories can affect our feelings. At 5 am, I heard the sound of a door being closed. I got out of bed. I wanted to ask Sr. Flor if I could have access to the internet this morning before she left. She said yes, she would leave the computer on. I went to shower and get dressed. By the time, I was finished the two other nuns had started prayer. I stayed outside the chapel and listened in as I had left my breviary inside. I rush to the kitchen to get some coffee before going to mass. I was able to complete the morning prayers and the readings of the day before was celebrated in Kreyòl by Fr Enel. Way to go, Hey! After mass, Fr. Louis came in to do adoration. He did not have a humeral veil to incense or give the blessing with the Eucharistic Host. The church was so dirty, I had already decided I was going to sweep. I asked the sacristan for the broom. Fr. Louis came and chatted with me while I started the left front side where I usually seat. I said he did not need to stay with me as I was alone doing this chore. I promised to do this service for an hour and then leave. At 8:30 am I had done most of the center and open space in the back. The bats in the loft area had dropped so much dirt and their droppings in the back. I had no dustpan to pick up the soil and trash. When I got to the house, I really had to scrub myself clean . I felt so dusty and filthy. Then I had breakfast. I finally was able to read emails, skype Pierre and face time Natalie. It took me an hour to look for my LG phone I knew was in the suitcase. I had to call St. Anthony to help me find it. I panicked at first then I discovered it was in plain sight. I called Carole to find out how she was doing at the beach house. She seems to be enjoying the seashore and setting up her rented place. The sisters and I had lunch. We talked about several things. I asked them if it would be part of their charism and mission to handle the catechetical program for the public school children. They answered in the past the Salesians used to be part of the process of preparing the children for the sacraments not only in the school but for the parish. The two young sisters were excited about this prospect, they can’t wait for the pastor with their superior to connect with the principals of the schools and the inspector to concretize the process. I took some time to print the documents for the camps for the PFST. I started typing my expenses for this trip. When Br. Camille came we discussed the manner to organize the camp, the fair, and the day of solidarity proposed by CORA of NY. I asked him to make an inventory of all he received in the barrel and the didactic materials. I also solicited his assistance to deliver the plant roots for the team that has to plant in the roundabout at the entrance of town. We went to EPSA to meet with the Renesansavo participants to interview which one he would like to hire. Some additional participants showed up. He took all the applications and interviewed all present. Br. Camille explained what he expected from the counselors for the camp. It rained while we were doing the interviews. Claudette took a ride with Br. As she lives also in Brossard. I walked back to the house with David and Wubenson. Sr. Flora was back from Port-au-Prince with the boxes of books she had purchased to build a new library. I had supper alone as they all had eaten already. I joined in the chapel. After prayer we talked for a while before I went to my room to read a little before falling asleep.  

Friday, June 3, 2016 I was coughing in the middle of the night. It seems my chest was heavy. At 5, I woke up and was late for chapel prayer. I stayed outside in the recreation room next to the entrance of the chapel. Got a cup of coffee before going to mass next door. It did not start before 8:20 am. I miss my parish, so much. The mass is always right on time. The priest apologized for the lateness. He had to go to Madian with the deacons who will be consecrated priest tomorrow. Fr. Louis did the adoration afterward and the Laudes. A group of ladies stayed to clean the church in preparation for tomorrow’s consecration. The nuns had breakfast already. They stayed with me and we had a conversation about someone they had hired last year. They made an evaluation and wanted to have her rehired for next year. She could not be a teacher yet but they feel this position of librarian would provide her with practical experience in an educational setting. This year would provide her with the student teaching experience needed. I made arrangement with the driver to be picked-up Saturday afternoon to go to Port-au-Prince. Then I sent a note to Sr. Martha to let her know of my arrival tomorrow afternoon. I talked to Natalie and Mr. Labissiere. In the afternoon, Fr. Enel came thinking I had made arrangement with Sr. to borrow her car to go visit a few of the Nippes’ chapels. I though he had handled that. Sr. F. was resting after three days of travelling I did not want to disturb her. Fr. Enel was happy about the books although that is not what he had expected. He asked me how much he owed me. I gave him the dates to have intention of masses for deceased members of my family when he will be in his parish. Br. Camille came to share with me the choice of the candidates he made for the camp. He will hire six counselors. One or two had past experience working with him and some others had some talents he would like to use. He talked about running a clean and disciplined camp. He is adamant about giving breakfast. It will be heavier or lighter depending on the meal that will be provided for lunch. He will have to go to Miragoane or Port-au-Prince to buy the big cooking cauldrons to cook the food for the 50-60 people. They need to buy material to teach sewing. When sister came to the galerie, Fr. Enel asked for the car that is why we decided to go to two of the chapels belonging to Anse-a-Veau—St. Michel Archange at Rocher Lavalle and St. Francis de Sale in Baconois. The first one was closed but looks well maintained on a nicely kept property. The second look neglected right next to the cemetery.   There were some pilgrims in that chapel sleeping. One or two people lounging behind the altar, a few others sitting in the pews in the front. They told me they had come from St. Louis in Les Cayes. They said they came here for a few days as they had gotten their prayers answered. They had to come and thank this Saint and also they had gone St. Yves for obtaining their prayers. I was compelled to talk about Jesus, our Savior who heals and grant prayers. The Saints of course will intercede for us. They are model of followers of Christ. I realized these pilgrims were probably doing some syncretism. I called the Holy Spirit in a song and asked Jesus, our only mediator to talk to His loving and merciful Father to be with us and transform our lives to be faithful to Him as He was onto his death to save us. When we got back from this outing, Sr. Flora and I had supper. Then I went to my room to finish packing. I read a little then feeling sleepy turned off the light.

