Monday, December 24, 2012

a rose e'er blooming

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;  then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;  the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.  A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.  No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.  And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  
-- Isaiah 35

Christmas Eve: Madonna and pups

Unto us some pups are born...

first bath time

happy mama

love my little ones

sleepy Madonna and pups
What a beautiful way to usher in Christmas. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent IV

our little Advent wreath on the eve of Advent IV

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

BCP (1979) p. 212

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gaudete pink and blue Christmas

Cathédrale Sainte Trinité
Advent III: Gaudete Sunday

It's not everyone who gets to wear a pink chasuble. Some of us, however, did this past Sunday, Advent III. You've seen the Advent wreaths with three purple and one pink candle: this is the liturgical equivalent. This was Gaudete or Rose Sunday. Gaudete: Rejoice.  As the Advent hymn says, Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear.  We wait in joyful expectation of the coming of Christ - at Christmas, at the end of time, and in our hearts now.

from the Advent in Two Minutes video posted in an earlier entry

At the same time, we have some blue around us - not just Sarum Advent blue, but a blue Christmas.  There are so many among us dealing with loss; Christmas is a hard time of year for some, and I wonder if those of us who absolutely love Christmas (and I am among them) always notice.  As a matter of fact, I've been preparing for a funeral in the morning, and someone else is dying; it is also the one-week anniversary of the shootings. Grandmere Mimi, at Wounded Bird, has written about this today:  Go pray with her and others for all those who are grieving this Christmas. 

found at

And then remember: joy and grief are not mutually exclusive.  Joy has nothing to do with optimism or with things going well.  It has everything to do with the presence of God.  Veni, Emmanuel, God with us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness

’If you do good, you’ll feel good’: Ann Curry explains origins of #26Acts of Kindness

Acts of kindness honoring those who died.  You've probably all heard about it by now.  We just got power back after a while without, so it's news to me. 

Some of my favorites listed:
-- $10 Starbucks card and a card (note) on someone's windshield
-- feeding the meter for a disabled veteran (saw the plates)
-- sending notes telling people how much they were appreciated
-- sponsoring a child in Haiti (of course I liked this one!)
-- covering for someone at work so she could attend her child's classroom party
-- buying lunch for someone in need
-- listening to a troubled classmate

What could ours be?

Ann Curry is right: doing such things does, in fact, make you feel better.  It reminds me of someone who used to do such things to make himself feel better when he was down.  I was the recipient of flowers on a number of occasions - and it cheered him up at least as much as it made my day.  Sending random care packages is a lot of fun, too.  And feeding the parking meter for someone - what an easy way to brighten someone's day - and your own.  Obviously this isn't just about making ourselves feel better, but she does have a point - and maybe someone will be surprised into continuing.

I'm grateful she thought of this.  It's one of the most fruitful responses I've seen so far.   Blessings on all who are participating as well as to those who have been affected.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

After today's tragedy, I really needed some Advent hope.  And thanks to Bishop Steven Charleston, I found it.  Would this work in Haiti?   I am  astonished that a cello made from an oil can could sound so good! 

I gather there is a documentary to be released; I hope I can find a way to see it when I'm back in the US in August.

We live in a world where severely disturbed people kill children - and not just today.  We also live in a world where trash becomes an orchestra and music pours through souls as a result.  Incarnation.  Paschal mystery. It's all right here. God with us.  Veni, Emmanuel.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

post-Sandy hunger

I think I'm ready for everyone to have a respite from natural disasters.  Aren't we all?

This week we heard that President Obama plans to ask Congress for 50 BILLION dollars for clean-up from Sandy.  Where will we get the money? I understand that worry. And then there are those who are faced with the clean-up itself who know that won't cover it and who were hoping for $82 billion. 

One thing few people in the US will have to worry about, though, is actually starving to death as a result of the storm.  American food insecurity is a reality few recognize, and it's of real concern.  I think especially of children. It's hard to learn when hungry, and lack of proper nutrition hampers physical and mental development.  I could go on, but I'll spare you that in order to point out the obvious: it's worse in Haiti.  Especially this year.  And I don't like what I hear.  This coming year will be rough.  Food prices? I could be concerned about our budget - but we have one.  A budget, I mean.  I don't expect to be going all day without food.  Then there are all those people who eat from their gardens, the gardens that got washed away along with their hopes of selling produce to pay for school tuition for their children.  Now it's about finding them food.

