Sunday, October 9, 2016

wary and generous

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves? Something like that...

I have read a number of things about giving to help with the devastation in Haiti. I have a feeling we don't yet know the half of what Haiti is experiencing. Yes, Florida. But for all we complain about FEMA, at least we have one. 

Haiti doesn't.

What Haiti does have is people - Haitian and foreign - who are already there and working to improve lives. No need to fly people down and pay for housing and such when there are already trained personnel in the field. They aren't hard to find. They just don't get anyone up here any brownie points in the press. 

Anyway, I've just read on Facebook a commentary to which I'd like to add an emphatic AMEN, the last paragraph of an update someone in Haiti has written. I now have permission to share it. I'll include the previous paragraph for context.

We're still hearing reports from our people upcountry. Those in the western part of the peninsula have nothing and we have yet to hear from most of ours. The road is apparently passable to Petit Goave again (by driving through the river since the bridge is gone) so that's a start. People are gathering up what meager personal belongings that they can find and organizations such as Agape Flights Inc are organizing airlifts of locally purchased relief supplies.

During this crisis many have been advising people to use small local ministries to reach into the provinces rather than channeling millions into the big money hungry international aid groups who spend more of their staff support than actually seems to get to the people in need. Those who actually minister here don't need to be flown into the country, rent expensive homes and vehicles or pay translators and guides to get them around, and also don't need to attend endless meetings at expensive hotels or go out to fancy restaurants at night and drink just to unwind. (Sorry, I've finally come out and said it. Please don't hate me.)


Naturally, I have suggestions!

St. Vincent's School - now expanded to a Center - was started by our Sr. Joan in 1945 as the first school in Haiti for disabled children. Another of our sisters is an alum. We don't run it anymore, though we currently have a sister on the board. They do essential work. There are boarding as well as day students whose needs must be met; just keeping up with basic supplies is a challenge, especially since the earthquake. And now this. They do have a new website and clearer American connections, which makes it easier to donate directly.  
You can also donate to St. Vincent's through these two respected groups:
West Tennessee Haiti Partnership (I met these people when I lived in Haiti. They do good work, and volunteers pay for their own travel expenses. There is one fund for the school, including food and medicine for the children, and another separate fund to support travel for a surgeon or medical team members if that is of interest.)
The Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti

Next, Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, begun by Paul Farmer, does amazing work. They have two hospitals, the original in Cange and a new one in Mirebalais, and they train medical personnel. I was delighted last year to see a young nurse of my acquaintance in one of their media posts. I knew her back in her early student days! They have a Haitian-run organization on the ground, though they also have the Harvard Medical School connection and the American PIH group as well. There has been a donate button in the right column of this blog for years, but here's the link to their website's article on Matthew in Haiti:

Finally, you can't lose with Episcopal Relief and Development. I'd be willing to bet they have been there for decades, possibly soon after their foundation in 1940, but Anglicanism has been there for longer than that, thanks to James Theodore Holly, a man not easily discouraged.

It's also best for the Haitian economy if money is sent down there so that the supplies needed might be bought from local businesses.  Haitian business owners need to eat and send their children to school, too - and for all we know, they might themselves have lost homes or have taken in family and friends who have. So don't, say, send peanut butter from the US when there is a thriving market for it in Haiti (along with plain, there's a version with hot peppers!). Coals to Newcastle and all.

[I just searched for a picture of mamba (peanut butter) and found this article which says basically the same thing I'm saying while promoting spicy mamba by Rebo. At the convent in Haiti, we bought cheaper mamba and normally the plain version with no peppers, but I do know this company's coffee, which is good, so I bet their mamba is, too.]
[Word to the wise: if you buy spicy peanut butter by accident, it's actually not too bad on bananas for breakfast! With Haitian coffee, of course. I miss Haitian coffee. With condensed milk. 

Wouldn't it also be good to let Haitian people buy the food they like?]

-  -  -  -  -
One more possibility to offer: There is a school of nursing in Leogane I've visited, the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de l'Université Episcopale d'Haïti or, as it is usually known , the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de Léogane. FSIL is near Darbonne, the town where I did the original internship that led to this blog. The nurse I previously mentioned is a graduate, as a matter of fact.  They are located near the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake and are on the southwestern peninsula that was slammed by Matthew. In both cases, nursing students have been challenged to see what they could do to help in the aftermath of disaster. The dean, Hilda Alcindor, is a very determined woman, and I'm sure these students as well as the faculty members will be making a difference. (Read the reports here: They are worth your support. The easiest way to get them money is to send it through the small foundation in Ann Arbor, MI, set up for their support and for the development of nursing in Haiti.

