Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gifts For Life - Christmas Presents with Meaning

Ducks and mosquito nets!
Microloans and solar energy systems!
fruit trees and scholarships!

Definitely your one-stop shopping, here.

Gifts For Life Catalog
Episcopal Relief and Development

Gifts from categories such as
*animals and agriculture
*basics for life
*green gifts
*preventing disease
*creating economic opportunities
*just for kids

And if you've finished your Christmas shopping, I'm sure someone you know has a birthday coming up soon. Consider it!

Gifts For Life - Christmas Presents with Meaning

Hello, everyone -

If you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, this may be just what you need. And if you have, it still may - because it's what someone else needs. My mother has often gotten me something like this as part of a Christmas present, and I've really appreciated her doing so.

A blessed Advent to you all.

Sarah SSM

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Gifts For Life Catalog

What is Gifts for Life?

Gifts for Life is a valuable way you can help Episcopal Relief & Development make a lasting difference for people living in extreme poverty.

Why Give Now?

Not only does your generosity help make life-changing differences in the lives of children– it saves lives.

Spread the Word.

With each item you purchase, you’ll receive a FREE gift card or E-card announcing you have made a generous gift in honor of your friend or loved one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

food for thought

This year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about Haiti. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving: time with family and friends, a reminder of gratitude, and a break to celebrate. And pie! Let’s not forget the pie.

But there is not a lot of pie happening in Haiti.

I’m seeing in my mind’s eye the Thanksgiving dinner that I enjoy so much. And at the same time, I’m seeing a much-too-thin child. And I wonder, in our abundance, if we will remember those who have less in such a way that we are moved to action.

I firmly believe that if we are going to have good things like our Thanksgiving dinners, we need to enjoy them. Not to do so would be a waste of these good things. And if we believe in the Incarnation, we also know that God created us as embodied beings. We were given a sense of taste for a reason: if God gives us something good to taste, we need to savor it! It might actually make us less greedy if we took time truly to taste what is in front of us.

And if we believe in the Incarnation, we also know that it is not only our own bodies and senses for which we are called to show care, but also those of others. It does matter that there are people in Haiti who do not have enough to eat. And yes, it is my responsibility – our responsibility – as children of God to care for other children of God.

I’m not going to spend time feeling guilty, and I am going to enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner. Since I can’t mail a plate of turkey and stuffing – or pie! – to Haiti, I need to consider what might be the next best thing. My old kitchen magnet from my pre-convent life springs to mind: “Live simply so that others may simply live.” It’s time for me to consider how I might better enact this at this point in my life.

I invite you to do the same.

Advent Lessons and Carols

The program features congregational participation.
Supper will follow.
Please let us know that you are coming by November 27.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

You have to love a woman who was continually getting in trouble for dressing too simply, selling what she had to feed the hungry, and nursing people in hospitals and hospices - to the point of getting kicked out of the castle with a newborn child and moving into a pigsty for a while once her husband died and could not shield her from the wrath of the wealthy.  It is amazing the number of things she accomplished in a very short life.  She is inspiring. Perhaps her example will move us all to do more.

Almighty God, by whose grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary Recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ecumenical Mission Partnership on La Gonave

In growing Haiti diocese, ecumenical partnership builds new churches and schoolrooms
(article via the Episcopal News Service)

La Gonave is a large island in the Golfe de la Gonave, between Haiti's two arms, so to speak.  The photos I have seen elsewhere are lovely. I hope to go there one day.

related site:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

a new bishop with Haiti connections

The Diocese of Connecticut has just elected Ian Douglas as their next bishop.  Ian lived for a year and a half in Darbonne, Haiti, in the same rectory in which I lived this past summer, while he worked in the Diocese of Haiti.  I hope this connection will continue as he moves into his new call.  Congratulations, Ian!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Speaking of Faith - Bach’s Bible

SOF Observed - Bach’s Bible Colleen Scheck, Producer I was a...