This week an official report was produced to explain the situation.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Study: Widespread hunger in Haiti after storms - Haiti -

An excerpt from the AP coverage of the report:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitians have suffered widespread hunger following an unusually active storm season this year and are likely to experience more, according to a study released Friday.

The report, backed by a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based think tank, found that rural households in the heavily hit areas of Haiti's west, north and Grand-Anse departments experienced what it termed "severe food shortages" after Hurricane Sandy and an unnamed storm that followed. The two merely brushed the Caribbean nation in October and November but caused major flooding and killed as many as 66 people.

Nearly 70 percent of the more than 1,000 households interviewed said they experienced moderate or severe hunger, according to the study, "After the Storm: Haiti's Coming Food Crisis."

The report was written by social scientists Athena Kolbe, Marie Puccio and Robert Muggah, who frequently work in the impoverished country. It echoes U.N. warnings that more than 1.5 million of Haiti's people are at risk of malnutrition because they lost crops in the storms. As much as 90 percent of Haiti's harvest season, much of it in the south, was destroyed in Sandy's floods, the world body said.

Read more here:
[And here's a first for me: I've found the same article translated into French on a Haitian news page:]

The New York Times ran an article about the food situation a few weeks ago, too. 

It starts out like this:
FAUCHÉ, Haiti — A woman who lost just about everything now gives her children coffee for meals because it quiets their stomachs a bit.

Seriously, when is Haiti going to get a break?
As they summarize the situation:
As if the quake were not enough, Haiti is now suffering the combined onslaught of storms and, before that, drought, imperiling its food supply, causing $254 million in agricultural losses and throwing 1.6 million people — about 16 percent of the population — into dire straits.

Tropical Storm Isaac in August destroyed farms in the north, preceded by a spring drought that devastated farms there. Then came Hurricane Sandy, which passed west of Hispaniola and over Jamaica but was large enough to send 20 inches of rain over southern Haiti.

Last week, as the government and the United Nations took stock of the storm and grappled with flooding in the north from a fresh cloudburst that left 10 people dead, they issued an emergency appeal for $39 million in humanitarian aid to a world weary of its recurrent disasters.

Add to the food crisis the fact that bridges were washed out, so there are towns that are nearly impossible to reach.   All this from brushes with hurricanes - thank God for the mercy of avoiding direct hits.

At least the weather seems to have improved for the moment. 

But it continues elsewhere: Enough already! 

Everyone everywhere is up to their ears with disasters, and we still haven't cleaned up from those of the last decade (remember Katrina? how about the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant meltdown in Japan?).  Somehow we need to learn to care for the environment and care for each other, to respond to urgent needs and to plan wisely for the future.  I don't know how we can do that, but I am confident that there are those who do and that we can all contribute something to move the world in the right direction.

Advent is a season of hope and expectation.  God reminds us that it isn't over yet, and God promises to walk with us through all of this.  So instead of worrying, we pray and work while we wait.  Pray for seasonable weather and wisdom in planting: may God have mercy on farmers here in Haiti and elsewhere.  Pray for children who drink coffee instead of eating, and also for those who have a Coke or potato chips for breakfast and only look reasonably fed. Pray for our scientists, our leaders, our economists, our media.  Pray for all those people who don't make the news. And keep praying for Haiti. 

Kyrie eleison.

Advent is all about desire

Acrylic, November 2005
Roger Hutchison
Roger writes of Advent, "This painting, for me, came out of a sense of waiting—of expectation. Mary is soon to give birth to Jesus. She is searching, watching, waiting. The star in the sky is also watching – waiting.

Something beautiful for your prayer and reflection this Advent:

"Advent is all about desire," an elderly Jesuit in our community used to say every year as November drew to a close. And whenever he said it, I would say, "Huh?"

But gradually it dawned on me. Christians who celebrate Advent, the liturgical season that precedes Christmas, desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways. The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful "O antiphons," sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations toward the end of Advent, speak of Christ at the "King of Nations and their Desire." The Gospel readings for the season tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel's hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son. My friend was right. It's all about desire.

To read the rest of the article:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Veni, Emmanuel

This is meditative and a little different; I think she may be singing in Gaelic in parts, though I could be imagining it. In any case, it's lovely.

