Monday, January 30, 2012

counting my blessings

If I were in Boston and it were not Monday, I would be praying at Compline, "Thanksgiving for the blessings of this day."  It's a phrase you hear prayed again and again at the convent, and a prayer that comes up more and more frequently in my mind and heart.  My prayer is that it become permanently etched into my being.
It just doesn't get more beautiful than this.

With that thought, I would like to share a few of the things for which I am thankful this evening:
  • electricity all day - possibly the first time since Christmas season
  • extra sleep
  • a day of rest
  • my family's safe return from their travels and the chance to talk with them
  • encouraging notes from friends
  • the marvel of yesterday's beauty, which I'm appreciating again today as I look through my photos
  • reminders of God's love as I looked through the scriptures this morning
  • coffee jello for dessert at supper - no doubt making it more possible for me to write during evening hours
  • a lapful of sleeping puppies tonight - not sure how they all managed to fit themselves onto my legs comfortably enough to sleep, as they are growing, but they did
  • an ironed habit for tomorrow
  • hard-working sisters
  • a friend and a nephew who celebrate their birthday today
  • water that didn't run out before I got to the shower this morning
  • outstanding pumpkin soup at lunch
  • a letter written
  • chocolate sent by my mother - and that it didn't melt!
  • music
  • grace, peace, forgiveness, love
  • much more
What is your list today?

roadside-seaside stand

melon and fish for sale - Haiti interior shoreline

view from a back yard picnic

It's a rough life, but someone had to eat lunch back here.  You know, just being a good guest and all.  The sacrifices we make...

Montrouis, Haiti - mountains, sea and boats

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday evening

It's Sunday evening, and I'm winding down after a long day.  Tomorrow is my day of rest, so I'm looking forward to sleeping a little later and praying on my own time.  Thinking of the sabbath time to come, I stepped outside before Evening Prayer tonight to look at the sky, feel the breeze, and be quiet with the beauty for a minute before going inside.

evening sky, Haiti
Sundays we do things a little differently, and not just at church.  For example, Sunday evening usually brings a supper of cheese and crackers, fruit, and hot chocolate, especially on days like today when we travel outside the city for a patronal festival (more on that later, I hope). 

With that in mind, I'd like to share with you how to make your hot chocolate packet into something that tastes much better. 

In Haiti, at least among the sisters, we don't just boil water and add it to the mix - or microwave it in the mug, for that matter.  There is more to it.  When I first tasted it here, I thought it must be some special Haitian chocolate, as it didn't taste like any hot chocolate packet I'd ever opened.

As it turns out, making it is simple. 

First step: Fill a saucepan with water.

Add some cinnamon bark, light the gas, and simmer throughout Evening Prayer.

simmering cinnamon bark to make water for hot chocolate

Add your packet of hot chocolate and proceed as usual.

hot chocolate with condensed milk

One final step:  add condensed milk, as you would to coffee.


A good end to a good day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

power program

Haiti leader launches power program - Haiti -

Good news: President Martelly is sponsoring a program to upgrade the power systems here in Haiti.

Peligre dam and power plant
We passed this on our way to Hinche.
 Some of the features of the program: street lights in various places both in the Port-au-Prince area and in the provinces, micro-loans for small solar kits, and work on the Peligre dam power plant, which is where our power comes from in our area.

Here is the first part of the article:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti's president said Monday he hopes to double the number of rural households that receive electricity within two years by offering people small loans to buy solar kits.The announcement by President Michel Martelly is part of a $45 million-plus energy package that aims to introduce electricity to thousands of people in this impoverished nation who otherwise illuminate their homes by candlelight.The program, dubbed "Give me light, give me life," seeks to build credit for rural Haitians as they take out loans to purchase small solar kits for charging their cell phones or computers. It also aims to line streets with light posts in the countryside and repair power lines in poor neighborhoods in the capital. "If a country wants to talk about development it's imperative to talk about energy and electricity," Martelly said at a news conference at a hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince.The need for energy in Haiti is critical to the reconstruction of Haiti as the Caribbean country struggles to recover from a massive earthquake two years ago that devastated much of the southern half and initially displaced 1.5 million people.The 40-year-old state-run Electricity of Haiti can only power 200,000 homes, Martelly said, and only 30 percent of the population in this country of 10 million has access to a power supply. Even then, most parts of Haiti only have electricity for a few hours a day, forcing many businesses and some homes to rely on generators and expensive fuel imports.
Read more here:

solar-powered lights I count on regularly
I'm certainly interested in hearing about these small solar kits, which could really make a difference. I know I count on my solar-powered flashlights and mini-lantern, since our power goes on and off at random intervals. Cell phone chargers would be a real help, as that's the primary means of communication around here (very few land lines). People with small generators run sidewalk businesses charging cell phones, as a matter of fact.

