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Walking Together in Haiti

Walking Together in Haiti

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
By Mark Harris. Haiti is more than Port-au-Prince, more than the earthquake of 2010, more than “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere,” more than a place that needs our help.
By Mark Harris. Haiti is more than Port-au-Prince, more than the earthquake of 2010, more than “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere,” more than a place that needs our help.

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Feb 24, 2012
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02/24/2012

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ByMark Harris
W
ith 15 people from St. Peter’s, Lewes, Delaware, I returned in earlyFebruary from a deeply transforming week with members of aparish in Montrouis, Haiti. It was an experience unlike any other I havehad in my years of involvement in Haiti. It was an example of being Com-panions in Transformation (the title of the mission theology resource pre-pared for the 2003 General Convention.)
Students at St. Paul’s, Montrouis
WalkingTogether
 An Experimentin Transformation
IN HAITI
14
THE LIVING CHURCH • March 11, 2012
Kathryn Harris photo
 
Haiti is complicated. Haiti is morethan Port-au-Prince, more than theearthquake of 2010, more than “the poorest nation in the Western Hemi-sphere,” more than a place that needsour help.It is all of those, of course,but more. Haiti is also something thatcannot be defined by the difficulties its people face or the help they need.Toknow the Haiti that is strong and sus-tains the Haiti that is often broken, wefelt we must do an odd thing: becomecompanions with Haitians.For eight days we met and walkedalongside members of St. Paul’s Church,Montrouis, as they did their ministries.We all, Episcopalians from Haiti andthe United States,struggled across lan-guage, social, religious,and cultural dif-ferences to find a way to build trust andfriendship. It was hard work, but not theusual hard work we assumed was partof mission trips. Here the work wasmore about being together and lessaboutmaking something or someonebetter. As we grew closer to our com- panions and their work we lost our fearand awkwardness and were able to listenand ask and consult and finally even to participate in the life of the parish.The Haiti initiative wasdesigned as a “plunge” experience. The people from St. Peter’s prepared them-selves by studying Haiti’s past history and present situation, by grabbing a bit of Creole,and by reflectingon the need tolet go the desire to “fix” things so that wemight be open to be changed by the expe-rience of engagement.Of all that we did to prepare the lastwas the most difficult. The desire to“make it better” is deeply rooted in American “can do” attitudes. We want todo something.Here we were beinginvited to plunge more deeply into acommunity in Haiti without promising todo anything, but rather to be there.It was hard toexplain to ourselves or friends or Haitians that wewanted most to listen and learn from members of St.Paul’sand if possible to break with the dynamics of 
 
To knowthe Haitithat isstrongand sustainsthe Haitithat isoften broken,we felt wemust do anodd thing:becomecompanionswith Haitians.
By The Rev. Dr. Lester L. Westling, Jr.
Theresponsibilities,dangers,andseparationofdeployments change people at home andaway. Positive coping with reunions requiresunderstanding.Author is a combat disabled Episcopal Priestand retired Navy Chaplain.Book includes Pre-Reunion Seminar text andDVD films used in the military.
A great pastoral gift!
For inquiries and/or to purchase visit:
www.hillwoodpublishing.net$21.95
plus S&H
When Johnny/JoanieComes Marching Home
Reuniting Military Families Following Deployment
(Continued on next page)
March 11, 2012 • THE LIVING CHURCH
15
 
(Continued from previous page)
giver and receiver for the promise of something more.We spent our days with members of St. Paul’s asthey worked in three ministries there— St Paul’s andSt. Marc’s Schools, St. Paul’s Clinic, and the Parish of St. Paul’s,itself the work of its outstation, St. Marc’s.Our goals were to learn, to work, to reflect and toevolve, all in the context of meeting and getting toknow companions in the Way in Haiti.With the guidance of the priest of St. Paul’s, Pere Jean Jacques Deravil, and Pere Yvan Francois, a priestlong active in education and development in Haiti, wedid just that.Father Jeff Ross, the rector of St. Peter’s,Lewes, and I prepared the group going from St. Peter’s,but we were finally shaped by the experience in place.Mission engagement is always a mixture of trans-action and transformation. Transactions take placeall the time— one person does something andreceives something. In missionary contexts thesetransactions over time build a sense of engagement
Clockwise from top left: Student musicians play at the cathedral in Port-au-Prince; musicians at St. Paul’s, Montrouis;raising the flag at St. Marc’s, Bois Blanc; baptismal font and along the street, St. Paul’s, Montrouis.
with the people of a community.But in transactionalmission,
doing
forms the basis for the engagement.Transformational mission proceeds from a differentstarting point. Engagement comes not from offeringsome service, but from wanting to be with or for oth-ers. Transformation emphasizes being with people intheir lives, learning from that ways to further engage.Doing follows being.By the end of our week in Montrouis we had hadsubstantive and deep conversations with Haitians ineach of these parish ministries, as well as seminarswith religious leaders in the Episcopal Church and thewider religious community, and time in the Port-au-Prince area to witness recovery efforts and continuing problems.We returned with friendships started, ideas bub-bling, hopes for return, and with the promise that thePere Deravil ofMontrouis would come to Lewes in June.
16
THE LIVING CHURCH • March 11, 2012
 Valerie Driscoll photoSheila Bravo photoKathryn Harris photo

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