Finally, please be generous with your prayer. It makes a difference. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

pitié pour Haïti…

Horror in rural Haiti as Hurricane Matthew death toll surges to 842 - Reuters

What will it be by tomorrow? Next week? Why Haiti?

Oh, Seigneur, pitié pour Haïti…
(taptap on the road to Darbonne 2012)

Saturday, October 1, 2016


The hurricane, not the gospel.

I have no right to speak for the Eglise Episcopale d'Haiti, but I'm going to do it anyway. 

Matthew, the Episcopal Church does not welcome you.

Haiti's Hurricane History: A Long Relationship with Disaster

Please pray.

I gather Matthew hasn't hit yet, but it will be there soon enough. It's a pretty wide storm, so even if it does stay on course to shoot the gap between the islands, it's going to knock Haiti for a loop.  And Haiti does not need this.

All this with the presidential election coming up in a week or so, I believe.

With permission, I'm sharing a few personal reports from the Facebook page of a missionary in the Port-au-Prince area, a protestant pastor who is also associated with the English-language congregation at St Jacques, Petionville (Eglise Episcopale).

[beginning with the most recent]

around 7PM October 1:
Haiti is now under Hurricane Watch. The center is likely to approach Jamaica and Southwestern Haiti with bands reaching out ahead and beside it in both directions. Currently Matthew is a category 4 Hurricane and is drifting in a north-western pattern at about 3 miles per hour, in other words - it's taking it's sweet time moving along and so winds and heavy rains may be sustained over a longer period, thus causing serious flooding and damage, and possible loss of life.
In a storm of this size there's not a lot you can do beyond putting up provisions and sitting tight. Remain vigilant and ready to stave off damage to your property. Hopefully the roof holds and we don't get too badly drenched.
We are still without power for the second full day leading up to the storm so we're already sustaining loss of food. I've already started cleaning the fridge out. Hopefully the power will still come on so that we can recharge our invertor batteries
UPDATE: 4:15 pm
We are now officially under a hurricane watch. Apparently Matthew has been downgraded to a Category 4 (150 mph winds) and all of Haiti and Jamaica are under Hurricane Watch.
Cloud cover here is already pretty thick and the trees are very uneasy.
To complicate things, our neighborhood has been without power since Thursday night and even our battery backup system has to be used sparingly. Our refrigeration has been null for the past 48 hours so we're already having things spoil.
The National Operations Center for Emergencies has just announced that they have been evacuating residents of a series of small outlying islands in the south of Haiti near Ile a Vache. They are making announcements on the National Television Network to keep people informed. This is a new service provided by the governement and it is very much needed and appreciated.
around 8AM October 1
Please be praying for those of us in the Western Caribbean as the news says that Hurricane Matthew is now Category 5. It is headed for a direct hit on Jamaica and will hit the western tip of Haiti with hurricane force while the rest of Haiti is going to be hit with a very severe Tropical Storm. There is little more that we can do to prepare as the roof is already covered with tarps but these may be ripped off if winds get too bad.
Flooding is a real danger for many. Especially those who have homes along rivers and in low lying areas and ravines. Those still living in shelters, though mainly wood with tin roofing are also at risk as the storm is so severe.
We haven't been hit with a major hurricane since 2008 and I think many have forgotten just how terrifying they can be and the damage which they cause. Most of our people are rural and depend on their crops to survive and a storm like this can wipe them out.
Our stocks of emergency supplies are totally exhausted since the quake and there will be very little assistance that we can be if this becomes a major disaster so please pray that it stays out at sea and off the islands.