This short video has nothing to do with Haiti, but it's worth a few minutes of your time if you are at all interested in JS Bach. Beautiful photos, too.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Peace is a Development Tool

I recently received the following email through the Episcopal Young Adult Ministry mailing list:

Dear Friends,

As most of you know I work A LOT with Episcopal Peace Fellowship these days.. One of the areas I oversee is young adult involvement and leadership. One of our young adults created a fabulous 100% organic cotton short sleeve t-shirt that EPF recently began selling this summer. The shirt reads, "Peace is a Development Tool" in Haitian Creole. They are $20 each with half of the money going directly toward our nonviolence training work in Haiti. And as a way to plug more young people into EPF -- every young adult who buys one, is automatically made an EPF member for the year. As college chaplains or young adult ministers, I'm asking you to publicize these shirts to your young people. They are really soft and super comfy -- the sizes do run small though, so heads up on that. :) If you or anyone else is interested in buying them please let me know and I'll put you in touch with the right folks.


I hope to buy one of these t-shirts once I save enough allowance, and I think many of you may also be interested. I contacted Allison, who told me that it was fine for me to share this information. She gave me the following contact information for anyone interested in buying one.

Sara Filipiak

Just think, you could do some early Christmas shopping and benefit Haiti, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

one more school covered!

That's four of six now. Yea!!!! Many thanks to my friends who came up with the money for one more. You are making a difference in people's lives. It's hard to have a decent future if you can't read.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Good News!

Just thought I'd share with you all the good news that the money has been raised to keep three of the six mission schools open for the coming year. Three down, three to go!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Episcopal Parish in Darbonne, Haiti, And Its Schools - How You Can Help

The Parish of Darbonne is centered in a rural town in southern Haiti. The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Darbonne is “home base,” so to speak, but there are also eight small mission churches attached, most of which are not accessible by car. The central campus includes the church, the rectory, a water treatment project for the town (all other treated water must be trucked in from Port-au-Prince), a goat project (similar to the Heifer Project), a dispensary for occasional visiting nurses (no health care in the area) and for 4-month-long basic medical training courses, a vocational school, and a Pre-K through 10th grade school. There are also six mission schools and St. Agnes School, a Pre-K through 6th grade school at a former mission location. They have one priest, supported by the diocese.

For the past forty years or so, these schools and the other parish ministries have been supported by two Episcopal parishes in New York, which have more recently formed a formal mission project with a constitution and board. This is important work, as Haitian public schools have space for only 10% of the students, resulting in a 50% literacy rate for the country as a whole. This year, with the economic crisis, there have not been enough donations to keep the mission schools open. Teachers make approximately $60/month, so the six mission schools need around $4000 to open this fall. Obviously there are other needs as well; two of the four programs at the vocational school have also been closed. If you are interested in supporting this parish and their schools, we would welcome donations of any size.

Checks may be made to “Friends of Darbonne.”
Memo line: Project Fund

(or Scholarship Fund – but right now the need is for teacher salaries to keep the small mission schools open)

Zion Episcopal Church
12 Satterlee Place
Wappingers Falls, New York 12590

If you have any questions, leave me a message!

Paul Farmer on Healthcare as a Human Right on NPR's This I believe

Paul Farmer has worked in healthcare in Haiti for many years. He founded Partners in Health, which does great work in Canges, Haiti, and is connected with Harvard Medical School.

Read more about him and his work in Haiti in Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains. Fabulous book, hard to put down.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reverse Culture Shock

I'm back in the United States now, currently visiting my parents and sister in Michigan before the start of our community meetings and my last year of seminary. I still have a long list of blog entries I'd like to write about my time in Haiti and about projects going on there. Many people have asked how they can help, and I'll be posting more information about a variety of opportunities to do so, among other things.

Meanwhile, I'm experiencing the effects of my time there. On the way home from the Detroit airport, we stopped at Olga's for lunch (think Denny's or Friendly's with a Greek twist). The bill with tip came to around $50 for the four of us. Nearly a month's salary for a mission school teacher in Haiti, I thought as I walked to the car. And then yesterday, out of the blue, I nearly burst into tears in a coffee shop when we dropped $15 on coffee and dessert following a movie. A week's salary. My sister saw my face and didn't need an explanation: "It took Aunt Ellen a year to get over it when she came from the Peace Corps in Ecuador," she told me. It took me a few minutes before I could stop fighting tears and start enjoying my amazing dessert. I had ordered something with bananas because it reminded me of Haiti; perhaps I had been thinking about Haiti instead of Harry Potter, though I hadn't been particularly aware of it. What I'm going to do tonight at the Tigers game, I don't know: four tickets, four hotdogs, four cokes - at ballpark prices, how many weeks' salary would they cost for a mission school teacher in Haiti? Mission schools that may close if those salaries aren't found....