I hope this program will work. It will certainly get something accomplished, whether or not it meets its goals, and every little bit will help improve lives.

beauty and power lines
PS - As I was editing this earlier this evening, the power went out.  Just noticing... And now it's back on again.  So there are you, an evening in the life here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newbery anticipation

Tomorrow is the day on which the Newbery Award is announced. One of my close friends, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, has written a book that has been named among the contenders, so for the first time I am waiting with great anticipation.  Jefferson's Sons tells the story of Thomas Jefferson through the eyes of three of his children, two of whom are slaves.  Kim has written quite a bit of historical fiction as well as a few contemporary novels.  I'm not sure whether they count as late grade school or young adult - but I've enjoyed them all despite being a bit removed from those categories.

Jefferson's Sons - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Here is her website:

I like that she has posted a list of her sources, which might prove useful to some of you who are particularly interested in this subject:

Here is the Amazon page with her books:

Ruthie's Gift
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ruthie's Gift, her first novel, is still one of my favorites, along with Weaver's Daughter and ... well, never mind.  I keep coming up with more of her books I really like.  Where to stop?  I would certainly recommend them to you as well.

Here are some blurbs on Kim's books that I located while looking around for more on the Newbery contenders for this year:

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - Simon and Schuster website
Loving the quote at the top!
Authors and Artists for Young Adults on Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The author of five well-received novels for juvenile readers, as well as several picture books, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has demonstrated a remarkable breadth of theme and subject matter, portraying protagonists from a lonely girl in rural Indiana in the early years of the twentieth century to a brave French teen who fights for her country in the World War II Resistance movement. With her first three titles, Ruthie's Gift, One-of-a-Kind Mallie, and Weaver's Daughter, Bradley has created tales for middle-grade readers, and with her novels Halfway to the Sky and For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy she writes for slightly older readers. All Bradley's books, however, are noted for their wealth of detail and warm human portrayals.

And here, finally, is a book of hers I haven't yet read, but which looks like fun:
Ballerino Nate
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The most important thing about Kim, however, is who she is.  She is the kind of person you would want to know, the kind of person you would want for a friend.  And she is raising my goddaughter to be the kind of person I also feel blessed to know.  (She gets bonus points, of course, for her interest in Haiti.)

So, Kim, whether or not you win your Newbery, you're worth a cheer. 

buying water

I have finally learned how those musical water trucks operate.  We haven't gotten any city water lately, and last week our reservoirs were emptying fast.  One of our neighbors had bought a truckload of water, and we stopped to inquire about the price, then did a comparison check with another company as they were doing a delivery.  A few hours later, a truck full of water pulled up.   And this is how it worked:

attaching a sort of fire hose
snaking the hose across the yard
filling the reservoir
With that and a separate but similarly timed visit from the plumber, showers could be taken and clothes and dishes washed. And there was much rejoicing.

Mind you, this is not drinking water.  That arrives by car daily, or nearly so.  We're grateful to have a ready supply. Not everyone does. When water doesn't just arrive as if by magic in the faucet, you begin to realize just how important it really is.  You can live without electricity; you can't live without water. 

meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I checked out my order's website today to see the latest photos of our construction there.  We're in the process of building a much smaller, more energy-efficient residence for our sisters in Massachusetts.  I was delighted to see the progress!  Construction is always a topic for discussion here in Haiti, but it's nice to see that things are moving along back in the States as well.  I thought I'd share a few photos from our website.

phase 3 - starting to look like a house!

beginning phase 4

It's really happening.