He also shared some official communiques from Haiti:

Sent at 8:25 pm
Security Message for U.S. Citizens
U.S. Embassy, Port-au-Prince, Haïti
October 1, 2016
Hurricane Matthew Updates
This message is to advise U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Haiti that Hurricane Matthew, category 4, is predicted to affect Haiti starting Sunday, October 2nd and continuing through Wednesday, October 5th. A Hurricane Watch has been declared for parts of Haiti. U.S. Embassy personnel in the southern peninsula have been instructed to return to Port-au-Prince. This storm is expected to bring significant rainfall that may result in flooding and mudslides, primarily in the southern peninsula but also in Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country, and Hispaniola-wide impacts are projected. Storm surge along the southern coast, as well as flooding, flash flooding and landslides, are expected.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Haiti-Météo are monitoring the progress of the storm, and the Embassy will issue updated messages as needed.
U.S. citizens are advised to locate shelter, monitor media reports, and follow all official instructions. U.S. citizens should carry their travel documents at all time (i.e. U.S. Passport, Birth Certificate, picture identification, etc.) or secure them in safe, waterproof locations. We also suggest that U.S. citizens contact friends and family in the United States with updates about their whereabouts.
If you will not be able travel to a scheduled appointment on Monday-Wednesay, please do not hesitate to call the 509-2229-8000, 2229-8900 or sent us an email at the acspap@state.govto reschedule your appointment. For Immigrant or nonimmigrant visa cases, please contact the call center at 509-2819-2929 or by email at
Additional information on hurricanes and storm preparedness may be found on our “Hurricane Season-Know Before You Go” webpage, and on the “Natural Disasters” page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Updated information on travel in the Haiti may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from overseas, 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
We strongly recommend that all U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti enroll in the Department of State's secure online Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy to contact you in an emergency.
Travelers are advised to regularly monitor the travel information page of the State Department's website where you can find the current travel warnings for Haiti, travel alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Haiti. For additional information, refer to "Travelers Checklist" on the State Department's website.
Contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
For all emergencies involving U.S. citizens, contact the U.S. Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, located at Tabarre 41, Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre, Haiti; telephone 509-2229-8000; e-mail ; website.

Dear Canadian,
...Please share the following important information with other Canadian citizens in your area and encourage them to register.
Tropical Storm Matthew has been transformed Friday into Hurricane Category 4. Haiti is in phase pre-alert over the whole territory.
Threats of heavy rain and strong winds with risks of collapses, landslides and floods throughout the country in particular on the peninsula the South, the Artibonite, the Northwest and the West.
Stay informed by listening to the latest warnings and advisories on local radio, television or websites. Hurricane centres will issue and update these when necessary. Follow the advice of local authorities and emergency response personnel and maintain close contact with your family to keep them informed of your situation.
Please note that information about the weather can be obtained online via (french only) and you can follow the advice and warnings of Civil Protection office via twitter @pwoteksyonsivil (french and creole only)
Other resources
- Canadian Hurricane Centre (Environment Canada)
- Humanitarian Early Warning Service (HEWS) (English only)
- National Hurricane Center (U.S.) (anglais seulement)
We also encourage you to stay connected to the latest travel advice and advisories, the latest warning. Our emergency contact information is available at, and also via our mobile Travel smart application ( or by subscribing to RSS feeds ( You can also follow us on Twitter @AmbCanHaiti or Facebook “Embassy of Canada in Haïti”
Global Affairs Canada

Port-au-Prince, le samedi 01 octobre 2016.- Le Bureau de Communication de la Primature s’empresse d’informer la population que le Secrétariat permanent de gestion des risques et des désastres (SPGRD), de concert avec le Centre national de météorologie (CNM), a lancé, ce samedi 1er octobre, la phase d'alerte au niveau de vigilance rouge, face au risque d'impact de forte intensité, lié aux averses et coups de vent.
Le SPGRD a également procédé à l'activation du Plan National de Gestion des Risques et Désastres (PNGRD) par rapport aux menaces de fortes pluies et de forts vents avec risques d’éboulements, de forte houle, de glissements de terrain et d’inondations sur tout le pays, en particulier sur la péninsule Sud, l’Artibonite, le Nord-ouest et l’Ouest.
De même, en synergie avec le SPGRD et le CNM, le Service maritime de navigation d’Haïti (SEMANAH), interdit jusqu’à nouvel ordre, toute opération de cabotage sur les zones côtières du pays, en particulier les côtes sud et le golfe de la Gonâve.
Aussi, exhorte-t-il la population à la plus grande vigilance et à se préparer à affronter les vents violents et les trombes d'eau qui devraient se déverser sur le pays.
Tout le gouvernement est mobilisé, ainsi que les forces de l’ordre pour évaluer la situation et coordonner rapidement les actions de réponse. Les comités régionaux de la protection civile sont aussi mobilisés pour venir en aide aux populations à risque, dont la collaboration est vivement souhaitée quant à l’application des consignes de sécurité.
Bureau de Communication de la Primature

Monday, September 19, 2016

a prayer for our earth

from Laudato Si

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hermine's edge

Marshfield Beach
Pretty impressive waves around here. Nothing compared to the south coast, I am assured, but enough to wow the line of cars pulled over along route 139 along the water's edge in Marshfield.

watching the waves from a nice, dry car

It's wet out there, but staying inside the car is just not going to do it!

looking toward Brant Rock

I don't think I'll be going down this time.