How do I best deal with this? In Detroit, I can console myself a little with the thought that the economy in this Motor City is in really bad shape. Elsewhere?

Will it take me a year? I can't go around bursting into tears every time I have to spend money.

But I don't want to get over it. I don't want to forget. I don't want to stop caring. I want to tell people about the wonderful things I've experienced, about the beauty of Haiti, about how proud I am to be an Episcopalian when I see what the church is accomplishing there. I also want to tell people that it is just not right that we are so unaware of the poverty at our doorstep.

Yes, I want to enjoy the gifts I am offered right now: time with family, potable tap water, cooler temperatures, extra sleep, good pastry, a baseball game, and so much more. In fact, I firmly believe that we all need to be aware of and enjoy those good things we take for granted. Perhaps if we were more aware of what we had, we would stop seeking more and instead find ways to increase our giving.

Yes, I will be glad when this reverse culture shock settles down, but may I never, never "get over" my time in Haiti.

Monday, July 27, 2009

the best juice so far

While I was in Haiti, I was introduced to a yellowish round fruit that I'd never seen before. I hunted in my dictionary; no grenadia listed. No one I asked seemed to know, even the sisters. I wanted to find out because this was (and still is) at the top of my juice list. Well, I've finally found someone who knows: it's passionfruit. And based on a Google search, the yellow variety (there seem to be quite a few).

Here's how you make grenadia/passionfruit juice:

After washing the grenadia, you take the end of it off with a knife and scoop the inside into a strainer. It's a deep yellow-orange covering dark seeds, rather like a pomegranate, except that you don't eat the seed part. Add some sugar, which I am told helps detach the fruit from the seeds. Add water and sugar to taste. In Haiti, this usually means a lot of sugar, as it is a tart fruit, but I prefer it with just the sugar from the straining.

Fried Plaintain

Choose a plaintain. The riper it is, the sweeter it is; green ones taste more like potatoes, whereas the riper ones are a little more like bananas. I'd like to see if this works with bananas as we know them in the US, too.

Next, cut it up and squash each piece, top down so that the little brown bits are still in the center. My host family uses two wooden paddles. I wonder if a flat spatula on a cutting board would work.

Dip each piece in salt water before putting in the frying pan with plenty of olive oil. When they are crunchy on the outside, they are ready! Drain them. Paper towels would probably work well here.

Serve hot.

how to eat a mango

1. Learn to identify the sound of a falling mango: rustle-rustle-thump. Go collect it. Alternatively, wait for the winds before a big storm, stand beneath the mango trees, and make sure not to get hit by falling fruit.

2. Method one, learned at the Port-au-Prince convent: Slice end to end, starting at the wider end, off center (along the side of the flat center seed). Using a fruit knife, go around the edge of the fruit inside the skin, then cross-hatch. Eat with a grapefruit spoon, if available. Do the same to the other side. Then lose all sense of neatness by peeling the middle third by hand and just having at it with your teeth. Go wash your hands and face. Don't even begin to think that a cloth napkin will suffice for cleanup.
3. Method two, learned in Darbonne: without making a cut in the mango, bang it on all sides till it becomes mushy inside. Make a small hole in the skin at the top, and drink the mango pulp from it.

4. Method three: Peel it with your teeth - or for those of us who are a little fussier, with a knife - and just eat. Over a sink, if possible.

5. Have a hose ready. Perhaps you should have eaten that mango while wearing a bathing suit...

6. Bliss!

7. Start listening for that rustle, rustle, thump! Surely there must be another mango around here somewhere!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dancing Down the Aisle

As I got online just now, I found the following video on the Yahoo homepage:

It's of a wedding procession in which the wedding party, men and women alike, dance down the aisle, mostly in couples. And it's spreading quickly on the Internet.

Well, Haiti thought of it first.

I've been meaning to write a blog entry on wedding traditions here, and this has motivated me to do so.

The wedding at which I preached had the most beautiful set of dancers - eight couples doing a sort of half-dance, half rhythmic march to recorded music. They stopped when they were all in and danced in the aisle. It reminded me of a minuet or a stately Virginia reel. This is a traditional part of the service.