For more photos, see

To read about the changes we are making there, see

Now, if you would, please pray that we sell the old convent. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

avian mystery

Who can help me identify this most amazing bird?  I had a most birdful morning yesterday and am hoping to do an entire post, but meanwhile - wow. 

yellow bird with black and red head
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Who can help me identify him?
 Here is another one who might be his mate, but I'm just guessing.

yellow bird with red eyes, Port-au-Prince
possibly the mate to the bird above?

yellow bird, looking elsewhere

Sunday, January 15, 2012

connections with home

It's been a day of connections and reminders.

We enjoyed singing about the
water of life. I think of these two
as our "theme songs," so to speak.
At Morning Prayer, we read the story of the Samaritan woman at the well talking with Jesus.  When I was at St. Luke's-San Lucas, Chelsea, I spent a lot of time with the women's group. Their name is The Women at the Well-Las Damas en la Fuente.  I've also been remembering recently the retreat I did with them last fall with the theme of the water of life.  This morning, then, I smiled as I listened, hearing not only the story but also so much from that wonderful group.  Damas, I miss you all!  Sending you my love and prayers. May the year to come be blessed.

After breakfast, we headed off to the cathedral for the Eucharist.  I had heard that there would be a group from Massachusetts there, but you know it's a big state with a lot of Episcopalians (at least compared to Indiana, where I grew up).  So who should I see as I got out of the car but a friend from seminary as well as another priest I know, along with some of their parishioners.  What a wonderful surprise it was to see them. 

photo thanks to Fr. Mark
from his blog about his Haiti mission trips:
 After the service, in which they also participated, the cathedral had its annual meeting.  They gamely hung in there, though few of them had the language skills to follow it.  I got the gist of it, but would have loved to follow more of the details.  We didn't stay for the whole thing, though - left after a break, at which we were given "pate" - flaky pastry meat turnover things - and sweetened Haitian coffee.  (Let me just make a quick tangent to tell you that Haitian coffee is wonderful.  I even enjoy it without milk, though the condensed milk I get to put in it at breakfast makes it that much better.  Close tangent.)

We had a chance to show them the spot where the convent once was, and then we all headed over to the Foyer Notre Dame, our home for elderly women with no one to care for them.  It was good to show them around and tell a little bit about our work there.

from a family web-based album
I'm loving these photos!
(Thanks for sharing this, P!)
 Then I got home and, lo and behold, we had electricity right in the middle of the day, and it's been on since!  Yesterday there was none, so I especially appreciate it.  What that meant, then, was more connections - hearing about family travels via email and online photo albums, catching up on some of my friends' Facebook posts, etc.  Three friends were ordained this weekend, so there was much prayer and rejoicing, and I was so happy to see photos with their stoles and big smiles.  Finally, it meant that I could call my family via the miracle of telephone-internet connections so as to pass along birthday wishes and catch up quickly on the news. 

It's been a good day. I am very much here in Haiti and glad to be - and I'm also happy to have had these connections today.  Definitely a "both/and" that I can appreciate.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Today I had my fix of little warm bundles of cuteness. 

First, we paid a visit to someone, and her two-month-old granddaughter arrived while we were there.  She didn't seem to mind strangers at all, and I had time to hold her for quite a while. One of the sisters asked me if I were going to stay with her instead of coming home.  Hmmm...

Picture this pile of napping puppies. Add another.  Put them on my lap. To quote Charlie Brown, happiness is a warm puppy.
But had I stayed, I would have missed this evening.  Is there anything more peaceful and wonderful than a lapful of sleeping puppies?  It was first just a lot of fun as they tumbled around, one wanting her tummy rubbed.  Then came a time of real quiet with them slumbering contentedly, one flopped flat out, ears spread, the other two curled up on each other in the crook of my arm. They were not ready to get up, either, when it was finally time to come back inside. 

Perfectly happy. Very grateful.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


There are a few blogs written by American missionaries who were here for the earthquake. I haven't been able to keep up with them very well, especially recently, but they are worth reading. (Fortunately one can always catch up.) I'd like to share the links for today's posts, given that it's the second anniversary of the earthquake.  I'll also include excerpts. Perhaps you would like to follow their blogs too.

Ben and Katie in Haiti: Love Endures Forever: There are countless ways to look at 12 January. Many news outlets are doing the whole "Haiti is still a mess" news story (everyone of those journos needs to choke on their pen). You could be more hopeful and talk about all the progress that has been made (yes, there is REAL progress here). Some will spend the day mourning, still grieving the loss of their loved ones; to those- my heart breaks for you.

