Telling tales, sharing strength

From Port au Prince:

Today, seven weeks after the earthquake, the clergy of the Diocese came together to tell stories and draw strength from each other. There was laughter, there was drama, there were prayers and stories and singing. It is amazing to listen to and watch these dedicated clergy work so hard, even as so many, including Bishop Duracin, still live in tents, still struggle with their own difficulties.

Ever since I began serving in Haiti, I have been filled with awe at the miracles the Church does in God’s name here, where truly the Scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing. Post-quake, the miracles only grow larger, for through sheer determination, the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given water, the sick are cured. Daily, against all odds, people in real need are helped, because the people of the Church REFUSE to give up. They say, over and over again, that God has saved them for a purpose, and that purpose is to delight in God’s will and walk in God’s ways to the glory of God’s name.

Already, plans are being made for how to go forward from this point. Engineers are surveying our sites to determine the safety of each. Community development workers are assessing each community to determine the needs. Priests and lay leaders are making plans to continue educating and caring for our children. I know to some outside Haiti, it seems that relief and recovery efforts are going slowly, but in reality, there is a determination: First, we feed and care for the people. Then we build again, in the best, and safest manner.

Bishop Duracin keeps saying: We have been baptized into new life, and in this new life, we will make things better. After listening to our clergy today, it is clear that the Church is leading the way to this new creation.

It is still frustrating, trying to get things done. It is still hard to get the supplies, to move those supplies to the right people in the right places at the right times. Some days, the traffic alone is enough to drive you crazy. But then something wonderful will happen and the frustrations fall away, forgotten if only for the moment, and that moment gives you the strength to move on.

For me, that happened when I was reunited with yet another friend. Frantzy, my artist friend, called this morning. Could he come see me? Alas, I was already at the office. But later, I told him. I had already had a joyful reunion with his brother, Tony. But I hadn’t seen Feantzy yet vi called him back in the afternoon: Could he come pick me up at the office on his motorcycle? When he pulled up an hour later, he jumped off the bike and we twirled around in the street, hugging and laughing and crying. A tap-tap driver who was parking nearby leaned out his window: Hey! What’s going on? (Apparently, it is not the norm for a white woman in clericals to hug and kiss a young black Haitian on the street. Who knew? Or cared?) We told h: We haven’t seen each other since the quake. Ah, the tap-tap driver said knowingly. Now it made sense.

Frantzy took me to a local sandwich shop, where I bought us sandwiches and drinks. As we drove (OK, as we wove through traffic rapidly), he brought me up-to-date on his family. He, his wife and their three children – ages 10, 3 and 8 months – were living on the street. No, they didn’t have a tent, just some plastic sheeting. Their home was too damaged to live in. When we parted half an hour later, Frntzy took with him sheets, a new sleeping pad and a new, small tent. I had brought the supplies for myself but found I didn’t need them, for my apartment is safe. Now a family in need, friends of mine, have a shelter. It’s small, but it will be home for a while.

The tent and pad and sheets ate not really from me. They are from those who have given me money to help in ministry here. So many have given so much, with instructions to help those in need. Today, those who gave helped that family in need. I simply was blessed to be the instrument of the giving.

Frantzy, from whom I commissioned eight pieces of art in December, also took with him three Duduza dolls, knitted dolls made by women at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., with notes made by third-graders at Sherwood Forest Elementary School there, in Mrs. Kelly Ballard’s class. The women made the dolls and gave them for the children in Haiti. The children made a heart-shaped message of love for each doll, all 180+ of them. Frantzy’s children, who have lost so much, will, I hope, find some comfort in the beautiful expressions of love.

From prayers to laughter to hymns to raucous reunions and small knitted dolls, we draw the strength we need to go on each day in these days that truly try a person’s soul. Overall, it seems that life is impossible here. But ask any Haitian and she or he will tell you: Nothing is impossible with God.

From my porch perch in Petion Ville, sitting in the dark and typing on my iPhone, I bid you God’s peace and my peace, God’s love and my love, and ask your continued prayers for God’s beloved children here and around the world.

Lauren

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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