Next there was a couple with the woman dressed as a bride (but not as fancily); this couple did a more complicated dance with turns. Right before or after them (I've forgotten) was a little flower girl dressed as a bride, with two more women up front similarly dressed (known as annonceuses or premieres mariees preceding the bride herself). Then there were a couple of little ringbearers, a boy and a girl (again, dressed as a little bride). It is my understanding that these annonceuses are a newer tradition, but one that has become typical here.

Finally, after all the dancing couples and children were in, they formed a line on either side of the aisle, where they had stayed after dancing. They made an arch overhead, rather like the Virginia reel, with the bridesmaids' flowers held above.

The bride and her godmother came through the arch to greet the groom and the godfather, who had processed in with the clergy from the sacristy and were waiting up front. The four of them sat facing each other in chairs set on a large square white quilted pad, two on one side, two on the other, while the rest of the wedding party sat in the front pews. I never did figure out who the parents were, assuming any were there.

There were a couple of special kneeling rugs for the couple, as I recall, but I no longer remember if it was for the blessing or for some other part of the service.

An interesting note:

It is the tradition in Haiti to have godparents for more events than your baptism. Even graduating classes are given nominal godparents. However, godparents for a couple getting married are not only witnesses, but people to whom the couple should be able to turn for advice down the road. They are expected to attend at least one of the premarital counseling appointments as well. In this case, one of them had to come in from far away and was given a waiver, but Margarette and I did the premarital counseling session (a first for both of us seminarians) with the couple and the godfather beforehand.

There was the usual exchange of rings and vows according to the Book of Common Prayer (French translation).

One tradition I had never seen before and which I really liked was at communion: the bride gave the groom communion, and the groom gave it to the bride. As the sacrament of unity, it seemed very appropriate on some level, though I will confess I haven't spent the time to think through the theology of it in any depth. Communion in Haiti is done by intinction: the priest or other person distributing communion dips the wafer in the wine and places it on the tongue of the recipient. (It felt odd to me at first, but since my hands get dusty unbelievably quickly here, I was soon grateful.) As a result, it looked a little bit like an American bride and groom feeding each other wedding cake, but with so much more significance and reverence.

All in all, it was a lovely wedding. I wish Thania and Jhonson (no, that is not a typo) much happiness. Keep this young couple in your prayers as they grow together.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

views from the hills above Port-au-Prince

In the first photo, you get a good idea of downtown Port-au-Prince and its harbor. You can see the Palais National, the big white building to the left. Moving to the right about half way across is a huge pyramidal (almost conical) monument whose significance is unclear to those I've asked. On the right is the pink and white Roman Catholic cathedral.

Now, for those of you who have been wondering where we are, you have to look a little harder. In between the monument and the RC cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral, Sainte Trinite. Look for a rust-colored roof. It's below the last harbor crane and just above a large office building.
The second photo gives you a view of the ships going and coming from the port.

heavy laden

People are carrying heavy burdens.

What can we do to share the load?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

it was a dark and stormy night... Darbonne a week ago Monday. I was in Port-au-Prince, where it was less stormy, so I missed the excitement when the tree came down right next to the rectory.

Yes, he is cutting up those logs and branches with a machete. No chainsaw. Hard, hot work.

out for a Sunday drive on a summer day

A heat wave, idling cars in a traffic jam on a long drive, asphalt, few trees...

And finally we find a roadside vendor with cold Coke - in this weather, it's the real thing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

vertical farming

According to Sr. Marjorie Raphael, it is said that this is the only country where people can die falling out of their cornfields.

I've seen fields steeper than this.

chasing down the truck

When I was little, I used to chase down ice cream trucks. Not very often, it's true: it was much too expensive, and my mother preferred to make healthier frozen snacks with orange juice. In Roxbury, MA, where I live most of the time, the ice cream truck has the unfortunate habit of parking on the corner below the convent right when we're trying to chant the psalms for Evening Prayer, so it becomes a real challenge for the cantor to stay on pitch. Still, it brings back fond childhood memories, and I will admit to having last chased one down while in graduate school.

Well, I've been hearing similar music in the street near the Port-au-Prince convent. It goes by very regularly. There are several different melodies, including a medley of Christmas tunes, but I hear the same ones over and over, so I was fairly certain the vehicles were on a regular route, whatever they were. Still, I had never seen an ice cream truck here, nor does it quite seem to fit the context (though there are times I'd be thrilled for an orange sherbet push-up!). I've seen a lot of old trucks and school buses, still labeled "Smith County Schools" or "Jenny's Produce," so I wondered if it might be old ice cream trucks used for something else. Not so.