I want to take this 12 January and the ones that follow and do three things:

First, I am so thankful that I am alive. Fate, chance, sound construction, soil conditions, timing, God's will- I have no idea why I am alive when so many others are not. I want to dwell on the simple, often-taken-for-granted-fact that I am alive and everything reminds me of it: my hunger, my thirst, my sweat, my joy, my sadness. I am alive. A wise woman once began a speech by asking: what will you do with your one wild and precious life? I want to make mine count. I am thankful that my best friend and partner-in-crime- Katie is alive with me. Many people lost their spouse and I do not think I could do much without her...

That was Ben. He and his wife, both American teachers, had been in Haiti for less than two weeks when the earthquake hit.  They stayed.

Here is the previous post, by Katie:

On January 12, 2010, my life changed forever when one out of every 11 people living in my city died in a massive earthquake. During the first few days, I felt compelled to write down everything on scraps of paper. I re-discovered the scraps recently and will share them now for the first time.

I'm copying exactly as I wrote it, with red pen on the back of an already-used piece of notebook paper, except for notes I added in brackets to make it clearer for you. I also changed the names of the three children, for privacy.

The Earthquake
Tues Jan 12, 5 pm

Day of: taught about earthquakes in last period geography, went to Eagle [grocery store] for laundry deterg, didn't get anything else really, home, pop a can of tom. juice, thinking toward dinner/homework. starts- like a truck Ben jumps up, to stairwell. sit top step, stare @ each other. grabs me, outside w/ a few things- no pport, no US phone. I'm afraid of streets. Go next door to Bill, a family from the DR just arrived. stand outside- yelling & running then- ravine people. dead kid, bloody kid, old lady B takes off. Dorothy crying, watching like idiots. B return. Go in our house, get US phone, water, flash, lantern, hand sani., paper towels, care for little boy, family member dead, he's alone, Found "brother's friend" & some lady, treating him, head bleeding- concerned about blood (HIV). Then notice hand- bad to fatty tissue. Steve starts knocking next door, came to check. Says headed back to school, we follow, run. Walls down, Jerusalem School ok. 50 kids @ school; teachers. Still light, kids joke- studied earthquakes in class today...
Here's another blog I like: 
I posted the link to the right some time ago.  Ruth hasn't written much today, but she has written some, and she has linked to her post from that day.  The post right below this link is also useful: it's a list of links to articles about today's anniversary.
She explains:  In the six months I spent in the States after the quake, I read everything anyone in the world wrote about Haiti and posted on the internet. But now, I protect myself more; I don't read nearly as much news as I used to, whether about Haiti or elsewhere in the world.
And finally,
No other time in our lives is as vividly ingrained in our memories as the day and the days following the earthquake.
We saw the very best and the very worst of humanity in those days. We felt the power of Christ in us. We saw that power exhibited in others. We witnessed crushing despair and miraculous provision.
That one minute on a Tuesday afternoon in January 2010 not only cut many lives short, but it drastically changed day to day life and the entire landscape of Haiti.

They recount a conversation with someone recently:
We talked more as Dr. Jen and Beth sewed/repaired Kerline after the birth. I asked Kerline's mother if she lost anyone she loved in the earthquake? She said, "Yes, I lost my brother and sister-in-law. They were trapped alive in a building and we could hear them calling us but we couldn't get to them." She later shared that their bodies were never recovered.

She said "We knew where they were but we couldn't reach them."

That one story is multiplied by thousands (and thousands).

a couple of Haiti links for you
You will be interested in these photos, I think. They aren't the ones you find in the paper.

Haiti as seen by Haitian through a camera lens
NPR article front - link above
Here is another NPR article about life going on two years later.  An excerpt:

In Port-au-Prince, a radio blares from speakers in front of a guy selling pirated CDs on Delmas, a main street in the Haitian capital. Women sitting along the side of the road hawk everything from vegetables to cigarettes to pharmaceuticals. Overloaded tap-taps, the pickup trucks that serve as the main form of public transportation here, chug up the hill.

The scene is one that's remarkable for being unremarkable: Though it occurred this week, it could just as easily have been Port-au-Prince two years ago, before a massive earthquake destroyed much of the capital.