Here are the traditional words from Veni, veni, Emmanuel, translated by John Mason Neale (Society of St. Margaret's founder) with the Great O antiphons highlighted:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.    Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.    Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.    Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.    Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.   Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.    Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.     Refrain

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

fast falls the eventide

I like the traditional music to which Abide with Me is usually set, but ever since Sr. Carolyn introduced us to this one by Richard Webster, it's been my favorite. This choral version is less simple than the one we sing, but it's still lovely.

May your listening be a prayer tonight as God's grace and peace flow through the beauty of the music.

Abide with me 

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

-- Henry F. Lyte, 1847

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's Thanksgiving.  Of course, it's not a Haitian holiday, but we celebrated anyway. 

It's not a real celebration without rice and beans and sauce.

We began with the Eucharist at St Jacques le Juste with their English-speaking congregation.  Three musicians working with Holy Trinity Music School played piano, violin, and flute - Dona Nobis Pacem blew me away.  They played it over and over, moving us deeper into prayer, and after a while, very, very quietly, we began to hear voices pick it up - almost silently, but not quite - echoes of the peace for which we all pray.  As Pere M, said, if only this could be played all over the world, if only we could send all the leaders of the nations a recording of this prayer... That was something for which to be grateful.  Music and musicians in general, actually - and how much more so today, actually, since it's St. Cecilia's Day, too (patron saint of music).  Dona Nobis Pacem reminded me of our need to work for peace in our world and in ourselves, to create it by allowing ourselves to be channels of God's grace for others.  Imagine... I am grateful for the peace God does bring us, and I am grateful that God uses each of us in spite of our weaknesses - and even uses them, too. 

But perhaps I should begin earlier with the thankfulness that came during our preparations yesterday.  Thanks to Agape Flights donors, we had turkey and fixings for dinner for us and our Foyer Notre Dame family - residents, staff, and a few friends.  And while the preparations don't look exactly like the ones at home, it was still that recognizable pre-Thanksgiving communal cooking experience. 

preparing the turkey

One thing for which I am thankful is that the pumpkin pies I baked turned out better than the disastrous cookies I attempted this summer at the old convent - one last very humorous memory from that place.  (I would have settled for good cookies, too.)

I am most thankful, though, for all those people involved in our preparations.  I wish I could show you their pictures, along with those of so many others, but not having asked permission...

Here is the finished product of the turkey prep above:

spicy Thanksgiving turkey, Haitian style, sort of - delicious!

You'll have to imagine pictures of laughter, of elderly ladies and students eating together, of the dog, hopeful to the very end, of our punchiness at the end of how many hours of washing dishes...

I'm even grateful for the grey day.  We haven't had refrigeration this week (till late today), so not only was it more comfortable, it was also helpful for the food itself. 

low clouds covering the tops of the mountains bordering Port-au-Prince this afternoon

I was also thankful today for the smiles provoked by the new guard dog in training, whom I met on the way out, and who as of now stands almost as high as a step.  Such adorableness.  I don't know his name yet, but I'm looking forward to becoming better acquainted.

guard puppy doing his inspection

I'm thankful tonight also for the power returning.  Last Friday morning we had some, then a few hours Sunday, and about 45 minutes Tuesday night (after I was asleep - but I got back up!).  I am especially grateful that it came on this evening so I could call my parents and wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Tonight I'll have a fan and cold water to drink, too.

I am thankful for the beauty that surrounds me - the big things like the double rainbow I saw last week and the spectacular sunsets that come along every once in a while, and the little things like the tiny zandolit (lizard) that scampers up the ironwork along our kitchen window. I'm thankful that the poinsettia tree is turning red and that there are so many interesting birdcalls early in the morning. 

double rainbow over Delmas

All these things are nothing compared to the big things: I have good food, good shelter, and potable water.  I have people to love, interesting work to do, and a purpose.  I have sisters and friends and family who are amazing people, lovable, flawed, inspiring, grace-filled examples of all God can do in and through us. I am thankful none of them is perfect, and I'm thankful that they put up with me in all my imperfection. I am especially grateful for those who make me laugh.  I think that must be a spiritual gift Paul forgot to mention.

And did I mention my sisters, my friends, and my family?

And then there is God...