Yesterday, while coming back to Port-au-Prince from Darbonne, we passed a truck playing this music. Clearly it was not an ice cream truck, new or old. I inquired. Elange told me that it was a water truck. Water trucks play music for the same reason ice cream trucks in the U.S. play music: so people can chase them down and buy safe, treated drinking water.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. Hold those two images in your mind: children chasing down an ice cream truck and adults coming out to buy clean water.

Not much more to say, is there?

a little humor

We don't have this particular sheet at home at the convent...

more off-roading for the Lord

This Sunday we set off early for Chateau Gaillard, a mission church in the mountains. The first stage, as before, was by pick-up truck down a riverbed and then on up the mountain as far as possible. Eventually we could go no further, and it was there that a horse awaited. However, as there was only one horse, and he was in a very bad mood and kicking, we all elected to hike. "Sure, I can go on foot!" I said. So off we went, first downhill to the creek below, then back up again, Willy, M. Berthony with the thurible, me with my backpack, and Pere Samuel with his things as well, striding on ahead of us. This middle-aged city dweller may be used to climbing the hill in Roxbury, but hiking up a mountain in habit is rather another thing. I had to take a few rest breaks (along with one photo stop for the curly-horned sheep), and by the time I got to the top, I was thoroughly winded to the point that Pere Samuel informed me he'd be borrowing a horse for me for the way down. I was pretty sure I could walk downhill, after all, but I didn't object, either. I was infinitely grateful that the coffee we were offered there was made with treated water so that I could have some. It was just the pick-me-up I needed, even in the heat.

I preached my first homily in Haitian Creole there at St. Timothy's. I was a little unsure how it would go, given that not only was there the issue of language, but also the assigned gospel reading was the beheading of John the Baptist. Such a lovely story. Furthermore, Pere Samuel had been out very, very late Saturday night because the car broke down again, so he had not had a chance to look it over before breakfast that morning, which didn't leave time for revision. Fortunately, Guerling, the rector's wife, was kind enough to fix my grammar for me, and I checked the pronunciation of a few words on the way there. I think it went reasonably well, as I got vocal feedback during the preaching that let me know they were with me. I found that quite heartening! People here are so patient with foreign accents and grammatical mistakes. I can't tell you how much I have appreciated that generosity of spirit.
Two groups of children sang during the service. I enjoyed their music.

St. Timothy's also has a school with a couple of classrooms and another class which meets in the nave. The photo here is of the outside of the classrooms - they were locked, so I couldn't go in. I would have taken photos of the church, but I was too tired to remember.

Following the service, we were served a
snack (no coffee hours here, but they knew we were coming from a distance). I helped myself to some fried plaintains before getting on the borrowed horse and heading back down the mountain, led by the man whose horse we had borrowed. Absolutely stunning views.

Once down the mountain (and back up the other side of the creek), we piled back into the pick-up and jounced along to the next stop, Christ Roi, Corail. Or nearly - once we'd parked the truck, there was another hike, this one mercifully shorter and less steep. Which didn't stop me from slipping, falling, and thus arriving dirty as well as sweat-soaked. A sight to behold, I'm sure. But it didn't matter much: God showed up and we worshipped, which is what counts! Pere Samuel tells me that there are some parish priests who have six hour trips (on foot) to their mission churches. Fortunately, his parish only has eight missions, and none are further than three hours away. I suggested that maybe required PE should be a part of seminary here. Good thing most seminarians are young so they can get used to it if they are currently city dwellers.

Once again, I preached and Pere Samuel celebrated. We were joined by those who had come along from the home parish, Annonciation, and by several from Chateau Gaillard who came along as well. Corail is a smaller church with maybe 100 members, much tinier. However, the corrugated metal roof is in better condition than that of the previous church, which they are raising money to replace.

Christ the King also has a small school, and this time I was able to get in to see the classrooms, which were decorated with the children's illustrations of vocabulary words and so on. The preschool weekly schedule was posted. I don't remember my nursery school being so organized! You can see in the photo of the inside of the church that there are also classes held there: there are brown chalkboards along the sides and back of the nave. This is one of the four schools which may have to close in the fall, as sufficient funds have not yet been raised to pay for the teachers' salaries. They are short $4000 for six schools: teachers make approximately $60 per month. Not much to run six schools for a year, but it's $4000 more than they have.