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, and killed, by some estimates, 300,000 people and left more than 2 million homeless.

Two years later, although hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living in makeshift camps, the country has come a long way.

When people complain that Haiti isn't rebuilt, I like to point out that the World Trade Center is not rebuilt after ten years, and New Orleans still isn't cleaned up after seven.  Personally, I'd prefer to point out all the progress I see. Things really are happening here! There's a long road ahead, but that is to be expected.  There is so much more to Haiti than one event, as central as that is right now.  Let's remember that, too.

prayer of remembrance

Dieu de grâce et de gloire, nous faisons mémoire devant toi aujourd’hui de nos frères et soeurs décédés lors du séisme du 12 janvier 2010. Leurs familles, leurs amis te rendent grâce pour le compagnon que tu leur as donné à connaître et à aimer au cours de leur pèlerinage terrestre. Dans ta compassion inépuisable, console-nous dans notre deuil. Donne-nous la foi de voir dans la mort la porte de la vie éternelle, pour que nous puissions continuer avec une confiance sereine notre marche sur la terre, jusqu’au jour où, répondant à ton appel, nous rejoindrons ceux qui nous ont précédés auprès de toi. Par Jésus le Christ notre Seigneur. Amen.(LPC p. 371)

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brothers and sisters who perished during the earthquake on January 12, 2010. We thank you for giving them to us, their family and friends, to know and to love as companions on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP p. 493)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

medicine moving forward in Haiti

Though world stood still, things moving forward in Haiti

The link above is to an interview with a University of Chicago doctor who is starting a medical residency program through Partners in Health.  Its launch date coincides with the second anniversary of the earthquake tomorrow.   He sounds like as interesting, multi-talented man: not only does he have medical experience, but also his connection with Haiti began with a stint teaching music here in the 1990's.  It's precisely that kind of breadth that helps to connect people more effectively, and he obviously has his priorities in order.

God willing, we will see this program grow along with others like it.  And I hope, too, that living conditions in Haiti will become such that more good doctors will stay here rather than moving abroad.

I am also sure that the part of this which involves American doctors spending six months here will be a wonderful learning experience for those doctors, as well.  I remember reading about medical students and doctors coming here after the quake and finding out quickly that they were far too reliant on technology, labs, and good equipment; they had to learn to get back to or develop basic diagnostic and treatment skills fast.  And there are certainly many other things they will learn here.  It will be good for everyone.

The conclusion of the article:

As he rode through the city, he said that though the main roads have been cleared of debris and makeshift tents, none of the buildings housing the ministries of health and interior or the Supreme Court have been rebuilt. The landscape has gaping holes and, for miles, bears little resemblance to the Haiti he remembers back when he first arrived in 1996 as a music teacher.

Much work remains in Haiti, including stemming a cholera epidemic that began in October 2010, and continues with about 600 new cases a day. Lyon has been working with a human rights organization that's investigating the cause of the epidemic, which, as of Dec. 25, had killed at least 7,001 Haitians, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health.

Despite all of this, there are signs of hope.

Lyon said one example is a new residency program that was launched this week at a hospital Partners In Health runs with its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante in St. Marc, about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

"Of all the work that needs to be done here, this is entirely optimistic," Lyon said.

He said the program will teach Haitian doctors how to be family practice physicians.

As part of the program, Lyon and other physicians will conduct classes over the Internet and travel to Haiti to teach. The University of Chicago also will start a one- to two-year fellowship in which trained doctors will work and teach in Haiti for about six months a year.

"Two years after the complete destruction of the main hospital and medical school, we're making progress, although it never feels fast enough," he said. "Within a year, a new national teaching hospital (built by Partners in Health and Haiti's Ministry of Health) will open. It's a nice way to think about the anniversary. Despite the many challenges ahead, we're moving forward."

early morning company

I was woken early this morning by a large bug walking up my forearm into the sleeve of my pj's. I’m sure had I been on Candid Camera, it would have been a source of great amusement. Picture me dashing around with a can of Baygone, chasing it around the room going ew-ew-ew-ew-ew! Have I mentioned that I don’t do bugs?

the moon by morning
Not much chance of my going back to sleep after that.