Grace.  It's all about grace.

sunset, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

cell phones in church


This may be completely unlike church here in Haiti, but even here we have issues with ringing cell phones at just the wrong moment.  Yes, during church, too.  And then I remember hearing that once during a concert here, following a plea for cell phones to be turned off, one of the musician's cell phones rang during a piece.  'Nuff said. Some things are the same wherever you are.

"Remember, God wants your full attention."

"No shoes, no shirt, no service."

Friday, November 9, 2012

a rock badger for the archbishop

The high hills are a refuge for the mountain goats, *
and the stony cliffs for the rock badgers.
                       -- Psalm 104:19

Bishop Welby and his rock badger crozier

OK, I love the new future Archbishop of Canterbury already.  He sounds as though he has both a sense of humor and humility as well as the practical experience and breadth I read about in an earlier article (a bio:

The Telegraph reports:
In January last year Bishop Welby, then Dean of Liverpool, was reading a passage from Leviticus chapter 11 detailing Jewish food laws, listing a number of little known animals which are considered unclean to eat.

In the traditional King James Version, verse five advises against eating the meat of the “coney” – usually referred to by zoologists now as the Rock Hyrax – “because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof”. But in several modern translations – including the one from which he was reading - the animal is referred to in less poetical terms as a “rock badger”.

As he read the incongruous-sounding verse the Bishop began to giggle. Within moments he had lost his composure, sending the congregation into gales of laughter.

He was subsequently teased mercilessly about his “rocky moment” and when he was made Bishop of Durham members of the congregation had the crozier specially made bearing the unmistakable image of a Rock Hyrax from a picture downloaded on the internet.

A group of lay clerks also paid for him to sponsor one of the creatures at Edinburgh zoo.

“He has a habit, when reading the Bible of doing it in a Sir Humphrey Appleby voice, he dramatizes Bible readings and sometimes it is his undoing,” explained one member of the congregation. “It was like the ‘leg-over moment’, he was giggling and couldn’t stop, he said I’ll start that again but there were tears coming down his face, it was just so funny.”

A recent scientific study found that the Rock Hyrax, known for its unusual call, is one of the most sophisticated communicators in the animal kingdom.

If indeed this scientific study is accurate, I can't imagine a more appropriate animal for the future archbishop.  He's going to need all the communication skill he can muster, and then some.  May the Holy Spirit guide and inspire him in the years to come.

James Theodore Holly and the first Episcopal parish in Leogane

Yesterday was one of the two possible days the Episcopal Church remembers James Theodore Holly, the first bishop of the Diocese of Haiti and the first African-American bishop in the Episcopal Church.  He gets little attention, but he was a remarkable man with an inspiring life.  In Haiti we see his name on the sign for the seminary, but even here there are few who know his story. 

Bishop James Theodore Holly,  1900

About Bishop Holly:

Both before and after his ordination to the diaconate in Detroit in 1855 (a challenge in those years, needless to say), James Theodore Holly asked to be sent to Haiti to establish the Episcopal Church there. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1856 and came down here to scout out the situation and to make contacts. After returning and continuing to lobby for Haiti to become a mission priority, he finally managed to get a minimal sponsorship for this new mission field.

In 1861 he returned with his family and a group of African-American emigrants, many of whom died that first year; life here was difficult then, too. Holly stuck it out despite the loss of his wife and four of his six children, making a living in secular work making shoes alongside his mission work, founded Holy Trinity Church (now Cathedral), and was eventually ordained as bishop in 1874.

He spent the rest of his life here establishing this church and eventually also serving as bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, delegate to Lambeth, and even consul for Liberia in Port-au-Prince. Along the way he earned a doctorate from Howard University and was awarded an honorarylaw degree by Liberia College in Monrovia.

He died in 1911, and his grave is now on the grounds of St. Vincent’s School for the Disabled with a statue nearby. I really must visit it.

In 1897, Bishop Holly's ABOUT THE CHURCH'S MISSION IN HAITI: A CONCISE STATEMENT was published in New York. It's a short document and an interesting read.  I found the part about the first parish outside Port-au-Prince particularly interesting, in part, of course, because of my time in Darbonne.  I would love to know which of the current set of parishes and missions are among those early ones.     

WHILE our mission work, like that of the first apostles, must have a foothold in the towns and cities, as the base of its operations, it is nevertheless true that the great work that needs to be accomplished in Haiti is in the rural districts, among the country people, who are, as a general thing, but one remove above African paganism.