When the service was over, the weary travellers were fed once again. The rice and beans were very good, but I can tell you that I have never enjoyed a cool Coke so much in my life!

When I got home Sunday afternoon, I was beat. That cold shower was just what I needed. It was a long day, but I am grateful to have had the experience of the two mission parishes, and I continue to grow in respect for the work of Haitian Episcopal priests. It's no small job here.

weather report

That's 43 degrees Celsius. Anyone care to calculate what that is in Fahrenheit?

Monday, June 29, 2009

off-roading to a mountain mission

Early Sunday morning, Pere Samuel, Margarette (the other seminarian), several parishioners, and I set off for the Mission St Pierre. We had originally planned to go on motorcycles, so I was relieved to hear that we would do the first leg of the trip in a four wheel drive pick-up. I was even more grateful as we headed not across a shallow river, but right into it and down it, using it as a road. I've gotten used to some amazing road conditions and a lack of seatbelts, but this was an entirely new idea, not to mention experience for me.

We encountered quite a number of people on the way down the river - bathing, doing laundry, and collecting drinking water. There is a spring partway down the river which makes it a little less muddy, and Pere Samuel explained to me that people would dig a sort of a hole to let the sediment settle out of the water before putting it into containers to take home to drink.

Eventually we left the river and went a little farther before leaving the truck behind. Several parishioners had sent down their horses for some of us; others hiked, thuribles, dress shirts in bags, and all. I thought, hey, I am perfectly capable of hiking! However, by the time the day was over and my legs were starting to shake a little, I was grateful I had had the gift of that horse. Each horse also had a small boy assigned to urge the horse along when it got balky, which was not uncommon; a few times I had to get off so it could get up particularly steep, rocky places in the path. I was grateful for the dozen riding lessons I had taken ten years ago at the boarding school at which I taught; even without reins and with stirrups too long for my short legs, I was told I looked comfortable. As my mother says, will miracles never cease! By the end of the trip up the mountain I had collected someone bookbag and a hanging bag with dress shirts along with my backpack (which held habit, shoes, water, prayer book, bug spray, kleenex, etc.).

When we arrived, an hour before the service, there was already a good crowd gathered, rather unusual in my limited experience, given that service times are approximate. It is important here for parishioners from other churches, Episcopalian and other denominations, to come for a patronal festival to show support, and a number of people had come the night before and pitched tents. We were offered coconuts (juice and fruit) right away, as well as coffee (which I dared not drink, given the water situation) and bread.

Pere Samuel showed me the two classrooms which make up this parish school, an important service to the community given the lack of available schools in the area.

The service itself was beautiful and well attended. "Standing room only" doesn't cover it: some people had to stay outside for lack of space within. The parish choir sang, accompanied by electric guitar (powered by generator), as did a ten voice men's choir, accompanied by accordion. There were two thurifers with their clouds of incense, candle-bearers, and two crucifers. There were a dozen of us in the altar party. Once again, the offertory was fabulous, with a group of women wearing red dancing up the aisle with their offerings in red baskets on their heads, followed by two boys dancing with bags and hoes.

Pere Samuel preached about Peter and how very human he was, impulsive, speaking without reflecting, alternating between fear and courage - and yet his heart was in the right place, so God was able to work through him for great good. I always find that heartening.

He also talked to the congregation about the fact that the Episcopal Church has women priests, and that the two women with him were seminarians. As there is currently only one ordained woman in the diocese of Haiti, this is new for some, I think. He also reminded them that Episcopal clergy can marry if they are not called to take a vow of chastity in the religious life, and that it is possible to be a sister and a priest at the same time.

After it was over, I had a plate of rice and beans before heading back down the mountain with an even larger crowd, this time on foot. The views were spectacular.

The pickup held a dozen or so of us on the way home. It was quite hot, so when we got back to the river, I was seriously envious of the horses being bathed. What I wouldn't have given to hop out just for a few moments!

I will have the chance to go to another mission church in a few weeks. This time, I'll be preaching. Prayers, please! I don't know if it will be this much of a trip: some mission churches are accessible by car. However, there are also some that are up to six hours away. I don't think this is one of them; however, I do know that wherever it is, it will be an adventure.