I promise, no fires!

In Which Sarah Takes Her Shower Earlier Than Planned

more splashover

intrepid or just hungry?

I wasn't the only one getting wet!
Later on, I took a group shot of four people attempting to take pictures of each other with the waves as background. Felt useful. (-:


a last look

Thursday, August 25, 2016

gratitude from miles away

I need to share my gratitude and relief. You may have heard that there were tornadoes yesterday afternoon and evening in Indiana. No one was killed. No life-threatening injuries. The tornadoes that made the news were mostly around Kokomo, where one took out a Starbucks. I gather everyone was OK because the manager got them all into the bathrooms, which stood when the rest of the building collapsed. Someone in a nearby restaurant who didn't quite realize the severity of the situation stayed out in the dining area and filmed it. Good thing it wasn't a hundred yards in his direction.

I heard about the tornadoes yesterday evening because much of my family lives in NE Fort Wayne, Indiana, and one of them was out driving back from the South Bend area during all this. Sirens galore.

I'm wondering what it will be rated.

There was a huge one just northeast of Fort Wayne in Woodburn, near New Haven, as well as another to the south. Rotating clouds all over the place. 

There was quite a bit of damage, but everyone was fine. Mostly it seems to have taken out corn and barns, though there were  a few homes damaged and destroyed as well.  It could have been so much worse. 

This morning I found this video.

In the midst of so much other news of death and disaster, natural and man-made, I am grateful there was no loss of life here. Very, very grateful. 

Do pray for those whose lives have been affected by this and by recent flooding, fire, earthquake, and hurricane, that their needs be met with swiftness and compassion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bartholomew the Unremarkable

Once again, I am hunting for a noon office reading to go with the scripture and saint of the day and have found something to share. It seems to go well with the Gospel reading for this upcoming Sunday as well (Luke 14:1, 7-14), or at least with what I am working on in writing a sermon. Who knows, I may end up referring to this. 

St. Bartholomew icon
By Urek Meniashvili (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Following St Bartholomew's example 24-8-08 by Rosalind Brown
Like everyone else, I have been marvelling at the achievements of the Olympic athletes. We have been in a fortnight of superlatives when the commentators have run out of adjectives. Greatness is all around us. But in a few years time will we remember the names that trip off our tongues? Will there be other candidates for the title ‘greatest Olympian ever?' What makes a person memorable, even great? As we have been constantly reminded, it is not just the achievements but the years of disciplined training that contributed to their greatness.
In contrast to this month's roll call of great living people, today we remember someone from 2000 years ago whose achievements are pretty much lost to history. There's something delightfully perverse about that, but the church has never been entirely rational by the world's standards and we have a much longer memory than most institution. Great as they are, no one will remember today's Olympic medallists in 2000 years time, let alone set a day aside to celebrate them.  So today, being countercultural, we remember St Bartholomew whose only sure claim to be remembered is his appearance in the list of apostles which we heard in the second reading.
…So in this month when greatness is being defined in terms of athletic achievement, I want to put in a plea for other definitions of greatness as well. What about the greatness of radical discipleship? The greatness of staking everything on the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That is why we celebrate Bartholomew. He may not have hit the headlines as some of the disciples did but he was one of the twelve, he was there with Jesus for about three years, he gave up everything for what he believed…
And so today we remember Bartholomew, an unremarkable disciple whose memory has outlasted that of Olympic athletes of the ancient world. As we give thanks for him, we celebrate the daily routine of ordinary discipleship, of getting on with the task in hand, perhaps rising to occasional moments of greatness but underpinning them with routine devotion - immersion in God's word, prayer, growth in God's wisdom and, when the occasion arises, being willing to go wherever we are sent, but to do so without great fanfare, just with fidelity.