It is, therefore, a matter of satisfaction to me to record the fact that the banner parish of the church in Haiti is situated in the mountains of Léogane. This station was created by Bishop Burgess in 1866, when he ordained a deacon for its ministerial oversight. Thirty-five memorialists had asked the Bishop to establish that mission station. When that missionary closed his earthly labors in 1880, three chapels had sprung up in [17/18] those mountains. In this present year (1896) there are two more chapels there, making five in all; and the city of Léogane has been invaded by those mountaineers, and a missionary station established there since March last, with an ordained missionary at its head.

There are two lay Readers, with permission to exhort in each of the five rural chapels. They also make missionary visits from house to house, and like St. Andrew, they return, bringing their brethren to the Lord Jesus.

These lay-helpers cultivate the soil to gain their livelihood, and they further take time to do this spiritual work without the hope of fee or other earthly reward.

The rural parishioners in general are not behind them in the work of self-sacrifice. By their own contributions, the land whereon to build those chapels was obtained, as well as the materials for the edifices; and with their own hands they have built those chapels without any pay being given them for their labor. The chapels are scattered over a district about twenty miles in length. Nearly 200 communicants are registered, and about 500 adherents in all are thereto attached.

Facts about the Church's Mission in Haiti
by Bishop James Theodore Holly 1897
 a few links for more information:  
He is in Holy Women, Holy Men, of course, but there is also a biography, rather dated,  I would love to see someone write a new one, but this is worth a read if you can find a copy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sandy flooding tent cities

It's not easy to deal with disaster in the US.  I have friends who are without heat and hot water.   Others have lost homes and businesses. Now imagine that everything you have is in a tent, and it's flooded.

Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post article:
Almost three years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, 370,000 people are still living in the tent camps that became their homes.
Now, some have lost even that. Haitian officials say that 18,000 families living in tent camps have been rendered homeless by Hurricane Sandy, which has killed 52 there since making landfall last week.
The number of casualties may continue rising, as aid workers have found 86 new cases of cholera just in the earthquake survivor camps of capital city Port-au-Prince. A cholera outbreak that began after the quake has killed an estimated 7,400 since October 2010.

To read more:

More anon.

watching from afar

Haitian television is covering the election in the US, and we got our power just a bit ago.  So here I sit - and they've stopped commenting and have started streaming CNN in English.  And I found a website (while looking up malaria in Haiti, actually) with live updates.  It's slightly surreal to be here and have all this.  At the mother house, we don't stay up and watch, so I wonder if I'm even better connected at the moment than I would be at home. Strange.  But everyone here is interested, despite the fact that we have a disaster on our hands with the aftermath of Sandy. Wow.

Barack Obama taptap - Port-au-Prince, Haiti
That's what I call an interest in foreign politics.

 Now it is 50-50 at 9:30PM  in FLorida.  Yikes.  Flashbacks, anyone? 

9:21 PM in Florida...  close race, do you think? Just so there are no hanging chads this time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hurricane heroes

First responders are heroes. I read, give thanks, and pray for God's blessing on these people as well as on all those who needed their help.

In NYC, at least fifty homes burned.  Two hundred firefighters were fighting it in high winds and flooded streets. I can't imagine the conditions.  NYFD has certainly had their share of heroes in the past decade or so. I wonder if any of these also worked at Ground Zero after 9/11.
With chest-high water from the storm filling the street, firefighters had to use a boat to make rescues, the Associated Press reported. Fire department officials said about 25 people were trapped in the upstairs unit of one apartment, and the two-story home next door was ablaze and setting fire to the apartment’s roof. Firefighters climbed an awning to rescue the trapped people and took them downstairs to a boat in the street.

Further south, a replica of a tall ship went down in the storm. Fourteen of sixteen were rescued by a team with a helicopter.  I gather the Coast Guard swimmer swam in 10-30 foot waves  to carry each one to safety from the rafts to the dangling line.