sunrise clouds over the mountains
nesting turtledoves
There was a silver lining, though. Not only did I get up and set up some work for today and tidy my room, but also I had time to go outside on the porch to have some quiet time. The moon was lovely, there were two turtledoves (a late Christmas present?), and the sunrise showed clouds pooled around the top of the mountains in the distance. The bees were out in force, but they mostly left me alone after investigating my journal and BCP/Bible combo and discovering that there were better ways of finding nourishment.

turtledove guarding nesting spouse


bee joining morning quiet time


 And now the power is back on. It was off all day yesterday, but came on during the night (then back off, then back on). Good thing, as not only do I have ironing to do, but also I needed the light to chase that bug around my room early this morning. It doesn't hurt to have power to the fan and the refrigerator, either! What a set of blessings to start the day.

enough sun now to see the colors

And now, on a more serious note, a request.  Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the earthquake.  It is going to be very difficult for many people who will be reliving the experience in powerful memories.  Please keep everyone in your prayers this week. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sr. Marjorie Raphael's paintings at Duxbury's Bumpus Gallery

some of Sr. Marjorie Raphael's paintings, via Duxbury's Bumpus Gallery site

Sr. Marjorie Raphael's paintings at Duxbury's Bumpus Gallery

The Duxbury paper just did a nice article on Sr. Marjorie Raphael's paintings! The journalist says,

I stopped by the Helen Bumpus Gallery in Duxbury Saturday and was treated to a refreshing getaway in Sr. Marjorie Raphael's landscape paintings.'

The oils, most with very reasonable prices of $200, will be exhibited at
Helen Bumpus Gallery through Tuesday, Feb. 28. There will be a "Meeting the Artist" reception on Saturday, Jan. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhbit is titled "Under the Skies: Four Seasons."

I've always loved her work, and I've been fortunate to live with her paintings surrounding me, both at the Boston convent and here in Haiti.  Several of her paintings which made it through the earthquake are now hanging in the house we are renting until such time as the convent is rebuilt.  They make me feel at home.

If you are in the greater Boston area, I invite you to check out this exhibit and, better yet, to go to the reception to meet her.  It will be well worth your time.  She's a very interesting person as well as a fine artist. 

Bonus: You can ask her about Haiti, where she spent 34 years. 

the beginning of love

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." --Thomas Merton

(Thank you, JH, for this.)

day off with the puppies

Mom? Dad?
Emergency! Another dog in the street!
um, down...
meanwhile, back at the ranch....
puppy napping on my shoe

Am I missing something?
Nah... back to sleep.
Mom's got it all under control.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

raindrops keep falling on my head

rainclouds over Port-au-Prince and mountains
with a hint of blue sky
I've been listening contentedly to the rain falling as I get ready for bed.  I love the smell and the sound of the rain, and it's really starting to come down.  It should cool things off tonight, and the music of the rain will lull me to sleep.

It occurred to me a few minutes ago to wonder how my laundry on the drying rack outside is doing. Should we call this the extra rinse cycle? 

wrong hymn?

This is going around Facebook and email this weekend. Although I can't give the appropriate credit, I can't resist sharing it with you. 

I'm especially amused since at the funeral I celebrated this weekend they changed the first hymn without warning me, so there I was staring at the words in great puzzlement.  I wasn't precisely a sub; however, it was my first time presiding at the cathedral, and none of the regular cathedral priests were on hand (another was, fortunately).  Close enough!

It's also the first anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood today, so a little church humor is just the thing along with the prayer and celebration.  I would have enjoyed some of that humor during the sermon today, but unfortunately, all the lines that got the most laughs in the middle of a serious sermon about baptism and being a godparent were said in Kreyol so quickly they went right over my head.  Ah, well, it will come.  I was just glad to be there and glad to be able to join them at the altar on such a day. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quake hits Dominican Republic, no reported damage

Quake hits Dominican Republic, no reported damage

"A 5.3-magnitude earthquake has struck the southern coast of the Dominican Republic without causing any reported damage or loss of life."

I know at least one person felt it here, but I was still asleep.

Someone from home just reminded me to be careful to prepare in case there is another one.  Not sure what that would involve, but we still have a tent.  Other than that, I'm not worrying about it.