Saturday, June 4, 2016 When the electricity went out, the fan had stopped. I felt the heat under the net. I tossed and turned from 2 am to 4:30 am. I dreamt I was in a huge hotel. I was in my nightgown and I could not find where the room was. Finally, I saw Natalie with a group of people and I asked her where our room was. She replied ‘416’ and I woke up. What was that about? I always dream but some vivid ones remain with me. When I got out of bed, Sr. Lina was in the bathroom. I removed the mosquito net, took off the sheets from the bed, and pillow cases. I swept the floor and dusted the furniture. There was so much dirt on the floor. After the shower, we had breakfast before going to mass. The bishop is coming to ordain three deacons and four priests for the diocese. I stayed at mass until after communion around 11:30. The ceremony was really inspiring. The deacons: Faustin Papatoute, Garry Ocgenor, Junior Vital, Osias Dominique who were consecrated priests. The three Abbés consecretared as transitory deacons: Colbert Ceide, Gaster Souverain, and Johnson Charlotin. The church was filled and the families were dressed to kill. Many phones were used to video tape or take pictures. Thank goodness I had taken a seat in the middle of the church near an exit. A few songs were done in Kreyòl but everything else was in French. The Chorale Pax Angeli of L’Asile sung at the mass. At the sisters, I carried my suitcases to the front. The driver was already waiting, he had tried to call me while I was still at mass. Sr. Flora insisted that Marilyn give me a boxed lunch. She gave me a container of food for me and Mr. Batraville and a Tampico juice for him. I drank some more of the coffee from this morning and some coconut water. I said goodbye and left the tips for the help with Sister F.

After travelling for an hour or so, Mr. Batraville stopped after Miragoane to eat the food. At Petit Goave I stopped again to buy ‘dous Makòs’. The slices were very thin each cost a 100 gdes. It tasted fresh, I shared half with the driver. We continued on the road. The idea of making a campaign to ‘jere fatra’ (managed trash) is still on my mind. This should be a major reason for demonstration and request for change in government authorities. We stopped by Alix to hand him the bag of socks Ginette had sent for him. He was busy at the pharmacy.   While in heavy traffic from Delma to Tabarre, I called Sandrah to say goodbye. I was not successful in reaching Patrick. She was on her way to Sault D’Eau. She said her chauffeur would be able to bring me to the airport tomorrow morning as Mr. B. was not available and I had not yet heard from Mr. L. I finally arrived at the sisters at 4:45 pm. At 6 pm, we had Rosary and vespers. We had supper at 7 pm. I used the internet to confirm my flight and print my boarding pass. In the cell, I tried to read before sleeping but it was really warm.