And here's another set of heroes:
(CNN) — At times with only flashlights to illuminate the way, NYU Langone Medical Center was evacuating some 260 patients, carrying some of them down 15 flights of stairs to awaiting ambulances ready to take them to the safety of other hospitals.
NYU didn't anticipate such heavy flooding from Sandy, the superstorm that hit Monday, and chose not to evacuate all its patients before the storm, as they did with Hurricane Irene a year ago. But between 7 and 7:45 p.m. Monday, the hospital's basement, lower floors, and elevator shafts filled with 10 to 12 feet of water, and the hospital lost its power, according to Dr. Andrew Brotman, senior vice president and vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy. "Things went downhill very, very rapidly and very unexpectedly," he said. "The flooding was just unprecedented." Emergency generators did kick in, but two hours later, about 90% of that power went out, and the hospital decided to evacuate. By 1:30 a.m., about half the patients had been evacuated, including all the patients in the adult, pediatric, and newborn intensive care units. Brotman said he anticipated the evacuation would last until around 6:30 a.m.

Four of the newborns were on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby's lungs.

Read more:

Praise God for all those who risk their lives for others.  Greater love has no one than this...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy - peace, be still

Praying with all of you tonight who are riding out Hurricane Sandy or waiting for news.  May the peace which passes understanding guard your hearts and minds in the knowledge of the love of God.

Peace, Be Still - He Qi
Psalm 93:4-5

The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
the waters have lifted up their voice; *
the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea, *
mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.

translation: 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leogane and St. Etienne after Sandy

I'm watching the news right now, as we have power.  They're interviewing someone from Leogane, and I can see flooded houses behind them.  I don't understand all of it, but I hear that there are a lot of people without food or potable drinking water.  Leogane, mind you, was the epicenter of the earthquake, and also the area where I spent the summer of 2009. I'm assuming Darbonne is a mess, too; it's only fifteen minutes from Leogane proper (town as opposed to region - think New York).

Here is a photo via a news site here:
Leogane following Hurricane Sandy
This same site, from which I quoted earlier, has an update.  Among other news, there has been a landslide in Kenscoff, where we have a fallen-in house (in bad shape before the earthquake - we'd hoped to develop a retreat center there - someday!). 

An excerpt from the article:
Alta Jean Baptiste, director of the Civil Protection has declared in a press conference "...we evacuated 5.665 people to temporary shelters [...] there are 1.372 houses destroyed, particularly in the department of South and in the zone of ​​Nippes and of the Grande Anse particularly on the coastal [...] we have 4 municipalities in the department of South-East who are severely flooded, all the municipalities of the department of Nippes are under water [...] from tomorrow if the weather is better, teams will continue with assessments [...]"

You can read more here:

A friend of mine posted some photos and messages over the last 24 hours from St Etienne, a parish in the mountains south of Leogane heading towards Jacmel.  He gave me permission to post a couple of photos and comments from his Facebook page, which I'll share below.

St Etienne kindergarten following Sandy
Messages from yesterday (Wednesday):
Too much rains and heavy winds on the region. People lose their gardens, no clean water, any help from the government, wow.......prayers please.


The farmers of St. Etienne's region lose their garden and some animals as cow and pork. They were in await to sell and be able to buy supplies for their children to go to school and in some cases pay the tuition, no hope. The Sandy storm destroys everything and they are always forgotten by all initiatives of the central government. So, misery and poverty will be touchable. Prayers and actions required.

Hurricane Sandy took the preschool's roof.
 A message from today (Thursday):

Storm Sandy left many damages in the community of St. Etienne. We lost our worship place, we lost the roof of our preschool (kindergarten) and the toilet of the school. So, more complications......

Meanwhile, prosaic details for those of us with fewer problems include wondering whether or not yesterday's laundry, in a permanent rinse cycle outside, will dry before Tuesday.  I've also heard that they've cancelled school for tomorrow (Haiti's version of the snow day, I guess), as the status is still "alerte rouge" - red alert.  I am in the process of double-checking that the seminary class I was to teach tomorrow is also cancelled.     How fortunate I am to have such petty things to worry about here.  My mind and heart are out with those who really do have something to deal with.     Please pray for St. Etienne, Leogane, and all the other areas affected by wind and rain and flood.   A prayer via another Haiti blog entry for today:     So, God of the universe
Do you hear the cries
That pour out from all the earth?
Can your hands of glory reach down and heal the hurt of the broken?
And God of eternal things - will you give us eyes to see all the light you bring?
Will you be the voice that causes our hearts to sing for the broken?
Can we fall in love again for the first time?
God of the universe when we hear the cries that pour out from all the earth will you give us hands to reach out and heal the hurt of the broken?