Here's hoping this smaller one lets off a little stress on the fault instead of exacerbating it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

of kerosene and kouran

Gen kouran!  The power's back on! 

And there was much rejoicing.

Kerosene lamps are very useful!
  We said Evening Prayer by flashlight and candle light - and the power came on before the end.  Then it went out again. Then it came back on. Then it went out.  We said Compline early around the table by the light of a kerosene lamp, and I headed off to shower and bed.  Shower by kerosene lamp and flashlight.  Then, as I came out, I saw that the stairwell light was on.  Gen kouran?  Wi! 

Wi, by the way, is Oui (Kreyol and French, respectively), pronounced "we."  And it means "yes," not "wii" or "wi-fi" - while we have the latter, I don't yet know the word for it. More vocabulary to learn...

Important phrases in my life now include:

Gen kouran?  - Do we have power? (question asked every time we come home at night as we peer around the neighborhood on our way in)

Pa gen dlo. - We don't have water. (i.e. the water in the chateau d'eau - water tank - on top of the house has run out.  One hopes that this happens at a time when more water can be pumped up.  Sometimes it happens while you're trying to shower - but since we're prepared with buckets of treated water, it's not quite the comedy it has the potential to be.  I wonder if I should say that out loud...)

Ann nou prie. - Let's pray.  (Let us pray?  At some point perhaps I should also learn "May the Force be with you.")

Thanks be to God for power, water, and prayer, not necessarily in that order.

Monday, January 2, 2012

quiet holiday morning

a morning nap for one of the puppies
 I've been sitting out on the porch this morning enjoying the quiet.  January 2 is a holiday here, and Monday is also our usual day off, so it's been lovely and relaxing.  I got to sleep late, then have a quiet breakfast before heading out on the porch to pray.  

The lessons for the Daily Office today are some of my favorites for a variety of reasons:

-- "Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him!" (Psalm 34)

-- Elijah under the broom tree, fed by the angel and strengthened for his journey (1 Kings 19:1-8)

-- baptismal words:  "There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."  There is a variety in gifts and ministries given us "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4:1-16 )

I looked this one up in Kreyol, too:
4:4 Gen yon sèl kò ak yon sèl Sentespri, konsa tou se yon sèl Bondye a ki rele nou pou nou gen yon sèl espwa.
4:5 Gen yon sèl Seyè, yon sèl konfyans, yon sèl batèm.
4:6 Gen yon sèl Bondye, ki papa nou tout, k'ap dominen sou nou tout, k'ap aji nan nou tout, ki nan nou tout.

-- the feeding of the 5000, especially the part where it is the child's offered lunch that becomes enough for all when the adults are too overly reasonable to see any hope in the situation  (John 6:1-14)

It reminds me of the lines from Madeleine L'Engle:

This is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild. Had Mary been full of reason there'd have been no room for the child.

-- via Love Blooms Bright, an Advent blog I love (and highly recommend - still worth reading this time of year!)

I've also been watching the puppies and the birds this morning.  The puppies, of course, are always entertaining.  The birds have been especially wonderful, though, especially the moments when four hummingbirds were playing tag.  What a gift. 
Perhaps for your entertainment, I should also mention my moment of surreal humor during breakfast.  There is power again this morning (I think the electric company has been extra generous during this holiday season - I wonder what will happen later this week!).  Our television, when there is power, has the disconcerting tendency to turn itself on.  This morning, during the quiet of my breakfast, it went on, and soon it was apparent that it was not one of the sisters.  I poked my head around the corner to see, dubbed in French, an episode of Tom and Jerry with a car race. Quicksand, swinging bridges over ravines, and a tiny flying car, all in short order.  I haven't seen that for decades.  What a hoot.  I had to watch a moment or two before turning it off and returning to my quiet. 
My year is beginning on a good note.  I hope yours is happy, too.

festive almonds

We have an almond tree in the front yard.  I've enjoyed the way there is a little bit of fall all year round:  individual leaves turn bright red before they fall, while the rest of the tree stays green. This morning I noticed for the first time that some of the almonds are turning red, too.  Do you suppose this means we will have ripe almonds falling of the tree sometime this month?  In any case, it's both pretty and festive, red and green in keeping with the Christmas season which is still upon us for a few more days. 

red and green almonds on the tree

jungle puppy