Sunday, June 5, 2016 I woke up so early—3 am. I forced myself to go back to sleep. At 5 am, I heard some activities outside, I got ready to go outside to the lavatories/showers. We had breakfast at 6:30 before crossing the street to attend mass. It actually started at 7:15 am. I sat outside in the yard. I could hardly see the altar, the celebrant or anyone working in the ceremony. The TV screens were not functioning. We could hear the readings, prayers and music through the big speakers placed all around the church. The mass ended at 8:05 am and we weaved our way through the heavy traffic to cross over Carefour Fleurio taking our lives in our hands having all the cars, taptap, and motorcycles coming in all directions toward us. My sister’s chauffeur called at 9:10 am to tell me he was outside the gate waiting for me. I had already taken the suitcases from the room. I said goodbye and my thank you to Sr. Josaphat. Sr. Martha had left to drop 2 others to another parish to celebrate the feast of Sacred Heart. There was absolutely no traffic going to the airport. I tipped the driver then a porter dropped me to the jet blue counter. The bag was 54 pounds. When I weighed it was 49.60. I removed the shoes and put in my carry on it dropped to 51 pounds. So these things seem to be inaccurate. The Jet Blue agent asked me if I wanted to take the plane that was leaving at 11 am as I was early. I had to pay $50. As I did not have my credit card, I said no. He never advised me that I could put myself on a standby list if the plane had many unoccupied seats I could have flown earlier. Security was quick. However, as I was leaving the counter, the security agent called me back. He pulled out a zip log bag that I had on the side of my bag with a small packet of tissue. He handed the clear plastic bag to the person ahead of me to put his medication. I said sarcastically: I am so glad I was able to help someone. I will add some extra bags next time I travel. I don’t think the agent understood. Although he was doing a good thing, he acted tactlessly without asking me first. I went to buy the rhum for Pierre and my brother upstairs. I recognized the lady at the counter which is a friend of Daniel, my husband’s brother. I told, Marie Alice Renaud, that Daniel will be travelling soon and she will have a chance to see him after so many years. I waited a long time at the airport. I made calls to let a few people that I was leaving or thank them. I met a Salesian, Sr. Altagrace, taking the same flight I was. She was going to attend the funeral of another older sister’s mother somewhere in Brooklyn. I gave her the donation I wanted to give to Sr. Charitable as I was unable to visit her this time. By 1:15 because of the delay, jet blue offered the passengers juice and chips after a few passengers complained and made a raucous. We had to wait two extra hours. 4 American planes landed and departed and some other airlines too.   Finally at 4:20 we were able to board the plane that should have left at 2:45 pm. The plane went through some turbulence over the Dominican Republic. After about an hour and ½ the pilot said the plane had to be rerouted to a longer way and that it would take us more time to reach to NY. Then there was an announcement asking if there was a doctor on board for a sick patient. When we land in NY all the passengers had to remain seated until EMS arrived, then it was the police. I was feeling real tired and very hungry. The chips were not enough they were even making me feel sick. I had eaten my piece of sandwich at 11 am and now it was 11 pm. I was ready to ‘deplane’ as soon as the way for me was cleared. I had to walk out to get receipt from the immigration. I finally was able to use the bathroom. I was to get out after security, the ropes were all around not on my pathway. No one was on line as a gentleman started at the end of the rope, I asked him if he would allow me to go ahead of him by going under the ropes. He said yes. The rope got loose. Two officer at the end of the line called me out and said you better fix that. Again I asked the gentleman to fix it for me. He was gracious and did it for me. The officer made a comment about me. By now I felt I was going to pass out. I was exhausted. I rushed to the taxi line. Sr. Altagrace came to help me put my suitcase to the lobby. I put the case of rhum in the big suitcase. I could hardly give the driver my address and tell him what best route to take. I called my husband and asked him if he could prepare a soup or something to eat. Thank goodness he had a bouillon ready when I got home. He literally had to carry me inside. I felt so weak and nauseated. I ate a peach and a few spoon of the soup. I got undressed and went to bed. My stomach was upset but I try to sleep. What a long day that was. I am home and in my own bed. Praise be to God!

Epilogue

It took a few days for me to recuperate from the fatigue of the travel day. After a few days, I started to reflect on my trip: Did I accomplished what I had intended to do? Yes, in many ways. I visited the farm and experienced a training sponsored by VHFI. As a board member I wanted to experience the impact this initiative has. I will be able to better understand proposals, evaluation discussed and decisions taken. For CORA I would say some things were completed: getting the supplies shipped and delivered; discussing the process to hire the counselors, putting the materials together, determining the criteria to accept the participants in the camp. I still have some planning to do for the courses to be taught and the daily scheduling. I did not have the means to start working on the directory (bottin) in Haiti as planned. Two major groups in NY and many individuals contributed funds towards this camp and now it is up to the Renesansavo graduates & the PFST on the ground to make it a reality. “Keep control of yourself in all circumstance; … and perform your whole duty as a servant of God.”   

2 Timothy 4:5

My motto as usual is: “At least she tried!” — recognize the failures of the past, evaluate the present, and move forward with hope!

 

 

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