Hurricane Sandy in Haiti

We're pretty soggy here in Port-au-Prince, but as one of my sisters is wont to say, "...and if that's the worst thing that happens to me today, aren't I lucky!"   We even have our power back, which I wasn't expecting. 

It's dark, windy, and soggy in Port-au-Prince this week thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
Others have not been so fortunate.  One has died, swept away while trying to cross a river. The southern peninsula has been the hardest hit.  Les Cayes and Petit-Goave are under water, and there is is flooding all over.  When I think of the people who are without shelter... but even those who have shelter may have their belongings washed away.  I'm thinking of one family in particular in Cite Soleil, people who have lost everything on more than one occasion.  They are not alone.  Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy here, and this will hit it hard.  Again.
Les Cayes, home to two of our sisters
photo via link below - there are others there, too
 Here is a run-down of the news so far, thanks to KD:

An excerpt:
In the South Department, the town of Torbeck is totally flooded, Port Salut, heavy rain and strong wind gusts, at the street of Quai the population was surprised by the waters, the beach of pointe sable is heavily damaged, the hotel du village is practically destroyed (severely damaged), as well as several houses in the street of Quai, of plantations destroyed and cattle heads away. Part of the railing of the bridge of Port-Salut was swept away yesterday due to the flooding river. Les Cayes is under water, the water reached up to 50 cm in some places, the hospital Immaculate Conception should be evacuated. The river Ilet is in flood. In Chantal, livestock washed away 70 people placed in temporary shelters.

It's not over yet. It's expected to rain through Sunday, dumping many more inches of water which will have no good place to go.  The hurricane is now heading past Cuba and up north, where I gather it will join with snow to form a major storm near New York. 

Please pray for those who have been affected here in Haiti, for those hard hit in Jamaica, Cuba, and other islands, and for all those up north preparing for the storm.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, *
a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, *
and though the mountains be toppled into the
depths of the sea;

3 Though its waters rage and foam, *
and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

4 The Lord of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
translation: 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Monday, October 15, 2012

sparking an aha moment - now looking for another

This past weekend, my attention was caught several times by the shape of a car - bright and shiny new in both cases - that I'd never seen before. What is that?  I peered at it - a Spark Lite.  Chevrolet.  Never seen those before at home... I resolved each time to look it up on the web when I got home, but by the time the power came on, I'd forgotten.  

Now, via MSN, the answer.  It seems a bit counterintuitive to someone with Detroit connections to import Chevys from Korea, but if it helps keep the ones in the midwest afloat too, I'll live with it.  Glad to hear they are selling them at home in the US. 
GM to Import More Chevy Spark Minicars From Korea

Chevy Spark, via MSN blog. I didn't get a picture of my own from Haiti.  Cute, though, isn't it!
(Yes, I have family ties in car country, five generations of Detroit-area blood, and great-great (?) grandparents who invested in Ford - though not long enough!   I may not know much about cars, but they still catch my attention.)

I'm still a little unclear as to whether a Spark is the same thing as a Spark Lite - but I found a page and a picture of a Spark Lite (which is what I saw here) on a South Africa Chevy website.  Hmmm...
I have to say I did a quick double take on the ad wording till I saw it was South Africa.  Different vocabulary in English down there!  What is "nippy"?

Spark Lite - the car I saw here. "Funky design" I can figure out.  But what is "nippy and quiet handling"? "flavourful color"? Any insights/translations anyone care to offer?

Now what I need is to find an answer to my longer-term "What is this?" about a little Chevy van that I've also never seen in the US.  They're everywhere here.

See - no car name other than Chevrolet - what is this?

Quite a few businesses have these little Chevy vans here in Port-au-Prince. Never seen one at home, though.

The little Chevy vans aren't just for business deliveries, though - it looks as though they are personal cars, too. I like them.  Why don't they sell these in the US? I bet they get good gas mileage. 
 Anyone in Detroit care to inform people there that we need these at home?

Friday, October 5, 2012

new convent in Duxbury

One of the sisters back in Massachusetts was kind enough for forward this article about the new house, which is almost ready to be lived in.  I got a tour before I left, but this includes pictures of the inside with furniture in it, which I'm enjoying seeing.  By the time I get there next summer, of course, it will be thoroughly lived in.   Very nice to have this finally (mostly) complete.  It's been such a long process. 

PHOTO GALLERY: New Sisters of Saint Margaret convent in Duxbury ready to occupy

putting in the plantings for the new Duxbury convent - September 2012

What I'm especially excited about is the solar and geothermal power.  I loved the old convent in Roxbury, but it guzzled energy, to say the least.  This one is much more compatible with care for God's creation.

Here are some photos of the construction process, if you are interested.

Here is the page about the new house.

I look forward to our being able to return to having guests and retreats.

Now to get the one in Haiti rebuilt...

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I'd like to share with you a powerful poem written by Magalie Boyer following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  It comes to us thanks to Ruth at Ruth has posted a blog entry with this poem which also includes links to more about this poet in those early days of 2010.

For those of you who don't live here, it may now seem that the earthquake is far removed, an event long past.  Here, we see it every day not just in ruined buildings and in tents, but in such mundane things as driving around new piles of rubble in the street from a little more demolition done, perhaps with a hammer. It appears on faces and is a permanent fixture in the back of our minds. And there are still so many whose most basic needs are not met. Isaac finally blew down the tent that was still in our front yard, but the temporary buildings which are so much better than nothing at all are already beginning to wear.  New construction appears regularly - I must remember to post some photos! - and the palace is finally coming down, but there's just so very much to do.  It's moving along, it really is. You can see the progress.  But the people... You can replace a building, but you can't replace people. 

in memory of a friend no longer with us
construction project: monument in memory of the victims of the earthquake of January 12, 2010

Life was hard before; it is harder now.  My life is easy; I have all I need.  So many don't, and there is no easy solution.  Tomorrow, however, is the first day of school here and another beginning, a new chance.  The chalkboards may have been stolen.  Students and teachers may not have the books they need, never mind the computers and science laboratories they should have if they plan on college - but learning can't be stopped.  And it's learning that gives hope as another generation, bit by bit, is able to step up to the plate to meet the challenges before us. 

So, yes, a poem on the earthquake is still relevant.  And then some.  Maybe it's a prayer.

by Magalie Boyer

Some things we lost in the earthquake:

The Ministry of Planification and of External Cooperation and the Ministry of Public Health

The Ministry of Finance and of the Economy and the Palais de Justice

The Primature and the DGI

The National Palace


Sainte Trinite and Sacre Coeur

The Wesleyan Church of Carrefour-feuilles

Maxo’s records, complete with his new-born picture, from Chancerelle

And Mario, who was 17 and albino

Marie-Lucie, a nursing student, Marie-Lucie and her 98 classmates

The habit of hearing harmony in the city’s cacophony

(As if the ensemble of tap-taps and 4x4s could be a choir!)

Our casual relationship with rank misery

The ability to match our tears to our grief

Jacmel’s invincibility

The mask of sufficiency

The fig leaf of society

Thank you, Ruth and Magalie, for sharing this with us. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

birds and buds or maybe berries

We have this wonderful tree in our yard that I think of as an umbrella tree because its circles of leaves have spokes.  When I came back this fall, lo and behold, it had sprouted berries on the top.  Or perhaps they are tiny flowers that just look rather like raspberries; I can't tell.  Now the tree looks even more like something out of Dr. Seuss. 

Our "umbrella tree" has sprouted a crown!
The most wonderful thing about this tree now is that in the afternoon, the bees are buzzing all over it while little birds sit on the berry/flower branches and enjoy a fine meal.  Most often it is little yellow-bellied birds I see up there, but there are tiny hummingbirds that swoop in and out as well.  These little birds are the tiniest I've ever seen - I actually thought they were very large insects from a distance last year, but these are close enough that I can now get a good look. 

hummingbird and yellow-bellied bird enjoying the tree together

I have a bird book coming in a box which is no doubt sitting in customs, but meanwhile I'm still wondering what these little yellow ones are. Anyone know?  Next on the search list: the name of the umbrella tree.

yellow-bellied bird in the umbrella tree - wonder what it is?

These little birds bring me such joy, and watching them play tag is delightful. It really adds to my afternoon prayer time as I give thanks and marvel at the little creatures God has made. It makes me think of Psalm 104. Perhaps I will write my own version giving thanks for all of creation, which praises God in its own way.

tiny hummingbird enjoying berries - or flowers or something...

I'm headed out to the porch for more prayer time now. I doubt I'll see the birds this afternoon, because the near-daily afternoon/evening thunderstorm has arrived a bit earlier than usual. I'll give thanks nevertheless.